Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (July 12)

editor - 12 July 2019

In these updates, we want to give you a brief update on some of the most important developments of the past week concerning Israel and the Jewish people, and a reflection on how we as Christians can consider these from a Biblical perspective.


European Union appoints new leaders

The EU is undergoing a decisive transition, likely to lead to increased EU criticism of Israeli policies, and tensions between Brussels and Jerusalem. Following the recent elections of a new European Parliament, in which a number of “right-wing” parties gained significant influence, the most important top executive jobs are about to be handed over to a new generation of highly politicized Eurocentric bureaucrats. As Soeren Kern reports at Gatestone Institute:

‘After weeks of frenzied backroom wrangling, European leaders on July 2 nominated four federalists to fill the top jobs of the European Union. The nominations — which must be approved by the European Parliament — send a clear signal that the pro-EU establishment has no intention of slowing its relentless march toward a European superstate, a “United States of Europe,” despite a surge of anti-EU sentiment across the continent.’

Of particular concern is the fact that Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has been nominated to replace Federica Mogherini as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Kern: ‘Like Mogherini, Borrell is a well-known supporter of the mullahs in Iran and is likely to clash with the United States and Israel over the nuclear deal with Tehran.’

Borrell, who worked on a kibbutz in Israel as a young man, once spoke out strongly in favor of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state within secure borders. But in recent years, he has been an outspoken critic of Israel, and a supporter of the recognition of Palestinian statehood as a solution to the stalemate in negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

In a scathing op-ed on May 18, 2018, the Spanish Foreign Minister condemned Israel for its response to the riots on the Gaza border four days earlier, which coincided with 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. These celebrations were “covered in blood as this black Monday reflects the dehumanization of the Palestinians by a large part of the Israeli political class and society,” he wrote in Republica.

Increased tensions between Iran and the West  

There has been a disturbing increase in tensions this week between Iran – which continues to develop nuclear capability, and to threaten destruction of Israel – and Western nations, especially the US and UK.

The Jerusalem Post reports that ‘the IAEA has found signs of radioactive material which would violate the 2015 nuclear deal at an Iranian nuclear site identified to the agency by Israeli intelligence, Channel 13 reported late Thursday.

According to Channel 13, top Israeli sources revealed to it that the IAEA is sitting on the information and has avoided making it public to date.In April, Reuters reported that the IAEA had finally visited the secret Iranian nuclear site at Turquzabad revealed in a September 2018 UN speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.’

The Iranians’ step-up of their uranium enrichment activities, in breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, are in protest against the increased US sanctions since the US pulled out of the deal, and against Iran’s perception that the EU is not doing enough to protect Iran.

This comes at a time of increased tensions in the Straits of Hormuz. As reported in the Telegraph, ‘Iran threatened “reciprocal” action for the recent seizure of an Iranian tanker by the Royal Navy near Gibraltar. That action appeared to come on Wednesday, when the British Heritage, owned by BP Shipping and registered to the Isle of Man, was approached by three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats as it sailed through Persian Gulf towards the Strait of Hormuz.The Iranians ordered the vessel to stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, according to the Ministry of Defence, but withdrew after HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy frigate which had been escorting the tanker, aimed its guns on the Iranians and warned them to move away.’


Why the Palestinians prefer to blame Israel for all their problems than build a better society

There are many divergent opinions and aspirations within Palestinian society. Many ordinary Palestinians, while desirous of a Palestinian autonomy, are frustrated by the corruption and intractable political “rejectionism” of their leaders, and would like to see closer cooperation (economic, political and personal) between Jews, Palestinians, Israeli’s and Arabs.

But the Palestinian leadership utterly rejects normalization of relations with Israel. At one extreme, the radical Islamic parties such as Hamas utterly reject the existence of a Jewish political entity of any kind, and openly seek the violent annihilation of the State of Israel. The more secular PLO/Fatah elite based in Ramallah demand the creation of a Palestinian state within the “1967 borders”, even at the expense of economic advancement of their people (hence their boycott of the Trump-sponsored “Peace to Prosperity” initiative). This is well-expressed in an interview with US Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour, who called the Bahrain conference a “circus” and defended the Palestinian boycott. “How many more attempts will it take to convince people that Palestinians’ rights are inalienable and not for sale?”

According to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who moderated many of the sessions in Bahrain, the Bahrain conference was – perhaps because of the absence of the Palestinians and Israelis – a greater success than generally acknowledged. ‘The Bahrain summit’s projection of a spirit of hope, from Palestinian and Israeli business leaders and their peers around the globe, provides a welcome response to the growing dismay among younger people in the region—and a counter to growing cynicism about the failures of Israeli and Palestinian political leadership. Weary of decades of violence, younger people are demanding change and are open to direct appeal from their Arab neighbors. The plans discussed in Bahrain offer younger people a path to become relevant and effective.’

I personally witnessed the PLO’s intransigence last week, when I participated in a meeting with the PLO’s so-called Negotiation Affairs Department at the PLO headquarters in Ramallah, together with a delegation of lawyers from Singapore, Australia and the Netherlands. At the meeting, the PLO representatives argued that the Israeli occupation is the sole cause of Palestinian suffering. They refused to condemn Palestinian terrorism, or to acknowledge any Palestinian responsibility for their own plight. The cause of their problems is the existence of the State of Israel, and the only solution is full Israeli withdrawal to the “1967 lines” (with a possibility of land swaps).

Andrew Tucker
Israel & Christians Today


Further reading:

Scripture for the week:
This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:1-5)
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