The Road Map sets up a current day drama between the ancient covenants and modern day diplomacy.
On April 30th of this year, The Quartet: the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, introduced a diplomatic plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They called it the "Road Map." But many believing Jews and Christians are raising serious objections to the road map — objections based on the Bible. After Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq last spring, President Bush turned his foreign policy attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and endorsed the two-state solution of the Road Map.
This summer, the Road Map virtually imploded under the weight of more deadly suicide bombings, the resignation of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and Yasser Arafat's refusal to give up power. Still, just three weeks ago, the President said he stands by his plan for a two-state solution.
"I still believe strongly that two states living side by side in peace is a hopeful vision for the Middle East. The Road Map is still there. The fundamental question is whether or not people, peaceful people, will be on that road," Bush said on September 10.
But Stan Goodenough, editor of an internet news service called "Jerusalem NewsWire," said, "The Madrid Conference, Oslo 1, Oslo 2 and the Road Map. It's all the same thing — it's a land for peace process."
Goodenough reported from the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference when the first President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker initially promoted the concept of "land for peace."
"Madrid was the first ‘land for peace’ conference. But Israel was expected to give not just any part of its land, but actually the core of the Biblical land of Israel, the places where, for example, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried, where Joseph's mother Rachel died, where Joseph himself was buried, where Abraham built all his altars to the Lord," Goodenough explained. "All these parts of the land of Israel that are actually central to the Jewish worldview, to the Jewish faith, actually to give it up means actually to cut themselves off from part of their history."
The land Israel is expected to give up in the Road Map for a future Palestinian state is known around the world as the West Bank. But in the Bible, the land is called Judea and Samaria and contains most of the Bible's most important landmarks like Hebron, Bethlehem, Beth El and Shiloh.
CBN News visited Shiloh, the place where Joshua set up his capital and divided the land between the twelve tribes of Israel. This is the place where Hannah prayed to the Lord for a son, and within these walls, Samuel ministered. It is also the place where the Ark of the Covenant resided for 369 years.
"Shiloh is the spiritual, geographic and political heartland. It's the heart of the land of Israel," said David Rubin, a spokeman for the Jewish community of Shiloh in the heart of Samaria. He believes the biblical implications of today's Road Map are clear.
"The only Road Map, legitimate Road Map is a Road Map of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," he said. "If we look at that hill and the road going north from here, that is ‘the Road of the Patriarchs. The Road of the Patriarchs is the path that the Patriarchs took when they were travelling the land of Israel… So you're talking about the biblical heartland here. And anyone who talks about giving up the Biblical heartland is going against the Bible. Is going against God's Word. I can't put it any clearer than that."
Tom Hess, author of God's Abrahamic Covenants with Israel, said, "These are the very places where God made covenant with Abraham and promised the land to the Jewish people."
Hess says these covenants are vital to understand current events. "To understand the Middle East and God's prophetic purposes for the Middle East, we have to understand the covenants God made with Abraham and the altars that Abraham built with God and made covenant with him, or we will never understand the Middle East from God's perspective," he said.
Abraham built those altars throughout the land of Israel. He built one near here in Bethel. This is where Jacob saw the ladder going up to heaven in a dream, when God promised the land to him and his descendants. If the Road Map is implemented, much of this land might become part of a Palestinian state. But according to the Bible, this land has a very specific purpose.
Hess believes today’s diplomatic efforts contradict the Bible. "They're saying if they divide up the land of Israel and establish a Palestinian state, that this will bring peace. But the Bible says in the book of Joel, it says that God will bring judgment against those who divide up the land of Israel," he said.
Yet Hess says the covenants also hold a blessing for the Palestinians. "The Palestinians will find blessings coming to them like they can not imagine if the God of Israel… if they embrace the Jewish people and if they bless them and if they stop violence and start blessing," Hess said.
Goodenough said, "My understanding of God's Word is that He is restoring the Jewish people to this Land, to the entire Land of Israel and very specifically, according to the Prophet Ezekiel to the 'so-called' occupied territories… That He is restoring them here in a physical sense, bringing them from the four corners of the earth to this Land in order to meet with them, in order to have a reunion with them, a spiritual reunion."
