White House trying to divide Jerusalem. How should Christians respond?By Joel C. Rosenberg
Next Epicenter Conference to focus on this issue.
Next Epicenter Conference to focus on this issue.
(Washington, D.C., March 15, 2010) -- With Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to arrive in Washington this weekend to address the AIPAC Policy Conference, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told Israeli diplomats in a conference call over the weekend that U.S.-Israel relations face the worst crisis in 35 years.
White House senior advisor David Axelrod said on NBC's Meet The Press yesterday, "I think both the Vice President and the Secretary of State reflected the President's thinking -- this was an affront, an insult [by Israel], but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to this region. And for this announcement to come at this time was very, very destructive."
During Vice President Biden's trip to Jerusalem last week to show American support for Israel, our most faithful and enduring strategic ally in the region, some lower-level officials in the Israeli bureaucracy decided it would be a good time to announce the building of 1,600 new homes in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority immediately went ballistic, and the Vice President was deeply offended, telling Prime Minister Netanyahu that the timing of the announcement made the Israelis appear to be trying to sabotage the beginning to new peace talks with the Palestinians. Netanyahu immediately apologized, saying he had not authorized the announcement to be made during the VP's trip and was not trying to derail or disrupt the VP's trip. Biden appeared to accept the apology, and Netanyahu thought the mistake had been resolved.
Since then, however, the situation has worsened significantly. Three days after the incident, Secretary of State Clinton called Netanyahu and reamed him out for 43 minutes. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Friday that Clinton told Netanyahu that the U.S. had "strong objections to Tuesday's announcement, not just in terms of timing, but also in its substance." Clinton gave Netanyahu a list of specific demands that Israel must take for the U.S. to be convinced that she is serious about peace with the Palestinians.
First things first: The Israeli government and people have every right to build homes in its own capital and the Obama administration is dramatically overreacting, to its discredit. The President, Vice President and Secretary of State are tipping their hand by their words and actions. They clearly don't believe in Israeli sovereignty over its own capital. They want to force Israel to divide its capital, come Hell or high water. They are applying intense pressure on Israel to divide Jerusalem and give away more land even though two recent "land for peace" efforts (southern Lebanon in 2000, and Gaza in 2005) were disasters for Israel and led to two serious wars. This is an enormous mistake. I cannot put into words how strongly I disagree with this administration and their disastrous approach. Jerusalem is the Lord's chosen city. It is His capital. It is and should remain the undivided capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Second, Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to apologize over the timing of the announcement, and not the substance. [More details on this on the weblog]
Third, the management system within the Prime Minister's office is not functioning properly and needs to be fixed immediately, or other diplomatic disasters will occur. [More details on this on the weblog]
Fourth, as U.S.-Israel relations worsen and Israelis feel more and more isolated in the world, it is critical that followers of Jesus Christ build a global movement of Christians who will pray for Israel and visit Israel and bless Israel, come what may.
Christians should assert that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and shouldn't be divided. Christians should call on Washington to stop pressuring Israel to make unwise and dangerous concessions. Christians should write letters to the White House, State Department and Congress showing their solidarity with Israel. Christians should call into radio and TV talk shows in support of Israel and keeping Jerusalem united. Christians should visit Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Christians should care for the poor and needy in East and West Jerusalem, as well as throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, thus demonstrating unconditional love and unwavering support.
This is precisely what the 2010 Epicenter Conference in Philadelphia this summer is all about, and I hope you will make plans to join us. We will analyze the current status of U.S.-Israeli relations. We will look at Bible prophesy. Then we will offer real and practical ways you and your family, friends and congregation can bless Israel and her neighbors at this critical juncture. I would particularly encourage pastors and ministry leaders from across North America to come and be part of this conference, and take the message and practical ideas back to your congregations and communities. Please register today to make sure there's a seat just for you. Please also pray that the Lord would superintend this conference to accomplish His purposes, and reach those whom He is calling, especially given the events of the past few days. Thanks so much.
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Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua