Israel’s Final Chapter

The Israelis elected a prime minister who vows to bring the Arab-Jew impasse to an end by 2010. Will his radical plan work?
From the May 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Israel always turns tough in a crisis.

Born in controversy, raised on war, steeled by terrorism, reviled by the world, the Jewish state has suffered more than its share of trials. It aches for peace, it honors its diplomats, but it turns to its warriors when war is required.

Until now.

“The Koran is our constitution, Muhammad is our prophet, jihad is our path and dying as martyrs for the sake of Allah is our biggest wish!” This chilling pronouncement tripped off the lips of a Palestinian Authority legislator after the PA’s parliament rubber-stamped the government’s new cabinet on March 28. It shouldn’t come as a shock: In January, Palestinians awarded a strong majority of parliamentary seats to the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas was founded in 1987 for the express purpose of destroying Israel, and since joining politics has staunchly, publicly clung to that goal. It denies Israel’s right to be. It considers all previously signed agreements with Israel void. The new PA prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, plans (as a first step) to drive Israel back to 1967 borders and establish an Arab state with Jerusalem as its capital. His cabinet brims with hardline terrorists who have been jailed or targeted for assassination by Israel.

For Israel, this is a time of crisis. War is on the cards. But rather than appealing to its warriors, in its latest election Israel embraced its defeatists.

A Shocking Choice

On March 28—the same day the PA confirmed its terrorist credentials by approving its hard-line cabinet—Israeli voters crowned Ehud Olmert their new prime minister.

Olmert is a professional politician, not a fighter. Last June, to the Israel Policy Forum in New York, he said, “We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies” (emphasis mine throughout). It’s impossible to comprehend how Olmert could be tired of winning and defeating enemies, when 33 years have passed since Israel won anything.

Perhaps Olmert confuses the litany of losses, retreats, terrorist violence and global derision his nation has suffered during that time with winning. But by taking that stance precisely as Hamas takes over the PA, he guarantees that his people will soon learn how much quicker they grow tired of being conquered.

Olmert campaigned on a pledge to extract tens of thousands of Jews from West Bank settlements. In what amounted to his victory speech, he spoke directly to the Palestinian leaders: “We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved land of Israel … and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfill your dream and live alongside us” (bbc News, March 29). Israelis have just elected a prime minister who wants to enable Hamas to fulfill its dreams.

This man fantasizes about Hamas terrorists dreaming of living alongside Jews—and calls that fantasy a foreign policy. By comparison, Neville Chamberlain looks like a lion.

Ehud Olmert symbolizes the abject collapse of Israel’s national will. And he is now the most powerful man in Israel. This is the man Israelis elected to lead them in their most perilous hour.

Chapters

Since the Jewish State of Israel began as a nation, its story has had two very different chapters.

Chapter One: War. The defining characteristic of the period became clear the day Israel was born—May 14, 1948—when a collection of neighboring Arab states attacked en masse, and the Jews fought back for the survival of their day-old nation. Though they succeeded in repulsing the assault, for a generation the Jews never enjoyed peace for long: Major wars occurred every seven years or so. Through this period, the Jewish state had to grow up quickly into a tough, battle-hardened power.

Chapter Two: Concessions. The first pages of this chapter began in 1977, when Israel hosted Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem to begin discussing the possibility of a land-for-peace deal between their two states. These talks led to the formal treaty of 1979 in which Israel handed Egypt a lovely little gift called the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for a promise of peace. This deal set the stage for concessions to the Palestinian Liberation Organization that began in Oslo in 1993.

Now, Israel looks back on this second chapter with sadness and regret. The negotiations that were intended to end violence—to help carve out the cancer of terrorism—only spread its malignance. The willingness to compromise that Israel considered courage (Olmert’s term), the terrorists reckoned as cowardice—interpreting each concession as a victory that vindicated the effectiveness of bloodshed. Fruits show the peace process was a farce: After protracted diplomatic efforts, Israel has nothing close to the peaceful, neighboring Palestinian state it hoped for. Instead, it has 80 percent of Palestinian Arabs denying the Jewish state’s right to exist, governed by a terrorist regime whose official policy is to pitch the Jews into the sea. Its people weep dry tears over the shattered promise of a negotiated peace.

