A pall of darkness enshrouds our planet – spiritual darkness. It is not new. It has been here a long time. Even so, reminders of its presence and its depth can be startling. A good example can be seen in the reactions to Israel’s battle with Hamas.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega may not seem to be a particularly significant character on the world stage. The former Marxist is a long-time friend of the communists in Cuba, and was an ally of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Ronald Reagan described him as a “little dictator.” Though Ortega no longer claims to be a communist, he still openly avows socialism. He’s significant because he represents the thinking of lots U.N. countries and their leaders.
Ortega said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to be possessed by the devil. He needs Pope Francis to exorcize it, to become appeased.” He accused Netanyahu of trying to “annihilate the Palestinian people.” He compared the Israelis to Nazis and accused them of genocide.
There are almost 2 million people in the Gaza Strip. Even the most severe propagandist from Hamas claims less than 2 thousand Gazan deaths. We don’t know how many of the dead were intentionally set up by Hamas to be killed in order to give Hamas a boost in the propaganda battle. Even using their figures, 2,000 is one-tenth of 1 percent of 2 million. And these people are calling it genocide – the attempted annihilation of an entire race.
That’s darkness. And it is a darkness that has been long predicted to explode into a global crescendo in the years shortly before Jesus returns.
A hundred luminaries from the film industry in Spain wrote an “open letter” to the European Union, calling on it to step in and stop Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza. Among the letter’s signers were the actors, Penelope Cruz and her husband, Javier Bardem. Both of them have won Academy Awards.
The letter speaks of “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army.”
In an op-ed piece, Bardem said, “In the horror happening in Gaza right now there is NO place for distance or neutrality. It’s a war of extermination… It’s hard to understand and impossible to justify. And it’s disgraceful that western countries are permitting such genocide.”
“Extermination”? “Genocide”? It’s an open secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. If they really wanted to exterminate the people of Gaza, they have the means. If they didn’t want to go that far, there are ways of using conventional bombs that are deadly efficient at wiping out populations. And if they were simply less careful during their bombing runs, they could easily have killed a hundred thousand people in an operation like this.
After receiving negative publicity for their remarks, Cruz and her husband decided to clarify their stance. Bardem said, “While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife – which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war. I was raised to be against any act of violence.”
It’s almost funny to see a man who has taken part in several brutally violent films proclaim himself to be a paragon of anti-violence – funny like seeing someone in a blindfold stumbling around. But not really funny because the stumbling isn’t the result of a blindfold, but blindness itself.
In her clarification, Cruz said, “I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject. I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border.”
Cruz admitted that she doesn’t know much about it, but still she accused the Israelis of genocide, and even after the outcry, felt no need to take it back. Neither her clarification nor her husband’s retracted or apologized for the damning accusation that Israel is trying to “exterminate the people of Gaza.” Neither of them seems to understand that wrongly accusing one side of genocide is hardly a peaceful, diplomatic way to solve the problem.
She said she wanted there to be, “No more innocent victims on either side of the border.” What about innocent Israelis being labeled as war criminals and mass murderers?
Spain has a long history of severe and violent anti-Semitism. That Cruz and Bardem could so casually make such horrible claims against the Jewish state seems to indicate that, despite their disclaimers, they are well infected with the disease.
Relativity Media CEO, Ryan Kavanaugh, said, “It makes my blood boil. As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, anyone calling it Israeli `genocide’ vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation and shouldn’t be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic.”
“You Can Taste the Toxins . . .”
The Obama Administration has seen fit to bomb thousands of people using remote control drones in faraway Afghanistan because it rightly believes that what goes on there threatens U.S. national security. Regrettably, many of those drone strikes took civilian lives. Yet this same Administration cannot grasp that Israel is fighting a next door neighbor that doesn’t just threaten them in abstract ways, but actually shoots missiles into their homeland.
Imagine how Americans would feel if they learned that Canada was planning an attack through a vast tunnel system that would kill more people than died on 9/11? That’s what Israel was facing from Hamas.
The Obama administration lashed out at Israel for a deadly attack near a U.N. school in Gaza that they called “horrifying” and “disgraceful.” Sickening as it is, such “collateral damage” has been unavoidable in Gaza, just as it has been in Afghanistan. That is the terrible nature of war. And reasonable people know it.
The United Nations just announced that they are forming a commission to investigate Israel for human rights violations and war crimes. The U.N. statement said they would investigate “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law… in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.”
It is a shroud of darkness that prevents even the United Nations from seeing the difference between war crimes and self-defense.
