Watching Over Zion - 18th January 2017

The Word:  So they answered the Angel of the Lord, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, “We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.” Then the Angel of the Lord answered and said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah…  So the angel who spoke with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.  I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; For I was a little angry, And they helped—but with evil intent.” ‘Therefore thus says the Lord: “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts, “And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.”’  “Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The Lord will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem.”’” (Zechariah 1:11-17)

*      Pointers for prayer:  Please continue to pray over the coming weeks as the future of Israel and especially Jerusalem remains a focus of world attention. With the Trump administration taking office this Friday, January 20th, the question of Jerusalem is looming ever larger due to President-elect Donald Trump’s stated support for moving the American embassy to the Israeli capital city. Arab Palestinian leaders however are threatening more violence over such a move.  We must remember though, that at its heart, this is a spiritual battle which should not be waged by carnal means on our part (anger, hatred, bitterness). Rather, we must respond with prayers for the peace of Jerusalem. When the Psalmist said, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” in Psalm 122:6, the Hebrew word used here for peace – shalom – also means “wholeness, completeness, salvation”. So to seek the peace of Jerusalem means to seek its unity. It also means that either blessings or curses await the nations over how they relate to this city.  Please pray that peace will prevail over a unified Jerusalem and that the threats and evil plans of the enemy will be thwarted. Pray as well that any more attempts to pass anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations Security Council will be defeated. 

*      Next week, we will at Westminster for Lobby Day.  There is still so much to pray into here.  Without doubt, 2017 is already bringing great challenges.  With Jerusalem celebrating her 50th anniversary of reunification, and the Belfour 100, we can only wonder at what the rest of this year will bring. 

How far are the United Nations from the thoughts of God?   

(Due to a heavy cold, the report this week took a bit of writing - apologies for any errors within – DS.)

I’d like to start this week’s news report by returning a favour, and thanking my brother in the Lord and friend Charles Gardner for his report in Israel Today magazine entitled ‘No Peace In Paris’ (http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/30939/Default.aspx#comment-3098089504).  Charles Gardner writes, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a problem that is going to disappear with a wave of a magic wand weaved by the world’s politicians. It’s an age-old dilemma that has spiritual roots, and a spiritual solution.”  He also used areas of last week’s ‘Watching over Zion’ news report, which appeared to inspire him (Many thanks Charles – I really appreciate the mention – DS).  And he is correct; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is certainly not a problem that is going to disappear with a wave of any magic wand weaved by the world’s politicians.

But how different are the thoughts of the LORD to those of the United Nations. Jerusalem (or Zion) is a major theme in the Scriptures. It is first referred to as “the place which the LORD your God chooses” (20 times) until the designation changes to “Jerusalem”, which itself occurs 811 times plus 161 times as Zion, a total of 972 times.  It is abundantly clear that God chose Jerusalem.  “... Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there.” (I Kings 14:21).  And Jerusalem is mentioned more than five times in the first chapter of the book of Zechariah. God's thoughts about the city are obvious: "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy" (Chapter 1:14 KJV).  But who among today's politicians of our world has like-minded thoughts concerning Jerusalem? This shows how far the United Nations live from the thoughts of God.

The Lord is on Jerusalem's side even if the United Nations are indifferent and thoughtless. But the day will come when the Lord will turn to Jerusalem again in all His perfect grace. He will have mercy upon His city and people; He is ever jealous for them; He will comfort them and choose them. It's interesting, especially in view of certain Islamic leaders who continue their threats to "wipe Israel off the map" that we read in Zechariah 3:1-10 that Satan is pointing out Israel’s unfaithfulness as being unworthy of God’s favour (Joshua represents the nation of Israel). But God’s answer is that God has chosen Israel and Israel will be saved. What does this brand from the fire mean in verse 2 of chapter 3? I believe the imagery is that of being saved on the verge of extinction.

God brought the nation of Israel through the Babylonian captivity. The book of Esther records how God preserved the nation from attempted extinction. God also brought the nation of Israel through the Holocaust (Ezekiel 37 & Psalm 102). Throughout history, God has preserved the Jews, and will continue to do so, because He is a God who keeps His promise. The volatile world with its conflicts with Iran and Israel; Isis and Israel; Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas/PLO and Israel have come and gone. And whatever happens, we may be sure of one thing: God has preserved Israel, and will continue to do so, because He is God.

