Why America should support Israel

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12. Why America should support Israel

November 17, 2023 -

The flag of Israel sits atop the flag of the United States. By Shabtay/stock.adobe.com.

The flag of Israel sits atop the flag of the United States. By Shabtay/stock.adobe.com.

The flag of Israel sits atop the flag of the United States. By Shabtay/stock.adobe.com.

President George W. Bush once called the United States “Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.” Shortly after the October 7 invasion, President Joe Biden stated, “I come to Israel with a single message: You are not alone. You are not alone. As long as the United States stands—and we will stand forever—we will not let you ever be alone.” He described Hamas’s invasion as “unleashing pure unadulterated evil upon the world.”

The United States continues its strong support for Israel in this conflict, but this support comes at a cost. We have more than forty thousand military personnel based across the Middle East. They have repeatedly come under fire in Iraq and Syria and could become involved if the war escalates. Hezbollah, in particular, has missiles capable of striking US vessels in the region. American forces so far have not retaliated significantly lest they widen the conflict.

If the war expands, the global economy could weaken as inflationary pressure rises. And, as noted above, US support for Ukraine and other countries could be affected by an escalating conflict that requires more resources for Israel.

Political support for Israel continues to be divided across America and in city halls, with pro-Palestinian protests and rising antisemitism across the land. The FBI director also testified before Congress that the Israel-Hamas war has raised the potential for an attack against Americans at home; the agency is concerned about violent extremists or lone actors inspired by hateful messages and calls for violence. New York City Mayor Eric Adams similarly warned city residents of “lone wolves” in the wake of October 7.

This at a time when the Strategic Posture Commission, a congressionally appointed bipartisan panel, warns that we must prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Russia and China. It urges the US to expand its conventional forces, strengthen alliances, and enhance its nuclear weapons modernization program.

The US had sought to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia to align them against Iran and anchor the Saudis beyond the perimeter of China’s strategic orbit. This could have enabled America to extricate itself from the Middle East to prepare for other conflicts, a goal that is clearly unattainable in light of Hamas’s invasion.

NOTE: This resource article belongs to a series regarding the foundational issues behind the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The full series is also available as a free ebook.

Why America should support Israel

America’s presidents have long supported the Jewish people. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, we find these statements of affirmation:

  • “I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize man than any other people” (John Adams).
  • [I believe in the] rebuilding of Judea as an independent nation” (John Quincy Adams).
  • “There can be no peace worth having unless . . . the Jews [are] given control of Palestine” (Theodore Roosevelt).
  • “The allied nations with the fullest concurrence of our government and people are agreed that in Palestine should be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth” (Woodrow Wilson).
  • “The Jewish faith is predominantly the faith of liberty” (Calvin Coolidge).
  • “The American people, ever zealous in the cause of human freedom, have watched with sympathetic interest the effort of the Jews to renew in Palestine the ties of their ancient homeland and to reestablish Jewish culture in the place where for centuries it flourished and whence it was carried to the far corners of the world” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

When Israel was declared a nation on May 14, 1948, President Harry Truman officially recognized it as a legitimate Jewish state only eleven minutes after its creation. He was the first world leader to do so. He stated, “I had faith in Israel before it was established. I have faith in it now.”

Following the creation of Israel, US presidents continued to voice their support for the Jewish state:

  • “The teaching of their ancient belief is filled with truth for the present day. Its profound sense of justice, nation to nation, man to man, is an essential part of every religious and social order. The health of our society depends upon a deep and abiding respect for the basic commandments of the God of Israel” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).
  • “Israel was not created in order to disappear—Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom” (John F. Kennedy).
  • “The Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls” (Lyndon B. Johnson).
  • “Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom. I have seen it. I know. I believe that” (Richard M. Nixon).
  • “A strong Israel is essential to a stable peace in the Middle East. . . . My commitment to the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own heritage” (Gerald R. Ford).
  • “We have a special relationship with Israel. It’s absolutely crucial that no one in our country or around the world ever doubt that our number one commitment in the Middle East is to protect the right of Israel to exist, to exist permanently, and to exist in peace. It’s a special relationship” (Jimmy Carter).
  • “Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tyranny and unrest. . . . America has never flinched from its commitment to the State of Israel—a commitment which remains unshakable” (Ronald Reagan).
  • “The friendship, the alliance between the United States and Israel is strong and solid—built upon a foundation of shared democratic values, of shared history and heritage that sustain the moral life of our two countries” (George H. W. Bush).
  • “Israel’s democracy is the bedrock on which our relationship stands. It’s a shining example for people around the world who are on the frontline of the struggle for democracy in their own lands. Our relationship is also based on our common interest in a more stable and peaceful Middle East” (Bill Clinton).
  • “For more than a generation, the United States and Israel have been steadfast allies. Our nations are bound by our shared values and a strong commitment to freedom. These ties that have made us natural allies will never be broken” (George W. Bush).
  • “The American people and the Israeli peoples share a faith in the future and believe that democracies can shape their own destinies and that opportunities should be available to all. Throughout its own extraordinary history, Israel has given life to that promise” (Barack Obama).
  • “Israel is a light unto the world. The hearts and history of our people are woven together. The Land of Israel is an ancient home, a sacred place of worship, and a solemn promise to the Jewish people that we will never again repeat history’s darkest hour” (Donald Trump).
  • “The connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep. . . . We’re united in our shared values and our shared vision” (Joe Biden).

