Israeli Elections Issue
Elections: March 17, 2015
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
It is clear that praying for government is not an option. It should be a priority for God’s people. The scriptures also make it clear that the principle of government is from God. However many believers throughout the ages have interpreted that to mean that all government is from God and thus must be blindly obeyed and honored. That is not a biblical principle.
1 Timothy 2 states that the purpose of government is to give us a life that is quiet and peaceable with godliness and reverence – an atmosphere that will be conducive for the Gospel to go forth and for men to be saved.
Romans 13:3-4 gives us the godly standard for government: one, which rewards good and punishes evil. A government that rewards evil and punishes good is not a government that meets God’s standards.
In the Middle of a Minefield
Events in the last month have placed P.M. Netanyahu in the middle of a political minefield. It started when John Boehner the Speaker of the US House of Representatives invited the P.M. to address a joint session of the US Congress. While this was a breaking of diplomatic protocol (normally the US President is consulted first), it was in no way outside of Boehner’s authority. (As Speaker of the House, Boehner is the 2nd person in the chain of succession should the President die or become unable to function in his office.)
While it is certainly true that there is a big political fight between the Democratic (Party) President Obama and the now Republican (Party) controlled American Congress there is a valid reason to invite P.M. Netanyahu to address the Congress concerning the Iranian nuclear program. P.M. Netanyahu has been warning the world about Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon for more than 20 years. He is considered the politician who is most expert on this subject. With the Congress wanting to pass a new, tougher sanctions bill, (that would only come into effect if the P5+1 negotiations with Iran fail) and the President promising to veto such legislation, Boehner is hoping that the P.M.’s speech would sway enough Democrats to overrule the President’s veto.
Of course the P.M. is in the midst of a difficult (and very dirty) election campaign and naturally it would be very hard to give up such an international platform as addressing a joint session of Congress. This will be Netanyahu’s third address to the Congress and Winston Churchill is the only foreign leader who has ever done that until now.
Netanyahu’s political opposition continues to accuse the P.M. of destroying the close relationship between Israel and the USA. Certainly the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is very bad – many consider it the worst ever between an American President and an Israeli Prime Minister. Obama definitely does not want Netanyahu to speak about his upcoming deal with Iran. That itself tells me that the speech is of the Lord. An anointed speech by Netanyahu with many standing ovations (last time he received 29), would show the Israeli people that while he doesn’t get along with the US President (whom 75% of Israelis consider “not a friend of Israel”), he does have much influence and respect from many in the USA. While there are many pressure points influencing this election and military or terrorist activity between now and 17 March will influence things greatly, this speech could make or break the election for Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s political opposition on the left is majoring on what I consider a major sin and weakness of the Israeli people – trusting more in the USA than in God. We have prayed consistently for Israel to be weaned from a dependence on America and to begin to look to God for help and protection.
P.M. Netanyahu addressed the question of disagreement with the USA the other day as reported in the Israel Hayom website on 11 February 2015. The P.M. said.
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel’s independence in the face of strong opposition from U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. Likewise, Prime Minister Eshkol’s decisions at the start of the Six-Day War, Prime Minister Begin’s decision regarding the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and Prime Minister Sharon’s decisions to press ahead with Operation Defensive Shield; these were all strongly opposed at the time by American administrations.
Disagreements over Israel’s security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the Left and from the Right and American presidents from both parties. None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States. In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.
But we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran. This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival. This is a regime, Iran that is openly committed to Israel’s destruction. It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.
This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the President appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel.
The opposition to Netanyahu’s speech is not only in Israel but among some of American Jewry too. Again quoting from Israel Hayom of 11 February 2015:
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) issued on Tuesday a harsh condemnation of American Jewish leaders who have objected to Netanyahu’s upcoming address:
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) leader Abe Foxman and Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rick Jacobs’ shameful condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for accepting the invitation to speak to a joint session of Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat to Jews and the United States is reminiscent of establishment Jewish leader’ condemnation of Peter Bergson and Ben Hecht for trying to speak to Congress in the 1930s-1940s about the Nazi threat to Europe’s Jews, the ZOA statement said.
