Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on David’s Tent, a ministry of Israeli believers Avner and Rachel Boskey. The Boskey’s have ministered at Tabernacle of David, and we consider them trustworthy and Biblically sound.
When a suspect is brought into a police station, a team of interrogators often questions the person, seeing if he can be persuaded to confess to the crime. Sometimes two different interrogators will question the suspect, each one adapting a different approach: one will threaten the suspect (the ‘bad cop‘ approach), while the second interrogator will be kind and helpful (the ‘good cop’ approach), explaining how much he would like to help the arrested individual and ‘rescue’ him from the clutches of the ‘bad cop.’ Often the intimidated prisoner will respond more quickly and warmly to the good cop than to the bad cop.
The famous Italian Renaissance political philosopher Machiavelli once stated that diplomacy is war by other means. Most countries look at diplomacy this way, even today, and this even applies to relationships with their ‘official allies.’ Dr. Henry Kissinger once commented that “nations do not have permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”
Assyria played ‘bad cop’ and ‘good cop’ simultaneously
King Hezekiah son of Ahaz was faced with a clear and present danger in his day — the world’s strongest superpower Assyria was threatening the Jewish state. Only a few years earlier, King Shalmaneser had conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel, exiling them to what is today called northern Iraq. It sure looked like the kingdom of Judah would be next to face the sword of Nineveh.
· Now in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, . . . Shalmaneser king of Assyria marched against Samaria and besieged it. And at the end of three years they captured it . . . Then the king of Assyria led Israel into exile in Assyria . . . This happened because they did not obey the voice of YHVH, their God, but violated His covenant . . . They would neither listen nor do it. Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria marched against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them (2 Kings 18:9-13)
An Assyrian military officer with the rank of ‘Rabshakeh’ addressed King Hezekiah and the Jewish people — first as the bad cop, and then as the good cop:
· Then the king of Assyria sent . . . Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem . . . Then they called to the king, and Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the household, Shebnah the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the secretary, went out to them. And Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria says: “What is this confidence that you have? You say — but they are only empty words — ‘I have a plan and strength for the war.’ Now on whom have you relied, that you have revolted against me? Now behold, you have relied on the support of this broken reed, on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. That is how Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who rely on him. However, if you say to me, ‘We have trusted in YHVH our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has removed, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? Now then, come make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to put riders on them! How then can you drive back even one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? Have I now come up without YHVH’s approval against this place to destroy it? YHVH said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it’” (2 Kings 18:17-25)
That was Assyria’s ‘bad cop’ approach. Now came the ‘good cop’ approach:
· Then Rabshakeh stood up saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to save you from my hand. And do not let Hezekiah lead you to trust in YHVH by saying, “YHVH will certainly save us, and this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” Do not listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat, each one, from his vine and each from his fig tree, and drink, each one, the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees producing oil, and of honey, so that you will live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah, because he misleads you by saying, “YHVH will save us.” Has any of the gods of the nations actually saved his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? (2 Kings 18:26-33)
It is important to note that both the bad cop and the good cop approach used by Assyria in this diplomatic-military confrontation did not grapple seriously with the God of Jacob’s covenant promises to the Jewish people. YHVH’s ability to rescue His people and His loving commitment to make good on His prophetic oaths to them were not discussed by that superpower. Not only that — the Assyrian envoy falsely claimed to be speaking in the name of YHVH, the God of the Bible (see 2 Kings 18:25)!
This passage contains some timeless principles, some golden biblical nuggets. They apply to present-day diplomatic jousting between Israel and her allies, as the developing war between the Jewish state and the jihadi terrorist armies of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah rumbles forward in the Middle East.
A sharp memory is required in order to keep track of all the different declarations being made in the current political dialogue, to decipher the strategies behind the scenes. Statements are often made for public consumption, but the actual policies and the realpolitik are quite different. Political leaders craft their appeals to certain segments of the population — whether left, right or center; whether anti-Israel, pro-Israel or isolationist — their statements are shaped with these constituencies in mind. We the listeners need to do the sleuthing, the detective work, in order to unpack the declarations or policies which often sound ambivalent or which seem to be at cross purposes with each other. Our recent newsletters have presented many such examples.
Here are two such examples:
One one hand, the US sanctions Iran, declares its commitment to standing with Israel and Saudi Arabia, and even (though infrequently) attacks the terrorist forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq and Syria.
