by Eddie Santoro
"Heetnatkoot” is a Hebrew word that we have not heard very often in the years we have been here. Now, it is the central topic of every news program, newspaper and the dominant reality that is impacting life in this country. In English, the word means “disengagement” and refers to the impending withdrawal from Gaza. It is the trauma of this “heetnatkoot” that is shaking Israeli society today.
Lessons From Israel’s History
A quick look back at Israel’s history will help us understand what is going on. Thirty-eight years ago, in what was modern Israel’s greatest military victory, this nation defeated the armies of seven hostile Arab nations in the Six Day War. This victory stunned the world and radically changed the map of Israel. When the fighting was over, Israel was in control of the entire Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which had previously been Egypt, the entire West Bank of the Jordan River which had been under the control of Jordan and the Golan Heights which had formerly belonged to Syria.
As the Israeli army swept through the West Bank towards the Jordan River, Moshe Dayan who was the Israeli military commander at that time made a prophetic observation. For the first time in Israel’s history, the Arabs that lived in the lands that Israel was conquering did not flee before the advancing army. They had learned that the Israeli army was not like their Arab counterparts and would not slaughter the civilians that remained behind. As General Dayan looked upon the Arab towns filled with their citizens, he shared with his fellow commanders that on this day, the dream of a “Greater Israel” had died. He understood that the large numbers of Arabs that were remaining on the land that Israel had taken would ultimately make it impossible for Israel to maintain control of the West Bank and Gaza.
Thirty eight years later, his words have come true. The hundreds of thousands of Arabs that remained in the conquered areas in 1967 have mushroomed to a population of more than three million. Israel has maintained its control of these areas and their residents through a very intense military effort. As the Arab numbers have grown, the inescapable reality has been forced upon the nation that we cannot forever oppress millions of people to achieve our nation’s geo-political or spiritual goals.
The One State Solution
Lately, certain key leaders in the Arab world have been expressing a radical shift in their policy towards Israel. According to the new way of thinking, they, in fact, do not want to militarily destroy Israel and are saying that a separate Palestinian state is basically untenable. According to their plan, all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea should be one state which can even be called Israel! The only thing that they are demanding for this “submission” to Israel’s will is that ALL THE PEOPLE that live within this expanded nation would be given their just and full rights as citizens.
To most of the world, this may sound like a perfectly reasonable and justifiable plan. For Israel, the result would be disastrous as the number of Arabs in this expanded country would quickly outnumber the Jews thus, de facto, destroying the Jewish nature of Israel.
Israel - an apartheid nation?
In light of this, Israel’s control of Gaza is increasingly problematic. If this situation continues, the world will soon demand that Israel give the Gazans full rights as citizens. If Israel refuses, the cry will go up and has already been heard that Israel is an apartheid nation. One only need to look at the recent history of South Africa to understand that the final end of this would be a world boycott of Israel and the Jewish state ultimately being forced into accepting millions of Arabs as full citizens. In just a short time, Israel’s majority would become Arab and the Jewish state would be transformed into another of the many fundamental Islamic nations of the earth!
I believe both Prime Minister Sharon and President George Bush, along with the majority of the Israeli government, understand this reality. They know too well that the only defense against this plan is complete and total separation from the Arabs that now dwell within land governed by Israel, but do not already hold Israeli citizenship. The withdrawal from Gaza is Israel’s attempt to achieve this separation. The security wall that Israel is building is most certainly a means of protection but it is also an unmistakable border between another two million Arab Palestinians and the Israeli people. Israel is unilaterally disengaging because the alternative will be destruction. Nearly 75% of Israelis also understand that this separation is necessary.
Let me conclude with the clear statement that we believe with all of our hearts that one day Israel will occupy all the land that God promised to us, but military occupation of the land is not the answer. God promised us much more than today’s reality in Gaza of 8,000 Jews living in the midst of 1.3 million Palestinians who are committed to their destruction. Those who hate Israel wil be driven out and the Jewish people will live in the cities and villages that were once the homes of its enemies. This is the fullness of God’s promise and God alone will achieve this promised end at the right time.
