THE POLITICAL PAGE

September/October 2006

The Campaign in Lebanon and its consequences (State of affairs 22.08.2006)

Foreword:

The writing of history has never been neutral, neither is this attempt. It is only that some historians assume to be 'objective' even though they aren't the statements they make clearly indicate their position when observing their selection of material, its order and their way of speech. This becomes even more obvious, when they report about the courses of action of the State of Israel.

In order to be transparent for my readership from the very beginning, I aim to pass on a broad spectrum of information and to disclose my sources. However, in order to be very clear, I am pro-Israel. This does not mean that I don't see the legal rights of the Palestinians and the sufferings of the civilian population in Lebanon. But it definitely means that I will not put up with the ‘panning movement' of the Media, which has already forgotten who the aggressors really are, namely Hamas and Hisbollah, and that the one on the defensive is Israel, which fights for its survival.

I also follow the guideline of German foreign policy, which has been pro-Israel since the time of Adenauer, as Angela Merkel recently observed. In no way does this mean that it is a course which runs against that of the Arabian states as seen during the visits of Steinmeier, the Foreign Secretary.

The result of this investigation shows how important - more important then ever before – are words of encouragement for the State of Israel, and that Israel needs trustworthy friends.

May our country always be such a friend to Israel.

INFORMATION

The Course of the War

On 25 th June, on the day which Hamas activists kidnapped a 19 year old Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in the Gaza Strip – Hamas had dug a 250 metre long tunnel under the border – it was clear that the Gaza Strip would again be occupied by Israel. And on 12th July when Hisbollah in Lebanon kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in the north, and when rockets hit Haifa – something according to previous experiences with their adversaries that had not been possible - a strong retaliatory strike by Israel was clearly unavoidable. For sure, intentional provocation had been arranged by Iran, Hisbollah's sponsor.

Hassan Nasrallah, the Hisbollah chief had been looking forward to this time for many years. After 2000, when the Israeli army retreated from the occupied area in the south of Lebanon for safety reasons, the warriors of Hisbollah immediately advanced and occupied the abandoned bunkers and fortifications left by Israel, and since then have been permanently extending them for 6 years. They dug underground tunnels and deep subterranean ammunition depots, which cannot be penetrated even by American rocket firepower that is normally able to take out these bunkers. Nasrallah boasted that he was excited about when Israel's attack would come… He thought to himself that he was both safe, and prepared.

Mossad, the Israeli secret service – which is known to be the best in the world – was informed, of course, regarding these facts and therefore the Israeli's prepared themselves for action too. Preparations were made on both sides. Only the ‘trigger' for action was missing; the kidnappings and the fire over Haifa became the trigger.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, even though he is not a general like Ariel Sharon, gave full freedom to his army, ”Do what you have to do!“ he said. Thus the army prepared an invasion and bombed the headquarters of Hisbollah in the south of Lebanon and especially the Hisbollah headquarters in the Shiite areas in South Beirut with thousands of bombs. The districts with a Christian and Sunnite majority were not targeted for attack. In contrast to this, all possible supply units and facilities that Hisbollah could use were bombed: the highway to Syria, streets and bridges; power stations, radar installations and the airport. Flyers were dropped over the areas which were to be bombed requesting that the civilian population flee (what other army would have done something like that?). Hundreds of thousands fled to the north, over the mountains to Syria. A quarter of the population in Lebanon (approx.1million) took flight, something that was complicated by the destruction in many places. For the population in Lebanon, this war meant great personal distress, for the country it meant a setback of decades because of the destruction of the infrastructure; and for the government this has become a real test, because no one can quite see the consequences of all this conflict at the moment.

Excursus 1: Lebanon (Resolution 1559 – unachievable)

The special thing about Lebanon is that after years of civil war, this country succeeded in leading a balanced policy between the rivalling ethnic groups: the Maronite Christians, the Sunnites and the Shiites. The Taif Treaty of 1989 says that in future the President must always be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunnite, and the President of the Parliament must always be a Shiite.

This system of mutual tolerance worked very well and the country prospered more and more after the war. Beirut was again the ‘Paris of the East'.

In the framework of the Taif Treaty, the three parties agreed to reorganise their basic political laws. However, three points remained unsolved: (1) the disarmament of Hisbollah as the last militia; (2) the Armistice with Israel, (3) the deployment of the army in the south of the country.

Here, the other side of the coin of the nice ‘Lebanese model of tolerance' became obvious: Hisbollah resisted the three agreements and strengthened its ‘State to State' position. Moreover, Hisbollah dominated the government in its party, represented by a Minister and was thus able to impeach agreements, which the party didn't like.

Therefore, the weakening or defeat of Hisbollah would have been a part of the agenda of the Sunnite and Christians, and yes, even of the ‘Amal' party - the moderate Shiites. We are concerned about what this will mean for Lebanon after this current end of war period.

At the beginning of the military action, everybody reckoned that the Israeli army, which was armed with the best high-tech equipment from the West, would weaken or even destroy Hisbollah within a few days. Due to this, the whole world watched developments for only about a week because everybody granted Israel the right to react to this provocation, the right of self-defence; Germany, as one of these countries, has always emphasised this principle. It was interesting to notice how quiet the Arabian neighbouring countries remained, with no demonstrations, whereas ‘the streets' were overcrowded with enraged people. The Sunnite Arabian governments (Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi-Arabia) considered that the destruction of the radical Islamists among the Shiite was of use to them, especially because their defeat would humiliate Iran.

Excursus 2 The Islamic fraternal strife – Sunnite and Shiite

This strife ('Fitna') has always existed in Islam. The main original issue was the legitimate successor for Mohammed the Prophet. According to Brookhaus, the majority of Muslims (90%) considered Caliph to be their successor; they considered themselves to be both orthodox and from the legitimate school (‘sunna') and therefore called themselves Sunnites. The Shiite (10%) objected, they considered Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law to be the legitimate successor; they became part of the Shiat (Shia), Ali's party.

However, the issue was about power covered in theological arguments. This happened in the past with several ruling dynasties, and is the same today in the conflict between Iran which is the centre of the Shiite, and Saudi Arabia the centre of the Sunnites; we see this deadly hate manifested especially by mutual attacks in the country of Iraq.

In the first instance, the West condemned both sides and demanded an armistice. However, these were only appeals (e.g. at the G-8-Summit in St. Petersburg) and not real diplomatic efforts, or even binding resolutions. The whole world knew that Resolution 1559 adopted in September 2004 by the UN, demanded the complete disarmament of the re-arming Hisbollah; in addition to its suppression of the invasion led by the Lebanese army at the border of Israel, and that this Resolution 1559 was not carried out by the Lebanese state - the state was too weak (see Excursus 1).

In this respect everybody knew that only Israel accomplished the UN Resolution 1559, and that Israel had also been the only power in the region which was able to accomplish it. Only France, which was in charge of Lebanon until 1943, spoke out and sent its Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary into the situation because the French wanted to gain the leading role in influencing public opinion in the world. The solidarity of world opinion was against Lebanon; immediately an ‘armistice' and humanitarian aid for the refugees were requested.

All these ‘quietly-spoken' desires were accompanied by the hope of a quick victory for Israel. These voices were heard even in Lebanon because the weakening of Hisbollah, which was like a state inside a state, was warmly welcomed.

Excursus 3: What is Hisbollah?

The former ambassador Ajatollah Khomeini in Damask, Haschemi Mohtaschemi, is considered to be the founder of the 'Hisb Allah', the 'Party of God'. After Israel's first campaign in Israel in 1982, Hisbollah was also founded in Beirut through the aid of Iran's strong financial and personal support. Their aim was war against the 'Zionist occupying force'. Already at that time Hisbollah was one of the most feared fanatical groups because of its extreme attacks.

Then Hisbollah decided to candidate as a party in the election campaign and to become a part of the state system. They became popular because of their social services, schools, hospitals and orphanages. Hisbollah turned out to be a ‘people movement'. As well as Hamas, they developed a second face: on the one hand they were a parliamentary party and on the other hand a terrorist underground movement; this is the reason why the ‘destruction' of Hisbollah is no longer possible.

Because it receives 50 million dollars p.a. from Iran, Hisbollah seems to have the second largest military force in the region after Israel.

This war however, was different from all other military actions. Although under intensive fire themselves, Hisbollah fired 250 Katjusha missiles over the border every day. There was no apparent sign of weakness in their ranks, let alone any form of break-up or split within their group.

Criticism regarding the disproportionate reaction by Israel, resulting from the kidnapping of two soldiers increased day by day. There were a flood of protests: On 26th July, a Lutheran priest from Beirut published an open letter to the Chancelloress, in the form of an announcement with a call for solidarity in FAZ. During a talk show, a female Cabinet Minister in Germany ‘stabbed her chief in the back' and took a stand against Israel. The Ecumenical Council of the church in Geneva also raised its voice. On an international level, Israel was more and more isolated, i.e. day by day the reasons and the effects of the war were distorted more and more in the media, and Israel which was the country under attack became the aggressor. After this, 10 Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN (Association of the South East Asian Nations) passed on a declaration at the summit in Kuala-Lumpur on 25 th July, in which they condemned ‘Israel's excessive and inappropriate use of weapons.'

The world was split in its opinion. Although France, Spain and Russia said that the misdemeanour of Hamas and Hisbollah was a terrorist act, they demanded a quick armistice.

However, this was exactly what the USA tried to prevent, because they hoped every day that the resistance of Hisbollah would be broken. They publicly supported Israel, and, according to UN Diplomats – they dissociated themselves from the role of being a neutral agent in the Middle East.

Both England and Germany were careful to make statements concerning both sides. However, Germany's Foreign Secretary Steinmeier, eagerly took care of the continuation of the dialogue between Jerusalem and the Arabic Capitals through his shuttle diplomacy. In the end, out of a swarm of shuttle diplomacy he was the only one left who had a good relationship with both sides.