On the other hand, the US removed the oil trading embargo on Iran, allowing untold billions to flow into Iran’s terrorism machine; released six billion dollars previously held as sanctions against Iran for its support of terror attacks; keeps its CENTCOM offices, air bases and connections in Qatar, which is the world’s biggest supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. These pro-Iranian moves are of great concern to Saudi Arabia and of course to Israel, and they are Machiavellian to the extreme, They are a modern example of the principle ‘divide and conquer.’
Britain used similar strategies in the early 1920’s, when Whitehall made promises to both the ibn Saud armies and to the Hashemite dynasty regarding who would be allowed to control Mecca. Ultimately the ibn Saud tribes defeated the Hashemites, and that is why that land today is called Saudi Arabia and not the Hashemite Kingdom of Arabia. The British gave a consolation prize to the Hashemites — the newly created countries of Iraq and Jordan. Iraq was soon overthrown by socialist revolutionaries of the Ba’ath movement. King Abdullah and later his son King Hussein functioned as a British quasi-colony in the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, until it came under the geostrategic influence of America.
America’s Machiavellian approach in the Middle East explains something about events behind the current war between Israel and Hamas.
Another example: after the brutal murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, the US gave the Saudis a cold shoulder on ‘ethical grounds.’ But recently those grounds have melted away in the stark light of realpolitik — the need to get all available Middle Eastern players back into the American orbit.
We totally back you up but . . .
In Franklin Foer’s recent book ‘The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future,‘ he explainsPresident Biden’s strategy in dealing with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. During the May 2021 clash between Hamas and Israel, Biden told his advisors that he was going to “hug Bibi tight” rather than publicly express censure, knowing from experience that criticism would push Netanyahu away. “Smother Netanyahu with love!” was his ‘secret strategy’ and it remains so today — even though Biden has leaked this ‘secret strategy’ to world media.
In May 2021, President Bidenpressed the Israeli leader to swiftly agree to a ceasefire in order to end the May 2021 Gaza hostilities with Hamas: “Bibi, I gotta tell you, I’m coming under a lot ofpressure back here . . . I’m getting squeezed here to put an end to this as soon as possible.”
History shows us that, when Israel attempts to reclaim its God-promised land and its biblical borders, or when the Jewish state’s IDF attempts to decisively crush its enemies, various superpowers quickly step up to reign in Israel from achieving those goals. Russia used the threat of nuclear weapons in 1956 and 1973. America ordered Israel to stand down or retreat in 1991, 2006 and 2021. In 2021 POTUS Biden made many calls to PM Netanyahu during May’s ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls.’ During their fourth phone call, on May 19, 2021, Biden was unhappy that Israel was insisting on administering its death-blow to Hamas. “Hey, man, we are out of runway here. It’s over!” said Biden. Times of Israel reports: “Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire two days later. The longtime Likud leader was replaced one month later by a short-lived unity government headed by Naftali Bennett and Ya’ir Lapid.”
US State Department and Presidential statements over the past two months reveal something striking: positive declarations and actions in support of Israel have been immediately nuanced or walked back by both POTUS and the State Department. This modus operandi in the past two decades is the basic reason why the 15 previous military clashes with Hamas had inconclusive results, with Israel pressured into retreating from decisively destroying Hamas. The same dynamics were brought to bear during the 2016 war with Lebanon, and in the Kissinger shuttles in 1973-74 after the Yom Kippur War.
Those who have not been aware of the existence of this good cop-bad cop dynamic, are puzzled or even shocked to grasp that America is supporting two sides of a conflict in order to increase its own clout and influence as a world power. Yet Assyria and Egypt used exactly the same tactics over 2,500 years ago, and the Bible does not flinch from letting us know about these political machinations. This is how the nations of the world “take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against YHVH and His Anointed” (Psalm 2:2). As it was then, so it is today: “Those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against you people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, ‘Come and let us wipe them out as a nation that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’ For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant” (Psalm 83:2-5).
