From Bill Sutter’s Desk Sep/Oct 2010

Keeping your eye on the ball is not only good advice in baseball, it is also essential to clearly understand and properly respond to the conflict in the Middle East. Israel’s enemies specialize in creating a host of distractions that rally opposition to the Jewish state.

Their attempt in May to send a flotilla of six Turkish ships to Gaza was a striking illustration of how they fabricate distortions that dominate the news media in a continuing narrative designed to discredit and isolate Israel.

Billed as a humanitarian effort to bring aid to the Gazans, the flotilla was actually a deliberately staged confrontation by armed militants to break the Israeli maritime blockade that has prevented weapons shipments into Gaza. There was no humanitarian crisis there. Every day Israel oversees the transfer of thousands of tons of food, water, and medical supplies through established channels using arms-checking procedures. Israel supplies electricity to the people of Gaza and even maintains a corridor for the transfer of medical patients for treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Cheered on by Israel’s enemies, including Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Iran, the flotilla was a high-stakes attempt to weaken the Jewish state and strengthen Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza while it plans the destruction of Israel.

Another major distraction from the real crisis in the Middle East has been the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel, which former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has described as “shocking.” “I weep,” wrote Koch in the Jewish World Review, “as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel. What makes these verbal assaults and distortions all the more painful is that they are being orchestrated by President Obama.”

The warning signs were in place when Obama argued for more “light” (meaning “distance”) in the America-Israel relationship. He promptly followed up by becoming significantly less available than previous U.S. presidents to leaders of Jewish organizations while going to great lengths to gain Arab and Muslim acceptance.

Then we witnessed the spectacle of the American president objecting to the Israeli government’s authorized construction of 1,600 housing units on Jewish-owned land in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, thereby supporting a discriminatory policy of preventing Jews from living in an area of Israel’s capital city.

Even more disturbing have been subtle and not-so-subtle shifts of U.S. policy on the Middle East. For the first time the Arab-Israeli conflict is viewed as costing the United States significantly in both “blood and treasure,” thereby linking Israel’s actions to defend itself with the safety of American soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Treating Israel as a liability rather than a strategic asset may be a precursor to concluding that decades of American support for Israel aren’t worth it anymore.

Another troubling U.S. policy shift against Israel is related to Iran. Previously considered “unacceptable,” the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is now being viewed as something the United States needs to “prepare for” in the coming years. Meanwhile, Obama doctrine considers every Israeli concession merely a “step in the right direction”; but it is never enough. Israel is treated as the problem, while its enemies receive free passes.

Another distortion of reality is the UN’s unrelenting condemnation of Israel as if it were the world’s most troubling rogue state. Recently, with U.S. support, representatives of 189 nations adopted a universal nuclear nonproliferation statement calling for a nuclear-free Mideast zone, with a concluding international conference to be held in 2012. Singling out Israel, but not mentioning Iran or any other country, the declaration calls on the Jewish state to join the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and allow UN inspectors unbridled access to its nuclear facilities. No other nation is targeted, only Israel—the only country whose very existence is at stake.

The global media, President Barack Obama, and the United Nations are looking in the wrong direction, which spells trouble for Israel and freedom-loving people everywhere. Don’t be distracted. The real crisis in the Middle East is the unceasing efforts of Israel’s enemies to eliminate the Jewish state. Their desire is as old as the pages of Scripture: “They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more’” (Ps. 83:4).

In the midst of their unholy designs, real hope and continuing strength are found in the Lord, whose eyes are always looking in the right direction:

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (121:4).

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