Sharon’s Disengagement

Worldwide Islamic terrorism

On the third anniversary of 9/11, the swamp gases of Islamic jihad terrorism are bubbling up across the globe. The past three weeks have left a bloody toll of jihad casualties:

  • in Russia, where two passenger airplanes were downed by Chechen-related Islamic terrorists (Islambouli Brigades; 90 civilians murdered);
  • in Beslan, Northern Ossetia (Shamil Basayev’s Chechnyan Islamic warriors, with al-Qaida links; 338 civilians murdered, of them 150 children; 646 wounded);
  • in Jakarta, Indonesia (Jemaah Islamiyah, also with links to al-Qaida; 9 civilians murdered, 180 injured);
  • in Falluja, Iraq (Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, funded and equipped by the Islamic Republic of Iran; 6 Marines killed, 6 wounded):
  • in Beersheva, Israel (Hamas, also funded and equipped by Iran; 16 civilians murdered, 100 injured).

The present wave of cat-and-mouse terror attacks carried out by Islamic jihad forces against the Western world began in October 1981 with the assassination of Egypt’s President Anwar al-Sadat. Some prophetic voices say that this assassination was the opening shot in what is developing into the Third World War (a conflict between the West and Islam). Amazingly, it took Western strategic radar screens a full twelve years before they began to kick in and recognize that hostilities had actually broken out. Only after the first World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 (6 murdered; 1,042 wounded) and the attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998 (224 murdered; over 4,000 injured) did some Western leaders heed the powerful wake-up calls (see The Man Who Warned America by Murray Weiss, Regan Books, 2003).

September 11 2001 (al-Qaida; nearly 3,000 murdered) brought home to the Western world that a deadly war has been declared by Islamic jihad forces, not only against Israelis and Jews but also against Christians, Westerners and especially Americans (see www.why-war.com/files/qaeda_1998_fatwa.pdf, the Feb 23 1998 World Islamic Front Statement). But even today many Western spokesmen downplay the Islamic jihad element in world terrorism. These leaders try to explain (and often inadvertently justify) these attacks as primarily sociological and political in nature. The unappetizing truth is that these jihad attacks are spiritually motivated in nature, and are based on a literal reading of the Koran and Islamic Hadith.

It is strategically important to join the dots, to understand the connection between individual Islamic terror attacks and the overarching Islamic jihad goals. These goals include a divide and conquer strategy toward the Westen alliance; the goal of destroying Western economies through oil embargos; the attempt to weaken Western connections with Israel and to undercut sympathy for the Jewish people; the destruction of Israel through terror and open warfare; the spread of Wahabi jihad Islam across the planet and especially throughout the Islamic world. For more information, feel free to read Avner’s e-booklet “A Perspective on Islam” at www.davidstent.org (also can be purchased on-site in printed form).

Pray for the Holy Spirit to block, frustrate and expose jihad strategies and actions; to grant wisdom, discernment and successful counter-terrorist strategies and actions to all those working to defeat Islamic terrorism; to liberate many followers of Islam from dark thoughts and views and for them to receive saving revelation of Yeshua; to establish the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of God’s chosen people.

Peace in Israel – short-term or shorter term?

Many Israelis are quietly experiencing a great agony of soul during the upcoming High Holidays. Much of this travail will not be due to a wave of spiritual repentance in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but over the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s vow to disengage from the Gaza Strip and portions of the West Bank. This plan would involve relinquishing Israel’s control over lands promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the eternal inheritance of the Jewish people. It would entail the transfer of thousands of Jews away from those farms and communities. It would mean the handing over Jewish fields, kibbutzim and small towns, as well as some military bases and observation posts, to an Islamically radicalized population and terror organizations — all committed to the destruction of the people and state of Israel.

A boiling cauldron of dissension and violent debate, threat and counter-threat characterize discussions about disengagement among Israelis. These tensions underscore how divided the Israeli electorate is, and how unsure it is about the overall soundness of Sharon’s strategy. Since Israelis hotly contest this issue and have not come to any clear consensus, what should Bible believers think? How should we pray? What should we do?

