Where is Ben-Gurion?
By Jim Fletcher
The lion of Israeli politics and state-building, David Ben
Gurion, has been gone for 35 years. After guiding Israel
through pre-war British rule, statehood, and war, he passed from the scene just
before the Yom Kippur War (won by his protégé, Ariel Sharon). This modern David
was no saint (a photograph of him practicing yoga appeared in a news magazine)
and it isn’t totally clear how he viewed the Bible, but he no doubt recognized
the divine hand bringing the children back in his own time. At Ben Gurion’s
modest home south of Jerusalem, a copy of
Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth can be seen.
How far Israel
has come. That statement is both a positive and a negative. Positive in the
sense that the fledgling state triumphed over heavily armed and motivated Arab
states to become the lighthouse of the
The statement is negative in the sense that modern Israel
is casting about for a real leader, again.
Ehud Olmert is mired in corruption charges and evidently is
the only one who thinks Israel
defeated Hezbollah two summers ago.
As I’ve said before, Olmert is very smart and a great
political operator. Yet he appears not to have a religious bone in his body
(despite cultivating very good relationships with pro Israel Christians during
his time as Jerusalem’s
mayor). His family is liberal and one could say, post-Zionist.
Olmert himself used to be, at least on the surface, a
strong Zionist. Then he began to be politically expedient. He hitched his
political future to the aging Sharon
and, predictably, became prime minister by default. It is clear he will be a
one-term prime minister.
Just like Ehud Barak.
The former IDF hero has held many important positions. He
became prime minister in 1999 and didn’t last long. His bizarre give-and-take
with the killer, Yasser Arafat, at
Camp David, is still puzzling. He offered the farm and
Arafat balked — because peace and nation-building wasn’t his goal.
The public became so dissatisfied with Barak that Sharon
was swept into power in 2001. Many Christians believe that Sharon’s massive stroke (he remains in a coma)
was the result of the Gaza
pullout. Honestly, I think Sharon
had a stroke because he was 77 and quite overweight. Still, he exits the stage.
Barak thirsts for a return to power. The Labor leader
rightly sees Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud, as his chief rival. Bibi served
as prime minister from 1996-99 and is generally seen as a hawk.
Polls indicate that Bibi would win if new elections were
held. Maybe so.
But the fact remains that Israel’s
problems, from a human perspective, are so vast, none of these men can credibly
claim to lead her to peace.
Inexplicably, Olmert has signaled a willingness to
negotiate with Syria about the Golan Heights. Don’t demonize him for this;
probably all Israeli premiers since Rabin have done the same thing.
The fact is, the noose is tightening around Israel,
from the south, north, and east. No one knows what Iraq
is being killed by the cancerous
is no real friend of Israel.
is feckle and weak. It is not unreasonable to expect even “moderate” Jordan
to become a radicalized Islamic state.
So, at the end of the day, it is as my Israeli friend, Eli
Mizrachi, once told me: “Jim, it doesn’t matter who wins elections; Labor,
Likud. Likud, Labor. The only thing that matters is that the Messiah is coming
Indeed. In fact, that statement is so insightful and
steeped in wisdom, how can we not be excited? Maranatha!