Why does America support Israel so steadfastly? Why should we?

As we noted in Chapter 2, some interpreters view the modern State of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In their view, supporting Israel aligns us with God’s prophetic and providential purposes in the world.

For example, the well-known Bible teacher and scholar Derek Prince stated: “One major factor in God’s judgment of all other nations will be their treatment of the Jews.” He cited Matthew 25:31–46 as evidence that “the nations who show mercy to the Jews will receive mercy from God; the nations who deny mercy to the Jews will be denied mercy from God.”

Prince pointed to Spain and to Great Britain as examples: after the former expelled the Jews and the latter opposed the rebirth of Israel as a sovereign nation, both declined to become a “struggling, second-rate power.” He cited Isaiah 60:12 as God’s warning to those who oppose Israel: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.”

What about those who do not share this interpretive viewpoint? At least four other factors also compel our support for the State of Israel today.

  1. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. As such, its values align with ours and its flourishing offers hope and direction for other nations in their quest for self-governance.
  2. Israel is the strongest military power in the Middle East. Accordingly, our alliance with the Jewish state forms a strong deterrence to those who would harm both Israel and the West.
  3. Christians share a common worldview with the Jewish people grounded in Scripture, the sanctity of all life, and the value of biblical morality. As many US presidents have noted, this moral and cultural alignment draws us together in mutual support, encouragement, and advancement of our shared vision for human rights and flourishing.
  4. Israel exists as a homeland for the Jewish people and a guarantee of their future. The invasion of October 7 and the subsequent support for Hamas’s atrocities are proof that such a homeland must exist in the face of virulent antisemitism around the world. The philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote in 1968, “I have a premonition that will not leave me. As it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us.”

Every time I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, I was reminded of the horrors the Jewish people have faced across their history. Like any other people, they deserve to live and flourish in peace.

What about the Palestinians?

Does this mean that we do not also love and support the Palestinian people? Absolutely not.

Some of my best friends in the Middle East are Palestinian Arab Christians who live in the West Bank. As we have noted, God loves Palestinians just as much as he loves Jews (Galatians 3:28; John 3:16). He grieves when they face injustice and suffering. He wants them to know his Son as their Lord and thus to experience his abundant life in this world and the next (2 Peter 3:9; John 10:10).

But the Palestinian people are victims of their own leaders. As we have shown, Hamas uses civilians in Gaza as human shields and promotes their suffering in order to turn world opinion against Israel and marshal Muslim opposition to the Jewish state. Widespread corruption in Hamas and Fatah continues to limit the economic and social progress of the Palestinian people.

I do not mean to suggest that Israel’s leaders have not been complicit on occasion in the suffering of the Palestinian people. Those who support the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank are greatly impeding the possibility of a future Palestinian state, for example. Israel is a secular state led by a secular government that is struggling at present amidst a time of deep divisiveness in the country.

But I do believe that the best path forward for the Palestinian people is a two-state solution by which an autonomous nation of Palestine thrives alongside the State of Israel, each at peace with each other. It is precisely this future that Hamas sought to destroy with its October 7 invasion.

Conclusion: Our sixth step into spiritual awakening

Thus far we have identified these steps in advancing God’s kingdom through spiritual awakening:

  • Make God your king every day.
  • Share the good news of his word and love with the world.
  • Love all people as Jesus loves all people.
  • Pray fervently for spiritual awakening in the Middle East and in our culture.
  • Trust God to transform any heart by his Spirit.

To these we can add a sixth element illustrated by this chapter: work for peace through righteousness in the world.

Jesus’ Beatitudes frame the foundational commitments upon which his kingdom advances. Among them we are taught:

  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (v. 7).
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (v. 9).

Each of these is relevant to our response to Israel’s war with Hamas.

We are to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” in the Middle East, seeking justice and protection for all who are being victimized by Hamas’s atrocities and who are casualties in the conflict it has created. We are to advocate for mercy for both Israelis and Palestinians, praying for their protection in this war and their flourishing in the future. And we are to strive for that peace which is not merely the absence of conflict but the presence of righteousness in the world.

These three commitments should frame our intercession in these dark days of divisiveness and conflict. And they should guide our steps as we partner with God in answering our prayers.

After Jesus instructed his disciples to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), he then “called to him his twelve disciples” and sent them into this harvest (Matthew 10:1ff). He used their service in response to their intercession, making them his instruments for advancing his kingdom.

Like them, Jesus’ followers are his “body” in the world today (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are his hands and feet sharing his transforming love and compassion with those in need.

In this sense, whatever our perspective regarding the modern State of Israel and biblical prophecy, we can heed our Lord’s clear statement: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

How will you serve Jesus today?

Continue this series: An urgent call for spiritual warfare >

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