Prior to 9/11, most Americans were barely aware of the religion of Islam.
In the short time since that tragic day, Islam has established its presence in the country with mosques and schools in nearly every sizeable community. The president of the United States has even said that Islam has been woven into the fabric of our society.
One thing the religion has done is divide the country and other nations where there has been widespread immigration from Muslim lands, mostly in the Middle East.
At no time has that division been greater than now.
In France, it was the Charlie Hebdo killings that caused the division, between those on the right of the political spectrum who want an end to Islamization and the immigrants themselves, supported by those on the left who side with them.
In Germany, there is the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) staging weekly demonstrations against the Islamization of Europe. Critical of PEGIDA are the established political parties who bend over backwards to assure Muslims that there is a place for them in their societies.
Now division has come to the United States with the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Some would say the division is over Israel. But the divide is also over how best to handle militant Islam.
The gulf between the two became clearer today when the Prime Minister addressed the U.S. Congress in Washington.
The invitation to speak came from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The White House made it clear that it was opposed to Netanyahu speaking, claiming it was a breach of protocol so close to an election for the office of prime minister in Israel.
Although most Democrats did listen to the speech, Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, was very critical almost immediately afterwards, claiming she was “near tears” throughout the speechand “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.” She was reportedly visibly agitated while Mr. Netanyahu was speaking.
The subject of the speech was Iran and the apparently imminent deal between Western allies with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program. The deadline for this agreement is March 31. Mr. Netanyahu believes that the impending agreement will make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons–and soon.
The division is clear–and not just over Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
The division is between those who see a serious threat from militant Islam and those who are in denial. Iran is not the only threat, but it was the focus of the prime minister’s address. With a single nuclear weapon, Iran could annihilate Israel, a very small country. Indeed, Iran has threatened to annihilate “the world’s only Jewish state.”
The prime minister reminded his audience of the story recounted in the biblical book of Esther, the Jewish queen married to a Persian king in the fifth century B.C. A highly placed Persian official at the time wanted to annihilate the Jews, just as today’s Iranian leadership does (Iran today is located in the land of ancient Persia and its people commonly refer to themselves as Persians). Today is the Feast of Purim, which commemorates the delivery of the Jews from what could have easily been total disaster.
“For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world’” Mr. Netanyahu said.
Iran is not an Arab country and has traditionally been somewhat isolated due to most Iranians being from the minority Shi’ite branch of Islam, today it dominates four Arab capitals—Baghdad (Iraq), Damascus (Syria), Beirut (Lebanon) and Sana’a (Yemen). Mr. Netanyahu referenced Iran’s support against the Sunni Islamic ISIS, claiming that their support against ISIS does not make them a friend of America. Playing off an old Arab proverb, he said this is a case of “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!”
“Both ISIS and Iran want to impose a militant Islamic empire,” he warned—the only difference being who would be in charge.
“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam and nuclear weapons,” he said. This clearly would change everything in the Middle East and the wider world beyond—leading other nations in the region to immediately pursue nuclear weapons of their own in a part of the world where minor skirmishes have a way of quickly leading to all-out wars.
Mr. Netanyahu’s address was impassioned. We have not heard such a powerful speech from a politician in many years. It’s particularly impressive when we consider that English is not his first language.
Mr. Netanyahu and former British statesman Sir Winston Churchill are the only two world leaders who have addressed Congress on three occasions. Following the speech, Netanyahu was compared on at least two news channels to Churchill, who spent the 1930s warning of the impending threat from the Nazis, as Netanyahu warns of the increasing threat from militant Islam. If the world had heeded Churchill, the Holocaust would not have happened. If the world listens to Netanyahu, a future holocaust may be averted.
Students of the Bible know that Jerusalem, Israel’s “eternal capital,” will be the focus of major conflict in the near future.
The biblical prophet Zechariah, writing about events leading up to the second coming of the Messiah, prophesied that Jerusalem and Judah (Israel) will be at the center of the final conflict to confront mankind.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
Zechariah 14:2 adds: “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.”
Centuries later, Jesus Christ, answering a question about the signs that would precede His coming, said, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”
Mr. Netanyahu was right when he pointed out that America and Israel “share a common destiny.” What happens over there will affect us over here–and all countries in between.
The day before he addressed the U.S. Congress, Mr. Netanyahu spoke to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States. He said that whereas the President of the United States spends every day thinking about America’s security, as Israel’s prime minister he spends every day thinking about Israel’s survival.
In that one sentence, he encapsulated the difference between the leaders of the two nations. At the present time, militant Islam is a matter of national security to the United States. If Mr. Netanyahu’s warning is not taken seriously, it could soon become a matter of national survival, as it is in Israel.
(To better understand the chaos and violence of the Middle East, be sure to read our free study aid The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.)