U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States, Israel and Britain have had close ties, but that is now changing. (Pete Souza)
U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States, Israel and Britain have had close ties, but that is now changing.
(Pete Souza)

Band of Brothers

Why the strong ties that once bound together the United States, Britain and Israel are coming unraveled—and where this will ultimately lead.

When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he borrowed his New World proclamation from the Prophet Jeremiah: “Come let us declare in Zion the Word of God.” For Bradford, Michael Oren writes in Power, Faith, and Fantasy, Zion “was not the old Promised Land of Canaan but its new incarnation, America.”

William Bennett made a similar point in Our Sacred Honor: “Like the Jerusalem of old, America’s ‘New Jerusalem’ was to become God’s promised land to the oppressed—an example to all humankind.”

In Character of Nations, Angelo Codevilla says there was a tendency for “Americans to equate themselves with the children of Israel.”

The first American statesman to draw a parallel between the biblical Exodus and the establishment of colonial America was Benjamin Franklin. In Joshua’s Altar, Milt Machlin said Franklin described early America as “God’s new Israel.” Franklin’s grandfather had said the people of New England “are like the Jews—as like as like can be.”

This New Israel concept became especially poignant during the Revolution, Oren wrote. “Yale president Ezra Stiles noted that the number of Israelites present at Mount Sinai—3 million—was precisely the population of the United States at the time of independence,” he wrote. “Harvard’s Samuel Langdon suggested that ‘instead of the 12 tribes of Israel, we may substitute the 13 states of the American union.’”

With this idea rooted in the minds of leading educators of the day, one can see why early America avidly supported the prospect of a Jewish state in Palestine.

U.S. and British Support

“The proposition that the United States should actively assist the Jews in returning to Palestine was neither new nor, in the antebellum period, considered especially radical,” Oren wrote. Neither was it seen as unusual across the Atlantic, in Britain, where the movement for Jewish statehood found its origin. In 1840, the British foreign secretary strongly urged the Ottoman government to encourage European Jews to “return to Palestine.” In 1853, British politician and restorationist Lord Shaftesbury argued for a Jewish state in Palestine by coining the phrase, “A land without a people for a people without a land.”

The New York Times heartily endorsed British initiatives to encourage wealthy Jews to buy land in Palestine with a view toward eventually building an independent state. “So much has been said for generations of the Jews regaining possession of Jerusalem,” the Times wrote on Jan. 20, 1879, “that it is agreeable to think that they are likely to do so at last. They certainly deserve Jerusalem.”

After returning from a tour through Palestine in 1888, American evangelist William Blackstone began work on a petition for Jewish statehood, which he submitted to President Benjamin Harrison in 1891. The “Blackstone Memorial,” as it was called, carried signatures from more than 400 prominent American businessmen, clergymen, journalists, politicians and educators, including John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Cyrus McCormick, Speaker of the House T.B. Reed and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Melville Fuller.

Why not give Palestine back to the Jews? the petitioners asked the president. “According to God’s distribution of nations it is their home, an inalienable possession from which they were expelled by force. Under their cultivation it was a remarkably fruitful land sustaining millions of Israelites who industrially tilled its hillsides and valleys. They were agriculturists and producers as well as a nation of great commercial importance—the center of civilization and religion.” Blackstone urged President Harrison to use the influential power of his office to arrange for an international conference to consider the Jews’ claims to Palestine as their ancient home.

Of course, there were those who opposed Jewish statehood for various reasons. But without question, the United States and Britain were the two most ardent supporters of a new homeland for the Jews. Yet, even with the support of a worldwide empire and a fledgling superpower nation, the Jews may still have been without a home had it not been for the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe which resulted in a massacre that overwhelmed the world with horror.

