15 Mar 2021

Stand Your Ground

I have always admired certain Israeli leaders that held fast during trying times. Even pre-state, Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a hardcase in advocating for Jews. A Russian-born Jew, Jabotinsky saw that their enemies were implacable and would seek to murder them unless they were themselves ruthlessly put down.

Ariel Sharon, controversial all his life, did what he thought best in protecting Israel. I remember hearing that he maintained an apartment in Jerusalem’s Old City, a thumb in the eye to the Palestinians who wanted a capitol in the city. Walking down a stone alley one day, I looked up and saw a giant Israeli flag flying from the apartment. The memory still makes me smile.

Menachem Begin did not warn President Ronald Reagan ahead of the Israeli strike on the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak in June, 1981. The withering international criticism from the operation was, as usual, stupid. Begin saved Jewish lives. That is the measuring stick I use in calculating greatness of Israeli leaders. Nothing else matters.

So it is then that I believe Israeli resolve in Jerusalem has led to another remarkable happening. From the great magazine, Israel Today:

“Palestinian politicians, clerics and terrorist warlords tireless invoke the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque as a rallying cry to stir up pan-Muslim emotions against Israel. The Jews are threatening to ‘Judaize’ this Islamic holy site, claim the Palestinians, even as they reject the biblical history of Mount Moriah.

“But according to a bunch of Saudis and other Middle East Arabs on social media, the Temple Mount and even, gasp(!), Al Aqsa itself aren’t all that holy to them.

“Last week on Twitter, Saudis conducted a campaign promoting Islam’s true holy sites, Mecca and Medina, while downplaying the importance of Jerusalem in their religion. (See: Islam’s Dome of the Rock in a Synagogue?)

“One of the more viral tweets was posted by Saudi cartoonist Fahd al-Jabiri, who wrote that ‘the direction of the prayers of the Jews is not important to us, what is important to us is only our homeland.’ By referencing the ‘direction of the prayers of the Jews,’ al-Jabiri implicitly recognized the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, thus contradicting the Palestinian narrative on the matter.”

This is extraordinary! Remember, this is not official Saudi policy, this is rank-and-file, and that is the key. Saudi officials, along with other Arab states in the region, have signaled a major thawing in relations with the Jewish state. The real question of course, is what does the “Arab Street” think of all this? Apparently, quite a lot, and it is good news for Israel.

In life, sometimes we have to take a stand for something, even for ourselves. The Jews are an inspirational story in this regard. Iddo Netanyahu, the youngest of the three brothers, in a 2015 interview with Tablet magazine, said this:

“You can’t just run away. Yes, you can say, ‘OK, I’m not going to be involved anymore.’ But they are going to run after you. You can’t avoid conflict because you decide to avoid conflict. You might be wrong in involving yourself in a certain conflict, absolutely. But don’t think you can avoid conflict.”

They are going to run after you.

Yes, they will. Appeasement never works.

We can take our cues from the Jews right now. Our political leadership is historically weak, after the coup against President Trump. So I think back to Jewish history, biblical history, in praying for renewed leadership.

From Judges 4:

“And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

In those days, it was a strong woman that led Israel. The implication is clear: male leadership was lacking. In facing a mortal enemy, Barak said he would only go out to fight if Deborah went with him. Her immortal answer is an answer we can remember in our time.

She set her face toward the enemy, and she went.

Israeli obstinance over the Temple Mount, the spiritual center of the universe, has resulted in no Arab entity controlling it since June, 1967.

Sometimes you have to stand your ground. The Lord will do the rest.