July 24, 2013
There were quizzical looks as the speaker brought greetings to several thousand Evangelical Christians gathered in the nation’s sweltering capital this week. Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau solemnly greeted the attendees, “To all of you here in Washington, D.C., I bring a message from Jerusalem, D.C.” Jerusalem, D.C.? Then, he intoned, Jerusalem, David’s Capital. That emphasis was clearly needed. It reminds all of us why Jerusalem must never be divided again.
And it would be a good pointer for our own State Department. There, President Obama’s appointee, Victoria Nuland, recently danced around the question of whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel or not. (Nuland might consider trying out for the 2016 Olympics. She’d be sure to win a Gold Medal for Ice Dancing with this cold, mechanical performance.)
Minister Landau has spoken of the pre-1967 borders of Israel as “Auschwitzlines.” He means that it would not be possible for the Jewish state to defend itself if forced to live within those constricted borders. And that’s exactly what Israel’s enemies want.
We who gathered in the Washington Convention Centerwere happy to hear Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He came to us via satellite link from Jerusalem. He thanks the 1.4 million members of CUFI—Christians United For Israel—for their constant support. And he referenced the colorful banners we saw displayed throughout the halls.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. [Isaiah 62:1]
The Prime Minister spoke directly to these supporters. He has the capacity to around State Department paper shufflers and dissemblers. He described the scene we should recognize in the Bloody Crescent we call the Mideast.
“From the shores of the Atlantic to the northern regions of India, we see a sea of turmoil. Israelis the only beacon of light and hope in the region.” As speaker after speaker reminded us, Israelis the only country where the Christian population is expanding, and where Jews, Christians, and Muslims have religious freedom.
“Israelis the best partner of the United States,” the Prime Minister continued. What was interesting about this video presentation was its sobriety. Benjamin Netanyahu smiled only when he spoke of his son, once his student, now his Bible teacher. “We read the Bible,” he said, “it tells the Truth for all mankind.”
He averted to the conflict in Syria, where internecine warfare between Alawites, Shiites and Sunni, Druze and Kurds has left Christians in the crossfire. But he did not call for U.S. or Israeli intervention in that civil war. His comments about Syria—whose fate seems to mesmerize some Washington politicians of both parties—seemed intended to show us the kind of neighbors with which Israel must deal on a day-to-day basis.
Then, he turned to Iran. Many Western journalists are convinced that the election of Hassan Rouhani as president will mark a major new departure for the Islamic Republic. But Rouhani has boasted of how he hoodwinked Western arms inspectors when he wasIran’s nuclear negotiator. Rouhani is the tool ofIran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks with an air of authority. He is not one to get excited about the Arab Spring or the Iranian “elections.” He doesn’t think it is so important when Tehran’s organ grinder changes out monkeys.
“One way or another, Iran will be stopped,” he says with grim resolution. “We are capable of defending ourselves. We will guard our country. We will protect the Jewish people’s future.”
In my lifetime, I can remember only one such American ally. Only in 1982, when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sent a war fleet to the South Atlantic to take back the Falkland Islands did we see seen such courage, such determination. The Argentine military junta had seized the islands and was set upon suppressing the British population there. Britain might still be a Britain without the Falklands. But she would no longer be Great Britain. Asked if Britain might lose to the Argentines, Mrs. Thatcher echoed Queen Victoria: “The possibility of defeat does not exist.”
If Mrs. Thatcher could show such resolve defending an obscure, distant group of windswept, rocky islands—with more sheep than people—then how much more can we expect the Israelis to defend their very homeland? The Jewish people got a second chance after Hitler’s Holocaust sought to annihilate them. Israelis that second chance.
Anyone who doubts their determination has only to meet the three young Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officers who gave a briefing. With crisp, military precision, they described their duties. They told what it is like to live in a town where a young mother hears an air raid siren. She knows she has just 15 seconds to stop the car, get her little children out of their car seats, and shelter them in one of the roadside cylinders seen everywhere. Just 15 seconds before a Hamas or Hezbollah rocket slams into her town. Our IDF briefers know that it is this young Israeli mother they serve. It is she and her children whose lives they cherish and protect.
Sec. of State John Kerry wants Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down and negotiate with the kind of people who send those thousands of rockets into Israel, firing indiscriminately. How much more territory can he be pressured into giving up? The formula for forty years has been “Land for Peace.” Israel gave up the land—Sinai, Gaza, the Southern Lebanon security zone, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Nazareth. And where is the peace?
British Col. Richard Kemp, who commanded his nation’s forces in Afghanistan, spoke of Gen. Orde Wingate, the Evangelical Christian who trained Israel’s armed forces even before there was a State of Israel. Col. Kemp quoted Israel’s famous one-eyed war hero, Gen. Moshe Dayan, who said “Wingate taught us everything.”
Today, said Col. Kemp, the Israelis are teaching us everything. Amen to that. I only hope our American leaders will learn in time.