Why did Donald Trump order the drone strike that killed General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force? What was the threat? The question of why is exceedingly more important than what.
Every U.S. president beginning with James Monroe has established a doctrine that defined their foreign policy. For example, President Jimmy Carter had a doctrine of tolerance and weak allies. In his State of the Union speech of January 23, 1980, Mr. Carter vowed that the U.S. would strongly defend national interests in the Persian Gulf. That pledge apparently came too late for 66 men and women. They were taken hostage after the American Embassy in Tehran was stormed. Fourteen were later freed, but 52 were held hostage for the 444 days of Carter’s remaining presidency. No overt military action was taken to stop the travesty.
President Ronald Reagan faced one of Iran’s proxies on October 23, 1983, after Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. I would know; I was there sleeping on the beach a few hundred yards from the building that was targeted. On February 7, 1984, Reagan ordered the Sixth Fleet to evacuate the remaining U.S. troops from Lebanon.
After an attack against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 31, 2019, Donald Trump had a different response: He made it perfectly clear that he would protect American interests abroad. He did not leave the defense of the compound to a few but ordered an additional 100 Marines to defend the embassy and its inhabitants. What President Trump did was to make it perfectly clear to the largest terrorist regime worldwide that it was a zero-sum game; that Americans would not be besieged on his watch without consequences. Iran is not accustomed to that.
Iran has swept like an Ebola virus throughout the Middle East. It has almost taken complete control of Iraq. It is the reason for the Syrian massacre and has funded Yemeni terrorists in their battle against Saudi Arabia. An Iran with nuclear capabilities would be an existential threat to the world.
President Trump’s decision to remove Soleimani from the equation was a very courageous one. The vast majority of U.S. heroes who lost life and limbs in Iraq did so because of improvised explosive devices—IEDs—with the general’s prints on them.
Yes, Iran was shocked and needed to be; her leaders never calculated a president who would be this strong. Mr. Trump advised the Iranian leadership that if they continued to attack Americans, he had designated 52 Iranian sites (in memory of the 52 hostages) that he would target. Iran has never before had to deal with such moral clarity in a U.S. president. Nor has Iran had to deal with a Secretary of State such as Mike Pompeo who also exhibits moral clarity. In the past, it has too often been the State Department doing battle with the White House.
President Trump explained that he ordered the hit on Soleimani to prevent a war. He is 100 percent correct. However, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the U.S. is prepared to “finish one.” In an interview with CNN, he said:
“The fact of the matter is Soleimani was caught red-handed … one terrorist leader, of a terrorist organization meeting with another terrorist leader to synchronize and plan additional attacks on American diplomats, forces or facilities. I think we took the right action to remove these players from the battlefield.”
The events of 9/11 occurred because the U.S. capitulated with an appeasement policy. If Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were considered a grave threat before that day, I can assure you that today Iran is ten times the threat.
When President Donald Trump arrived in Jerusalem for Israel’s 50th anniversary, Friends of Zion had billboards erected around the city declaring, “Trump, Make Israel Great” and “Trump is a Friend of Zion.” Little did anyone realize how much this president would do for Israel. Not only did he recognize Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but he also shut down the PLO office in Washington, stopped the funding of the PA through the Taylor Force Act, and closed the consul in Jerusalem. He has now removed the anti-Israel declaration calling Judea and Samaria Bible lands “settlements,” with the announcement from the U.S. State Department that it will no longer use the term “settlements” to describe Judea and Samaria, a term employed by the UN.
Most Christians or Jews in America grew up reading the Bible that recounted the history of Judea and Samaria. They read of Hebron (Kiriath Arba) where Abraham purchased land in which to bury his wife Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Rebekah and Leah, were also buried there. It was David’s first capital where he was also anointed as king.
Bethel is a place name often found in the Bible. It was the site where Jacob dreamed of seeing angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. It is in the heart of what is called the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria.
