Is there an alternative for Israel?
Judging from the recent polls, the prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, minister of health, and minister of defense – Benjamin Netanyahu will very likely assume kingship once again.
It is speculated that Netanyahu’s Likud party is likely to horde the majority of the Knesset seats. Data varies from survey to survey, but all largely agree on 29-30 seats for Likud, while the second largest political force squeezing 13 at worst and 16 at best. We are talking about the left-centrist parties of Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, and the brand new party of Benny Gantz, Hosen LeIsrael.
Benny Gantz seems like the most promising new candidate on the political scene, but even his participation in the race is not a significant game changer. Gantz is likely to chip away at the seats of the centrist-left camp, leaving Bibi fans loyal to their leader.
The motto of the upcoming election, similar to the previous one is – “who else is there?” And it doesn’t seem to bother the majority of voters as to the fact that Netanyahu is facing possible indictment over bribery. Israelis have a saying “if it’s working, don’t touch it.” The people prefer to look the other way regarding certain issues and not rock the boat.
Putting Bibi and Benny aside, as important as they are in the upcoming race, the main character could very likely be Avichai Mandelblit the Attorney General of Israel, who still has to review the accusations and testimonies against Netanyahu and decide if he’s going to file an indictment against him. In case this happens after elections are held, it can bring about the downfall of the next government and lead to additional elections on short notice, which will cost the economy a lot and could cause more public distrust of the system.
With the government remaining unchanged, it will probably fail to provide its right-wing voters the products of promise. Settlement regulation laws will continue to fail, the conduct with the Palestinian Authority and terrorists will continue to be flimsy, and monopolies will continue to dictate the prices on everything. Things have been done, but not to the extent of promises made, nor to the expectations of voters who will once again drop the same envelopes and get same results.
Israel has a golden opportunity with the conservative American government propelling them on the international arena – such strong right-wing governments on both sides is likely to not repeat itself. The Knesset has to seize this opportunity, as it can act more freely with Donald Trump in office, receiving encouragement from the Christian Zionist movement. In a couple years the political scene in America may change, and being Israel’s strongest ally, can hinder a right-wing government on the international stage for whatever agenda it may try to push.
It comes to mind that even David, being the man after God’s heart, on his deathbed instructed the execution of his political enemies. Being the author of Psalms and many Messianic prophesies, it teaches us that power corrupts even the most virtuous of men. Netanyahu is a great leader, but his time has come to step down, maybe take the role of an advisor, but at this rate change will fail to come.
Does Israel have the prospects of positive change, or is there truly no alternative?
Arthur Schwartzman grew up in Israel. He spent four and half years in the service, operating the Iron Dome. It was during that time that he became a Believer, after reading the New Testament. He has completed a degree in Practical Engineering and in 2015, he published his first book.
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End Time lessons from Israel’s Iron Lady – Golda Meir
After reading, “My Life” – the autobiography of Golda Meir, I have grown in appreciation for the founding fathers and mothers of the modern state of Israel. They faced incredible challenges and yet helped “birth a nation in a day.” (Isaiah 66:8) I believe Golda’s story has prophetic significance for the final years before Yeshua returns. Here is the pattern I see:
Golda was born in 1898. She grew up in harsh conditions in Pinsk, Russia. In 1906 her family immigrated to America in search of freedom and a prosperous life. During her time in America she was influenced by her older sister’s politically active friends. One topic they often discussed was Zionism, which awakened a deep desire in Golda to one day move to Palestine.
Her dream of joining other Jewish pioneers in Palestine came true in 1921 when she and her husband left the comforts of America behind. Her account of crossing the ocean by boat, and arriving into Tel Aviv by train over a month later is an absolute nightmare (pg. 52-55).
The Tel Aviv she first set eyes on compared to the Tel Aviv of today point to one massive miracle of perseverance and development. They joined a Kibbutz in the Jezreel valley and worked the land day and night in unbearable conditions. Her husband’s health deteriorated so quickly that after three years they were forced to leave. During this time, her political connections expanded.
