How does a Latter-day Saint look at the current Israeli-Arab conflict?

“How does a Latter-day Saint look at the current Israeli-Arab conflict?” New Era, Aug. 1971, 34–35

“How does a Latter-day Saint look at the current Israeli-Arab conflict in light of scriptural references to Judah returning to the Holy Land? Does this mean that a Latter-day Saint favors the Israeli position? How would a Latter-day Saint evaluate the position of the Arabs, who also seem to have legitimate claims?”

Answer/Brother G. Homer Durham

The foregoing questions suggest the idea that there is, or should be (in the current situation), an official, authoritative Latter-day Saint answer “in light of scriptural references to Judah returning to the Holy Land.” Certainly such specific response would be possible, if the First Presidency thought it necessary. However, to my knowledge, they have made no statement on the current situation in the Middle East.

As Latter-day Saints, we have been made aware of the Jews and their place in the house of Israel. That awareness, however, does not suggest that we have policies and attitudes regarding all of their crises and national problems.

The Book of Mormon, a new witness for Christ to the Jew and the gentile, appeared in 1830. Latter-day Saints have always since viewed the return of the Jews to the Holy Land as part of the program of this dispensation.

Leaders of the Church from the time of Joseph Smith have reflected on the return of the Jews. The Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 10:7 [2 Ne. 10:7] states that the Jews “shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.” (See also President David O. McKay’s discussion in Gospel Ideals, Improvement Era, 1953, p. 556.)

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the 1948 action of the United Nations terminating British rule, providing for the creation of the State of Israel, provoked private and public expression from leaders and members of the Church. Section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 133] bears directly on the general theme involved. Anticipation of “Armageddon,” scene of the defeat of anti-Christian powers in the Revelation of St. John (Rev 16:16), also has invited reflection and speculation.

The State of Israel has been established. The surrounding Arab states view it as a thorn in the flesh that must be plucked out. Through it all, the State of Israel since 1948 has demonstrated the will to live and to survive.

We need to remember, though, that the Arabs are also children of Abraham. Hence, the complications of any given hour, event, or conflict really suggest another gospel view: namely, that both Jews and Arabs need to rekindle their mutual heritage of kinship and brotherhood. The example of the pure love of Christ and the message of the restoration of his gospel must eventually be the means of reconciliation if there is to be reconciliation.

In the meantime, then, even though there will be many crises, perhaps losses and gains on both sides, we can rest assured that the prophets have foreseen some of the end results. In 1936 President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“Today the words of the prophets are being fulfilled. Judah is being gathered. Jerusalem is being rebuilt and the Lord is preparing to redeem his ancient people. Eventually they will be sitting under their own vine and fig tree, enjoying the fulness of the Gospel, and the blessings of the house of the Lord, in fulfillment of the words of Ezekiel:

“‘Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore’—Ezek. 37:26.” (TheProgress of Man, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1952, p. 129.)