Christian Living

Jerusalem Dateline

Choosing Dishonor?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made an unexpected detour from Jerusalem to Geneva for what many expect may be the beginning of a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it’s a bad deal. He met Kerry just before he left for Geneva and made his case.

“I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years.

Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal, a very, very, bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community.”

According to NBC News, the deal would require that Iran “halt advancements in its nuclear program in return for what a senior U.S. official calls ‘very limited, temporary and reversible’ relief from economic sanctions, as a ‘first step’ agreement, ahead of a comprehensive final deal.”

In unusually tough diplomatic language Netanyahu also said “Israel utterly rejects it [the deal] and what I am saying is shared by many, many in the region whether or not they express it publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to defend itself, to defend the security of its people”

In the following excerpt from Dateline Jerusalem, this reporter cited the way Netanyahu looks at this standoff between Iran and the West through history’s prism.

While Israel stood on the front lines, Benjamin Netanyahu warned of Iran’s global agenda. After all, Israel represented just the “little Satan” while the United States was the “great Satan.”

In Iran’s view, both had to be defeated. Netanyahu drew a clear history lesson and parallel from the war. He compared the ominous threat coming out of Iran to 1938, the year before the outbreak of World War II. Then, the world failed to act against Nazi Germany. Now, the world is failing the test to stand against Shiite Iran.

At a speech before the Jewish General Assembly, he warned that Iran’s nuclear program represented another Holocaust in the making.

“It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs,” Netanyahu told the assembly. “Believe him [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] and stop him. . . .This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this.”

He noted Israel would be Iran’s first, not last stop: “Israel would certainly be the first stop on Iran’s tour of destruction, but at the planned production rate of 25 nuclear bombs a year . . . [the arsenal] will be directed against ‘the big Satan,’ the U.S., and the ‘moderate Satan,’ Europe. . . . Iran is developing ballistic missiles that would reach America, and now they prepare missiles with an adequate range to cover the whole of Europe.”

Netanyahu criticized the world for not being more forceful against the Iranian nuclear threat, much like the world avoided confronting the rising power of Nazi Germany in 1938: “No one cared then and no one seems to care now.”  He warned of Tehran’s nuclear and missile program: “[It] goes way beyond the destruction of Israel – it is directed to achieve worldwide range.  It’s a global program in the service of a mad ideology.”

This “mad ideology” is something the West needs to know. It explains the why behind Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Many Iranian Islamic leaders, including Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani – like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before him – believe in the return of the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam.

According to Ron Cantrell, author of “The Mahdi: Hijacked Messiah,” the Mahdi descended from the Prophet Mohammed himself but vanished in the middle of the ninth century. Now more than 1,100 years later, Shiites anxiously expect the Twelfth Imam to come back at the end of the age.

Cantrell explained the Mahdi comes “with a promise that he would return and he would bring Islam to its total fruition as the world’s last standing religion. The Mahdi is a personage that is expected to come on the scene by Islam as a messiah figure. He is slotted to come in the end of time according to their writings very much like how we think of the return of Jesus. Although there are some staggering differences between our Messiah and the Islamic expected Messiah.”

But in Shiite eschatology, chaos precedes the return of the Mahdi and marks the end of the age. This is an apocalyptic time marked by wars, plagues, and famines, followed by the Day of Judgment.

Cantrell says, “This is an important situation that we are heading into with the nation of Iran. Chaos and worldwide turmoil is a prerequisite for the coming of the Mahdi. Now Ahmadinejad has stated that this chaos must take place before the Mahdi can come on the scene. He is willing to make this situation take place. …This situation…straddles the worlds of public policy and spiritual warfare. The implications for public policy and the response of the West are staggering and the spiritual ramifications profound.”

When you mix this messianic theology with nuclear weapons, Iran’s current foreign policy becomes a toxic brew with regional and global ramifications. If Iran got the bomb it would change the face of the Middle East. Iran could cast its nuclear shadow over the region and especially its Sunni rivals like Saudi Arabia and their Gulf neighbors. It would put themselves off limits to any credible military intervention unless their adversary—whomever that might be—wanted to risk nuclear retaliation. Any one of many terror groups—most likely Hezbollah—would be emboldened knowing that their patron had their “nuclear” back. Iran with its ballistic missiles—possibly nuclear tipped—could pose a constant existential threat to Israel.

Yet, despite Netanyahu’s warning of Iran’s clear and present danger, its nuclear clock keeps ticking.

For Israel Iran’s nuclear program – one that might eventually be able to produce 25 nuclear bombs a year – represents an existential threat. They’re in the nuclear crosshairs and the target of Iran’s deadly end-times theology spewing out of their leaders.

For many the bottom line continues to be that the only thing worse than a strike on Iran’s nuclear program is a nuclear Iran.  For Israel, it’s a question of life or death. Now the questions hanging over the Middle East are: will Israel strike Iran? Can they stop Iran’s nuclear program? Will Iran get the bomb before Israel bombs?

Whether Israel attacks Iran or if Iran gets the bomb, either way, it will be a hinge of history: history will change, and likely for the worse.

History records another era – set in the heart of the 20th century – in which the West chose to sign an agreement with a dictator dedicated to a genocidal path rather than confront him. In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed an agreement with Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill described the moment: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Soon history will record if the West once again has chosen dishonor and whether it will reap the winds of war.

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