As they began to raise children in Jerusalem, Golda struggled to stay home. Because of her zeal for the settlement of Jews in Palestine, she was given numerous leadership roles in the pre-state Jewish government. Her responsibilities required her to travel often which put great strain on her marriage and family life. She admits that the cooling of her marriage was due to her not being around enough.
By 1934 she had moved her way up into the core leadership team of the pre-state government. The challenges they continually faced were overwhelming. Hitler was murdering Jews in Europe. The British government was forcefully opposing immigration of European Jews fleeing to Palestine for safety. Arab aggression against Jews was increasing across Palestine with the British doing very little to stop them. They had no formal combat training and no funds to adequately construct their own army in order to defend themselves.
Ben Gurion, Golda and the rest of the leaders of the government firmly agreed that they could no longer let their future be determined by occupying powers. They needed to fight with all they had for the establishing of their own independent state.
Golda was an atheist, but clearly God’s hand was upon her. She and the other leaders discerned that a great attack from the surrounding Arabs in the Middle East would come when they declared statehood. They urgently needed to raise millions of dollars in order to purchase arms to defend themselves. By a vote, Golda was chosen to travel to America in early 1948 to raise funds from the Jewish community. They doubted they could raise more than 8 million dollars. But miraculously, in just six weeks, Golda managed to raise 55 million dollars! The American Jews wept as she described the urgent situation in Palestine and many even took out loans in order to give.
The day following the Israeli declaration of independence, the neighboring Arab countries attacked Israel as they had suspected. Not only did Israel manage to stop the assault, but went on the offence and defeated those armies.
Coming Take Over
According to end time scriptures, I see this pattern repeating again before Yeshua returns to establish His kingdom on earth. Unprecedented pressures and challenges will come before the kingdom of God on earth will be “born in a day,” the day of His return. This will be so for Israel and true followers of Yeshua. Satan will rage (Rev 12:12-17). The anti-Christ will overcome many saints (Rev 13:7). Deception and lawlessness will abound (Matt 24).
Yet the body of Messiah will know the signs of the times. Like the prestate leaders in Golda’s day preparing for the birth of the nation, the body of Messiah will be fixated on doing everything possible to prepare the way for Yeshua’s return and “global take over.” The unity Yeshua prayed for in John 17 will be seen and felt.
Like the kibbutzim, Finances and possessions will be shared in unprecedented selflessness (Acts 2:44-45). Even when darkness covers the earth the wealth of the nations will come to Israel (Is 60). A people will have prepared themselves like John the Baptist (Luke 1:16-17, 80). The purified bride of Yeshua will be trained and ready to take her place ruling the nations with Him (Rev 20).
Let’s stay focused on growing in love and doing all we can now to get ourselves and other ready for what’s coming!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, December 26, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Cody served on staff with YWAM for four years before moving to Israel. He joined Revive Israel's staff in 2013. He and his wife, Liat, help lead the youth group at Ahavat Yeshua Congregation and work together in Revive Israel’s international department. They have a passion to see the word of the Lord go out from Jerusalem through media and by going out to the nations themselves.
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Are you convinced?
PARASHAT SHEMOT (NAMES)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 1:1–6:1
Our weekly reading takes us to a new book called Shemot (“Exodus”). As I was reading this portion I was touched once again by the heroic act of bravery that Shiphrah and Puah demonstrated by not obeying Pharaoh’s command to kill every newborn boy.
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah, and the other was named Puah; and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous, and they give birth before the midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. And it came about because the midwives feared God, that He established households for them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
Egypt was the most powerful empire in the world at this time, and Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, was the most powerful man. The Egyptians actually considered him to be a god, so for the two midwives to refuse to obey that which he commanded meant risking their own lives.
