I returned last Saturday from a two-week study tour of the Holy Land to find that Israeli issues are as much in the news here as there. As you may know, an agreement is in the works by which Iran would temporarily freeze elements of its nuclear programs in exchange for a partial easing of Western economic sanctions.
Is this hopeful progress or dangerous naïveté?
Last Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told “Meet the Press” that this agreement could make “absolutely certain that Iran never has a nuclear weapon.” Responding to skeptics who view his proposal as naïve, Kerry called Obama administration negotiators “some of the most serious and capable, expert people in our government, who have spent a lifetime dealing with both Iran” and nuclear proliferation issues. “We’re not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” he added. “I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe.”
By contrast, France called the proposal a “sucker’s deal.” And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement is a “very bad deal” since it would cause Iran to stall but not end its nuclear program. He told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “I’m expressing not only the concerns of Israel but the concerns of many in the region. This is the broad feeling here, that Iran might hit the jackpot here. And it’s not good. It’s not good for us, it’s not good for America, it’s not good for the Middle East, it’s not good for Europe.”
I don’t know more about the agreement than what’s in the news and assume that the U.S. wants to support our most significant ally in the Middle East. At the same time, I worry whenever the Israelis worry. With a nuclear weapon, Iran could do in six minutes what it took Hitler six years to do: murder six million Jews. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has called Israel “the Zionist cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world” and looks forward to the day when Israel “will disappear from the landscape of geography.” Any agreement which does not eradicate Iran’s ability to wage nuclear war is understandably troubling to Israel.
When we were at the Western Wall, I read God’s promise from 2 Chronicles 7: “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there” (vs. 15-16). God makes this statement regarding no other place on earth. We are commanded to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), an imperative extended to no other nation. I believe that God is still using the Jewish people in his redemptive purposes for the world (Romans 11:28-32).
Some say, “God judges nations as they judge Israel.” What if they’re right?