Standing in the Gap for Israel blog 02/12

The Word:

HebrewScripturesAt the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdoms endure from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34–35)

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon His Kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.  (Isaiah 9: 6 &7)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: ‘First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions (1 Timothy 2:1-4). As Scripture commands, let us bring the governments of the world before the Lord and pray specifically regarding how they view the Nation of Israel.

With Israel holding its general election on 17 March 2015 and the UK Parliamentary general election taking place on 7 May 2015, there is much to pray about regarding these two major events. Pray that the upright and godly would be voted in, and that Israel’s future and security would not be sacrificed for political gain.

In the midst of continuing troubles within the Middle East, and especially with Christians being slaughtered by the Islamic group ISIS, please remain watchful and constant in your prayers, and continue to pray that the LORD God would place His Wall of Fire around both the Nation of Israel and its people, and also around the Christians in Islamic countries. Pray for encouragement, strength and perseverance for the Israeli people in the face of constant physical and spiritual opposition. And pray that ordinary Jewish and Arab people, whether living in Israel proper or what the world terms as the “territories”, will have a desire for reconciliation and to live side by side in peace and harmony.

Westminster Lobby Day report.

011Over the past month, we have witnessed much on our TVs regarding the 70th anniversary of Holocaust Memorial Day.  One of the biggest surprises however came from those of leading ‘positions’, whether Local government officials or even certain leaders in organisations that promote programmes to reflect the Holocaust and other genocides.  I have heard from many people who have put on Holocaust Memorial events state that they could only do so on the condition that ‘religion and politics’ – specifically politics concerning Israel – are kept out of any programme of events.  When one considers that the Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the ‘Holocaust’ (I think the clue is in the title of the event), and that 6 million Jews were murdered simply because they were ‘Jews’ – along with the fact that many more were murdered due to their ‘political’ persuasions – that it is ludicrous to even suggest that ‘religion and politics’ are forbidden to be mentioned in events connected to Holocaust Memorial Day.  Whilst I agree that any one specific group should not misuse the events to promote their own cause, it does seem rather silly to pretend that ‘religion and politics’ have no place in this important event.

It goes without saying though that if there is anything that will spark a spontaneous debate, if not an outright argument, it is a discussion involving politics. As ‘Christians’ (and even those of the Jewish faith who read these reports might want to consider), what should be our attitude and our involvement with politics? It has been said that “religion and politics don’t mix.” But is that really true? Can we have political views outside the considerations of our faith?  I believe the answer is no, we cannot. The Bible – both the Hebrew Scriptures and The New Covenant (New Testament) give us truths regarding our stance towards politics and government.  The first truth is that the will of God permeates and supersedes every aspect of life. Is it not God’s ‘will’ that takes precedence over everything and everyone (Matthew 6:33)? What God has purposed, He will bring to pass, and no government can thwart His will, according to Daniel 4:34-35. In fact, it is God who “sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21) because “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:17). A clear understanding of this truth will help us to see that politics is merely a method God uses to accomplish His will. Even though evil men abuse their political power, meaning it for evil, God means it for good, working “all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

10303753_823744697673203_3386138665071665615_nThere is no doubt that our responsibility to government is to obey the laws and be good citizens (Romans 13:1-2). Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-8 that it is the government’s responsibility to rule in authority over us -hopefully for our good. Where we have a voice and can elect our leaders, we should exercise that right by voting for those whose views most closely parallel our own, after all, unlike a certain celebrity, one cannot complain about our governments if one does not cast his/her vote.  And so, Wednesday February 4th brought 100s of Jews and Christians together once again through the annual Lobby Day at Westminster organized by Christian Friends of Israel and the Zionist Federation.  Following last year’s Gaza war or ‘Operation Protective Edge’ as it’s known by, along with the prevalence of anti-Israel feeling throughout 2014 and today’s growth of anti-Semitism being at an all-time high, it was paramount that those who stand with Israel showed their support for Israel in London’s Westminster – especially with the upcoming general election.