There is some debate among scholars regarding the identity of the two midwives; some say they were Egyptians (who later joined the Israelites as converts) and others say they were Hebrew women. The debate mostly centers around the language of the Scriptures, which I won’t get into here, as well as the notion that Pharaoh would have only trusted fellow Egyptians to carry out such a task. I personally believe they were Egyptian, mostly because in verse 21, it is written that God provided for them a household, which implies they joined with the Israelites.
But I want to point us to the most significant issue, in my opinion, which is that both women feared God. Shiphrah and Puah’s actions were driven by an awe and knowledge of God, of His power, and His sovereignty. They were so convinced of His awesome nature, that they were willing to do whatever it took to save the lives of the newborn sons of the people of Israel. I am always amazed at the fact that, throughout history – in every age, God has placed individuals who have taken a strong stand for Him – people who fear Him more than they fear men.
As I was reading this story I was thinking about us, His followers today. And then I asked myself, “Am I willing to do the same today? Do I fear God more than I fear man?” Perhaps the better question is, “Am I standing for Him today? Is my life a reflection of that?”
For my gentile brothers and sisters in Messiah, a day is coming — or in some cases, is already here — where just like the two midwives, you will need to make a decision: stand for the God of Israel, for the Jewish people, and for the State of Israel, or bow down to pressures to hate Israel and the Jewish people. Zechariah 14:1–2 tells us of a day when all nations will gather against Jerusalem to battle. However, the same chapter in verse 16, speaks of, “those who are left from all of those nations….” I personally believe that these words refer to true God-fearing gentiles, who will fear God more than they fear men, and will take courageous actions just like the midwives from our story!
Are you convinced of God’s sovereignty and of His awesome power? Do you fear God more than you fear men? More importantly, is your life a reflection of this?
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Three Biblical answers, that answer almost every “why?”
For the fifth time in my life first as a parent and now as a grandparent, I am busily answering the most popular question that children ask, “why?”. It seems like there is a point in the cognitive growth of a child where every statement made by anyone adult or child is followed by the inquisitive response “why?” Everything from the easy answers like explaining why we are having, what we are having for dinner, to more difficult questions regarding why is a friend having a baby or maybe why friends are moving away.
In the Bible, we as the children of G-D are many times like the children described above. We are very inquisitive often reading the Scriptures and then asking “why?”. Why does G-D do the things He does? Why did He create all that He created? Why did certain things happen? Why did He choose the people He chose to accomplish the things they did? The list of questions that we can come up with is never-ending. However, the answers to each of those questions usually come down to one of three answers.
We find those three answers all over the Scriptures but for the sake of this article we will look at one example with both answers are provided within one series of text. In Exodus 6, we find G-D speaking to Moses and G-D has just told Moses that He was going to cause Pharaoh to let Israel go and in doing so Pharaoh would drive Israel out of the land of Egypt.
In Exodus 6:2-3 which is found directly after the above takes place we find answer #1:
God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am Adonai. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as El Shaddai. Yet by My Name, Adonai, I made Myself known to them.
Notice that G-D doesn’t just tell Moses what He is going to do. G-D goes further to explain what He is doing it. The first answer is for why G-D does things is that He desires us to know who He is. In order to understand why G-D does anything the first step is to know He exists. The book of Hebrews says it this way:
Now without faith it is impossible to please God. For the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6
In Exodus 6:4-5 we find answer #2:
I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage where they journeyed. Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of Bnei-Yisrael, whom the Egyptians are keeping in bondage. So I have remembered My covenant.
Answer number 2 is that G-D is a covenant-keeping G-D in other words once He establishes a covenant or promise He always keeps that covenant. The book of Galatians chapter 3 verses 15-17 says it this way:
Brothers and sisters, I speak in human terms: even with a man’s covenant, once it has been confirmed, no one cancels it or adds to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It doesn’t say, “and to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “and to your seed,” who is the Messiah. What I am saying is this: Torah, which came 430 years later, does not cancel the covenant previously confirmed by God, so as to make the promise ineffective.