Finally, on the political front, Israel was harmed by its attack on UN troops, the killing of 4 blue beret soldiers. Kofi Annan spoke out against Israel in an unusual form and used these words - “an unprecedented case of death and destruction through an excessive abuse of violence”. (Perhaps, Kofi Annan has never seen the pictures of Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg in 1945, or of Grosny.

But when it is said that “Beirut lies in ruins”, and you are shown a picture of a skyscraper in a Shiite quarter which was hit with great precision, and where all the neighbouring houses have been spared and not even a bolt destroyed, we ask ourselves where does 'Beirut lie in ruins?'

We also ask ourselves whether Kofi Annan is really allowed to call this smart bombing ‘excessive').

Day by day it became clearer that this war was different from all others before. Hisbollah operated as a small group, a thing which no other Arabic State had managed to do uptil now: to resist Israel's superiority for a period of 4 weeks and to be able to fire Katjusha missiles towards Israel without giving the impression of suffering any weakness. Nevertheless, Hisbollah, who hid in bunkers for 4 weeks were not left without damage.

On both sides there was the question of how to come to an armistice without a loss of face.

Moreover, different from the beginning of the war, the USA pushed Israel to agree to the drafted resolution produced by the UN Security Council after tough negotiations between the USA and France. This draft was passed as Resolution 1701 and thus allowed both warring parties to come to an armistice without a loss of face.

Resolution 1701 was designated for:

  1. an immediate end of war;
  2. the withdrawal of the Israeli army;
  3. the sending of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to the provinces in the south between the Litani river and the border of Israel;
  4. the stationing of an international UN troop force, which together with the Lebanese has to protect the north of Israel against further attacks from Hisbollah. It has a 'tough mandate'; i.e. it is allowed to shoot back when it is under attack. It is to be expanded to 15,000 blue beret soldiers. The 2000 UN soldiers who were already stationed there were only on observation duties; therefore, Hisbollah was able to re-arm itself without hindrance (and the world looked on!).
  5. the disarmament of Hisbollah requested in Resolution 1559 is not mentioned again in Resolution 1701, perhaps because nobody could carry it out. Hassan Nasrallah made it clear that the disarmament of Hisbollah would not take place, under any circumstances.

Excursus 4: The relation between the UN and Israel

The UN, which was founded in 1945 as a kind of world parliament was to defuse future conflicts after experiences encountered in the Second World War

On 29th November 1947 before the creation of the State of Israel, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to support the splitting of Palestine into a Jewish and Arabic State. However, when the Arabic States declared war on the new State immediately after the proclamation of the State of Israel on 14th May 1948, the UN protested against it but didn't intervene, they only sent war observers.

In the years after that, especially after the 6-day-war in 1967, the Arabic countries used the UN as a platform in order to question the legitimacy of the State of Israel. This was intensified when the Soviet Union and the whole Eastern Block renounced their neutrality and joined the Arabic states as an opposite pole to the USA.

When more and more states became members of the UN, a massive alliance was created between these and the socialist countries which had been condemning Israel's policy. In many worldwide conferences, Israel has been condemned for being racist. No other country has been confronted with so many UN resolutions as Israel has, even after the collapse of the Socialist block. In Dubai 2001 for example, Israel's settlement policy was called ‘genocide and slavery' and ‘a crime against humanity'.

How can such a worldwide organisation protect Israel?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the end of the war we ask ourselves:

    1. What were the targets?
    2. What are the results? How high are the costs?
    3. How to continue?

1. Which were the targets?

Israel's targets

•  The release of their soldiers.

•  Destruction of structures, and destruction of Hisbollah's stockpile of weapons, and thus

•  Hisbollah's disarmament according to UN Resolution 1559.

•  Interdiction of supplies from Iran via Syria.

•  Indirect support for the Lebanese government by elimination of, or at least by the weakening of Hisbollah (because Hisbollah embarrasses the current powerless government, and thus the government was not able to implement the UN Resolutions).

Targets of Hisbollah

•  Exchange of a large number of Palestine prisoners (especially women and children) for the three Israeli soldiers.

•  Consistent re-affirment: The complete annihilation of the Jewish state by any means possible.

•  Demonstrations with the aim that armed resistance against a military superiority such as Israel, or as the USA in Iraq, is worthwhile. Israel's withdrawals in 2000 from South Lebanon and in 2005 from the Gaza Strip, were interpreted by Hisbollah and Hamas as being clear stage victories on the way to the annihilation of Israel.

•  Nasrallah was perceived as being the hero of the Arabic states, the one who managed to stand up to Israel. He is being celebrated in all Arabic countries, at present.

•  Without expressing it, Hisbollah is also interested in extending its influence as a ‘state within a state' in Lebanon.

Beside these two combatants, other countries such as Iran and Syria were also interested in this war.

Targets of Iran

•  To make a diversionary tactic for the escalating nuclear conflict.

•  The annihilation of Israel, which is considered as ‘a blot in the landscape'.

•  A leading role in influencing public opinion in the Islamist camp.

•  The creation of a 'Shiite half-moon' from the Indian sub-continent via Iran; from the Shiite people in Iraq to Hisbollah in Lebanon.

