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Israel will have enemies for the foreseeable future, but that old fear of being “wiped off the map” has faded and has been replaced by an unshakable confidence.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.