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A record 2 million Christians visited Bethlehem in 2013. Why do the ancient prophecies say this “little town” is so important?

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm
Christmas tree in Bethlehem. (photo credit: Dana Friedlander, courtesy Ministry of Tourism)

Christmas tree in Bethlehem. (photo credit: Dana Friedlander, courtesy Ministry of Tourism)

An estimated 75,000 Christian pilgrims are now in Israel to celebrate Christmas and many will visit Bethlehem, especially tonight on Christmas Eve. By the time the Christmas season is over, “about two million people will have visited Bethlehem in 2013,” which Israeli tourism officials note is “almost double the 2012 figure of 1.18 million” people.

The “little town of Bethlehem” is beloved, read about and sung about by Christians the world over. But why do the ancient prophecies say it is so important?

The reason is simple: the Hebrew prophet Micah told the Jewish people the Messiah would one day come from “Bethlehem Ephratah.”

In fact, Micah made it clear that the Messiah would not come from the ancient town of Bethlehem that was in northern Israel, near the Sea of Galilee. Rather, the Anointed One had to come from the Bethlehem in Judea, just down the road from Jerusalem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:2-4)

Why did this matter? Because the Scriptures indicate that the Messiah is to come from the line of King David, and be a “Son of David.” David’s family, of course, was from Bethlehem of Judea. Thus, the Messiah had to be born in David’s hometown in order to eventually emerge as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Gospel account of Matthew indicates that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:  “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”‘ Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:1-12)

This is why Bethlehem has become such an important destination for Christians eager to visit the Holy Land. Over the years interest has continued to grow, now reaching record numbers of visitors. I first visited when I was in college, during the Christmas season of 1987. I’ve been back several times, and developed friendships with some of the Palestinian Christians that live and serve there today.

Bethlehem — with a current population of about 25,000 — is no longer governed by the State of Israel, but rather by the Palestinian Authority (PA).  However, Israel keeps statistics of how many tourists pass through “Rachel’s Crossing” between Israel and the PA into Bethlehem. As of the end of October, some 1.85 million tourists had already crossed into the town of Jesus’ birth.

Last month I met at the Knesset with Uzi Landau, the Israeli Tourism Minister. Among other things, we discussed the importance of continuing more Christians around the world to visit the Holy Land, walk where Jesus walked, and see the Bible come to life in living color. Landau noted that it is a very important priority for the Israeli government to reach out to both Protestant and Catholic Christians and make them feel welcome.

“The Tourism Ministry under my leadership will continue to invest significantly in the preservation and renovation of Christian holy sites,” Landau recently noted in statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Since its establishment, the State of Israel has attached great importance to values of freedom of religion and worship and works tirelessly to facilitate religious practice for people of all religions in freedom and mutual respect. We will do all we can to ensure that every Christian can visit the holy sites. We  invite the faithful to visit the Holy Land and experience a powerful religious and spiritual pilgrimage in Jerusalem, the Galilee and beyond.”

“As part of the ongoing activities to promote pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau and the representatives of the Tourism Ministry in Israel and around the world meet regularly with Church leaders and communities,” the statement added. “Representatives in the Tourism Ministry are anticipating continued collaboration with the Church for the visit of Pope Francis, who is expected to visit the Holy Land in the first half of 2014.”

Please join me in praying for a peaceful, safe, silent night in Bethlehem tonight, and for very night in the year ahead. And please join me in praying that Christians would be a great and gentle blessing to all the people of Bethlehem — and all of the Holy Land — this coming year.

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What has Czar Putin been up to in recent weeks? Where is he headed in 2014?

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm
What will Czar Putin do in 2014? (photo credit: Vasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images/NYT)

What will Czar Putin do in 2014? (photo credit: Vasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images/NYT)

(Washington, D.C.) — Vladmir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful. Unchecked power. Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous.

What has Czar Putin been up to in recent weeks, and where is he headed in 2014? Yesterday, the New York Times published an interesting article considering such questions. I commend it to your attention.

“President Vladimir V. Putin’s freeing of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, Russia’s best-known prisoner, by swift, personal fiat capped a remarkable string of single-handed decisions of late,” reports the New York Times. “On Tuesday, he outmaneuvered the West for sway over financially troubled Ukraine with a unilateral decision to provide $15 billion in loans. On Wednesday, at his direction, Parliament passed an amnesty bill that could free thousands of prisoners. On Friday, he pardoned Mr. Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil tycoon and onetime aspiring political rival. That was just last week.”

