The World vs. the State of Israel
Images of Palestinians suffering from Israeli bombardment are contributing to anti-Israel sentiment around the world. What is behind the conflict?
The latest Middle East conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians has been ongoing for nearly a month. Hamas (the militant organization that governs the Gaza Strip) has been terrorizing Israel for years, but escalated these attacks in recent months. The crisis came to a head when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. Hamas had also begun shooting rockets deeper into Israel and had constructed elaborate tunnel systems to infiltrate Israel from the underground.
Israel, feeling it had no other option, began engaging in military action against the Gaza Strip on July 8. On July 17, Israel sent in thousands of ground troops in an operation to destroy the Hamas tunnel network.
During this conflict, more than 3,000 Hamas rockets have been shot at Israel, yet many media outlets have chosen to highlight video and photographic images of Palestinians suffering from the Israeli counterattacks.
Israel defending itself
As of this writing, this conflict has resulted in some 2,000 deaths and 9,000 wounded. Of the dead, two-thirds are civilians. The more than 1,800 Palestinian deaths include over 350 children and nearly 200 women.
This high casualty rate among Palestinians is causing world opinion—especially in Europe—to become increasingly anti-Israel. Israel is often portrayed as the well-armed aggressor, while the Palestinians are portrayed as innocent and oppressed. Israel counters these claims by stating that Hamas uses civilian buildings, such as hospitals and schools, to store weapons. Essentially, the Israelis believe Hamas uses its own people as human shields to cover its arsenal of weapons.
The Palestinian civilians have suffered the unfortunate consequences of living under the rule of a terrorist organization that is willing to use people as human shields to gain world sympathy. On the other hand, in general the citizens of Gaza have not stood up against their Hamas government either.
Even though cease-fire agreements may come, the unrest in Israel and the remainder of the Middle East will continue. The Bible says conflicts will persist and intensify in that region until the return of Jesus Christ.Why so much hatred toward Israel?
The nation of Israel consists mainly of the descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah. Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel). Jacob foretold that in the last days Judah would have its “hand on the neck of your enemies” (Genesis 49:8). This implies that the Jews would always have enemies that would threaten them—but would be able to hold them off militarily at times.
Israel’s primary enemy has historically and presently been among the Arab and Islamic peoples. This problem has its roots in ancient times when Abraham fathered his first son, Ishmael, by his wife’s handmaid Hagar. Even though he was Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael did not receive the birthright blessing since God intended that blessing to go his half-brother Isaac (who was the heir born to Abraham and his wife Sarah). Ever since, there has been hatred between Ishmael’s and Isaac’s descendants.
Adding to this animosity was the hatred between Abraham’s twin grandchildren, Esau and Jacob. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup and later wanted to kill him (Genesis 25:29-34; 27:41). Many of Esau’s descendants also live in the Middle East, and their “ancient hatred” of Jacob’s descendants continues today (Ezekiel 35:5).
Israel being abandoned?
The Economist reports: “A global poll in and about several countries, conducted for the BBC long before the latest strife in Gaza, reported that negative views of Israel’s influence in the world outweighed positive ones by more than two to one” (“Us and Them,” Aug. 2, 2014, p. 16).
In the past few weeks, there have been demonstrations across Europe against Israeli foreign policy. The rhetoric against Israel has also brought out deep feelings of anti-Semitism that still linger in Europe. Some demonstrations have even included violent attacks on Jewish buildings. Dieter Graumann, who leads the Central Council of Jews in Germany, recently said, “Never in our lives did we believe it possible that anti-Semitism of the most primitive kind would be heard on the streets of Germany” (“Israel’s Gaza Incursion Sets Off Protests in Europe”).
But even more worrisome for Israel is that their closest ally, the United States, is increasingly distancing itself from Israel.
Even though the United States publicly supports Israel and gives the country over $3 billion in aid each year, the two countries are drifting apart.
Unaware that the microphone was still on, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Israel’s strategies in this Gaza conflict. Later, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu did not deny reports that he told Secretary Kerry “not to ever second-guess me again” on how to deal with Hamas.
And it’s no secret that there is friction between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Just last week an article appeared in The Jerusalem Post entitled, “Our World: Israel, Hamas and Obama’s Foreign Policy.” The article stated that President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu to push an unconditional humanitarian cease-fire. But such a cease-fire would be considered a victory for Hamas.
The author’s analysis was: “The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America’s allies. Under Obama, America has switched sides.” This gives us an interesting insight into the Israeli perspective of American foreign policy.
Bible prophecy indicates that there will be end-time tension between the descendants of Judah (the state of Israel) and the nations descended from the northern 10 tribes of Israel (Zechariah 11:14). To learn more, read “Is the Relationship Between America and Israel Weakening?”
What’s ahead for Israel?
Even though cease-fire agreements may come, the unrest in Israel and the remainder of the Middle East will continue. The Bible says conflicts will persist and intensify in that region until the return of Jesus Christ (Zechariah 12:2-3).
The good news is that Jesus Christ will return at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:3-4) and will finally bring peace not just to Israel (verse 11), but to the entire world.