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10 QUESTIONS ON THE TWELFTH IMAM AND SHIA ISLAMIC END TIMES THEOLOGY: Plus, Iran seeks “new world order” and other headlines

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

>> Book tour speaking schedule – Next events: Saturday, 7pm @ Perimeter Road Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia (speaking and Q&A)…..Sunday at 10am & 6pm at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida (preaching in the morning service; the evening service will be mostly Q&A).

Last week, I was asked 10 questions on The Twelfth Imam by a Washington, D.C.-based news organization. We’ll see if they run the whole interview, but here are the answers I emailed back to them. 

1.) Q: Why did you decide to write the book?  

A: We are living on the brink of the apocalypse, but the world is asleep. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in July that he actually met with the Shia Islamic messiah, known as the Twelfth Imam. Few know that happened. Fewer still know what that means. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his government’s mission is to hasten the appearance of the Twelfth Imam on earth. What’s so dangerous is that in the Shia Islamic eschatology – or End Times theology – of these two men, they believe that their God-given mission in life is to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it, in order to accelerate the arrival of their so-called messiah to earth. Given their feverish efforts to build nuclear weapons, this is very dangerous stuff. The problem is that most world leaders aren’t paying attention to the eschatology driving Iranian foreign policy. Most Americans aren’t aware of it either. We have a Farsi-speaking Hitler rising, and the world is doing nothing decisive to stop him. Now, I’m a failed political consultant. But sometimes fiction has a way of capturing people’s imagination in a way that non-fiction doesn’t. Conservatives typically haven’t written much fiction – specifically political thrillers – over the years to educate, inspire and mobilize people on issues of great import, but we ought to. I want to take people on a spellbinding journey inside one of the darkest regimes in the world, the Iranian regime. I want to take people” inside the room,” as it were, as Iranian leaders plot their nuclear weapons strategy and plot the annihilation of Israel, which they call the “little Satan,” and the United States, which they call the “Great Satan.” Perhaps this novel, The Twelfth Imam, can play a small role in waking up a nation, a world, asleep at the switch.

2.) Q: Explain who the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi, is for those may not know.

A: The Twelfth Imam was a real, flesh-and-blood person who lived during the ninth century AD. Like the eleven Shia religious leaders who went before him, he was an Arab male who, as a direct descendent of the founder of Islam, was thought to have been divinely chosen to be the spiritual guide and ultimate human authority of the Muslim people. His name was Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali. It is generally believed by Shias that he was born in Samarra, Iraq, in AD 868, though few details of his brief life are certain or free from controversy. Sunnis, for example, believe he was born later. Before he could reach an age of maturity, when he could teach and counsel the Muslim world as was believed to be his destiny, Ali vanished from human society. Some say he was four years old, while others say five and some say six. Some believe he fell into a well in Samarra but his body was never recovered. Others believe the Mahdi’s mother placed him in the well to prevent the evil rulers of the time from finding him, capturing him, and killing him—and that little Ali subsequently became supernaturally invisible. This is where the term “Hidden Imam” is derived, as Shias believe that Ali is not dead but has simply been hidden from the sight of mankind—Shias refer to this as “occultation”—until the End of Days, when Allah will reveal him once again.

3.) Q: What is the gist of your novel and why should we want to read it?

A: The Twelfth Imam is the first in a series of three new political thrillers I’m writing. It follows the life of the Shirazi family, who escape out of Iran during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They find asylum in the U.S. and raise three sons. One of those sons, David, is deeply affected by the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. Enraged, he decides to join the CIA, hunt down Osama bin Laden, and bring his head home in a box. But by the time he is ready to be deployed, the CIA decides to send him not to Afghanistan or Pakistan but into Iran. His mission is to find previously unknown nuclear weapons sites and help the CIA sabotage them to keep Iran from getting the Bomb, and to keep the Israelis from launching a preemptive attack. Once he gets inside Iran, however, events start taking a bizarre and unnatural twist. Shirazi starts hearing strange rumors of an Islamic messiah already on the planet and about to reveal himself. What’s more, he begins to learn of how the Iranian regime’s obsession with the Twelfth Imam is a recipe for wars of annihilation against Israel, and then against the U.S. 

4.) Q: Is it true that as mayor of Tehran, current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a grand avenue built in anticipation of the Mahdi’s return?