Why is this a big deal? Because it has, for thousands of years, been Bible land. It was never illegal. The promises read by Christians and Jews were that God gave it to Israel and called it an “eternal covenant.” Regrettably, Jew-haters are able to use the land to mobilize support in their favor, resulting in the loss of life for thousands of Jewish people for no reason other than they were Jews and wanted to live in the Bible land. The United Nations refers to this as “occupied territory” and demands that Israel relinquishes it.
Among the most powerful groups in the United States are the pro-Israel Evangelicals and the Orthodox Jewish community, which consider these Bible lands, not “settlements.” They also believe the promise to Abraham from Genesis 12:3: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Harry S. Truman is in history books for one reason above all; he recognized the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948. Donald Trump continues to make history. For both Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians, Trump is fulfilling prophecy and paving the way for the coming of the Messiah.
Bible-believing evangelicals consider the support of Israel a biblical mandate. Regardless of contrary opinion, we do not believe Israel has to offer an excuse for its existence. Israel lives today as a right! A right that has been hallowed by the Bible, by history, by sacrifice, by prayer, and by the yearning for peace!
“I will restore the captivity of my people, Israel…I will plant them in their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land, which I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14-15).
We believe one of the reasons America has been blessed over the years is because we have stood with Israel. This promise is taken from Genesis 12:3: ‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ And so, for biblical reasons, first and foremost, we support the State of Israel. For humanitarian reasons, we support the Jewish people. For historical reasons, we believe that the Bible land belongs to the Jewish people.
Israel and the United States are not separate and distinct; we are one. We share common ideals and common democracy. What unites us across the ocean and brings Jew and Christian together is the recognition that Israel is a nation that is a manifestation of what America was and is.
America has a strong interest in the Middle East. We believe that the nation of Israel is the key to that interest because of our common bonds, our common values, our common beliefs in social justice, and the godly principles on which our two countries were founded. Israel is the firewall between radical Islam and the West.
When people ask me how I’m doing, I respond, “I am blessed and highly favored. I’m the most blessed man I know.” Now please understand that these blessings and favor are not the result of me being something special; it’s all about God. The amazing favor is on my life because of a covenant I cut with God almost 60 years ago…and His faithfulness to keep His promises.
I was just 11 years old the night my father strangled me and left me for dead in our home. I awoke in both literal and figurative darkness. There was no hope…no possible way out…no chance of even surviving, let alone being blessed. Then Jesus came! Everything changed that night as I listened to His voice.
Have you been in a place of complete darkness and despair? Maybe you or someone you love is in that place today. I know what it feels like because I was there. But when I claimed God’s promises, everything changed.
We have accomplished unprecedented things for God through our ministry together, but that is not because of us…it is ALL the favor of God. We’ve seen truly unprecedented blessings like the largest prayer movement in history, now more than 68,000,000 strong. There has never been a Christian ministry with the level of influence with the leadership of Israel that God has given us.
It is all about Him, and He alone deserves all the praise and glory. But we get to be part of His work. And today I’m asking you to join hands with me in a special way and claim this promise of Jesus: “If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs” (Matthew 10:41).
I am inviting you to enter into a covenant of blessing with me. Just as God’s favor has been released on my life, I have heard a voice in my spirit that declares that same favor will flow to my partners who join me in agreement. What I sense in my spirit is that your life is about to be transformed by the power of God’s favor because of your love and care for His Chosen People. When you bless what God wants to have blessed, you turn His head and move His arm to action in your life.
Every day of my life I wear a F.O.G. (Favor of God) wristband as a reminder to myself to expect God to do great things and to seek His face. That favor is not just for me. It is for every Believer who will step forward in faithful obedience. The favor of God will change every part of your life—every area and sphere of influence that you have. Principalities and powers will be bound and your assignment from God will know favor and blessing as never before. Your family, your church, your business, your health…these are going to be amazing as God hears our voices and responds to our faith.