Julia & Dave Westminster
Obviously, it was a good possibility that someone’s MP may not actually be in post after May – as indeed is the case for Julia and me – as our MP – Ian Swales – is retiring in two months’ time.  However it was still worth the opportunity for my wife Julia and me to speak with him as we walked through the vast halls of Westminster. Hopefully, there were many opportunities for those who had made the time to lobby their MP’s and these would have some influence beyond the election.  As mentioned, our MP is standing down at the election, yet this also gave us the opportunity to pass our concerns on to their party’s preferred prospective candidates.

However, as I was soon to find out, most MP’s desire a ‘two-state solution’ of having an Islamic Arab State of Palestine within the land of Israel.  And one thing I found rather troublesome is that when I questioned various people over this, they appeared vague as to the history.  In recent history the area called ‘Palestine’ included the territories of present day Israel and Jordan. From 1517 to 1917 most of this area remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.  However, in 1917 Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.   In 1922 Britain allocated nearly 80% of Palestine to the creation of Transjordan. Thus, Jordan covers the majority of the land of Palestine under British Mandate.  Jordan also includes the majority of the Arabs who lived there. In other words, Jordan is the Arab portion of Palestine.  It was only after the Jews re-inhabited their historic homeland of Judea and Samaria, that the myth of an ‘Arab Palestinian nation’ was created and marketed worldwide.

There is, nor never has been any language known as Palestinian, or any Palestinian culture distinct from that of all the Arabs in the area. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. “Palestinians” are Arabs indistinguishable from Arabs throughout the Middle East.  Much of the Arab population in this area actually migrated into Israel and Judea and Samaria from the surrounding Arab countries in the past 100 years. The rebirth of Israel was accompanied by economic prosperity for the region. Arabs migrated to this area to find employment and enjoy the higher standard of living. Jews by far were the majority in Jerusalem over the small Arab minority. Until the Oslo agreement, the major source of income for Arab residents was employment in the Israeli sector. To this day, many Arabs try to migrate into Israel with various deceptions to become a citizen of Israel.

Even the creator of the modern ‘Palestinians’ in 1964 – PLO Chairman Arafat himself – was not a “Palestinian”. He was born in Egypt. The famous “Palestinian covenant” states that Palestinians are “an integral part of the Arab nation” — a nation which is blessed with a sparsely populated land mass 660 times the size of tiny Israel (Judea, Samaria and Gaza included).  And all attempts to claim Arab sovereignty over Israel of today, should be seen with their real intention: The destruction of Israel as a Jewish state and the only bulwark of the Judeo-Christian Western civilization in the Middle East.  Yet most MP’s only appear to be concerned with the issue of creating another ‘two-state solution’ which in fact will not be any solution at all.

DSCF3544In the statement we received for the lobby day it read that “We will be asking MPs to affirm their commitment to 3 key statements which support Israel’s desire for peace. Firstly, it is only through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that peace can be achieved. Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state is not helpful to the peace process. Secondly, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is hindering peaceful efforts on all sides of the conflict. Israel is a democratic nation worthy of our respect and an important ally in the Middle East. Trade between our two nations should be encouraged. Thirdly, the Hamas party should be proscribed as a terrorist organization. The current distinction between the ‘military wing’ and ‘political wing’ of Hamas is false. Israel should not be expected to negotiate with terrorists sworn to their total destruction.”    How much of this was taken on board by the MPs remains to be seen.

Needless to say, the recent vote in the House of Commons for an Arab ‘Palestinian’ state, at a time when Islamic State-level terrorists like Hamas are in the ascendancy, is certainly historic, and as another paper read, “in several senses it’s a historic mistake; a historic instance of ignorance and bigotry at the heart of the British political system; and a historic gift to Islamist terrorism.”  With opinion polls showing that Hamas would win Palestinian elections if they were held any time soon, is this really the time to reward terrorism by gifting them Judea and Samaria?  In fact, the more you think about it, the worse it gets. The British government is sending people into battle to stop one Islamist terror state emerging in Syria/Iraq, and now wants to give its blessing to the creation of another one in Israel.

