As Britain enters stormy waters with Iran (more of that later), a senior Iranian lawmaker has said the Jewish state wouldn’t last half-an-hour if the U.S. attacked his country. And in east London, a knife-wielding man threatened to behead an Orthodox Jew as he walked down the street.
Jews are feeling increasingly trapped in what is virtually a déjà vu moment for God’s chosen people – except this time they do have a place of refuge.
However, with Israel too under severe threat from all sides, they have the potential for being caught in a trap once again if we keep giving way to dictators who hate them.
A mass exodus of UK Jews is a real possibility in light of rising anti-Semitism and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. And yet the man who has signally failed to deal with Jew-hatred within his party has inadvertently also caused Jews to reconnect with and proudly embrace their heritage, as online columnist for the Daily Telegraph Miranda Levy has pointed out.
Writing for the New York Post, she said: “…over the past few months, both my political sensibilities and my sense of cultural identity have radically changed.” She also quoted Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge as saying: “I remember my dad tried to make me Jewish and failed. The local rabbi tried to make me Jewish and failed. It took the leader of the Labour Party to do that.”
The increasing unease in which the Jewish community finds itself reminds me of the mother eagle who, when teaching her young ones to fly, gradually removes the comforting straw of their nest. Not that Mr Corbyn has the best interests of Jews at heart, but the God of Israel surely does (Jer 31.3) and ultimately plans to bring them all back to the Promised Land. Nearly seven million are already there within just a couple of generations of its rebirth.
Their return is in perfect fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies. For example, God speaks through Isaiah thus: “I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back’.” (Isa 43.5f)
Such an exodus could inflict serious damage to our economy, possibly on a bigger scale than Brexit, but it’s a price we may have to pay for our silence on the issue of anti-Semitism on the one hand, and the fulfilment of God’s word on the other.
Bear in mind that it was God’s purpose for Jesus to die for our sins (Isa 53.10), but the man who betrayed him did not go unpunished (Matt 26.24). In the same way, it is God’s will that Jews scattered across the globe should be restored to the Holy Land before he returns to reveal himself to them (Ezek 39.27-29). Nevertheless, those who have mistreated them will come under a curse (Genesis 12.3, Joel 3.2).
Meanwhile Britain has now become a target for Iranian revenge after seizing an oil tanker believed to be headed for Syria in defiance of sanctions against that country. Iranian vessels subsequently attempted to capture a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, but were successfully warned off by a Royal Navy frigate which finally aimed its guns at them. An alarming development indeed!
The crisis has revealed the ineptitude of Britain in being party to a deal that was never going to work, especially in light of evidence that Iran has exceeded the limit of enriched uranium to which it had agreed. And President Trump has been proved right for having pulled out of it last year.
As the first line of defence from any fallout over the spat, Israel is right to question the commitment of nations, including Britain, to its welfare.
“Iran has violated its solemn promise under the UN Security Council not to enrich uranium beyond a certain level,” said their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking the signatories to the agreement: “Where are you?”
Well, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said Britain would pull out if Iran breaks the deal – so watch this space.
But with our stubborn refusal to follow the US lead on this, as well as recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, we are allowing Iran to play off key allies against one another, thereby strengthening the position of the world’s leading sponsor of terror.
I realise our appeasement of Iran is for economic reasons, but there comes a point when we need to do the right thing. And since we are not blessing Israel by kowtowing to Iran, but rather inviting judgment on ourselves, siding with America on this issue would obviously be the right move.
Britain is privileged to have played a special role in Israel’s restoration, though tragically we have also betrayed them over the years – even now most of our churches ignore their well-being.
But now we have another chance of coming to their rescue. As God once spoke through Isaiah of how he would use Cyrus, the Persian emperor, to rebuild his city and set his exiles free – “but not for a price or reward” (Isa 45.13) – we too must do the right thing by his people.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International