The Zionist Story by Ronen Berelovich (Video and Notes)


I recently watched a documentary called “The Zionist Story” and ended up taking notes while watching it. This film was produced by Ronen Berelovich, a former Israeli soldier, “someone who has spent his entire life in the shadow of Zionism.” There are a couple statements in this 75 minute-film that I would like to verify further, but it was an informative and gripping film. I learned a few new things about the history of pre-1948 Palestine, the formation of Zionism, etc. I’m posting this as a reference for myself, as well as for anyone who may be interested. My notes are below this video, and I did my best to keep my emotional reactions to myself (I had plenty):

In case this video is ever taken down for any reason, it’s also available here, here, and here.

0:48   “For over 1,300 years, since the very beginning of Islam, Jews and Muslims lived together in an unprecedented religious and cultural harmony in Palestine, North Africa, and Spain.”

2:30     Basel, Switzerland was the location of the first Zionist Congress in 1897. “Zionism was a national revival movement that sought to unite all Jews in a national homeland.” Prior to 1897, proposed settings for such a homeland included Uganda, Alaska, and Madagascar. The 1897 Congress decided on Palestine as the setting for a Jewish homeland. 

3:55     Concerning the Arabs already living in Palestine: “Theodor Herzl, considered to be the founder of Zionism, wrote in 1895, ‘We shall try to spirit away the penniless population across the border.’ Leo Motzkin, one of Zionism’s most liberal thinkers, wrote, ‘The colonization of Palestine has to go in two different directions: Jewish settlements in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of Arabs in areas outside the country.’ Chaim Weizmann, the head of the World Zionist Congress and future president of Israel, proclaimed the Palestinians to be ‘the rocks of Judea, obstacles that need to be cleared on a difficult path.'”

6:15    In the early 20th century, Zionists began campaigning for Jews to come to Palestine. Zionists also began buying land from Palestinian absentee landlords, and evicted Palestinians living on that land, in a process called “Judaifying the land.”

7:35     In 1917 the British conquered Palestine from the Turks. The Balfour Declaration came out that same year.

8:50    The Palestinians launched two uprisings against the British, who were aided by the Zionists, in 1929 and in 1936, resulting in thousands of lives lost. “The British also exiled the Palestinians’ leadership and dismantled all Palestinian paramilitary units. The Palestinians were left defenseless and leaderless.”

11:21   “Then in the 1940’s the cards turned. Following a string of British pro-Palestinian policies, the Zionists launched terrorist attacks on British personnel and facilities.” In the bombing of the King David hotel, 88 people were killed and “a good deal of the British high command was wiped out. Their goal was to drive the British out of Palestine. The mastermind of the King David bombing was Menachem Begin. He would become Israel’s Prime Minister. His accomplice, Yitzhak Shamir, would also later become Prime Minister… At this point the British have had enough, and they transfer the matter of Palestine to the United Nations.” 

13:30     In late 1947 the United Nations officially recognized a partition of Palestine into two states. “In 1947 the Jews owned 5.8% of the land. In the UN partition plan, the Jews ended up with 56% of the land, almost 10 times what they actually owned… [The population of the Palestinians] was split into two, half of it living in the Zionist state as a minority.” 

15:48   “David Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Zionist movement in Palestine [and who became Israel’s first Prime Minister], wrote in 1937, ‘The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.‘”

17:04   “Towards the end of 1947 the Zionist leadership came together and drew Plan Dalet. Plan Dalet was about securing the borders of Israel by cleansing, expelling, and destroying Palestinian towns, villages, and urban neighborhoods. The plan was implemented by the Zionist armed forces.” Quoting Professor Charles Smith, a historian at Arizona University: “In March [1948] they began a push to ensure their control of areas that would become Israel under the partition, and as that happened you began to get many more Palestinian Arabs fleeing. Particularly after a massacre of a place called Deir Yassin… Begin and the Irgun and the Stern gangs (Yitzhak Shamir was part of that) – there was a combined attack on a Palestinian village that massacred a lot of people (107)… After that you had mobile radio bands that Begin put into play threatening more Deir Yassins if the Arabs didn’t flee – in other words you’ll be massacred just like Deir Yassin.”

18:34   “Between the 30th of March and 15th of May 1948, 200 villages were occupied and their inhabitants expelled. In some villages, such as Deir Yassin and Ain al-Zeitun, horrible massacres were perpetrated. The towns of Tiberias, Haifa, ???, Bayside, Jaffa, and Akra fell into Zionist hands. As a result, more than 250,000 Palestinians were expelled. All of this took place before the 1948 war even started.”

19:33    Professor Salaman H. Abu Sitta, from the Palestinian Land Society in England, tells his story of becoming a refugee in May 1948 when he was 10 years old. Among other things, he tells of Zionist soldiers terrorizing Arab farmers and shooting at them from Jeeps as they were working in the fields. Several weeks after his boarding school was shut down in fear of it being attacked, his home was attacked and blown up by about 24 tanks which came to cut the Gaza Strip in half. The school that his father built in 1920 was also blown up, along with the well that his village used for drinking water and to irrigate their fields. 

25:44   The Zionists declared independence on May 14, 1948 and David Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of Israel. The next day seven Arab countries declared war on Israel and invaded, citing Zionist aggression that had caused more than a quarter million Palestinian Arabs to be made homeless and to seek refuge in neighboring countries. 