It is a physical restoration that began more than 100 years ago and continues today.
Ron Nachman is the mayor of Ariel, and he is part of that Jewish restoration to the land. Looking out over Ariel, he said, "Today we have 18,000 people as I told you. The university, on the other side is the hotel, and different schools and everything there, and over there is the industrial park."
Nachman established the city of Ariel 25 years ago with only two tents. Now it is the largest Jewish community in Samaria.
"I think the prophecy that is mentioned in the Bible that ‘I will bring the Jewish people from the northern countries’ — it's exactly what's happening," Nachman said. "Over 50 percent of the city of Ariel, over 9,000 people came from the former Soviet Union. And they said in the Bible, ‘And they will come and plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria.’ That's exactly what we are doing, planting vineyards in the mountains of Samaria."
Goodenough said, "All these ‘land for peace’ processes have been trying to reverse the process of this physical restoration. Now if the Bible says that the Jews are coming back here, that God is bringing them back here, to bring them back to this Land in order to meet with them, then in a very real sense the international community and the Word of God are on a collision course with each other. And one of them is going to give way, and I know in my spirit which one it is. It's not going to be the Word of God."
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One might expect the Sharon government – which first dubbed Arafat irrelevant, then called for his expulsion, and topped it all off by hinting that he should be killed – would jump for joy on the rumors that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is seriously ill.
Yet Palestinian and Israeli officials observe that, with Arafat apparently on the way out, Israel will have to deal with a more chaotic PA in the short run, and the much more frightening "unknown" in the long run. Plus, it will have one less peg to hang the blame on for terrorist attacks.
The Palestinian National Charter carefully maps out Arafat's succession. PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei is to take over as chairman. Mahmoud Abbas is take hold of Fatah and the PLO. Simple, right? Wrong.
When Arafat dies "the PLO will die with him," says PLO expert Dr. Shmuel Bar of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzliya. "Then we can take our pick of Balkanization, Lebanonization, or Afghanistanization."
Those leaders of Fatah, the main body of the PLO, with grassroots support who might have succeeded Arafat, like Salah Khalaf, Israel killed long ago, he said. With no leaders in Fatah to pass the scepter to "we will witness increasing chaos, and a disintegration of the authority known as the PA."
Local leaders, whose power will be measured solely by the number of AK-47s in their grasp, will rule individual Palestinian cities, breeding a new type of tribalism.
Current Palestinian polls show Fatah garnering about 30% of popular support, with Hamas-Islamic Jihad coming in a close second at 25-30%. The fragmentation of the corrupt remnants of the Palestinian body politic, which flourished under Israel's watch, notes Bar, could open the door for Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to be wheeled in.
A reportedly increasingly paranoid Arafat – who has fired his cooks for alleged plots to poison him, and who walks around with his pistol loaded – deliberately built the Palestinian political infrastructure to be weak, fearing a war of succession.
Even if Fatah stabilizes and holds the Islamists at bay, chaos will reign. Israel will be unable to control the roaring tribalism and will be forced to defend itself behind the security fence.
Israel will also likely be blamed for Arafat's death. Rumors of his poisoning, leading to a reportedly nasty "stomach virus," swirled through Ramallah. The chairman regularly reminds his aides that Israel is slowly trying to poison him to death.
The Palestinians are similarly concerned about their future leaders. As one source in Ramallah said, "No one is willing to accept Abu Mazen [Abbas] as head of the PLO or Fatah. He is very weak there [in Fatah]." He added that Qurei also lacks the grassroots support to take the reins of the PA.
Beside the plights of those known in Israel as "the Abus," Fatah is somewhat divided between the Young Guard and the Old Guard.
Yet members of the Young Guard – who will shed few tears at the news of Arafat's eventual death – painted the rosiest view of a post-Arafat PA. Muhammad Horani, a pro-democracy and pro-transparency PLC member, put his feelings as delicately as possible: "Many nations have a leader as a symbol, but that which remains is the nation itself. The Palestinians will be able to manage without him. We have enough leaders left, both social and cultural, not to fall into anarchy."