Though the Allies succeeded in defeating Germany in World War II, the long years of fighting took a heavy toll on the British government. The famed empire on which “the sun never sets” was strained to the breaking point. The last thing England wanted was another round of fighting in the Middle East. Having determined that appeasing the Arab governments was more important than anything else, they actively worked to prevent further Jewish immigration to Israel.
In March of 1947, the Exodus set sail for Israel. Aboard was a Christian Zionist Methodist minister, John Stanley Grauel. He was closely connected with the Haganah but was there on the ship ostensibly as an undercover correspondent for the Churchman, an Episcopal journal. With that designation, he secured a visa from the British Consulate in Paris, enabling him to legally enter Palestine. His assignment was to make certain the world knew of the events surrounding the ship.
Once he had arrived in Europe, Grauel’s job was to arrange for the transfer of refugees from displaced persons camps to the Exodus. His tasks were many and varied: cook, distributor of supplies, administrator, and contact person between the refugees and the crew. The ship steamed toward Palestine with more than 4,550 refugees packed aboard. Just as she neared Haifa on the Mediterranean coast, the ship was rammed by the British Royal Navy cruiser Ajax, in a convoy with five destroyers, and was boarded by sailors.
This was not an easy task, as the SS Exodus had been fortified with barriers and barbed wire to discourage such actions. The British reportedly bombarded the ship with tear gas grenades in order to subdue the passengers. Captain Ike Aronowicz and his crew challenged the boarding party. One crew member, First Mate William Bernstein, a sailor from California, and two passengers were bludgeoned to death.
The ship that had brought such hope to so many had been attacked by the British navy a mere 17 miles offshore in international waters. It was a wanton act of piracy for which the Royal Navy commanders were never charged. Grauel later reported that as the Exodus staggered into the port at Haifa, those still able to stand gathered on the deck of the ship and sang “Hatikvah,” the hymn of hope.
Grauel, the only passenger on board with a valid visa, was arrested but soon escaped with help from none other than the future mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek (who would become a very dear of mine years later), and the Haganah. He was approached by a reporter who was a member of the Jewish organization.
The unnamed reporter shepherded Grauel to the men’s room, from which he was whisked out a back door into a waiting car displaying American press credentials. The Jews on board the Exodus were then forced to disembark in Haifa and were eventually and unwillingly returned to British-controlled camps in Germany.
Grauel was summoned to Kadimah House in Jerusalem to give a firsthand account of his experiences during the voyage with the refugees to the United Nations Committee on Palestine. As he stood before that group, he leveled his heartfelt accusations regarding the treatment of the Jewish passengers on the Exodus. He later said of his testimony: “There was great gratification for me in knowing that my eyewitness report was now a matter of record. Inherent in the nature of the relationship between Christians and Jews was the fact that because I was a Christian, in this situation my testimony would be given greater credence than that of a Jewish crew member.”
Grauel’s witness proved to be an effective means of gaining compassion and support for the Jewish cause. His eloquent speech to the UNSCOP later earned him the moniker of “the man who helped make Israel possible.” Prime Minister Golda Meir believed it was Grauel’s recounting of the events surrounding the Exodus that persuaded the UN to support the creation of a Jewish state.
In 1992, the government of Norway offered to act as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in an effort to bring lasting peace to the region. They were hoping to follow up on the Madrid Conference from the previous year, which had not produced any concrete results. A series of increasingly high-level secret meetings were held both in Oslo and in London. At the conclusion of those meetings, a Declaration of Principles was prepared, which came to be known as the Oslo Accords.
In September of 1993, Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in Washington. At a ceremony hosted by President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat officially signed the agreements. Clinton held a celebration on the White House lawn for what he called “a brave gamble for peace,” where he forced—actually standing with his thumb pressed into the prime minister’s back—Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin to shake hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat over a blank sheet of paper that represented the Declaration of Principles, or Oslo Accords. The paper lay on the same table over which President Jimmy Carter had presided, as Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat signed the earlier peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979.