•  (On the other hand) the ‘levelling out' of the deeply religious differences between the Sunnites and the Shiites in order to fight together against Israel.

•  The expansion of supremacy in the region through Hisbollah's victory (compared to Saudi Arabia and Egypt).

Targets of Syria

•  The recovery of influence in Lebanon by supporting the group, Hisbollah. ”We say that supporting Hisbollah is a great honour for us, and a decoration on the chest of every Arab” - President Bashir Al Assad.

•  Important objectives: To regain the Golan Heights from Israel and to make peace with Israel.

•  Co-operation with the Americans in Iraq without too much effort in order to escape the image of leading a ‘dirty' policy. President Assad knows that peace in the region will not be possible without Syria. (Therefore, there is the hope that Syria will notice that its relation with Iran is counterproductive in order to reach these goals).

Targets and hopes of the Arabs

Amos Oz the famous Israeli pioneer of peace and balance with the Arabs says that the actual war did not take place between Israel and Hisbollah, but between a coalition of peace-loving states - Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt on the one hand, and the fanatic Islamists led by Iran and Syria on the other hand. These countries are not only dangerous for Israel but also for their own Governments stability; therefore, their destruction would have been completely in the interest of Hisbollah.

2. What are the results? How high are the costs?

After a war, especially after an abandoned war as this one, everybody tries to stylise themselves as winners. This is the same case in the Middle East on a larger scale.

International observers say it is a typical no-win-situation. They all have lost.

The Arabic Sunnite governments lost because their expectations that the powers of both Iran and the Shiites would be restricted weren't satisfied. On the contrary!

Hisbollah's opposition of Nasrallah the Shiite, has allowed him to become an Islamic hero across all religious borders and all country borders. Iran has underlined its leading role once again by its actions in influencing public opinion against Israel, and also the Sunnite Arabic governments image in the face of their own people; where the scum of the radical Muslim brotherhood have been made to seethe in anger and have made both Israel and the Sunnites appear like wet blankets'. Nasrallah sneered: ”Stop this aggression against Lebanon in order to save your thrones and the leftovers of your honour”.

The country of Lebanon is the clear loser. The country lost people, the people lost their houses, it lost its good infrastructure, and so far has lost its political balance at home, because the Shiites will probably no longer be satisfied with the 15 year-old ‘balance' agreement between Christians, Sunnites and Shiites.

Even though Nasrallah seemed to be revelling in his own glory, the speed that he agreed to the UN Resolution 1701 was seen in a conspicuous light. Nobody behaves like this if he is just about to win, particularly if the implementation of such a resolution is just about to destroy his strategy of annihilating Israel. Or does he reckon on the help of blue beret soldiers, who will probably only make a list of how often Katjusha missiles are fired against Israel, as was the case before?

Nasrallah also feels obliged to explain to his own people who are coming back and are asking themselves whether the destruction of their own goods and happiness, due to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, was really worthwhile. Therefore, Nasrallah has already promised to grant financial support from Iran for reconstruction work.

Israel especially, incurred heavy losses; and none of their war targets have been achieved satisfactorily: The soldiers were not freed, and their freedom will have to be negotiated.

The defeat of Hisbollah was partially successful but they didn't hit the leading group of Militia.

Of course, arsenals were destroyed, but the more important destruction of missile depots obviously remained unsuccessful (therefore, disarmament of Hisbollah is out of the question).

What seems to be the worst thing is the fact that the Israeli army has lost its aura. Israel was able to recruit 500,000 male and female soldiers within a short time. Their arsenal is filled with ‘state of the art' high-tech land, water and especially air weapons. Above all, Israel has a centre for nuclear weapons in the Negev desert, and is the only country in the Middle East, which possesses one. Despite all this, Israel suffered as a consequence of Hisbollah's weapons. Why?

Israel's soldiers protect the civilian population against the enemy's hits. The warriors of Hisbollah use the civilian population, they install their launching pads in residential areas and have arsenals in residential buildings; they use their fellow citizens as living shields. How can these warriors be sorted out without killing civilians? It is impossible! Hisbollah want their civilians, women and children, to be hurt in order to win the war in another front, the Media. Straight away, public opinion in the world was affected by pictures of Lebanese misery among the refugees – just as it was in the case of the Intifada, where youngsters threw stones against armed soldiers - although Hisbollah was to blame for the misery of the whole civilian population.

Nasrallah also knows very clearly that public opinion in the world is the strongest opponent of Israel, and thus this worked in favour of Hisbollah.

However, on a fairly long-term basis, the most difficult military question is Israel's dealing of Hisbollah's main weapon: rockets. They have a short flight time and are out-flying all radar systems; handmade Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, Katjushas of Hisbollah, but also the far more dangerous Fadshr-3 and Fadshr-5 rockets – some of which were launched against Haifa. Even the radar systems on ships could not catch these radio-controlled C-802 cruise missiles, which fly some metres above the water surface; one of these missiles hit the 'Speer' corvette.

From a military point of view, Israel cannot resist the torrent of missiles, which have been used. After this war, this is the tough lesson which has been learned; that despite a high-tech army, Israel can no longer effectively protect its citizens.