Today, the world is looking at the start of a third—very different—chapter in Israel’s history. Under Olmert’s helmsmanship, Israel’s foreign policy is about to radically change.

Unilateralism

What drove the Jews to elect Ehud Olmert? Why did conservatives fare so poorly? Essentially, the vote reveals a battle-fatigued, deeply ambivalent, directionless people. Tired of fighting, tired of being courageous—yet acceding the unreliability of negotiation—they grasped at a thin promise of something different: a third way.

Consider what led to this decision.

Israel’s Chapter Two reached its nadir with the prime-ministership of Labor leader Ehud Barak, when Barak offered a breathtakingly deep basket of concessions to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2000. Arafat refused the offer, and Barak’s government fell apart.

That’s when Ariel Sharon stepped in. Sharon embodied Chapter One—a warrior-general who had fought in every one of Israel’s wars and, despite being dogged by controversy, remained a popular figure with the Israeli public. In 2001 elections, he trounced the floundering Barak to become prime minister on a platform of toughness against terrorism. Once in office, he got straight to work: Retaliating against Palestinian terrorist attacks, Sharon’s government killed over 3,500 Palestinians, including several high-profile terrorist leaders.

But international pressure on Sharon to reignite the peace process grew. Sharon joined various discussions about the issue, and even granted certain negotiated concessions such as releasing Arab prisoners from Israeli jails.

In retrospect, however, it appears the old warrior was only trying to keep outsiders off his back: He never believed peace with the Arabs could be bought. He realized negotiations would be fruitless. At some point, Ariel Sharon decided that, rather than fighting or bargaining, the problem demanded a wholly different approach: just up and solving it.

That is when Israel’s security barrier started going up, and the Gaza Strip evacuation was blueprinted.

As Sharon pushed these unilateralist strategies, friends and allies began to peel away from him—yet he survived several no-confidence motions and repeatedly cobbled together the parliamentary support he needed in order to carry on. Sharon became increasingly convinced of the necessity of a unilateralist strategy—one that would define Israeli borders without Palestinian cooperation. He sought first to pull Israelis out of areas already heavily populated by Arabs—therefore hard to defend; then to fortify the portions of Israel that remained; then to finish the security wall and call whatever lay on the other side a Palestinian “state.”

Members of his own party weren’t so convinced. So finally, Sharon scorched the political landscape to the ground by leaving Likud and founding a new party, Kadima.

In Hebrew it means “forward.” In reality in means reckless.

Sharon’s indomitability and sheer gravitational pull drew into the new party prominent politicians from across the spectrum—as well as a substantial swath of voters desperate for a solution and willing to embrace the unknown.

This was a truly remarkable example of people’s need for leadership, of whatever stripe, as long as it’s strong. Because the droves flocking to Kadima had to ignore the complete failure of its central, revolutionary policy when it was demonstrated to them—in flesh-and-blood reality, in one of the most spectacular disasters in Israeli history—only three months before.

Retreat

Sharon pitched the idea of pulling 9,000 Jews out of their settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank as a strong strategic decision intended to bolster Israel’s security and secure Jewish demographic superiority.

Palestinians saw it differently: as a towering victory for terrorism.

A joint Israeli-Palestinian public opinion poll showed 71 percent of Palestinians calling Israel’s Gaza withdrawal a triumph of their armed struggle. To the Arabs, 400 attacks in Gaza over the past five years had paid off.

Were they wrong? Does anyone believe Israel would have given up conquered territory to its enemy if 1,200 of its people hadn’t been killed in the previous four years?

In Hamas’s words, on a banner in downtown Gaza City at one of the many rallies and victory parades surrounding the withdrawal, “Four years of sacrifice beat 10 years of negotiations.”

Truly, Hamas won big in Gaza. It garnered most of the credit, in Palestinian minds, for securing Israel’s retreat. Gaza was Hamas’s greatest campaign coup—perhaps the biggest single factor propelling it to superstardom in Palestinian elections just four months later.

“Now, after the victory in the Gaza Strip, we will transfer the struggle to the West Bank and later to Jerusalem,” Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Zahar, said at the time. “Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip, nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don’t recognize the State of Israel or its right to hold on to one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all the Muslims” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 17, 2005).