Brass tacks and double-speak
Some clarifying examples of these principles might help here. Here are a few salient points:
· Hamas is firing rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza — which is an area not under Israeli control, and which has one border facing Egypt. In order to interdict Hamas rocket fire, Israel must remove the rocket squads and rocket launchers and weapons storehouses. Hamas has positioned these right in the middle of Gaza’s civilian population, making some civilian casualties unavoidable. If Egypt were willing to work with Israel to pressure Hamas, the situation could be solved with much less loss of life. But that is not happening. Not only that — the UN, the US and the EU all insist that the Gazan population must remain as sitting ducks and hostages of Hamas during this war. In any other such situation (Syria, Jordan, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia, etc.,) the local population would be helped to move away from the battlefield while being housed and fed as long term refugees in other neighboring countries. Both Egypt, Jordan, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Yemenite Houthis declare that such a moving of refugees would be for them tantamount to a casus belli — a cause for war.
· In order for Hamas to be forced to stop firing rockets and sending jihadi terrorist gangs into Israel, it would need to be totally destroyed. Hamas’ commitment to jihad is unto death, as per its Islamist Charter. As long as Hamas soldiers or irregulars remain in Gaza, the conflict will go on and Israelis will continue to be murdered, raped, tortured and kidnapped. Israelis have sanely decided that this option is not a feasible one. But to clean out the Hamas rat’s nest in Gaza requires intensive non-stop military action lasting for months. Were Egypt to allow Gazans into Egypt as refugees, there would be greatly reduced casualties. But that does not fit in well with Hamas’ war strategies, which call for a captive Gazan civilian human shield. Rather than pressuring Egypt to take in refugees, the US is pressuring Israel to step back (once again) from decisively defeating Hamas. VP Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have both repeatedly declared that it is an American red line — Gazans are not to flee the battlefield but must remain as cannon fodder and human shields to benefit Hamas; Israel cannot remain in Gaza for too long, maybe not even for the time it takes to destroy Hamas; Israel will very soon be punished by world opinion and censured for its bombings of Hamas bases and terrorist infrastructure; the wildly inaccurate casualty rates fed by Hamas to the world media are to be used as a guideline of accuracy, even though Hamas does not allow independent collaboration of its figures, and even though it does not admit that most casualties are actually Hamas terror operatives.
Why are the nations taking counsel together?
The United Nations General Assembly has voted in a non-binding resolution (153 to 10, with 23 abstentions), calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire, allowing Hamas to remain in charge and weaponized in Gaza. No mention was made in the UN Resolution of the jihadi pogroms of October 7, 2023 with the over 1,200 murders of Israelis, the mass rapes (many of which simultaneously included savage torture and murder), other torture of civilians, over 240 kidnappings, etc. The UN Security Council also voted for a similar ceasefire, which was vetoed by the US as part of its ‘founding member’ prerogatives. It is only a matter of time before such measures will pass in world forums. Only a resolute stand by the US and any other pro-Jewish nations could succeed in blocking such moves, and only a steel backbone would keep such countries standing with and supporting the Jewish State in the face of a tsunami of world anti-Semitism.
The continuing public rebukes from the US administration directed at Israel and the IDF, focusing on reducing Gazan civilian casualties, are another example of the ‘good cop, bad cop’ syndrome. The IDF is the most praiseworthy army in the world in avoiding enemy civilian casualties, and is significantly better in this regard than the US military, according to a recent ‘good cop’ statementby US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. The strategy behind these criticisms of Israel (see POTUS Biden’s December 13, 2023 accusation that Israel is guilty of “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza) is the desire to also play the ‘bad cop,’ thereby currying favor with the Islamic world and anti-Israel forces elsewhere. The ratcheting up of pressure on Israel to give in and allow a Palestinian terror state-consortium to be established simultaneously in Gaza and the West Bank, led by Palestinian terrorists from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority — this has long been the diplomatic-military ‘end game’ here. It is being prosecuted with renewed passion by the West in general and the US administration in particular, even before the blood of 1,200 Israeli victims has dried on the ground; even while Israeli kidnap victims are being subject on a daily basis to rape, torture, starvation and murder; even while Hamas rockets are being fired at Israeli kibbutzim, farms and cities; even as scores of dead Israelis are being held as bargaining tools by demonized Islamist jihadis.
Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 135 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO. Hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is holding onto many corpses as well for bargaining power.
Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be finally shattered and all chains broken off the Palestinians living there
Pray for jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be understood and rejected by world leaders
Pray for justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies for Israel’s leadership in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects
Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
Pray that the outstretched arm of YHVH will not return before it brings justice to God’s enemies
Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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