President Clinton later described it as one of “the highest moments” of his presidency as the two “shook hands for the first time in front of a billion people on television, it was an unbelievable day.” One of Clinton’s greatest hopes was to go down in history as the man who finally resolved the Arab–Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In order to do this, he used his tremendous aptitude at image transformation to turn the terrorist and murderer Yasser Arafat into a diplomat. Arafat became the most-welcomed foreign leader to the White House during the Clinton years. It also seems likely that Arafat received some coaching from Clinton and his advisers on what to say, how to speak, and what to do to help in this metamorphosis.
The Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Rabin, Arafat, and Israel’s foreign minister (later prime minister and president) Shimon Peres. But the hope of peace again proved to be empty. The late Jewish actor and spokesman Theodore Bikel said: “Arafat turned out to be no partner for peace…he had never intended to be such a partner in the first place. Oslo and the handshake gave him the cachet of peacemaker; it also gave him half of a Nobel Peace Prize, which, if he had had any sense of shame, he would have returned. In truth, for him Oslo was nothing more than an opportunity to obfuscate and spin wheels.”
For all of the concessions Israel made, the PLO and Yasser Arafat took no steps toward peace. Instead, they continued to incite attacks against Israel and to pay terrorists (or their families) an annual salary for killing innocent Jewish people. Israel lost far more than it gained from the Oslo Accords.
At the end of World War II with all its horrors of the Holocaust, devastated Jewish survivors in Europe longed for a return to their homeland. Their dreams were to be delayed when Great Britain remained in control of Palestine, as they had since their defeat of the Turks in World War I, by mandate of the United Nations, and with a growing dilemma: How to walk the tightrope between world opinion and the Arab nations.
After the shock and revulsion of the Holocaust, much of the world increasingly demanded that the Jews be allowed to return to their homeland in Palestine—arguably thought to be a place of safety for them. Arabs in the region were adamantly opposed to the move. Greatly frustrated by the situation, the British announced in February 1947 that control of Palestine would be ceded to the United Nations, even then a hotbed of anti-Semitism.
In November 1947, the UN offered a plan for partition that would divide the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state, calling for British troops to leave Palestine by August 1948. The Jews welcomed the proposal; the Arabs scorned it. Some British leaders felt it would be impossible for a Jewish state to flourish in the face of such hostility from the Arabs. But on May 14, as Egyptian fighter-bombers roared overhead and British troops readied for departure, Ben-Gurion and his political partners gathered at the museum in Tel Aviv. At 16:00 [4:00 PM], Ben-Gurion opened the ceremony by banging his gavel on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Hatikvah, soon to be Israel’s national anthem, from the 250 guests.
For 2,000 years, Israel had been a nation in exile; overnight it had astonishingly become an autonomous state on the world stage. But, the following day, Israel was attacked by the five Arab nations that ringed her borders: Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. There was no peace in the beginning, despite the world’s efforts to bring Israel to life in a negotiated manner.
Ben-Gurion’s announcement of Israel’s rebirth was the initial step in a war that would last one year, three months, and ten days; it would test Israel’s very resolve and preparedness. At the outset of the confrontation, it was obvious that Israeli forces were greatly outnumbered. One army, alone—the Egyptians—boasted 40,000 ground troops armed with approximately 135 armored fighting vehicles, heavy artillery, and 60 planes in its arsenal—including bombers and single-seat fighter planes. Forces in Egypt and Jordan had been trained and led by British army officers. The Israelis were faced with those daunting figures, yet marched forward determined and unbowed.
To protect their land and its inhabitants cost the Israelis over $500 million and approximately one percent of its population at that time—6,373 men, women and children. How many lives might have been saved had the United States and its Western Allies sufficiently armed the Jews so that they were able to protect their land and people!