|French tourist poster. 1898.|
Way back in 1934 in the very first issue of his recruitment magazine, The Plain Truth, HWA insisted that "Jerusalem and Palestine" were "a barren desert waste" until 1917 when the British seized it from the Ottoman Empire.
In words written some nineteen hundred, some twenty-five hundred years ago the Bible prophesies every outstanding phase of present world condition---the depression, the unemployment, its causes, the hoarding of gold, the topsy-turvy political conditions thruout the world, the modern church condition and present social conditions. It has foretold modern science, the automobile, the airplane. It foretold that the Jews would be driven into ALL nations, scattered, yet without ever losing their nationality or their appearance---and that is the miracle of history! It foretold that Jerusalem and Palestine would be in the power of the Gentiles, a barren desert waste, until 1917-1936 when it would once more "blossom as the rose," and the Jews would once again return! (Herbert W. Armstrong, Is a World Dictator About to Appear? Plain Truth, February 1934, pp. 1-2.)HWA thought the "Day of the Lord," which he taught was a time of numerous catastrophes just before Christ's return, would begin in 1936 hence his reference to that year even though he wrote this in 1934. (See Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 3.)
But was Jerusalem and Palestine "a barren desert waste" until 1917? Of course not. Jerusalem and Palestine (later after the war of 1947-9 part of it became the State of Israel) were continuously inhabited from Biblical times to this very day.
The 1922 Census of Palestine reported that 757,182 people lived there. The population was about 78% Muslim, 11% Jewish and 10% Christian. How can a land in which 757,182 people live in it be described as "a barren desert waste"?
They farmed. They built homes. They made art. They made families. They raised up their children. They paid taxes to the Ottoman authorities and after 1917 were ruled by the British. Before 1917 and even by 1934 when HWA wrote his words the majority of inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs.
What a terrible slur against the Palestinian people HWA made by insisting that Jerusalem and Palestine were "a barren desert waste" until 1917. It shows how little value he gave to the Palestinian people. They meant little to him. And sad to say this dismissive attitude towards the Palestinians continues to be present within the COGs to this day.
But why did HWA talk of Palestine as though it were "a barren desert waste" until 1917? Well in the mid-19th Century among some Protestant Christians in Britain the idea arose that Jews should migrate to Palestine. And among them arose a saying to promote this idea describing Palestine as "a land without a people and a people without a land," that is they claimed that Palestine did not have a distinctive people while the Jews did not have a homeland. And this view in a mangled form came to influence HWA in 1934 to slur Palestine as "a barren desert waste" thus devaluing the Palestinian Arabs as unworthy of his regard. How shameful.
May peace soon come to the Holy Land.