The stroke that laid Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon low is a medical condition; a cranial injury inflicted by hemorrhaging following a vascular rupture. Some have speculated that a blood-thinning medication Sharon had been taking as a preventative measure may have exacerbated the damage he suffered by increasing the flow of the hemorrhage.
But at least one commentator insists that Sharon’s stroke had a different cause: divine wrath. TV evangelist Pat Robertson declared Thursday on his program “The 700 Club” that the Bible ‘‘makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who ‘divide my land.’” Sharon, who withdrew Israeli forces and settlers last year from the Gaza Strip, ‘‘was dividing God’s land,” Robertson said.
“I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Union), the United Nations, or the United States of America,” Robertson added. Moreover, he inferred that the 1995 assassination of then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had also yielded control of some of Israel’s 1967 conquests to the Palestinian Arabs, may have been a similar godly sanction.
The theme of God’s punishing hand is a recurrent one in Robertson’s discourse. Recall, for example, his forecast of “serious hurricanes” for Orlando, Fla., as divine retribution for the city’s support of a Gay Pride Festival in 1998. And his assertion that “for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine’” reflects the thinking of Christian Zionism, a belief that the ingathering of the Jews in Israel’s ancient domain is a necessary precondition for the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and the return of Jesus to reign on Earth.
In 2002, the Zionist Organization of America awarded Robertson its State of Israel Friendship Award for his support of the Jewish state. The TV evangelist’s reflections on the cause of YitzhakRabin’s murder and Ariel Sharon’s affliction, however, indicate that Robertson’s solicitude toward the Israelis is conditional on their fulfillment of their role in what he sees as divine prophecy. Should they deviate from that in their own strategic interest — indeed, in the interest of their own survival — well, woe unto them.