'Evangelicals the world over are praying for Israel'
By Tovah Lazaroff
Jerusalem Post" -- -- Wearing white and trusting that God
will watch over him in a war zone, the American Christian
Evangelical leader Pat Robertson is visiting Israel this week to
offer his support for a country whose very existence he believes is
threatened by Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Arriving on Monday for a three-day visit, he has since traveled up
to the northern boarder where, in spite of the warning sirens and
the constant thud of rocket explosions, he televised a segment of
his evangelical TV show The 700 Club, which is produced five days a
week and broadcast around the world.
"We are praying for Israel during this time of crisis," he told The
Jerusalem Post on Tuesday over coffee and tea before he left for the
"The Evangelical community is standing with this nation," said the
founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who has
received a number of awards recognizing his long time friendship to
Israel. The strong US support for Israel in general is partially due
to the Evangelical community, he told The Jerusalem Post.
Robertson added that he plans to express this support to Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert when he meets with him on Wednesday. But in
spite of the warm friendship he feels for Olmert, he will also tell
him, diplomatically, that the Evangelical community is opposed to
any plans to give up land and that it would be a mistake for Olmert
to link his realignment plan to withdraw from areas of the West Bank
with the fight against Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Was this a previously scheduled visit?
It was totally spur of the moment. I wanted to get over here before
the war was over. I didn't know they [Hizbullah] were going to heat
it up the way they they did in Haifa a couple of days ago.
Do you think the war is going to be over soon?
Those who would like to see Hizbullah eliminated would like to see
the Israelis have the time that is necessary to finish the job.
Where do your sympathies lie?
Finishing the job.
How would you explain what is happening here within a religious
It is self-defense [by Israel], which is cause for just war. Israel
is the spear against what you would call the Islam-o-fascism that is
threatening all of the free loving people of the western world.
There is no question that Hizbullah is the proxy for the Iranians.
Is there a message from God that is being played out here? Do you
put it in those terms?
The Jews are God's chosen people. Israel is a special nation that
has a special place in God's heart. He will defend this nation. So
Evangelical Christians stand with Israel. That is one of the reasons
I am here.
Do you see the violence between Israel and Hizbullah as part of the
US's struggle against Iran?
It is a struggle against Islamo-facism, which is a radical branch of
Islam that is threatening democratic institutions everywhere. It is
part of the struggle that we have in Iraq. The nexus of this one
comes out Iran, which is ruled by a man who seems to be wild-eyed
In the US, has evangelical support remained firmly behind Israel in
the last few weeks, even with all the painful footage of the
conflict from Lebanon being broadcast and even though there are many
Christians who live in Lebanon?
The images that are being portrayed in the press and the United
States are not deterring the Evangelicals from wholeheartedly
I personally have had warm relations with the Christians in Lebanon
for many years. They are our friends and brothers and sisters. It is
tragic what is going on.
Lebanon was just a lovely, charming country, where they had peace
between Christians and Muslims. When [Palestinian Authority head]
Yasser Arafat came into the peace-loving country, he tore it all to
pieces. There was a terrible civil war. It has continued to this
day. The harmony that existed between the Christians and the Muslims
has been tragically severed.
They (the Lebanese government) didn't deal with the PLO. They were
too weak to do it. They haven't dealt with Hizbullah. They do not
have an effective army. The Syrians came and abused the Lebanese
terribly for a number of years.
Under the United Nations they (the Lebanese army) were suppose to
come down and occupy that southern sector that Israel withdrew from.
After Israel withdrew Hizbullah came into the gap. I think they
persecuted the Christians. They made it difficult for them to exist.
I am very familiar with the people and the situation. We ran a
television station there for 18 years.
The only thing that dismays the Evangelicals is when Israel gives up
territory that it should have and seems to cater to the whims of the
What, then, of Prime Minister Olmert's convergence plan?
It's an absolute disaster. Can you imagine instead of Hamas in Gaza
you would have Hamas all over the West Bank threatening Israel.
Between the Kassam rockets and the Katyusha rockets and other more
advanced rockets there would not be even one place in Israel that
would be safe. I can not even conceive of anyone doing anything in
light of what is happening today.
When you speak to the prime minister tomorrow are you going to tell
I will do it in a diplomatic fashion. I just can't conceive of it,
knowing the fragile nature of Israel, the lack of defensible
borders... to give away that territory. I flew a helicopter along
the wall and looked down. In one of the Arab villages on the West
Bank you look right down to the main runway on Ben-Gurion airport,
which means even a conventional mortar would interrupt any civilian
air traffic from the major airport in Israel...
[Still,] Olmert has been elected as the leader of Israel. The
Israelis have to be responsible for what their leaders do. It's up
to them as a free society to determine the course of action of their
nation. I would be surprised in light of the current military
situation if the Israeli people favor convergence.
In the past you made comments that seemed to indicate that former
prime minister Ariel Sharon's illness was divine retribution for his
withdrawal from Gaza.