The Young Guard believes it can harness the popularity of West Bank and Gaza-born Fatah members, those unstained by corruption – to win broad support. The basic institutions are there, and the Palestinians will likely benefit from greater American support once Arafat is out of the way.
Members of the Old Guard, Arafat confidants and cronies who enjoy little or no grassroots support, fear the loss of the unifying power of the Arafat symbol, and, of course, the perks. Without Arafat anchoring the more veteran Fatah members shipped to the territories from Tunis, their power and influence will bottom out.
Regardless of the post-Arafat scenarios, Palestinian legislators in Ramallah caution: Never count Arafat out. He has survived plane crashes, disease, war, and political upheaval and appears to be recuperating "very well for a man his age," said the Ramallah source.
As both supporters and opponents of President Bush acknowledge, America is largely going it alone in the war against Islamic terror and tyranny. Until a month ago – yes, one month ago – the European Union would not even label Hamas a terrorist group.
There are many explanations for the lack of support for America in this war, a war of civilizations just as much as the wars against communism and Nazism were wars of civilizations. But the overriding reason is that America has far more believers – in religion and in their country – than any other nation in the industrialized world.
Faith in religion and in America also explains much of the ideological division within America itself. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Condoleezza Rice are deeply religious, and the vast majority of deeply religious Americans support this administration and its foreign policy.
Of course, some of the president's supporters aren't religious and some of his opponents claim to be religious, but these phenomena can be also explained by the question of faith. Virtually all the non-religious supporters of President Bush's war on the Islamist threat to liberty have a deep faith in the United States and in its mission to preserve liberty. Religion is by no means the only form faith can take. Fervent believers have existed among communists and Nazis. They exist today among animal-rights advocates, environmentalists and countless other ideologies.
But in the modern West, hundreds of millions of people have no such faith in anything. They do not passionately believe in their country or in religion. Their highest values are tolerance, health, pleasure and not judging good and evil. They are deeply afraid of fervent believers in anything. And they especially fear American believers – i.e., believers in the Bible and in America. That is why they commonly equate fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims and that is why they so hate George W. Bush, the believer in the biblical God and in an American mission.
As for the religious opponents of the president and his war against Islamic terror, they themselves will tell you that they do not share the true believers' faith. The Christian supporters of the president overwhelmingly believe that the Bible is the word of God, while the religious opponents of the president generally regard the Bible as a human document. Faith is therefore the dividing line even among believers in the same religion. That explains why most Christians who believe in the divinity of Scripture are closer on almost every moral and social position with Jews who believe in the divinity of Scripture than they are with theologically and politically liberal Christians.
We cannot defeat the Islamist threat without the same degree of faith fanatical Muslims have. That is why most Europeans have capitulated to the anti-liberty Muslims in their midst and to the Muslims in the Middle East who seek to annihilate Israel, the state in their midst that venerates liberty.
But in Israel, the Islamists have come upon an enemy many of whose people believe in their religion as deeply as the Islamists do in theirs. This is a major reason Israel is isolated along with America as the Islamists' main enemy. America and Israel have believers. The defeat of one or the other will render the Islamists' goal – a Muslim world governed by Islamic laws – probable, if not inevitable.
That is why this battle is a battle of civilizations. One civilization believes in liberty and one does not. The problem is that the civilization that has liberty has not produced anywhere the depth of belief in liberty that the opponents of liberty have produced. That is why most Europeans (and their supporters in America on the Left) see dying or killing for almost anything as pointless. When you don't believe in anything except not dying, you don't really believe in anything. For this reason, European civilization is in peril.
The great question mark is America. America is already in the midst of a civil war, thankfully still non-violent. It is between those who fervently believe in America and in Judeo-Christian revelation and those who fervently believe in neither.
If the former win, the Islamic totalitarian threat, like the totalitarian threats before it, will be vanquished. If the latter win – as represented by the Left, many Democratic Party leaders, pacifists, the cultural elite and academia – liberty will have been nothing more than an aberration that lasted a few hundred years.
