The Successes of Terrorism

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.”  Jerusalem and all of Israel is unrivaled as a city of faith.  If you’ve ever visited, you know that symbols of religious devotion, synagogues, churches, mosques, shrines and holy places are everywhere.  Sadly, its geography has bequeathed to Israel a violent history.  Certainly the plea to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” is as timely today as it ever was.
                                                                   - Rabbi Dr Barry Leff

 

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   “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.”  Jerusalem and all of Israel is unrivaled as a city of faith.  If you’ve ever visited, you know that symbols of religious devotion, synagogues, churches, mosques, shrines and holy places are everywhere.  Sadly, its geography has bequeathed to Israel a violent history.  Certainly the plea to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” is as timely today as it ever was.

   In symbolic language, “Jerusalem” is a city set on a hill beaming forth the light of Yahweh’s law, beckoning all to journey through its gates.  Jerusalem and all of Israel have been destroyed and rebuilt over and over.  The Bible acknowledges this, but tells us that Israel will stand in the end-time, and Jerusalem will be a cup of drunken reeling to its neighbors and a stumbling stone to the world.  Finally, the New Jerusalem descends and we make our abode there.  “Israel” and “Jerusalem” therefore remind us that, in Yahweh’s economy, important landmarks, though they may seem vulnerable, will endure and stand forever.

   Psalm 122 brings to the forefront two great truths: Israel stands as a symbol of Yahweh’s enduring home for his people, wherever they happen to be now (vv.1-6); but Jerusalem only stands forth now as a result of the enduring prayer of the people who love it (vv.6-9).  We’re dependent upon the existence of Jerusalem as our symbol of the everlasting.  At the same time, Jerusalem’s fate is dependent entirely upon our prayers.  Today, along with believers all over the world, we’ll stand in the gap for Israel. {prayer}

 

Has Life Changed Since 9-11?

   Last year about this time we all looked back to 9-11 and thought. “That day our lives changed.”  I thought that 9-11 would help us understand what it means to be an Israeli and live daily under the shadow of terror.  Our government warned us that there was a high probability of terrorist attacks in the future, some maybe even as serious as the downing of the World Trade Center.  But attacks haven’t materialized. 

   Oh, there were a few random killings.  There were five American students annihilated at Hebrew University in a suicide bombing.  Soldiers and a journalist died in Afghanistan.  An uncounted number of Americans were ameliorated last week in a car bombing in Bali.  I wonder -- did you personally know any of the 30,000+ who died?  I didn’t know a one.  Maybe that’s good.  We’ve been spared the grief that our friends in Israel know too well; everyone there can name a victim of terror.

 

The Successes of Terrorism

   The dictionary defines terrorism as

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

In a turn of events, the primary action that terror has “coerced” from us is the forced expulsion of the Taliban regime from Afghanistan, destroying many of its military training camps and killing most of its armed militia.  We assume these were not the strategic objectives of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda Network when they went for the World Trade Center.  What they really wanted was to destroy the economic viability of the US.  The damage from 9-11 cost over $50 billion, a bunch of money.  (Hurricane Andrew cost $25 billion.)   Even so, our economy has only been minimally affected by 9-11.

   Bin Laden demanded that the US military leave the Middle East.  It’s offensive to Allah to have infidels on Islam’s most holy ground, Saudi Arabia.  If we get out, Al Qaeda will topple the godless Saudi royal family.  Imagine the Taliban with all that Saudi oil money!  But terrorism on our shores has increased our role in the Middle East rather than ending it!  And the US presence continues to grow as preparations are made to remove a dangerous political regime from Iraq.

   Another hoped-for result of 9-11 was to drive a wedge between the United States, Britain and Israel.  On the contrary, terror has forced Bush and Blair to declare war on ALL terrorists, be they Arabs, Palestinians, Germans or Americans.  For the first time, Israel is being recognized as an important partner because of the terror it’s seen already.  America, Britain and Israel have never been closer and American support for Israeli action against Muslim terrorists has never been higher.

   If the goal of 9-11 was to make us see or do things differently, then the terrorists have been very successful.  We have come into a new understanding: that Islamic Jihad is a plague on the whole world, not just on Israel.  In our country, support for causes against Israel has crumbled.  We all have reconnected to our families and roots.  We began to pray again: for the peace of Jerusalem; for the peace of London and Jakarta, Tokyo and Kabul; for the peace of Washington and Baghdad -- and for the decision-makers in each place.  We pray ceaselessly.

   The most unexpected result of 9-11 was that somebody got fed up and destroyed the Taliban, a regime of wolves masquerading as sheep, and liberated the 12 million oppressed women of Afghanistan, among the most downtrodden people on G-d’s green earth.  Yahshua came to set the captives free and proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.  And that’s what happened; freeing Afghanistan was the greatest liberation of captives since World War II.  Something very good came of something very bad after all, and then things got pretty much back to normal here.

On to Israel  

   But in regards to Israel: after two solid years of daily Intifada, nothing is “normal” there.  (Intifada means, “shaking off” referring to the shaking of Israelis off the land of Israel.  Intifada is a Muslim Holy War.)  Why things haven’t gotten back to normal in Israel is because Yassar Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is a far more successful terrorist than Osama bin Laden.  Only two and a half years ago, peace was in the wind for Israel. 

(Quoting Barry Lef, a Rabbi Doctor in Vancouver, educated in Israel) “When Israelis went to the casino in Jericho, they only gambled with their money -- not their lives.  Israelis ate hummus and shopped for bargains in Nablus and a 110,000 Palestinians came to work in Israel every day, both benefiting from and contributing to Israel's booming economy. It was a time of great hope and optimism.  Most people in Israel believed a real peace was coming, and soon.  Then came the collapse of the Camp David talks in August, 2000.  Then came the Intifada.”

