JERUSALEM, Israel – President Trump's visit to Israel has revived the idea of a new round of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. More than a decade ago, CBN founder Pat Robertson delivered a speech at the prestigious Hezliya Conference in Israel. His analysis of the futility of the "land for peace" is as relevant today as it was when he delivered this address. It's worth re-visiting as Israelis and Palestinians once again – with U.S. support - head down the illusive road to peace.
Why Evangelical Christians Support Israel
One day in the late 19th Century, Queen Victoria of England reportedly asked her prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, this question:
"Mr. Prime Minister, what evidence can you give me of the existence of God?"
Disraeli thought for a moment and then replied, "The Jew, your majesty."
Think of it, according to Disraeli, the primary evidence that God exists is the existence of the Jewish people…a people who in 586 BC were deported to Babylon, yet returned after 70 years to rebuild a nation. Who were again brutally massacred and dispersed by the Romans in 70 AD, yet after countless centuries of Diaspora, expulsions, pogroms, ghettos, and attempts at genocidal extermination, have clung to their faith, their customs – and now after some 2,500 years of wandering have returned to the land promised by God to their ancestors. A new nation began in that land in 1948 named after their ancestor, Jacob, whose divinely appointed name, Israel, means "Prince with God." And to fulfill another ancient prophecy, God moved on the heart of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, whose son Ehud told me that while his father was living in Eastern Europe, he heard a voice and saw a light directing him to bring forth for the Jewish people a pure language – Hebrew – the language of the Torah and of the ancient prophets.
Yes, the survival of the Jewish people is a miracle of God. The return of the Jewish people to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a miracle of God. The remarkable victories of Jewish armies against overwhelming odds in successive battles in 1948, and 1967, and 1973 are clearly miracles of God. The technological marvels of Israeli industry, the military prowess, the bounty of Israeli agriculture, the fruits and flowers and abundance of the land are a testimony to God's watchful care over this new nation and the genius of this people.
Yet what has happened was clearly foretold by the ancient prophet Ezekiel, who, writing at the time of the Babylonian captivity, declared this message for the Jewish people concerning latter days.
"For I will take you out of the nation; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back to your own land… I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you… to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.
"I will call for the grain and make it plentiful… I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine…
"This is what the Sovereign Jehovah says, 'On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.'
"Then the nations around you that remain will know that I, Jehovah, have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I, Jehovah, have spoken, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:24 ff).
God Ordained Israel's Rebirth
Ladies and Gentleman, evangelical Christians support Israel because we believe that the words of Moses and the ancient prophets of Israel were inspired by God. We believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God.
We believe that God has a plan for this nation, which He intends to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
Of course, we, like all right-thinking people, support Israel because Israel is an island of democracy, an island of individual freedom, an island of the rule of law, and an island of modernity in the midst of a sea of dictatorial regimes, the suppression of individual liberty, and a fanatical religion intent on returning to the feudalism of 8th Century Arabia.
These facts about modern-day Israel are all true. But mere political rhetoric does not account for the profound devotion to Israel that exists in the hearts of tens of millions of evangelical Christians.
You must realize that the God who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai is our God. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our spiritual Patriarchs. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are our prophets. King David, a man after God's own heart, is our hero. The Holy City of Jerusalem is our spiritual capital. And the continuation of Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land is a further bulwark to us that the God of the Bible exists and that His Word is true.
We Serve a Jewish Messiah
And we should clearly take note that evangelical Christians serve a Jew that we believe was the divine Messiah of Israel, spoken of by the ancient prophets, to whom He entrusted the worldwide dissemination of His message to 12 Jewish apostles.
It should be noted that today Christianity, with well over 2 billion adherents, is by far the fastest growing religion in the world. Within 20 years, that number will swell to three billion. Of these, at least 600 million are Bible-believing evangelicals and charismatics who are ardent supporters of the nation of Israel. In 20 years, that number will reach one billion. Israel has millions of Christian friends in China, in India, in Indonesia, throughout Africa and South America, as well as North America.
We are with you in your struggle. We are with you as a wave of anti-Semitism is engulfing the earth. We are with you despite the pressure of the "Quartette" and the incredibly hostile resolutions of the United Nations. We are with you despite the threats and ravings of Wahabbi jihadists, Hezbollah thugs, and Hamas assassins.
We are with you despite oil embargos, loss of allies, and terrorist attacks on our cities.
We evangelical Christians merely say to our Israeli friends, "Let us serve our God together by opposing the virulent poison of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that is rapidly engulfing the world."
Don't Commit National Suicide
Having affirmed our support, I would humbly make two requests of our Israeli friends:
First, please don't commit national suicide. It is very hard for your friends to support you if you make a conscious decision to destroy yourselves.
I hardly find it necessary to remind this audience of the stated objectives of Yasser Arafat, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. Their goal is not peace, but the final destruction of the State of Israel. At no time do they, or their allies in the Muslim world, acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel over even one square inch of territory in the Middle East. If a Palestinian state is created in the heart of Israel, with sovereign power to deploy troops, import modern weapons – ven weapons of mass destruction – and operate with full secrecy and diplomatic immunity, the ability of the State of Israel to defend itself will be fatally compromised.