The Foundation of Zionism

As a young reporter for a Viennese newspaper, Theodor Herzl was in Paris in 1895 covering the trial of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. Like Herzl, Dreyfus was Jewish. An unknown officer in the French Army, Dreyfus had been wrongfully convicted of espionage. Before exiling him to a South American island, the French Army, rife with anti-Semitic fervor, subjected Dreyfus to public humiliation before an angry mob in Paris.

Herzl witnessed the spectacle. “Kill the Jew!” the mob shouted. A shock wave rolled through Herzl’s being, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre wrote in O Jerusalem! “It was not just for the blood of Alfred Dreyfus that the crowd was clamoring; it was for his blood, for Jewish blood. Herzl walked away from that spectacle a shattered man; but from his anguish came a vision that modified the destiny of his people and the history of the 20th century.”

A year later, Herzl published The Jewish State. A year after that, he founded the World Zionist Organization (wzo). The Zionist movement had begun. Herzl had become firmly convinced that Jewish integration into Europe simply would not work. Emigration was the answer. He wrote, “The Jews who wish for a state will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes.”

“Churchill and the Jews”

During the First World War, Zionists wanted the British to conquer the Holy Land and then help to establish a Jewish state. A brief letter authored by Foreign Secretary A.J. Balfour in November 1917 proved to be one giant leap on the path to statehood. Later known as the Balfour Declaration, it asserted that the British government viewed “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and would “use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

British forces entered Jerusalem one month after Balfour’s letter. A year later, on Nov. 11, 1918, the war ended, signaling the beginning of a massive Middle East makeover. Because of promises Britain also made to the Arabs during the war, the task of identifying borders for a new Jewish state proved to be very difficult, as many Arabs viewed the Balfour Declaration as a betrayal of British trust.

On Feb. 8, 1920, Winston Churchill wrote, “We owe the Jews in the Christian revelation a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together.” Later, he wrote that because of Britain’s conquest of Palestine, the UK had “the responsibility of securing for the Jewish race all over the world a home and a center for national life.”

The following year, after Lloyd George appointed Churchill as secretary of state for the colonies, one of his primary responsibilities was to lay the foundation for a future Jewish state, a task that was often met with stiff opposition from members of Parliament. Between Churchill’s appointment and the beginning of World War ii in 1939, more than 400,000 Jews legally immigrated to Palestine.

In his meticulously researched new book, Churchill and the Jews, Martin Gilbert notes how Churchill not only sounded the alarm about Nazism during the wilderness years of the 1930s—he warned of grave danger for the Jewish race. In a parliamentary speech in 1933, Churchill said, “There is danger of the odious conditions now ruling in Germany being extended by conquest to Poland, and another persecution and pogrom of Jews being begun in this new area.” He made that statement a full six years before World War ii started! Gilbert notes, “At a time when most British politicians doubted Germany’s aggressive intentions, Churchill’s forecast seemed far-fetched. Within 10 years it had come to pass.”

As is now thoroughly documented, the more Churchill warned of the oncoming Nazi nightmare, the greater the ridicule and scorn he withstood, especially coming from Neville Chamberlain and his party—those who were assiduously courting “peace” with Adolf Hitler. Making matters worse for Churchill, right on the eve of the war, the British government laid out a restrictive policy for Jewish immigration to Palestine which would ensure that the Arab population would permanently remain in the majority. Churchill, Gilbert wrote, saw the 1939 “White Paper” as a “betrayal of the Balfour Declaration, and a shameful act of appeasement.”

Even while World War ii was raging across Europe, Churchill found occasion to lambaste what the Jews referred to as the “Black Paper.” Of course, of much greater concern in Churchill’s mind at that time was the fate of millions of Jews in Europe. Writing to Foreign Secretary Eden in 1944, Churchill said, “There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilized men in the name of a great state and one of the leading races of Europe.”

