1974 . . . Reflections On A Year Of Painful Events
1974 has been a traumatic year for the world. The momentous events were not only political and economical in nature, but had deep moral, spiritual, and prophetic overtones.
In Israel The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 ended with some severe losses and gains for both sides. Israeli casualties numbered more than 2500 of her young men; 24 per cent were young officers, and in addition thousands more were wounded. The financial cost to Israel was more than 8 billion dollars. By comparison these statistics would have meant for America a loss of about half a million men and the expenditure of about a trillion dollars. As a result of all this, Israel’s economy was severely damaged. The Arab losses were proportionately greater, but their armament was promptly replenished by Russia.
Just before the cease-fire, which the U.N. Security Council imposed at the urging of the Soviet Union and the Arabs, the Israelis were only about 50 miles from Cairo and less than 40 miles from Damascus. Yet under pressure, Israel was forced to relinquish a considerable part of the captured territories. Israel realizes that she cannot continue to live permanently in a hostile Arab world backed by a no less hostile and more powerful Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, she is determined not to commit national suicide, which the surrender of all Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian State would mean. If she is to survive, Israel must have defensible and realistic borders.
All the territories which the Arabs now demand were in their hands prior to the Six Day War. Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, they have been constantly harassed and terrorized by the Arabs, who threaten to completely wipe them off the map. This attitude culminated in 1967 in the closing by Egypt of the Red Sea to Israeli navigation, her only life-line to the East, which precipitated the Six Day War. Today the Arabs demand the return to the same unbearable conditions which prevailed up to 1967.
“MASADA NEVER AGAIN”
Israel’s motto, drilled into her people is “Masada never again.” In 73 A.D. courageous Jewish zealots committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. The only sensible solution to this impasse is for Arabs and Jews to arrive at a reasonable agreement, ‘to live and let live’ in peace and freedom.
FROM MASS TERROR TO MASS BLACKMAIL
Unable to gain their ends in open battle, the Arabs resorted to high-jacking of civilian planes and to indiscriminate terrorism against innocent tourists and unarmed civilians, including women and children. The massacre of innocent children by the Arab lunatic fringe has not been equalled in history, unless it was the Slaughter of the Innocents by Herod. Is it any wonder that Israel refuses to create a State in which a small group of desperados form the decisive element? Would any prudent person trust such neighbors?
From high-jacking airplanes, blowing up jets and holding innocent civilians as hostages to force the release of terrorists and murderers, we have in 1974 witnessed blackmail on a much grander scale – the blackmail of whole nations. This is what the cutting off of oil supplies to the Western nations really is. The industries of the Western nations, on which the very lives of millions depend, suddenly came to a halt. In effect, the petroleum producing nations gave the world an ultimatum: “You either force Israel to meet our demands, or we will strangle you.”
Then came the catastrophic increase of 400 percent in the price of crude oil. This helped bring on worldwide inflation and economic chaos. While the Arab oil barons are gorging themselves with gold, millions of people all over the world are starving and millions more have lost their jobs. Without certain chemical oil derivatives, there is a shortage of fertilizers essential to the production of grain. The four horsemen of the apocalypse, the specter of war, of mass murder, or unprecedented inflation which puts the price of food beyond the reach of millions, and the specter of famine described in Revelation 6:1-8 are presently before our eyes.
It is almost impossible to assess the terrible implications of the energy crisis created by the Arabs, by Iran, and by ‘our good neighbor’ to the south, Venezuela.
SOVIET TREATMENT OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS
It is hardly possible to overestimate the sinister role which the Soviet Union has played in the Arab-lsrael conflict.
This “peace-loving democratic nation,” as the U.S.S.R, is fond of calling itself, has sought to inflame the political situation against America and to incite the Arabs to war and intransigency. Russia spent billions of rubles to supply, not only the Arab armies, but also the most ferocious guerrillas with modern destructive weapons.
Soviet Russia is the sworn enemy not only of Israel, but also of the U.S.A. She has consistently supported all the enemies of the U.S.A, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Mediterranean, and elsewhere.
Inside her own country she is brutally suppressing all those who indicate the slightest dissent.
The most recent example of how Russia seeks to still any voice of protest is the case of the Nobel prizewinner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Anyone who wishes to know the real Russia and her gruesome inhumanity to her own people, should read Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelego,” obtainable in paperback by Harper & Row. If it were not for this Nobel prizewinner’s fame and the uproar abroad, Solzhenitsyn would have ended, not in Switzerland, but in a mental asylum or, like millions of others in one of their inhuman camps. Communist Russia is not only anti-Semitic, but aggressively atheistic, and persecutes Christians on an almost unbelievable scale. Most churches have been closed down or transformed into atheist museums or warehouses. Thousands of Christians, priests, and ministers were arrested for daring to worship God.
When the late shoe-banging Soviet prime minister, Nikita Krushchev, some years ago declared that Russia would “bury” America, he was not joking. Russia is still determined to do this by hook or by crook.
And yet, after all our discouraging experiences with the U.S.S.R., they demand that America grant them the economic status of “a most favored nation.” Some favorite! One is reminded of the old Russian saying:
“He who would sup with a bear, better bring a spoon with a long handle.”
AMERICA – ISRAEL’S BEST FRIEND
When Egypt and Syria suddenly attacked Israel on last year’s Day of Atonement, she stood alone. France was decidedly anti-Israel. England, who once made the emergence of the Jewish State possible, refused to even permit American planes with vital supplies for Israel to fly over her territory, fearing to offend the Arabs and have her oil supplies cut off. Germany was in a similar situation. Only little Holland stood bravely by Israel, not counting the cost to herself. But small Holland could do little for Israel.
