A History Lesson for Benny Hinn

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PFO [Personal Freedom Outreach] continues to investigate preacher Benny Hinn's claim that his father once was mayor of Jaffa, Israel (The Quarterly Journal, July-September 1992, pp. 1, 10-14).

That investigation has revealed that for a number of political and historical reasons, Costandi Hinn, a Jaffa-born Arab, could not have been mayor of an almost totally Jewish city. Jaffa technically did not exist after 1948 because it was merged with all-Jewish Tel Aviv forming one municipality called Tel Aviv-Jaffa. There was no city of Jaffa when Benny Hinn was born.

This fact appears to be foreign to Hinn. In Chapter 2 of Good Morning, Holy Spirit, Hinn refers to Tel Aviv and Jaffa as separate cities. To the reader unfamiliar with the history of the two municipalities, Hinn adds to the confusion by writing: "During my childhood, the hundred thousand people of Jaffa had become engulfed by the exploding Jewish population of Tel Aviv to the north. Today the metropolis has the official name of Tel Aviv-Jaffa" (pg. 19). Indeed, Hinn needs a history lesson.

The facts demonstrate that there was no Jaffa when Hinn was born. The facts of the merger, which became formal and final in 1950 under Mayor israel Rokach, are readily available in numerous accounts of that period.

Zionism is about a Jewish state, not a binational one. Reading through The Journal of Palestinian Studies and Arabic newspapers readily shows that the Arab citizens of Israel are regarded as second-class and are tolerated as a despised minority, a fifth column and outsiders. They cannot, even in the wildest scenario, be part of the mainstream. They are viewed as a serious internal threat never to be trusted.

For example, David K. Shipler, in his work, Arab and Jew, writes: "Today, one out of every six Israelis is an Arab, but the Arab is not Israeli in the full sense. His citizenship is shallow. It taints his self-identity with complication. He exists at the edge of a society that can never, by its nature, accept him as a complete member in disregard of the religious and ethnic identities that set him apart. He is an alien in his own land, an object of suspicion in his own home, torn between his country and his people" (pg. 428). Shipler further writes that the Arabs "were seen as inherently hostile to the state, deserving of subjugation and dangerous to educate" and that they became "automatic targets of scrutiny, distrust, and restriction in the understandable obsession with public safety" (pg. 429).

The mayor's office in Tel Aviv-Jaffa provided PFO with official documentation of the mayors since 1936 and there is no Costandi Hinn listed. All the mayors were known Israelis and Jews with proven political track records. One worker at the Tel Aviv Foundation was insulted that the suggestion was even made.

Costandi Hinn was born in Jaffa. He was Arabic an married Benny's mother, an Arab from Ramallah. Therefore, Hinn is a Palestinian. He was Greek Orthodox by religion and apparently emphasizes only that. A staff member at Hinn's Orlando Christian Center who identified himself as Steve told PFO that Hinn was neither Arab nor Jew. However, in a taped testimony, Hinn claims an Arabic heritage.

Former Jerusalemite and Princeton sociologist Raphael Patai in his book The Arab Mind identifies an Arab as "those who speak Arabic, are brought up in an Arab culture" (pg. 13). He writes that the linguistic test holds for all Arabs, whatever religious and other differences they may have. Hinn readily acknowledges that Arabic was the language spoken in his home (Good Morning, Holy Spirit, pg. 19).

The official list of all the mayors from the mayor's office in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is enough evidence to reject Hinn's claim about his father. However, PFO confirmed the list with the list with the Museum of the History of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and the Jerusalem Post.

PFO also checked numerous Palestine Post articles from 1932 and on and numerous biographies of government officials and notables in Israel to reconstruct the Jaffa-Tel Aviv merger and the people involved. Some of the helpful reference works surveyed include Politics in Palestine 1939-1948, by Issa Khalif; My Life, by Golda Meir; The Siege, by Conner Cruise O'Brien; and Biographical Dictionary of the Middle East.

