Beauties and the Beasties
A parable of our times in an upside-down world
This is the story of three young women who have discovered that beauty attracts more than the usual jealousy where Israel is concerned.
Actress Gal Gadot has been viciously attacked over a scene in the film Wonder Woman 1984 in which her character rescues two young Muslim children in Egypt.
The idea of a Jewish woman showing compassion to Arabs seems ridiculous to those who have bought into the mainstream media bias that paints Israelis as bullies.
Meanwhile a storm of anti-Semitic attacks broke out on social media against April Benayoum, a leading contestant in the Miss France competition.
Benayoum, who has an Israeli father, was competing as Miss Provence and finished first runner-up in the contest. But her Israeli connection prompted a vicious outbreak of anti-Semitism, with tweets calling for her exclusion and one saying ‘Hitler forgot to exterminate you, Miss Provence’.
Now we hear that Israeli model Yael Shelbia is the loveliest of them all after being awarded top spot on a list of the most beautiful women in the world for 2020 compiled by a group called The Independent Critics, with Gadot ranked only 22nd.
At just 19, IDF soldier Yael has also drawn a hail of anti-Israel insults, yet has high hopes for Middle East peace after becoming the first Israeli to appear on the cover of a magazine published in the United Arab Emirates.
It’s interesting that Israel is sometimes referred to in the Bible as “the beautiful land” (three times in Daniel), yet much of the world paints a very different, dark and dire, picture of a so-called ‘apartheid’ country generally seen as a persecutor of the Palestinian people; and a nation targeted by endless UN resolutions for alleged war crimes, illegal settlements and more while the real human rights abusers get away scot-free.
Take the instance of Gadot’s character rescuing Muslim children. The truth is it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. Even terrorist leaders are treated in Israeli hospitals along with Arab children suffering heart defects while doctors on the northern borders have been tending to Syrian civil war wounded for years. It’s part of the teaching of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) that they should “look after the aliens in their midst” (Deut 10:19).
But much of the world’s agenda is to ‘uglify’ the beautiful, and beautify the ugly. The prophet Isaiah had another way of putting it: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa 5:20)
Christians are suffering in a similar way – including in Israel, but not at the hands of Jews. Many Arabic-speaking believers recognise the Jewish state as the sole safe haven for Christians in the Middle East. But the Palestinian-run disputed territories make life very difficult for Christians who, for example, are moving out of Bethlehem – birthplace of Christianity – in droves.
The sharp rise in worldwide anti-Semitism is further fuelled by the specialness to the God of Israel, the chosen people, which goes against the grain of the new globalist, culturally Marxist philosophy in which ‘equality’ rules.
Similarly, Christians in the West are now portrayed as hate-mongers (preaching the uniqueness of Christ and the importance of biblical morality) whereas the truth is often that they are the ones showing real love as exemplified in our pre-Christmas story about Pastor Mick Fleming (see Blinding light in Burnley).
But as the Bible says: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
Nowhere was this more evident than in the Nazi era. I have just watched the 2019 film Resistance, about the heroism of famous mime artist Marcel Marceau, who led more than a hundred Jewish children over the Alps to safety in Switzerland. One of his colleagues, a young Jewish woman, was skinned alive in front of her sister as a Gestapo officer tried to force her to confess the whereabouts of her group.
Anti-Semites never let up. Twenty years ago, a new era of state-sanctioned anti-Semitism was effectively launched in Durban, South Africa. Hailed as a force for dealing with global racism, the UN-sponsored World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance focused almost entirely on the alleged misdemeanours of Israel.
It laid the groundwork for the subsequent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, aimed at economic isolation of the Jewish state, which duly won the backing of some Christian denominations. In a very similar way, the Nazis were given a helping hand by the church when, in 1936, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Hlond, publicly urged a boycott of Jewish businesses.
Yet amidst all the darkness, a light is shining as former enemies of Israel line up to make peace with them. I realise we need to be watchful and not too easily taken in by tokens of reconciliation, but I do see this as part-fulfilment of Isaiah 19:23-25 prophesying a highway of peace from Egypt to Assyria via Israel.
In light of this, the Gentile church needs to wake up to the reality of God’s end-time purposes and be prepared to stand with Israel, without whom we would have neither the Scriptures nor our Saviour.
Trouble is, too many are biblically challenged. If we really understood the Jesus of the Bible, we would honour and pray for the Israel of the Bible, newly gathered to their ancient land in preparation for the return of their Messiah.
I challenge every preacher to rouse us from our slumber with a series on the Book of Romans – without missing out any hard-to-swallow chapters.
Perhaps it’s time to start ignoring the Beasts of our world and focus instead on the Beauty of the Holy Land, its people and their Messiah.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International; and King of the Jews, also available from Christian Publications International.