Dennis Prager, one of America's most respected and popular nationally syndicated radio talk-show hosts, is the author of several books and a frequent guest on television shows such as Larry King Live, Politically Incorrect, The Late Late Show on CBS, Rivera Live, The Early Show on CBS, Fox Family Network, The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes.
The United Nations - New York
I wish to congratulate you on the assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council. Let me also express to you my regret that your first meeting is of this nature and taking place on this day. I wish also to express to Sir Emyr Jones-Parry my great appreciation for his able and fair stewardship of the Security Council last month.
This meeting of the Security Council is being convened within hours of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest Day of the Jewish calendar. I deeply regret that the Council could not meet after this most important religious day, so as to allow Israel to participate fully in the debate. I will, unfortunately, have to leave this meeting after I make my statement to observe this Holy Day.
Yesterday, a Palestinian suicide bomber entered a crowded beachfront restaurant in the port city of Haifa, murdering 19 innocent civilians and wounding at least 60 others. The restaurant, a symbol of Arab-Israeli co-existence was frequented by both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and among the victims were four Israeli Arabs, and 3 children and a baby girl. Five victims were members of the same family, and three were members of another family. Whole families were wiped out by this horrendous act.
Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization that operates freely from Palestinian Authority territory and has headquarters in Damascus, Syria proudly claimed responsibility for this massacre. Islamic Jihad is an organizations committed to the destruction of Israel through holy war and engages in the deliberate and widespread murder of innocents to that end. It opposes moderate Arab governments and actively supports terrorist attacks against Western targets. There could not be a more obvious example of a terrorist organization.
The massacre in Haifa, is the latest in over forty terrorist atrocities committed by Islamic Jihad in the past few years. Among the attacks perpetrated by this organization is the massacre of 21 teenagers at a discotheque in Tel-Aviv on 2 June 2001; the bombing of 5 June 2002 at the Meggido Junction which killed 18 Israelis; the bombing of a commuter bus on 21 October 2002 which killed 14 citizens; the attack on a shopping mall in the Israeli town of Afula on 19 May 2003, in which 3 civilians were killed and over 70 wounded; and the attack on March 30, 2003 where a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a cafe in Netanya wounding 58 civilians.
The encouragement, safe harbor, training facilities, funding and logistical support offered by Syria to a variety of notorious terrorist organizations is a matter of public knowledge. Among the many terrorists group that operate and benefit from the auspices of the Syrian dictatorship are Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hizbollah, and The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It is well known that the Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdallah Shallah is one of several terrorist leaders that operates freely in Damascus and receives immunity and support from the Assad regime.
Allow me to briefly detail, for the benefit of the Council, the extent of support that Syria, as well as the regime in Iran, affords to terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad who are engaged in the deliberate massacre of innocent civilians:
1) Safe harbor and training facilities are provided throughout Syria for terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbollah, both in separate facilities and in Syrian army bases. The Ein Saheb base, which was targeted in Israel’s measured defensive operation today, is just one of these facilities sponsored by Syria and Iran. Recruits at camps such as Ein Saheb come from Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist groups. They are taught how to assemble bombs, conduct kidnappings, prepare suicide belts, gather intelligence and establish terrorist cells. Some have also received aviation instruction. Recruits training at these camps are slated to return to Palestinian Authority territory and other areas to set up cells and conduct terrorist operations.Mr. President,
These are just a few examples of the extent and nature of the involvement of the Syrian regime in the deliberate murder of innocent civilians. Each and every one of these acts constitutes a grave violation of international law and Security Council resolutions, as well as a threat to international peace and security. There are few better exhibits of State-sponsorship for terrorism than the one provided by the Syrian regime.
Security Council resolution 1373 adopted under Chapter 7 of the Charter, which in an act of the highest hypocrisy Syria itself voted for, makes absolutely clear that States must prevent acts of terrorism, and refrain from any form of financing, support, safe harbor or toleration of terrorist groups. Syrian complicity and responsibility for suicide bombings is as blatant as it is repugnant. The membership of this arch-sponsor of terrorism on this Council is an unbearable contradiction and an embarrassment to the United Nations. For Syria to ask for a debate of the Council, is comparable to the Taliban calling for such a debate. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so sad.