During the 2008 battle between Israel and Gaza, British author Howard Jacobson wrote that in his own country, “The air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres. . . . A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence . . . an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in. . . . You can taste the toxins on your tongue.”
He was describing something that goes beyond differences of opinion. He was describing spiritual blindness.
What he saw six years ago has only grown worse, not only in Great Britain, but all over Europe. Bitter, unreasoning hatred of Jews has now reached a level not seen in the last seven decades.
Israel’s critics can’t seem to decide whether to compare Jews to an evil Hitler, or to call Hitler a hero for trying to exterminate Jews. Many have settled on the later. The twitterverse has been ablaze with hashtags like, “Hitler was right.” That one is often accompanied by a false quote from Hitler – “I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to let you know why I was killing them.”
Here are some other popular tweets spreading around the globe: “Hitler did a sterling job #gas chambers needed” . . . “I wish Hitler was alive and his gas chambers were still in use” . . . “I regret Hitler didn’t clean sweep, poor Palestinians have to do it now” . . . “Hitler did right to kill these cockroaches” . . . “Jews are pigs. I think we should kill you Jews and kill your kids and let you know what the Palestinians are feeling” . . . “Let me salute Hitler the Great.”
The last time Planet Earth saw this level of anti-Semitism was in the years leading up to World War II. But when the world watched Germany take Jew-hatred to its logical conclusion, there followed a time of shame and repentance. In Europe and the United States, the flame of anti-Semitism largely died down.
But the embers continued to smolder.
In recent years, Europe’s media has been laying tinder on the embers, and then blowing on it with the great billows of hot air only media can produce. They got the fire going again, started burning sticks, then logs, and now they’ve pulled out the gasoline.
It’s so bad that, where a couple of years ago there was once only a trickle of Jews leaving Europe for Israel, it has now become a flood. Jews are leaving Europe because they’re afraid. They and their children are being harassed on the streets. They look out their synagogue windows and see gathering crowds of angry protestors. And then the protestors begin to chant, “Death to Jews!”
Their grandparents told them about this. The Jews have seen it many times before. The holocaust lives in their collective memory. In previous generations, they might have tried to come to America. Not anymore. The land of their forefathers beckons them. They and the land are tied together at the heart, and they know it. If they must leave their homes, businesses, friends, and extended families, then it ought to be to go home – to go where their citizenship is written into the very earth beneath their feet.
“To You and to Your Descendants Forever”
In 2006, Yale researchers, Edward Kaplan and Charles Small, did a study of anti-Israel feelings and how they relate to feelings of anti-Semitism. They concluded, “Even after controlling for numerous potentially confounding factors, we find that anti-Israel sentiment consistently predicts the probability that an individual is anti-Semitic, with the likelihood of measured anti-Semitism increasing with the extent of anti-Israel sentiment observed.”
That’s not to say that criticism of specific Israeli policies makes you anti-Semitic. I have publicly criticized some of Israel’s actions and policies through the years. No one is more aware than the people of Israel that their government has made an abundance of errors. The Kaplan-Small study was not talking about specific policies, but strong, general feelings of anger at the nation of Israel.
Right now that anger is sweeping across Europe. In fact, if you see a public protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza, it will probably be in Europe or the United States – and not in an Arab country. The anti-Israel rage of this century is rooted in the anti-Semitic rage that once made Europe a fertile ground for the Holocaust.
Unreasoning fear of and hatred for Jews is a result of spiritual darkness.
Jews are not better than the rest of us. Just like everyone else, their eternal destinies depend on whether they accept God’s salvation through their Messiah Jesus. Through the centuries, most Jews have rejected Jesus, and some Christians have used that as an excuse for hate. But Jews are not alone in rejecting the Lord. Lots of people-groups mostly decline His offer of salvation. So why single out Jews?
The hatred has a spiritual cause. More than anything else, Satan wants to stir people up to destroy what God says cannot be destroyed. The Children of Israel are in an eternal, unconditional covenant with the living God
Genesis 13 God gives a Covenant by His sworn oath, promising the land to Abraham and his descendants forever, “And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, `Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.'” [Genesis 13:13-14 NASB] God restates that promise and expands on it many times, making it clear that the land and the promise belong to Abraham’s son Isaac, Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s children forever. No one else in the history of the world has such a title deed that specifies the exact borders of a property forever.
All the predicted signs of the prophets about the coming of the end times of this age are here. Be sure that you have received the gift of pardon purchased for you by Jesus the Messiah when He died for you on the cross. There is no more important decision in this life than to confess that you are a sinner and ask Jesus to come into your life with His pardon. Do it now while there is still time.