I picked up a paperback in an airport recently, The Jericho Sanction by Colonel Oliver North. In this realistic novel, a crusty Marine explains one of his life maxims. “The choice is not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.” Most Israelis can readily identify with this proverb. They are convinced that their own solution to Israel’s quandaries is bad, but that their political opponent’s solution is definitely worse! In some cases these same divisions are found among believing Messianic brethren here in Israel. What can be done to clarify the debate, to throw more light and less heat on the subject?

Some facts can lay a helpful groundwork for further discussion. Prime Minister Sharon was elected on January 28 2003 in a landslide victory that doubled his party’s number of Knesset seats — from 38 seats to Labor’s 19.  He now had a decisive majority and a clear mandate, receiving 29% of the popular vote compared to Labor’s 14%. This mandate included no withdrawal from Gaza, the West Bank or any part of Jerusalem; no negotiations with Arafat as long as terror continued; and a strong counter-terrorist military and intelligence response to Islamic jihad operations against Israelis. The election was understood by journalists and pundits to be a decisive popular rejection of Yitzhak Rabin’s, Shimon Peres’ and Ehud Barak’s Oslo Peace Process. In any event Yasser Arafat had thrown Oslo overboard some time back, choosing to renew terrorist violence against Israelis as a hard-ball “negotiating” strategy.

Nearly one year later Sharon did a complete turn around. At the Herzliya Conference on December 18 2003 Sharon announced his intention to unilaterally withdraw Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and to evacuate four Israeli settlements from Gaza and a small section of the northern West Bank. Since Sharon had been elected on a platform diametrically opposed to these moves, his own party insisted that his radical new plans be brought to a vote. Eventually three separate votes were taken, and each time the results were not what Sharon had desired.

On May 2 2004 Sharon’s disengagement proposal came up for a vote in a Likud party referendum and was defeated 60% to 40%, with over 50% of all registered voters participating. This was a high voter turnout by Israeli standards. Despite an earlier pledge to abide by the party decision, Sharon ignored his party’s democratic vote and announced that he would still proceed with his plan.

Sharon then announced that he would bring the disengagement plan up for a cabinet vote. If, however, the cabinet refused to stand with him, AP quoted Sharon as saying that “I am determined to pass this plan, even if I am forced to change the make-up of the government or to take unprecedented political steps”. On Friday June 4 2004, ahead of the vote, Sharon fired two coalition ministers who would not be voting for his plan. Three other cabinet members (strongly opposed to disengagement but fearing Sharon’s power) now voted with Sharon. The vote passed 14 to 7. In July 2004 a 90 kilometer long human chain was formed between the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem by between 130,000 and 200,000 demonstrators protesting against Sharon’s disengagement plan.

Last month the Likud Party Central Committee voted 60% to 40% against Sharon’s request to pursue a pro-disengagement political alliance with Shimon Peres’ Labor party. Likud lawmaker Michael Ratzon noted after this vote that “Sharon cannot ignore the wishes of his party”. But the Prime Minister’s Office responded that “the Prime Minister is determined to continue with the disengagement plan.”

These facts reveal a few important points. One is that Sharon has not followed accepted normative Western democratic process in pursuit of his disengagement plan. Another is that Sharon is not following the mandate he was elected to fulfill — a mandate which has been repeatedly re-emphasized by votes at various levels of his own party’s leadership. Third, a significant portion of Israelis are opposed to Sharon’s disengagement plan. Their ballot was cast for Sharon, who is now opposing the very constituency that brought him to power!

The issues raised by Sharon’s suggested disengagement plan are exposing deep divisions in Israel. It is also clear that at this point in time Sharon does not have decisive backing or a clear majority within his own party.

The disengagement discussion can be pictured as a stool that sits on three legs. These “legs” are the factors, considerations or keys that might bring clarity to an otherwise heated  and volatile situation.  These three legs are relevant biblical issues, relevant security considerations, and relevant political factors involved.

Biblical Issues

One of the central questions that needs to be asked is this: Is it a neutral matter in the God of Israel’s eyes for His Jewish people to give back land to their enemies which was won in a defensive war? The answer to this question will determine one’s theological convictions about the disengagement plan. There are those who point out that King Solomon had no problems handing over 20 villages in the northern provinces of Israel to King Hiram of Tyre (modern Lebanon) in 1 Kings 9:11-13 in partial payment for Temple expenses. In the parallel account of 2 Chron.8:2, however, it states that Hiram later restored these villages to Solomon.

