|Israel leads the list of UN nations that have defied UN resolutions.
The majority of Israeli citizens believe there is a danger that Israel could cease to exist. Sixty percent believe Israel is fighting for its life, according to the latest Smith Research and Consulting poll. (Jerusalem Post, Oct 4, 02)
Likewise, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communications Center support Israel’s fears. Sixty-four percent of Palestinians support suicide bombings while only 9.4% strongly oppose it. Eighty-one percent want the Intifada to continue (Ibid.) and Palestinian leaders continue to issue declarations of their goals to destroy the state of Israel.
While Israel’s Jewish population of 5,100,000 souls lives under constant awareness that her tiny possession has become the prime target in the worldwide campaign by Muslim terrorists. Israel’s Orthodox citizens fiercely hold on to the covenant by which God gave the title deed of the land of Israel to Abraham and his heirs, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel), but most Israelis who are secular have no hope in that promise.
Today, the tiny nation of Israel, battling to keep what land she has, is already one of the most densely populated countries in the world 294 residents per square kilometer, including deserts. Imagine what it's like for the average downtown Tel Aviv resident who shares every square kilometer with 6,788 people. Some of her ajoining townships, such as Bnei Barak, have even a denser population, with a concentration of 19,450 per sq. km. (Jerusalem has 1,192 people per sq. km.) (Ibid., Apr. 9, 02)
So how has Israel been able to survive? Liberal and conservative Israelis, secular and religious, believe that it is because of the will, the inner resolve and commitment of its citizens with the faithful help of many Jews living in the western world.
Yet Palestinians seem as determined as ever to destroy completely the Jewish state.
One would think that 1800 Palestinian deaths, 60% unemployment and 70% in need of food charity in Gaza would make them want to return to a normal life. Yet, oddly enough, most Palestinians want to continue the war against Israel. The obvious question is “Why?” The answer must be that the Palestinians believe they are winning. (Ibid., Oct. 11, 02)
Palestinians have become the heroes of the Muslim world. They are “sacrificing their lives” to kill the hated Jew, and they believe they have three achievements to their credit: They have undermined Israel's security, weakened Israel's economy and caused Jews to leave the country. From conversations with Palestinian leaders, Israelis officials are aware the purpose of the Intifada is to hurt Israel, rather than to promote Palestinian welfare. Thus the Intifada, though not gaining a Palestinian state, still makes perfect sense to the Islamic extremists.
To the Palestinians, the goal of creating their own state takes second place to the goal of undermining the Jewish one. (Ibid., Oct. 8, 02)
So even though Israel’s military might grows stronger, Islam’s war against her has only grown fiercer. They are feeling a sense of victory. Says one journalist: “It comes from their joy over the damage done to the Israeli economy: losses in investments, construction and agriculture, as well as the conspicuous drop in tourism. The Palestinians gloat at their success at keeping tourists away...even Jewish tourists. (Ibid.)
Truly, Israel’s economy is in shambles. Now one out of every ten Israeli laborers is out of work 250,000 unemployed. Israel, which has almost no natural resources, but is rich in human resources, was a natural goldmine for hi-tech industry. Now the global hi-tech crisis has caused many of the 1400 start-up companies born during the1998-2000 boom to fold and venture capital to be virtually non-existent. That, coupled with an intense war against terrorism and loss of tourism has broken this once healthy economy.
Meanwhile Israel’s recession is deepening; instead of any growth at all, Israel’s economy is expected to shrink as much as 1.5% by the end of 2002. The average salary has dropped this year by 4.5%. Unfortunately, without economic growth, there are no new jobs and this, says labor minister Shlomo Benizri, “is a grim predicament affecting the nation.”
The government's solution was to raise taxes. Nevertheless, although taxes went up, tax revenues continued to fall this year. The Jerusalem Post editorial castigated this no-win policy: “The Finance Ministry is still acting like an old-fashioned doctor, known as a phlebotomist, who, faced with a seriously ill patient, prescribes more and more bleedings...Raising taxes in the face of a recession and on top of an already punishingly high tax burden is a form of fiscal insanity. (Ibid., Oct. 8, 02)
Without available jobs, immigration of Jews to Israel has slowed to a trickle probably not more than 22,000 this year when total numbers are released. Meanwhile, last year’s figures reveal 20,000 Israelis left Israel for an extended time. The numbers could very well be higher this year.
A Dun and Bradstreet survey reported that 15% of all Israeli companies and businesses are in danger of immediate closure and another 15% are in serious difficulties. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 2, 02) Israeli officials are concerned that a war toppling Saddam Hussein could cause even more destruction to the Israel economy.