By the end of the war, two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population had been exterminated. Many survivors of the Holocaust were understandably dismayed at the thought of returning to their home countries. Worldwide support for Jewish statehood increased immensely as the full force of the genocidal nightmare set in. “The Jewish people have waited till the end of the German war,” wzo President Chaim Weizmann wrote to Churchill in 1945, “not only for their deliverance from Hitler, but also from the injustice of the White Paper of 1939.” But with its power and influence already in rapid decline after the war, Britain lacked the means and the will to follow through with its commitment to Jewish statehood.

In response to Weizmann’s request, Churchill wrote, “It has occurred to me for some time … that it might be a solution of your difficulties if the mandate were transferred from Britain to the United States, who, with her great wealth and strength and strong Jewish elements, might be able to do more for the Zionist cause than Great Britain.”

Truman and the Jews

Not unlike William Bradford and Benjamin Franklin before him, Harry S. Truman’s worldview was rooted in the conviction that God had a hand in establishing the American nation. “God has created us and brought us to our present position of power … for some great purpose,” Truman said. His religious upbringing, Oren notes, also helped him formulate his Middle East policy. According to David McCullough’s biography, it was Truman’s reading of ancient history and the Bible that “made him a supporter of the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.”

And not just the Jewish state, Oren points out—Arab countries too. “Many Middle Eastern countries, including several that would someday rank among America’s deadliest opponents, owed their independence to the United States.” When Winston Churchill negotiated with Arabs about carving out a sliver of territory for the Jews, he was also quick to point out how much the Allied powers had done to help establish independent Arab states in the region, like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Arab nations, however, would not accept the establishment of Israel in their neighborhood.

Many in America, however, did—particularly in the wake of the Holocaust. In 1947, surveys showed that Americans favored a Jewish state by a margin of two to one. With British forces exhausted from maintaining “peace” in Palestine, President Truman picked up where Churchill left off. “Americans transformed themselves from largely passive observers of Middle Eastern affairs into the region’s primary architects and arbiters,” Oren wrote.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 by a 33-to-13 margin. It called for the withdrawal of British forces and the formation of independent Palestinian and Jewish states—the two-state “solution” the Arabs rejected from the beginning.

On May 14, 1948, the day British forces withdrew, the State of Israel declared its independence and the United States immediately recognized its existence. Within hours of Israel’s declaration, five Arab armies declared war on the world’s newest state.

The Jews have been fighting for their survival ever since. They have yet to attain Herzl’s goal of being able to die peacefully in their own homes. Until very recently, the United States and Britain have provided strong support and aid for the establishment of the Jewish state and its continuous right to exist. Like a band of brothers, these three nations have historically worked together to protect one another’s strategic interests.

The Lost 10 Tribes

From beginning to end, the Bible is a book primarily about Israel—physical and spiritual. (Spiritual Israel refers to God’s Church.) Ancient Israel was composed of 12 different tribes (Genesis 49:28). Many today falsely assume that all 12 tribes are essentially Jewish, undoubtedly because the name “Israel” has been associated with the Jewish state since 1948. Prior to that time, however, it was more generally understood that the Jewish people comprised only one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Oren brought out an interesting point in his book about the name selection for the Jewish state. Before choosing Israel, other names considered included Zion, Herzliya and Judah. Since the Jews make up one tribe of Israel, it’s not necessarily wrong to refer to them as Israelites. The error comes in assuming that all Israelites are Jews. Indeed, as any student of Old Testament history knows, most Israelites are not Jewish.

God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, not just one (Genesis 17:1-6). The Jews have never been more than one nation. Furthermore, of all 12 tribes, God promised the greatest physical prosperity to Joseph, not Judah. Joseph was to receive the birthright promises (1 Chronicles 5:2). Judah received the “scepter” promise of a royal line beginning with King David and eventually culminating in Christ. Jesus was Jewish. He was not of the tribe of Joseph, which was to receive the super-abundant prosperity and power of the birthright promises.

The Bible reveals that the 12 tribes of Israel divided into two nations after Solomon died because of the burdensome taxes initiated by his successor, Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). Most of Israel instead chose to follow Jeroboam. As it says in 1 Kings 12:20, “… there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah [or the Jews] only.”