Can any clear ruling, principle or precedent be established from these passages? Could one conclude that Jewish leaders are therefore biblically permitted to hand over parts of the land of Israel to foreign governments for even a good reason? In response to this question, let it be asked: Did Solomon hand over territory to Hiram during a time of war or a time of peace? It was during a time of peace. Was Hiram impressed with the lands offered by Solomon? The Bible makes it clear that he was royally insulted and in the end returned the villages to Solomon’s control. Did Solomon have divine revelation or command to hand over these villages? Again, the Bible says nothing about this. The most one can say is that Solomon’s actions were realpolitik, a generosity that perhaps was not really his to extend. But to hand over land to an enemy in a time of war cannot be justified from those texts.

Another question asked is this: “What is the connection between Israel’s obedience to God and their enjoyment of living in the land?” This is a biblical question, and at many times the Hebrew prophets draw a clear correlation between these two points. On the other hand Ezekiel 37 describes a return to the land of Israel and a settling of that land by the Jewish people while still in unbelief. At times God Himself makes exceptions to His own patterns and draws outside of the lines He has established! This seems to be especially true during this present season when God is restoring His Jewish people both physically to the land and spiritually to His heart.

Are believers allowed to disagree with their political leaders, and campaign to have these leaders removed from office by democratic means? While all believers have the biblical responsibility to pray for their leaders and petition God for peace and evangelistic freedom (see 1 Tim.2:1-4), these same believers are allowed to exercise their democratic civil rights, as did Paul when he exercised his privileges as a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37; 25:11-12). A soldier must always obey his commanding officer, but a citizen is allowed to question and disagree with his elected officials. It is a real challenge to do this in a godly way, showing proper respect while also exercising democratic privilege.

In a speech entitled “Why Evangelical Christians Support Israel” given at the Herzliya Conference on December 17 2003 (one day before Sharon announced his disengagement plan), Pat Robertson spoke prophetically, “I would humbly make two requests of our Israeli friends. First, please don’t commit national suicide. It is very hard for your friends to support you, if you make a conscious decision to destroy yourselves . . . Second, the world’s Christians ask that you do not give away the treasured symbols of your spiritual patrimony. If God’s chosen people turn over to Allah control of their most sacred sites – if they surrender to Muslim vandals the tombs of Rachel, of Joseph, of the Patriarchs, of the ancient prophets – if they believe their claim to the Holy Land comes only from Lord Balfour of England and the ever fickle United Nations rather than the promises of Almighty God – then in that event, Islam will have won the battle. Throughout the Muslim world the message will go forth -’Allah is greater than Jehovah. The promises of Jehovah to the Jews are meaningless’ . . . (T)hose political initiatives that some have asserted will guarantee peace, will in truth guarantee unending struggle and ultimate failure”.

It is our conviction that God has given portions of the Promised Land back to His people. This gift is a test and a challenge for the Jewish people. It is also a litmus test and a stumbling block for the world and ultimately it will be the stone that crushes all nations (see Zechariah 12:1-9). Yet the division of Gaza, portions of the West Bank and Jerusalem are so sensitive and significant in God’s eyes that He has even included predictive prophecy about these areas — prophecies which call down judgment on foreign nations who attempt to divide these lands (see for example Isaiah 11:11-14; Joel 3:1-2, 12-17; Zechariah 14:1-4). Anyone who believes in the Bible prophecies regarding the Messiah’s judgment of the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat needs to be prepared for intensive and searching debate on the question of disengagement. This is serious business, folks!

We need to pray that Israel’s leaders be touched by God’s heart and opinions regarding the issue of disengagement and that they would do only what He commands them to do (see 1 Kings 22:16).

Security Considerations

Israel’s security concerns are multifaceted. Battle-scarred Israeli generals have differing and opposing views as to what serves Israel’s security needs best. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (when an unprepared Israel was surprised by a sneak attack of 12 Arab countries plus forces from Russia, Cuba, North Vietnam, etc.), many Israelis have felt that it is imperative to throw open the doors of public debate regarding potential threats to Israel’s survival. Today some military strategists believe that disengagement is a risk that Israel can easily afford. Other generals and military intelligence specialists insist that disengagement will move terror attacks closer to Israeli population centers, as well as send a dangerous message to jihad Muslims the world over, creating the false and catastrophic impression that Israel is an easy target about to collapse, stumbling into headlong retreat from both the West Bank and Jerusalem.