The bad news continues: A whopping 43% of the working population is not earning enough to even pay income tax. A worker whose gross income is less than $620 per month is exempt from taxes while a person who earns $1500 ends up paying over 50% in taxes and employee benefits. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 10, 02)
Yet even the poor pay plenty of taxes 18% value added tax to virtually everything sold in Israel. A small, unfurnished apartment in downtown Tel Aviv costs between $700 to $1000 monthly rent, plus taxes, plus all utilities. That same small apartment will cost a quarter of a million dollars or more to buy.
Now, starting January 1, 2003, Israel will be taxing all income of Israeli residents made outside of Israel. Most will be paying about 50% of their salaries to Israel under this new law. The new tax will especially affect Messianic Jewish and Christian ministries who draw salaries outside of Israel.
In Israel’s distress, the Jewish nation has few places to look for help outside her own borders. Surrounded by a sea of raging, oil-rich, Islamic dictatorships bent on her destruction, Israel certainly cannot lean on the UN. In fact, Israel leads the list of UN nations that have defied UN resolutions.
Since 1968, Israel has violated 32 resolutions that included condemnation or criticism of the Israeli governments policies and actions. This number does not include many vague UN resolutions against Israel that could be possibly interpreted different ways. Nor does it include the many resolutions that only condemned Israel but gave no specific directives for changes in her policies. It is therefore important to note that Saddam Hussein’s defiance of UN resolutions is the very reason President George W. Bush has appealed to the Security Council to declare war on Iraq. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 10, 02) Could the UN one day decide to declare war on Israel for defying her mandates?
In short, the UN is enemy territory.
True, Israel does not see herself as comparable to Iraq in relation to the latter’s violation of UN resolutions. Says Israel’s deputy chief of Israel’s mission at the UN, Aharon Ya'akov, “There are big differences between the decisions that refer to Israel and those that refer to Iraq. Israel is the only democracy in the region and is fighting for its existence, while Iraq is a brutal dictatorship that attacked its neighbors and violates human rights, including the use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.” (Ibid.)
Perhaps for now the U.S. can keep the UN at bay. But what about the International Criminal Court that claims the right to try any leader or soldier from any nation for what it would define as crimes against humanity. (One such crime that has been bandied about in the lofty chambers of world leaders is that the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria constitute crimes against humanity.) Seventy-six nations (not Israel) have ratified the International Criminal Court treaty known as the Rome Covenant. The Israeli army is worried this world court could be dominated by Arab nations and their allies. They could then prosecute Israeli army officers or government leaders for their war against Islamic terrorism.
WATER: A CRISIS THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY
There is yet another critical problem that grows greater with every single passing day, and which will not go away water, or, that is, the lack of it. Because of preoccupation with security, Israel has done nothing at all to provide water (for instance, through desalization plants) for her citizens as undergrown aquifers dry up.
The Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main source of drinking water, is also emptying out and no one seems to know what to do except to keep lowering the red line. The problem is that the lake has salty springs bubbling up into the lake, but that are kept under control ecologically because of the immense pressure of the sweet water. For this reason, so the experts say, the Sea of Galilee must not be allowed to drop below a critical red line for fear of irreparable damage by lowering the weight of the sweet water.
Today, as we write this report, Lebanon is celebrating the diverting of the Hatzbani River which feeds the Jordan River which in turn feeds the Sea of Galilee. The project, overseen by the Hizbollah and Amal terrorist organizations and very popular among all Lebanese, will draw off from two to four million cubic meters of water annually. Siphoning water from headwaters of rivers that pass into another nation is not acceptable by any international precedent, but the U.S. has warned Israel not to do anything that could disrupt the coalition efforts of the U.S. to topple Saddam. With declining annual precipitation and the preoccupation of a war for her survival, Israel continues to do absolutely nothing against the day when she will literally run out of water.
ISRAEL’S ONLY FRIENDS: BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS
In the face of all Israel’s troubles, she is hard pressed to find friends that is, except Christians! Thus a paradigm shift is taking place as to how Israelis view conservative (born-again) Christians. Until a short time ago, Christianity was considered to be a religion of people who hated Jews with close to 18 centuries of persecution against Jews to prove it.
So when Israelis did spot a pro-Israel Christian, he was either viewed as a naive Don Quixote type, idealistic but without relevance, or as a friendly person with ulterior motives of seeking their conversion to the Church.
But today, Israelis from every area of government and public life are awakening to the fact that our strongest ally is the U.S. whose president is a born-again Christian and very pro-Israel. The people who can influence him (more because of his core beliefs than for political reasons) are born-again Christians.
