Hope or Despair in Israel’s Change in Government?

Most supporters of Israel in America, especially the evangelical Christian segment, are up in arms regarding the looming shift in Israel’s government. There are deep concerns regarding the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the newly organized coalition government. Netanyahu served as Israel’s longest-term prime ministry in their nation’s history.

When Dr. Michael Brown, a prominent evangelical leader, and author, was asked by the New York Times about the evangelical reaction to the pending change, he replied: “Your average American evangelical would think it’s a tragedy if Netanyahu is out. It will be similar in many of their minds to Trump losing to Biden.”

The prime minister is fueling the fire with his supporters by maintaining that the newly formed Israeli coalition is the result of “the greatest election fraud” in the history of democracy.

But instead of siding with Netanyahu, there seem to be some pro-Israel leaders who are lining up to support the new government. Their primary goal is to continue to stand together with Israel and keep a positive relationship.

One of the reasons for this support of the change is that Netanyahu’s latest attempt to keep a grip on his government caused him to lean even further to the right. Some believe he went too far and began embracing what could be dangerous anti-Arab ideologies. The prime minister also began to more firmly embrace the ultra-Orthodox contingency of the Jewish parties.

This lean to the far-right caused him to have less authority with the rest of the nation, mainly the tax-paying base that supports the ultra-Orthodox in their sacred calling. The ultra-Orthodox demand control over positions in government, including the Ministry of the Interior. And they do not represent the interests of many of the Messianic Jews in the nation.

Speaking for the Evangelical believers in Israel and America, Dr. Brown wrote: “This is a perspective often missed by many Christians in the West: within Israel, while Netanyahu certainly has his backers, and while he has done much good, the believing community is hardly united behind him.”

Some who see hope for the new government believe that Naftali Bennett, the incoming two-year prime minister, will lead from the right but also keep the good of the whole country ahead of special interests. They support having an Islamist party serving as part of the government. Previously, they just had voted in the Knesset. Supporters maintain that Arab Israelis makeup 20 percent of the nation and therefore should be represented in government.

The prime minister who will follow Bennett for the next two years, Yair Lapid, has developed a working relationship with the leader of the Islamist party. This will be a significant change from the way Netanyahu spoke against the Arab population.

But is a working relationship even possible? That is a question that many are asking. And the newness of the coalition provides few answers. Dr. Brown wrote, “It is going to have horrific challenges, especially in dealing with Jerusalem and Har HaBayit [a Temple Mount controversy that could erupt into terrible violence].  War can always start in a second.  Iran and Biden are tremendous challenges. This Bennett/Lapid coalition is going to need all the prayer power and angelic protection it can possibly get.”

The truth is that only a small fraction of the nation of Israel believes that this new government will last. With the current prime minister’s reign of power coming to an end, there will most likely be many factions scrambling to absorb the power that comes in this vacuum.

There may be some value in voices like Dr. Browns. Hope has more power than despair.