ISRAEL: ON THE BRINK OF WAR?
THE ISRAELI CARETAKER government, led by acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, enacted some of the most restrictive measures anywhere on earth soon after the first Covid 19 cases were diagnosed in the Promised Land in late February. Among the most difficult and controversial measures were unprecedented restrictions ordered during April’s Passover celebrations, when people were told to stay home and hold private Seder meals with their live-in family members only. Synagogues, churches and mosques were shuttered and many towns and neighborhoods literally sealed off to outside visitors. It was a surreal sci-fi scene that no one imagined would take place this April.
AS DEBATE GROWS in Israel whether or not these tough measures were exaggerated---or even necessary at all (as is obviously happening elsewhere on earth), the viral disease has not caused nearly as much health damage and deaths as first projected. As of May 20, 16,659 active cases had been recorded, which is relatively low for a country of around nine million citizens. The number of dead has been far fewer than feared, under 300. By contrast, Sweden, with a population of just over 10 million, did not close most of its schools and businesses, and has recorded some 3,700 deaths---over 12 times Israel’s fatality total.
..STILL, THE ECONOMIC IMPACT of the pandemic on the world’s only Jewish state has been severe, especially since international tourism has ground to a halt, as it has all over the stricken planet. Ironically, a record number of foreign visitors poured into Israel in 2019, and this year was projected to soar to new heights as well. Instead, ports and airports are virtually shut down, receiving few international travelers or containers. Hotels sit empty as thousands of tour guides join the long list of unemployed citizens. While the vital tourism industry collapsed all over the planet almost overnight in March, the road to recovery is expected to take several years at best. Israel does have one advantage over any other country---it is still the Promised Holy Land to billions of people on earth, which Disney parks cannot claim! The one silver lining in the Covid crisis is that it forced the creation of an emergency coalition government after sixteen months of political stalemate and three national elections.
...UNFORTUNATELY, the prospects for war have not declined in the turbulent Middle East. In fact, with the collapse of oil prices--the primary source of income for many regional countries, along with Russia--many analysts warn the chances for conflict have sharply increased. Hit hard by the virus imported from its ally China, Iran is among those countries most devastated by the energy market crash. If the rogue Shiite regime were to lash out at Israel and/or the US and Saudi Arabia in the near future, it would not be the first time an embattled country provoked a war to divert attention from its internal problems. Of course, Tehran’s ruling mullahs realize the last thing Americans and Israelis want to see at present is another hot war in the roiling region on top of the ongoing Covid crisis.
..I WAS REPORTING FOR CBS in May 2000 when Israeli Defense Forces finally exited Lebanon after more than 20 years of direct involvement in the war-torn Arab country. Now, as the AP and other media outlets are noting, another major conflict is brewing there. Indeed, armed clashes between Iran’s heavily armed Hezbollah militia army and the IDF have escalated significantly in recent years, although most of the action has taken place in nearby shattered Syria, where the Iranian surrogate soldiers have been in active combat over the past decade---meaning they are well versed in war. Since 2015, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been deeply entrenched in Syria’s “civil war” as well, fighting alongside Russian and other forces to bolster the besieged Assad regime. Although not operating on the ground for the most part, the IDF has been quite active in Syria as well during that time, along with allied US, French and British forces. Realistic IDF war games have also been stepped up in recent years to keep the ground forces ready for combat.
..TITLED “THE END OF DAYS,” my first novel was initially published by Baker/Revell 25 years ago this spring, and subsequently translated into several other languages. Another American publisher, 21st Century Press, released a slightly “updated” edition in 2006 (although a futuristic apocalyptic novel, we still wanted it to reflect actual contemporary conditions, which had evolved somewhat during that period). A quarter century after the first edition, I would change very little of what I originally wrote.
.MY FIRST NOVEL BEGINS with a buildup to war between Israel ---backed by the United State---and Syria, supported militarily by Russia and Iran, and by Hezbollah militiamen from Lebanon and Iraq, plus other international jihad fighters. Increasingly challenging American authority on the world stage, China and other countries express political support for Damascus. In the months before full-scale armed conflict breaks out in May along Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon, several clashes have occurred in the tense area. The world is suffering from serious political and economic upheaval, especially in America, which has also been ravaged by a series of “natural” disasters (I did not list a plague!!), leaving the White House and Pentagon very reluctant to get into another Mideast bust-up. Russia maintains political ties to Israel before the war begins, but the Kremlin nevertheless clarifies that it will back the Syrian regime in any armed conflict with the Jewish state, wishing to keep its air force and naval bases operating along Syria’s Meditterranean coast. Spewing its usual threats against “the Zionist usurpers,” Iran professess its eagerness to fight for its Arab ally, as does Hezbollah and other Muslim forces and countries. Does any of this sound familiar 25 years later?
