By Jan Markell
President Bush travels to the Middle East very shortly where he will become the latest U.S. President, going back to the 1940s, to make a major push to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is difficult to see how the current situation, which includes a state of near war in Gaza, will cause this trip to succeed where his predecessors failed. But the trip January 8 - 17 will find him negotiating in Israel and five Muslim nations.
Those in favor of the "peace process" between Israelis and Palestinians claim that there is no choice. They ask, "What is the alternative? Perpetual war?" Well, according to the Bible, maybe yes. There is a delusion today that peace is the natural order of things and war a temporary aberration. It says in Jeremiah 8:11, "And they heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially by saying, 'All is well; but there is no peace.'"
Yet the New Testament is clear in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matt. 5:4). The President's itinerary was changed for a visit to the area where this was stated and he will no doubt quote the verse.
As it concerns his trip to Israel, however, we have to keep reminding people and asking, "Do both parties want peace?" Or would one side rather drive Israel into the sea? The truth is the latter.
Few who are realistic here believe the Arabs and Jews are about to beat their swords into plowshares. The Bible indicates this will be an "everlasting hatred" that started with Ishmael and Isaac. The Bible outlines one war after another in the Holy Land and a half-dozen have already played out since Israel's birth in 1948.
In his weekly radio address, the President said he would try to push his campaign for democracy in the Mideast and press on with his goal of a Palestinian state before he leaves office. I wish he could talk to my radio guest this past weekend, Walid Shoebat. One of Shoebat's primary messages, having grown up as a Muslim (now a Christian) in the Middle East has been: Stop offering them (the Arab world) democracy! He says we are ignoring the factor that in the Muslim world democracy was never in existence. Even today, the 55 Muslim nations have never adapted to democracy.
He reminds us that as soon as "democratic elections" in the Arab world are over, they revert to demagoguery. Shoebat says, "These days if democracy is introduced in the Middle East, the majority would elect Islamic fundamental states." And so it was when the Palestinians were offered democratic elections and voted for the world's chief terror group, Hamas.
But as Bill Koenig says in his weekly Koenig's Eye View from the White House, "Bush and Rice have very little time left. Rice seems to be the most impatient and adamant about an Israeli-Palestinian solution."
There will be 10,000 security agents guarding the President and his entourage. This is unprecedented.
Iran also looms large over the President's trip and is the reason he is visiting Arab nations as well. In spite of the recent National Intelligence Estimate that Iran is less of a threat than some thought, Bush still believes Iran is an "axis of evil" and he is right.
Again quoting Bill Koenig, "Political dynamics can change fast in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the U.S. has made many diplomatic miscalculations in country after country in the Middle East over 60 years. If you don't understand the nature of Islam, you will continue to err."
The Wall Street Journal sums things up well by saying, "Hard as it may be to accept, we have to confront the possibility that the Arab-Israeli conflict may not have a 'solution,' at least not in the foreseeable future, and that trying to create one represents a triumph of hope over experience."
Nonetheless, the President and Secretary Rice need our heartfelt prayers for godly wisdom and safety.