By Stan Goodenough - Jerusalem Watchman - May 25, 2006
I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. (Isaiah 63:5)
In 1999, Cal Thomas, described as “probably the most widely syndicated Christian columnist in America,” wrote at least six articles strongly supportive of Israel for, among other publications, the Jewish World Review.
In 2000 he wrote no fewer than seven and in each of the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 no less than eight Israel-related pieces.
By the end of that period, however, his writing had transitioned from that of strong supporter to increasingly caustic critic.
In 2004 Thomas wrote seven columns pertaining to Israel. In 2005 he wrote just five. Most of these were directed against the “Road Map” and the “Disengagement” from Gaza and northern Samaria.
So far this year, Thomas has written just one column concerning the Jewish state – which in actuality dealt not with Israel per se but with the sweeping takeover of the Palestinian Authority by the Hamas terrorist organization.
Other than that, this once prolific champion of Israel has fallen strangely silent regarding our immediate part of the world.
In a bid to understand his evolution I went back through his columns archive, (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas.archives.asp). There I saw how, increasingly disillusioned, he repeatedly identified the Quartet’s peace plan as a “Road map to nowhere” (December 12, 2002 and March 18, 2003 – using the same headline twice); and a “Road Map to Israel’s oblivion” (April 29, 2003).
In May 2003 he denounced the Israeli government’s acceptance for the first time of a Palestinian state as having possibly “sealed the fate of modern Israel.”
By July 3 of that year Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had become, for Thomas, a “useful idiot” being exploited by President George W. Bush.
Ensuing months saw the writer excoriate Sharon and Bush for working to create “a terrorist breeding ground.”
Finally, after repeatedly attacking the folly of the “Disengagement Plan,” Thomas threw up his hands and, as the Israeli forces moved to uproot 10,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, penned “The end of Israel?”
The result of that withdrawal, he wrote darkly, was that “Israel’s slow disappearance from the region cannot now be reversed.”
Assurances, agreements, promises and documents would not be able to bring her back.
“The West, having failed 60 years ago to save millions of Jews from the murderous ways of the Third Reich, will have new blood on its hands which history will not, and should not, allow it ever to wipe clean.”
For Thomas, Israel’s demise was a fait accompli; doubtless also, then, for a whole lot of the columnist’s avid readership.
No small fry, his twice-weekly column appears in over 600 newspapers in all 50 of the United States. It is broadcast over nearly 300 radio stations from coast to coast. Thomas is also a panelist on the popular “Fox News Watch” show viewed by millions.
He is an extremely influential man.
So is another American writer, who describes himself as “one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.” For 20 years or so, Joseph Farrah – founder, editor and CEO of the “World Net Daily” independent online news site – has written in defense of the Jewish homeland, seeking to “shatter the myths surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Farrah keeps an exceptional investigative reporter in his Jerusalem bureau. Almost daily, Aaron Klein scoops angles on issues that underscore the growing existential threat to Israel.
But on May 15 of this year Farrah – an American Christian of Arab descent – wrote an article that, according to his site, “generated unprecedented response from readers and has been republished in dozens of publications across the globe.”
He headlined it: I give up on Israel
He was, he said, “through defending Israel … through making excuses for Israel … through trying to understand the incomprehensible moves of a self-flagellating nation.
“I’m through trying to point out the moral rightness of a state and a people who themselves fail to discern right from wrong.”
To be fair to Farrah, he does go on to explain that he is not actually “through” with the nation of Israel.
It is really the Kadima-led government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a “useless coalition seemingly hell-bent on committing national suicide.” that he has washed his hands of.
Nonetheless, the message conveyed in the headline, and his subsequent statement that, “like Jesus 2,000 years ago, I look at Jerusalem today and I weep,” leave the unsettling impression that, perhaps like Thomas, he is going to sit out and wait for Israel to pull itself together before he again takes up the pen on behalf of this nation.
Now let me tell you about two other men, both influential, both ardent – virtually life-long – supporters of Israel.
Like Thomas and Farrah, Pat Robertson and Jan Willem van der Hoeven have watched aghast and sometimes infuriated the foolish path followed by those Israeli governments duped – readily or unwillingly – into going with “land-for-peace.”
But unlike the two columnists, Robertson and Van der Hoeven appear more resolved than ever in the face of these follies to stand with the people of Israel, if necessary against the rest of the world; even against their own governments.
Robertson, president and CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has been unequivocal and undeterred in his position since vowing before God in 1974 that “whatever may happen in the future, I and the organizations I [head will] stand in support of Israel and the Jewish people.”
He believes that a year ago the Lord told him that Israel was entering into “the most dangerous period in its existence as a modern nation.”
Since then, as before, Robertson in no way pulled his punches; openly – but always respectfully – questioning dangerous decision-making by Israeli leaders; something that has gotten him into hot water a number of times.
Despite fierce criticism from the White House and Christian columnists like Thomas, Robertson continues – on his 700 Club and his website – to address and challenge the unfolding developments in Israel.
Van der Hoeven, chief founder of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and now director of the International Christian Zionist Center, has taken an uncompromising stand on the question of dividing up Israel for a Palestinian state.
He has spoken directly and forcefully to Israelis, including their leaders, most recently in a strong statement entitled “You have been warned” published on May 4.
But instead of giving up on Israel, Van der Hoeven has only been driven to deepen more than ever his commitment to the nation.
His response to “disengagement,” “convergence” or “consolidation” has been to move his offices out into the Hamas-dominated “West Bank,” there to stand in solidarity with the quarter-of-a-million beleaguered, almost disowned, Israelis who are determined to cling to their land.
The question arises: What is the difference between Robertson and Van der Hoeven on the one hand, and Thomas and Farrah on the other?
One possibility is that Robertson and Van der Hoeven know the Scriptures a little better than their column-creating co-religionists.
The Bible specifically and repeatedly states that, after wandering for centuries among the gentile nations, there undergoing terrible tribulation, God will physically return the Jewish people to the land He gave exclusively to them.
What it also makes clear, is that the Jews will be restored to their ancient homeland in unbelief, in their sinful state, their hearts hardened against their God and King.
Because of this, trouble will continue to afflict them, increasing to the point where they will eventually cry out to God for His deliverance, and He will hear them.
Nearly six million Jews are physically back in their own land. But they are – for the most part – secular, humanistic, liberal, God-rejecters. Their refusal or inability to recognize the hand of the Almighty behind the restoration that has so far taken place, is the fruit of their faithlessness.
Although He has every right to give up on Israel – just as He has every right to give up on a sinner like me – He will not do so. He will pursue them, and He will woo them, and I believe He would have us do the same.
Now more than ever, and increasingly in the coming months, the nation of Israel will need the support – the encouragement and the chastisement – of those who truly love them enough to identify with them and stand with them to the end.
It is a dangerous thing to give up on Israel; and to influence others to do so too.
Martin Luther gave up on the people of Israel. He gave up on the Jews. And then he turned on them. The great Reformer began well, extending a hand of friendship; showing appreciation for the major part the Jewish people played in bringing Christianity into the world.
But Luther had an agenda. In order to continue enjoying his blessing, the Jews had to eventually succumb to his efforts to convert. When they resisted, he grew impatient. When they refused, he got mad.
He criticized them, then he denounced them, and finally he condemned them and their offspring, marking them as game for subsequent generations of anti-Semites, and ultimately for the Nazis.
Israel in 2006 is virtually friendless. Would that someone could persuade Cal Thomas, Joseph Farrah – and all whose support for Israel has now been disturbed by their positions – to reconsider and recommit themselves and their resources to defending and supporting the Jewish people in their land.