The much anticipated meeting between US President Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now in the history books.
At first glance, it appears that it will be filed in the “Much ado about nothing” files.
No major policy declarations.
No major demands for Israeli concessions.
An all smiles press opportunity to see the heads of two nations seemingly on the same page.
But a closer examination of the statements made in the aftermath of these talks reveals a mind set that I believe represents the second greatest threat to the continuing existence of Israel.
On Iran, Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against the Islamic Republic if it shunned U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Washington and many key allies contend Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.
“The important thing is to make sure there is a clear timetable, at which point we say these talks don’t seem to be making any clear progress,” Obama said. “If that hasn’t taken place I think the international community will see that it’s … Iran itself that is isolating themselves.”
It was clear that Mr. Netanyahu’s position was that any meaningful peace was not possible until the Iranian nuclear issue was resolved.
But in an almost chicken and the egg response, Mr. Obama insisted that progress on the Iranian issue wasn’t possible until the Israel/Palestinian issue was resolved.
And from a purely secular point of view, Obama’s position makes sense.
Let’s complete the so called two state solution.
This will cause the surrounding Arab nations to be able to focus on forming a united front against the growing Iranian threat in the region.
With this united international consensus in place, meaningful sanctions can be imposed on Iran.
The Iranians will see the error of their ways, abandon their nuclear ambitions and take full advantage of the offer to once again become a full partner in the global community.
And if the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear ambitons was secular or purely pragmatic, this would make sense.
But their is one fatal flaw in this line of thinking.
Iran’s motivation for pursuing the bomb is neither secular nor pragmatic.
It is entirely spiritual.
Both Iran’s ruling cleric the Ayatollah Kameni and it’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are devout believers in the imminent return of the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi.
The Mahdi is the rough equivalent of a Muslim messiah. And according to Shiite teachings, he will arrive when the world is in the midst of a global war between Islam and the infidels.
It will be the Mahdi who will supernaturally conquer the enemies of Islam and with his side kick Jesus will bring in a world wide caliphate where all will be governed by Sharia law.
To this end, the Iranian mullahs aren’t looking to win a war with the world, just start one that will usher in their messiah.
It is clear that the driving motivation behind the development of Iran’s nuclear capacity is not political or secular – it is to create on the ground the conditions necessary for their view of the End to be fulfilled.
And herein lies the danger to Israel.
Our government takes a relentlessly secularist view on virtually everything it touches, including foreign policy.
We tend to believe that all other nations think exactly the same way.
Faith is something personal, but should be absolutely insulated from practical decisions and policies.
A few years ago Christian artist Steve Taylor put out a song called “It’s a Personal Thing”.
In the song, he had a politician express these profound words:
“I believe for the betterment of all mankind
In the total separation of church and mind.”
This wall of separation between religion and real life is unsettlingly common in our culture.
At a local gathering of community leaders I heard a prominent man offer this definition of what it means to be a Christian businessman – “When I am in church I am a Christian. But when I go to work I am a businessman!”
This same mentality allows politicians who are at a Catholic Mass on Sunday, to glowingly endorse abortion providers on Monday.
“C’mon! All this religious stuff is good in it’s place, but let’s not get carried away with it. We have a real world to run!”
But what happens when a government arises that didn’t get this memo?
What happens when the essence of this religiously fervent government can be summed up as “a fanatical cult of death worshippers”?
All the good intentioned outreaches, and diplomatic initiatives, and international “Tut! Tut!”s will achieve is to allow this kind of regime to buy more time.
And assemble more centrifuges.
And process more weapons grade uranium.
And eventually construct a bomb they will feel religiously bound to use.
There is no doubt that a nation run by a genocidal mad man is the number one threat to Israel.
But a close second is making the secularly based assumption that its leadership thinks just like we do.
Quite simply – they don’t.
And quite sadly, they won’t.
We may very well be heading into times like that described in the book of Jeremiah:
“ We looked for peace, but no good came;
And for a time of health, and there was trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:15)
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