Wednesday, March 04, 2015

PM Netanyahu: "Be Strong--Don't Be Afraid"

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of the US Congress, the American people and the world yesterday.

Well, most of the world. President Obama refused to attend or watch the speech. He said he didn't want to influence the upcoming election in Israel, so he wouldn't be there or even watch it on television.

Most of America, and probably the world, knows he is mad because Speaker of the House John Boehner who went around him and invited Netanyahu, because there is growing concern about the "deal" this administration is trying to make with Iran, the world's leading terrorist supporter.

And there is a sense among many that, unlike our own leadership, Netanyahu would tell it like it is. And he did.

If our president, who was cloistered in the White House and refusing to attend, would have even bothered to watch the speech on television, he would have known it was not about an Israeli election, it was about the future of the civilized world. This leader is a neighbor to the epicenter of terrorism, and America's closest ally in the region and the world.

Only the very petty, small minded politician could really believe it was about getting votes in a local election.

Last week Susan Rice, President Obama's National Security Adviser, told the media the speech would be "destructive." President Obama said it would be a "distraction."

It was neither.

It put light on the current situation in the Middle East, elevating the importance of the US making the right decision in dealing with Iran. And revealing that America is about to make a generational mistake--- that we are on the wrong path.

It also revealed the stark contrast between leading and following---clarity and ambiguity. It was a profile of courage and conviction. A contrast of principle rather than politics.

It was a reminder of the difference between maturity and childishness.

It was also a reminder of how desperately America needs leadership.

The Associated Press led with the headline, "Speech Stirs Controversy," pointing out a moment where Nancy Pelosi shook her head in disagreement with PM Netanyahu, but even the more progressive left press stories are recognizing something bigger than a political speech took place in the Capitol yesterday.

Pelosi told the press later that she was "near tears" because she was so "saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States" and the "condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran."

Netanyahu was a study in humility. Pelosi's sadness comes from the realization that America is moving on and away from the kind of leadership (or lack thereof) she and her contemporaries represent.

AP reports, "The prime minister was greeted with a roaring welcome as he walked down the same center aisle of the House chamber that presidents tread before their annual State of the Union speeches."

And AP acknowledged just how small our own president appeared as a result of his school yard tantrum.

They say, "The White House expressed its displeasure with the appearance by word and deed, dispatching Vice President Joe Biden on an overseas trip that meant he did not fill his customary seat behind the House rostrum during the speech."

The New York Times reported the points and essence of the speech which included the fact that Netanyahu, and many in Congress feel Obama's hoped for deal with Iran is a "bad deal," but seemed obsessed with highlighting the speech as a self serving political speech.

It was not.

However, they did report that as Netanyahu was speaking to Congress, John Kerry was far away in Montreux Switzerland talking with Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif, and that Zarif told the press Tuesday evening, he bluntly rejected Kerry's conditions.

In the overcrowded chamber and galleries, Prime Minister Netanyahu singled out one man.

Netanyahu spoke directly to Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, a world renowned author, saying, "I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned."

Moments later he added, with applause swelling, "The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies are over."

Looking into the eyes of our Congress, our nation and the world, Netanyahu then said, "Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand"--- adding that it does not, because "America stands with Israel."

The response was thunderous.

Any truthful report on this event could not miss the dynamic and substance of it.

The substance was facts linked to Scripture. With clarity and courage.

Most news services refused to recognize that linkage.

Netanyahu told the story of Esther in the Old Testament, saying people seeking to destroy the Jewish people is not new to this generation.

You will recall how she foiled Haman's plan to exterminate the Jews, including Mordecai himself. You will also remember the often quoted words of Esther 4:13-14 (NIV):

"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

Toward his conclusion, he referred to the image of Moses looking over the US Chamber where they were assembled.

Quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 31:6 he defined the position of Israel regarding the future: "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them..."

The rest of that verse must linger in the mind of those of us who serve God. "...for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you."

Be Encouraged. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.