A: Ahmadinejad campaigned for Mayor promising to prepare the way for the coming of the Twelfth Imam, but most of his significant accomplishments occurred after coming to power as President in the summer of 2005. He has spent millions to build roads leading to the Jamkaran Mosque, where the Twelfth Imam reportedly once appeared to a farmer and told him to build a mosque and intimated that he might return there one day to a well in the courtyard. Not all Shias believe this so-called messiah will return there, but Ahmadinejad does. As a result, millions of Shias have visited the mosque and like to write prayers and toss them down the well, hoping they are heard and answered.

5.) Q: Shouldn’t Christians welcome the return of the Mahdi since he is supposed to bring Jesus with him when he returns?

A: The Twelfth Imam, should he actually come, will be a false messiah. True followers of Jesus Christ should never welcome agents of deception. That said, Jesus Christ warned three times in Matthew chapter 24 that we should expect many false messiahs to come in the last days of history and to deceive many. Shia “Twelvers” do believe that Jesus is coming back at the end of time, but they believe that Jesus is not the Savior, Messiah and Lord of the universe. They believe Jesus will be the Twelfth Imam’s deputy, and will force all Jews and Christians to convert to Shia Islam, or perish. Nothing could be further from the truth.

6.) Q: Let’s get serious: Do you believe the current Iranian regime is apocalyptic and would use a nuclear weapon against the United States or Israel if they were able to produce one?

A: Based on the End Times theology of the current Iranian regime, and their publicly stated intentions of annihilating the U.S. and Israel (which I documented in my non-fiction book last year, Inside The Revolution), I have absolutely no doubt that Tehran will use nuclear weapons to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization once they have such weapons. They may use them directly, and/or they may give such weapons to terror groups such as Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Hamas or others to be used against American and Israeli targets. Worse, how do you successfully negotiate with, deter or contain someone who believes it is his God-given mission in life to annihilate you in order to bring about his messiah?

7.) Q: What’s your view on how to stop Iranian nuclear proliferation? Will sanctions work? Or covert operations? Or do you think that military strikes will be necessary?

A: Much tougher sanctions along the lines of a quarantine or blockade of Iran could bring the country economically to its knees and trigger a coup. But that might not be enough. What if the new leaders are equally aggressive? Covert operations are having some effect, such as the kidnapping of Iranian nuclear scientists, the persuasion of others to defect, and the computer virus that is attacking Iranian industrial computer systems at the moment. But we are fast running out of time. I’m praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I’m trying to mobilize millions of evangelical Christians to pray for peace as well. But not peace at any price. An End Times regime in Tehran with nuclear weapons is a worst case scenario.  

8.) Q: Do you believe the Obama administration would ever launch military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities?

A: The Obama administration is highly unlikely to use military force to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, and all Iranians know it. After all, the President is doing everything he can to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan as rapidly as possible. American are growing increasingly uneasy with the President’s approach, and they are right to be concerned. He doesn’t understand the gravity of the threat of Radical Islam, and he is making us and our allies increasingly vulnerable to new and devastating attacks. NATO won’t lead. The EU won’t lead. The UN won’t lead. So who will? All eyes are turning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I can tell you for a fact that Netanyahu doesn’t want war. He doesn’t seek it. He has supported sanctions and even the President’s efforts at engaging Iran diplomatically. He’s exhausting every option short of overt war. But I can also tell you for a fact that Netanyahu refuses to preside over a Second Holocaust. If the world doesn’t move decisively in late 2010 and 2011, I think we’re looking at a major war in the region in the next few years. It may be a nightmare, and set the whole region on fire. It might send oil prices skyrocketing, and anti-Semitism skyrocketing worldwide, as well. But what other choice would Netanyahu have, if the world does nothing to stop Khamenei and Ahmadinejad in the 21st century, as it did nothing to stop Hitler in the 20th century?

9.) Q: How did you get Rush Limbaugh to blurb your book? That is a big get. Did you have a conversation with him about your latest novel? 

A: Rush is a friend. As you know, I served on his staff back in the 90s for two years. He has endorsed several of my books over the years, and interviewed me about them. I haven’t yet had a conversation about this one, but I’m grateful for support. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful!

10.) Q: Any plans to write another book or novel yet? If so, about what?

A: I anticipate this novel will be the first of a series of three thrillers that build one upon the other.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

DOES BIBLE PROPHECY PREDICT THE COMING OF THE TWELFTH IMAM?

