Feb 20, 2017

A Plot Twist

I love political thrillers. I also like political thrillers in real life. We saw one this week with the visit to America by Benjamin Netanyahu.

It’s very obvious that Netanyahu’s reception was much different than the one he was given by the menacing Barack Obama, a hardcore Marxist ideologue who has supported the Palestinians for decades.

Donald Trump has known “Bibi” Netanyahu for decades, and during their press conference, the Israeli premier also pointed out that he’s known the President’s son-in-law (and now political advisor), Jared Kushner, for a long time. Kushner has been tasked with finding a way forward in brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

(I do think Kushner himself, who is Jewish, has more of a “Millennial” perspective on all this, so don’t expect him to be a zealous Zionist, or one who invokes Israel’s biblical claim to the land. More than likely, the view from Washington on this issue will simply modify what diplomats have been pushing.)

What made the press conference between Trump and Netanyahu particularly newsworthy is that the new American president sort of off-handedly remarked that he wasn’t married to the Oslo deal, or the infamous “Two-State Solution.”

Trump said he’s fine with “whatever” state, in essence, that the Israelis decide is best for them.

This is huge. At least for four or eight years.

The truth is, the 25-year failure known as “Land for Peace” or “Oslo” or “Two-State Solution” has brought death to Israelis, and frankly, American presidents and Western diplomats haven’t cared about that. Any of them.

Trump did raise eyebrows by telling Netanyahu that he hopes he taps the brakes on building more settlements.

The truth is, no human government system is going to be optimum. What we do have now, however, is the best-case scenario for Israel politically…ever. Trump will be a friend to the Jewish state and I imagine that behind-the-scenes wonderful things will happen over the next several years.

The important stuff went on behind closed doors. For example, Netanyahu also met with Vice President Mike Pence, and they will come to consensus on “settlements.” As reported in The Times of Israel:

“The prime minister also reiterated his request that the US recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, something he put to Trump during their Oval Office meeting on Wednesday. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and extended sovereignty over the area in 1981. No other countries recognize Israel sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“’We [will] formulate as soon as possible the creation of a mechanism to discuss with the White House construction in the settlements, with the intention of reaching an understanding on this matter,’ a member of Netanyahu’s delegation to Washington said after Thursday’s meeting.

“Netanyahu had responded to Trump’s request to rein in settlement activity on Wednesday by promising that Israel and the US would try to coordinate their positions on settlement construction in the West Bank, ‘so that we don’t bump into each other on this every time.’”

There will also be significant changes in the relationship between Israel, the U.S., and the corrupt United Nations.

So in a short period of time, the game has changed. The story has turned.

We know also that the Left will not rest even a second the next several years and will seek to damage America and Israel, so we must be vigilant with our prayers.




Feb 13, 2017

Tel Me More

Years ago, I took a cab to the airport in Tel Aviv, and the friendly driver kept pointing out archaeological/historical sites along the way. Which is to say, constantly.

Not far from Jerusalem, he pointed to the right, north, to a hill. It is the ancient site of Kiryat Ye’arim, the place where the ark of the covenant was brought back by the Philistines; this is recorded in 1 Samuel. In 2 Samuel, after the ark had been kept at the site for 20 years, King David brought it up to Jerusalem.

The site is also home to yet another Catholic monastery, which dot the Israeli landscape.

It is fascinating to note that the site is one of the few virtually untouched in Israel, a country where archaeological digs are more common than restaurants or gas stations.

(As a complete aside, nearby is the Arab town of Abu Ghosh, where a gas station with a giant statue of Elvis beckons customers.)

One of the excavators at the site, Tel Aviv University’s Israel Finkelstein, isn’t even sure the story is historically accurate, and that is both astonishing and dismaying. We live in a time in which Palestinians invent their own history, while certain Israelis deny their own.

In any event, the dig is to commence this summer, and of course will take some time. The biblical story goes that the Philistines were struck with a plague for keeping the ark, and so returned it on a wooden cart. This was in the time when the power of the Philistines was waning.

The ark itself is still lost to history, though many have speculated about its whereabouts. The biblical text goes silent about the ark’s location after the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. Some claim that the ark is housed in some subterranean chamber underneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. A couple people even claim to have seen it through an opening in a rock wall. I’d be skeptical of such claims, or of those that say the high priests who are preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple in our time know its location. We simply can’t prove these stories, and the honest truth is, we don’t know where the ark is or if it will be located again.

In the meantime, let’s anticipate the excavation in Israel and celebrate the fact that the events recorded in the Bible did in fact take place.