This knowledge will increase desperation and fear amongst their people. Israel's enemies rub their hands together with glee even more, and think to themselves that they are closer to their target.

3. How to continue?

Now, a 15,000 man strong UN peacekeeping force is to protect Israel, and be responsible for its existence; in addition to this another 15,000 Lebanese soldiers - both groups having a ‘robust mandate'.
Not the quantity but the quality of a troop makes the difference. The question is, can these troops accomplish Israel's protection? This is highly questionable because during this task, Lebanese soldiers will confront fellow Lebanese people; will they possibly shoot each other in order to protect Israel? An absurd thought, especially because many of the soldiers are Shiites. According to the latest news, Hisbollah's disarmament is intended for them.

And what about the peacekeeping force UNIFIL? In less than one year from now, this troop force is to be made ready; 1500 blue beret soldiers are to be added to the existing 2000 soldiers. This is almost an invitation to Hisbollah for a punctual deployment of new arms; but on condition that Israel's troops disappear from the scene as soon as possible. Premier Olmert has already made it quite clear that they will only go if the UN troops arrive – even if this takes months.

Until now some European countries like France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, probably Ireland and Belgium, and maybe Germany are interested in sending troops. Turkey is the one country which was immediately ready to send in troops because they consider an appearance on Europe's side to be a chance for their acceptance into the EU. However, many other Asian countries are also interested in sending their troops. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia – all of them Muslim states. Where does this sudden interest come from? Who is pushing the agenda here?

And again the question: will a Muslim shoot a Muslim for Israel's sake – and all this after the ASEAN declaration in Kuala Lumpur? And which of the European countries considers itself to be a friend of Israel? Maybe France, which wants to be in the lead, but actually only wants to send 200 men?

With the exception of Germany, there is no other real friend of Israel; therefore, Olmert explicitly asked for Germany's participation. He made it clear that countries, which do not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, should not be allowed to participate - this is the least that should be done. Olmert also asked Italy to take over the leadership instead of France – a thing that Italy is ready to do.

If there was a conflict like the one in 1982 with the PLO, or now with Hisbollah, Israel could in theory simply advance into Lebanon and persecute its enemies there.

However, if there was a UN peacekeeping troop in the south of Lebanon (but without a clear mandate), and if Hisbollah were to attack Israel again and were not able to be stopped by the blue beret soldiers; the crossing of the Lebanese border would mean a confrontation with the soldiers of the international community of countries - may God prevent this! But already the thought of this discloses apocalytical horizons, where the ‘kings of the whole world' according to Rev.16v.14 will fight against God in Armageddon; the biblical Meggido is only 50 km away from the Lebanese border.

BACKGROUND

1. Prospects for the nation

It has become obvious that regarding weapons, Israel cannot put forward alternatives for the short-range rockets of their adversary at the moment.

But also strategically it has become obvious that even from a military point of view, it is almost impossible to work against the terrorist movement, especially if they move among the population like ‘a fish in water'. We call this an 'asymmetric warfare'. Wherever this has been the case in history, the greater force at the beginning of each confrontation has started to dwindle in time, and has had to withdraw finally. This was the case in Vietnam, it is the case in Chechenia at the moment, and in Iraq. It started in Afghanistan and it is obvious that the Islamic terror movement will apply these tactics also in Israel since all Islamic wars remain fruitless.

Israel is fighting at 4 frontiers at the moment:

•  in the north against Hisbollah

•  in the south against Hamas

•  in the heartland against suicide bombers

•  worldwide against the media jungle for public opinion in the whole world, and generally the media is in favour of the inferior force.

The UN wants to guarantee protection in the north; in the south there is hope due to the coalition between Fatah and Hamas. The secret service and the fence/wall proved to be of great help against the suicide bombers. As far as the Media is concerned, it is not so much about words, as it is about pictures, which touch the hearts of viewers.

2. Prospects for the region

2.1. Roadmap

The political line adopted even by Israel follows the so called 'Roadmap' i.e. the peace plan with the ultimate objective of having land designated for two separate and independent states: a Jewish state and a Palestine state. The core sentence behind this for Israel is ‘ Land for peace'.

Initially this plan was rejected vehemently on both sides because both sides are interested in possessing the land and reckoned on driving each other out for religious reasons. The Muslims talked about driving them 'out into the sea'; the Israelis founded settlements as isolationist groups.

Among the Israelis there was first the acknowledgement that this was not the only political solution possible today especially because in addition to this there were also demographic considerations. This was the question, which split the Likud party, because their chairman Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister decided to take this direction; with this concept as a basic statement, Sharon founded a new party, the 'Kadima'. Thus, the army evacuated the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005. In January 2006 Sharon was in coma and his 'Kadima' which is now led by Ehud Olmert became the strongest party in the election campaign in West Jordan despite clear statements regarding the evacuation of further settlements.