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

Today, my new political thriller, “The Twelfth Imam,” is released. The novel is premised on two “what if” scenarios. First, what if the world waits too long and Iran actually acquires nuclear weapons? Second, what if the so-called Shia Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam actually comes to earth? What would happen? What would Iran do? What would Israel do? What would the U.S. do?

Some people have asked me how I as a follower of Jesus Christ could envision such a scenario of a false messiah coming to earth. I remind them Bible prophecy tells us again and again that in the last days we are to expect false messiahs, false prophets, and false religions. In fact, in Matthew chapter 24, our Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers three times of this End Times trend:

1. “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the messiah,’ and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:4-5)

2. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:11)

3. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the messiah,’ or, ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24: 23-27)

I cannot say for certain that the Twelfth Imam will come to earth, much less soon. But according to Bible prophecy, it is possible. And in that context, it is intriguing to note some recent developments inside Iran:

* Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Claims He Was Visited by Hidden Imam

* Khamenei says he represents the Twelfth Imam on earth

* Khamenei: The Twelfth Imam will reappear to rescue human community

Meanwhile, the U.S. says Chinese companies are selling nuclear components to Iran, despite sanctions. And this is what is so dangerous — that Iran is getting closer to having nuclear weapons, even as its leaders believe they are in direct contact with the Twelfth Imam. They claim to be willing to engage in more nuclear talks, but they are just trying to buy time until their nuclear weapons are complete and the war of annihilation against Israel and the U.S. can begin, thus ushering in the era of the Twelfth Imam.

“THE TWELFTH IMAM” RELEASES TUESDAY: Joel on CBN’s “The 700 Club” on Tuesday

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm
National Review Online published my article today on Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah, and the Democrats.
 
Here is my book tour speaking schedule for this fall.
 
Here are the initial interviews re: The Twelfth Imam that I’m scheduled to do. (all times are eastern, all interviews are subject to change — I’ll update this as often as I can)
  • Sunday, Oct 17 at 1:10pm on the Fox News Channel. (TV, live)
  • Monday, Oct 18 at 4:00pm on The Janet Mefferd Show, nationally syndicated on the Salem Radio Network (live)
  • Mon, Oct 18 at 4:30pm on the “Christian Worldview Radio Show with David Wheaton” (taped)
  • Mon, Oct 18 at 5:06pm on the “Bobby Mac Show,” WORD-AM, Greenville, South Carolina (live)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 9:00am on CBN’s “The 700 Club. (TV, live — then re-aired on the ABC Family Channel)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 9:30am on CBN News with Gary Lane (TV taped to air later)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 10:30am on CBN Newswatch (TV, taped)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at noon — address CBN’s staff chapel
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 3:00pm on WAFT, Valdosta, Georgia (taped)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 3:15pm on KCBI, Dallas, Texas (live)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 4:00pm on WOR with Steve Malzburg, in New York City, New York (live)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 4:35pm on WLQV with Paul Edwards in Detroit, Michigan (live)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 6:00pm on Janet Parshall’s radio show, nationally syndicated on the Moody Radio Network (live, one hour)
  • Tues, Oct 19 at 7:00pm on KKLA with Frank Pastore (live)

 Early previews, reviews, interviews:

On sale in bookstores nationwide on Tuesday.

National Review Online posts my article on Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah, and the Democrats.

Here’s my speaking schedule this fall.

AHMADINEJAD, HEZBOLLAH, OBAMA AND THE 2010 ELECTIONS

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm

FYI: I’m scheduled to be interviewed on the following programs: Friday, Oct 15, 1:15pm eastern — BBC Worldwide radio. Topics: Ahmadinejad, Israel and the Twelfth Imam; Friday, Oct 15, during the 7pm eastern hour–  Fox Business Channel with David Asman. Topics: Ahmadinejad, Iran and The Twelfth Imam.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Beirut Wednesday morning for a highly provocative trip to Lebanon. He was greeted by tens of thousands of Radical Muslims as a hero of the Islamic Revolution and on Thursday visited the border with Israel. His mission: to rally the terrorist forces of Hezbollah for an apocalyptic war with the Jewish state that will set the stage for the coming of the Shia Islamic messiah known as the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam.”

But annihilating Israel is not the ultimate objective for Ahmadinejad or Hezbollah. Israel, in the End Times theology of both Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, is only the “little Satan.” The U.S., they believe, is the “Great Satan” and must be annihilated, too.

