Every Evangelical Christian who loves Israel is celebrating the victory of Ariel Sharon as that nation’s new prime minister. By a landslide margin, Mr. Sharon defeated Ehud Barak and immediately set in motion a plan to prevent the fulfillment of Mr. Barak’s earlier misguided concessions to the Palestinians.
During his final days in office, Mr. Barak had offered the Palestinians a state in about 95 percent of the West Bank and control over parts of Jerusalem. In addition, according to a New York Post report, Mr. Barak had also indicated a willingness to partially relinquish Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Al Aqsa Mosque stands above the ruins of the sacred biblical Jewish Temples.
Mr. Barak — seemingly a willing dupe of President Clinton and rabble-rouser James Carville — was convinced by the Democrat leadership in the U.S. to make unnecessary concessions to the Palestinians even though history proves that these concessions do nothing to appease Yassir Arafat, the terrorist leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The PLO has long sought the destruction of Israel, which gained independence on May 14, 1948.
Bill Clinton — who poured untold amounts of money into the Barak election in 1999 — was consumed with bringing peace to the Middle East as a personal legacy. His intent was clearly not to bolster Israel, but solely to direct his own individual glory before his presidency played out.
The fact is that peace is not the important issue to Israelis. Security of the region is the prime concern of the vast majority of the 5.7 million residents of Israel. Sacrificing security in the desperate hope for peace was Mr. Barak’s downfall.
However, Mr. Sharon, a 72-year-old retired general, has called on the Palestinians to end the latest four-month uprising and has vowed to hold on to a “united Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital. Additionally, he has pledged not to give up control over Arab sections of East Jerusalem.
“The state of Israel has embarked on a new path … striving for security and a real, genuine peace,” he told exhilarated Likud Party supporters. “I am aware of the fact that peace requires painful compromises by both sides. I call upon our Palestinian neighbors to cast off the path of violence and to return to the path of dialogue and to resolving the disputes between us by peaceful means.”
Autonomy over Arab East Jerusalem, captured during the 1967 Middle East war, and the Temple Mount — revered by Muslims as their “Noble Sanctuary” — are the primary obstacles in securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Tom Rose, publisher and CEO of the Jerusalem Post, told me that, in addition to working for peace, Mr. Sharon will also attempt to preempt the terrorism that has gone unpunished in the region.
“That terrorism has terribly hurt Israel’s deterrent capability,” he said. “And that deterrent capability is what has brought stability to the region. When that capability goes down the tubes, the entire region becomes unstable.”
Concessions to the Palestianians, he said, do nothing to alleviate this problem. “The more concessions we make, the more violence we see,” said Mr. Rose.
Of course, dealing with a madman — Yassir Arafat — is a frequently a losing premise.
It is important to note that Mr. Arafat wickedly exploits the children of his nation, convincing them to fling rocks and bottles at Israeli troops. When one of these children is killed, their families are given up to $2,000 as a reward for their efforts and the children are buried as martyrs.
Sadly, the mainstream American press ignores this fact. Also often ignored is the fact that PLO terrorists who blow up busses are hailed as heroes. Mr. Arafat often attends the funerals of the “martyrs” of his nation. The press typically chooses to report that about 385 people have died in the bloodshed since September — about 330 of them Palestinians — without explaining the diabolical reason for many of these deaths.
“Palestinians don’t want peace,” said Tom Rose, “because Arafat is an unrepentant revolutionary.”
Mr. Sharon is now facing pressure from other leaders in the region to continue making concessions to the Palestinians. Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Said Al-Sahaf has already called Mr. Sharon a “criminal” — no doubt referring to Mr. Sharon’s authorization of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon to drive out Mr. Arafat’s PLO forces.
While I unreservedly believe that Mr. Sharon is the right man to lead Israel today, the truth is that the opposition to his leadership within the region is sure to grow.
American Christians should be firmly in support of Mr. Sharon’s work to protect Jerusalem. We must be praying for the peace of Jerusalem and for the Jewish people. And we must be encouraging our own government to be doing everything it can to prevent Mr. Arafat’s success in destroying this great nation. President George W. Bush needs to promptly make his administration a new beginning in American-Israeli relations.
After Mr. Sharon’s government is in place, he must establish a 2001 budget, which the Knesset must pass by March 31. If that budget is not approved, new elections must be initiated for prime minister and parliament. Needless to say, this is a crucial time for this new leader.
After 32 visits to Israel, I can tell you that the grass roots of this tiny but momentous nation express great appreciation for the unswerving support of American Evangelicals who fervently pray for a strong and secure Israel. Let us not grow weary in well doing and continue to earnestly pray for Mr. Sharon and his efforts to bring peace — and, most importantly, security — to our friend, Israel.