As much as the Gaza pullout inflamed extremist sentiment among Palestinians, it also came with strategic benefits. With all Israeli military installations dismantled and troops gone from the Gaza Strip, terrorists took the opportunity to flood the area from neighboring Egypt—and to bring their weapons along, including hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank rockets and bomb components. They immediately began using the Strip as a launching ground for rocket attacks, which have continued at a steady pace ever since. (Israel’s military says this isn’t a problem since 90-plus percent of them don’t hit Jewish targets. Evidently it considers the remaining percentage “acceptable risk” for the benefit of enabling Hamas to fulfill its dream to live alongside Jews.)

Though it apparently took the Gaza retreat to prove this, it isn’t exactly rocket science: When Israel retreats, extremists advance.

The whole fiasco put the lie to another statement Olmert made at that New York speech last June (the one where he declared his weariness with “winning”): that withdrawing from Gaza “will bring more security, greater safety, much more prosperity, and a lot of joy for all the people that live in the Middle East.” The facts proved precisely the opposite. Withdrawing brought the Jews not a shred more security, nor safety. Instead, it tore the heart out of the Jews it displaced, who had dedicated their lives to defending their homeland. It did appear to bring the tens of thousands of Arabs who danced in the streets shouting “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem” some joy—but that might not have been exactly what Olmert had in mind.

It was with this gut-wrenching history behind them that the Israelis flocked to Kadima—the party committed to going “forward” by unilaterally dismantling whatever ruins remain of Israel’s will to survive.

Backward

The first point of Kadima’s national agenda, released last November, is: “The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel. However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, part of the land of Israel must be given up to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.” From its inception, this party reflected a spirit of compromise and defeatism—and Israelis embraced it.

Then Sharon suffered a devastating stroke, plunging him into a coma he has yet to emerge from, and Olmert became acting prime minister. Still, Kadima’s shift in leader from former warrior to defeatist politician didn’t substantially shrink the party ranks.

Soon after came Hamas’s shocking landslide win in Palestinian elections, which suddenly produced a terrorist-controlled Palestinian Authority. Even still, there was no Jewish response—no swing right—no outcry for strong leadership with firm policies to ensure Israel’s security.

Olmert doggedly stuck to his West Bank eviction plan—preferably, he said, with Hamas’s support, but, if necessary, without it. “We will try to achieve this [setting Israel’s final borders] in an agreement with the Palestinians,” he said. (It’s hard to see how borders of a country can be agreed upon with a negotiating partner that does not believe that country should even exist.) He even put forward a deadline for completing his plan: 2010. And still, his countrymen clung to him.

In fact, on March 28, voters handed Israel’s conservatives their worst defeat ever. Likud—Israel’s main conservative party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu—came in fourth with just 12 seats (in 2003 elections, it won 38). Kadima won 29 seats; center-left Labor pulled in 19. These two parties are expected to ally with a couple of other like-minded parties to push Olmert’s plan “forward.” Stratfor analyst Peter Zeihan said, “Israeli voters appear to have elected the most authoritative government the country has seen since the 1973 Yom Kippur war” (March 28). By “authoritative,” Zeihan doesn’t mean a strong, against-all-odds, Chapter One-style government. He simply means that its easy parliamentary majority will enable it to authoritatively, decisively proceed with a defeatist program.

Some commentators interpreted the election result as Israelis simply turning their back on a peace process they recognize as a failure, demanding the government focus on “more pressing” domestic issues like fighting poverty and improving education. If that is so, then Israelis’ read on the peace process is correct—however, by turning to a government whose plan will embolden terrorists and endanger Jews even more, they shouldn’t expect great improvements on the domestic front.

Haaretz gave this assessment: “The people have spoken: The land will be divided. … It’s the end of the controversial legitimacy of the separation maneuver. From now on, the question is not if, but when, to where, and how. The Greater Land of Israel is over and done with” (March 30).

Fantasies

In the fantasy world of Olmert and those who voted for him, a smaller Israel is a more defensible Israel. Shrinking borders equal stronger borders.

In Olmert’s world, reducing Israeli military oversight in Palestinian areas makes for happier Arabs who are less likely to attack.

