Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Israel’s Roller Coaster Decade

The International Jerusalem Post (English edition) recently published a most interesting review of Israel’s ups and downs in the recently ended decade. Author Liat Collins did a great job with this significant historical review.

She started by saying: “It was not a real good decade in Israel. It was actually a roller coaster ride of highs and lows.” She went on to say that all the Arab terror attacks tended to bring the Israeli people together, but that the withdrawal of all the Jewish people from Gaza tended to pull the nation apart. Her review definitely mentioned more downs than ups, and more lows than highs, sad to say.

In the vein of Collins’ article, I feel it would be appropriate to review what our Christian-based organization, Israel Always, has done over the last decade to try to fulfill our purpose of blessing and helping Israel. We rode the roller coaster with the Israeli people, but we also feel that we have been faithful to our task.

After having the privilege of serving as a senior communications officer for four United States presidents in the White House in Washington, D.C., I felt that God wanted me to use my retirement years and all my resources to bless and help Israel. Our first effort was to put up several large billboard messages in Israel to let the Israeli people know that many Christians in America respect and support them in their chronic conflict with their Arab-Muslim neighbors. This got us off to a good start, and helped us to meet many appreciative Israeli citizens and leaders.

Our next major effort was to begin producing and broadcasting a weekly radio program called “Front Page Jerusalem.” We wanted to communicate to America and the rest of the world the truth from the Israeli perspective and to try to counteract the pro-Arab bias that most of the international news media project in their reports from Israel. We were able to enlist more than 100 radio stations across America to broadcast this weekly one-hour program, as well as to get it on the Internet for an expanded worldwide audience. “Front Page Jerusalem” is produced in Jerusalem, and it has been going strong every week now for six years. It is reaching hundreds of thousands of people across America and around the world.

Israeli leaders have cooperated with us wonderfully to help get the Israeli perspective out to the world. Each week, some busy official serves as our special guest on the program. His interview is then followed by a panel discussion by other top Israeli media spokesmen, often including Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz.

Author Collins mentioned the hundreds of rockets and missiles that have been launched into Israel by Hamas from Gaza, “where Jewish communities once grew flowers, fruit and vegetables.” Our concern for the innocent and defenseless Israelis under such inhumane attacks led us to raise money to provide some 50 portable concrete bomb shelters, which were place in strategic locations in Israeli territory near the Gaza border. These locations included schools, bus stops, shopping centers, and other places where people gather. We don’t know exactly how many lives these shelters have saved or protected from serious injury, but it’s many.

American evangelical Christian leaders have long promoted the biblical injunction to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” We have always encouraged such prayer support in all our meetings in America and in our media communications. Then, in 2005, we reinforced this support by organizing a Christian “Prayer Warriors” team to pray for Israel at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. We had a Christian presence at the Wall, praying along with the Jewish people, for eight hours every day, seven days a week, for the entire year. All of the team members who participated in this special prayer vigil felt that it was a privilege and an honor to help support Israel before God in this way.

When Hezbollah launched its warfare against Israel, we were able to take a team of Christians up to the northern Israeli territory to pray for the military and for the affected people there. We also made a few visits to Hadassah Hospital to pray for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

We were delighted when MK and Rabbi Yuri Shtern organized the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. It was great to hear him express his appreciation for the numerous Christian organizations and people who are working faithfully in Israel every day to help the Israeli people in numerous ways. We were sorry when he passed away, but we hope that this good spirit of trust and cooperation will continue unimpeded.

As Christians who are not citizens of Israel, we have been careful not to express any criticism of the Israeli government and its elected officials. But we have been keenly concerned about the developments in the so-called “peace process.” We understand how deeply all Israelis want to live in peace with their Arab neighbors. But beginning with the Oslo Accords back in 1993, and continuing through four more Palestinian signed peace agreements, it has been disappointingly obvious that most of the Palestinian leaders still do not want peace with Israel. They do not want to give up their animosity and terrorism, and they do not want an independent Palestinian state peacefully co-existing side-by-side with the Jewish state.

As evangelical Christians who honor and believe the Bible, including the Torah and the Tanach, along with the Brit Ha’dosha, we affirm the writings of the biblical prophets who declared that all the land of Israel was given by God to the Jewish people as “an everlasting possession.” That translates into the view that none of the land of Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank) should be handed over to the Arabs for them to have a separate Arab state there.

We did nothing to oppose the Israeli governments when they were offering to give most of that land to the Arabs. However, we have to admit that we are pleased to see the new prime minister standing strongly in support of God’s biblical mandate and refusing to surrender this land.

There is one more personal word I would like to add. I would like to publicly express my great gratitude to Mrs. Ariella Doran, the owner of the Jerusalem Gold Hotel in downtown Jerusalem. She has been such a gracious hostess and a generous friend to so many Christian groups and individuals during their visits to Israel. She gave special treatment to our “Wall Warriors” prayer groups, and she has provided much unselfish service to my wife and me during our many extended stays.

We pray that our God will continue to bless her abundantly for her special service to Him and to His people.
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