All that I have said above does not make the current disengagement from Gaza any easier. The country is divided and nobody feels good about it. The withdrawal will take place this month and the nation continues to be in turmoil. Travel is becoming more and more difficult as groups that are opposed to the withdrawal have taken to blocking the major roads in the country with their bodies to make their voices heard. The army has engaged in a daily struggle with settlers in Gaza as they try and remove empty buildings and prepare the way for this month’s withdrawal. The pictures on the news of Jewish bulldozers destroying Jewish homes are heart breaking. The scenes of the Israeli army physically confronting and removing Jewish people from their homes is unbelievably traumatic to watch.
We are asking you to PRAY FOR ISRAEL. The nation needs an outpouring of grace and mercy at this time. It is also a very dangerous time as in the midst of all this turmoil the terrorists are still attacking. Hizbollah is attacking from Lebanon and Hamas is firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. Suicide bombers from Islamic Jihad are still getting into Israel and terrorists are shooting Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Pray that God would shelter this nation throughout this month.
Pray that unity would take precedence over division.
And pray that there would be an increase of receptivity to the Gospel at this time.
Pray that we will see an ever-increasing harvest in our nation that so desperately needs her God.
* orange is the symbol of protest against israel disengagement from gaza and areas in judea and samaria (the west bank).
Eddie and Jackie Santoro are elders in Congregation Tiferet Yeshua. You may request their prayer letter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Maoz Partner,
Yeshua knew what He was talking about when He said there would be wars and rumors of wars, but “the end is not yet.”
The end is irrevocably tied to the salvation of Israel and a time when God’s spirit will be poured out on all flesh.
Whether it is bombings in London or confusion and chaos in Israel during this time of disengagement, the end is not yet.
Souls must be saved. The Gospel preached. New believers healed and delivered. Leaders raised up. New congregations planted. And the poor must have the gospel preached to them.
We must not forget the Gospel must be preached to the poor. That was one of the signs Yeshua gave to John the Baptist verifying that He, Yeshua, was and is the Messiah. He preached to the poor. He loved the poor.
The Bible promises that God will repay those who give to the poor.
Through istandwithisrael.com, you may help Israeli believers in Yeshua get on their feet, learn skills, get help where they need it most and successfully provide for their families.
And you, through them, will advance the Kingdom of God in Israel! Today’s generation is strategic.
Let us together help the Israeli citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven make the most of their lives and the purposes for which God created them!
The Lord will repay you, as He has promised.
For Zion’s sake,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
A Thank You Note
Nearly two years ago, my husband lost his job. I was home with our two children and had never worked outside the house. We were in great need and I began to pray about this to God and felt I should look into a job in a kindergarten. Thankfully I promptly found a position as a helper to a kindergarten teacher.
After working there for three months, I began to feel in my heart that I would really like to become a preschool teacher myself. Though somewhat apprehensive, I continued to pray until I had peace to go ahead.
I spoke to my pastor, Ari, about applying to istandwithisrael.com for financial aid to enroll in the child care and preschool management courses necessary to receive my teacher’s certificate. My application was accepted and I received $1,350 which enabled me to finish the courses. Even during the time I was studying, I was able to work part time and began tithing to my congregation.
I am now employed as a preschool teacher, and I regularly tithe. All this through the blessed help I received from the istandwithisrael.com fund. I am planning to start a small kindergarten in my home this September a new and exciting step for me.
My brother, Shlomi, had accepted Yeshua into his heart nine years ago at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua. After watching for a couple of years the dramatic changes in his life, I too followed him in receiving the Messiah’s atonement for my sins and became a member of Tiferet Yeshua.
My husband has also come to faith and lately brought his mother to the congregation! And God has now given him a new job in orthopedic support products!
Enclosed is a copy of my graduation certificate which is testimony to the fruit of your blessed help.
I thank you for being there for me in my time of need and I bless you in the name of our Lord Yeshua. Thanks also to Ari & Shira for their full support.
From the bottom of my heart,
Istandwithisrael: a humanitarian fund of Maoz Ministries, has distributed $600,000 since its beginning in September, 2002, to widows, orphans, the needy and oppressed among Israeli Messianic Jews, with a portion allotted for Arab Christians and victims of terror.
When born-again Jews and Arabs acquire the skills to find good jobs, giving them the means to support themselves and their families, they are far more effective in the Kingdom of God.
Blessing the Messianic believers of Israel builds the Kingdom of God!