MAKING SENSE OUT OF ISRAEL TODAY
Recently, a friend who follows this blog ask me to evaluate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As I explained how different and complicated the Israel political system is, I remembered a statement the the Prime Minister once made to President Bill Clinton. “Mr. President, you know that Israel has very few friends, and these Evangelical Christian leaders are the best friends that Israel has in all the world.”
No matter what else one says about the Prime Minister, he certainly knows who he can count on.
Often identifying themselves as “Christian Zionists,” this large and significant group support Israel with financial, political, and spiritual influence. When any attack comes, these Evangelicals are ready to respond … and will!
In the present political environment, disillusionment with the current American administration may have a significant effect on how these Evangelicals vote in the fall. Obama is not a popular figure in Israel and is currently blamed for failure to act decisively. Christian Zionists attacked Secretary of State Clinton for having a Moslem aide, Huma Abedin. They fear the administration may have ties to the Moselm Brotherhood and display a lack of balance toward Israel in the United Nations. While the opposition would oppose many of these accusations, they may still effect Evangelical voters as the fall approaches. Regardless of who is elected, Evangelical Christians argue they will remain the most valuable asset Israel has in America.
Netanyahu understands this fact and will not be shy about using their influence.
At the same time, other voices fear that Israel may be faced with the specter of a “fading democracy.” Former speaker of the Knesset and the chairman of Molad, the Center for Renewnal of Democracy recently expressed such fears in the August 5, 2012 edition of The New York Times. Burg deplored recent comments in Israel by the Republican presidential candidate urging Israel to strike Iran. Burg perceives such talk as reflective of a shift in both countries, moving away from mutually positive values toward a new set of interests in bombs, fear, and war. Brug worries Netayahu is bending toward the pressure applied by a fundamentalist coalition within Israel.
Israel began as a secular democratic country framing its hopes by the example of Western European democracies. Avraham Burg believes this motivation has shifted because the most extreme Orthodox groups lean hard on the government. Any observer can see that the country has become less secular and is now defined far more in religious terms, The country is also less modern. He writes, “the winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel.”
How the nation of Israel deals with the creation of a Palestinian state will possible provide the answer for which way Israel is going. Coercion and indifference toward other people’s right could radically derail the country. Israel is standing at an extremely important crossroads. All of which brings us back to Benjamin Netanyahu and the caliber of job he is doing.
The real answer lies in the decisions he makes about Israel’s destiny. The issue is much larger than simply bombing Iran. Does Iran have it coming if they start building a bomb? Of course. But the fate of the nation is much more complex than Mitt Romney understands. It’s time for genuine soul searching in the Prime Minister’s office. (585 words)
Question: What can be done to keep the exteme Orthodox from turning Israel into a Jewish expression of the same factors than control a country like Iran?