The third answer for why G-D does what He does is found in Exodus 6:7:
I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Adonai your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
Here we learn that G-D doesn’t just want to be our G-D he also wants us to be His people. He has chosen us to be His people, and He wants us to know we are His choice. 1st Peter 2:9-10 says it like this:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were “not a people,” but now you are “God’s people.” You were shown “no mercy,” but now you have been shown “mercy.”
The bottom line is that everything that G-D has done since He first spoke the world into existence can be explained by one of the three answers we find provided in Exodus chapter 6 and reiterated many other places throughout the Bible.
He did things and still does them so that we will know Him, so He can keep His covenants with us and so that through knowing Him and His covenants we will become His people.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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Three red cherries and a one-armed bandit
Slot-machines from a previous generation had a large metal handle on their right side. When this lever was pulled down, the one-armed bandit either swallowed your silver dollars or coughed up a trifling jackpot. For the rare winner, victory bells would ring on the machine and three cherries would line up on the glass-covered panel.
Today in the Middle East there are winners and losers. The slot machine’s bells are frantically ringing and three cherries have lined up. Syria is the slot machine in the present scenario, and the three Bing cherries are Russia, Iran, and Turkey.
Why does Russia love warm water?
Tim Marshall in his Prisoners of Geography (https://en.wikipedia.org/
Russia has three main ports open to world trade:
- St. Petersburg (often ice-bound)
- Vladivostok (ice-locked for several months each year, and accessing only the Pacific theater)
- Sevastopol in Crimea on the Black Sea, officially under Ukrainian rule until recently
Vladivostok is seldom in the news. But on February 26, 2014 Russian forces in green unmarked fatigues seized Crimea. Russia officially annexed Sevastopol (the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Черноморский Флот) on March 18 of that year (www.washingtonpost.com/world/
Russia’s ‘drang nach Süden’ – its intense search for warm-water ports – has led it to the Syrian port of Tartus – strategically close to the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea and the Suez Canal. There it has constructed major military facilities which will significantly aid Russia in the Mediterranean against a potential clash with NATO forces. Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, says, “It is a thorn in the side of NATO, and an increased presence of Russian ships based in the Mediterranean will pose a big threat to the alliance on the its southern flank” (https://www.ibtimes.com/
In a scholarly article published by ISW (Institute for the Study of War) titled “Russian deployment to Syria: Putin’s Middle East game changer,” the authors conclude: “The Russian deployment to Syria is game-changing. It will alter the nature of international negotiations, compromise and weaken the cohesion and efforts of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, strengthen the Assad regime, and initiate direct Russo-Iranian military operations for the first time. The U.S. and its partners must fundamentally reassess their approach to the Syrian conflict in light of this critical inflection” (https://www.files.ethz.ch/
For an up-to-date analysis of current Russian military thinking vis-à-vis Syria in light of the upcoming evacuation of U.S. forces, see http://iswresearch.blogspot.
- Russia in Syria is the first red cherry.
Hammer and sickle meet the Shi’ite Crescent
Over 2,500 years ago ancient Persia (modern Iran) marched its 500,000 strong army up to the shores of the Mediterranean and invaded Greece. The modern dream of Iran’s ayatollahs and its Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps is to conquer the world for its Shi’ite version of Islamist jihad. Its initial goal is an Iranian-controlled superhighway – a Shi’ite (or Shi’a) Crescent (http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/
From the perspective of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Shi’ite Islam’s triumphant message must press west and pass through the keyhole of Syria. For that to happen, a Shi’ite war of control must be about crushing the Sunni powers and influence of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen, as well as the Sunni forces in Iraq, Lebanon and Kurdish enclaves. But the short-term strategic goal is to establish a land route all the way to Syria’s Mediterranean coast. That way, missiles and rockets can be loaded onto trucks in Tehran and driven by land right into Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s storehouses in Damascus or even to Hezbollah bunkers in Beirut.
