From the River to the Sea
By Youval Yanay
The Word of God describes a great war that will break out in the last days, a war in which all nations will gather, lay siege, and attack Jerusalem and Judah. This war will be an intense and cruel war, the mountains will be filled with the bodies of the dead, and cruel acts will take place in the cities (Ezekiel 30-30, Zechariah 12, 14, Revelation 16:14-16, Revelation 19:19-21, and more).
“For I will gather all the nations for battle against Jerusalem, and the city will be captured, the houses looted, and the women ravished. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be removed from the city.” Zechariah 14:2
Over the years, when I read these prophecies, such a war seemed unimaginable. After all, while we have many enemies, there are so many countries that would never attack Israel. Following World War II and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, countries throughout the West became loyal friends of the State of Israel whom we believed would never turn against us.
Today, we see something different, a wave of anti-Semitism spreading like fire throughout the entire world, even in countries once considered loyal friends of Israel.
In the well-known and esteemed Harvard University, where many world leaders are shaped and educated, the slogan “From the river to the sea” has emerged as a prominent rallying cry in today’s protests against Israel. It is prominently displayed throughout this university campus. But what does this slogan signify? It refers to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. For anyone familiar with the map of the Middle East, this slogan implies Israel ceases to exist, conveying a message for the destruction of Israel.
Will this wave of anti-Semitism calm once the war ends as has happened in the past? Maybe this time something different is happening before our eyes. For every nation to engage in an attack against Israel, there must be widespread hatred toward Israel, compelling them to attack. It will include leaders from every nation, people of culture, intellectuals, and academics with educated and influential leaders leading their nations to war against Israel. The present circumstance doesn’t currently exist, but are we witnessing the initial stages of a process that could give rise to such a situation? Is this a seed of hate that, when cultivated and matures, may lead to decisions triggering the prophesied great war at the end of days?
Before World War II, anti-Semitism was widely tolerated in Western societies. While not everyone was anti-Semitic, there were varying degrees of anti-Semitism. Some wanted to see the destruction of Jews while others didn’t like them, or just found them unpleasant.
World War II, and the shock of what happened during the Holocaust, delegitimized anti-Semitism. For several decades, it became much more difficult to publicly express anti-Semitic tendencies and be considered a member of culture. For several decades, anti-Semitism was marginalized. It didn’t disappear but was pushed to the margins. It was a golden age that allowed for the rapid growth of the American Jewish community, and its unprecedented prosperity, and an era that allowed some communities in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Argentina to exist with a sense of security.
A few years ago it became clear that this era was coming to an end. The Second World War, a vivid and recent memory for the preceding generation, has become in this generation a historical event that is far away. Demographic, ideological, and geopolitical changes allowed anti-Semitism to rise. First hesitantly and now suddenly in capital cities throughout Western Europe. You have to rub your eyes to really believe what you are seeing: Jewish homes in Paris marked with the Star of David and respected academics expressing satisfaction with the brutal murder of Jews.
Is this something that will pass until another time or is it here to stay—setting the anti-Semitism bar to a new and higher level? If so, how high will this bar be? Is it now, once again, possible to express anti-Semitic ideas and still be considered an educated person of culture, just as it was before World War II? Are we standing at the beginning of the great war at the end of time (Mark 13:33)?
Maybe, maybe not. We need to be careful to make such predictions. Our part is to pray, study, read the Word, and be busy with what God has prepared for us: Draw near to Him, long for His presence, listen to Him, and obey His commandments as we leave our old selves behind, conform to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29) and proclaim His Kingdom (Acts 1:8).
When we do these things, we prepare ourselves, our family, and our community for whatever is to come. In peace or war, we have nothing to fear, our strength is in the faithfulness and love of Jesus.