“In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem. (Zechariah 12:6 NKJV)
What follows is intended neither as a presumptuous prediction nor an impertinent interpretation. These are simply considerations I have courted during the past weeks while observing the tremulous disquiet generated – domestically and globally – by the makeup and inauguration of the new Netanyahu government.
Thoughts which have given rise to a question stemming from the passage above: Could members of the new Israeli administration be styled as “governors of Judah,” with the ability to impact Jerusalem for good; Israel’s enemies for bad?
These members might fit the bill:
- The Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who lives in Kiryat Arba – “that is, Hebron” (Genesis 35:27).
- Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Kedumim, in Samaria.
- Minister of National Missions Orit Strook from Hebron.
- Chairman of the Knesset’s influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Yuli Edelstein, (a former Speaker of the Knesset), resident of Gush Etzion.
Sworn in on December 27, 2022 – barely four weeks ago – these newly-invested leaders from the heartland hit the ground running; ploughing and upending the soil of Israel’s political landscape at a pace that both their nation, and the international community, have found profoundly unsettling.
Strikingly, even before their swearing in, they began to influence Jerusalem – the seat of government. That is to say, already during the coalition negotiations they began pulling, (some might say, yanking) the incoming and now-installed administration to the right.
Their performance presages tremendous change. Let me explain:
Before he was returned to the Prime Minister’s Office, Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu had established a reputation for disloyalty towards the right side of the political spectrum.
Why? Because, among other things, in four of the six governments he has led, Netanyahu ran in general elections at the head of his “centre-right” Likud but, once his party had come in first, formed coalitions with the centre-left. This, despite the opportunities he had to align with the parties to the right and take Israel in that direction.
Fact-check me on this if you will (see links at the bottom of this page to the different Netanyahu-governments’ coalition partners). At face value, you’ll think me mistaken. The impression is that the alliances were more centrist than left.
But in fact, the compass points on these parties’ political charts have been repeatedly adjusted through the relatively quieter post-Oslo years (since the end of the Second Intifada). The platforms of those calling themselves ‘centrist’ and ‘centre-right’ five, ten, fifteen years ago are, compared to the partners in today’s 37th Government, very much to the left.
To better calibrate the politics-scope, look at Zionism.
All sides (excepting for the Arabs) assert that theirs is “The Zionist party.” It can get confusing (and is likely designed to).
But of course, the word “Zion” originates in the Bible as the first name for what becomes Jerusalem, the City of David (2 Samuel 5:7). It is the location of God’s holy mountain (Psalm 48:1-2); the place where He dwells (Psalm 9:11); out of which salvation will come to Israel (Psalm 14:7) and from where God will “shine forth” (Psalm 50:2).
Zion is at the heart of the Israeli national anthem Hatikva (The Hope). It refers to the land that historically has bound the dispersed Jewish people together – the cradle of which is Judea and Samaria – and to their ancient – also nation-fusing capital. (We know that, ever since its destruction, the Jews have been praying “next year in Jerusalem.”)
Authentic Zionists, then, claim as Israel’s heartland – the deliberately-misnamed “West Bank”; Jerusalem – the 3,000-plus-year-old, always (except for a 19-year aberration) united city; and the Mountain of the LORD – the Temple Mount.
In other words, whatever other things they are damned for by their opponents: supporting established family configurations and opposing the sexually aberrant; promoting Israeli sovereignty over the heartland; strengthening security and intensifying the war on terror; treasuring Torah, etc., those Jews besmirched as “Right-Wing extremists” are mainly true Zionists.
To underscore, then, Zionists/Rightists hold to a biblical, historical, legal and moral claim to the land which encompasses, from north to south, the Golan Heights and the Galilee, Samaria, Judea, the Coastal Plan with the Gaza Strip, the Negev and the Arava.
As to the fate of the extended, Biblically-defined borders which were, more or less, incorporated in the United Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon – most seem happy to leave the restoration of those for when King Messiah comes.
These Zionist parties, for their part, are buttressed by the ultra-Orthodox which, while centrally focussed on their own religious communities’ social needs are, by dint of their reverential regard for the Bible, inherently inclined to the Right.
Which brings us back to Bibi.
Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has, (to this observer, at least) a most unenviable – humanly-speaking, probably impossible – task: To safeguard the Jewishness of his nation’s state against myriad efforts to “un-Jewish” it and, simultaneously, to secure its geo-political survival in a world which has an uninterrupted history of antisemitism and which, today, is largely united in the effort – from the West wielding political blackmail and extortion, from the East weaponry and terrorism – to rob the Jews of their land.
As Netanyahu knows (he has learned it painfully), those on Israel’s Left, who in essence have spurned Jewishness in favour of progressive secular-humanism, are naturally aligned with the United Nations, the European Union, virtually every other multi-national and international body and, vitally, with the Jewish state’s most powerful ally – the United States.
When, during his previous administrations, Netanyahu was called on to strengthen the Jewish presence in Samaria and Judea; support the extension there of Israeli sovereignty; clamp down on illegitimate Palestinian Arab political activity in Jerusalem; suppress Muslim rioting on the Temple Mount; when he pushed hard against the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, standing up to the White House – all these things, and more, had jittery and jaded Israelis, led by those in his own coalitions, pulling him to the left – urging him to acquiesce to the world’s dictates. Which he did.
Netanyahu-led governments have behaved this way, until now. Today, with his new, Zionist Conservative coalition, Netanyahu has partners to give him cover. Efforts by the Woke West to force Israel into their way can be resisted by a prime minister whose government’s existence – and indeed its success – is contingent on his “extreme right wing” partners representing, and serving, their constituents.
This, after all, is democracy.
A cursory scanning of the headlines shortly after the swearing in of the new Netanyahu government gives a sense of fresh winds blowing.
Before the new government was sworn in, we heard:
- Israeli President’s fear that “the whole world [was] worried.”
- EU’s insistence that the new government must affirm support for the Two State Solution.
- That the new government would declare “open season” on the Palestinian Arabs.
- That Netanyahu was “the godfather of modern Israeli fascism.”
- The PLO called for an international boycott of the new government.
- Hundreds of US rabbis protested the new government.
And immediately after the government came in:
- Israeli ex-diplomats warned that it would harm Israel’s standing.
- Jordan warned it not to test “red lines.”
- Itamar Ben-Gvir ascended the Temple Mount.
- Deposed PM Lapid charged that Ben-Gvir puts Israel in a fight with half the world.
- Germany and the US freaked out at Ben-Gvir’s visit.
- The UN Security Council met in an emergency session.
- Fears were expressed that Israel would prioritise expansion in Samaria and Judea.
- The new government quickly found itself at odds with Washington.
- Washington sent a National Security Advisor to caution Netanyahu.
- The Secretary of State is coming next.
Meanwhile, the “governors of Judah” have:
- Declared the intention to develop tourism to Samaria and Judea.
- Demolished illegal Arab homes.
- Turned up the heat on terrorists.
- Sanctioned the PA; halted Arab construction.
- Imposed restrictions on PA officials.
- Broken up illegal PA meetings in Jerusalem.
- Outlawed PLO flags in public spaces.
- Declared the PA’s existence “pointless”.
- Put fear in “Palestinian” supporters that it would destroy the PA.
The year 2023 has begun with a definite sense of movement in the right direction. When I mentioned to a long-standing Israeli friend how strikingly different the headlines had become, his face lit up. “What a change!” he enthused. “At last, we have hope!”
Hope, yes. Tikva. All will not change immediately. Not even soon. The anti-God forces aligned against Israel are massive – global.
And yet, the ultimate destination of this Divine Work-in-Progress Nation is assured.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!
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