Why would a blond, "non-Jewish" American want to emmigrate to Israel? What's the connection? Especially when so few Jews in the United States are willing to make the move.
What force would drive someone to travel to Israel 11 times, serve in 8 kibbutzim and even stay there during the Persian Gulf War, complete with gas mask, with his room designated as cheder atoom -- "sealed room" -- that other volunteers had to run to whenever the eerie sirens sounded that another Scud Missile was headed for the Promised Land? Why would such an individual risk arrest, defamation and deportation to participate in legal demonstrations in Jerusalem?
The first time I visited Israel was with the Worldwide Church of God in 1980 to celebrate Sukkot - the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. (Some Christians understand that Israel's harvest festival foreshadows the peace and prosperity that everyone will soon enjoy under the Messiah's golden rule). But that whirlwind experience only whet my appetite.
I wanted to return for a closer look at Israel than through a tour bus window. That's how I decided to return as a kibbutz volunteer in the fall of 1982. A kibbutz is a collective farm, although increasingly it includes other industries as well. I initially served at Ramat Yohanan near Haifa, in full view of Mt. Carmel, famous for the fiery prophet Elijah's close encounter with pagan Israelites.
You could say I have a God-given love for the Jews and the nation of Israel (Isaiah 62:6-7). That sacred bond has been strengthened over the years by the fact that I've been blessed to have lived all over Israel, getting to know its land and people quite well. Apart from 5 months at Ramat Yohanan, I've also stayed at Sdot Yam on the Mediterranean, next to Caesarea, the site of my first ulpan (intensive Hebrew course), and where Israel's heroine, Hannah Senesh, was from; Regavim, near Zichron Yaakov, where I continued my Hebrew lessons amid its rolling green hills; Reshafim, near Bet She'an, with Mt. Gilboa practically in our backyard, and Jordan's mountains in lovely view out front; Adamit, on Lebanon's border, high up on a mountain, from where on clear days you can see all the way to Haifa's Mt. Carmel; Shoval, a rose in the Negev desert, just north of Be'er Sheva; Dan, way up in the northernmost part of Israel, in between Syria and Lebanon, next to the majestic snow-covered Mt. Hermon, where I was living when "Operation Desert Storm" blew in; and Ha'On, with its campground and ostrich farm on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee, across from Tiberias; and last but not least, my beloved Jerusalem, next to my favorite spot on earth: the Temple Mount.
But why would I leave the beautiful farms and magnificent greenery of Ohio for a Middle Eastern country? (My ancestors sailed to America from England, including John and Priscilla Alden on the Mayflower). Why would I legally change my name from David A. Hoover to David Ben-Ariel? (Hebrew for: David, son of God's Lion - a nickname for Jerusalem/Isaiah 29:1). Yes, why?
1) Because I am a Christian-Zionist who believes the rebirth of Israel is nothing short of a miracle, and that all Bible-believers must support this fulfillment of prophecy or deny their faith.
And 2) because I strongly believe what many are now discovering: the Israelite identity of the peoples of Northwestern Europe. This awareness of our Hebrew roots and biblical responsibilities hastens the process of redemption. Herbert W. Armstrong was one of the greatest to restore this truth to millions through The United States and Britain in Prophecy, but I'm friends with Yair Davidiy in Israel, founder of Brit Am Israel and author of The Tribes and Ephraim, who represents a growing number of Jews who are again accepting the revelation of their brother, Joseph - head of the northern ten-tribes of the Kingdom of Israel (distinct from the southern Kingdom of Judah). Due to my Anglo-Saxon heritage, as well as descent from the British and Scottish Royal Families, I'm considered of the tribes of Joseph and Judah. (There are twelve tribes of Israel). For people like me, Israel is also our ancient Homeland. I truly feel my return to Zion completes a historic circle in my family's history.
Having been to Israel so many times, and written innumerable letters to The Blade (Toledo, Ohio's newspaper), and various articles in support of a Jewish state, I never imagined that one day I would be deported from it!
As reported on the front page of the Jerusalem Post (Jan. 8, 1996), the GSS (Israel's Secret Service) sought my deportation on the trumped-up charges of my alleged involvement in a plot to blow up the Al-Aksa mosque. This travesty of justice occurred during the "witch-hunt" that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Israeli left was exploiting the death of Yitzhak Rabin to squash their legal opposition. Such Stalinist tactics were condemned by former Russian refuseniks and "Prisoners of Zion." Thankfully, the regime of Shimon Peres was toppled with the election of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Bibi (as Netanyahu's affectionally called) had also been branded as an "enemy of peace" for opposing wholesale surrender to PLO demands. He promised the Israelis "peace with security."
As a Christian member of the Temple Mount Faithful, I'd been privileged to participate in their legal demonstrations during my 10-month stay in Jerusalem awaiting citizenship. Israeli television often showed me with my Jewish friends carrying Israeli flags throughout the Old City. I've also had letters published in the Jerusalem Post, the Traveller and other publications about the burning issue of the Temple Mount.
Presently that most holy site is under a militant Muslim occupation that forcibly forbids Christians or Jews from praying or reading the Bible there. This despite the fact that both Solomon and Herod's Temple stood there, and Jesus and His disciples taught and prayed there. Israel has a law against such violent religious discrimination, but apparently they're afraid or unwilling to enforce it. Such shameful appeasement rewards the aggressors and punishes the innocent! The Temple Mount Faithful boldly calls for an end to this injustice.
Within Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall, I've called for the Israeli government to exercise its Jewish responsibility to build the Temple. I wrote that book in the United States before any of this trouble. The book clearly explains that I'm not calling for any individual to remove the mosques, but rather expecting the GOVERNMENT to fulfill its historic obligations. I mentioned this to the police during my six and an half hours interrogation. Later I was imprisoned in Jerusalem's Russian Compound for three weeks until my heartbreaking deportation.
As my attorney in Israel, Naftali Warzberger, has written, my future is linked with that of the Jews and Israel. That's why I'm confident justice will prevail. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D. Ohio) has persistently presented this case of religious discrimination and political persecution before our State Department. Senator Mike DeWine (R. Ohio) has inquired on my behalf to return to Zion and was informed that the Ministry of the Interior "has made the decision not to grant the visa and does not offer any information behind their decision." They've since written Senator DeWine that I will not be "eligible for a visa until 2005!"
Is it a crime to have an abiding love for Israel? To believe what's written in the Law and the Prophets concerning the Temple and our responsibility to construct it? To mourn that it hasn't been done yet? As the Jerusalem Talmud states: "every generation in which the Temple has not been built is as if the Temple were destroyed in it...." Isn't Israel's state emblem a gold menorah in between two gold olive branches?
Must I remain in exile, banished from the Land I love, because my hope, prayer, and dream is for Israel to fulfill what that symbol represents: the Temple and Israel's destiny to become a Light to all nations?
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David Ben-Ariel, a Christian-Zionist writer and author of Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall, shares a special focus on the Middle East, reflected in hard-hitting articles that help others improve their understanding of that troubled region.