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THE POPE VISITS THE EPICENTER: “I am certain that this will be a continuation of the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity in the spirit of the Prophets,” says President Peres

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu greets the Pope at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu greets the Pope at Ben Gurion Airport.

Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres welcome the Pope to the Holy Land.

Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres welcome the Pope to the Holy Land.

Pope Benedict's itinerary in the land of Jesus and the Apostles.

Pope Benedict's itinerary in the land of Jesus and the Apostles.

Pope Benedict XVI is in the epicenter this week, visiting the places where Jesus, the prophets and the apostles walked and taught, meeting with regional leaders, and calling for peace. He arrived in Israel this morning after visiting Jordan for the last several days, where he met with King Abdullah II and toured Mount Nebo where Moses viewed the Promised Land and went to heaven to be with the Lord forever. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres greeted the Pope during an elaborate ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

The trip comes at a sensitive but important moment in Jewish-Catholic relations. The Vatican has made a number of missteps in recent years. Nevertheless, the Netanyahu government has literally rolled out the red carpet for the Pontiff. The Prime Minister and his team hope to steadily improve ties with the Catholic community, increase Catholic tourism to the Holy Land, educate Catholic leaders and lay people about the challenges facing the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and build both sympathy and support for the Jewish people among a billion Catholics worldwide.

In the last several decades, evangelical Christian relations with Israel and the Jewish community has improved much much more rapidly and deeply, but it is important that Catholic ties improve as well. Let’s pray that this trip is a significant step in the right direction.

* Have you ever been to the Holy Land? Come with The Joshua Fund this November 5-17.

* Israel expecting tourism boost from Pope’s visit

* To learn more about trends in the Mideast through the 2009 Epicenter Conference, please click here

EXCERPTS FROM PRESS COVERAGE:

  • “Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Israel from Jordan on Monday morning, as part of his first papal visit to the Middle East and a self-proclaimed ‘pilgrimage of peace,'” reports Ynet News.  “In the coming days he is also expected to visit the Palestinian Authority. The pope made his journey on a plane belonging to the Jordanian royal family. The flags of Israel and the Vatican were waved from the cockpit window. In his first speech at the airport, Benedict said he would honor the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust and fight anti-Semitism today around the world. ‘I will have the opportunity to honor the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah,’ said the German pope, who faces criticism for policies toward Jews, including his recent reinstatement of a bishop who denied Nazis killed six million. ‘Anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This is totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found.'”
  • The Jerusalem Post reported that “upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, the pontiff was greeted by President Shimon Peres in a red-carpet reception. Peres warmly welcomed Benedict as ‘first among the faithful,’ and voiced hope that his presence would help foster peace in the region. ‘Your Holiness the Pope, Benedict XVI, in the name of the State of Israel I welcome you and offer you a blessing on your arrival: peace,’ Peres said in Hebrew. Then, switching to Latin, added, ‘Hail Benedictus, first among the faithful, who visits the Holy Land today….I see your visit here, to the Holy Land, as an important spiritual mission of the highest order: a mission of peace,’ the president continued. ‘A mission of planting seeds of tolerance and uprooting the weeds of fanaticism. I appreciate your stances and your actions to bring down the level of violence and hatred in the world.’….
  • “The Pope’s trip comes amid lingering suspicions among Jews and Muslims over past actions and remarks by the Catholic spiritual leader. In his greetings, Peres alluded to that rift. ‘I am certain that this will be a continuation of the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity in the spirit of the Prophets,’ he said. ‘Israel safeguards the absolute freedom of religious practice and free access to holy places. We are always happy to receive pilgrims from throughout the world in the Holy Land….We have made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and we are in negotiations to make peace with the Palestinians, and even to arrive at a comprehensive regional peace,’ the president continued. ‘Your visit here brings a blessed understanding between religions and spreads peace near and far. Historic Israel and the renewed Israel together welcome your arrival as paving the great road to peace from city to city.'”