One of the main questions which needs to be asked is this: “What are the long term intentions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Arafat’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades?” If one believes that they are ultimately peaceful, or that they present an acceptable risk, then reasonable opinion could reasonably consider the benefits of disengagement. On the other hand, if these organizations have not given up the clear goal of destroying Israel, and promise to use whatever territorial withdrawals Israel makes to then further hostilities against Israel, a public debate is definitely needed to assess the existential danger to Israel that a disengagement would create.

We need to pray that Israel’s military and counter-terrorist strategists receive God’s strategies and revelation as to how best to defend their people and country (see 2 Kings 6:12). We need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and also that Messiah’s peace be upon all Israel (Psalm 125:5).

Political Factors

Many politicians who become national leaders begin to discover deep within their hearts a love of power, its perks and perspectives. Sometimes they are surprised to find themselves wanting to hold on to power at all costs. In many cases leaders may even go against long held public positions in order to hang on to a few more years in office. Opportunism and ambition were the original sins of Satan, and these sins have tempted politicians since time immemorial. It is true that national leaders are uniquely aware of specific political pressures, intelligence threats and possible strategic solutions that most civilians may never understand. It is also true that national leaders come under intense spiritual warfare to give in to evil strategies and satanic schemes.

We know that no one political party or leader can adequately represent the kingdom of God on earth. Only David’s Greater Son Yeshua and His apostolic and Davidic representatives will one day fulfil our purest and best political and governmental longings. We also know that no human being apart from God’s calling and anointing can lead the Jewish people into their destiny. Moses himself could not handle the pressures. No one apart from Messiah can do it right!

Yet all of these international and Islamic pressures are being used by the God of Jacob to bring His people Israel to the profound realization that only Messiah Yeshua can solve our problems, defeat our enemies, purify our hearts and grant us true peace.

In the meantime, we need to pray that Israel’s leaders not succumb to deceptive enemy strategies, but instead press in to follow hard after the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua with all their heart, mind and soul. We need to pray for a mighty revelation of Yeshua to come to all strata of Israeli society, including to the Prime Minister, his cabinet and the opposition parties as well.

Two thoughts in closing

Terrorist atrocities continue and are accelerating in violence, while many of us are slowly getting desensitized to terror. Fear of terrorism is becoming a normal part of many people’s lives, and this constant pressure is wearing down many hearts. Daniel 7:25 describes a last days power who will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One. Yeshua prophesied that in the latter days, because of an increase in lawlessness, most people’s love would grow cold (Matt.24:12). The days Yeshua described are like the days we are experiencing. So guard your hearts and your affections, and run the race with resolve. Don’t let the fear of terrorism or its horrors chill your love for Abba or for His beautiful bride. Keep your passion hot and your heart tender!

Senator Hillary Clinton once said, “I believe it is important for Americans to recognize that Israel is like a canary in a mine shaft. What matters (ed. happens) to Israel at this moment – right now – will largely determine what happens to us and the rest of the world (http://clinton.senate.gov/speeches/020223_Israel.html). These prophetic words are riveting. Though the Jewish nation doesn’t know it, and though the world is unaware, Israel is standing on the front line in the war against terrorism. The world hangs in the balance as Israel weighs her options. And it feels like Israel is starting to cave in to Islamic terrorism. What Israel struggles with today, the world will wrestle with tomorrow. 

Jeremiah once prophesied, “Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured, and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity. And those who plunder you shall be for plunder, and all those who prey upon you I will give for prey. For I will restore you to health, and I will heal you of your wounds, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast, saying ‘It is only Zion! No one cares for her!’ “ (Jeremiah 30:16-17).

We join with you in praying that Messiah’s Kingdom come and that His will be done here on earth just as it is done in Heaven!

Avner Boskey

FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES

BOX 121971

NASHVILLE TN  37212-1971  USA

www.davidstent.org

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