Verse 21 reveals that the tribe of Benjamin also went with Judah. At this critical juncture in history, the 12 tribes of Israel became two separate nations. Those who followed David’s line included Judah, or the Jews, and Benjamin (and also part of the tribe of Levi, which other scriptures prove). They became known collectively as the nation of Judah.

But the majority of Israelitish tribes, including Joseph, which was to receive the material, birthright promises, followed Jeroboam and became known as the nation of Israel.

This is the most obvious, yet overlooked fact of biblical history. Anciently, the name Jew did not apply to the nation Israel. In fact, the first time the term “Jew” is used in the Bible, it is within the context of Jews fighting against Israelites! (2 Kings 16:5-6).

The history of each of these two nations, ancient Israel and Judah, was quite different, yet they both ended in disaster. 2 Kings 17:22 says, “For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them.” These sins continued through nine different dynasties, despite constant warning from God’s prophets. God then removed the Israelites out of His sight, allowing them to be carried away captive into the land of Assyria—never to return again to Palestine (verse 23). That captivity began in 721 b.c.

After Israel was taken captive, Judah remained in Palestine for more than 100 years (verse 18). The Jews were eventually taken into captivity as well, but not by the Assyrians—they went into Babylonian captivity. At that point, none of the original 12 tribes of Israel resided in Palestine. Yet the book of Ezra shows that 70 years after Judah’s captivity, a Persian king allowed a group of Jews to return to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple. These people were of the nation of Judah (Ezra 1:5; 2:1).

Israel, on the other hand, was lost from world view, becoming known as the “lost 10 tribes.” Even though most in this world have not correctly identified these lost tribes, there was a time when it was at least more commonly known that they were definitely not Jewish. Oren, for instance, says many American colonists traced the lineage of Native Americans to the lost 10 tribes.

A search through the archives of the New York Times reveals how much speculation there was during the 1800s about where the lost 10 tribes migrated after their Assyrian captivity. Consider this headline from 1885: “Afghans and Their Home—Are They Descendents of Israel’s Lost Tribes?” The Times wrote, “A very ingenious attempt to connect the Afghans with the 10 lost tribes of Israel was made by Sir G.H. Rose, in a pamphlet issued 30 odd years ago. The Old Testament was abundantly drawn upon to show that the tribes disappeared toward the east …” (April 19, 1885).

Of special significance is that during the same time period the New York Times printed numerous articles in favor of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, there were several other articles containing speculation about where the lost 10 tribes might have migrated to. Clearly, people then knew the lost 10 tribes were not Jewish.

Where, then, did they go? While G.H. Rose thought they might have moved east, there is abundant evidence from the Old Testament revealing that they disappeared northwest of Palestine—primarily settling into the northwestern nations of Europe, the British islands and eventually the United States of America!

God, remember, told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. More specifically, He promised the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, the greatest physical blessings of all—the birthright promises. Manasseh was to develop as one of the greatest and most prosperous nations in history. Ephraim was to develop into a multitude of nations—a world empire that spanned the globe.

In a 1969 article about the work of Herbert W. Armstrong, the New York Times wrote, “Another important teaching of the … movement is that the English and American peoples are the descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh …” (Oct. 10, 1969). The Times estimated that this teaching had more than 2 million adherents in America. This widespread awareness of the truth about ancient Israel’s lost identity can be attributed primarily to the dispensation of Mr. Armstrong’s most popular work, The United States and Britain in Prophecy—requested by more than 6 million people during the 20th century! To prove the latter-day identity of the lost 10 tribes, in particular the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, please request your own copy of Mr. Armstrong’s book. We give it away for free.

America, Britain and Israel in Prophecy

My father has written before about how the establishment of Israel in 1948 was a remarkable fulfillment of Bible prophecy. “The Jews are prophesied to lose Jerusalem and the rest of their land in the latter days,” he wrote in March 2006. For them to lose their land shortly before the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth, they first had to become an established state.