The slogan "land for peace" is a cruel chimera. The Sinai was given up. Did that bring lasting peace? No. Southern Lebanon was given up. Did that bring lasting peace? No. Instead Hezbollah rode tanks to the border of Israel shouting, "On to Jerusalem!" Now, as many as 10,000 rockets aimed at Metulla, Kiryat Shmona, and all of northern Israel have been put in place throughout southern Lebanon.
Arafat was brought up at the knees of the man who yearned to finish the work of Adolf Hitler. How can any realist truly believe that this killer and his associates can become trusted partners for peace?
Yearning for Peace
I am aware of the deep feelings of many Israelis who yearn for peace, who long to be free from the terror of the suicide bombers of the intifada. I would draw their attention to the fact that during the Cold War, the American people yearned to be free from the constant threat of a nuclear holocaust. Then, at Reykjavik, Iceland, on the occasion of a summit between President Ronald Reagan of the United Sates and Premier Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, what seemed like an incredible opportunity for peace was presented to President Reagan by Mr. Gorbachev. An offer was made for hitherto undreamed of reductions in nuclear weapons. Gorbachev's offer included everything the U.S. arms negotiations had wanted, except one thing. The condition for the Russian offer was to be the agreement by the United States to abandon the so-called "star wars" Strategic Defense Initiative.
Mr. Reagan carefully considered the offer, then reluctantly said no. Without the Strategic Defense Initiative, there would be no deal. Gorbachev was stunned. Then both leaders, with sadness in their hearts, adjourned the meeting and departed Reykjavik.
Once again, the world was hovering on the brink of nuclear annihilation. The American liberal press was apoplectic at Reagan's decision. But he held firm.
Now we all know that he was right. The Russians could not compete with the United States in a nuclear arms race and Gorbachev knew it. The bluster was over. The threats were over. Reagan had won by standing firm. Soon freedom broke out in Poland, in Hungary, in East Germany. The Berlin Wall came down. The barbed wire fences came down. And Soviet Communism came down.
The world is safe from super power nuclear terror. This terror is no more because one strong leader stood against public opinion, against the advice of many of his own counselors and said no! May the leaders of Israel in 2004 have the courage to look the nations of the world in the eye, and when your national interests demand it, say no!
Second, the world's Christians ask that you do not give away the treasured symbols of your spiritual patrimony.
I read recently in The Wall Street Journal an article written by an American Jewish commentator who remarked that the Temple Mount and what is termed the "Wailing Wall" are "sacred stones and sites," but hardly worth bloodshed.
Just think – the place where the Patriarch Abraham took Isaac to offer him to God. The place bought by King David from Araunah where the Angel of the Lord stood with drawn sword. The place of Solomon's temple. The place of the Holy of Holies. The place where Jesus Christ walked and taught. The very spiritual center of the Jewish worship of the one true God – nothing but a pile of sacred stones – unworthy of sacrifice? What an incredible assertion!
World Convulsed by Religious Struggle
Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake – the entire world is being convulsed by a religious struggle. The fight is not about money or territory; it is not about poverty versus wealth; it is not about ancient customs versus modernity. No. The struggle is whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme.
If God's chosen people turn over to Allah control of their most sacred sites – if they surrender to Muslim vandals the tombs of Rachel, of Joseph, of the Patriarchs, of the ancient prophets – if they believe their claim to the Holy Land comes only from Lord Balfour of England and the ever-fickle United Nations rather than the promises of Almighty God – then in that event, Islam will have won the battle. Throughout the Muslim world the message will go forth – "Allah is greater than Jehovah. The promises of Jehovah to the Jews are meaningless.
"We can now, in the name of Allah, move to crush the Jews and drive them out of the land that belongs to Allah."
In short, those political initiatives that some have asserted will guarantee peace, will in truth guarantee unending struggle and ultimate failure. Those political leaders who only understand the secular dimension of Israel's existence and who cavalierly dismiss the spiritual dimension will find that they receive the mess of pottage of Esau rather than the inheritance of Jacob.
On Christmas Day in 1974, I had the privilege of interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for my television program, The 700 Club. Rabin lamented the fact that after Israeli military victories, the nation had been stopped from achieving a peace treaty.
That was 30 years ago. Israel seemed as isolated and alone then as it does today. As I concluded my interview, I asked Prime Minister Rabin a final question. "What would you want the United States to do now for Israel?"
He replied without hesitation. "Be strong! Be strong!"
That evening I joined for dinner a group of several hundred people who had accompanied me from the United States. We were meeting in the large dining room of the InterContinental Hotel on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, whose floor-to-ceiling windows gave a stunning view of the illuminated Temple Mount. As I related to the group the substance of my meeting, I began to recall the feeling of sadness that had come from the prime minister – the sense of the isolation of his nation. That evening, I made a solemn vow to God that, despite whatever might happen in the future, I and the organizations I headed would stand in support of Israel and the Jewish people. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that I have kept that vow each year since 1974.
In closing, I would deliver to Israel in 2004 the message Yitzhak Rabin delivered to the United States on Christmas Day in 1974. For you are the living witnesses that the promises of the Sovereign Lord are true. "Be strong! Be strong!"
He will be with you and so will your evangelical friends.
Thank you, and God bless you!