The Clash

Netanyahu_Obama

While all the inauguration hoopla of President Obama is going on in Washington D.C., the election of another leader will be taking place in Israel tomorrow, January 22.

Of the 34 parties that are competing for their seats in the 120-seat Israeli Knesset, the polls indicate that Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party will likely come out on top again. If the 63-year old “right-wing” leader is re-elected as Israel’s prime minister, he will proceed to build a coalition of partners to form a government that will continue its right-of-centre policies.

What this indicates is that there will probably not be any changes very soon in the kind of antagonism that we’ve seen in the last four years between the more liberal President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. In other words, the clash will keep on getting stronger.

President Obama, who demanded in his first term that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, managed to arouse the ire of Netanyahu and other Israelis who adamantly opposed him on this crucial issue. During an interview, Netanyahu reportedly retorted, “When they say, ‘Go back to the ’67 lines,’ I stand against. When they say, ‘Don’t build in Jerusalem,’ I stand against.” (The Times of Israel)

Moreover, Obama continued to stir the pot when he criticized the prime minister’s plan to build thousands of homes in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Obama is reported to repeat his comments that Israel, under Netanyahu’s leadership, “doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”

And, if Israel goes even further to the right, it’s highly doubtful this division will get any better, and probably will get worse. Right now, a new, outspoken right-wing leader in Israel is emerging to challenge the current prime minister. Naftali Bennett― a 40-year-old former software entrepreneur-turned, right-wing political leader and his party, The Jewish Home― are becoming more and more popular according to the polls. The polls reportedly indicate that Bennett’s party could take enough seats in the Knesset to emerge as Israel’s third or maybe even second largest party. (Joel C. Rosenberg)

Bennett has expressed opposition to the idea supported by Obama that Palestine be recognized as a state. And Obama would obviously bristle at Bennett’s view that the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) should officially be unilaterally annexed to Israel and the Palestinians be given autonomy in their daily affairs. Bennett’s support is said to be surging among Israelis which illustrates the opposite direction Israel is going compared to Obama’s vision.

The clash between the U.S. and Israeli leaders indicates, to me, that we are heading into a very shaky time that will not benefit the future of either of these two nations. Israel has always relied on the superpower support of the U.S. with its influence in the Middle East. And the U.S. needs the support of Israel as its closest ally and the only democratic nation in the most unstable part of the world.

But if this clash remains to induce a wider division between the two nations, I believe the U.S. will increasingly decline as a superpower. Simultaneously, Israel will be left to defend itself on its own which will ultimately put them in a most vulnerable position. Eventually, Israel will have to totally turn to the Almighty to deliver them from their enemies.

I make these statements based on the scriptures. History has repeatedly shown that the nations who support God’s people of Israel are blessed, and the ones who oppose Israel are cursed. This goes all the way back to the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis where God said to him, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you,” (Gen. 12: 1-3). The covenant was confirmed by God and passed along to his son, Isaac (Gen. 17:18-21; 26:24) and grandson, Jacob, a.k.a., Israel (Gen. 28:1-5, 10-16).

Going by this covenant, if the rift grows as the U.S. president continues to oppose Israel while showing partiality toward Israel’s enemies, God will not be pleased with the U.S. Obama has repeatedly shown this tendency in his first term. There is no indication the president will change his policy in his second term. Meanwhile, the U.S. will continue its downward spiral as a world superpower.

Given this scenario, in due time Israel will have to come to terms concerning its own standing with God. Not until Israel is surrounded by its enemies, with nowhere to look but up, will it fully show reliance upon God for his help (Psalm 83). Israel has yet to turn to God with national repentance as the scriptures predict (Jeremiah 31:9, 31-34).

Though we do not precisely know how the current clash between U.S. and Israeli leaders will play out in the near future, we can see how God could use this situation to bring about his promises. God’s control over these affairs reminds us to willingly submit to his control over our lives. This is an important sign that, as we quickly approach the glorious Day of Redemption, we be found vigilant, active, and prepared as his servants.

Good News to you,
Pastor Michael

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