It seems that Israel has become the Miami Heat or the New England Patriots of the world – you either love them or hate them. My apologies for equating a nation of seven million souls to the most loathed teams of professional American sports, but hear me out.
No matter where you live in America (outside of Boston and Miami), mentioning the Miami Heat or New England Patriots will spark a conversation that usually starts with, “man those guys are good, but I really hate them.” The overwhelming majority of folks outside of New England and South Florida don’t enjoy watching these teams remain successful. If Lebron James and Tom Brady weren’t so good at destroying my favorite teams I might tolerate watching their success. I admire and loathe them simultaneously.
The same divergent attitudes can be seen toward Israel. The Arab states resent them. The Iranian regime hates them with a passion, and the remaining Muslim nations (over 2 billion people) have little love for the Jewish state. Europeans look at them as an impediment to their own relations with the Arabs. In the past decade a very vocal minority in the United States (particularly from the political Left but not always so) state their distaste for the Jewish democracy.
The good news for Israel is that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum still have a favorable opinion towards them. Even in 2012, according to Gallup, an overwhelming majority of Americans polled have a favorable opinion at 71%. This number has climbed from 51% in 2005. If Americans across the political spectrum support Israel, why does the current administration continue to waver?
Hagel, Obama, and the Future
The hesitancy to support Israel was on center stage during the Democratic National Convention in 2012 as members of the Democratic Party shouted down a proposition to keep Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the platform language.
President Obama’s request for the Israelis to scale back not only their settlements but also their very borders raised eyebrows on the president’s feelings toward Israel.
Most recently, Obama has appointed Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense. What appears to be an attempt to “reach across the aisle” has become a bitter pill to swallow for pro-Israeli Americans.
Senator Hagel can hardly be called a friend of Israel. Granted, he’s not out there denying the Holocaust, arming Iran, or attending monthly Nazi-rallies, but some of his actions are questionable.
In 2006, Hagel raised the issue of the “Jewish lobby,” stating that, he wasn’t afraid of the Jewish lobby, and that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”
He is also known for opposing tough sanctions on Iran, downplaying the significance of their nuclear program.
In 2007 he refused to label Hezbollah a terrorist group – even after the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war.
Additionally, he has called for open talks with Hamas, an avowed sponsor of terrorism whose constitution declares that Israel has no right to exist.
President Obama espoused Hagel’s veteran service to our country. We indeed owe him our utmost respect for his sacrifice. Senator Hagel may the president’s choice for Secretary of Defense but he will be no friend to Israel. The Secretary of Defense wields incredible influence in Washington. As the number one civilian advisor on foreign/military affairs, the secretary will exert much influence on policy. As the head of the Pentagon, his anti-war and neutral approach to Israel's enemies will influence the president.
Senator Hagel is also one of the few anti-war Republicans in the Senate. He opposed the troop surge in Iraq, and has been openly critical of our mission in Afghanistan.
Will an anti-war Secretary of Defense encourage an anti-war President to come to the aid of an ally neither of them really like? A day will come when Israel will need some allies. Students of scripture know that in the future Israel will be invaded not once, but twice.
Ezekiel 38 and 39 describes a massive invasion into the “mountains of Israel” by a coalition of nations led by a man titled “Gog.” Fortunately for Israel, God comes to the rescue in Ezekiel. During the Tribulation, Daniel wrote in chapters 9 and 11 that the antichrist will invade the nation of Israel once more. This future attack is highlighted in the book of Revelation as well. There is no mention of Israel’s strongest ally standing up for Israel in the future.
Prophetically, the Obama administration’s lack of empathy towards Israel is most likely the new normal for American-Israeli relations. One that is slowly cutting ties to our lonely ally in the Middle East.
A second and more disconcerting piece of news is that of Israel’s demography. By 2020 Palestinians will outnumber Jews in Israel. This should come as no surprise, for Israel’s Jewish population has followed the path of most developed countries with lower birthrates, while the undeveloped Gaza Strip has a much higher birthrate.
As Palestinian population continues to grow so too will their desperation for a country of their own. One of two outcomes will likely unfold – neither of which are good for Israel.
1. Israel will maintain the status quo, allowing the Palestinians continued autonomy but not full-fledged independence. As Palestinian birthrates continue to soar, the international community (including the United States) will put more pressure on Israeli leaders to give in to full Palestinian statehood.
Diatribes against Israel will only continue to get worse as international leaders call Israel an “apartheid state,” “oppressors,” or other such nonsense. The UN may even offer to send peace-keeping troops to Israel to protect the Palestinians.
2. The burgeoning Arab population will pressure Israel into allowing Palestinian statehood more quickly (as long as Hamas is no longer ruling in the Gaza Strip). The international community would ease the pressure, but an independent Palestine will bring troubles of its own.
First, what to do about Jerusalem? The Palestinians will reject any offer that denies Jerusalem as their capital. Prophetically we know the Jews will continue to hold Jerusalem. The third Jewish temple will be built one day in Jerusalem. The antichrist’s forces will attack Jewish-controlled Jerusalem as well. But these Biblical prophecies will not be enough to convince the Palestinians that Jerusalem will remain in Jewish hands. As always, Jerusalem will be a hotly contentious debate between the two sides.
Secondly, an independent Palestinian State can make treaties, arms deals, and alliances with any nation they want. First among them would be Israel's critics and enemies. Who knows what treaties the Iranians could make with the Palestinians? A Palestinian military could also be armed legally by the Russians, Turks, or any other adept military in the region. Alone, the Palestinians cannot threaten Israeli security, but with help from outside powers they can certainly create geopolitical mayhem.
What will the Palestinian State’s borders look like? Israel is already a geopolitically vulnerable nation. Should Obama get his way, the nation of Israel would revert to its borders before the 1967 war. The new borders would virtually cut Israel's population centers off from one another. Only a small strip of land separates the West Bank's territory from the sea. This creates an untenable situation for Israel should an outside power seek to cut Israel in half.
Should the Palestinians gain full statehood, they would have to adhere to certain Jewish demands about treaties, borders, and such. Judging from past attempts, cooperation between the two sides is highly unlikely.
The past week has been troubling for Israel. Through new appointments and attitudes, their strongest ally is continuing to distance itself from Israel. Iran is still plowing ahead with its nuclear program, and the Palestinians will outnumber them in just a few short years.
Ultimately, God has big plans for Israel. Although we do not know the near future, the Bible has given us a clear picture of the distant future. According to Isaiah chapter 60, Israel will eventually become the glory of the nations in a Kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ. Until then expect more chaos!