‘People Just Want Nice.’ Oh, Really?
The issue on the table during a discussion by prominent talk show hosts was the situation in the Middle East and how to solve the problems there that seem to go on forever. With a sigh of resignation, one of the talking heads said he is convinced, “People just want nice.”
That may seem like a great idea to those who are weary of war, but unless the guys on the other side of the guns, bombs, and nuclear warheads “just want nice,” too, it is a philosophy without foundation. As a matter of fact, the attitude might foreshadow the mood that will mark the last-days decline of Western civilization as we have known it.
Let’s face it: If an advocate of the just-want-nice consortium walked down one of America’s mean, big-city, thug-infested streets at 2 A.M. flashing a wallet full of money, we know what the outcome would be. The power of positive thinking simply wouldn’t cut it. A couple of cops would work much better.
Regrettably, we now live in a global, bad neighborhood. Israelis have lived there for nearly 60 years and have watched the deterioration spread to the suburbs, as witnessed by 9/11 and the bombings in the subways of London and the streets of Madrid.
Look at Iran. When have you heard a leader in the international fraternity repeatedly declare his intention to execute genocide on an entire nation—that nation, of course, being Israel?The only thing preventing him is that, so far, he lacks the means. But it is a grave error to write off his bellicosity as mere claptrap spewed by a little man shooting off his mouth. Nor is it wise to indulge the fantasy of the just-want-nicers, who naïvely believe that reasonable discourse and Western incentives will change his heart and win the day.
Sounds a Lot Like Hitler
Comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler is not a right-wing, knee-jerk leap into hysteria. For starters, Ahmadinejad denies the historicity of the Holocaust that sent 6 million Jewish victims to the gas chambers in Europe, yet he salivates over his dream of creating a holocaust of his own. Ironically, 6 million Jews now live in Israel.
Furthermore, Islam strikingly em -braces the idea of continuity. More than 60 years ago, Hitler began his rampage of death in Europe, and Jews were the cause célèbre for his extermination plan. Today we are witnessing, not the beginning of a new thing, but another chapter in the continuing saga of the Holocaust epic. What the Nazis began, the Iranians aspire to consummate.
But annihilating the Jewish state is merely a warm-up. Although the lynchpin of Ahmadinejad’s crusade is a first-strike success against his near neighbor Israel, the next move is westward to Europe and then on to finish off the hated United States.
To accomplish his objectives, Ahmadinejad plans to establish an Islamic caliphate across the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. And contrary to what many would have us believe, he is well on his way toward accomplishing that objective.
Casting the Net
Recently a famous evangelical pastor went to Syria for a sit-down with President (dictator) Bashar Assad and his henchmen in Damascus. Four erroneous conclusions were widely reported following the meetings:
(1) There is no persecution of Christians in Syria. Christians compose about 10 percent of Syria’s population of 17.1 million, the rest of which is Muslim. Although Christians enjoy a modicum of freedom, Muslims who convert to Christianity are persecuted. Furthermore, Christian Solidarity International reported, “The historical process of Islamization has transformed Syria’s once thriving Christian majority into a small frightened community….Sunday sermons in churches are routinely monitored by the secret police. Violence against Christians often goes unpunished.”1
Amir Taheri, writing in The Jerusalem Post, cautioned that trouble may lie ahead for all Syrians:
Today, [Syrians] may well have much to worry about. For there are signs that the Islamic Republic [of Iran] is determined to export its ideology to Syria. Teheran believes that only an Islamicized Syria would be a dependable ally in driving the U.S. out of the Middle East, wiping Israel off the map, and creating a new Islamic “superpower” with Iran as its “core component.”2
The influx of Iranian ideology, mosques, and imams who preach their hatred of all things not radically Islamist could be lethal for Syria’s Christians.
(2) There is no persecution of Jews in Syria. Fewer than 100 Jewish people remain in Syria. Many who survived the severe persecution of earlier times have fled. Members of this sliver-like remnant of what was once a thriving population are not allowed to hold public office. Only two synagogues remain in Damascus. It is also worth noting that today some 40,000 Syrian Jews make their homes in Brooklyn, New York.
(3) There is no evidence of extremism. The fact is that the U.S. State Department certifies Syria as actively supporting terrorism and political extremism. According to Israel Defense Forces military sources, weapons are being smuggled daily to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon through Syria; and all fingers point to the Syrians in the deaths of two prominent Christian, anti-Syrian/anti-Hezbollah Lebanese leaders, Pierre Gemayel and Rafik Hariri.
The infiltration of Iranian religious, military, economic, and political influence confirms the State Department’s appraisal. For example, Bashar Assad has granted 41 Iran-based charities permission to operate in Syria. These use the models of Hezbollah and Hamas by providing services that induce the public to see Iranians as benefactors.
