Israel Is No Longer David the Shepherd but David the King

While Israel once garnered sympathy for seeming like the biblical David—a youthful and inexperienced shepherd facing off against a gigantic and mighty warrior in the form of numerous Arab armies—it has now become a major regional power and a global economic player. Yet, writes Robert Nicholson, it is still worthy of the comparison to David—only now the mature David, king of Israel. And this, writes Nicholson, should be the lens through which its Christian supporters see it:

Israel will have enemies for the foreseeable future, but that old fear of being “wiped off the map” has faded and has been replaced by an unshakable confidence. This new national confidence is a source of both consternation to its enemies and occasionally concern to its allies. Israel’s allies, who are accustomed to caring for the poor and endangered Jew, are adjusting to the new reality that David can fend for himself. David the weak shepherd has become David the mighty king, and many of his best friends still don’t know what to do with that. . . . In just one lifetime, the Jewish state has gone from rags to riches. So how should we think about engaging Israel in light of such dramatic changes?

First, we need to keep in mind what Israel actually is. Outsiders often reduce the country to two-dimensional images of the “Holy Land” or the “frontline against terror” that ignore the 8.5 million people who actually live there. Israel is, above all else, an exercise in Jewish self-determination and security; we support Israel because we support the Jewish people, not the other way around. Israel is also home to almost two million non-Jews, a myriad assortment of Arab, Druze, Aramean, Armenian, and Syriac citizens who care just as deeply about its future as the Jews do. [Christians’] friendship with Israel means understanding Israel’s essential humanity.

Second, we should recognize that hatred of the Jewish state remains strong in many quarters. The war isn’t over, and the timeless reality of anti-Semitism demands constant vigilance. Hubris, self-deception, and destruction lie in wait for those who mistake calm for capitulation. Third, we should begin looking at Israel as a model of entrepreneurial ingenuity that can benefit others through its hard-won knowledge. . . .

Lastly, we need to get beyond the old paradigm of “supporting” Israel and explore the possibilities of partnering with the Jewish state to advance shared values and interests.

Read more at Providence

More about: Christian Zionism, Israel & Zionism, King David


How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen