They call each other ‘cousins,’ and once upon a time they were allies. Side by side they fought, side by side they fell, side by side they lost, and side by side they won.
Both were born as independent countries in the first half of the 20th century – forged into nations most specifically – it is said – in the furnace of World War I.
Annually, together, they focus on their defeat at Gallipoli, and on the painful price paid on the Western Front. In 2017, however, they will mark the centenary of one of their most glorious successes – their victory in the Battle of Beersheba.
Working jointly to take the Negev town, the New Zealanders conquered the high ground of the ancient city, enabling the Australian Light Horsemen to charge across the open ground and take the Turks in their trenches.
Beersheba’s fall opened the way for the liberation of Jerusalem and, a few months later, the Judeo-Christian British Empire would free the rest of the biblical Land of Israel from Muslim rule.
For 100 years there has been a celebration of this historic ANZAC alliance, which directly and centrally contributed to the creation of the modern State of Israel.
And yet, as we enter this notable year, a weighty question hangs over what future will be played out by those two lands at the uttermost parts of the earth.
That question is this:
Will those whose forces comprise the ANZAC stand into the future as allies and friends of the Jews? Or has their historic alliance eroded into a thing of the past?
From the day after World War I the Muslim world has sought to violently bring the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem back into the House of Islam – back into submission to Allah.
It is a battle in which an increasing number of nations are positioning themselves on the Muslim side, which pits them against the Jews.
It is in this light that we have witnessed the misfortune in recent years of part of this battle being fought between the ANZAC nations, with Australia and New Zealand adopting opposite stances towards the conflict.
Thus, on December 31, 2014, Australia marvelously ended its term on the United Nations Security Council by voting down – and so foiling – an Arab-brought resolution seeking to bring about Israel’s eviction from the central ancestral lands of the Jewish people.
Australia’s stand was taken against the vast majority of nations, more and more of which were by then aligning with the Arabs by unilaterally recognizing the non-existent State of Palestine in the hope of bending Israel to the will of the world.
A great deal of prayer and action went into strengthening the government of Tony Abbott, which had adopted this divergent position.
On January 1, 2015, the day after their no vote, the Australians were rotated off the Security Council and their Kiwi cousins were rotated on.
Immediately – there’s no other way to really construe this – Wellington marked its accession by flipping the birdie at Canberra and letting it be known immediately that New Zealand was going to do what Australia would not do, and use its time on the council to push through the two state solution.
For the past two years this is what New Zealand has strived to bring about.
So much for the ANZAC spirit…
Australia’s echo boomeranged back at New Zealand two years later – almost to the day – when, on December 29, 2016, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop quietly but pointedly indicated that, had it been on the Security Council six days earlier when the US abstained from voting on a resolution brought by New Zealand, Australia would not have supported it.
Other nations too have condemned the UNSC Resolution and the one-sided – many believe anti-Semitic – speech by US Secretary of State John Kelly that followed hard on its heels.
Distressed, many New Zealand Christians have expressed their overwhelming shame at their nation’s complicity in this shameful move.
Desirous that their country would be numbered among the sheep nations – nations that bless Israel – some of these Christians joined with Jews in Auckland to denounce their government’s central part in bringing the resolution.
They had heard Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warning Foreign Minister Murray McCully that by tabling this resolution New Zealand would be declaring war on Israel. And they watched in dismay and alarm as McCully moved ahead regardless.
Some believed that the massive earthquake that struck New Zealand on November 13, just hours after Kerry had held closed door meetings with McCully and Prime Minister John Key was a Divine warning to their nation.
What now, Christians are wondering. Is it all over for New Zealand? Has their nation irrevocably cursed the seed of Abraham?
Hopefully the answer is “no!” But reversing the direction and bringing their nation back into line with Australia on Israel will take passionate prayer and ardent action. But whereas it was not easy to act before – too much apathy and a readiness to abandon this field to the enemy as Christians sought to eschew “politics” – it may, ironically – be easier to act now, if there is enough outrage and enough shame.
Resolute action is essential. Who knows but perhaps it can find its first traction in the ANZAC spirit of Australian and New Zealander believers – who can stand together on behalf of both nations to see Australia stay the course, and to see New Zealand get back on track.
Surely 2017 is the year for this?
There’s still a fight to fight. Celebrations can come later.
This article originally appeared on Jerusalem Watchman, January 7, 2017, and reposted with permission.