Despite massive objections from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and despite that fact that Israel were not even there, foreign ministers and senior diplomats from what was supposed to be 70 countries (though some media reports state it was much less) descended on Paris to try to reignite the so-called peace process. At the same time, over a thousand people rallied in support of Israel outside the Israeli embassy in Paris on Sunday (#ParisConference).  Over a thousand people rally in support of Israel outside the Israeli embassy in Paris. #ParisConference Over a thousand people rally in support of Israel outside the Israeli embassy in Paris. #ParisConferenceFrench Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault opened the conference by saying that there was “No other solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than a two-state solution”.  No other solution… really?  As former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) Humanitarian Officer Hen Mazzig stated in a comment on Twitter, “Amazing initiative at the Paris Peace Conference by 70 countries to discuss how to achieve peace between Israel and Palestinians.  This comes following the successful work of these countries to bring peace to Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Turkey… every country in the Middle East and in Africa.”   

Another rather outspoken yet gripping news presenter, Liz Wheeler, really ripped into John Kerry regarding  his comments at the UN.  Liz Wheeler, who is also an author, is a 26 year old, young conservative hailing from the heart of the American Midwest. On her TV programme she asks, “How is it possible that we live in a world where we’ve seen photos, we’ve seen videos of Auschwitz where millions of Jews were killed for being Jewish and yet these comments from John Kerry are okay: “Israel can either be Jewish, or they can be a democracy… they can’t be both?” Wishing this young Liz Wheeler worked for the BBC (though no doubt she would be sacked); she went on the attack against John Kerry and the UN over Israel.  Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsqiqFq3Zfw

However, the British government appear to have signalled its determination to stay close to Donald Trump’s administration by refusing to send high-level delegates to the so-called ‘Middle East peace conference’ organised by the French government.  Neither a Foreign Office minister, nor the UK ambassador to France attending the meeting on Sunday.  The UK’s approach may hint at future UK policy choices.  Donald Trump’s transition team reportedly told French diplomats they disapproved of the conference going ahead, seeing it as an attempt to put unfair pressure on Israel and give an unjustified reward to the Palestinians. The British government likely fears that the conference risks becoming a means to circumscribe future US policy on Israel before the Trump team has decided this.  It was reported that France was pressing inside the meeting for the EU to adopt the Paris declaration, but these efforts were rebuffed by Britain and some Balkan states keen on getting off on the “right foot” with US President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office on Friday.

French President Francois Hollande warned the Paris conference that the two-state solution is threatened by the Israeli settlements and by Palestinian terrorists. “A year ago, we launched the peace initiative to give a new horizon to the Middle East,” Hollande stated. “The two-state solution is threatened due to settlements, as well as terrorists who were always afraid of peace,” Hollande added, stating that “all the conflicts in the Middle East made us think that the peace process can wait.”  Hollande noted that the two-state solution has wide support in the Middle East and remains the main objective of the international community despite all its differences.  But let’s just examine what Francois Hollande has just stated here.  First of all he appears to be stating that the act of Islamic terrorism is equal to Israelis building homes.  How on earth can he compare Jews building their houses with what Hamas and the Palestinian Authority allow by killing innocent Israeli civilians in Islamic terrorist attacks like we witnessed the week before in Jerusalem? 

Equally, considering what France has been through of late, would one not think that Hollande would show more empathy towards Israel?  After all, France has a lengthy history of terrorist attacks carried out by a variety of groups from the extreme right, extreme left, extreme Basque, Algerian insurgent groups and Islamist extremists. Various Middle Eastern factions carried out shootings and bombings in the 1970s and 1980s, principally in Paris, while during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s, insurgents from the Armed Islamic Group carried out a series of major attacks against the Paris public transport system. Islamist extremists have carried out numerous attacks in the 2010s, of which the November 2015 Paris attacks have been the bloodiest to date.  Although 2015 has been the deadliest year so far in terms of fatalities caused by terrorist attacks, the number of attacks in previous years against France has been far higher. Yet still Hollande would favour a terror based Islamic State built in the heartland of Israel!

Secondly, Hollande noted that the two-state solution has wide support in the Middle East.  Well there’s a surprise!  Of course it is, the Middle East is 99.9% Islamic controlled with the majority of these Islamic states desiring Israel’s annihilation.   