There are other arguments that refute Hinn's assertion that his father was mayor of (Tel Aviv-) Jaffa. Consider the following:

  1. By the time Israel's army took Jaffa in April 1948, 95% of the Arab population had fled. There were 3,600 Arabs left who were leaderless, docile, and all virtually illiterate. (The Siege, pp. 424-434; Genesis 1948, by Dan Kurzman, pp. 6, 31-37.) The fact that the Arabs were overtly pro-Nazi during World War II stuck in the minds of the Israelis.

    Tel Aviv itself was founded (in 1909) and grew as a reaction to the antagonism and mounting hostility of the Jaffa Arabs against the Jews (Israel, by Neil Tilbury, pg. 228). The 1936 Year Book and Almanac of the Holy Land says that the Jaffa Arabs were "fanatical" (pg. 123). So, in 1948, when the all-Jewish council of Tel Aviv became the council of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, it kept Israel Rokach as mayor until 1952. The council then elected Haim Levanon as his successor. This practice continued until the 1970s. Under this system an Arab never could have been elected mayor. The idea of Golda Meir being mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa once was floated by Israeli leader David Ben-Gurion. The opposition from the orthodox community was so great that the idea was dropped. If a Jewish woman was unacceptable as mayor at the time, certainly any Arab would have been, too.

    Ben-Gurion was noted for his distrust of the Arabs. In 1936, he wrote in his diary words that have been called "the curse on Jaffa": "have never felt hatred for Arabs, and their pranks have never stirred the desire for revenge in me. But I would welcome the destruction of Jaffa, port and city. Let it come; it would be for the better. This city, which grew fat from Jewish immigration and settlement, deserves to be destroyed for having waved an ax at those who built her and made her prosper. If Jaffa went to hell, I would not count myself among the mourners." And just following the capture of Jaffa, Ben-Gurion stated his official policy: Jaffa will be a Jewish city. War is war." (Ben Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs by Shabtai Teveth, pp. 174-175 and 1949 The First Israelis by Tom Segev, pg. 75).

  2. The threat of assassination.

    Arab hostility against Arabs would have been the strongest deterrent to an Arab being mayor of an Israeli city. After the war, Arabs hated anyone of their kind they considered a collaborator. On JuIy 20, 1951, King Abdullah of Jordan was murdered in Jerusalem because he was negotiating with Israel. Arabs considered the execution - carried out by Arabs - justifiable. An Arab mayor of an all Jewish city would have been dispatched quickly either by Israeli extremists or the Arabs themselves. There was an "Arab Blood Society" operating in the slums of Jaffa set up to retaliate against any Arab who had any dealings with Jews (Politics in Palestine, pp. 67, 99).

    Yet Hinn would have readers believe "Even though my father was not Jewish, the Israeli leaders trusted him. And they were happy to have someone in Jaffa who could relate to such an international community. We were proud of his circle of friends, which included many national leaders. He was asked to be an ambassador for Israel in foreign nations but chose to stay in Jaffa" (Good Morning, Holy Spirit, pg. 20). It happens that Israel Rokach the mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa during Hinn's childhood, was the international ambassador.

    The evidence presented shows all of Hinn's claims to be false. If his father had been mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa during the 1950s, there would be pictures, newspaper accounts, government documents confirming the fact. There is nothing.

  3. 3. The explosive nature of Jaffa itself.

For many years the Jews of Yemen were persecuted, abused, mistreated and afflicted under Arab rule. (From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters). Throughout 1949 and 1950 Ben-Gurion ordered airlifts of Yemenite Jews. Almost all the Jews were in Yemen were settled in Israel. Realize that they now could tell the Arab minority in Israel what to do. They could, "get them back" and "teach them a lesson." The Yemenites were known to be Arab "haters" and hostile because of the years of persecution.