29:05  While the war of 1948 was going on, Zionists continued to expel and massacre Palestinian villagers. In one city, more than 50,000 Palestinian Arab villagers were expelled in one day, and 426 men, women, and children were killed. Yitzhak Rabin was the general in charge of this operation, and he later became a Prime Minister of Israel for two terms. In many cases, surviving villagers were systematically stripped of all their belongings and sent off as homeless refugees. The Zionist militias destroyed 531 Palestinian villages, 11 urban neighborhoods and towns, and cleansed approximately 750,000 Palestinians.

34:30    (A discussion of the 1967 War and its aftermath)

35:03    (Interview with Professor Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian at Exeter University) 

43:30   Discussion of two Palestinian uprisings or Intifadas – the first was in 1987 and the second began in 2000: “The first Intifada was put down by the Israeli government with so much brutality that the UN condemned Israel for violating the Geneva Convention. The Intifada succeeded, however, in bringing the Palestinian case to the attention of the world. It also heralded the schizophrenic path that the Palestinian resistance would take from now on. While peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations were conducted, suicide bombers entered Israel and blew up buses packed with people.”

45:36    Elections took place in the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas emerging as the elected victor. Around this time, 10,000 Jewish settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, and Gaza was sealed shut, becoming “the largest prison on the planet. Israel controls all sea, land, and air access to Gaza. It regularly cuts off all food, water, and power supply to the Strip in order to punish the population for their defiance. In response to bombing by F-16 jets, and Apache helicopter gunships and targeted assassinations, Palestinians fire homemade rockets at Israeli settlements.” 

47:36    (Ilan Pappe speaking again)

51:08    Discussion of the security wall enclosing the West Bank and 3.5 million Palestinians, Palestinian Arabs living in Israel as second-class citizens subject to discrimination, illegal settlements, Zionism’s seeming untouchability, more interviews, narrator’s conclusion, etc. 

80 Years Ago: False Date Setting In Zion, Illinois


A few weeks ago, someone (Brad Herman) posted a very interesting photo in a Facebook group I belong to (photo shown below). This photo captures the front page of a newspaper, published in October 1934 in Zion, Illinois by Wilbur Glenn Vilova. A few decades earlier, this newspaper had been titled “Leaves of Healing,” but in 1934 it was called “The Final Warning.” This particular edition reveals a lot about some of the dispensationalist/Christian Zionist thinking of the time:

  • Signs from Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) were supposedly fulfilled in 1922-1923 (earthquakes and famines).
  • The fig tree (Matthew 24:32) supposedly began to bud in 1922 with “the restoration of the Jewish nation.” (This was when the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was accepted into the Palestine Mandate).
  • Luke 21:25 (the “distress of nations“) was supposedly being fulfilled in 1934, the time of this publication.
  • The year 1943 was supposedly the absolute deadline for the “complete destruction” of “the Gentile nations.”

In 1906 Wilbur had taken over the leadership of the city of Zion, founded by John Alexander Dowie, who began to proclaim in 1901 that he was “Elijah the Restorer.” Dowie died in 1907 and Wilbur filled in as Zion’s leader until close to his death from cancer in 1942. A few years prior to his death, Wilbur put out this publication, sprinkled with some bold and false date-setting:

The Final Warning

Brad says he picked up this newspaper at a garage sale. Isn’t it interesting? I was especially struck by the deep pessimism about world affairs (they were in the midst of the Great Depression at the time), the emphasis on coming destruction for all non-Jewish nations, and the idea that “the fig tree” began to bud in 1922.

On this last point, it’s well known that numerous Bible prophecy teachers have taught that “the fig tree” began budding in 1948 when Israel became a nation, and that “God’s prophetic time clock was then restarted” after many centuries of prophetic postponement. The restarting of the clock in 1948, they said, left mankind with a maximum of one generation until the Olivet Discourse would be completely fulfilled. Hal Lindsey and others were, at one time, adamant that a Biblical generation is 40 years. When “the Rapture” and the Great Tribulation didn’t take place by 1988, some pushed the idea that a Biblical generation is 70 years, and more recently that it might even be 100 years long.

Others said that 1948 was “the wrong time marker” for the budding of “the fig tree,” and that the correct time marker was the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan. Now, based on this newspaper from 1934, there is evidence that speculation on the budding “of the fig tree” goes back to at least 1922. This chart shows the range of speculation discussed here, and how it has evolved over the last few decades as end-times prophecies continue to fail:

When did the fig tree start to bud? How long is a Biblical generation?
1922 40 years
1948 70 years
1967 100 years

Of course, I believe far differently about the Olivet Discourse, i.e. that it was entirely fulfilled in Jesus’ own generation in the first century. 

I also observe, from this newspaper, that Wilbur noted the rapidly increasing number of Jews in Palestine (57,000 in 1919 and 250,000 just 15 years later in 1934), without acknowledging the Arabs (Muslims and Christians alike) who also lived there. I also observe Wilbur’s expectation that “a Jewish nation” would be created there.

I’m very curious as to why he taught that “Gentile nations” had a “Lease to Life” of precisely 2520 years. Since he prophesied their “Complete Destruction” by 1943 at the very latest, he apparently believed the lease began in 577 BC. I’m not sure what is significant about that date, although it’s fairly close to 586 BC, when Babylon destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. Approximately 2520 years had transpired from 586 BC to 1934, when Wilbur wrote this (586 + 1934 = 2520), so maybe that’s what he had in mind.

What are your thoughts when you see this newspaper from 1934?