My comments frankly were distorted by the press. I was merely
pointing to the Prophet Joel. In speaking for God, Joel calls this
land God's land. There is a warning against those "who divide his
land." I didn't say there was some judgment against Sharon. He was a
friend of mine. I liked him very much. What angered people is not
what I said but what was said that I said.
And if Olmert relinquishes land?
I don't think the holy God is going to be happy about someone giving
up his land. But that would be between Mr. Olmert and his God. It
isn't for me to say.
Ehud Olmert and I have been good friends. I got to know him when he
was mayor of Jerusalem. I have been at a pro-Israel rally with him
in Washington. He has been on my program on several occasions.
I made a speech to the Herzliya conference several years ago. I
said, 'We stand with you but your evangelical friends make one
request, please do not commit suicide.' I make the same request: I
love you but please do not commit suicide...
We have been asking our audience on a daily basis to pray for
Israel. We have been mobilizing support. People in at least 20
different nations around the world have been joining in prayer for
Israel at this time.
Are there special prayers you are asking people to say?
Not specifically. Just, God stand with the people of Israel during
this time of crisis. There are fervent prayers going up for Israel
right now, all over the evangelical community all over the world.
Do you see this as the biggest crisis that Israel has faced?
Israel has had bigger crises than this one. But Israel is as
vulnerable as it has ever been in its history. This is the most
dangerous time in the existence of the modern state of Israel. Just
take for example the new Iranian rockets missiles that are now in
the arsenal of Hizbullah.
What happens if they are tipped with chemical or biological weapons
and dropped into Tel Aviv?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced his goal is to
destroy Israel and to establish chaos in the world. When you have an
absolute fanatic in charge of a major country that is wealthy from
oil it is a very dangerous situation. Not to mention the fact that
nations of the earth have not been exactly friendly to Israel. The
United States is her greatest supporter. That is partly due to the
fact that so many of the evangelical Christians are in the US and
support this country.
You weren't scared to come here?
Because of the missiles? This is like home. We trust the Lord, my
wife does and I do.
Do you trust the Lord to stand on the side of Israel?
I think he will but we can not guarantee that God is going to rescue
us from our own foolishness. It would be presumptuous of me or of
anyone else to say, 'God, I am going to make foolish mistakes.
Please protect me from them.'
In the long run, God will look after Israel. The prophecies of the
Bible will come to pass. We just need to pray that there will be
wise leadership for this nation and that they will make the
appropriate moves to keep this country strong.
Do you worry that we could be on the verge of some of the
apocalyptic visions that are portrayed in the scriptures?
There was a prophet Ezekiel in the time of the Bible who wrote that
in the last days there would be an invasion of Israel by a coalition
that would include Iran, Russia, Turkey and the Sudan and Libya. God
himself is going to defeat that great army that had come against his
people. That is a prophecy of one of the Jewish prophets that has
yet to be fulfilled. It said that it would be in the later days when
Israel has been brought from the nations of the earth and are living
in peace in their land.
Are we on the verge of this apocalyptic vision?
Do you think that what is happening now speaks to the fact that
Israel's withdrawal from the south Lebanon buffer zone in 2000 was a
It has made it more difficult for the country. There was a great
deal of public sentiment against staying in southern Lebanon. There
were continuous killings. Hizbullah would plant road-side bombs and
then they would go up to the hills with binoculars and watch till an
Israeli convoy would come past that site. Then they would detonate
I was there on the day or two after a terrible explosion took place
just down the street from our studio. It was a particularly gruesome
example of young soldiers screaming in pain after they had been
blown up by a Hizbullah bomb. Israel public opinion was very
strongly against staying there. But it's always a mistake to give up
territory that is needed for your defense.
When Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon, Hizbullah rode tanks to
the border shouting, 'On to Jerusalem.' They proclaimed that they
had defeated the IDF. The Muslim world hailed it as a great triumph.
It enhanced the prestige of Hizbullah dramatically.
Do you think the US should go to war against Iran?
No. I think the Iranian people favor the US. What ought to happen is
some movement to cause a popular uprising against [the rulers of
the] country. The people hate them. It is a repressive regime that
has taken away the freedoms of those people. If the United States
went to war, then that hatred would be turned against us. The vast
majority of Iranians are under 30 years old and they think that
America is great. So why would we go to war with them?
But the US went to war with Iraq?
If had been running the country I would have engineered a coup in
Iraq that would have disposed of its leader Saddam Hussein. I would
have gone to war against Hussein and not the Iraqi people. I have
strong reservations against going to war in another country. But
once there are troops in the field you have to support them.
But you support Israeli action in Lebanon?
It's a little bit different. Hizbullah is stronger and the Lebanese
government is weak. I do hate to see this fledgling [Lebanese]
democracy go down in flames [because of Hizbullah] and it is it is
mortally wounded right now
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