Why Israel Matters
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My heart breaks over the shocking carnage Hamas carried out in Israel. At the time of this writing, at least 1,400 people in Israel, including more than 30 Americans, have been slaughtered by Hamas terrorists. As the war in Israel continues to escalate, it is disturbing to see anti-Israel protests and a rise of antisemitism around the globe, especially while innocent civilians, including children, the elderly, and the disabled, were mercilessly slaughtered by the Islamic jihadists of Hamas.
Now more than ever, it is important to understand why Israel matters and why it is the center of global discussion.
As someone who has traveled to Israel over 30 times, visiting Israel has had a profound impact on my faith, as I know it has for so many believers. Through Covenant Journey, one of the ministries I founded, I've had the opportunity to lead over a thousand people on a life-changing experience in the Holy Land, showing them where our faith originated and experiencing the historic and spiritual impact of Israel.
A Short History
A sliver of land in the Middle East no larger than New Jersey, Israel is the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity. It remains a centerpiece of world history and is significant in world politics, the global economy, America, and the church.
From Pharaoh down to Haman, Hitler, and Hamas, the Jewish people have repeatedly been up against adversaries who want to obliterate them from the face of the earth, and yet each time, God intervened to deliver Israel and the Jewish people in mighty ways to preserve the Jewish people from destruction.
God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, preserved the Jewish people from Haman's plot to destroy them during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus, and delivered the Jewish people from the genocide of the Nazi Holocaust. These examples are but a few of the many times the Jewish people were saved against all odds throughout history.
On May 14, 1948, after nearly 2,000 years, the Jewish state of Israel was reborn. It was a historic fulfillment of biblical prophecy that a nation could be born in one day (Isaiah 66:8). In the British Mandate on May 14, Great Britain proposed two states — one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. The Jews said "yes," but the Arabs said "no."
As soon as the British Mandate ended, David Ben-Gurion read Israel's Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize Israel as a sovereign Jewish state just 11 minutes after it was established.
As soon as the British army was gone, on May 15, Israel was attacked by five nations — Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Against all odds, with no organized military, Israel fought back in the War of Independence (May 1948 – July 1949) and miraculously survived.
A similar miracle occurred in 1967 when Egypt, Jordan, and Syria simultaneously attacked Israel. Israel not only survived, but it also pushed back all three invading countries in the Six-Day War.
Then, on Yom Kippur (Oct. 6, 1973), Egypt and Syria simultaneously attacked. And once again, Israel survived against all odds.
Most recently, 50 years after the beginning of the Yom Kippur War, on Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas, a designated terror group from Gaza, crossed into Israel and slaughtered, tortured, and burned (some alive) innocent civilians during the early morning of Shabbat where Israelis were gathered with family to celebrate the Sabbath.
In a recent media interview, Hamas leaders said the goal of the Oct. 7 massacre is to "end the occupation" of the Jews from Israel. The plan was to commit such a brutal attack that Israel would have to fight back, and one which Hamas hoped the Arab Muslim nations, as well as China and Russia, would join to obliterate the Jews from the land. Hamas also warned that it is ready to execute October 7 again, and again, and again.
Why Does Israel Matter?
Why does Israel matter? Is this small piece of real estate that important? Is the obvious antisemitism really about land, or is it much more? Why such hatred against the Jews — not just in Israel but also around the world?
Why have the Jewish people been targeted for extinction for thousands of years? Why have they survived against the forces of the world's superpowers? What race or ethnicity has survived and been reborn in the same land as their ancestors, speaking and writing the same language, practicing the same faith, and celebrating the same religious ceremonies? The short answer is only one — the Jewish people in the land of Israel.
Why the controversy over this small nation? Why such deep-rooted antisemitism? The current local Arab population referred to as "Palestinians" are not the originators of hatred against the Jews. This hatred has been passed down through history. And the current rise of antisemitism cannot be solely due to the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, world leaders condemned the action. That war is ongoing, but the world does not hate the Russian people. Despite the brutal regimes of North Korea, the Communist Chinese Party, and the Iranian Ayatollahs, the world does not hate the Koreans, Chinese, or Iranians.
But why is there such hatred against the Jews? After all, in much of our daily life, we benefit from the many inventions made in Israel — not the least of which is computer and cell phone technology. Of the 965 individual recipients of the Nobel Prize, 214 have been Jews or people with at least one Jewish parent, representing 22% of all recipients.
From technology to science, to medicine, to agriculture, and much more, people around the world benefit every day from the ingenuity of the Jewish people. The list of top inventions from Israel is truly astonishing.
There is no logical or rational answer to the question of Jewish hatred. I believe the answer is found in the Bible. When God called Abraham and promised he would become the father of many nations, he was 75. Twenty-five years later at the ripe old age of 100, Abraham and Sarah welcomed Isaac into the world. Isaac would later become the father of Jacob, who was also named Israel.
Against all odds, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that all the families on the earth would be blessed through him and his offspring (Genesis 12). Abraham was also the father of Ishmael through Hagar (Genesis 16). Jealousy developed between Sarah and Hagar, and the two went separate ways along with their offspring. Through Isaac came the Jews and through Hagar came the Arabs (not Muslims but Arabs, as Islam is a religion and Arab is an ethnicity).
God made a covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people, which was confirmed with Isaac and Jacob (Israel), stating they were "chosen" (Genesis 15; Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
Through the Jewish people in the land of Israel came the Scriptures, which were written and cared for meticulously down through millennia. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Jesus was Jewish and practiced Jewish ceremonies. The early Christian church was birthed in Jerusalem, spread throughout Israel, to Rome and the ancient Near East, and to America.
With the birth of the church, what about the Jews? In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul asks rhetorically, "Has God rejected His people?" To which Paul quickly responds, "By no means!"
The fight over Israel and the opposition to the Jewish people is rooted not in logic or reason — but stems from this biblical history. God had, and continues to have, a purpose for Israel and the Jewish people. And if God has a plan and purpose, as believers, we understand that Satan also has the opposite plan and purpose. As the Bible says, Satan is the father of lies and seeks to destroy what God has ordained.
God promises throughout Scripture to bless those who bless Abraham's offspring (Genesis 12:3). Surrounded by nations that seek its destruction, Israel is also the only true democracy and beacon of freedom in the Middle East where Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze are free to practice their faith. Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East.
In the past 75 years, the desert of Israel (derisively called "Palestine" by the Romans following the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132 A.D.) truly has transformed into a land of abundance "flowing with milk and honey." Modern Israel is a miracle and a force to be reckoned with that has contributed significant technological, agricultural, and medical advances to the world.
The past, present, and future come together in the Holy Land. God promised Abraham, "In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). As the Israeli people are defending their security and freedom to live in a land that's rightfully theirs, we should stand with them and against their enemies who brutally slaughtered innocent civilians. There are 22 Arab nations in the world, but only one Jewish state. Reborn right after the Holocaust, the Jewish state of Israel should provide a safe place for Jews.
Standing for Israel's right to exist is essential on many fronts. The foundation of Western civilization originates in Israel.
The war in Israel is more than just about a plot of land — it is about the right of the Jewish people to exist. As for me, I will unequivocally stand for Israel and the Jewish people, and I invite you to join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122).
**Mat Staver is the founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family.
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