Matthew A. Levitt, senior fellow and director of Terrorism Studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, thoroughly documented that “Hezbollah uses charities and front organizations to conceal its fundraising activities, although it is less reliant on charities than groups like Hamas due to its annual subsidies from Iran and significant involvement in criminal enterprises.”3
(4) There is no sponsorship of terrorism. The Syrian government provides material and political support to both Hezbollah and Hamas. During the recent war with Israel, Syria permitted Iran to use Damascus as a transshipment point to resupply Hezbollah terrorist forces operating in Lebanon.
It is well known that the external leadership of major terrorist organizations is headquartered in Damascus. A prime example is Hamas, whose power-wielding leaders issue orders from Damascus. Hamas leaders in Gaza operate under direct orders from their bosses in Damascus.
Syria is rapidly becoming an instrument in the Iranian plan to impose hegemony over the entire Middle East land arch known as the Fertile Crescent. It seeks to establish an Islamic regime that will immediately include Iran, Syria, and Lebanon and that eventually will engulf the entire region.
Of primary concern is the obsession to eliminate the State of Israel and then subjugate Europe, as well as the United States. In the Gaza Strip and areas of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Iran and its allies already have foot soldiers in the ranks of Hamas and other terrorist groups, which are preparing for a new war with Israel. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is casting a net. Syria and major sectors in Lebanon are already ensnared. And in the minds of the Islamist imperial leaders in Tehran, the global caliphate that U.S. President George W. Bush warned us about is just over the horizon.
Understanding these countries’ declared intentions is essential in dealing with the world situation. Syria is a notable example.
The Big Question
A question frequently asked by Christians, who see things deteriorating at an accelerated pace, is “Where are we with respect to the last days and the intervention of God by the coming of the Messiah—first in the Rapture and then in the Second Advent?”
Of course, no one knows the precise answer to that question. Every prognosticator for the past 2,000 years has been embarrassingly wrong. God has chosen not to reveal the date, only to tell us to be mindful of His coming, discerning about the “times and seasons,” and busy about the Lord’s business while we have the opportunity. We can, however, make some general and legitimate observations in view of what He has told us in the prophetic Word and what we see on the stage of human events.
First, there is the West’s unwillingness to confront enemies that are determined to destroy us. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised a warning flag about the situation in Israel, which seems applicable to the climate that is becoming all too prevalent in nations under attack. Speaking of Hamas’s current preparations for war against Israel, he stated:
The time has come for us to draw conclusions. We can’t close our eyes and say, “I’m showing restraint, everything’s okay.” Everything is not okay….Our policy has stopped [its aggressive approach] toward Hamas and those who announce that they will destroy [us], and continue to arm themselves….If you think that the correct policy is to sit and shake their hands, I think otherwise. For the sake of security, we have to act….A policy of restraint is a bad thing, and it is necessary to act against bad things while they are still small, not once they’ve gotten bigger.4
Diplomats today appear to be rushing to sit down and shake hands with terrorists, to “talk” with them, and concede to their demands.
After all, “people just want nice,” right? Unfortunately, nice means “surrender.” Surrender is exactly what we’re talking about. The true test of the times is not whether we are capable of dealing with our enemies; it is whether we have the will—the right stuff—to do what must be done. If the will of the West becomes a will-o’-the-wisp fantasy, it will invite defeat and open the door to the Antichrist.
Furthermore, events in the Middle East are beginning to shape the picture. To deny Ahmadinejad’s attempt to stitch together an Iran-Syria-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Hamas axis of evil against Israel, America, and Europe is to labor at missing the point. Islamists feel they are on a roll, and they are not going to disappear with the signing of a few paper promises.
And then there is Russia. Russia is a major supplier of the technology to create nuclear capability in Iran. Russia
can also be credited with consistently blocking efforts to impose UN sanctions on the Ahmadinejad cartel.
Before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a close associate of then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was asked whether Begin believed Ezekiel 38—39 regarding an end-times invasion of Israel led from the far north and supported by Muslim nations that included Persia (Iran). The answer was that he did indeed. In fact, it was Mr. Begin’s belief, said his aide, that the invaders would be led by Russia.
In a nutshell, when you combine the apparent decline of the Western world’s will with the rise of belligerents in the neighborhood and beyond, you arrive at one conclusion: The Lord is coming, and the sooner the better.
- “Countdown for Christians in Syria” <csi-int.org/countdown_for_christians.php>.
- Amir Taheri, “Eye of the Storm: The ‘Iranization’ of Syria,” November 1, 2006 <jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid= 1162378306386>.
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Hezbollah: Financing Terror Through Criminal Enterprise, 109th Cong., 2nd sess., 25 May, 2006 <washingtoninstitute.org/html/pdf/hezbollah-testimony-05252005.pdf>.
- “Netanyahu: Time to stop restraint policy,” December 5, 2006 <jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881821059&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FshowFull>.