The most prominent Jewish leader of the WWII era, Reform Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and his colleagues urged the Roosevelt administration and Congress not to listen to brave Jewish leaders such as distinguished screenwriter Ben Hecht and Irgun leader Peter Bergson (aka Hillel Kook) and their Bergson group, who were trying to publicize and stop the Nazi massacres of European Jews. Rabbi Wise demonized Bergson and Hecht, demanded that they stop their activities on behalf of European Jews, demanded that Jews should
not make an issue out of the Nazi massacres. Rabbi Wise and Nahum Goldmann stated that the Bergson group ‘did not represent the Jews’ and told the U.S. State Department that Bergson and Hecht were as
big a threat as Hitler to the well-being of American Jewry. The parallels to certain Jewish leaders’ statements today in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat are downright eerie.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be addressing Congress about the serious, frightening imminent danger of Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities — which threaten Israel with extermination and endanger much of the rest of the world. This is such an urgent and life-threatening issue — to both Israel and America — that every Jewish leader should be urging all members of Congress to attend the Israeli prime minister’s speech.
“ZOA President Morton Klein said,
We cannot afford to again act like the Jewish leaders of the 1930s-1940s who opposed lifesaving efforts to save their European brothers and sisters from extermination. The ZOA begs fellow Jewish leaders to join with the ZOA in a unified effort to support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address before Congress, and to support ensuing efforts to impose sanctions and all other necessary steps to stop the existential threat to Israel, America, and the entire world posed by Iranian nuclear weapons. End quote.
It seems that the Zionist Organization of America has learned some of the lessons of history and that many both in the American Jewish community and in Israel continue to ignore those lessons.
Netanyahu quotes scripture when he speaks and while this in itself is not a clear indication of a belief in God, he has had some bible studies at his home. When it comes to the question of Aliyah he and Avigdor Lieberman are the only ones who are calling for all Jewish people to come home. This has actually become another point of attack by rival politicians. They only want positive (I’m a Zionist and want to live in Israel) Aliyah while the Lord says He will use the hunters to bring His people home.
Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them. ‘ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers. “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
Something is happening in America. The country seems more polarized than ever before and one of the major reasons is the aggressive, antagonistic and adversarial attitude of Obama. There have been many times before when the US Presidency and the US Congress have been controlled by competing parties but there was always an understanding that some level of compromise on both sides was vital to successfully run the country. That element of compromise seems very much missing today.
It also seems clearer by the day that Obama’s sympathies lie with Islam and a measure of anti-Semitism is creeping into his statements. During a recent interview about the terrorist attacks in Paris, he once again refused to call the terrorists Islamic and he said the killings in the kosher supermarket were random. He refused to call those murders an anti-Semitic act when the murderer himself said he came to kill Jews. Then Obama had the arrogance to compare the Crusades and the Inquisition to what is happening all over the world today at the hands of Islamic terrorists. As my friend Chuck said the other day,
The Crusades and the Inquisition are contrary to both the teachings of the New Testament and Yeshua’s heart as we understand it. The Islamic terrorists are basing all they are doing on the Koran and the Hadith – the teachings of Mohammed.
It is obvious that Obama’s foreign policy attempts have all been disastrous. It appears that he is looking to sign an agreement with Iran that will give him his legacy. In reality it will brand him as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century.
Who is running?
In Israel we do not vote for an individual we vote for party lists. The number one on that list is that party’s candidate for Prime Minister. We have never had a government that is controlled by only one party. All our governments have been coalition governments. It’s one reason it is often hard for the government to make difficult decisions. After the election the President of Israel meets will all the party heads and asks them who they would want to lead the next government. Coalition politics starts as soon as the votes are counted.
Likud (The Prime Minister’s party): The list was elected by primary votes and it is a good list. The P.M. got almost everyone he wanted in realistic positions (1-25) and got rid of some people he didn’t want.
