Can Israel Survive

This may seem like a no brainer.  Of course, Israel will survive.  God promised to return the Jewish people to their homeland.  The prophet Amos specifically says, “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.”  Yet, many Israelis ask the question above, “Can Israel survive?”  Israel faces three looming threats, one external and two internal.  The external is the most obvious. 

Not since the founding of the modern state in 1948 has Israel been surrounded by such sworn enemies.  Lebanon to her immediate north is now controlled by the terrorist organization, Hezbollah. The last confrontation between these two failed to produce a clear winner, resulting in a huge morale boost for Hezbollah.  To Israel’s southwest is Gaza, controlled by another terrorist organization, Hamas.  Both Hezbollah and Hamas have been supplied serious rocket technology from Iran, and as such, are essentially proxy states for this budding regional power.   One of the nations that kept Iran at bay was Egypt, the first and most important Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.  However, the fall of the Mubarak regime has caused Israel great consternation.  While Mubarak was no friend of democracy for his own nation, he was a credible peace partner with Israel and assisted in preventing the transfer of weapons to Hamas through the Sinai Peninsula.  While it’s unclear what Egypt’s government will look like in the future, most Israelis fear the turn to the worse.  Clearly, the current Egyptian government has loosened restrictions into Gaza.  Finally, no one knows what will happen when the United Nations takes up the Palestinian state cause in late September.  The United States openly has said it will veto a declaration of Palestinian statehood within the Security Council.  Yet, how will a favorable vote from the UN General Assembly impact the state of affairs?  No one really knows, but again Israel fears the worst. 

The second threat to Israel relates to demographics.  When Israel was established, it was formed as a safe haven for Jews.  The Holocaust convinced much of the world that Jews needed their own homeland.  Israel is a democracy, and as such anyone born in Israel is a citizen.  Approximately, 20% of Israeli citizens are Arab. The Arab birthrate far exceeds that of Jews.  In addition, Israel currently controls lands, such as the West Bank, consisting of millions of Arabs.  Israel seeks to maintain a significant majority of Jews in her own homeland.  If she were to lose that majority, Israel, as a nation whose primary purpose is to safeguard the Jewish people, will cease to exist.  Thus, most Israelis are willing to trade substantial portions of the West Bank for peace with the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab nations.  But one issue remains a game changer, the so-called “right of return.”  The Palestinians claim that Arabs who fled or were forced out of Israel during the 1948-49 war should have the right to return to their own lands.  The lands the Palestinians speak of are not lands that would be incorporated into a new Palestinian state but rather into Israel proper.  Furthermore, the Palestinians insist that this “right” be applied to the descendants of those who owned these lands, now numbering in the millions.  If this concept were realized, suddenly Israel would become a Jewish minority state. 

The final threat to Israel is the religious/secular divide. Between 20-25% of Israelis belong to ultra-Orthodox sects. While their commitment to keep God’s laws (Torah) is commendable, the reality is these groups are anti-democratic, intolerant of anyone outside of their communities and many do not even support the existence of the modern state of Israel.  Most refuse to serve in the military, yet happily receive significant government stipends to their schools.  The vast majority of Israelis find these groups’ behavior appalling, but the ultra-orthodox gain strength through high rates of birth, unlike the rest of the population.  The ultra-orthodox already hold a disproportionate share of power in the government. Because Israel’s parliament (Knesset) consists of so many parties, rarely does any one party have sufficient members to control the government. Consequently, Israel’s government is formed by a coalition of parties. Typically, the ultra-Orthodox are included in the coalition. Because their interests tend to be narrow, they vie for control over immigration, education and religious affairs and are usually rewarded by being given responsibility over these areas.  Thus, millions of dollars of limited government funds are channeled into religious schools where most students focus on ancient religious texts rather than subjects needed to benefit society as a whole.  Sadly, in much of Israel today, when the ultra-orthodox move into a new community, others leave.  Additionally, these groups are the most vociferous opponents of Messianic Jews, often leading to personal violence, destruction of property, loss of jobs and homes and targeting Messianic Jews through posters claiming that Messianic Jews will finish what Hitler began.  Many Israelis are disillusioned about the country’s future with a growing ultra-Orthodox population.

Countering this grim state of affairs is the remarkable friendships Israel has found in the Christian world, helping to undo the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Israel’s economy has been energized by extraordinarily high rates of Christian tourism in the past few years. Christian political support of Israel has caught the attention of Israeli governments, who, in response, have formed special government outreach groups to Christian leaders, particularly in the United States. Yet, there’s one critical group often ignored, to which the Bible suggests Israel’s very survival hinges upon, i.e., Messianic Jews.  The Apostle Paul refers to this group as the saved remnant of Israel (Rom. 11:5). The idea of a remnant of faithful people causing God’s blessing upon the larger community is embedded in the Scriptures and finds expression in the dialogue between God and Abraham regarding the future of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God promises to save the cities if even 10 righteous people are found.  Joseph tells his brothers who banished him years before, “But God has sent me a head of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth…” (Gen. 45:7)  During a crisis the prophet Isaiah declares to King Hezekiah, “Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.” (II Kings 19:30)  Isaiah also prophesies, “A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the mighty God.” (Isaiah 10:21) God’s righteous remnant in the land of Israel today are those Jews who call on the name of Yeshua (Jesus), numbering approximately 15,000 and who worship in about 150 congregations.

Yet, most Christians are completely unaware of these groups. Well meaning Christians, who have a God given burden for Israel, donate millions of dollars to popular Christian and Jewish organizations that channel money into secular and/or Orthodox Jewish groups in Israel, completely circumventing the Messianic Jewish groups in the land. Many Messianic Jewish organizations in Israel provide for the poor and needy, Holocaust survivors, drug and alcohol addicts, women with unwanted pregnancies and even sponsor reconciliation dialogues with the Arab community.  If these groups could receive the very same donations that Christians already give to Israel, Israeli society would be revolutionized, the Messianic Jewish community in the land recognized and Israel’s survival preserved. 

A few years ago, a few of us in the Messianic Jewish community formed an organization that would accomplish the above – the Hope for Israel Relief Fund. We have built strong relationships with and have funded numerous Israeli Messianic Jewish organizations.  Check us out on the web –   Israel needs you in these perilous days.  We need you to consider channeling money through us to benefit the righteous remnant in the land.  Israel’s survival may depend upon it.

Jamie Cowen 2012