Excerpts from this interesting article:

  • Earlier this month, Mr. Putin shocked Moscow’s political and media circles with a surprise announcement that he would remake RIA-Novosti, the semi-independent state news agency, under the direction of a Kremlin loyalist.       
  • The decisions demonstrate Mr. Putin’s singular ability not only to wield executive power but also to bend the legislative and judicial branches of government to his will, and to exert heavy control over the Russian news media.       
  • “What we are seeing is a president who has no limits on his power in a country that never was democratic, that never had anything called a balance of power — where one of the estates could balance the power of another,” said Vladimir Posner, one of Russia’s most prominent television journalists, with his own nightly show on Channel One, the premier government-controlled station.       
  • “There is no Fourth Estate,” he said. “And as a matter of fact there is no Second or Third Estate. There is just the First, just the presidency. That’s the way things are today in Russia.”       
  • As he prepares to begin his 15th year as Russia’s paramount political leader, Mr. Putin’s sweeping authority gives him far more leverage than his counterparts in the West to influence the course of events and, at times, to set the agenda in world affairs.       
  • In defiance of the United States, Russia granted temporary asylum to the former national security contractor Edward J. Snowden, with Mr. Putin portraying him as a whistle-blower.
  • Mr. Putin also averted an American military strike on Syria with a plan to disarm its chemical weapons.       
  • Yet all of his recent moves carry serious risks. Releasing Mr. Khodorkovsky could well set loose a vengeful rival, with the money and will to do everything possible to force Mr. Putin from power. The bailout of Ukraine could easily turn into a financial debacle, exacerbating Russia’s own creeping economic problems, should Ukraine continue stumbling toward default.       
  • And scrapping RIA-Novosti, a respected news agency, in favor of a replacement already being derided as a Soviet-style propaganda arm could undermine the credibility needed to cultivate the public image that Mr. Putin has sought for Russia as a re-ascendant power, able to challenge the West.       
  • Supporters of Mr. Putin say that his actions reflect sure-footed pursuit of a plan to build a greater Russia, evidenced by mega-vanity projects like the Sochi Olympics that will burnish the image of both the president and his country. A magnanimous gesture like freeing Mr. Khodorkovsky, they say, demonstrates his statesmanship and deflects any criticism of authoritarianism.
  • Critics say the recent moves are tactical, aimed at retaining power that is sure to slip as the flood of cash from the country’s vast fossil fuel reserves, which generated unprecedented wealth during his tenure, slowly recedes. By this view, Mr. Putin is impulsive and increasingly isolated, unchecked by opponents or even by formerly trusted advisers….
  • Experts said Russia’s slowing growth was another factor in Mr. Putin’s recent decisions, prompting him to take steps to improve the investment climate to attract foreign capital, as well as to lift his own popularity in case the economy takes a dive. In part because of a slowing economy and rising prices, Mr. Putin’s approval rating stands at 61 percent, its lowest point since 2000, the first year of his presidency, according to the Levada Center, a polling agency here.
  • Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Macro-Advisory, a consulting firm based in Moscow, said that the release of Mr. Khodorkovsky was a positive sign, but that more would be needed to reassure skittish foreign investors. “The reason investors are wary is not because of the arrest of Khodorkovsky 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s the corruption, the poor business climate, the perception that there is little respect for the rule of law.”
  • Sergei M. Guriev, a former rector of the New Economics School in Moscow, said in a telephone interview that he, too, believed that the president’s recent decisions had been dictated in part by economic challenges. “There is no external crisis, and yet the Russian economy is growing only at one-and-a-half percent a year,” he said. “Oil prices are high, and yet the Russian government is balancing the budget with difficulty. Not everything is going so well.”

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Disaster averted as bomb explodes on bus near Tel Aviv moments after passengers evacuated.

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm
The bus in Bat Yam after a bomb on board exploded Sunday. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/Times of Israel)

The bus in Bat Yam after a bomb on board exploded Sunday. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/Times of Israel)

“A bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam on Sunday afternoon, but nobody was injured because an alert passenger had spotted the device and the bus driver had ordered the vehicle evacuated,” reported the Times of Israel. “A police sapper was trying to defuse the bomb when it exploded. He was taken to the hospital for an examination, but was found not to be injured and was quickly released….”

“Police said that early indications pointed to an apparent terror attack,” the Times reported. “They urged the public to be on the alert for additional bombing attempts. Police were searching for the individual who planted the bomb and possible accomplices. The explosion badly damaged the Dan No. 240 bus, which was stopped at the time on the corners of Mivtza Sinai and Katznelson streets in the coastal city, which borders Tel Aviv on the south. All the windows were either blown out or shattered, and seats were mangled. The last passengers were evacuated three minutes before the device exploded, Channel 2 news reported….”

