I’m about as pro-Israel as they come. But some of the challenges facing Israel don’t seem to have easy solutions – especially when you begin to understand how complex they are.
That’s what I discovered when I heard about those challenges firsthand from a retired Israeli general and a former Mossad (Israel’s version of the FBI) chief who were giving a lecture at a Chicago synagogue. Their focus was on practical steps that should be taken to increase Israel’s security and protect its future.
One of Israel’s trickiest challenges is demographic. We know the atrocities that have occurred when Jews had no country to flee to during times of persecution. The speakers said the best way to ensure that Jews remain the majority in their own country is to separate from the Palestinians in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) to keep the two peoples distinct.
Although I want the Jewish people to have full reign over Judea and Samaria, there are more than 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, people who have lived there for generations. The majority of these are good-hearted people who want to make a living and provide for their families.
It’s a very difficult situation. Israel cannot simply use military force to expel these people. The international outcry would be overwhelming, and it would be a violation of Israel’s democratic values. Israel also cannot accept all of these people as full Israeli citizens, because Israel would then no longer have a Jewish majority, and in a generation or two, Jews could lose political control of their own state.
However, the rabbi hosting the event brought up the point that separation would mean that Israel would not be inhabiting the full boundaries that God promised his people in the Bible (see Numbers 34 and Ezekiel 47). One of the speakers, while admitting he would love for Israel to inhabit the full boundaries, said that’s just not a practical reality right now. If action isn’t taken soon, the future of the Jewish state could be in jeopardy. “We will not allow ourselves to be a minority in our own country!” he said passionately.
Still, I left the event with more questions than answers. There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution to this challenge. But sometimes I wonder if God puts us in situations where we have to trust in Him only and not in our own abilities. We can see God’s hand at work throughout Israel’s history – and we must trust that He can continue to sustain Israel today.