The process of understanding the Palestinian side takes longer. The Fatah party under the leadership of Abbas, have agreed to Israel's right of existence so far, and have enabled negotiations to take place especially after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Elections took place in January 2006 and the radical Islamic Hamas, which is known worldwide to be a terrorist group, won the election for internal Palestinian reasons. One of their core statements before the election was the non-recognition of Israel as a State; as a result of this, almost all funds, mainly from Europe and the USA were reduced; famine was the outcome of this. Then the Fatah and Hamas supporters fought against each other and a civil war became imminent; they started negotiations again and came closer to each other, even regarding the question of Israel's right to existence.

One key person in Hamas who currently lives in exile in Damascus did not like this idea; Mashal induced the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in order to provoke Israel and to stop the process of proximity between the groups.

After this war the question arose:

Should the ‘Roadmap' be supported in future? Israel has had the bitter experience that the core sentence ‘Land for peace' with the Palestinians, respectively the Islamists, is not possible because each attempt to give up land is seen by the other side as a stage-victory on the way to driving out the Jews.

This was the case in the year 2000 at the withdrawal from the south of Lebanon, which Hisbollah immediately used in order to establish a fortification against Israel, and to bomb the north of Israel with hundreds of Katjusha in 2006.

This was also the case in Gaza in 2005, where 100 Kassam rockets exploded every month after territory withdrawal.

What is the sense of this in the face of the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from West Jordan? The military and secret service control possibilities were superfluous. We need to keep in mind that in its narrowest part Israel measures only 20 km. In the case of Gaza, only Sederot is within the Kassam range area. If the same game should take place in West Jordan towards other regions in Israel - no fence and no wall would be of any help! Then from Jerusalem up to the north, to GanNer and Ma'al Gilboa (numerous places and cities), even Tel Aviv would be threatened; such a border cannot be controlled, not even by UN troops!

Can the ‘Roadmap' still be kept?!

2.2. The neighbours in the region

It is obvious that Israel is surrounded by Arabic states in that region which are altogether more moderate - Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt - with one exception, a 50km long strip at the Golan Heights which borders on Syria, Israel has a good relation with these countries, something which was about to improve with the Palestinians too. The radical Islamist groups of all political ‘colours' are the real troublemakers which threaten Israel, their own Governments, and the whole world.

A big step in the fight against terrorism regarding Israel would be won if on a political level, Syria could escape from the ‘Shiite half-moon' between Iran and Hisbollah and respectively Hamas; because all the supply routes for weapons and warriors from Iran go through Syria.

Thus Israel's Minister of Defence, Peretz has offered talks with Syria; but this will only help if Israel is ready to give back the Golan Heights.

'Land for peace' again?

Can Israel trust Syria even with a non-aggression pact?

In any case the peace solution for the region will not be possible without Syria; this is the case for negotiations with both Israel and the USA.

3. Global prospects

The Journalist Matthias Küntzel, wrote on www. spiegel.de/politik/debatte: on 23rd July: ”The ambitions of Islam again go farther then their declared target (the destruction of Israel): For Teheran, the conflict in the Middle East is not the reason for this, but simply a starting point in order to clear up the West and its secular orientation as a whole”. Ahmadinedshad makes no secret of this program; in October 2005 when he propagated the elimination of Israel for the first time, he added: ”We are in the midst of a historical war, which has persisted for centuries!” According to this, Ahmadineshad's war has nothing to do with the conflict in the Middle East, which dates back much earlier. According to Ahmadineshad, the current war fought in Palestine was nothing else but the 'foremost front of the Islamic world against the arrogant world'. And he then continued : ”We need to be aware of the lowliness of our enemies in order for our holy hate to spread out like a steadily growing wave”. This holy hate is not conditioned, it cannot be softened through Jewish or non-Jewish behaviour but only through submission; this hate will not be satisfied by Israel's destruction. Also the world of unbelievers – the ‘arrogant' world against God – will not be spared; this genocidal hate will spread out throughout the world”

The Iranian leadership announced the training of thousands of Shiite suicide bombers as a kind of aid. If today (23.07.) Israeli soldiers, both women and men, fight at the ‘forefront' by risking their lives in this apocalyptic program, aren't we supposed to owe them at least our solidarity” Küntzel concludes his contribution with the following words: ”Just as Hisbollah is fighting its war on the behalf of Iran, Israel fights genocidal Islam on behalf of the western world. That the western world is prevented from ‘stabbing this country in the back' is the least thing we should expect”.

What Matthias Küntzel says is nothing else but updating what experts of Islam have pointed towards since the shock of September 11th 2001. Namely that the Koran quotes both Jews and Christians in the same breath, in order to be converted or to be defeated in the varied process of their jihad. Islam has a militant wing, which stands for Islamic ideology as a whole, with terrorist means. This means: that not every Moslem is a terrorist – this is the ultimate disarming statement. No, Muslims can be very friendly; but every radical can put every Muslim under pressure with statements from the Koran, ‘to become a good Muslim at last' and ‘to go to war for the sake of God'. It is obvious that especially young men receive a purpose and perspective for their lives, a sense for their otherwise senseless being, be it in the Gaza Strip, in London or in Kreuzberg.

World domination is, and will be the target of Islam. Different from the world mission of Christianity, this is also understood explicitly from a political level as well as on a religious one. This is something which is hard to explain to the western world, which has been marked by Christianity and tolerance.

