The Five Challenges of Ariel Sharon
© February 2002 by Asher Intrater
Being Prime Minister of Israel has to be one of the most difficult
jobs in the world. Since he is the head of the government of Israel, the position
has a certain symbolic parallel to the spiritual role of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah
and King of the Jews. "The government will be upon his shoulders..."
- Isaiah 9:6. As we look at some of the challenges facing Ariel Sharon today,
we can glean certain insights both to the political situation and to the spiritual
warfare that goes on behind the scenes.
I. Communicating with
There is also a certain parallel
between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States.
Let us pray for unity and partnership between Ariel Sharon and George Bush.
Since the political and spiritual conflicts here in the Middle East are so different
from that of the West, there is always a challenge for the government of Israel
to explain its position in the United Nations or to the United States. Israel
has yet to understand its underlying spiritual kinship with evangelical Christians
all over the world. Just as the gospel must be preached and prophetic messages
proclaimed, the restoration of the nation of Israel must be explained to the
world. This is called "Hasbara" or "explanation" in Hebrew.
Communicating the historic, moral and religious reasons for the state of Israel
is vitally important.
There are tremendous social
and economic difficulties in Israel. The intifada (Palestinian uprising) has
caused a drastic fall in tourism and in business investments. Inflation and
unemployment have risen. Drugs, teenage pregnancies and domestic violence have
increased. The country is divided into different subsections of ethnic groups
from Russian immigrants, ultra orthodox, left and right extremists, Israeli
Arabs, Ashkenazik and Sephardic Jews, etc. For lack of budget funding, the school
system, health services and welfare conditions have fallen. There is a psychological
tension that ranges from frustration to desperation. Almost all Israelis are
way overdrawn at the bank. With police concentrating on terrorists, domestic
crime has risen. Let us "pray for the peace [welfare] of Jerusalem..."
- Psalm 122:6.
III. Unifying the
In Israel there are about ten
political parties. The Knesset (Parliament) has 120 seats. The government must
maintain a coalition of 61 seats. Sharon's party, the Likud, has 19 Knesset
members. That means that in order to maintain the government, Sharon must make
political deals with a minimum of 42 Knesset members from other parties. Every
other party (particularly the Labor party with 24 votes and the Shas party with
17 votes) lobbies for its own agenda by threatening to walk out at any time
causing the collapse of the coalition. What has kept the government in unity
has partly been the fear of the people. While each of the political parties
is only out for its own good, they know that the vast majority of Israelis want
a unity government. Should one of the parties break the coalition at this time,
they would lose voters in the next election.
IV. Coercion by the
The various ultra-orthodox
parties control more than 25 seats in the government. Whenever the Labor or
Likud parties want to form a government, they need the ultra-orthodox to join
the coalition. The ultra-orthodox have a specific political agenda (Matthew
23:4). They want money for their Yeshivas. They don't want to serve in the army.
They don't want to pay taxes. They want extra welfare money for child support.
They want to make rabbinic law enforced by the government. They don't want any
other form of religious pluralism or expression. Because of the balance of power
in the coalition, these demands are usually met, and the government is held
in a kind of extortion from these parties.
V. War on Terrorism
While 9/11 was one of the greatest
disasters in world history, and while George Bush has declared a worldwide war
on terrorism, the real front line of the battle against terrorism is found here
in Israel. Since the outbreak of the recent intifada a year and a half ago,
there have been terrorist attacks virtually every day. That includes the fact
that 80% of the terrorist acts are thwarted by Israeli security forces. The
intifada has all but destroyed Palestinian society. Their plight is truly heart
breaking. They are the worst victims - victims of Islamic jihad mentality. But
the intifada has also had a tremendous toll on Israelis. Almost every family
has had someone murdered or injured by terrorists. The burden on security forces,
policemen, army units and on the citizens is intense and nerve racking. The
war on terrorism is a war that must be fought and won. It is a war both militarily
and psychologically. The Prime Minister of Israel, more than anyone else, carries
the burden for directing that war.
It is our job as believers to pray for
those in government (I Timothy 2:1-4). Let us remember to pray for the Prime
Minister of Israel as he faces these many challenges, which have implications
both within Israel, internationally, and for the kingdom of God.
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