By large margins, American voters instinctively understand that the strengthening of the Iranian-Hezbollah alliance poses not only a grave and growing danger to Israel, but also to U.S. national security. But voters are increasingly concerned that President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats don’t get it. They worry Democrats have neither the wisdom nor the will to protect the American people or allies like Israel from Radical Islam, and this could cost their party at the polls in a few weeks.

Consider the findings of a new survey released this week by McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally respected polling firm:

  • A stunning eight-out-of ten of likely American voters (78.5%) say they do not believe President Obama’s policies towards Iran (such as economic sanctions and repeated attempts to engage the mullahs diplomatically) will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
  • An overwhelming number of voters (79.9%), believe that once Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will launch nuclear missile attacks against Israel.
  • Even more Americans (85.3%) are concerned that Iran will give nuclear weapons to terrorist groups (like Hezbollah) once they get the Bomb.
  • That’s why six in ten voters (59.8%) support U.S. military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities if economic sanctions don’t work.
  • What’s more, if the Obama administration won’t take decisive action, six in ten voters (58.4%) would support Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Americans are right to be worried. With Iran’s help, Hezbollah has become the most dangerous Shia Muslim terrorist organization in the world. Consider a sampling of Nasrallah’s statements in recent years:

  • “Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute. . . . Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, ‘Death to America’ will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: ‘Death to America.’”
  • “We do not believe in multiple Islamic republics; we do believe, however, in a single Islamic world governed by a central government.”
  • “Jerusalem and Palestine will not be regained with political games but with guns.”
  • “America will remain the nation’s chief enemy and the greatest Satan of all. Israel will always be for us a cancerous growth that needs to be eradicated.”
  • “I ask Almighty Allah . . . to make you the men who would clear the way for the Mahdi of this earth to establish divine justice.”

Nasrallah is not just talk. He practices what he preaches. That’s why Ahmadinejad counts him such a close and reliable ally.

He helped found Hezbollah in 1982 with direct Iranian funding, training, and organizational assistance. He then helped build it into an enormous force with aid and ongoing strategic and tactical guidance from Iran. By 1983, Nasrallah and his team had already recruited and trained some two hundred jihadists. On October 23 of that year, they launched the truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks, killing more Americans at one time than any terrorist had before that point. The attack resulted in “the largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on the face of the Earth,” according to a U.S. federal court judge who later found the Islamic Republic of Iran liable for perpetrating the crime and awarded the surviving American families some $2.6 billion in damages.

By the time of the Second Lebanon War against Israel in 2006, Hezbollah had more than 6,000 trained jihadists in their network compared to 170,000 IDF forces and over 400,000 Israeli reservists. Yet under Nasrallah’s leadership, Hezbollah was widely perceived to have won that month-long showdown.

Terrorist attacks by Hezbollah have extended far beyond the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks in 1983. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2008 Patterns of Global Terrorism report,  Hezbollah was also behind the 1984 attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut; the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered; the kidnapping, detention, and murder of Americans and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s; the 1992 attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina; the 1994 attack on the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires; and the 2000 kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers and an Israeli noncombatant.” In 2004, Nasrallah’s forces began training members of the Iraqi “Mahdi Army”—the Shia terrorist group run by Moqtada al-Sadr—to attack and kill U.S., Coalition, and Iraqi military forces, as well as Iraqi civilians.

Now, with Ahmadinejad’s encouragement and financing, Nasrallah is building what he believes will be the ultimate fighting force to destroy the U.S. and Israel in the “End of Days.”

According to Hezbollah documents captured by Israeli soldiers during the 2006 war, Nasrallah has recruited 42,000 Muslim children ages eight to sixteen into a jihadist youth movement known as “the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts.” The children are immersed in understanding Shia eschatology—End Times theology—about the coming of the Twelfth Imam. They study the lives and teachings of Nasrallah and current Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei, whom they refer to as their “commander-leader.” They wear camouflage suits, paint their faces black, and swear an oath to participate in jihad against Jewish and Christian infidels. According to official organization documents, 120 members have already died in terrorist actions, including as suicide bombers. Once they turn seventeen, they are encouraged to join Hezbollah’s formal military units.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has helped Hezbollah build up a force of more than 30,000 missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution forbidding the rearmament of such terror groups after the 20-6 war with Israel. Now imagine both Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah with nuclear warheads.