More excerpts:

  • President Shimon Peres later phoned and thanked the bus driver and the passenger who discovered the explosive, saying their actions saved lives.
  • “The nation owes you a debt of gratitude and I would like to personally congratulate you for this act of bravery,” Peres told bus driver Yoger.
  • Initial reports said the bomb contained some 5 kilograms of explosives — enough to cause immense devastation. The bomb that blew up a bus at Burgas airport in Bulgaria in 2012, killing five Israelis and a local driver, by way of comparison, contained 3 kilograms of explosives.
  • “At this point in time we are under the impression that the incident was nationalistically motivated. I urge the public to be aware and report any suspicious activity to the police,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said.

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This photograph changed my life.

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2013 at 3:33 am

panam103-photoWhy do I write novels about Middle Eastern terrorism?

I think it began with the attack on Pan Am flight 103, the death of my Syracuse University classmates, and this photograph.

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To learn more about who died this tragedy, please click here: http://www.victimsofpanamflight103.org/

25 years after the terror attack on Pan Am 103: We will never forget, or stop praying for the families & friends of those who died.

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2013 at 3:02 am

panam103(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Lynn and I are praying for the families and friends of our 35 Syracuse University classmates who were murdered by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland. They were flying home from a semester abroad in London on Pan Am flight 103. The devastating attack occurred twenty-five years ago today in 1988.

It was our first personal exposure to Middle East terrorism, and it rattled us. I was a senior at S.U., having just studied abroad in Israel the year before. Lynn was a junior at S.U. She was a creative writing and Jewish studies major at the time. She had originally entered S.U. as a drama major, but switched in her sophomore year. Had she remained in the drama program, she very likely would have done the fall semester of her Junior year in London with her colleagues, and been on that flight back to the U.S. She knew people on that flight, and impacted her — and all of us at S.U. — very deeply.

Please join us in praying for all those affected by that terror attack, not just the families and friends of the Syracuse students, but those related to all of the 270 people who perished in the air, and on the ground in Lockerbie. We must never forget what happened, and we must never stop praying for those dear families and friends.

Here’s a bit of the coverage today:

“Families of some of the 270 people who died in an airliner bombing 25 years ago gathered for memorial services Saturday in the United States and Britain, honoring victims of a terror attack that killed dozens of American college students and created instant havoc in the Scottish town where wreckage of the plane rained down,” reported the Associated Press. “Bagpipes played and wreaths were laid in the Scottish town of Lockerbie and mourners gathered for a moment of silence at London’s Westminster Abbey, while U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told victims’ relatives at Arlington National Cemetery that they should take comfort in their unity even if time cannot erase their loss.”

“We keep calling for change, and fighting for justice, on behalf of those no longer with us. We rededicate ourselves — and our nation — to the qualities that defined the men and women that we lost,” Holder said.

“The events marked the 25th anniversary of the explosion of Pan Am 103, a New York-bound flight that exploded over Lockerbie less than an hour after takeoff from London on Dec. 21, 1988,” the AP noted. “Many of the victims were American college students flying home for Christmas, including 35 Syracuse University students participating in study abroad programs. The attack, caused by a bomb packed into a suitcase, killed 259 people aboard the plane, and 11 others on the ground also died. The Arlington ceremony took place beside a cairn of 270 blocks of red Scottish sandstone, a memorial structure dedicated to the attack. Wreaths flanked the structure, the ceremonial “Taps” was played and victims’ relatives recited the names of the people killed. Former FBI director Robert Mueller, said he would never forget the haunting sight of the victims’ personal belongings — a white sneaker, Christmas presents, a Syracuse sweat shirt, photographs — at a warehouse in Lockerbie when he traveled there to investigate the case as a Justice Department prosecutor.”

“Whitney Davis lost her younger sister Shannon, a Syracuse student, and friends in the explosion,” reported the AP. “She said she learned of the attack after returning home from Syracuse, which she also attended. There was initial hope that survivors would be found and uncertainty that the explosion was an act of terror. But the grief was immediate.”

“I was angry. I was in disbelief. Mom was in shock, my brother was not saying much and I just was throwing snowballs at the sky and wondering how this could have happened,” said Davis, of Bend, Ore., who brought her 8-year-old daughter to the memorial in Virginia. “It’s important that she know who her aunt was and who her aunt could have been.”

To read the rest of the story, please click here.

MORE COVERAGE:

Should Israel withdraw from Jordan Valley? Video explains why 70% of Israelis say no.

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm
(source: JCPA video)

(source: JCPA video)

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing Israel to agree to create a sovereign Palestinian state and eventually withdraw all IDF forces from the strategic Jordan River valley.

