So what’s changed? The western world is now united in the view that Hamas is unquestionably a terrorist organization and that the threats made by Iran are unacceptable. But, wasn’t the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat also clearly a terrorist group? Don’t Israel’s neighbors routinely make threats and have even attacked it in attempts to wipe it off the map? So what red lines have been crossed that have now brought world leaders and public sympathy over to Israel’s side?
Hamas’s Rise to Power
First of all, the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 are to blame, or to thank, for this. Before Oslo, there was nothing but Palestinian terror groups, and Israel clearly had no partner in peace. However, with the signing of Oslo, the PLO managed to magically shed its terrorist image and transform itself into a political entity, the PA. The groups that decided to join the PA, primarily Arafat’s Fatah party, became legitimate political entities with whom Israel and the world would work towards peace. Those groups that chose not to join the PA, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, remained as terrorist groups outside of the legitimate political process.
Both the United States State Department and the European Union list Hamas as a terrorist organization, but actions have always spoken louder than words. To underscore the point that Hamas is a terror group, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statistics show that just since September of 2000, Hamas is responsible for 377 Israelis killed and another 2,076 wounded. Speaking soon after the Palestinian elections, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said, “We have no peace process. We are not going to mislead our people to tell them we are waiting, meeting, for a peace process that is nothing” (AP, January 26, 2006). Hamas’s ascent to power in the Palestinian elections crossed the red line of a clear terrorist organization assuming control of the post-Oslo political creation, the PA. The purpose of the PA was to have a non-terrorist political entity with whom Israel could negotiate towards a final peace in the region. However, Hamas’s charter, statements, and terrorist actions all run counter to this purpose.
The western world had given so much money and legitimacy to the PA and had forced Israel to make so many dangerous concessions to them, only to be trumped by the Palestinian people electing the terrorist group Hamas to lead them. Despite their desire to see a just and lasting peace and to realize President Bush’s vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, the western world had no choice now but to withdraw its support for the new Hamas-led PA and stand with Israel in its refusal to negotiate with terrorists.
The Hamas victory forced the governments of the world to choose sides, and countries normally set against Israel found themselves in a position where they were suddenly supporting them because they could not be on the side of terrorism. Hamas in power negates any legitimacy that the PA has as a solely political entity working towards a negotiated peace.
Iran’s Nuclear Threat
The second reason for the recent surge in world support of Israel has been the developing nuclear situation in Iran. While the comments made by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad—such as “Israel should be wiped off the map”—are by themselves disturbing, the truth is that these kinds of remarks can be found in nearly every Muslim country by their leaders, newspapers, political cartoons, or imams (muslim clerics). What makes the Iranian situation unique is their pursuit of nuclear weapons and the threat that would pose to Israel, Europe, and western military forces in the region.
Because potential Iranian nuclear weapons also threaten the interests of other nations, those nations show their support for Israel, against the calls for its destruction, as a way of attempting to neutralize the emerging Iranian threat. Sadly, if it weren’t for Iran’s nuclear development, the comments by their president would most likely be simply dismissed by the majority of nations and leaders as nonsensical ravings, a low priority in a world full of conflict. While there are some countries that condemn the outrageous anti-Semitic comments for what they are, these true friends of Israel are in the minority.
Newly elected German chancellor Angela Merkel is proving to be one of the most outspoken against Iran’s nuclear threats and Holocaust denials. Speaking at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial during her state visit in February, Chancellor Merkel said that Iran “is not only a threat to Israel, but to the entire democratic world.” She went on to say, “The existence of the State of Israel is and remains an inviolable pillar of German policy. You can be sure of that. We stand strongly at Israel’s side, especially during difficult times” (Jewish Press, February 1, 2006).
More than any other world leader today, Merkel is perhaps the most qualified and can provide a truly unique perspective on the Iranian situation as it relates to Israel and the Jewish people. As chancellor of Germany, she carries with her and is a public embodiment of her people’s past, including the shame of the Holocaust. As a woman who grew up and spent most of her life under communist totalitarianism in East Germany, she can speak with some authority and firsthand experience of the fear, hatred, and oppression that exist within these societies.
Chancellor Merkel has quickly established herself as a strong leader in Europe and has set the example for other countries to follow. Her stand against Iran’s nuclear program, Holocaust denial, and the Hamas-led PA flow from a strong sense of moral clarity that has long been absent in a devoutly secular Europe. As the leader and representative of her country, Chancellor Merkel has chosen to stand with Israel for all the right reasons.
AS Christian ambassadors, it’s our duty to also be examples to those around us and to choose to stand with Israel and the Jewish people for all the right reasons. While the pursuit of peace is a noble enterprise, we must not forget that we are involved in a spiritual battle as well. We as Christians must have the moral and biblical clarity to see that Hamas, Iran, Hizbullah, and others are just tools used by Satan in his quest to defeat God, the Land of Israel, and His chosen people.
Only by keeping our focus on God’s Word and plans for Israel can we see through the confusion that exists in today’s world of secular politics. By doing this, we don’t have to wait for an “official” terrorist group to be elected to lead the PA, or wait for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, before deciding to make our stand with Israel and God’s chosen people. The only way to make sense of the turmoil in the Middle East is to understand that it’s all part of God’s plan, and everything is in His hands.
The Nations Take a Stand
by Will King
CorrespondentIsrael Mosaic Radio
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