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Revive Israel Ministries
The Five Challenges of Ariel Sharon
© February 2002 by Asher Intrater

Being Prime Minister of Israel has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Since he is the head of the government of Israel, the position has a certain symbolic parallel to the spiritual role of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and King of the Jews. "The government will be upon his shoulders..." - Isaiah 9:6. As we look at some of the challenges facing Ariel Sharon today, we can glean certain insights both to the political situation and to the spiritual warfare that goes on behind the scenes.

I. Communicating with the World
There is also a certain parallel between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States. Let us pray for unity and partnership between Ariel Sharon and George Bush. Since the political and spiritual conflicts here in the Middle East are so different from that of the West, there is always a challenge for the government of Israel to explain its position in the United Nations or to the United States. Israel has yet to understand its underlying spiritual kinship with evangelical Christians all over the world. Just as the gospel must be preached and prophetic messages proclaimed, the restoration of the nation of Israel must be explained to the world. This is called "Hasbara" or "explanation" in Hebrew. Communicating the historic, moral and religious reasons for the state of Israel is vitally important.

II. Socio-Economic Problems
There are tremendous social and economic difficulties in Israel. The intifada (Palestinian uprising) has caused a drastic fall in tourism and in business investments. Inflation and unemployment have risen. Drugs, teenage pregnancies and domestic violence have increased. The country is divided into different subsections of ethnic groups from Russian immigrants, ultra orthodox, left and right extremists, Israeli Arabs, Ashkenazik and Sephardic Jews, etc. For lack of budget funding, the school system, health services and welfare conditions have fallen. There is a psychological tension that ranges from frustration to desperation. Almost all Israelis are way overdrawn at the bank. With police concentrating on terrorists, domestic crime has risen. Let us "pray for the peace [welfare] of Jerusalem..." - Psalm 122:6.

III. Unifying the Government
In Israel there are about ten political parties. The Knesset (Parliament) has 120 seats. The government must maintain a coalition of 61 seats. Sharon's party, the Likud, has 19 Knesset members. That means that in order to maintain the government, Sharon must make political deals with a minimum of 42 Knesset members from other parties. Every other party (particularly the Labor party with 24 votes and the Shas party with 17 votes) lobbies for its own agenda by threatening to walk out at any time causing the collapse of the coalition. What has kept the government in unity has partly been the fear of the people. While each of the political parties is only out for its own good, they know that the vast majority of Israelis want a unity government. Should one of the parties break the coalition at this time, they would lose voters in the next election.

IV. Coercion by the Ultra-Orthodox
The various ultra-orthodox parties control more than 25 seats in the government. Whenever the Labor or Likud parties want to form a government, they need the ultra-orthodox to join the coalition. The ultra-orthodox have a specific political agenda (Matthew 23:4). They want money for their Yeshivas. They don't want to serve in the army. They don't want to pay taxes. They want extra welfare money for child support. They want to make rabbinic law enforced by the government. They don't want any other form of religious pluralism or expression. Because of the balance of power in the coalition, these demands are usually met, and the government is held in a kind of extortion from these parties.

V. War on Terrorism
While 9/11 was one of the greatest disasters in world history, and while George Bush has declared a worldwide war on terrorism, the real front line of the battle against terrorism is found here in Israel. Since the outbreak of the recent intifada a year and a half ago, there have been terrorist attacks virtually every day. That includes the fact that 80% of the terrorist acts are thwarted by Israeli security forces. The intifada has all but destroyed Palestinian society. Their plight is truly heart breaking. They are the worst victims - victims of Islamic jihad mentality. But the intifada has also had a tremendous toll on Israelis. Almost every family has had someone murdered or injured by terrorists. The burden on security forces, policemen, army units and on the citizens is intense and nerve racking. The war on terrorism is a war that must be fought and won. It is a war both militarily and psychologically. The Prime Minister of Israel, more than anyone else, carries the burden for directing that war.

It is our job as believers to pray for those in government (I Timothy 2:1-4). Let us remember to pray for the Prime Minister of Israel as he faces these many challenges, which have implications both within Israel, internationally, and for the kingdom of God.

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