Iran is funding and arming Lebanese Hezbollah to the hilt, and is doing the same for Islamic Jihad forces in Gaza. Iranian GPS systems are being flown directly to Beirut where Iranian-run factories in Lebanon are feverishly upgrading Shi’ite Hezbollah’s over 120,000 rockets and missiles, currently aimed at Israel’s population centers. Iranian Fajr-5 long-range multiple-launch rocket systems are flown into Damascus and then transshipped to Hezbollah launch sites (https://www.jpost.com/
Iran is striving to establish air and naval bases in Syria as Russia has already done (https://af.reuters.com/
According to Dr. Azeem Ibrahim (Ph.D Cambridge, International Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Adjunct Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College), “Iran now dominates, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, and may also end up doing so in Yemen. It is successfully extending the ‘Shiite crescent’” (http://english.alarabiya.net/
The brilliant commentator Charles Krauthammer spoke prophetically back in June 2017 about the current threat: “For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended by its Arab auxiliaries – Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad’s Alawite regime (Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.) This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air cover from its new bases in Syria” (Charles Krauthammer, “At stake in the Mideast is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent,” June 22, 2017;https://www.denverpost.com/
In January 2016, a confidant of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman claimed (in desert hyperbole which is not far off the mark) that the Arab world is being confronted not by a Shi’a Crescent (a sliver of moon) but “by a Shia full moon” (https://en.wikipedia.org/
- Iran in Syria is the second red cherry.
Turkey but no Thanksgiving – the resuscitation of the Caliphate
Sunni Islam’s dream of world domination through jihadi dictatorship (the Caliphate) crashed and broke into a thousand pieces on March 3, 1924. On that day Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Turkish Republic, constitutionally abolished the Caliphate. But some dreams die hard. The vision of a reborn and conquering Caliphate inspires and animates many jihadi Muslims. It is the crown jewels of such organizations as the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qa’eda and ISIS.
The current President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan is actively pursuing a dominant role for Turkey over the entire Muslim world. Erdogan is seen by close associates as the up-and-coming Caliph of a resuscitated Caliphate:
erdogans-ambition-for-the- caliphate-and-the-failure-of- turkish-democracy.html
turkey/erdogan-trying-build- new-ottoman-caliphate-saudi- crown-prince
2018/11/27/opinion-erdogans- caliphate-dream-put-in-motion- in-turkey/
caliphate/erdogan-may-hold- referendum-return-caliphate- former-party-leader
History shows that Turkey’s pursuit of Caliphate glory has left a bloody trail of Christian Armenians and Greeks victims between the 1840’s and 1918. Here are some main milestones (https://en.wikipedia.org/
- Badr Khan in 1840’s – the slaughter of 10,000 Assyrian Christians by Muslim Kurds on behalf of the Turkish Ottoman authorities (https://en.wikipedia.org/
- Hamidian massacres in 1894-96 – 100,000-300,000 Christian Armenians by Turkish Ottoman and Arab soldiers (https://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Massacres_of_Diyarbak%C4% B1r_(1895); http://www.armenian-genocide. org/hamidian.html)
- Adana massacres in 1904 – 15,000-30,000 Christian Armenians by Turkish nationalists
- Greek genocide 1913-22 – 500,000-900,000 Christian Greeks by the Young Turk government
- Assyrian genocide 1914-18 – 270,000-750,000 Assyrian Christians by the Young Turk government and Kurdish tribes
- Armenian genocide 1915-18 – 850,000-1,500,000 Armenian Christians by the Young Turk government and Kurdish tribes (https://en.wikipedia.org/
Since 1984, Turkey has destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages and implemented mass transfer of two million Kurds who became refugees in their own country. Turkish army forces conducted massacres of approximately 30,000 Kurds. And Turkey has clearly stated in the past week that it will shortly move into Syria with plans to slaughter the restive Kurdish independence movement.
