No doubt you have already seen the photos that were released regarding Friday's meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama. Between Netanyahu's cold, angry stare, and Obama's tense, reciprocal glare, I don't know which was worse. Considering the obvious animosity which exists between the two leaders, not to mention their diametrically opposed viewpoints regarding how to move forward in the so-called Middle East peace process, I honestly don't know how they even managed to remain in the same room with each other, much less sit down to a meal together, and hold two hours plus of discussions. The atmosphere must have been absolutely electric. I would imagine that most of that expensive food was left uneaten. Who could possibly peacefully eat under such conditions, while your worst critic is sitting across the table from you? Then again, most politicians are pros when it comes to civility, political correctness and diplomacy. They will smile for the cameras, even while they are holding their breath and gritting their teeth.
Since President Obama gave his much-anticipated speech last Thursday, criticism has indeed been strong. Powerful Republican politicians, as well as many other American pro-Israel supporters, have been quick to pounce on President Obama, due to his firm stance regarding what he believes must be done in order to achieve peace in the Middle East. The position he has adopted is obviously not popular with these people, and never has been, but what other fair, equitable solutions are there? Continued occupation is not an option. Neither is a Palestinian State that is so divided in a physical and geographical sense that it isn't really even a state, and thus cannot function properly.
Many people no doubt realize that returning to some semblance of the pre-1967 borders may be the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is a very bitter pill to swallow for Jews and pro-Israel supporters alike. That is why no one is currently offering to lead the way, other than Obama himself, and his supporters within his administration. Obviously, that does not include Dennis B. Ross, who is Israel's favorite American son and loyal mouthpiece.
While the liberal, pro-Jewish press has been quick to heap scathing criticism upon Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not received equal treatment. So I must ask, why not? It should be clear to everyone by now that Netanyahu has driven the last nail into the coffin of the Middle East peace process. He drew a very firm line in the sand when he declared the following points:
1. he will never accept pre-1967 borders.
2. he will never recognize the Palestinian right of return.
Based on those remarks, going forward, it is an illusion and a deception to even refer to it as the Middle East peace process. Don't kid yourself. There is no peace process. It is dead in the water, and has been for some time now. The Palestinians obviously realize this, which is why they now intend to approach the United Nations General Assembly in September. The Israeli leadership habitually says that they have no peace partner. It seems to me that based on Netanyahu's remarks, the Palestinians have the right to say the very same thing. As long as both sides are so adamant in their positions, any form of further discussion is absolutely futile at this point. It would just be more years of fruitless, empty talks which contain no real substance, and which would lead to nothing concrete.
So what comes next?
If it weren't for the one remaining hope -- perhaps a false hope -- that the Palestinians have in the United Nations General Assembly, I wouldn't hesitate to say that the potential exists for a sudden, steep climb in the level of violence against Israel. In retrospect, intifada number one and intifada number two might be insignificant compared to what a third intifada might be like; because it would be fueled by a total loss of hope on the part of the Palestinians.
If thousands of Palestinians were willing to mass on Israel's borders a week ago -- even at the risk of facing death -- imagine if many thousands more did the same thing, or worse. If the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Yemenis and the Bahrainis have been willing to rise up against oppression, why not the Palestinians? Who knows. If they don't get what they want from the United Nations come September, anything could happen, and probably will.
I am reminded of some verses that were written by the Old Testament Prophet Zechariah where he writes the following:
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it . . . In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn . . . In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
Zechariah 12:2-3, 8-10, 13:1, KJV
While certain modern Bible teachers claim that the previous verses are describing our current time, and the situation in the Middle East, I am not so certain of this. I am more inclined to believe that they are referring to the time of the Roman occupation during the First Century, and more specifically, to the siege against Judah and Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman General Titus -- the son of Emperor Vespasian -- which I discuss in a number of my articles.
There are two key hints in the previous verses which make me believe that this is so. These hints appear to be prophecies concerning the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the spiritual Salvation which would result from His Death.
Please notice that Zechariah states "and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." In my view, that clearly seems to be a prophecy concerning the sufferings of Christ.
Zechariah also writes that "there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness". As all Christians realize, there is only one fountain, or one source, for cleansing us from our sins and uncleanness, and that is Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself stated in the Gospel of John:
"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 4:10-14, KJV
But my point in sharing the verses from the Book of Zechariah with you is to say this: Just as Jerusalem became a burdensome stone and a major problem for the Romans due to the belligerence of the Jews -- so much so that the Romans ultimately smashed Jerusalem to bits in 70 AD -- modern Israel and Jerusalem once again weigh heavily on the minds of many politicians, both in America and abroad. Despite effort after effort, the years and decades pass, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, and the level of hostility towards Israel continues to grow. Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly not doing his nation a favor by publicly displaying such belligerence and obstinacy. He is an incorrigible hawk who is set in his ways, and he needs to move out of the way before it is too late.