Legislative Update #47
Nebraska and the Middle East
For the past nearly two months worldwide attention has been focused on the tiny nation of Israel, but why should we in Nebraska be concerned with what is going on 6,500 miles away in the Middle East. On October 7 Hamas—a Sunni Islamic political and military terror organization launched a surprise attack on southern Israel. This unprovoked attack which resulted in a massacre came from within Gaza, which is land Israel effectively ceded to the Palestinian people in 2005. The attack came 50 years and one day after the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
Israel is about the size and shape of the state of New Jersey and both have a population of about nine million people. Gaza is located to the southwest of Israel and is a tiny strip of coastline wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean. At 140 square miles, it is almost exactly the same size as Omaha. Omaha‘s population is 486,000 and Gaza’s is 590,000. Israel’s government is similar to ours and allows local governments to choose their own laws within certain parameters. I have been all over Israel and I’ve also been deep inside Muslim-governed
countries. There is a stark difference between the liberties found in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and the oppression in the lands surrounding it. The differences can even be seen within the nation of Israel between the areas occupied predominantly by Jews or Muslims. I have clearly witnessed this!
While I was serving in the U.S. Air Force, our fighter squadron deployed to Incirlik, Turkey several times. Incirlik is a large U.S. base which guards our NATO flank in that region of Europe. While there, I traveled into the middle of Turkey, far away from our American military presence. I saw the influence of Islam up close and personal. What shocked me most was how oppressed were the women! They are strictly forbidden to even look at strangers and they know none of the freedoms enjoyed by women here in the west. They must be clothed from head to toe with only their eyes allowed to show. If a little child looked at a stranger, the mother would yank on the child’s arm to harness their natural curiosity. The men treated women like furniture. It was truly appalling! Oppression was pervasive in that society, whether in the marketplace or in the home.
Meanwhile in the free state of Israel, Muslims enjoy freedoms similar to what we have in the U.S.A. The roads, infrastructure and buildings are mostly new, because Israel is a prosperous and modern country which shines like a jewel in the mud in that part of the world. After several millennia of being dispersed around the world and the horrors of the Holocaust of WWII, the modern nation of Israel declared its independence in 1948 and in the last 75 years the nation has become a showcase of industry, innovation and freedom. Today 43 percent of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel.
It’s interesting to note that Abraham is father to both the Jewish descendants of Isaac and the Arab descendants of Ishmael. Today’s Jewish population numbers about 14 million and the Arabs 400 million.
It seems God glories in the littlest, the least and the last! That was certainly the case in the life of David, the shepherd boy and the youngest son who went on to become the greatest king of Israel. Sixty-six chapters of the Bible are devoted to him, he is remembered for writing more than 75 of the psalms and God promised to bring Israel’s Messiah through his line.
Throughout David’s life he was harassed and chased by King Saul, rose to power, had a great moral failure but was enormously blessed by God and known as “a man after God’s own heart.” The nation of Israel’s history is similar. The children of Israel were chosen to display the blessings
enjoyed when a people follows and obeys the ways of God, and, like a loving father, He also disciplined them with failure and pain when they strayed. The law of reciprocity (also known as the law of sowing
and reaping) applies to nations as well as individuals. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) We would do well to take note!
It was our own founding father George Mason, who made this observation, “Nations are not judged in eternity, they must be judged in this life.” America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and has enjoyed great bounty as long as we have adhered to those principles. Consider that while we are only 4 percent of the world’s population, America has 96 percent of the world’s patents.
As President Calvin Coolidge said, “The foundations of our society and government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible, that it would be difficult to support them, if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.“ “The Great Communicator,” President Ronald Reagan put it even more succinctly: “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”