Americans are worried, and they are increasingly convinced that neither President Obama nor his party are up to the task of stopping the Radicals. Nor do they believe liberals are giving proper backing to faithful allies like Israel who live on the front lines. To be sure, fear of Radical Islam is not the primary issue motivating voters this fall. The economy and jobs still top the list. But given the hostile political environment Congressional Democrats are already operating in, voter perceptions of their party as weak on national security and appeasers of Iran will be costly and could add to the center-right electoral tsunami that seems to be building momentum.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

UPDATED: AHMADINEJAD VISITS LEBANON TO PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF THE TWELFTH IMAM

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 11:30 am

Here’s the latest coverage so far:

 

>> To pre-order Joel’s new novel, The Twelfth Imam (which releases Oct 19), please click here

NEW POLL FINDS NEARLY EIGHT-IN-TEN AMERICANS DON’T BELIEVE OBAMA POLICIES WILL STOP IRAN FROM GETTING NUKES: Poll provides fascinating insight into voters’ views on Israel and epicenter issues

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2010 at 2:38 am

Members of the U.S. House and Senate who over the past two years have followed President Obama’s lead on major economic policy issues like raising taxes, spending and the national debt already know they are facing the wrath of angry voters on Election Day this November. But according to an intriguing new poll released Monday, candidates  who have supported President Obama’s antagonistic policies towards Israel and appeasing policies towards Iran in the past several years will find still further opposition at the ballot box.

The survey of 1,000 American voters, conducted by the respected national polling firm of McLaughlin & Associates, shows that a majority of Americans who are likely to turn out to the polls this November are pro-Israel. They are deeply worried about the ayatollahs in Iran getting the Bomb. They don’t believe President Obama knows how to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. They believe the President is being unfair and unfriendly towards Israel. They believe he is biased in favor of the Palestinians.  What’s more, a majority of voters say they are more likely to support a candidate who is clearly identified as pro-Israel than one who is not.

Specifically:

  • A stunning eight-out-of ten voters (78.5%) say they do not believe President Obama’s policies [such as economic sanctions and repeated attempts to engage the mullahs diplomatically] will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
  • Nearly the exact same number (79.9)% believe once Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will launch annihilating nuclear missile attacks against the State of Israel.
  • Even more Americans (85.3%) are concerned that Iran will give nuclear weapons to terrorist groups once they get the Bomb.
  • Six in ten voters (59.8%) support U.S. military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities if economic sanctions don’t work.
  • Six in ten voters (58.4%) would also support Israel’s military striking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
  • Some 54% of American voters disagree with President Obama’s approach of publicly criticizing and pressuring Israel when it comes to the peace process, while only 27% agree with the President’s approach.
  • Nearly half of all Americans (46.5%) believe President Obama’s policy of reaching out to the Muslim world has decreased U.S. national security, while only one-in-three (33.1%) believe it has increased our security

The poll was commissioned by the Emergency Committee for Israel, an organization founded by William Kristol, the Jewish editor of The Weekly Standard, and Gary Bauer, the evangelical Christian writer and speaker who formerly headed up the Family Research Council and now runs a group called American Values.

THE WEEK AHEAD: DIRECT MIDEAST PEACE TALKS MAY BREAK DOWN AS THE PALESTINIANS APPEAR POISED TO MISS YET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians could break down entirely this week. The Palestinians say they won’t come back to the negotiating table unless the Israelis agree to a new two-month (minimum) freeze on building in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria (commonly known as the West Bank). The Palestinian leadership has been emboldened by the enormous pressure the Obama administration has been putting on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to cease building so the peace talks can continue. Netanyahu will meet with his Cabinet on Sunday and they may make a decision then. But many of Netanyahu’s coalition allies reject a longer freeze. They say enough is enough. They’ve made concessions and the Palestinians aren’t reciprocating.