Therefore I shout it out:

Listen: Islam is a religious and a political system – just as Communism was!!

And our dealing with it should not be different from our dealing with Communism at that time:

Communism was a belief , the belief in the eternity of substance. Knowledge of the adversary was needed in order to stand against him, knowledge of our own Christian doctrines and especially our convincing experiences with the God of the Bible. It is the same thing in dealing with Muslims. This is the duty of the Church, and Christians: mission through dialogue in connection with signs and wonders.

Communism was also a political system with the definite target of the destruction of the West and the establishment of world domination by Communism.

The West opposed it politically. The thirst for expansion by the Eastern Block was kept at bay by all military, economical and secret service means. It is the duty of the state to keep Islam's thirst for political expansion into and against the 'West' at bay by all legal means; things like Turkey's desire to join the EU; dependence on Arabic oil; Muslim Investors in western firms; the construction of mosques in our cities, resistance against building churches in a Muslim country; respect of basic laws etc.

One thing we can say for sure: if western governments do not soon recognise the political seriousness of Islam, and what people like Ahmadinedschad say, that this is the program of Islam – not just of the Islamist extremists! - it could be too late for the next generations. Under the 'edict of tolerance': this isn't a war of cultures, the dialogue between different political views, that the Church and Islam is incompatible . It is a dialogue without the understanding of what the core issue is all about - survival, in a free Europe!

Israel is approx. 15 years ahead of us in realising this. Instead of criticising Israel's action as being ‘extreme and excessive', the West should recognise that it is simply a matter of survival and that what they experience there in a small way is what we are about to experience in a big way.

The West has not yet made history with the force of Islam. Israel is right in the middle of it!

The West has every reason to support Israel regarding Islam, instead of ‘stabbing it in the back'.

4. Historical and Theological Prospects

Our God is a God of history i. e. he is leading both individuals and peoples groups. Very often we can only see the finishing tape if we look back at events, sometimes we can then see things clearer.

What is the meaning of the events of the last 12 months? Are we gaining any knowledge from all this? Can we see God's red tape?

4.1. The Events

•  Evacuation of the Gaza Strip (summer 2005).

•  Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies in a coma (beginning of January 2006)

•  In the Palestinian regions, the terrorist organisation Hamas becomes the strongest party and takes over the government (end of January 2006).

•  Elections in Israel. The military and internationally inexperienced Ehud Olmert becomes head of government as the successor of Sharon.

•  25th. June: Hamas activists kidnap Gilad Schalit in Gaza. Israel's military action

•  12 th . July: Two other soldiers are kidnapped in the North by Hisbollah. Start of a 4 week long campaign against Hisbollah in Lebanon.

•  Iraq on the edge of a civil war. Politically switched off in terms of regional influence because of internal problems

•  Iran
- develops nuclear weapons
- threatens Israel with annihilation (October 2005)
- steps forward as spokesperson of Islam
- supports Hamas and Hisbollah in public, in order to destroy Israel

•  The campaign ends in a draw whereas Israel
- loses the nimbus of invinciblility
- is not in the possession of strong enough defence against its enemies.

•  Lebanese troops and the UN blue berets will protect the north border of Israel against further attacks by Hisbollah. For the first time, Israeli soldiers and UN soldiers stand against each other at the border with the command to shoot if necessary.

•  Hamas and Fatah agree to form a coalition.

4.2. Attempt at an interpretation

It is obvious: Israel has been weakened.

Internationally, the Jewish State is again in the pillory, and on a national level it is obvious that this highly armed state is not able to protect its own citizens. In addition there are flaws in its military leadership. This discourages the people, the government and the army, which has always been victorious. Ehud Olmert does his best but Israel lacks a charismatic leader of Ariel's weight at this time.

Something happens here. God talks to his people.

Israel's history is acquainted with such situations of discouragement and of being dominated by its enemies in this spiritually cold region. How often do we hear about such things in the book of Judges?

The reason for problems was always the sin of the people, its renunciation of God or as in Jeremiah, a politically wrong decision (Jer. 42&43). God is waiting for them to cry out and to repent.

But why now? Was Israel without sin after the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, because it won every war after that? Hasn't Israel – just as we have – loaded sin and guilt upon themselves day after day? What is different now?

We consider the renunciation of the claim for land as a whole by Sharon's government and the acceptance of the ‘Roadmap' idea with the solution of having two states; with the consequences of the clearing of the Gaza Strip, an obvious historical change in the last year. This happened because they neglected explicit biblical principles. If anything at all, this historical U-turn of policy in Israel which happened during the last 1 or 2 years, will appear as such in history books in the future.

The implementation of the ‘Roadmap', means the evacuation of settlers from the settlements which are close to the enemy's land. They prayed, protested and wept. Even soldiers wept because people were removed from there; people who by their courage, beliefs and even their lives, supported the 'spirit of Israel'. By their removal from Gaza, something broke in them; but not only in them but in the whole nation. They withdrew in order to live in peace again. Was it wrong? Was it right? The assessment on a spiritual scale was different.