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

ISRAEL PRICE REDUCED! Come with us in November and save $600

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Good news! Our tour agency has been diligently working with the airlines and our land suppliers in Israel to work out a better deal on The Joshua Fund’s “Prayer & Vision Trip” November 5-17, 2009. And now, it is with great pleasure that we can announce an overall price reduction of $300 per person, or $600 per couple. Please pray about coming with us. Now more than ever, it is critical that evangelical Christians visit Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and show  unconditional love and unwavering support to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. It is also vital that we pray for Israel’s neighbors and learn how powerfully the God of the Bible is on the move in the region. For more information, please click here.

REPORT FROM AIPAC: U.S. PRESSURE ON ISRAEL TO MAKE DANGEROUS CONCESSIONS GROWING DAILY

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2009 at 1:59 pm
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed AIPAC by satellite

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed AIPAC by satellite

Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed AIPAC in person, and meets with President Obama today

Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed AIPAC in person, and meets with President Obama today

>> Ahmadinejad: Zionist regime will be uprooted

UPDATED: For the past two days, I have attended the policy conference in Washington held by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was an extraordinary event, drawing more than 6,000 pro-Israel activists from all over the country to hear directly and in person from top U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Israeli President Shimon Peres, who today meets at the White House with President Obama. Last night, Lynn and I joined Tim and Carolyn Lugbill — the chairman and treasurer of The Joshua Fund respectively — at AIPAC’s gala dinner. More than half of the U.S. Senate was in attendance, as were most of the Members of the House of Representatives. Dozens of foreign Ambassadors were there, and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the gathering live via satellite (it was 4am in Jerusalem).

  • Netanyahu’s remarks were too short — only 5 minutes, 30 seconds — but they certainly got to the point: “There is something significant that is happening today in the Middle East, and I can say that for the first time in my lifetime, I believe for the first time in a century, that Arabs and Jews see a common danger….The common danger is echoed by Arab leaders throughout the Middle East; it is echoed by Israel repeatedly; it is echoed by Europeans, by many responsible governments around the world.  And if I had to sum it up in one sentence, it is this: Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”
  • Stopping Iran from getting The Bomb is clearly the Israeli leader’s top priority. But he also made it clear that he sees the possibility that Arab states could end up working together closely with the U.S. and Israel against the Iranian threat. He’s heading to Egypt next week at the invitation of President Mubarak. He said he’s prepared to reach a “final peace settlement” with the Palestinians via a “triple track” of political negotiations, security enhancements, and economic growth initiatives. He did not say explicitly that he favors a “two state solution,” because the truth is he does not believe in giving the Palestinians a full sovereign state, including the right to have an air force, the right to forge strategic alliances with Iran and Syria, etc. He stressed the importance of the Palestinians recognizing that Israel is a “Jewish state,” something Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership still can’t bring themselves to say.
  • Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) gave an excellent but sobering address Monday night, following the Prime Minister. He warned that “Pakistan could fall to the Taliban in the next six months,” and that the country’s 100 or so nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic Radicals even before Iran gets the Bomb. He noted that the government, police and military in Pakistan seem “almost powerless” to stop the Taliban Radicals.
  • Sen. Kyl’s main focus, however, was Iran. He described a recent meeting he had with Prime Minister Netanyahu in which the PM asked, If all measures to stop Iran from getting the Bomb fail by this summer, what will you do? Kyl posed the question to the audience at least three times, “What will you do?” He said that he is not opposed to the administration’s desire to engage Iran diplomatically, but said there must be a “short and hard end date.” He also said, “I don’t know what we would give Iran that it wants more than the Bomb.” He has introduced new legislation with Sens. Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh aimed at imposing severe economic sanctions on Iran’s oil, gas and banking industries. But he did not express confidence that such measures would necessarily work.
  • The fact that Netanyahu asked Kyl to search his soul and consider what the U.S. would do if sanctions and diplomacy don’t work by this summer — combined with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s statement in Rome yesterday that if Iran isn’t stopped diplomatically within three months, “action must be taken” — suggests Israel may be on a faster track towards war than most people in the West realize.
  • Michael Oren — the incoming Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. — told an AIPAC panel that Iran will not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Oren, it should be noted, is a renowned historian and arguably the leading expert on Israel’s decision to launch a preemptive military strike on her enemies in June 1967 when the Jews were being threatened with being thrown into the sea.
  • Ephraim Sneh, Israel’s former Deputy Defense Minister, said the time for a decision to strike Iran is now. He said Israel has an “operational solution” to stop Iran militarily for which it does not need the permission or support of other countries.
  • President Shimon Peres praised Prime Minister Netanyahu and said, “He knows history. He wants to make history. And in our history, that means making peace.” But he warned that “a dark and growing cloud” is coming over the Middle East, the “shadow of a nuclear threat.” And he was clear: “We shall not give up. We shall not surrender….The fanatic rulers of Iran are on the wrong side of history.”
  • Peres is clearly a big fan of President Obama, whom he says has brought “a tsunami of hope” to the world. “We trust the leadership of President Obama.”
  • I wouldn’t necessarily expect an Israeli leader — especially a Labor leader, as Peres is — to say something different on the eve of meeting a new American President, but I am not at all clear that such trust is warranted. The Obama administration does not have a convincing plan to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. Yet it is pushing Israel to abandon all consideration of a preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It is pushing Israel to divide Jerusalem. It is pushing Israel to give away the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). It is warning that the West may not help Israel with Iran unless Israel makes painful and immediate concessions to the Palestinians and allow the Arabs to create a sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza. It is doing so without any evidence that the Palestinian leadership is willing to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.” And now — just in the last 24 hours — the administration has begun to pressure Israel to join the “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” (NPT) which would require her to give up (or at least fully disclose) its nuclear weapons. Among other things, that would mean forcing Israel to give up its primary deterrence strategy. Why should Israel do such a thing? Why would the U.S. demand such a thing? Especially now.
  • My conclusion after several days at the AIPAC conference: the mutually warm words of appreciation for 61 years of U.S.-Israel relations notwithstanding, a train wreck is coming between the Netanyahu administration and the Obama administration over Iran and the “peace process.” I pray it can be avoided, but at this point Netanyahu and his team understand the apocalyptic death cult they are facing in Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and President Obama and his team do not. Netanyahu is preparing to take action to defend Israel and the world from the nightmare of a nuclear armed Iran, and Obama is not. All the more reason we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and show unconditional love and unwavering support to the Jewish State and the Jewish people as never before.

>> To join nearly 100,000 people who receive Joel’s email updates, please click here

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

NETANYAHU COMING TO WASHINGTON ON MAY 18: New ambassador appointed

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2009 at 11:07 am
The Israeli Prime Minister is building a war cabinet.

The Israeli Prime Minister is building a war cabinet.

NEW POLL: “A vast majority (66%) of Israelis said they would support military action if diplomatic and economic efforts failed to get Iran to stop uranium enrichment, and of that number, 75% would support this action even if the Obama administration were opposed.”

————————–

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted the invitation of President Barack Obama to come to Washington for meetings on May 18. The main focus on these talks will be the Iran nuclear threat, and the future of the peace process.

In advance of such meetings, Netanyahu has just named renowned Middle East historian Dr. Michael Oren to be the new Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. The Israeli press is focusing on Oren’s view that Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank to make peace with the PalestiniansBut Oren would never have been selected by Netanyahu for that reason. Indeed, he was chosen in spite of those views, with the Prime Minister does not share. I suspect the real reason Netanyahu chose Oren is because he is the author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, a brilliant, must-read history of Israel’s decision to launch a pre-emptive strike against her enemies that turned out to be miraculously successful. Make no mistake: apart from divine intervention, a train wreck is coming between the U.S. and Israel over the Iran issue. Netanyahu understands the Iranian leadership is part of an apocalyptic, genocidal death cult. The White House and State Department don’t see it. Oren could, therefore, prove to be a shrewd choice by the Prime Minister. He’s smart, an excellent English speaker, good on television, good with the media generally, and an expert on the history of Israel taking pre-emptive military action to secure her survival against all odds and against world opinion. What’s more, he is strongly opposed to direct U.S. talks with Iran for a number of reasons, he argued last fall in the Wall Street Journal. Such skills and convictions may come in handy, indeed.

>> To join nearly 100,000 people who receive Joel’s email updates, please click here

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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