For Zion’s sake I will not be silent

April 9th is election day in Israel.  As of this writing which is April 8th, it is uncertain who will be the next prime minister of Israel.  Loyalties and the polls have been changing almost minute by minute. By the time this goes to print,  I pray Israel's prime minister remains Benjamin Netanyahu and there are good reasons for this however since I am not a citizen of Israel, why should I care?  Let me explain.

As an American Christian who has had the privilege of working in senior level positions for three U.S. presidents and who has enjoyed a close association with three of Israel’s prime ministers, I have had the opportunity of experiencing behind-the-scenes workings thereby gaining insight not colored by the anti-Israel media. 

Without question, evangelical Christians are Israel's strongest supporters and a vast number of American evangelical Christians believe as I believe.  Because I am not an Israeli citizen, and not even a Jew, I realize that injecting myself into the Israeli election is a highly sensitive act.  However, for Zion's sake, I will not be silent.


Around the world people are seeking "change" however change just for the sake of something new or different is not necessarily a good idea.  It is incumbent upon all who have the privilege of voting in any country around the world, to carefully consider the credentials of all those seeking election to public office. Personalities are not what’s important.  What’s important is the outcome of what will, or will not be, accomplished through their leadership.  This applies in Israel, the United States and in every democratic country around the world. 


For the past several months I have talked with Israelis and others who have vested interests in the future of Israel.  Opinions vary greatly. However, the consensus is that there is only one candidate who is deemed to be able to move Israel forward considering the current political climate and the hostile world stage.  While logic and reason do not always prevail in this world where a person such as AOC is given headline coverage on an almost daily basis, I pray Israel is (remains) in capable hands.  


Under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel has enjoyed unprecedented economic success.  Since the 2009 elections, when he began his second term in office, the standard of living in Israel has risen by 55% in real terms; GDP has increased 40% from $30,000 to $42,000; unemployment has dropped from 7.5% to under 4%.   Therefore, Israeli citizens are far better off than they were before Netanyahu took office:  average wages have increased by 25%; restaurants are full and record numbers of Israelis are vacationing overseas; inequality has narrowed; and the percentage of the budget devoted to education, health and welfare has increased significantly. Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader with a proven economic track record.  Gantz, Ya’alon and Ashkenzazi have no experience to draw upon.  And, Lapid’s record as finance minister was not impressive.  


Netanyahu has greatly improved Israel’s international standing.  He has translated Israel’s growing economic and technological prowess into impressive diplomatic achievements.  He has restored ties with several African nations, including Muslim countries.  He has created regional alliances with Greece and Cyprus and has hosted a non-stop stream of foreign leaders.  Under Netanyahu Israel has become a regional power, developing ties with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states thereby harnessing common interests—primarily the fear of Iran.  This occurred in spite of protestations that such ties could not be developed without progress on the Palestinian issue.  In addition, Netanyahu has also strengthened Israel’s ties in Asia and has upgraded relations with Japan and India.  He has produced a dramatic increase in trade with China and also opened new markets in the region.  As if that weren’t enough, thanks to Netanyahu, ties with South America have also blossomed.  And, in spite of the complex situation in Syria, he has strengthened relationships with Russia.


One of Netanyahu’s greatest achievements is the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the United States and other countries.  In addition, the United States and other countries are in the process of formally recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.  Another success is that the label “occupied territory” has been removed in official U.S. State Department language on the West Bank.  No other Israeli leader has had the tenacity and long-term vision to create such dramatic changes in Israel’s diplomatic standing nor would they have been willing and able to achieve these strategic foreign policy goals.  In addition, Netanyahu has demonstrated an iron-willed backbone stance to international pressure.  He faced down President Barack Obama on the settlements and on the nuclear deal.  Netanyahu’s influence and effort enabled a reversal of the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump.  No other Israeli leader could have generated such achievements on the international stage.  


Think about all the critical defense and strategic challenges that Israel constantly faces.  During his tenure, Netanyahu has stood up to and handled them very well.  For example, he has exercised caution in the use of force, but at the same time he has not hesitated to act on multiple fronts where necessary.  The Gaza belt has experienced significantly fewer numbers of rockets firing at Israel.  In fact, residents of the Gaza belt enjoyed the most extended quiet period since the 2005 disengagement, except for the 2018 use of incendiary balloons.  In Syria, Netanyahu has managed to keep Iranians from building up capabilities to use against Israel through both extensive strikes on Iranian targets and weapon deliveries to local proxies.  In addition, he leveraged diplomatic influence via Russia.


The future of Israel is of vital importance to the world, to the United States, and to the evangelical Christian community.  While only Israeli citizens have the right to vote in Israeli elections, all Christians have the responsibility to pray for Israel and her people.  What happens in Israel has an impact on the entire Middle East and, in fact, the entire world.  Having the right leadership at the helm is vitally important to the safety and security of Israel by keeping rogue nations of the Middle East in check from which we all benefit.  So, while I pray that Benjamin Netanyahu remains the prime minister of Israel, no matter who the Israeli people have elected to serve as their leader, I know I have a responsibility to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem as God directs and to pray for all of Israel.  But, this is not just my responsibility.  It is the responsibility of all who love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It's in the Bible!