The Yemenites also tried to throw off their oriental stereotype and prove to the European Jews that years in an Arab land did not make them favorable to the enemy. Many of those Yemenite Jews settled in Jaffa, a city that is only about one mile square. Add to this the other oriental Jews from Iraq and other Arab states who settled in Jaffa and it becomes very obvious that the minority of Arabs still there would have kept a low profile.

To suggest that these Jews would have tolerated an Arab mayor is too much to imagine.

Hinn's book shows him too ignorant of all these matters. It is easy to understand why. Arabs in Israel are taught little of Israeli history.

Still, PFO maintains that Hinn wanted to be so much like preacher Kathryn Kuhlman, whose father had been a mayor, that he borrowed this and other aspects of her life for his own story. (See The Quarterly Journal, July - September 1992, pp. 1, 10-14). In Arab culture there is a propensity to copy, to imitate and to take on desired superficial traits in others. Saying what they think others want to hear and blending in is an obsession in Arab culture. Stating a wish as an accomplished fact is quite common (see Sanya Hamadi, The Character and Temperament of the Arabs).

PFO even considered the possibility that "mayor" could mean something else in Israel. We knew that "sheikh" means a respected man, an elder in a notable family, but has no political meaning whatsoever. But Hinn does not call his father "sheikh." He calls him "mayor" and says he was politically powerful (pg. 20). "My father had been mayor" (pp. 18, 37). PFO contacted Vivian Ajlouny of the Al Fajr Jerusalem Palestinian Weekly. Ajlouny is a Jerusalem Arab, Greek Orthodox by faith and knowledgeable about Arab culture. She said "mayor is mayor." It is a political term and nothing else. It can be understood in no other way. It is "Al-Baladiyeh" in Arabic - literally, the "head of a municipality." Israel or America, wherever, a mayor is a mayor.

Hinn's early biography is not factual. He has created a fanciful and distorted story that does not square with logic or history. The Kuhlman connection is plausible for his fabrications. The Arab bent toward rhetoric and overstatement and the drive for honor and pedigree might have added to it.

Only Hinn knows for sure all the reasons. His claims are refuted by the facts and an understanding of the culture he grew up in.

It is interesting to note that during Hinn's upcoming "Miracle Crusade [of the] Holy Land 1993," scheduled for March, the one important Israeli city the tour will no visit is Tel Aviv-Jaffa, his home town. His tour will skip the town from where Jonah set sail, where Solomon received the timbers from Lebanon, where Peter saw the vision of the sheet and animals and launched out to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and where he raised Tabitha from the dead.

In "Good Morning, Holy Spirit," Hinn lauds Tel Aviv-Java announcing, "As a boy I loved hearing the stories of history that surrounded me. Jaffa was founded back before recorded time" (pg. 18) He also mentions "the prophetic State of Israel," yet ignores its first capital. Hinn's first vision supposedly took place in Jaffa and as he leaves the city he asks himself, "Will I ever see this place again? .. There was a lump in my throat. I was fourteen and it was the only home I had ever known" (pg. 26).

And yet he's missing his chance to go back.

Once again, PFO calls on Thomas Nelson Publishers the distributor of Hinn's books, to examine these claims and end the confusion and fabrication in the books it publishes. What the Christian world needs is increasing integrity, honesty and truth, not fables and fiction. PFO got the facts. Thomas Nelson should do the same.

G R F, Quarterly Journal, October-December 1992

From: The Quarterly Journal, the newsletter publication of
Personal Freedom Outreach, P.O. Box 26062, Saint Louis, MO
3136.  Phone: 314-388-2648.

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In addition to the newsletter, PFO produces tracts, booklets and other materials dealing with cults and aberrant teachings. ------------------------------------------------------------- (C) Copyrighted Article. Used by Permission. Entered into Electronic Media by Christian BBS Abba II: 619-487-7746. May be uploaded to and downloaded from Christian Bulletin Boards, provided no changes are made in the text, and this notice is not removed. -------------------------------------------------------------