Israel

This is one subject that just won’t go away and will remain with us until the end of the world as we know it. While I have not blogged of late on Israel related issues (but note I have done so in the past – see here, here, here, here and here), the subject of Israel is one that interests me for all sorts of reasons. Given there are many other subjects worth me commenting on and Israel hasn’t been headline news of late (but have no doubt it will be), maybe I can be excused?

My position stated in my earlier blogs is more or less the same as before. I believe Israel (the people), the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (even though making that connection isn’t altogether straight-forward), continue to have a special place in YHWH’s heart and His purposes. I believe Israel (the land) was given to Israel (the people) as part of YHWH’s covenant with His people. I believe YHWH is the upholder of the principles of truth, righteousness and justice and because Israel (land and people) do not support those principles as they ought, they have incurred His judgment and the Palestinian question raised in my earlier blogs remains a pertinent one without satisfactory answers being found.

There have been a number of happenings, including reports in the media, that have stirred me to write now, and so for this posting I will take each point in turn and offer my thoughts. I remain unapologetic in maintaining having a correct theological perspective is as important, if not more so, as any other, and this will govern my thoughts. Also, I am in a nigh unique position of rubbing shoulders with right wing Christians who will support Israel come what may and rubbing shoulders with social activists including left wing Christians who are vehemently opposed to Israel for their oppressing Palestinians. While I recognize my responsibility to be a peacemaker, I am even more beholden to speaking the truth.

Firstly: the propaganda war shows no signs of abating and one senses that polarised positions are being taken either side of whatever the argument happens to be. If anything there has been a further shift in sentiment AWAY from Israel by other nations and individuals as a result of perceived wrong doings by the Israeli authorities, as well as robust claims that Israel is acting as it should given the opposition it faces, which is huge, egged on by its various supporters, including those from the Christian right. I have recently began an electronic scrapbook to contain complaints against Israel and complaints by Israel, hoping one day people of integrity from all sides will respectfully consider the arguments, recognizing the axioms each hold, before coming to a balanced and informed view. Two examples, small in themselves but pertinent, are firstly reports about Palestinians bulldozing buildings that had been gifted to them by the Israelis and Israelis bulldozing Palestinian buildings to make way for Israeli settlements, and who are the good and bad guys? Secondly, is the West making generous concessions to Iran so vehemently opposed to Israel and where does the right lie?

Secondly: I have no doubt we are seeing yet again an alarming rise in anti-semitism in many countries, and this needs to be resisted. There is also a rise in anti-Zionism, which is a debatable matter, and is not the same as anti-semitism. Two of my Facebook friends, who I have a lot of respect for, have today posted an online petition: to “express condemnation of discrimination, hate speech and other forms of anti-Semitic attitudes toward people because of their Jewish faith”. Naturally, I agree with this statement, but disagree with the “small print” beneath it e.g. regarding what can be deemed as spreading hate, pertinent as many a gospel preacher, arrested for offending someone, knows to his cost. Another of my Christian Facebook friends wrote concerning the same invitation: “I stopped subscribing to CUFI (Christians United for Israel – who initiated the petition) as they happily advocate the Israelis breaking most of the Ten Commandments and I am on God’s side not the Israelis. When they cohabit the same goal then I will support the Israelis, not otherwise and not at the expense of the innocent”. While I welcome its reporting on many issues, I consider CUFI has a somewhat skewed perspective on the issues that matter, given its uncritical support of Israel, and I share some of my friend’s reticence.

Thirdly: linked to my previous point, I also picked up in today’s Facebook offering an article written by a Jewish lady who makes the point: “as an unaffiliated Jew, I find myself both isolated and overwhelmed by my ties to my religion, and chastened by my profound ambivalence to the policies of the Israeli state. No single religious group speaks for us all”. I read this in the context of situations, such as reported in certain US campuses, where people had been brought to task for criticizing Israel and have been effectively gagged. Going back to my previous CUFI point, I am “for Israel” but reserve the right personally to criticize Israel and uphold the right of others to do so, even if I disagree with them.

Fourthly: one of radio stations I tune into has been running a series recently on Israel, promoting what a wonderful country it is and one worth visiting, as it reports from various places around the country. My only visit to Israel was in 1981 when I spent a month as a lone backpacker traveling to all four corners of the country, which I found thrilling for all sorts of reasons, not least because it was the land God promised Abraham and where many of the events of the Bible took place, including where Jesus walked. I concur with that glowing review put forward, although the situation in parts, namely Gaza and the West Bank, is anything but wonderful.

Fifthly: I refer to the final battle (the Battle of Armageddon) before the world as we know it comes to the end. Further details can be found by carefully studying the Bible. What is clear is that the location for such a battle and one of the principle protagonists will be Israel, and it will be an intense global conflict preceding the coming of the Messiah. While I remain an ardent student of the Bible knowing its teaching more than most, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to understanding and interpreting end time events, including the place of Israel. One of my recent conversations was with an expert in biblical prophecy who sees the principle opponents as Jews and Muslims. While my mind is still open to accepting such notions, I recognize, as radical Islam is on the rise, one of the great prizes in its advance is Israel and for it to come again under Islamic control. While our eyes are focused at this time on countries like Iraq and Syria, together with the humanitarian crisis that is unraveling, and changes in the relationship between Iran (also opposed to Israel) and the West, we should never lose sight that Israel is very much part of the equation. I will be following events with interest and besides helping in areas like supporting displaced persons and work toward just and lasting solutions, I will befriend Muslim and Jews, and I will pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

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