The nation of Israel is used to tough odds. From the day it was born in 1948, it has had to scratch, scrap and battle for survival.
It is encircled by hostile Arab peoples that have repeatedly tried to stamp it out. It has faced continual censure from the United Nations—an organization stacked with Arab, Muslim and Third World dictatorships and despotisms. It has defended itself from terrorism even as international opinion has condemned it for doing so.
The world’s motley menagerie of nations never agrees on much. But if any single issue produces something close to a consensus, it is irrational enmity toward the Jewish state.
A bbc poll last June found that global perception of Israel ranks alongside North Korea, Pakistan and Iran as worst in the world. In a 2014 multinational Gallup poll, this tiny Mideast democracy tied with Tehran and Pyongyang—an Islamist theocracy that leads the world in sponsoring terrorism, and a murderous, nuclear-armed totalitarian state—as the biggest threat to world peace.
The Jews are used to this. They overlook the endless rhetoric from imams and mullahs demanding their extermination. They have grown accustomed to mounting evidence of anti-Semitism rising in Europe and elsewhere. They have learned not to take personally the inexplicable sympathy toward Islamists exhibited by Western liberals and academics.
But in recent months, Israel’s isolation has grown more acute. And threats to its survival have grown more dangerous.
Israel’s few security alliances are fracturing. Turkey is turning radically Islamic. Egypt’s 35-year peace accord with Israel is threatened by political instability. Strained relations with the Obama administration are getting even worse. The peace treaty with Jordan that secures Israel’s eastern border now appears borderline.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem is engulfed in its worst violence in a decade. And the Jews’ greatest nightmare—a nuclear-armed Iran—has never been closer to becoming reality.
Israel’s position is getting desperate. And what happens next in this explosive region has worldwide implications.
A New Intifada
“There’s a sense of free fall in Jerusalem, of events spinning out of control,” wrote David Brinn in the Jerusalem Post. “Anyone who lived here through the first and second intifadas will recognize the same jittery, nervous spirit in the streets. It used to be unsafe to board a bus; now it’s unsafe to stand at a bus stop or light rail station. Pedestrians look suspiciously out of the corner of their eyes as they walk on the street” (Nov. 5, 2014).
It started this past summer, under a rain of rockets on Israeli towns launched from the Gaza Strip by the terrorist group Hamas. Then Hamas members kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. When Israel responded by arresting hundreds of Palestinians, the rocket attacks increased. At last Israel began bombing Gaza. It sent troops to destroy tunnels Hamas had burrowed into Israeli territory.
Most of Israel’s Jewish citizens viewed Operation Protective Edge as a just war. It was careful and precise, aimed at limiting civilian casualties as much as possible. But that goal was made far tougher by Hamas’s efforts to maximize Palestinian casualties in order to evoke global outrage against Israel.
True to Hamas’s aims, many people in the West blamed the Jews for the escalation of the Gaza War. Israel’s already poor international reputation was further trashed. A poll that summer asked Israeli Jews, “How do you feel about the famous saying ‘the whole world is against us’?” Nearly two thirds said yes, that pretty well sums up our life.
Since the war, leading Arabs and Muslims have incited their peoples, including Israeli Arabs, to rise up in violence. What has resulted looks uniquely terrifying. The New York Times called it “a new kind of armed struggle, a leaderless uprising of sporadic outbursts.” Israeli Jews have been targeted in thousands of random, violent attacks using thrown rocks, Molotov cocktails, weaponized fireworks, stabbings, shootings, and even vehicles ramming into groups of pedestrians.
Then, on October 29, a Palestinian gunman shot Yehuda Glick, an Israeli activist campaigning for Jews’ rights to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque. The next day, Israeli police killed the suspected shooter, then shut down the Temple Mount. They entered al-Aqsa Mosque in order to track down rioters. Inside they found a cache of stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails—proof of this “place of worship” being an incubator for faith-based violence.
Other Muslim leaders picked up the banner of grievance against Israel. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, for example, called Israel’s presence on the Temple Mount “cruelty to the core.”
Among the nations expressing outrage was Jordan. This is one of the few Arab states Israel has been able to rely on for amity. Its peace treaty, signed in 1994, has contributed greatly to Israel’s security. The Temple Mount compound is administered by a Jordanian organization; Jordan’s guardianship of the site has existed for decades and is codified in the 1994 treaty.
After the al-Aqsa incident, Jordan’s foreign minister insisted, “These violations are infuriating the emotions and the sensitivity of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.” Jordan recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv. Days later, King Abdullah canceled his nation’s participation in a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the treaty with Israel. Amman warned it would reevaluate its diplomatic ties and even the peace accord itself.
Amman’s highest leaders might still value their relationship with Israel; they need Israel to manage the Palestinians and suppress Arab unrest that could spill over into Jordan. But the official hard line reveals that the government sees a need to placate its large Palestinian population and many other Jordanians who dislike Jews.
Anxious Israeli leaders responded by backing away from the Temple Mount and reassuring Amman that its role there will not change. The last thing Israel needs is the loss of another valuable alliance.
Breaking the Brotherhood
The danger Israel faces is perhaps best encapsulated in the extraordinary situation that has developed with America and Iran.
