Feb 19, 2018

Hot on the Border

Sometimes we get too caught up in worrying about what might happen to Israel. I’m serious.

Now, look, the Russian presence in Syria is a real problem. So is the Iranian presence. Both are propping-up that scumbag, Assad, and countless innocents have been slaughtered in the process. The Left doesn’t really care about people, or that situation would be front-and-center on the news. But that’s a topic for another time.

What we don’t focus on enough is Israeli resolve and capability. I’ve said many times that the Lord is literally protecting Israel. But let’s do look at things simply from a strategic, geopolitical standpoint for a minute.

Last weekend, the Iranians sent an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli airspace. The UAV was launched from the T-4 base at Palmyra, Syria. The IDF blew it out of the sky. Then, according to a report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:

“In response to the breach by the UAV, IDF struck targets in Syria, including the Iranian control center that had launched the drone. During the retaliatory strikes by Israel, the Syrian military fired anti-aircraft missiles, which resulted in the downing of an F-16 jet over Israeli territory. In response to the downing of the jet, the IDF carried out an extensive air campaign against Syrian air defense bases and Iranian targets in Syria. According the IDF’s statement, the Israeli military bombed 12 targets, including three Syrian air defense batteries and four Iranian targets.”

Netanyahu takes considerable heat from all sides. To some he isn’t conservative and tough enough. To others he’s a warmonger. But rest assured, he will do what is necessary to protect Israel.

In today’s upside-down world, political spin has become the Theatre of the Absurd. Notice that Iran sounds like a collective Baghdad Bob in their description of events:

“Iranian officials denied Israel’s claims regarding Iranian involvement in the events in northern Israel and cast the blame on Israel for the escalation. Bahram Qasemi, the Spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rejected Israel’s claims regarding the breach by the Iranian UAV and reports about Iran’s involvement in downing the Israeli jet, labeling these claims as ‘ridiculous.’ He mentioned that Iran assists Syria only through military advisors in accordance with the request of the legitimate government in Damascus. Qasemi insisted on Syria’s right to protect its territorial integrity and respond to any foreign aggression against it. According to him, the ‘Zionist regime’ can not hide its aggressiveness and its crimes against the people of the region through lies.”

The Iranians claim that the rules of engagement have changed and that Israel will “not be allowed to” enter Syrian airspace anymore for raids.

As if.

Notice that the Russians are not engaging Israel directly, other than to put some window dressing on public statements. But we can be pretty confident that in their several meetings in the last year, Netanyahu has made it very clear to Putin that Israel will defend itself. Should the Iranians flex their muscles even more, expect a withering Israeli response.

And, this should remind all of us how strategic the Golan Heights are for Israel. You can sit at a restaurant near the Sea of Galilee and look up and see where Syrian shells have landed periodically for years on Israeli farms, as harassment. Can you imagine what would happen if Syria was in possession of the Heights?

The Meir Amit report emphasizes what Iran hopes to achieve through a presence in Syria:

  • Stabilizing and shaping the Syrian regime while enhancing Iran’s political, economic, religious and cultural clout in Syria.[1] The preservation of the Syrian regime is critical for Tehran as it is a strategic partner for Iran in the Arab world. The downfall of the Assad regime may result in negative ramifications for Hezbollah, as a result of losing its logistic support base in Syria (which is crucial for transferring Iranian assistance to the organization).
  • Establishing an Iranian-Shi’ite sphere of influence, stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria, all the way to Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
  • Augmenting pressure levers and threats against Israel so as to create deterrence vis-à-vis Jerusalem.
  • Expelling the United States from Syria and the region as a whole. The United States is perceived by Iran as a central threat to its national security and its vital interests.

Notice those last two points: Jerusalem and the re-emergence of American power. Both are significant prophetically, for they signal that while the coming epic battle for Jerusalem is on the horizon, the Trump Era keeps our enemies at bay. It is only when a weak or removed America emerges that Israel will be alone.

The escalations in Syria are serious, and a new thing. They bear watching. Let us continue to pray for Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem!




Feb 12, 2018

War in the North

Among the “challenges” Israel faces every day is the threat from its northern border with Syria and Lebanon.

It has always been this way.

For decades, the terrorist group Hezbollah has been a menace in Lebanon. And back in the 1970s, the PLO wreaked havoc on Lebanese politics, with propaganda and assassinations ruling the day. The 1982 murder of president-elect Bashir Gemayel was a particular tragedy, as he had established dialogue with the Israelis. Arab terrorists in the region have been successful in only one respect: visiting death and horror and tragedy on civilian populations, including their own.

Today, the situation is more complex. The now six-year Syrian “civil war” shows no signs of being over, and now the Russians and Iran are involved. Hezbollah is just one of several actors in this drama.

Israel is of course keeping its eyes on the situation, and this week Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Syrian border. According to the Jerusalem Post:

“’Our face is turned toward peace, we are ready for any eventuality, and I don’t suggest anyone test us,’ he said Tuesday in a video message he posted on Twitter, the sound of helicopter blades whirring in the background.”

The conventional wisdom is that Hezbollah has tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel’s heartland. If most of us had a secular worldview, this would be dire. However, as God’s people, we do not ultimately fear for Israel.

Still, there is not only the rocket and “militia” threat, but Iran’s proxies and the Russian influence are troublesome.

Interestingly, the Americans are pretty much staying out of the fight.

“A U.S. leadership vacuum is creating anxiety.

“President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian missile base last year after it was revealed that Syria used chemical weapons against civilians, but otherwise the U.S. engagement with shaping the outcome of Syria’s civil war has been desultory. Russia is filling the vacuum, which is stoking Israeli anxieties. Despite generally good relations between the Netanyahu and Putin governments, Israel cannot rely on Russia to advance Israeli interests in the same way it has with the United States.

“’As the shape of the Syrian war changes, Israel may find its working relations with Russia undermined by Moscow’s desire to exercise influence in Syria generally from afar, and by its shifting relations with Iran,’ Shoshana Bryen, the senior director at the Jewish Policy Center, wrote this week in The Algemeiner.

“Absent focused U.S. leadership, Israel may strike out on its own to prevent Hezbollah from becoming the preeminent force in the nations to its north.”

Everyone knows about the mega-rich natural gas Israel recently found in the Mediterranean, and now 2-3 countries dispute who owns what. This will continue to bring Russia into the mix, and for the longest, Bible prophecy experts have long speculated over what would prompt the “hook” in Gog’s jaw, to bring him and his massive coalition army to bear on Israel. Natural riches would seem to be a plausible catalyst for Gog-Magog, so this is a development worth watching.