Weekly update: “I will lift up my banner to the peoples”

editor - 29 November 2019

I arrived in Israel earlier this week to find a country in crisis. My arrival coincided with the historic decision of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to indict the sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. This is unprecedented. Never before has a sitting Prime Minister been indicted. The Prime Minister responded with an almost violent anger, rejecting the accusations outright, and accusing the legal institutions (and those who lead them) of attempting a “coup”.

The charges against Netanyahu are another sign that Israel and the Jewish people are undergoing a political crisis. Third elections in a year loom, as the political parties are unable to form a workable coalition. There is no functioning government, important decisions are not being made or budgets approved. Government ministries and agencies have ground to a standstill. There is a sense of despair. How could the nation have descended into such a chaos?

There is an increasing polarization of Israeli society between the conservative and more religious “right” and the progressive and more secular “centre/left”. The situation around Netanyahu seems to personify that divide. There is a strong feeling of tension. Many on both sides are angry. Some people even speak of a danger of civil war.

Some claim that the judicial institutions in Israel have become overreaching bastions of progressive idealism, undermining the balance of powers and the authority of the Parliament and executive. Be that as it may, as one who believes in the importance of institutions as foundational to a healthy government under the rule of law, I am like many others deeply concerned by the Prime Minister’s attacks on the institutions themselves, and the personal vindictive. All of this devalues his office, undermines and erodes the confidence of the people, and sews seeds of discord and discontent. It is surely the responsibility of leaders to stand above the petty party politics, affirm the institutions of government, and articulate a sense of vision and direction needed to lead the nation in unity?

There is hope. When we reflect on the miracle that is the modern nation of Israel, and recall the tenacity of the Jewish people, we can be confident that they will find a way through this crisis. In his recent book The Israeli Century and the Israelization of Judaism, acclaimed political scientist Yossi Shain observes the amazing transformation of the Jewish people in recent decades from a disparate people living in diaspora to a strong, sovereign nation. This is nothing short of a miracle. But it is still a work in progress, and it does not happen without pain. It requires a change in mind and spirit.

Perhaps the current crisis is a painful yet essential step of the journey of the Jewish people towards national maturity. Let us pray that God will use this difficult situation to unite the Jewish people in their identity as a separated people, called to live under the God who created them, as a light to the nations.

This is not only important for Israel. The nations of the world desperately need Israel to enter into the destiny for which it was created: “a banner to the peoples” (Isaiah 49:22)

Palestinian human rights

Maurice Hirsch at Palestinian Media Watch writes: “In a demonstration of moral clarity, and setting the continental precedent, Holland just became the first European country to discontinue aid to the Palestinian Authority because of its Pay-for-Slay terror reward policy.” Read article..

While Palestinian officials repeatedly condemn Israel for violating Palestinians’ freedom of expression, it is actually the Palestinian Authority (PA) that continues to harass, intimidate and detain Palestinians for expressing their opinions on social media or being affiliated with rival political groups. Business as usual. Read more..

Israeli-Jordan relations

As Correspondent Yochanan Visser has written: “Not only has the peace between Jordan and Israel turned cold, but it also looks to be on the verge of collapse.” Read article..

But there are also positive developments. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin recently met with Jordanian officials in London to discuss the development of Christian holy sites along the Jordan River, which flows along the border between the two countries, it was announced Thursday. Rivlin sat with Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, chief adviser for Religious and Cultural Affairs and personal envoy to King Abdullah II of Jordan, along with other Jordanian officials, for a meeting on Wednesday held “in the spirit of open and productive dialog,” the President’s Residence said in a statement. Read article..

Are Israeli settlements illegal?

Only days after the European Court of Justice ruled that Israeli settlements in the “occupied territories” are illegal, the US Administration issued a statement that settlements are “not per se illegal”. So who’s right?

Alex Joffe comments: “The Trump administration’s decision to repudiate an earlier approach that regarded Israeli communities across the Green Line as illegal has been praised and condemned. While there may be merit to seeing the move as an effort to help PM Benjamin Netanyahu or at least break Israel’s electoral logjam, there are deeper motives at play. Trump and his administration have made a hallmark of defying dysfunctional conventional wisdom and foreign policy inertia that elevate process over results. But while the predicted calamities of this policy have not materialized, the administration’s lack of any Grand Strategy makes the benefits difficult to aggregate.” Read article..

The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation writes that the European approach to the legality of Israeli settlements is imbalanced, flawed and ignores important historical facts. Read article..

“Focus on the future” – Video teachings by Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer

Volume 2 episode 3: We are living in the final days of this phase of world history. And the Bible calls these days the last days. And the last hour of these last days will be characterized by the coming of a figure that the Bible calls the antichrist. The lawless one, the beast, as the apostle John speaks about him. There is something that is restraining him, holding him back, so that evil cannot fully come to the surface that not the powers of darkness can take over yet.


 “In the footsteps of Abraham” – Video teachings by Johannes Gerloff

Watch this series of teachings by Israeli-based Bible teacher and journalist Johannes Gerloff:

Episode 4: In Hebrew it is just two little words. In English we need three, if we wish to say “The Lord said”. Yet this statement is more powerful than a nuclear bomb.

Shabbat shalom,

Andrew Tucker
Editor-in-Chief – Israel & Christians Today

Scripture for the week: Isaiah 49:22-23

This is what the Sovereign Lord says:“See, I will beckon to the nations,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”


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