In Olmert’s world, “Hamas is not a strategic threat.” These were his words to the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee in February. In Olmert’s world, the key to pressuring the Palestinians—he told the committee—is through diplomacy rather than military action (abc, February 22).

However, in the real world—within which Israel has managed to survive for the past six decades—all those utopian notions have repeatedly been proven dead wrong.

No previous Israeli leader, no matter how entangled in negotiation he became, ever embraced such erroneous thinking so wholeheartedly. Every one of them proceeded “forward” with a measure of caution, making concessions contingent upon at least a pretense of peace efforts by the Arabs.

Not so Olmert.

Israel’s new prime minister essentially promises to give Hamas what it wants—or at least a good part of it: the West Bank—regardless of how Hamas behaves. At times he speaks of this move as being defiant against terrorism. Of course, it is precisely the reverse. In the final analysis, any territory Israel withdraws from simply becomes, in effect, a Hamas state.

Certainly, as Kadima finds its legs as a political party, Olmert needs allies. He may have his biggest ally in Hamas. That group is more eager for Israeli withdrawals than any Jews could be. After all, its main goal right now, like Olmert’s, is to get Israel out of the West Bank. It is even possible Hamas could regulate itself—soften its public rhetoric, put its suicide bombers on a leash—in order to encourage Israel to expend its money and military manpower on destroying and deserting Jewish settlements. After all, the Gaza withdrawal cost Israel an estimated $2 billion, requiring 42,000 policemen and soldiers to relocate 8,000 Jews; the West Bank move would be seven times bigger. Columnist Hillel Halkin estimates that, in addition to requiring Israel to mobilize all its military reserves and commit one sixth of its national budget, it would be far more confrontational than the Gaza pullout was, since it is the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, and its settlers are even more ideologically hardcore than the Gaza Jews. Witnessing the inevitable brouhaha of a West Bank withdrawal would give Hamas cause for victory parades for years to come.

The colossal difference, however, as Stratfor put it, is that Olmert would view the West Bank pullout as the end of Israel’s concessions, whereas Hamas would view it as the beginning—allowing it to “carry the battle to Israel proper” (March 10).

Israel is tired of fighting.

Hamas hasn’t even started.

The unfortunate truth is that, if your enemy is determined to fight you to the death, he denies your peaceful options. Barring intervention from God, your choices are drastically limited: fight to win, or be destroyed.

Israel is making no faithful appeal for protection from God. And it has declared its unwillingness to fight. How could this path lead to anything but the death of Israel?

Broken

Ugly truth: Terrorism works against Jews. Olmert’s victory proves it.

Like the weary man they have placed at the helm of their state, a majority of Israelis are tired of fighting, tired of being courageous. They are tired of intifada and jihad, tired of Arabs shouting their hatred to the heavens, tired of Arabs blowing themselves up on buses, in cafes and discos. As Stratfor wrote, “Militant attacks might inflame the Israeli right, but they leave most of the rest of the Israeli political spectrum weary of contact with the Palestinians” (ibid.).

Yes, Israelis have a “national and historic right to the whole of Israel,” they say. But what good is that? It only brings trouble. They just want the struggle to end. They want to withdraw to safety. Build a big wall and duck behind it. Shut up any Jews who provoke Arabs. Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes, that is, except a fight.

Because, you see, they tried that for years and, well, it just didn’t work.

No—the only way “forward,” a slight majority of Israeli voters say, is retreat.

Even clear-headed Western minds should recognize surrender when we see it. But to minds inflamed with the intoxicating Jew-hatred of Islamist extremism—minds convinced that Allah will ensure Islam’s ultimate victory over the poisonous scourge of Zionism—Israel’s commitment to retreat is more than mere surrender. It is providential justice. It is a step—yes, only a step, but a beautiful step—toward the realization of the Muslim kingdom of God. A kingdom in which the Jews are gone forever.

That is what Hamas really dreams about.

If the Israelis ever had faith in God—which many of them view as thin stuff on which to base a foreign policy—then that has been replaced by faith in Hamas. By any measure, that is even thinner stuff. Every ounce of that kind of faith, and each shred of concession Israel makes to Hamas, will shortly prove to have only expedited the fall of the Jewish state.