Turkey’s State-owned Anadolu news agency on Thursday December 20, 2018 quoted Defence Minister Hulusi Akar (speaking of Kurds in Syria) during a visit to a Qatari-Turkish joint military base in Doha. “Right now it is being said that some ditches, tunnels were dug in Manbij and to the east of the Euphrates. They can dig tunnels or ditches if they want, they can go underground if they want, when the time and place comes they will buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt this” (https://www.reuters.com/
For more perspective see “Erdogan is not a benevolent sultan of old, he’s a monster that must be stopped” (Ben-Dror Yemini December 24, 2018:
turkey/turkish-military- considers-six-options-new- offensive-syria-hurriyet
A massacre of Kurds is set to be carried out by Turkish forces in the very near future
turkey-sends-more-troops-to- syrian-kurdish-area-as-us- pulls-out-monitor/).
The vacuum which will be created by the upcoming U.S. withdrawal of forces from Syria will open up opportunities for Turkey to once again butcher its opponents.
- Turkey in Syria is the third red cherry
A recent conference in Beersheva focused on the three “cherry” nations, offering perspective on the threats involved. The following article is helpful: “Iran, Turkey, Russia threaten Israel in Eastern Mediterranean” (Efraim Inbar, December 17, 2018;https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/
The Middle East abhors a vacuum
On December 19, 2018 US President Trump announced the upcoming withdrawal of approximately 2,000 US troops currently stationed in northeastern Syria (out of a present total of 2,600):
usa-trump-syria-evacuation/us- state-department-personnel- being-evacuated-from-syria-us- official-idUSKBN1OI1Z3
u-s-military-preparing-for-a- full-withdrawal-of-its-forces- from-northeastern-syria- 11545225641?mod=hp_lead_pos2
On December 23 a U.S. defense official announced that “the execute order has been signed” and that evacuation is proceeding.
How is this withdrawal to be understood in light of all the above history and context?
Getting serious about Syria
Many commentators and analysts have deep concerns concerning Trump’s decision. Here are two examples:
- Joost Hiltermann, “The Kurds: Betrayed Again by Washington” (December 22, 2018; http://on.theatln.tc/kir4jrN)
- Jean-Marc Mojon, https://www.timesofisrael.com/
us-pullout-strengthens-iran- land-bridge-to-the- mediterranean/
Kurdish former Foreign Minister of Iraq Hoshyar Zebari sees the American evacuation as having ramifications far beyond the Kurds. “This sudden change in policy is worrying not only to Syrian Kurds but to all the U.S. allies in the region…The message it sends is that there really is a question of trust. This will cause many governments to rethink their alliances with a superpower that can really can just abandon them and leave them in the lurch and throw them under the bus… Russia, Turkey and Iran will be the biggest beneficiaries…These are the new powers in the Middle East” (Liz Sly, “This time, the United States is betraying more than just the Kurds, allies say”; (https://www.washingtonpost.
On the other hand, some analysts see positive potential here.
- Caroline Glick, https://carolineglick.com/
- Lee Smith, “Trump’s Grand Strategy: Get the United States out of the Middle East, Now” (https://www.tabletmag.com/
jewish-news-and-politics/ 260390/trump-strategy-middle- east)
For some time U.S. President Trump has expressed his intention to withdraw American forces from Syria On April 3, 2018 he declared, “We were successful against ISIS. We’ll be successful against anybody militarily, but sometimes it’s time to come back home … So we’re going to be making a decision, we’ve had a tremendous military success” (https://abcnews.go.com/
“As far as Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIS. We’ve almost completed that task, and we’ll be making a decision very quickly in coordination with others as to what we’ll do … I want to get out. I want to bring our troops home” (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/
On that same day April 3, 2018, a few hours earlier in the same city the AmericanSpecial Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk said, “We’re in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission, and that mission isn’t over, and we’re going to complete that mission.” McGurk added that, while ISIS is on the run, it is not yet defeated.
On December 13 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have Trump and Erdogan discuss the latter’s threat to immediately attack and destroy U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are also based. The National Security Council arranged the call, while Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis prepared a list of talking points for Trump, urging Erdogan to back off from hostilities.
