Never Miss an Opportunity
The oft-repeated adage, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” has never been more evident than in the Palestinian reaction to Israel’s huge sacrifice in giving up its legitimate rights in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria. Rather than a simple thank you and show of determination to turn the slum that is most of Gaza into a productive, functioning society, there came an outburst of belligerence that would have made Yasser Arafat proud.
Even before Israelis began their traumatic evacuation, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas was issuing a battle cry to the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah. First he called the withdrawal from Gaza simply a preface to further Israeli retreats. Then he claimed Jerusalem as the capital of the new “Palestine.” The leader derived great encouragement from ill-advised statements by Western leaders who demanded Israel give up more territory and quicken the pace toward capitulation to Arab and left-wing political demands.
While Mr. Abbas was beating the drum for a move on Jerusalem, the ultra-terrorist Hamas organization and its compadres boasted that the end was near for the Jewish state. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal called the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria the beginning of the end of the Zionist dream.
Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’s overall leader in the Gaza Strip, added his vision of the future:
Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip, nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don’t recognize the state of Israel or its right to hold onto one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all the Muslims.1
A disquieting element in the terrorists’ preparations to move their campaign to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is Mahmoud Abbas’s resolve not to disarm them and to allow these organizations to continue stockpiling weapons for the fight.
So determined are these terrorists to carry on the battle that they are recruiting women into their military wings and training them to assemble and plant explosives, use missile launchers and mortars, and conduct assault maneuvers. When President George W. Bush, in a weekly radio speech, said the next step after disengagement is to establish a working Palestinian government in Gaza, PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei cried foul. Said Bush, “Now that Israel has withdrawn, the way forward is clear. The Palestinians must show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way.”2
Qurei decried the president’s call for responsible leadership that would stow the guns and develop Gaza’s infrastructure. Instead, he saw the very idea of the PA proving itself a competent manager and peaceful neighbor as a violation of the basic principles of the Road Map plan for peace. His remarks translate into this: Israel must beat a quick retreat to the pre-1967 armistice lines.
In view of these facts, one must conclude that the aim of the Palestinian leaders and their terrorist cousins is to keep Israel retreating under fire until the area is swept clean of Jews from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. In other words, until the Jewish state is driven into the sea.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Charles Krauthammer suggested a sane solution to the post-Gaza quandary: the withdrawal in August from Gaza and areas in the West Bank should end Israeli concessions. Future realities must be based on security, barrier creation, separation, and fortifications.
How will the world react if Israel says, “Enough is enough”? With predictable dismay and anger. Wrote Krauthammer,
Far from Israel getting any credit for this deeply wrenching action, the demand now is for yet more concessions—from Israel. The New York Times called the Gaza withdrawal “only the beginning” and declared sonorously that Ariel Sharon “must also be forewarned” that giving up the West Bank must be next. This is a counsel of folly. The idea that if only Israel made more concessions and more withdrawals, the Palestinians will be enticed into making peace is flatly contradicted by history.3
The Big Prize: Jerusalem
The holy grail of the Palestinian and Muslim quest to conquer Israel and best the Western world is Jerusalem. Although the Holy City is never mentioned in the Qur’an and has been brought into the game of Muslim world domination as merely third behind Mecca and Medina, it is being billed as the big prize in the fight against Israel. It is the place where Palestinians aspire one day to prostrate Israel, put a foot on its neck, and declare victory. By taking the Old City, with its Temple Mount and fabled Western Wall, Muslims intend to reduce the Jewish people to second-class Dhimmitude. Under Islamic sharia law, Dhimmis (Christians and Jews allowed to live in Muslim lands) are subjected to humiliating regulations designed to cause them to “feel themselves subdued” (surah 9:29).