Now, the war has finished. The end of it was weakening Israel as never before since 1948 in this way. If we interpret this war from a spiritual point of view, this war can be taken as an answer to these questions. If we understand history as being God's history – including even the wars (Ps. 46vs.9-12) – this means that for God, who gave Israel this land, the renunciation of land is like a renunciation of faith in HIM – in one word this is - sin. This is not a moral verdict, and not even a prophetic revelation, but the result of analysing the historical processes of the last 12 months in the light of biblical knowledge regarding God's actions.

This spiritual analysis seems to also make sense from a military and strategical point of view. Because after the menace of Kassam and Katjusha short-range rockets to the people – and presently there are no weapons capable of counter-attack; we can observe that a ‘bright corridor' would be the only ‘weapon'. In plain words, in the present situation of menace the old maxim is true: 'land for peace' is to be seen as very wrong and has to be changed into: 'more land for peace', in order to increase Israel's safety.

The result of military analysis completely matches the biblical interpretation of events in the recent past.

If the government in Israel would recognise this, then Israel's policy would make a new U-turn, which would indeed lead to international indignation, but which nationally, would unite the people with their deepest convictions.

And the land will need this deep conviction in order to resist the storm of deep conviction on the side of Islam. The victims and the wounds, which Israel probably will still bear, will only then bearable if everybody is ready to grab hold of God's promises, i. e. to hold on to God.

Although, this ‘holding on to God' brings forth a political guideline – which is not a new guideline but an old one - it does not mean violence as a method, nor does it mean suppression, discrimination and war. If they deviate from the ‘Roadmap', they have to find a new way of co-operation. You cannot reason with radicals, they are obstinate. Among Palestinians there are already so many people who are ready for peaceful co-existence with Israel, and this makes a way of co-operation and co-existence possible, because it is better for the Palestinians too, if they live in peace with Israel.

If the holding onto the promises concerning Israel was/is really God's will, according to Israel's experience with God, he will help them to get out of this situation. God also desires to lead the hearts of the Muslims.

God promised to help his people by saying: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit'. Let us trust these words together with Israel again!

PRAYER

Our prayer must be based on scriptures.

Isaiah 40 vs.27-31 - Comfort for Israel

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain O Israel: ”My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God?" He gives strength to the weary…

Ps. 83 - Lamentation over enemies

O God, do not keep silent! be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; "Come“, they say, ”let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more…”

Jeremiah 14vs.7-9 - Acknowledgement of sin

Also our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of your name…

Ps. 46vs.8-12 - God is the Lord even in times of war

Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolation he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shield with fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Ps. 122vs.6-9 - Blessing over Jerusalem

Seek Jerusalem's prosperity! May those who love you be secure! May there be peace within your walls…

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, you have chosen Israel to be the people of your covenant. You have blessed it and made it a blessing for the peoples of the world. You promised great things for your people and its land. Nowadays, we see the fulfilment of the old prophecies, the return of Jewish people from all the countries in the north and south.

Father, our trust in your unchangeable faithfulness and your eternal mercy has been strengthened. Praises be unto you!

You will not rest until you have fulfilled everything you said through your prophets. The veil of stubbornness is still over them (Rom.11). But you have called us from all nations, to stand in the gap for your people, to pray and to seek its best.

Open our eyes in order to see what Israel needs. Open our ears in order to learn to pray after your heart for Israel and its Promised Land. You said: ”Whoever blesses Israel, will be blessed!“ We don't want to be found guilty by being disobedient but to bless in order to receive Israel's blessing.

Our Father and God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are standing before you and intercede for the people of your covenant, to return from their sins and conformity and to learn to listen to you again. We proclaim your will for government, policy, religion and economy, into the education system and the army and into all the positions of responsibility.

In the Name of Jesus we bless the land, the people and especially the Jewish people who have accepted their Messiah. They should be light and salt, encouragement in afflictions and humiliation until the time, when you will remove the veil and release all the Jewish people for a big mission in the world.

Glory be unto you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

(from the Adoramus community)

Ortwin Schweitzer

Sources:

DIE ZEIT Nr. 34,2006, (17.8.); Rheinischer Merkur Nr. 32 (10.8), Nr. 33, (17.8.); Jüdische Allgemeine Nr. 29,2006 (20.7.); Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung vom 19., 20., 21., 22., 26., 27., 29., Juli; 2., 4., 16., 17., 23. August 2006;
DER SPIEGEL Nr. 30,2006 (24.7.)

Matthias Küntzel, Warum Israel richtig reagiert www.spiegel.de/politik/debatte/0.1518.428093.00

Johannes Gerloff, Kriegsziele – aus Sicht Israels, Israelnetz vom 10.8.06

Johannes Facius, Das Geheimnis der Gesetzlosigkeit, Wächterruf 9, 30.7.06

Media Tenor, Die Darstellung des Krieges im Nahen Osten:

Medienanalyse der Berichterstattung von ARD und ZDF, 7.8.06

Haim Hariri, A View from the Eye of the Storm, (on War and Terror) April 2004

Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, 21. Aufl. 2005, Schiiten, Sunniten