By August of the next year (2001), people started getting used to the nightly artillery battles between Gilo and Bet Jallah.  The people learned to distinguish sonic booms from bombs.  Bombs have a sharper crack and are always followed by sirens. 

 

Precautions

   No, the lives of most Israelis are not normal anymore.  People go to work and school, shop, eat in restaurants, all right.  Yet they take precautions.  Every once in a while people discuss whether it’s safe to go to this place or that place.  They reassure themselves by telling themselves, "I'll be safe as long as I avoid the buses," or "as long as I avoid going to Ben Yehuda street." 
   There is a story that everyone in Israel was telling about a year ago.  It goes like this,

Everyone knows it’s dangerous only in the territories and in a little bit of JerusalemIn Jerusalem, everyone knows there’s shooting going on, but only in the neighborhood of Gilo.  In Gilo, everyone knows that it’s dangerous, but only on Hana'afa Street.  On Hana'afa Street, everyone knows that it’s dangerous, but just in the houses on Hana'afa Street that face Bet Jallah.  In the houses facing Bet Jallah, everyone knows it’s dangerous, but mostly in a few apartments on specific floors that get shot at.  In the apartments that get shot at, everyone knows it’s dangerous, but not in all rooms, just the kitchen.  In the kitchen that gets shot into, everyone knows it’s more dangerous near the refrigerator.  Near the fridge. everyone knows that it’s really dangerous in the freezer, which is in the sights of the sharpshooter from Bet Jallah. You can take cheese out of the fridge without getting hit....usually.  Honest to g-d!   BUT in the freezer, over the fridge, on one part of Ha'anafa Street at the edge of Gilo in Jerusalem in Israel?  Man, it’s really dangerous there!  If you try to get frozen schnitzels out of the freezer, you're taking your life in your hands!  So, for a few months, just until things calm down, we're not going to eat no (sic) schnitzels.”

  Sometimes laughing off danger is a way to make things seem more normal.  A year ago, humor was working.  But it’s not anymore.  Unlike here, where we don’t know a soul who died 9-11, everyone there knows someone who lost a family member or friend, a son during the military action in Jenin, a student blown to bits at Hebrew University or at Passover in Netanya.  A year ago Israelis proudly proclaimed that they weren't going to let terror change their daily routines -- that would be letting the terrorists win.  But we don’t hear that now.  Many Israelis admit they don’t go to their “favorite targets” anymore and they stay off the buses.  A year ago very few restaurants had security; now anything bigger than a falafel stand has a security guard.  A recent poll showed that 92% of Israelis are afraid they might be hurt in a terrorist attack, up from "only" 58% before the start of the Intifada. 
   And there are new things to worry about.  Not long ago some Arabs were arrested for plotting to poison drinks in a Jerusalem restaurant.  A security guard can’t protect you from a murderous busboy.  The Israeli economy is falling fast.  It’s the worst since 1953.  The Intifada has damaged the economy more than the four wars.  Production is down, unemployment is up, tourism is cut in half.  However, I was encouraged to learn that over 12,000 Christians from all over the world made it to Jerusalem for Feast of Tabernacles in September.  That’s a fulfillment of end-time prophecy.  As they say, “Next year in Jerusalem!”  Maybe by next year, Yahshua will have returned and you and I will go up to the Feast! 

 

Arafat Succeeds Where Bin Laden Fails

 Arafat, The Wretched Terrorist, il est Morte

   But for the time being, the terrorist Arafat is succeeding where bin Laden has failed.  Arafat HAS changed the routine of thousands in Israel.  He HAS damaged the economy and he HAS put the fear of Allah into everyone.  But what good did it do his own people, the Palestinians?  The Palestinian economy is down 25%.  75% of Palestinians are living in wretched poverty.  The unemployment rate in Gaza is 67%.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Over 1800 Palestinians have been killed and 2500 have been disabled in the last two years of Intifada.  The Israeli Army is on their case with deadly force.
   Has terror brought the Palestinian cause closer to receiving LAND than the negotiating table?  No. Before the Intifada, 47% of Israelis favored trading land for peace; today, 37%.  Before the terror, 57% of Israelis favored the creation of a Palestinian State; now 49%.  Far more Israelis favor unleashing the Army against Muslim terrorism than before – 54%.  The desperate measures taken by terrorists in Israel have brought heartache to both sides and destroyed the very cause they were meant to call attention to.  Large numbers of “land for peace liberals” have simply given up.

   Arafat succeeded as a terrorist, but he’s failed in accomplishing his strategic objectives: after two years of mayhem he’s farther from creating a Palestinian state than when he first began terrorizing fifty years ago.  Bin Laden succeeded as a terrorist too, and he also succeeded in bringing the whole civilized world together against him and his cause.

 

Un-normal Time

   We perceive things to be getting back to normal here, but I’m afraid things will never be normal again.  We need to be praying all the more fervently for the peace of Jerusalem, even if that peace means the ushering in of the New Jerusalem.  Are you ready?  We need to be praying more fervently for all people of the Judeo-Christian faith, especially if the United States unleashes against Iraq.  If that be the case, with seven million Muslims on this side of the world, we’ll need Jerusalem to pray for the peace of the US.

   So pray for peace.  Pray against terror.  Be actively involved in peacemaking.  Become knowledgeable about what’s happening outside the Florida panhandle.  Stand up for Israel.  Pray against the leaders of terror.  And most of all, try to discern Yahweh’s will and Yahshua’s activities during this most un-normal time.