Why is the Israeli Likud celebrating a ‘Christian’ New Year?

New Year celebration in Sydney, Australia (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

THE BEDROCK, JERUSALEM: Why would the central committee of Israel’s Likud political party, (of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leader) be celebrating the ‘Christian’ New Year?

This question tantalised me the minute I saw Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely rejoicing on a Twitter feed in the first minutes of the morning of January 1, 2018.

Within minutes I had the answer: The Likud had voted unanimously “to endorse exercising Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.”

“The time has come to express our Biblical right to the land,” said Netanyahu’s number two in the party, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

While not immediately binding on the whole party (much less on the government) it was an historic moment that – likely due to strategic timing – will have been missed by most of mankind.

Hours earlier, as it does every year – global New Year celebrations had erupted like a festive Tsunami in Auckland 16,275 km south-east of here, gathered momentum through the incomparable Sydney Harbour fireworks show (which this year was themed for the passage of that country’s Homosexual Marriage law), and rolled north and west through Hong Kong, Delhi and Dubai, ever nearer to Israel – “the center of the earth”.

As a family of Gentiles long-resident in Jerusalem, we had watched the news footage as hundreds of millions of people marked the Gregorian Calendar turnover.

But then (as with every year), it was as if the wave leaped over Israel to erupt above the Parthenon in Athens and move on to the Eiffel Tower, London’s Big Ben and New York’s Time Square.

As I write, it is coming to the end of its course in Hawaii, 14,000 km to the south-west.

2018 has arrived everywhere.

Israel’s current year began back on September 20, 2017 on Rosh Hashana. It is a year that has already been full of momentous historic and prophetic events:

We’ve witnessed and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba and the subsequent libration of Jerusalem from centuries of Muslim rule in World War 1 – enabling the ultimate rebirth of the national home of the Jewish people. Also marked was the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Resolution that added impetus towards Israeli independence. December saw official United States and Guatamalan recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Now the driving power behind Israel’s ruling party – which will influence the positions adopted in future elections – has thrown its weight behind the rapidly growing movement to extend full Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria – the biblical heartland of the Jewish people – cradle of their nationhood and the most hotly disputed territory in the world.

Ahead of us in 2018 – the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel – the reborn and thriving national home of the Jews.

We’ll be celebrating it with them.

This article originally appeared on Jerusalem’s Watchman, January 1, 2018, and reposted with permission.

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Stan has lived in Israel for half of his life even though he was born to a Gentile couple serving on the mission field in the small kingdom of Swaziland. Following three years volunteering on Israeli collective farms in the 1980s, he worked as a political reporter for the South African newspaper, The Daily Dispatch – where his pen had its training during apartheid’s waning years. He has traveled to various nations, speaking to Christians about developments in Israel. In 2011 he was accredited by the Israel Ministry of Tourism as a tour guide, and takes individuals, small groups, families, busloads and helicopter-loads of Christians around God’s Land.