On December 14 President Trump spoke with PM Erdogan, but ended up ignoring the script. Erdogan challenged Trump, reminding him that his official reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State. “Why are you still there?” Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that ISIS was 99% defeated and that the Turks could easily deal with the remaining terrorists. Trump quickly pledged to withdraw U.S. troops, shocking both National Security Advisor John Bolton and Erdogan (https://www.timesofisrael.
On subsequent tweets President Trump posted, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency” (December 19, 2018,https://twitter.com/
Six days after Trump’s decisive conversation with Erdogan, on Wednesday December 19 the President publically announced the coming troop withdrawals. One day later, on Thursday afternoon December 20 Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis went to see President Trump in a last-ditch attempt to change Trump’s mind. For 45 minutes Mattis argued that America needed to stand by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF), who had taken the lead in ejecting ISIS from its Syrian strongholds. The President refused to budge. At the conclusion of their discussion Mattis handed the President his letter of resignation.
The letter stressed that the issues at stake involved abandoning international allies and not sufficiently blocking hostile moves by authoritarian governments such as Russia (https://www.forbes.com/sites/
Mac Thornberry, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, scored Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan – another surprise move by Trump that leaked in news reports on Thursday. “Reducing the American presence in Afghanistan and removing our presence in Syria will reverse progress, encourage our adversaries, and make America less safe,” he said (https://www.reuters.com/
David Phillips (a Professor at Columbia University, a former senior State Department official, and the author of the new book: The Great Betrayal: How America Abandoned the Kurds and Lost the Middle East) commented, “As soon as the US folds its tent and leaves, Turkey will immediately begin an air bombardment followed by a ground attack by the [Turkish-backed] Free Syrian army. Thousands will die, thousands will be displaced and will be given no haven within Syria. They will be turned away at the Turkish border … For more than three and a half years, the [Kurds] have been our boots on the ground and were the point of the spear in retaking [ISIS command center] Raqqa. Who is going to fight for us in the future when we throw our allies under the bus?” (https://www.theguardian.com/
“It’s a bad day for Israel,” says Ehud Yaari, a veteran Israeli reporter and fellow of theWashington Institute for Near East Policy. “Israeli decision-makers were left in shock by the US decision … Israel is being left alone on its most vulnerable front … The YPG [Kurdish forces] will be eradicated” (https://twitter.com/
On December 18 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I spoke with US President Donald Trump and yesterday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told me that it was the President’s intention to withdraw their forces from Syria and made it clear that they had other ways to express their influence in the arena … This is, of course, America’s decision. We will study the timetable, the mode of operation, and of course the implications for us. In any case, we will take care to protect Israel’s security and to protect ourselves from that arena” (https://www.timesofisrael.
Outbreak in Lebanon
The coming war between Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah and Israel is getting closer all the time. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is interdicting and destroying Iranian, North Korean and Chinese ordinance in Lebanon and Syria on a regular basis (https://www.timesofisrael.
The words of the Psalmist prefigure this challenging situation:
God, do not remain quiet! Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still! For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” For they have conspired together with one mind. Against You they make a covenant: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre. Assyria also has joined with them, They have become a help to the children of Lot… who said, “Let us possess for ourselves the pastures of God” (Psalm 83:1-8, 13).
- In verses 13-18 of this psalm, the writer calls out to YHVH in intense intercession. We would do well to heed the direction of his petitions, and add them to our own as we pray about these matters.
- Also, in Ezekiel 38:5 Iran/Persia has a future military role against Israel. That is something worth praying about.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for your country’s leaders to receive God’s heart and strategies about these matters
- Pray for your own spiritual leaders to receive revelation about God’s heart and strategies here
- Pray for divine encounters and revelation for Israel’s leadership about these issues
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s army speedily and in our day
This article originally appeared on David’s Tent, December 26, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Avner and his wife, Rachel, live in the Beersheva region of Israel and are dedicated to stirring up the creative arts, worship, intercession, evangelism and the prophetic gifts within a Jewish and Israeli matrix. They oversee Final Frontier Ministries.