God's Covenant Land: Paying the Price

Bill Koenig
October 14, 2001

Facing the Press, the Nation, the World

President Bush's first formal press conference in the East Room of the White House last Thursday night was a very good message under very tough circumstances. It was given within hours of another national warning by the FBI of a potential terrorist attack.

I was given the opportunity by the Lord to sit right in front of President Bush, four rows back and two seats in.

As one can imagine, when President Bush first came to the podium I could sense his tension and see it on his face. He was not only addressing the White House press, a tough bunch, but he was also facing a nation and a world who were hanging on every word.

When he began to speak, I immediately went into prayer intercession for him, as I know many other people did around the country. As he looked from side to side, he would pause occasionally as he saw my smile and nods of approval that I felt led to do to help with the tense atmosphere.

Most of us can't even begin to comprehend the responsibility that lies on his shoulders. Here is the President whose plans were to be, "The Education President." During his campaign, he made a statement that "no child will be left behind." His wife, Laura, had planned to spend her time and energy on literacy.

During his early days in office, he invoked a kinder and gentler tone in Washington. He spoke about civility and decency in our nation. He selected the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in history. Many of his presentations and public speeches pointed out the quality of the person being honored and were very patriotic. He made reference to his Christian faith frequently and was excited by the possibilities of his Faith Based Initiative program.

"Top Shelf" Quality

President Bush surrounded himself with quality people in his administration. It is no secret, and my commentaries have reflected this fact on a number of occasions.

Whether members of his cabinet, his top-level administrative people, the White House staff (including the press room aides), or any other key appointees, every one of these people are "top-shelf."

I have very much enjoyed being at the White House as a member of the press corps. The people associated with the White House Press Room could not be nicer or any more helpful and courteous.

One of the Secret Service staff told me one day that there has been a huge difference in the quality of people both within the Bush Administration and with those visiting the White House offices, in comparison to the previous administration.

Also, the media people, despite their notorious "left-leaning" political bent, have stated that they are very impressed by the helpfulness, the punctuality, and professionalism of the press staff.

The White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, is a very good man. He is forthright, effective, and very fair. One woman, who has been part of the White House press corps for thirty-some years, said Ari is the best White House Press Secretary she has experienced. Another journalist stated that Ari is in the top three.

Helen Thomas, the seasoned veteran who is the "Dean" of the White House press corps, complimented him by reluctantly stating, out of respect, "I can't get under his skin. He just gives me that Pacific to Atlantic [Ocean] smile."

Karen Hughes, who is Counselor to the President and who oversees the communications staff, is delightful. She contributes a great personality, has lots of energy, and is very trustworthy. Daughter of a former Army General, she is part of "the iron triangle," along with the presidential senior advisor, Karl Rove, and FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh, who formerly was the President's campaign manager.

The Cabinet members are also high quality people. They might not always agree with each other or even the President on certain issues and policies, but they are very well-qualified and solid people.

In a recent Rose Garden event with the President and his Cabinet, I sat back marveling at the quality of people he had assembled. Sally Quinn of the Washington Post stated, in late January of 2001, right after the cabinet appointments were announced, that President Bush had very likely assembled the most qualified Cabinet, going back at least 100 years.

Those Cabinet members whom I have had heard speak are mentioned below.

Vice President Dick Cheney is a straight-shooter with remarkable political skills. He is a good man with a lot of substance and depth. He is very likely the most influential Vice President in modern history. He demonstrates a grasp on where everything stands at all times.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was the youngest Secretary of Defense in U.S. history and has now become the oldest. He has also been the CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, was an Army wrestling champion, and is known to be tough and forthright. The Nation is fortunate to have a person of his caliber at this crucial time in history.

National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice is very capable, personable, bright, and unflappable.

Attorney General John Ashcroft is a very honorable man, who has been very outspoken about his Christian faith, and he has an extremely challenging job right now.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is a good man who wants to do well. However, he continues to check in on the wrong side of some very important issues concerning the Middle East. He is the moderate, while Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice are the hawks. Even so, Powell continues to have a lot of influence—along with his State Department staff—on Middle East matters.

Israel: Inheritance and Change pIt has become obvious that the Lord has had other plans for President Bush and his qualified staff. Regardless of our disappointment with his position pertaining to Israel's covenant land, we can't forget that he inherited what his two predecessors (his father George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton) left behind for him with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

We can pray that the President will reconsider his thinking and plans which involve Israel. However, that becomes complicated by all the special interest groups, church organizations and nations who have a different (or perhaps even no) perspective on God's covenant land.