Let’s recap what’s happened so far:

  1. Israelis and Palestinians have been engaged in direct peace talks on and off for well over a decade.
  2. The issue of Israel building in the so-called “settlements” was never a deal-breaker for the Palestinians before.
  3. It became a deal-breaker after President Obama’s speech in Cairo in June 2009 when he stated: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop.” 
  4. Once the President made this a big deal (it really hadn’t ever been one before), the Palestinians decided to dig in their heels and wait for the President to force Israel to stop building.
  5. Many in Netanyahu’s government insisted Israel keep building, no matter what. But Netanyahu made a bold decision: Israel would halt such controversial building for 10 months so that the Palestinians could come to the table and begin direct peace talks.
  6. Moreover, Netanyahu has ordered hundreds of roadblocks and barricades in the West Bank to be removed. This has allowed more freedom of movement for Palestinians workers and goods. The result: the Palestinian economy grew 6.8% in 2009, and a top Palestinian officials says their economy could be growing at 15% to 20% a year if there was peace.
  7. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Netanyahu’s decision “unprecedented” and urged the Palestinians to get started with the peace talks.
  8. The Palestinians, however, let the clock nearly run out. Eight months into the 10-month freeze, the Palestinians finally came to the table. Then the clock did run out. Now they are demanding more time.
  9. Would more time really help? Or is this the diplomatic equivalent of Lucy with the football, always pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown at the last moment to make Charlie Brown look foolish?
  10. The core problem here is that the Obama administration is putting enormous and undue pressure on the Israelis, rather than the Palestinians. Yet it is the Israelis who have been most accomodating to get direct peace talks going. Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) seems to be operating in bad faith. Yet President Obama refuses to confront Abu Mazen and insist that he come back to the negotiating table with no pre-conditions.
  11. Netanyahu says he is ready to make a deal. Many of his center-right allies fear he’s serious. The Palestinians will never know unless they come back to the table and negotiate in good faith.

 The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl puts his finger precisely on the problem:  “The main reason, in my view, is that the Obama administration has once again chosen to ask Netanyahu for an unnecessary concession — and one he may be unable to deliver.”

Diehl adds: “Netanyahu finds himself in a familiar bind. When he last led an Israeli government, in the late 1990s, he also came under crushing U.S. pressure to make concessions in an earlier round of peace talks. When he did so, his right-wing allies deserted him, while Israel’s left-wing parties refused to support him. His government fell, and he lost the subsequent election. The same fate could befall Netanyahu if he accepts Obama’s offer. Right-wing parties in his coalition could turn against him — and the largest center-left opposition party is signaling that it will not back up the prime minister even though it supports the settlement moratorium. So the prime minister is unlikely to accept the deal with the U.S. unless he can persuade his coalition partners to go along. At the same time, Netanyahu knows that if he rejects the deal, he will anger Obama — who hasn’t shied from open confrontations with Israel over settlements. Obama isn’t likely to turn on Netanyahu before the U.S. midterm elections; but a breakdown in the peace process could seriously complicate relations between the two countries next year, when Israel hopes the United States will act decisively to stop Iran’s nuclear program.”

>> Calling 50 visionary pastors to lead tours to Israel for the 2011 Epicenter Conference

>> Learn more about The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Trip to Israel” and attend the 2011 Epicenter Conference (see short video)

MOSCOW’S BIG SURPRISE FOR IRAN THIS WEEK: Could sanctions delay a war?

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm

>> Calling 50 visionary pastors to bring tours to Israel and the 2011 Epicenter Conference next May

A senior Israeli government official last week told me that Prime Minister Netanyahu will assess the effectiveness of international economic sanctions on Iran in December and January. “Decisions will have to made after that,” he said. What kind of decisions? The official wasn’t particularly optimistic that sanctions would work, but when pressed wouldn’t say what Netanyahu might do next. Still, the implication was fairly clear: If Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not severely hampered enough by the first of the new year — by a combination of diplomacy, international sanctions, and/or covert actions inside Iran — Netanyahu and his government feel they have no choice but to launch preemptive military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

There are early indications that sanctions are driving up prices inside Iran and causing political unrest. Some Western governments appear to be stepping up an aggressive covert war to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Now, Moscow has curiously announced a big surprise for Iran — it has cancelled the sale to Iran its state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. In fact, the Russian company that builds the missile system says it’s going to refund about $166 million which Iran has already paid. The reason for the cancellation is the new U.N. economic sanctions which were imposed on Iran. Noteworthy is that this is a reversal of Russia’s position earlier this year when it vowed to deliver the S-300 system to Iran despite the sanctions. It also goes against the trend of the last decade when Russia was building ever an ever closer and deeper alliance with Iran. Indeed, Iran is now threatening to sue Russia to keep the contract and deliver the missiles.

What does all this mean? Is Russia fundamentally backing away from Iran, or making a tactical adjustment? Do Putin and Medvedev agree on this decision, or is there a split inside the Kremlin? Could sanctions actually delay a war between Iran and Israel? Important questions all, but it’s too early to say. For now, let’s keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem. No one wants to see more blood spilled in the region.

HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING:

STEEL PRICES CLIMB 50% IN IRAN AS ECONOMIC SANCTIONS BEGIN TO MAKE IMPACT: Publishers Weekly reviews “The Twelfth Imam”

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm
The Washington Post reports today that, “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, already faced with growing opposition from competing political forces within Iran, is confronting new pressure brought on by severe economic problems, including some triggered by international sanctions. The sanctions, intended to push the country to abandon its nuclear program, are not yet crippling the Islamic Republic, economists and analysts say. But they are causing prices to rise and making it increasingly difficult for Iranian companies to work internationally….Steel prices have already increased by nearly 50 percent in the past two months because of the sanctions. In the first sign that Iranians are becoming nervous about the currency, some businessmen are starting to send cash abroad. ‘People are traveling outside with their pockets stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars,’ the steel trader said. ‘We feel the government is intentionally trying to break our backs.'”
 
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Publishers Weekly review of The Twelfth Imam
Joel C. Rosenberg. Tyndale, $26.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4143-1163-0
 
“Bestseller Rosenberg (The Last Jihad) has carved out a deep niche in conservative political fiction, vividly sweeping from 1979 Iran during the hostage crisis to a world-threatening crisis in the present day. When a prophecy of the coming Mahdi, or 12th imam, is believed to have been fulfilled through a Muslim prophet, a nuclear attack is threatened by Iran against Israel to bring the end of days. Iranian-American CIA operative David Shirazi must infiltrate the Iranian government without leaving American fingerprints and stop the ultimate disaster that would certainly escalate into international conflict. Filled with Islamic culture and history, this story of an Iranian family and an American one trying to understand one another is coupled with an emerging love story that will no doubt play out in coming books, since the ending is left open for more. Readers must keep track of many characters, but the author has provided a character list. Toeing the Christian conservative line while still writing sympathetic Muslim characters, Rosenberg is a go-to novelist for Christian political fiction. (Oct.)”
 
 

LOOKING FOR 50 VISIONARY PASTORS TO BRING TOURS TO ISRAEL AND THE EPICENTER CONFERENCE NEXT MAY

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm

This past weekend I spoke at the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference” at The Moody Church in Chicago. Last night, I spoke at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria. At both events, I put out the call for pastors and ministry leaders from all over the world to bring tours to Israel and participate in the Epicenter Conference next May 15-16 at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. Both events went really well, and several ministry leaders told me they were eager to join us in Jerusalem next May. I was especially eager to speak at Northwoods because Pastor Cal Rychener was the first U.S. pastor to sign up to lead a tour with us to the Epicenter Conference. Thank you, Cal!

It is certainly wonderful any time a pastor leads a tour to Israel and encourages his people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and walk where Jesus walked. But imagine the extraordinary witness and blessing it would be to Israel if 2,000 to 3,000 followers of Jesus Christ would come together corporately as the Body of Jesus Christ to show unconditional love and unwavering support to the people of Israel at a time when the rest of the world is turning away from the Jewish people. Imagine the message this would send to Israel’s neighbors, and to her enemies, when we come together to demonstrate the love of Christ to the people of the epicenter, in the epicenter. Imagine the impact on the Church that we can have together when a conference like this is webcast live around the world, as well as broadcast on radio and TV. That’s what the next Epicenter Conference is all about.

The Joshua Fund team is praying that 300 people would sign up for one of our specially designed “Prayer & Vision Tours to Israel.” We have a 12-day tour, and a 14-day tour available. We also have a special 7-day tour available for those who may not have the time or funds to come for longer.

At the same time, I am praying that 50 visionary pastors would join The Joshua Fund by bringing at least one bus of 45 to 50 followers of Jesus Christ to the Epicenter Conference. Our authorized Christian tour agency — Inspiration Cruises & Tours — has turn-key trips designed and ready to go. They have different length trips to suit your ministry’s needs. There are also a range of dates you can choose from for your tour, all of which include 2 days at the Epicenter Conference where I will be teaching along with Kay Arthur, Anne Graham Lotz, Pastor Skip Heitzig, Pastor Ray Bentley and others. Please pray about this. And please click below for more information about how you can sign up to lead a tour to Israel and attend the Epicenter Conference next May with your congregation.

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