Only the U.S.A. provided the military support which made Israel’s survival possible. Israel has much cause to be grateful to this country, and to her president at that time, Mr. Richard Nixon. Whatever his mistakes and failures were, he remained loyal to Israel. This was a wise act, because ultimately it was also in the best interests of America. A defeated Israel would have made Russia the master of the Middle East and the southern oceans.
We believe God’s promise to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee,” surely applies also to America.
KISSINGER – REMARKABLE STATESMAN
One of the most remarkable men of our times is undoubtedly Henry Kissinger, who has gained the admiration of the world through his unusual diplomatic skill. The Jew, as a skillful diplomat and political adviser to the great, has been known almost from the beginning of history. The Bible mentions Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai. Jews as diplomats have been used with great success by the Caliphs and the Sultans, the Christian kings of Spain and the popes. Queen Victoria was deeply attached to her Jewish-Christian prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli. It was he who masterminded the building and acquisition by England of the Suez Canal.
But to return to Henry Kissinger, it was his dogged determination which helped to bring about a lessening of tensions between the so-called super powers and to avert, at least for the moment, the rush toward mutual annihilation. After his successful efforts to bring home the American servicemen from Vietnam, his most remarkable accomplishment in 1974 was to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and the Arabs. How long this will last is difficult to say, especially where such crafty people as the brittle and explosive Arabs and the scheming Russians are involved.
Present world conditions are as delicate and flimsy as a gossamer web – the least little breeze may tear it to shreds. Yet, to staunch the constant flow of Jewish and Arab blood was nevertheless a most remarkable achievement. For this, mankind owes Henry Kissinger a sincere vote of thanks.
But with all his skill, Kissinger is not a miracle worker, and future events may wipe out his successes. Come what may, the writer will never forget the sight, which millions watched on television, of the Arab president, Sadat, embracing and kissing the Jew, Kissinger. It must have been a sight to make the angels in heaven smile. Such a thing had never happened before, unless at some emotional moment Pharaoh Ramesses, in a surge of gratitude, embraced and kissed his Jewish prime minister, Joseph, for saving the Egyptians from famine. History does not mention this.
WILL THE TEMPLE BE REBUILT?
One of the questions frequently asked by Christians is, “Are the Jews planning to rebuild the Temple?”
Ever since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Jews the world over have fervently prayed for their return to Jerusalem, and for the rebuilding of the Temple. The Jewish Prayer Book is replete with petitions to God for this to happen soon. Here is a typical prayer translated from the Hebrew:
“May it be Thy will, O Lord our God and the God of our fathers, that the Temple be rebuilt speedily and in our days . . . . There we shall serve Thee with awe as in the days of yore and in olden times. There we shall offer unto the Lord peace offerings of Judah and Jerusalem as of old.”
Recently the chief rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Goren, addressing a representative Jewish gathering in Paris, was asked whether the building of the Third Temple is being considered. His answer was that when Israel will resolve the problem of her borders and safety, then the way would be open for the building of the Third Temple.
The chief rabbi’s remark provoked a heated debate and criticism among Jews. The issue of the building of the Temple, it was pointed out, would split Jewry even more than the question “Who is a Jew?” The extreme orthodox would have nothing to do with a Temple not built by the Messiah Himself. Others object to the whole idea of sacrifices as being cruel and repugnant to the minds of modern Jews.
It was also pointed out that the building of the Temple would be politically impossible, because the Temple area is now occupied by the Mosque of Omar, sacred to the Muslim world. In addition, some maintain that the democratic nature of the Synagogue is more acceptable to the modern Jew than the idea of an arrogant priestly hierarchy ruled by a high priest. The history of the high priesthood during the time of the Second Temple with its moral and financial corruption, and political intrigues, has left unhappy memories in the minds of Jews and Gentiles, which two millennia have not obliterated.
It can, therefore, be safely assumed that for the foreseeable future, the talk about building the Third Temple will remain mainly talk, and the subject of fascinating speculation.
THE MOST PAINFUL SUBJECT OF THE YEAR
This, undoubtedly, was Watergate. It made many of us who put our trust in Richard M. Nixon, literally physically ill. It was heartbreaking to see the man, whom the nation called to the highest office in the land, gradually slide from profound respect and admiration to a complete loss of confidence. I feel sorrow for Mr. Nixon and his family and pray that the Lord may grant our former president healing in body and soul and peace of mind. Also that our nation may be
enabled to put behind it the unfortunate Watergate affair, and turn to the solution of more pressing problems of the day.
Mr. Ford, in his swearing-in ceremony, put his finger on the very heart of the matter when he said on August 9th:
“I believe that truth is the glue that holds the Government together, and not only the Government, but civilization itself.”
Our Government became unglued because the truth was so twisted and manipulated that its fabric came apart. Watergate is merely a symbol of our national malady. The truth is strained and distorted in every area of our national life. Our advertisements do not tell the truth, but are gimmicky and designed to deceive the unwary. In our daily dealings with one another, we often make promises which we do not intend to keep. Our word is no longer our bond, We do not say what we mean, and do not mean what we say. It is this lack of truth in dealing with one another which has destroyed many great civilizations in the past, and may yet undo ours.
Zechariah warned his people long ago:
“Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor and let none imagine evil in his heart against his neighbor . . . for all these things I hate, saith the Lord.” (Zech. 8:16-17).
We are reminded by the Word of God that “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
The prospect for 1975 is not encouraging, but if our nation turns to the God of the Bible, He will forgive and lead us in paths of righteousness.