David Klinghoffer, reporter for the Jerusalem Post and an Orthodox Jew, is representative of the new thinking: “Many of us have woken up to the blessing of political friendship with America’s conservative Christians.” He says what every Israeli knows that the entire world is against Israel except for America. And even in America, Israel has enemies who are none other than the academics, liberal journalists, and left-wing ethnic activists. America’s Jews, who, by habit, have overwhelmingly identified themselves as secular liberal Democrats, are now watching in dismay as their fellow liberals have become more and more vocally anti-Israel.
“At the same time they could not help noticing that other Americans whom the Jews were accustomed to thinking of as antagonists conservatives, especially conservative Christians were calling passionately for President George W. Bush to stand by Israel,” Klinghoffer said. (JP, Aug. 16, o2)
Clearly, there are many Israeli journalists and public figures that still see Christians as having one goal in mind to convert Jews to Christianity. But as they observe the steadfast support for Israel’s existence together with the financial and political backing, more are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the only friends left in the world, outside of the Jewish people themselves, are born-again Christians.
There is one group of people who are still viewed with suspicion, fear and hatred by most governmental officials and media people. Those are the Messianic Jews. But Messianic Jews have less crime, pay the highest percentage of their taxes (because they’re honest), serve in the army with excellence and are less of a burden on the state (believers are not addicted to drugs and alcohol), than any other comparable group of Israelis anywhere. And as the days pass, the scales will fall off the eyes of more and more Israelis and they too will embrace the Messiah of Israel. That is the next paradigm shift we all await.
Breakthrough for Christian Zionism
By Asher Intrater
Over the past few months there has been an unprecedented breakthrough of Israeli awareness about the support of evangelical Christians. Two years ago Yasser Arafat declared a terrorist war (Intifada) against Israel. While Israel has fought bravely to defend itself against the daily terrorist attacks, it has in some ways lost the war in terms of world public opinion. This has left the Israeli community feeling "alone" and without friends in the world, more than ever.
This dark situation has tended to highlight the unwavering love and support of Christian Zionists. In the past there has been a tendency to dismiss evangelical support of Israel, while at the same time exploiting the financial benefits. Israelis used to think that their primary support came from liberal democrats in the U.S. (of the likes of President Clinton), and particularly from the leftward-leaning Jewish community in America.
However, the intifada has caused a change in internal Israeli politics. The secular humanist majority of the country had been holding out for the hope that, if enough concessions were made to the Palestinians, true peace could be found and a new Middle East arise. That viewpoint was pushed to the limit by Prime Minister Barak in his peace offer, which seemed to Israelis to yield every possible concession.
When Arafat turned down that peace proposal, a significant number of Israelis realized that the liberal vision of peace was simply an illusion. The mainstream of Israeli politics took a step toward the right. (It also proved the dishonesty of Arafat's motives.)
The Intifada caused a breakdown of the humanist ideology upon which hopes for peace were built. With the destruction of that ideology and in the face of continuing terrorism, the support for Israel from liberal Jews and democrats in America has been faltering. Into this vacuum has stepped the conservative evangelical Christian community. Here are a few examples:
Thousands of people annually march through the streets during the Jerusalem March, an event sponsored by the city government. It is made up from local Israeli organizations, and Christian marchers from many countries around the world (organized by the Christian Embassy). This year, due to the fear of terrorist attacks, the numbers of Israeli marchers fell off drastically. However, the international Christian participation remained strong, and was enthusiastically welcomed both by Jerusalem residents and by Israeli government officials.
Several television interviews, including one following Israel's famous Mabat newscast, covered recent meetings of the Christian Coalition in Washington, featuring interviews with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. A series of television spots were aired, featuring American Christian business leader, Earl Cox, expressing support for Israel.
The most popular Israeli newspaper is called "Yediot Achronot," and its most influential journalist is Nahum Barnea. Over the past two decades Barnea has expressed the mainstream of Israeli moderately liberal political views. He happened to be in Washington during the Christian Coalition meetings, and wrote an editorial, which appeared on the front page.
His article "Transfer, Hallelujah" spoke with sarcasm, bewilderment and yet reluctant appreciation, for the phenomenon of evangelical Christian support of Israel. ["Transfer" here means total occupation of the West Bank by transferring Palestinians out.] He views American evangelicals as right-wing religious fanatics, and sees President Bush as one of them. And yet he could not hold back some admiration for their commitment and loyalty.
Evangelical support is rejected by liberal humanists in Israel for being both too conservative and too religious. It is also held in suspicion by Orthodox Jews for its "hidden missionary" agenda. Yet a new consensus is arising among many Israelis, including mainstream conservatives, moderate liberals and patriotic religious Jews that is ready to accept evangelical Christians as true allies.
"So what if they're Christian," some of them are saying. "We both believe in the Messiah; we think he hasn't come yet and they think he's coming back soon. For the meantime any way, at least we're on the same side."