Labor-Hatnuah: Has had its primaries and mostly radical left- leaning people were elected. It is led by a two-headed monster: Itzak Herzog and Tzippi Livni. Herzog comes from a long line of Labor Party people. He has no particular expertise and is much more “left” than his forbears. Livni on the other hand has been switching parties so often that I wonder if she knows where she is when she wakes up each day!
Livni started out in the Likud, the child of friends and co- laborers of Menachem Begin. I’m sure her parents would not be able to recognize her today. She has gone from a strong “land of Israel” viewpoint to Sharon’s abandonment of Gaza to his Kadima Party to her own Hatnuah Party and now Labor – each time moving further and further to the left. The highlight of her career so far was as Foreign Minister in the Olmert government when she negotiated the end of the Second Lebanon War. That agreement put U.N. forces in South Lebanon to keep Hezbollah from rearming and attacking Israel. It has turned into a very bad joke. Hezbollah now has an estimated 100,000 – 150,000 rockets many of which can hit anywhere in Israel. This is a larger rocket arsenal than most of the European nations combined. It is quite apparent that the U.N. forces are both incompetent and also very afraid of Hezbollah. It baffles me that putting Livni on the Labor ticket actually caused an upswing in prospective voters. Her lack of any kind of plumb- line and her utter incompetence is very evident. Yet she is popular. Is this some kind of witchcraft?
Beit Yehudi – Jewish Home: Led by Naphtali Bennett is basically a religious party for “modern orthodox” people and is very strong on the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria. They had a primary to pick their candidates.
Arab parties: Because of a change in the law requiring 3.5% of the vote to enter the Knesset (it was just 2% previously) the Arab parties have banded together and some polls give them 15 seats which could make them the third largest party in the Knesset. They could determine who is given the task of forming the new government.
Yesh Atid: Led and ruled (no primaries, all the candidates and their position in the list are appointed by the “ruler”), by Yair Lapid, a former TV personality and journalist. I would call them a center left party. In the previous election they were the second largest party. They are expected to have far fewer seats this time around.
Koolanu: A new party led and ruled by Moshe Kahlon. Kahlon was in the Likud in his previous political life and he is going out with his own party this time. I would call this party center right.
United Torah Judaism: An Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox party which will partner with whoever gives them the most money for their institutions. Ruled by a rabbinical council which, outside of purely religious matters, does not always see things the same way.
Shas: A Sephardi ultra-orthodox party which will partner with whoever gives them the most money for their institutions. Ruled by a rabbinical council that is much more homogeneous in their outlook. Led (and some would say ruled too) by Ari Deri a convicted taker of bribes.
Am Itanu: A new Sephardi ultra-orthodox party led by Eli Yishai a former leader of Shas who broke away to start his own party. Definitely much more right wing than Shas.
Yisrael Beitanu: Led and ruled by Avigdor Lieberman. This party started out as a Russian immigrant party and it is trying to now appeal more to mainstream “right wing” Israelis. Embroiled in a number of corruption cases, this party is expected to lose many seats in the coming election.
Meretz: A far (very far) left party that has been around for many years.
Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party to be the largest party in the coming Knesset and that they get the mandate to form the next government. I and many of my colleagues believe that he is still the man that the Lord has called to lead Israel at this critical time despite his weaknesses and faults. Many years ago the Lord called us to pray for Netanyahu to become the P.M. Through all these years the Lord has not changed our focus to another, though we are often before Him, asking Him if it is now the time for another to lead this nation. In the absence of a clear word from the Lord to pray and vote for another we continue to stand before Him praying that His favor (and the favor of the people of Israel) would be upon Netanyahu to grant him another term as Prime Minister.
We operate on the principle that God does not have to confirm a direction daily but we continue to pray as He has called us until He changes the direction of our prayers.
Pray for his speech in the US Congress, that he would be anointed by God in all he says and the way he says it. May his speech be a wakeup call to many around the world.
If I look at the situation with my human eyes and mind I do not see another viable candidate for P.M. If you feel you cannot pray for any individual then please pray that the candidate who will bring the Lord the most glory will be elected.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Eliyahu Ben-Haim, Jerusalem
19 February 2015