You don’t have to believe God has blessed and protected the Jewish state in the past—an idea most of its citizens once espoused—to recognize how much stronger a nation committed to defending itself based on that belief is than one unwilling to defend itself at all. But whether you believe it or not, there is a spiritual reality underpinning the transformation of Israel from the lion of Judah into the bunker state it is becoming.

That reality is that the Jews are suffering a curse from God for their lack of faith and their disobedience to His laws. “And I will break the pride of your power” God warned (Leviticus 26:19). Though Israel is by far the region’s strongest state in power, it has also become the weakest state in will. Israeli pride in its power has been supernaturally broken.

Olmert proposes to bring the Arab-Jew impasse to a conclusion by 2010. But God is not in his solutions, and they will end in ruin. Israel’s leaders do not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). God only wants them to acknowledge their failure, repent of their stubbornness and humbly turn to Him for protection!

The Wound

Sharon’s unilateralism; Kadima’s rise; Olmert’s campaign strategy; Israel’s election result; pledges of a West Bank withdrawal—these all reflect Israel’s broken will, manifested in naivety and fantasy. However, underpinning all these elements is one basic realization grounded in reality: that the Jews’ chances of negotiating a two-state solution with the Arabs are next to nil.

That realization—though Olmert’s current rhetoric indicates that he hasn’t completely come to terms with it yet—marks Israel’s transition from Chapter Two into the next, and final, chapter of its modern history.

As we wrote last month, Israel’s realization of the peace process being a fraud and a trap was specifically prophesied in your Bible. The prophecy is recorded in Hosea 5:13: “When … Judah [the biblical name for today’s Jewish State of Israel] saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian ….”

Longtime Trumpet readers know that editor in chief Gerald Flurry has pointed to Judah’s “wound” being the peace process ever since the Oslo talks in 1993.

Chapter Two: Concessions did worse than fail to bring Israel peace—it sapped Israel’s strength, depleted Israel’s land, and exhausted Israel’s will to fight and survive. Hosea’s prophecy reveals a moment when Israel sees its deadly wound—it recognizes the utter fruitlessness of that terribly misnamed “peace” process.

That realization, according to the prophecy, sparks a radical change in Israeli policy.

It tilts the Jewish state into Chapter Three: Desperation.

Final Chapter

Olmert’s plans already reflect a certain amount of Israeli desperation. But these are just the opening pages of this final chapter—what is prophesied to become an increasingly wilder period of Jewish decision making.

Hosea 5:13 shows that Israel, recognizing its dismal state, will cry out for help from “the Assyrian.” That is referring to the presently unifying power of Europe, with Germany at its head.

Yes—seeing its wound, Israel, rather than turning to God, will seek salvation from the very nation that notoriously sought to snuff out Jews in World War ii.

Considering this prophetic eventuality, we can expect to see Germany increasingly making overtures to Israel, presenting itself as a trustworthy ally of the Jews. Signs of this development are already appearing. After a Hamas delegation visited Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March, for example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded Putin over the phone, reminding him of Germany’s demand that Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel. About the same time, Germany’s defense minister, after joining Israel’s defense minister at a Holocaust memorial service in Berlin, said his nation would support Israel in dealing with Hamas—that, in fact, Germany was “completely on the side of Israel” on the issue (Expatica, March 8). Such gestures are bound to increase, drawing Israel into a trusting relationship with its former foe.

Then, when the unilateralism fails and the security situation becomes truly desperate, Israel will turn to Germany. Several prophecies show that, of all its dangers and threats, this move will prove to be Israel’s undoing. What will appear at first to be a sincere European effort to establish security in the Holy City will end up being a grisly repetition of the Crusades! Our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy explains this in depth.

Bible prophecy shows that, ultimately, Israel’s worst enemy is not a Hamas-led Palestinian people—but Germany! The failure of the peace process, and the catastrophe of unilateralism, will lead Israel right into the jaws of that enemy.

It is a trap God has set for a sinful nation!

This is Israel’s most perilous hour. Its enemies wax strong while it grows weak. Now, the Israeli electorate has thrown its support behind a policy of recklessness and desperation unprecedented in its nation’s short history.

Judging by the speed of events, Olmert’s goal of bringing the situation to an end by 2010 may well come to pass. But that end will look very different from the one in his dreams.