And yet, Members of the Council and the United Nations can hardly be surprised at this shameless act of hypocrisy by the Syrian regime. This is the same regime that speaks so often of “occupation” while it brutally occupies the neighboring territory of Lebanon It is the same regime that speaks of international law and human rights while it subjugates its people under a repressive and primitive dictatorship, violating countless international obligations. It is the same regime that supported the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq in violation of Security Council resolutions, and to this day facilitates the infiltration of terrorists to attack civilian and military targets in Iraqi territory. And it is this same despotic regime that speaks so freely of double standards at the United Nations. Syria would do well to take a hard look at the mirror, and count itself fortunate that it has not yet, for unfortunate reasons, been the subject of concerted international action as part of the global campaign against terrorism. Not yet!
The Syrian delegate speaks a great deal about so-called resistance. Perhaps he can tell us precisely, without his familiar diplomatic word games and misrepresentations, how exactly the murder of children and babies in a restaurant is an act of legitimate resistance. Or perhaps he could tell us how the Syrians themselves have dealt with resistance, such as in the case of Hamas in which some 10,000 civilians were murdered by Syrian Armed Forces.
Israel’s measured defensive response to the horrific suicide bombings, against a terrorist training facility in Syria, are a clear act of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. These actions come after Israel has exercised tremendous restraint despite countless acts of terrorism that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives for which Syria bears direct and criminal responsibility. It comes after Israel, and the international community as a whole, has called repeatedly on Syria to end its support of terrorism and finally comply with international law. And it is designed to prevent further armed attacks against Israeli civilians in which Syria is complicit, with a view to encouraging Syria to resolve its dispute through bilateral negotiations in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, as it is legally required to do.
May I ask what any other country sitting around this table would do in the face of the callous murder of hundreds of its civilians? This is not a hypothetical question. Many states in this organization, and in this Council, have been faced with terrorism of far less intensity and have responded with far less restraint and far less concern for human life. And yet, the Security Council has not seen fit to scrutinize their conduct. Indeed, on certain occasions the Council has specifically endorsed such defensive measures.
If there is a double standard in this Organization it is that while some states are afforded the right to protect their citizens, Israel too often is sent the message that its citizens are not worthy of protection. If there is a double standard, it is that some states are able to support terrorism with impunity, while those defending against it are called to account. If there is a double standard it is Syria sitting at this table, and raising one hand to vote against terror and the other to perpetrate and initiate terror! For the sake of peace and the reputation of this Council, let there be no such double standard today.
In the face of the rejectionism, aggression and terrorist sponsorship of the Syrian regime, together with Iran and the Palestinian Authority, what would the international community have us do? Like any state faced with such a critical and prolonged threat, Israel must exercise its inherent right and obligation to defend its citizens. What can we tell the Arab and Israeli mothers of children murdered in this weekend’s attack in Haifa? We could have prevented the death of your son or daughter? We could have stopped a terrorist from walking into your town, your school, your home, your bedroom, but our hands were tied? Israel remains committed to a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, and is ready to make painful compromises to that end. But no peace can come while terrorism prospers. No negotiations can bring progress, while our citizens die on the streets.
Today, on the very eve of the Day of Atonement and the thirteenth anniversary of the Egyptian-Syrian aggression that initiated the Yom Kippur War, we call on members of the Council to come to the aid of the victims of terrorism, not their sponsors. Syria deserves no support for its complicity in murder and the Council would commit an unforgivable act of moral blindness were it to act otherwise. The time has come for the Council which adopted resolution 1373, and which has been at the forefront of the global counter-terrorism campaign, to hold to account a brutal dictatorship that is world-renowned for adopting terrorism as its primary tool. The world is watching. And today, more than on any other day, God is watching too!
Thank you, Mr. President.
“I made it very clear to [P.M. Ariel Sharon] that Israel’s got a right to defend herself, that Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defending the homeland.”—U.S. President George W. Bush, staunchly supporting Israel’s decision to strike at Syria. (A.P., Oct. 6)
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