His first seventy days in office were very smooth, and this was also the time he was distancing himself from the situation in the Middle East. He brought home the CIA people from Israel and closed the White House envoy office.

However, he reluctantly became more involved during the second seventy days, and that period proved to be a rough and bumpy watershed time, with unexpected changes.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek arrived in Washington on March 31 to confer with President Bush and plead for U.S. intervention in the peace process. That same day, a Chinese fighter jet bumped into and forced one of our Nation's reconnaissance planes to the ground in mainland China, detaining the 24 members of the air crew.

That incident initiated a series of diplomatic challenges with China, and soon after, tensions and anger grew when the White House invited the Dali Lama, exiled from Chinese-occupied Tibet, for a visit. Some 90 days later, China's President Zemin publicly endorsed the Palestinian position, with Yasser Arafat at his side, in an apparent "tit for tat" political move.

The President's agenda changed and became even more challenging after publicly endorsing the Mitchell Plan on May 22, which also happened to be the same day he lost Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.

Since the events of September 11, President Bush is currently experiencing a job approval rating of 90 percent, with credit going to the effort in the war against terrorism.

His father had an approval rating near that level just after the completion of Operation Desert Storm (The Gulf War). However, once his father initiated the "land for peace" plan at Madrid, Spain, on October 30, 1991, his popularity tumbled and he never recovered. Eventually, he lost the Presidency to Bill Clinton.

Revelation and Wake-Up Call

On the day of the September 11 terror event, there was confirmation that President Bush had already agreed to a United Nations General Assembly address that would spell out the Administration's Middle East position, thanks to pressure from the State Department and the director of the CIA.

The address was to acknowledge approval of a Palestinian state, address the Palestinian refugee situation, the status of Jerusalem, and more. It was also revealed that President Bush had agreed to meet with Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat in New York during that General Assembly.

The World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks stopped the public pronouncement of President Bush's interest in a Palestinian state; they kept Secretary of State Powell from making his public speech; they kept Arafat from meeting with Bush; and they have prevented the U.N. General Assembly from a rescheduling because the City of New York has not been able to guarantee their security.

Snooze Button: Not To Be Deterred

United States administration sources have acknowledged that Arab support on the international coalition is crucial, not only to win the U.S.-led war against terrorism, but to send a signal to the world that the war is not against Islam, but against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.

On Friday, October 12, 2001, an article in the Washington Post reported that the United States is again putting together a Mideast peace plan which calls for establishing of a Palestinian state with a foothold in Jerusalem. The Palestinians have won assurances that the ideas will be unveiled despite the initial delays, according to a Palestinian Cabinet minister.

The article stated that the U.S. plan would affirm the Palestinians' right to statehood, the principle of trading land for peace, and U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, calling for an Israeli withdrawal from lands it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War.

The peace plan initiative declares that the fate of disputed Jerusalem must be determined in peace talks and that Islamic and Christian holy places in the city would come under Palestinian control.

The address which outlines this initiative is tentatively to be presented in the middle of November to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Sharon government has stated they will try to implement the Mitchell Plan. Whether that is to appease every other nation in the world who is in favor of the plan or whether Israel knows that the plan will never happen due to the circumstances is yet to be known.

Perhaps more to the point is determining whether Israel even knows that, if she is actually willing to implement the Mitchell Plan, she will be coming against the Lord's covenant land.

A similar fate will await the Bush Administration for its public position and involvement in negotiations pertaining to God's covenant land in Israel.

Many of the questionable decisions of late have had to do with the Bush Administration interest in putting a coalition together with the Muslim nations, in order to fight terror. The irony, of course, is that some of those nations are the same who are helping to sponsor terrorism and terrorist organizations.

Paying a Greater Price

There are certainly good people in both the American and Israeli administrations, but good people, too, will pay the price when they come against God's Covenant Land. The Lord has forcefully responded in the past when His covenant land has been brought into question or when it has been put at risk.

God's covenant land is not to be negotiated or given up for dreams of peace and security. It is not for man to negotiate the destiny of the land "from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates" given by the Lord in a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18).

The dear people of America and Israel appear to be in a position to pay an even greater price for their country's continued negotiations pertaining to God's covenant land. Everyone has areas of their lives that are off limits, especially when those areas have to do with immediate family or beloved possessions. That is certainly the case for the Lord when it concerns His covenant land and His Chosen People, Israel.

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, stating, "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zechariah 12:3). And also, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."

The good news in these days is that the Lord continues to use these serious policy mistakes and their consequences to bring many more people to His Son Jesus Christ. Many more people are beginning to acknowledge that there is no hope without Jesus Christ.


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