France's foreign minister stated that a proposal by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to move the American embassy to Jerusalem would be a provocation with serious consequences. “Of course it’s a provocation. I think he would not be able to do it,” Jean-Marc Ayrault told media sources. “It would have extremely serious consequences and it’s not the first time that it’s on the agenda of a U.S. president, but none have let themselves make that decision.”  However, if you think France’s hosting of a conference of this nature is ludicrous, wait until you read a report by the NGO Monitor.  In a report by NGO Monitor, they claim they have documents by the French government that support discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel and with alleged ties to terror groups. This type of support surely casts huge doubts on the ability of France to serve as an impartial host of a summit dedicated to peace. To read the NGO Monitor report, click here.

By the end of Sunday evening, it appeared much of the Paris Conference was watered down, which many believe has been an answer to prayer.  No further action will be taken against Israel on the settlement issue in the UN Security Council for the time being. This was the result of intensive Israeli diplomatic efforts including heavy pressure from Netanyahu to John Kerry warning that the outgoing US Administration had done enough damage to Israel without the need to inflict more.

At the end of the day though, who exactly are the United Nations listening to?  And why are they either ignoring or ignorant of what they have already voted for?  Countering bias and misinformation about the Arab-Israel conflict, it is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel conflict without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution.  Both the San Remo Resolution and the Balfour Declaration charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews in the territory which then included Transjordan, that had already been adopted by the other Allied Powers. As a trustee, Britain had a fiduciary duty (the highest standard of care) to act in good faith in carrying out the duties imposed by the Mandate.

Furthermore, as the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated (repealed, revoked or do away) it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it. It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Jewish state all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo.  If the United Nations are reneging on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria (which in essence they have done by ignoring the 5 years of genocide (which is still going on) and Lebanon and Iraq.  For details on the San Remo resolution check out the following links: http://www.think-israel.org/belman.israelownssamariajudea.html.   https://www.cfi.org.uk/90-years-on.html.   http://www.ec4i.org/resources/san-remo/

Thankfully, Jerusalem breathed a sigh of relief on Monday when the 28 EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels adjourned without issuing a statement adopting either UN Security Council Resolution 2334 or the declaration that emerged from the Paris conference on Sunday.  The Council of the European Union met for a discussion on the Middle East peace process without issuing any conclusions. Israel has in recent days worked to prevent the council from issuing a final statement that would adopt the language of the Security Council’s anti-settlement resolution that also declared the Western Wall as ‘occupied territory,’ or the Paris declaration.

Could Paris really ignite a world war?  According to an article by Martin Dzuris and Brian Schrauger in The Jerusalem Journal, like Munich in 1938, Paris in 2017 could have ignited potentially a third world war.  The article states, “History is repeating itself. Similarities between Munich in 1938 and Paris in 2017 are uncanny. Today, as yesterday, the result of a peace conference could easily lead to another world war, this time in the Middle East. And this time centred around Israel.  Seventy-nine years ago and in the name of peace, England, France and Italy permitted Germany to annex the Sudetenland. The Sudetenland, a word for high mountain country, formed a ring around the heart of Czechoslovakia. Most of the people who lived there were German.

The article continues, “Hitler argued that Germans in the Sudetenland had the right to self-determination and so, should have autonomy. He also claimed that Germans there were being oppressed. In fact, the opposite was true. From their mountain perches, Germans in the Sudetenland were conducting campaigns of terror against Czech civilians… Czechoslovakia was formed after the end of First World War when the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was dissolved. When he rose to power, Hitler challenged the legitimacy of the Sudetenland being part of Czechoslovakia. Hence his call for the conference in Munich in 1938.”  It’s a very interesting take on the current conference in Paris, and to read the full article you can find it here: http://jerusalemjournal.net/news-and-views/like-munich-in-1938-paris-could-ignite-a-world-war

Lobby Day 2017    Finally, just another quick reminder that Lobby Day is fast approaching.  Please consider joining us along with the Zionist Federation as we lobby Parliament together on important issues concerning Israel.  The date is Wednesday 25th January.  Do let CFI UK know if you intend to come, by phone: 01323 410810 or by email: advocacy@cfi.org.uk   Click here for more details.

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

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