“Zionism is like Nazism!”
“May God take revenge on you for what you are doing to Palestine!”
You could hear these attacks and many like them hurled at Israel in any number of cities across the globe last May after its conflict with the terrorist group Hamas erupted. These were the more “gentle,” less obscenity-filled phrases shouted or plastered across picket signs. That week when these insults escalated was certainly not the first nor the last time Israel has had to hear these things.
Israel finds itself in the crosshairs of people all over the world. A nation designed to be a safe haven specifically for Jewish people, who have been chased from their own land and persecuted for thousands of years, is simply unacceptable to a scary amount of people. That’s why every insult in the book is thrown at the revival of the nation God chose as His own. Racist. Oppressive. Apartheidlike. Terrorist.
A nation designed to be a safe haven specifically for Jewish people, who have been chased from their own land and persecuted for thousands of years, is simply unacceptable to a scary amount of people.
For the Jewish state and those of us who love it, it’s hard to hear these accusations. We seem to be outnumbered by the bloodthirsty critics. Once these critics learn that you love Israel, they might ask you, “How can you defend Israel?!” They’re outraged that you would dare to support the nation they consider an enemy. You might be a fervent supporter of Israel, but at the spur of the moment, maybe you don’t know a specific way to speak on its behalf.
You might be left wondering the same question in a practical sense: “How can I defend Israel?” Isn’t there anything you can do to stand in its defense? Actually, yes. Here are two ways you can do this:
1. You can defend Israel with its own policies.
Even though they’re the two things on the list of “things you should never talk about,” politics and religion come up a whole lot in conversation. Israel is the intersection of the two. Some people have issues with its policies, some with its religion, and many with both (even if they won’t admit it). As much as it might make you cringe to hear, a conversation that disparages Israel is an open door for you to defend the nation.
A Nation of Liberty
Its focus on freedom is a good place to start. You can point to the principles Israel was founded on. Its Declaration of Independence is rooted in its intention to serve as a homeland for Jewish people and to follow democratic principles. One paragraph states,
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
From its beginning in 1948, modern Israel was meant to be a homeland where Jewish exiles could regather, and its commitment to freedom and safety for all—regardless of whether they were Jewish or not—was made clear. It has kept those same qualities to this day, as Jewish immigrants flock to the Holy Land each year, and Israeli Arabs make up one fifth of the country’s population, enjoying the same rights as Jewish citizens. When some citizens claimed otherwise, such as Ethiopian Israelis, Israel instituted “programs to address social, educational, and economic disparities” between people groups. It actively responds to issues of equality, making international cries of outrage fall flat—and often hypocritical.
A Nation Where Life Matters
Another significant complaint against Israel is that it doesn’t value the lives of its enemies, that it is a merciless attacker. Yet this is a nation whose military takes every measure to protect life. Its members call residents in targeted enemy areas, send them text messages, and drop flyers to tell them their area is in danger and to evacuate quickly.
On the other hand, many of Israel’s enemies, most notably Hamas, not only fail to do this, but often deliberately use their own civilians as human shields, willing to sacrifice others’ lives to save their own. They set up their arms and explosives manufacturing facilities in civilian homes and heavily populated areas. They exploit Israel’s policy of mercy by calling on Palestinian civilians to surround buildings targeted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for airstrikes, even ordering children to the roof to turn the IDF away. While they dare Israel to risk wounding the Palestinians they use as human shields, they don’t think twice about firing rockets to kill Israelis in their homes, even though the IDF doesn’t operate in such areas. They also fire rockets from built-up areas, sending children to play near their launchers to keep the IDF from destroying them. Their strikes often result in death and destruction on their own side when they don’t go according to plan.
Israel has a clear motivation to protect and provide for its people, which stands out from its neighboring countries.
Like every nation, Israel is governed by sinful human beings with the capability of making poor leadership decisions. But there’s something different about this nation, something that makes it stand out and gives us hope it won’t turn its back on freedom and justice. That’s because Israel was built on a biblical foundation. The Bible provides the principles needed for Israel to govern its nation, and the Jewish state’s policies reflect that. Micah 6:8 comes to mind here, as the nation’s legislation and governing reflects a commitment to doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (from a Judaic worldview). Israel has a clear motivation to protect and provide for its people, which stands out from its neighboring countries.
Beyond its practical methods and ethical codes, how can you defend Israel with an unchanging source of truth?
2. You can defend Israel with Scripture.
In God’s eyes, our defense of Israel will never go out of date. We honor and obey Him by standing by the side of His chosen nation. Take a look at these verses demonstrating His covenant love for Israel and its people:
Genesis 12:3: I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
God made this promise to Abraham, and its benefits extend to the present. Even as Gentiles, we enjoy the second half of this verse’s promise—that through Jesus, who comes from Abraham’s line, we could receive the blessing of salvation and a personal relationship with our Savior. We have Israel to thank for sharing this blessing with us!
Genesis 17:7: And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Abraham’s descendants still live today—4,000 years later! This key verse proves God’s promise to make His covenant with Abraham’s descendants is an eternal one, so He will remain the God of the Jewish people and the signatory of their covenant forever.
Ezekiel 36:24–28: For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel was given this prophecy 2,700 years ago, and we’ve seen it come to pass in modern times that Israel has returned to its homeland. We can trust that God will fulfill the entirety of this prophecy, as He always fulfills His Word.
Zechariah 2:8: For thus says the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”
Those who would harm His Chosen People make a direct attack against Him, and one day He will judge them for this attack.
Most of Israel’s critics would love to see harm come to Israel. God suggests otherwise. Those who would harm His Chosen People make a direct attack against Him, and one day He will judge them for this attack.
Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lᴏʀᴅ, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”
God doesn’t change; aren’t you thrilled by that? It’s for this reason that Malachi says Israel has not been destroyed. The sons of Jacob, Israel, will forever be His people.
Romans 11:1, 26–27: I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
God will never cast them away—not 2,000 years ago, not today, not ever. Neither can we!
Israel will continue to hear criticism. All we can do is faithfully defend it by its actions and by God’s Word. Israel should know it has our support, and that starts on the ground level by defending them in conversation. The next time someone asks you, “How can you possibly defend Israel?,” remember the truth you have at your disposal to come to the nation’s defense as a true friend of Israel.