Adolf Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, was diabolically correct when he said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The big-lie tac-tic was not lost on Yasser Arafat, the late PA chairman and terrorist, when he made the extraordinarily preposterous claim that there has never been a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem or a significant Jewish attachment to the city. Arafat reinvented history by claiming the Jewish people look for their Temple in the mountains of Yemen—but never mind Jerusalem; they were never there. Furthermore, Palestinians and the Arab world argue that Kings Solomon and David are mythological figures and contend, like Arafat, that there is no proof a Jewish presence ever existed on the Mount.
When confronted with hardcore archaeological evidence disputing their claims, they reply that if Jewry’s Temples were in Jerusalem, they were never on Moriah. Or, as the Arabs did recently during digs at the Mount, they destroy the evidence.
But regardless of the magnitude of the lies played to a historically illiterate and willfully indifferent international community, the truth is there. It is no coincidence that one of the greatest adversaries of historical prevarication is the archaeologist’s spade. Thrilling confirmations of the Bible’s accuracy have again been uncovered in the City of David near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar has discovered a large palace believed, by its size and architecture, to be that of King David—the same biblical David declared a mythical figure by Palestinian and Arab “scholars.” The site also yielded pottery shards and other artifacts dating from the time of David and Solomon, as well as the seal of a prominent government official, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1.
She also discovered the remains of the original Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man in John 9. The pool, located about 200 yards from the smaller one tourists see today, is huge—about 225 feet long, with a series of steps that go down to water level.
These amazing finds give the lie to the big lie that they never existed. For the patrons of denial in Arab, Palestinian, and liberal theological circles, these confirmations of biblical and historical veracity pose a problem. They dismantle the Palestinian fiction of first claim to the Old City and Temple Mount and bring undeniable clarity to Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people.
However, like the persistent fabrication of Holocaust denial, the lie will not die. A Palestinian professor of archaeology has already charged Israelis with trying to “fit historical [archaeological] evidence into a biblical context….They have a button, and they want to make a suit out of it.”
You figure that one out.
The Heart of the Matter
What we can glean from all of this is that a magnificent convergence is taking place before our eyes. On the one hand is the determination of Israel’s enemies to achieve the total destruction of the Jewish state, either piece by piece or by military onslaught, and to seize Jerusalem and reanoint it the exclusive domain of another god—Allah. On the other hand is the emergence of undeniable evidence of biblical, prophetic disclosures of end-time events.
Humanly speaking, it is distressing to live in a time when so many evangelical believers shun prophecy. There are at least two overriding reasons for this rather bizarre situation. (1) Many living in the Western world are distracted by the siren song of the materialistic culture of the now. (2) Many are victims of biblical teaching gone awry. Consequently, they lack an understanding of the foundational issues confronting believers in the end-times. Heading the list of erroneous doctrines is Replacement Theology, a fad that has enamored many of our leaders and deprived thousands of Christians of indispensable information, discernment, and corresponding responsibility.
Contrary to what Replacement Theology teaches, the church has not replaced Israel in the ultimate plan of God. To espouse this doctrine of denial is to lose virtually the entire prophetic perspective essential for coping with current events.
The Scriptures are decisively clear. Israel will be at the center of the stage in the end-times:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it (Zech. 12:2–3).
For believers, these times promise to test the metal of Christian commitment and dedication to our Lord:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1–5).
However, remaining within the bounds of biblical revelation there is no hint of a doomsday message. For Israel, battered and beleaguered as it may be in the interim, there is a steadfast promise of deliverance and future glory:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).
For believers, there is the moment-by-moment expectancy of being called home in the Rapture:
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (Jn. 14:2–3).
In the end, for Israel and believers in the Messiah alike, it will never be said that we’ve missed the opportunity.
- Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas: Armed struggle is sole strategy,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2005 <www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1124245482858&p=1101615860782>.
- Khaled Abu Toameh, “Qurie concerned over Bush remarks,” The Jerusalem Post, August 27, 2005 <www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1125109636374>.
- Charles Krauthammer, “Gaza pullout should mark end of Israeli concessions,” Houston Chronicle, August 18, 2005 <www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/editorial/outlook/3316863>.