1530517_763980553613767_1973954922_nOne area I do wish the Church, the Media and the Government would strongly oppose is the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)’ movement which is indeed troubling and certainly hindering any peaceful efforts.  Israel is often maligned as a racist, even apartheid state. And yet, as demonstrated in the following video, Israel is actually quite the opposite – it is a land of unprecedented coexistence given its tiny size.  A video created by filmmaker Matty Brown was recorded during his travels through Israel and he was overwhelmed by the local diversity. The cosmopolitan modern cities in Israel such as Tel Aviv with its glass tower blocks and gourmet restaurants along with its trendy all-night bars and clubs are a stark extreme to the lowest place on earth – the Dead Sea or the vastness of the Bedouin deserts.  You can’t move for culture and history in Israel’s capital Jerusalem and it feels as if one has been transported back in time watching the Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall to smells and bartering of the Arab markets just ten minutes away. And there is so much more that make up the fabric of Israel – a land of true diversity! Matty Brown calls his short film ‘This Isreal’ which no matter what my spell check keeps telling me, the title of the video is not misspelled. It’s actually an invitation to take a peek into the real Israel, not the negative caricature the international community likes to promote – and maybe each Member of Parliament should sit down and view it: http://vimeo.com/30861381

The third area that was to be challenged was regarding the Hamas party.  This should indeed be proscribed as a terrorist organization. The current distinction between the ‘military wing’ and ‘political wing’ of Hamas is completely false.  And any Member of Parliament who thinks Abbas is a moderate and should be treat like other ‘Western leaders’ should think again. Abbas’s Fatah movement has once again demonstrated its support for terror and violence, as the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) keep exposing. In the latest PMW article, they expose a picture showing masked Fatah fighters launching rockets at Israel.  According to Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, this was posted on Fatah’s official Facebook page with a quote from the Quran, indicating that according to Fatah, even Allah sanctions the use of terror attacks: “If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you.” (Quran, Sura 3:160, translation Sahih International) [Facebook, “Fatah – The Main Page”, Jan. 27, 2015].  The text on the flag is Islam’s declaration of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”  PMW stated, “Another recent Fatah post also showed the rifle as an integral part of the Fatah movement and the way it wants to “resist” Israel. The text on the image says: “Resist in any way, do not rest.” ” Click here to view other examples of PA and Fatah promotion of violence.

DSCF3529Christian Friends of Israel’s (CFI) Chief Executive Jacob Vince and the ZF’s (Zionist Federation) Eric Moonman led both the morning and afternoon meetings.  Eric Moonman was a British Labour politician and former Member of Parliament. He also became one of the most prominent figures in British Zionism, first as a senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and later as president of the Zionist Federation (ZF) of Great Britain and Ireland.  The ZF, also known as the British Zionist Federation, was established in 1899 to campaign for a permanent homeland for the Jewish people. The Zionist Federation is an umbrella organisation for the Zionist movement in the United Kingdom, representing more than 120 organisations, and over 50,000 affiliated members.  According to their website in 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour communicated the Balfour Declaration to the leader of United Kingdom’s Jewish community Lord Rothschild for transmission to the Zionist Federation.

The various speakers invited at the Lobby day included MPs from most parties.  One of the first MPs on the afternoon to speak was Lee Scott, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Ilford North, and an officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel group. Last month, on 20 January, 2015 speaking in a debate on Holocaust Memorial Day, Scott paid tribute to the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the importance of reminding people of the terrible events of the Holocaust to prevent history repeating itself.  David Burrowes also spoke and again he is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate. Burrowes is also the Parliamentary Chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, and an Officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel group.  He stated, “Israel is a defining issue.”  Burrowes was a prominent opponent of the Government’s proposals to introduce same-sex marriage into England and Wales, and he helped establish the Coalition for Marriage against its adoption. He is reported as saying that it would risk leading to an “adulterer’s charter”, but his call for a referendum to be held on the issue was ignored.  Regarding Israel he stated, “We don’t want fair weather friends.” He also went on to state that people in his constituency are very concerned about the rise in Anti-Semitism and that people of the Jewish faith are scared to show symbols of their faith, especially regarding their children.