Israel considers the Islamic Republic of Iran its gravest threat. The barbaric Islamic State has stolen Middle Eastern headlines, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to keep the world focused on the far more dangerous menace posed by Iran—a powerful state, governed by a radical ideology, actively seeking regional hegemony, on the cusp of nuclear capacity, and still legitimized by many nations, including giants like Russia, China and India.
As Mr. Netanyahu has sounded those warnings, the Obama administration has repeatedly pulled punches with the Islamic regime. It has legitimized the radicals in power and disregarded popular moderate opposition. It has continued negotiations despite Iranian deceit. It has blunted punitive measures against Tehran. It has shown childish credulity and perplexing eagerness to make a deal at any cost.
If only Washington dealt with the Jewish state so favorably. To Israel it has been demanding, insistent, rude, insulting and even profane. Mr. Netanyahu has made numerous concessions to accommodate President Barack Obama’s demands—settlement freezes, prisoner releases, negotiation attempts, military restraint, even agreeing to recognize a Palestinian state. But he has only received more slaps in the face. This nation that has been Israel’s most valuable ally—its strongest supporter and the biggest outside guarantor of its security—is now publicly hostile.
In October, U.S. administration officials publicly snubbed Israel’s defense minister during his visit to Washington. Soon after, a senior official, speaking to prominent Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg on the record, called Israel’s prime minister a vulgar epithet signifying a lack of courage or manliness. “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official explained. A second official told Goldberg that the White House thinks Mr. Netanyahu is bluffing about preemptively striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, and called him a “coward.”
Beyond that, these comments strengthen Iran’s leverage in its quest for nuclear weapons. Credible evidence that Mr. Netanyahu is bluffing nullifies an important bargaining chip for those trying to thwart an Iranian nuke, while simultaneously emboldening Tehran. Thus the comments align with so many other actions of this White House: effectively anti-Israel and pro-Iran.
Yet again, Israel is left even more isolated and vulnerable.
Israel’s Next Ally?
In its young lifetime, the modern Jewish state has reached out to allies with very mixed results. At first it largely turned to a little-known superpower: God. It won one miracle victory after another: 1948, 1967, 1973. But then it began turning to other allies, treaties and “peace” negotiations. Once it did so, the miracle victories ceased, and the problems began to multiply.
Now, with its friends peeling away and its seclusion growing, Israel is yearning for a new ally. In many ways it is exhibiting a strong hope that it has found one—in Europe. Clear-eyed observation reveals, however, that this is a false, even dangerously naive, hope.
The most recent evidence came in November, when Italy’s Federica Mogherini became the European Union’s new high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. As her first move in office, she visited Israel. It showed the priority she expects to give Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Is this the alliance Israel hopes for? Just before she touched down, Mogherini announced her ultimate goal to the French daily Le Monde: “What would make me happy is if a Palestinian state existed at the end of my term.” Then, while visiting the West Bank town of Ramallah, she said Jerusalem needs to be divided. “I think Jerusalem can be and should be the capital of two states,” she explained.
However disheartening to Israelis these statements may be, they reflect a consensus sweeping through Europe. Shortly before Mogherini’s trip, Sweden became the first major European nation to unilaterally recognize a sovereign Palestinian state. And Sweden is unlikely to be the last. As one senior official from another European country said, “We’re not going to wait forever” to recognize a Palestinian state. “Other European countries are poised to follow Sweden” (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2014). Both France and Britain have already introduced legislation to recognize such a state, regardless of Israel’s preconditions.
This is the best Israel can do: a potential “ally” with a world-war- and holocaust-stained record that wants to start things off by splitting it and its capital in two.
Yet remarkably, the Bible’s prophecies foretell that the Jews, in their time of direst need, will still turn to Europe for help! The most explicit of these can be found in Hosea 5:13 and is thoroughly explained in Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy (free upon request).
Before that happens, events are certain to get worse for Israel. Zechariah 14:2 describes a time, to be fulfilled very soon, when half of Jerusalem will be sacked. This will be fulfilled by an intensification of exactly the sort of violence engulfing that city even today! And as Jerusalem in Prophecy explains, that crisis will trigger a catastrophic chain of events. The war it ignites will engulf not only Israel and the Palestinians, but also Iran, Europe, America—and the entire world! That is what the Bible foretells.
However, look closer at Zechariah’s prophecy. In the very same context of that eruption of violence in Jerusalem, it describes the most awesome event to occur in history: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! (e.g. verse 4). Even the first half of verse 2 is describing a climactic battle that will occur at Christ’s return. “Consider it: The Day of the Lord and the dispute over one half of Jerusalem are presented in the same context,” Mr. Flurry writes. “That is because when half of Jerusalem goes into captivity, that crisis triggers a series of events that lead to the return of Jesus Christ! … In other words, the current dispute over East Jerusalem is a strong sign that the Day of the Lord is almost here! We must wake up!”
Watch vigilantly as tensions start to rip Jerusalem apart. Compare the headlines to the time line of prophetic events in Zechariah and elsewhere. Watch Jerusalem! Events right now are following that pattern and rapidly building toward a fulfillment of the Bible’s prophecies about what will befall Jerusalem in the very end time! Watch—and recognize the imminence of the return of Jesus Christ.