.ABOUT THE ONLY THING I would change in any updated End of Days edition (apart from adding a pandemic!!) is that in my novel, the late spring war breaks out soon after American-sponsored peace talks break down between Israel and Syria. My original edition was published in the wake of the 1993 Oslo peace accord between Israel and the PLO, and the 1994 treaty with Jordan. There was widespread anticipation at the time that a peace agreement would probably be negotiated between Jerusalem and Damascus, although I didn’t foresee Israel ever agreeing to give up the Golan Heights as part of a final peace deal---which has proved also to be the case so far. The Jordanian King in my novel is named Abdul, which is close to the current monarch’s actual name, Abdullah. When End of Days was first published, the late King Hussein was still on the throne, with his designated successor his brother, Crown Prince Hassan. Instead, at the last minute before he died in 1999, Hussein named his son Abdullah his successor---an unexpected development.
..AS THOSE OF YOU who have read my novel will probably recall, my war scenario begins with Israel under attack by Syrian chemical warheads, leaving tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians dead or wounded. As Syrian, Iranian and other jihad forces capture the northern Galilee region amid continuing rocket and missile barrages, the decision is made in Jerusalem to strike Damascus with low level nuclear weapons, which occurs after Israel issues public warnings that Damascus would suffer attack if it did not halt its offensive. The result is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s ancient prophecy that Damascus would be totally annihilated one day (Isaiah 17, echoed in Jeremiah 49). The anointed Jewish prophet foretold that Israel would suffer greatly as well at that time, but would not be totally destroyed.
.IN THE WAKE of the short, intense conflict, radical Iranian leaders and others call for worldwide Muslim revenge, while Russia considers a military response. However the decimated Syrian regime decides to sue for peace, and negotiations begin. The Kremlin---ruled by Russian nationalists that want to make the former superpower “great again”---decides to launch a punitive military operation against Israel. I will omit the rest of the plot-line just in case you want to read the book :) But I’ll inform you the Russian action leads to the rise of the devious worldwide “antichrist” leader foretold in both the Hebrew Bible (especially Daniel) and in the New Testament.
..WILL THE “NOVEL” Coronavirus pandemic help spark all-out war in the turbulent Middle East and the ultimate rise of the “Man of Sin” to power? Only Israel’s Eternal King knows for sure. Yet He has given us many biblical prophetic signs to look for before the end of this age comes to fruition, and the fruit is clearly now hanging low on the trees. Of course, the most important sign was the 1948 rebirth of Israel after 2000 years of exile, featuring the literal return of the dispersed Jewish people “from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11). Now 72 years later, it appears we are on the cusp of the prophesied end of days, with all that implies. Will the Messiah’s earthly body be “raptured” to heaven before the final events begin to unfold, as many believe? Or will the “catching up” occur later on in the final “tribulation” period (as I think is more biblically likely, although I won’t complain if proved to be wrong!!). Whatever the case, the unprecedented Covid pandemic crisis seems to be bringing us several steps closer to the final period of history foretold in the Good Book. If you don’t have a personal, solid relationship with the Lord, I strongly urge you to turn to Him during these dark and difficult days. He is the only true light that both brightens this decaying world and illuminates the path to eternal life. Meantime, stay prayerful and alert for more “interesting times” ahead!
DAVID DOLAN is an author and journalist who lived and worked in Israel for over three decades, beginning in 1980.
HOLY WAR FOR THE PROMISED LAND (Broadman & Holman), his latest book, is an overview of the history of the Israel and of the bitter Arab-Israeli conflict that rages there, plus some autobiographical details about the author’s experiences living in the land since 1980. It especially examines the important role that militant Islam plays in the conflict.
ISRAEL IN CRISIS: WHAT LIES AHEAD? (Baker/Revell), which examines the political and biblical prospects for a regional attack upon Israel, settlement in the disputed territories, and related topics, is also available for purchase, along with an updated edition of his popular end-time novel, THE END OF DAYS (21st Century Press).
You may order these books at a special discount price by visiting his web site at www.ddolan.com, or by phoning toll free 888-890-6938 in North America, or by e mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
DOLAN'S NEW DVD, "FOR ZION'S SAKE" is now available for purchase. Click the title under "BOOKSTORE" for more details.