Long before that happened in 1948, the United States and Britain were not only established as sovereign states, they rose to a level of power and prominence the likes of which this world has never seen beginning about two centuries ago. This too was God’s doing, in order that He might fulfill the birthright promises made to Abraham and his descendents—specifically Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

These two world powers, as Winston Churchill noted in his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, have had a very “special relationship.” Midway through the 20th century, that special relationship helped forge the existence of a new Jewish state. Early on, according to Martin Gilbert, the Israelis even expressed a desire to join the British Commonwealth. In 1955, Churchill wrote, “Israel is a force in the world and a link with the usa.” In 1962, President John F. Kennedy told Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, “The United States has a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East really comparable only to what it has with Britain over a wide range of affairs.”

This brotherhood among three peoples—the Americans, the British and the Israelis—has been especially close the last two centuries because of the historical ties that are rooted in the very first book of the Old Testament—and because of God’s hand in establishing these end-time nations and raising them to unprecedented heights of world power.

Yet, even those who don’t follow the Trumpet can see from the headlines that these three nations are, even now, in the midst of an astonishing free fall from their former positions of world dominance. That’s because, just as God prophesied of our rise to power, He also prophesies of our simultaneous fall.

Notice Hosea 5:5: “And the pride of Israel [America] doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim [Britain] fall in their iniquity; Judah [Jewish Israel today] also shall fall with them.” America, Britain and Judah all fall together.

Immediately prior to this event, the Jewish state—because of a “wound” brought about by the “peace” process—will turn to Germany for help (verse 13). And why would Israel, in this end-time crisis, turn to its historic and most notorious enemy instead of to America? It’s because, by that point, America’s weakened state will be even worse than its own.

It’s also because the historical tie that once bound these brothers together is prophesied to completely unravel. God says in Zechariah 11:14, “Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.” That has happened. That’s why this magazine asked nearly four years ago, “As the U.S. war against terrorism continues to yield high bills, a steady body count and a booming crop of anti-Americanism worldwide, is it possible that Americans will begin to think, Why are we making ourselves such a target over that little country [Israel]?” (March-April 2004).

God has broken the pride that Israel and Judah once had in their power (Leviticus 26:19). He has severed the ties between these long-time brothers to the point where we have become more wary of our friends than of our enemies. In the end, as it did anciently, this deep division will end in the loss of our land and captivity for our peoples.

A New State of Israel

After that, God prophesies of a new state to be established in the land of Israel that will include even those tribes that became “lost” in the midst of Assyrian captivity.

The Prophet Jeremiah, who warned the nation of Judah long after ancient Israel had gone into captivity, wrote, “At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. … Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jeremiah 31:1, 10). The prophet also wrote, “My people hath been lost sheep,” but in the latter days, “the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God” (Jeremiah 50:4, 6).

By this point, the whole world will understand why the historic relationship between these brother nations, until recently, was so special and unique. All will know that while the Jews were indeed Israelites, most Israelites were not Jews. More important still, everyone will know who the other Israelitish tribes are!

Many are familiar with the biblical account of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and how he later became prime minister of Egypt, next in line under pharaoh. During seven years of prosperity and plenty in Egypt, Joseph responsibly planned ahead, storing large quantities of grain and other foodstuffs to be used during seven years of famine. During the drought, his brothers traveled to Egypt in search of food, where they encountered Joseph—not recognizing him at first. After inducing his brothers to bring Benjamin to Egypt, even against his father Jacob’s wishes, the story culminates in the dramatic revelation of Joseph’s true identity, which prompted the brothers to spontaneously erupt in tears of joy and celebration.

How prophetic this was, Mr. Armstrong wrote in The United States and Britain in Prophecy. “As we shall see, Joseph, in his descendents, shall soon once again have his true identity revealed to his brothers—and to the world.”

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