DSCF3550Another speaker, Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford signed the Holocaust Memorial Book in Westminster to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2015.  He stated, “The Holocaust is a dark time in history, it is a dreadful reminder of just how many people lost their lives because of a delusional ideology but nevertheless, it is part of history, and no matter how barbaric or difficult it is to remember, we must remember and we must commemorate the lives of those who died between 1933 and 1945.” Shannon went on to say, “From the time they assumed power in 1933, the Nazis used propaganda, persecution, and legislation to deny human and civil rights to Jews. They used centuries of anti-Semitism as their foundation. By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had perished in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps. Given the heightened security risks that Jews are now facing right across Europe, and here in the UK, and the atrocities that were committed in Paris… Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 was particularly poignant. The rise of anti-Semitism throughout the UK and Europe is something which we must stamp out immediately, it had no place in the 1940s and it most certainly has no place in the 21st Century.”

The list of speakers also included Jerry Lewis (Jerusalem Post) and Labour MP Louise Ellman, who is never scared to openly proclaim her Jewish identity and fight for Israel and against Islamic extremism at every Parliamentary opportunity.  John Woodcock (Labour Party MP for Barrow and Furness since 2010) also spoke. He was appointed chair of Labour Friends of Israel in May 2011.  Woodcock described how he visited Israel for the first time as a student and said, “That experience transformed my understanding of this region. I saw that Israel is a country that embodies the same values we strive for in the UK.

True democracy?

07One of the key issues regarding the Lobby Day is that is shows true democracy.  We may not agree with everything that was stated by the MPs, and they will not agree with all we stand for.  However, in the UK, we often forget what a privilege it is to have free speech and are allowed to ‘lobby’ our Members of Parliament.  Likewise, the world appears either not to be aware, or again, forgotten, that in the Middle East, Israel is the only true democracy.   Israel’s 120 members of the Knesset (MKs) are directly elected by citizens to four-year terms, unless there is a call for early elections. All Israeli citizens, regardless of race, religion or background, 18 years or older may vote in legislative elections, which are conducted by secret ballot. Even convicted felons have the right to cast their ballot in Israel.  Anyone, with a few provisos related to criminal activity, can be elected to the Knesset, which represents all segments of Israeli society. In this body, Jews, Arabs, Druze and others come together to guide the country.

Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs in 2011 held 14 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts.  Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel’s founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.  The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren – unlike much of the rest of the Middle East, where Muslims are slaughtering Muslims. Nevertheless, in Israel, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian (Sunni Muslims) communities at their own request. So Israel is indeed the only true democracy in the Middle East in which all citizens can voice their opinion and influence leadership through a transparent, democratic process – unlike the majority of the Arab nations including Saudi Arabia.

arabiaWhat is wrong with Saudi Arabia you might ask? Well, they have recently held a ‘Women’s Rights Conference’. Wow… it sounds like things are finally starting to change for the better… well… that is until you realise that this Saudi Arabian ‘Women’s Rights Conference’ was held WITHOUT A SINGLE WOMAN ATTENDEE.  While Israeli women serve as Supreme Court justices, members of Knesset, and even Prime Minister, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have a different tradition. In 2012, the University of Qassim — one of the largest educational institutes in Saudi Arabia — decided to organize a Women’s Rights Conference. The event is supposed to be an annual affair, and as expected from such conferences, the event was meant to serve as a platform to discuss women’s rights.  However, in a country firmly ruled by its own interpretation of the Sharia Law, there were no women in attendance for a conference meant to discuss their rights. Read the full story here.

Let us therefore give thanks to the Lord God for the governments of the UK and Israel – whether we agree with them or not, and do pray for the forthcoming elections in both nations.

David Soakell

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

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About David Soakell

Believer in Yeshua (Jesus). In full time ministry work. Passionate about Israel, and publishes a weekly Middle East News Report.
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