All the signs to me look like Israel is going to war with Iran, and soon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strikes me as a man who has made his peace with the task ahead of him, a man who now believes his nation is capable of winning a war with Iran and has made all of the preparations necessary to strike if need be. I’m not saying he’s made a final decision. But he’s talking like a leader ready to make that final decision in the not too distant future. Indeed, I believe this trip to Washington is part of Netanyahu’s process of making a final assessment of whether the Obama administration will truly have Israel’s back, as the President promises, or whether Israel will be completely isolated. And while the White House is clearly pressuring Israel not to strike, Congress seems ready to support Israel fully.
Today we’ll learn more about whether that is really the case as Netanyahu will address Joint Session of Congress. His goal: to seek 100% support from Congress and the American people — diplomatically, financially and with resupplied weapons, if not full military support – if Israel has no other choice but to launch massive preemptive strikes against Iran to defend the Jewish state from another Holocaust. The PM’s message to Congress is expected to be similar to the address he gave last night to the AIPAC conference and to President Obama in the Oval Office, a clear, powerful and sobering message: When it comes to stopping Iran from getting the Bomb, he said, “none of us can afford to wait any longer.” Translation: buckle up, it’s about to be a very bumpy ride in the Middle East.
the Prime Minister told thousands of supporters of Israel gathered in the Washington, D.C. convention center.
“For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked. For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either. I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward. Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
“Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb,”
“They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran. I’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, I’ve read them before — In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department. Here are the letters [holding copies up for the audience to see]: The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came five days later. I want to read it to you. ’Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…and in any case, it would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources…’ And, my friends, here’s the most remarkable sentence of all, and I quote: ‘Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.’ Think about that – ‘even more vindictive action’ — than the Holocaust. My friends, 2012 is not 1944. The American government today is different. You heard it in President Obama’s speech yesterday. But here’s my point: The Jewish people are also different. Today we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
What I appreciated most about the speech was Mr. Netanyahu drawing the audience’s attention to the Biblical story of the Jewish Queen Esther, whose prayers and fasting moved the Lord to intervene to save the Jewish people from a Persian tyrant in ages past.
“This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history,”
“In Synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim. We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people. And we will read how that plot was foiled by one courageous woman – Esther. In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people. And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself. So as I leave you tonight I thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state.“
Earlier in the day, Mr. Netanyahu gave a decorated copy of an Esther scroll as a gift to President Obama during their Oval Office meeting, and discussed the significance of the story with the President. What is not clear is whether the Prime Minister explained the ending of the story: Yes, Esther did her part, praying, fasting and intervening before the Persian king on behalf of the Jewish people. And yes, the Lord did his part in changing Ahasuerus’ heart, and putting the evil Haman on the gallows, and dramatically changing the dynamic in favor of the Jews. But it must be remembered that in the end, the Jewish people did have to fight against the Persian forces hell bent on their destruction, and with the Lord’s help the Jews miraculously prevailed.
“[T]he king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them…..The Jews assembled in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm; and no one could stand before them, for the dread of them had fallen on all the peoples.” (Esther 8:11 and 9:2)
Netanyahu’s decision to give the scroll to the President further reveals the Prime Minister’s growing interest in the Bible and his desire to make the Scriptures part of his Oval Office discussion. You may recall that a few months ago, Mr. Netanyahu announced that he was starting a Bible study in his personal residence.
One other noteworthy moment from yesterday: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ‘Congratulates’ Putin and Russia on ‘Decisive Victory’. The Russian-Iranian alliance continues to build, raising questions of whether we are moving towards the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 & 39.
In this context, let us continue praying for President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Lord gives them both wisdom to know the right thing to do, and the courage to do it. If there is a peaceful way to stop Iran’s nuclear program and bring down the Iranian regime so the Iranian people can live in freedom and all the region can live in peace and security, let’s pray the Lord shows them how to achieve this — and soon.
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Please pray especially for Mr. Netanyahu and his advisors, that they would be like the sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12:32).