With the war against Hamas raging, scores of Israeli soldiers having been killed in combat along with many more injured, and still some 130 hostages who were kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7 being held in captivity, it might be intuitive that this Christmas I would not be praying for anything other than the swift and full eradication of Hamas, the safe return of all our soldiers—including my son and son-in-law—and release of all the hostages.
Then again, since I'm an Orthodox Jew, one might think it odd that I would be praying for anything specifically on Christmas. But I am. I am praying for Gazans to get a little Jesus.
As talks of another cease fire loom, with the U.N. and other international bodies pressing for a cessation of all combat (even without the return of all the hostages), I am looking to the day after the war ends—whenever that may be.
Israel has a different vision for what the day after will look like. The U.S., Western powers, along with the Arab world, still call for a two-state solution, as if stuttering a worn-out policy that has no meaning and no practical means of implementation. Recently, Vice President Kamila Harris echoed apparent U.S. policy that the two-state illusion be with Gaza and other areas under the authority of a Palestinian state, to be under (a perhaps revamped) PLO-led Palestinian Authority.
Others have discussed an international (Arab-led) coalition to rebuild and provide long-term stability for Gazans, without Hamas or any terror organization controlling the territory and its population again. Most echo that they will only do so under the guise of the long-touted—and yet still impractical—two-state solution.
Israel is not being so foolish because it knows that the PLO is nothing more than a kinder and gentler terror group that also does not accept Israel's right to exist, that incites terror and pays pensions to terrorists as if they were national heroes. Even if it were a practical solution once upon a time, it is not practical now, and just the idea is a gift to terrorists that if they keep slaughtering Jews, they will get a state.
Eventually, Gaza will need to be rebuilt. No matter what, there are some 2 million Gazans who need a place to live. The destruction of Gaza has been commensurate with how deeply Hamas embedded itself among the population and within civilian infrastructure such as schools, mosques, hospitals, U.N. facilities and residential areas. There's lots of work to be done. Perhaps this time, unlike 2007 when Hamas took control and began its reign of terror over the population, Gazans will want to get it right. If rebuilt properly, purging the terrorists, and supervised responsibly, Gaza can become a thriving entity like Singapore.
Maybe, just maybe, there can be peace.
Rebuilding needs to start from under the ground up, first with anything left of the underground city that's a maze of terrorist tunnels being destroyed along with the evil Islamic ideology that birthed Hamas originally and was nurtured from Iran all these decades.
But who can do the long-term full-time recovery that's needed? It's not clear that any of the Arab states individually—or as a consortium—can or are even willing to do so. Certainly not Islamists, whether from Iran or Turkey or anywhere else. None of these would be objective players, each looking out for their own interests, also turning a blind eye to smuggling of weapons that threaten Israel. The last thing Israel and Gaza need is a rebuilding of the extremist Islamic ideology at the foundation of rebuilding the territory and resumption of arms smuggling. If there's ever a hope for a lasting peace, there needs to be an overhaul of more than the physical infrastructure. There needs to be a change of heart.
I was asked in an interview recently if I thought Jesus should come back, suggesting that He would bring peace. I replied that I didn't know if Jesus coming back would bring peace, but that Gazans sure could use a lot more Jesus.
I responded that if it were up to me, Billy Graham would come back and hold months of crusades throughout Gaza. There are also many former Muslims who have become Christians, many speak Arabic and know the culture, whom I would bring along as well. I'd be sure that from Day 1, Gazans are fed a diet of Christian faith to counteract the buffet of hate that they have ingested. I told my interviewer that the only chance I saw for real peace is that Gazans become real Christians. In doing so, they will not just abandon Allah in favor of the God of Israel, but they will also come to love Israel: the land, the people and the state, as a realization of God's promise to His people.
I would send along Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse and other ministries that can bring thousands of volunteers of all backgrounds and skills, charged with education, medical and spiritual well-being and physical reconstruction. Ministries like these can bring masses of the most faithful and committed volunteers. They will be the most objective, with the greatest ability to succeed in rebuilding Gaza by both genuinely loving and caring about Israel and its safety, but also about the well-being of Palestinian Arabs. They will not allow the restoration of a massive terrorist infrastructure under their noses as the U.N., Red Cross and other "humanitarian" groups have allowed over the decades. These are not contradictory.
The best and safest way to change the situation and bring peace is for the masses of Gazans, and Palestinian Arabs in general, to convert to Christianity. Any Christian who understands the biblical covenant between God and the Jewish people—that it's eternal and unbreakable—will transform his or her heart. That's how true peace can be achieved.
This is not a task for the Jewish people. Our covenant is unique. We are meant to be a light unto the nations. Nobody wants to live in peace more than the Jewish and Israeli people. But to really bring lasting peace, we need an army of Christians to restore Gaza.
It may sound crazy, an Orthodox Israeli Jew proposing a plan to establish peace in Israel not based on a mistaken formula of two states, but by calling for our neighbors living in spiritual darkness to become spiritual allies by becoming Christian. However, the reality is that anger among Gazans toward Hamas is growing to such a degree that if presented a viable alternative, one based in morality that can bring prosperity, the ground is fertile for such an opportunity.
Let's pray that Gazans' dissatisfaction with Hamas increases and that they all get a little Jesus this Christmas.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the United States and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel, shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel and hosts the popular "Inspiration from Zion" podcast. On behalf of the Genesis 123 Foundation, the Israel Emergency Campaign gives a vehicle for millions of Christians around the world the opportunity to do so virtually as well.
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