The overwhelming consensus of international diplomats and political leaders agree with Kerry, and are likewise pressuring Israel with make a deal and withdraw its forces forever.

To reassure Israel that her security won’t be jeopardized, it is being suggested that ibe stationed in the Jordan Valley to provide security and provide a buffer zone to ease Israeli concerns.

However, some 70 percent of Israelis say they would not be safer under such an arrangement, and that international  forces would not be a reliable protection from a major attack from the East.

Now a new video produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) asks, “Who is right?”

Given the immense importance of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — and the importance of this particular issue — I’d recommend that you take five minutes to watch the video, and/or read the accompanying background information. You may or may not agree, but at least you’ll have a better understanding of the Israeli perspective on this vital debate.

>> To watch the short video, or read the background information, please click here.

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What are your personal goals in 2014? Perhaps “The Invested Life” can help.

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm

investedlife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Christmas and New Year’s approach, many of us are reflecting on the year that’s passing and considering the year ahead. Perhaps we need less time on our smart phone, and more time with family. Less ice cream and more exercise. Less Facebook and more time in God’s Book.

What are your goals for 2014?

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), the Lord Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Clearly, this is one of Christ’s most important goals for us in the coming year, that we learn to be more faithful and obedient followers of Him, and that we help others know Him and follow Him. Yet many Christians have never really thought much about what discipleship is, or how to do it.

The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person At A Time is book I wrote with my pastor, Dr. T.E. Koshy. He had been discipled by “the Billy Graham of India,” and developed a great love for investing in younger believers. Koshy discipled Lynn and me at Syracuse University, and continued to invest in us until he went home to be with the Lord in the fall of 2012.

The Invested Life is a simple, practical book that you may find helpful — and you may find helpful to share with others — as you consider how to obey the Lord in this vital area of discipleship.

In the book, we make that case that every Christian needs to be able to answer two simple questions:

1) Who is investing in you?

2) In whom are you investing?

Sadly, the American Church is experiencing an epic failure of discipleship. Most older believers are not spiritually investing in the lives of younger believers. We are failing to model and transmit Biblical truth and Christ-like character and a passion for evangelism and discipleship to the next generations. As a result, the American Church is weak and in desperate need of revival. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God loves us and He is ready to help us follow Him faithfully.

The Invested Life is available in paperback from Tyndale House Publishers. It is also available as an audio book from Brilliance Audio. (It was fun to read the book for the audio version, along with my wife, Lynn.)

My hope and prayer is that as you head into the New Year, you’ll find the book helpful. Curl up with it by the fire with a cup of coffee or tea, or listen to it when your driving in your car, or while working out, or going for a walk or run.

May the Lord bless you as you embark on living an invested life — growing as a s disciple and learning to make disciples, one person at a time.

You can find it your favorite local bookstore, or online:

New study finds one-in-five Israelis cannot afford enough food. How should Christians respond?

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm

joshuafund-logoMany people are surprised to discover that there are very real humanitarian relief needs in the epicenter. But a recently released reveals a troubling trend, that a large number of Israelis cannot afford enough food, reports Ynet News

According to a study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, some “20% of Israelis forgo food because of financial distress, while 13% give up using electric appliances or the phone,” reported Ynet, “while 13% give up using electric appliances or the phone.”

“Behind the numbers are names and faces; there is the reality of living in the lower classes,” noted the article. “There are even those working in the heart of the middle class whose conditions are deteriorating. Angelica Moscovitch is among them – a single mother living with her four children in Beersheba, who says she exemplifies the poor middle class.”

“The money, and the air, is gone,” Angelica told Ynet. “Her monthly income from a full-time job caring for the elderly together with the food subsidies she receives add up to NIS 10,000 ($2,809) before taxes. ‘The salary is significantly lower than the cost of living which has rapidly risen the last few years,’ said Angelica. According to her, she is forced to deal with difficult debts. ‘In the past they have turned off the gas and water and there were seizures. Right now we are giving up on a lot of things. We don’t turn on the heater and simply wear coats inside the house. I cook meat only on the weekend. I’m not even mentioning group activities and new clothes for the little children,’ told Angelica.”

“Miri and Dov raise three children in Jerusalem and their combined earnings also total NIS 10,000 ($2,809) before taxes,” noted the report. “‘My salary is minimum wage even though I work a full-time position,’ explained Miri. ‘We are fighting for our survival day by day, but the government doesn’t even see us.'”

“Poverty in Israel is a strategic threat on our existence as a moral society who stands in solidarity and is able to deal with challenges from within and without,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

How should Christians respond? I believe the Bible teaches us to care for those in need, to find the hungry, to give water to the thirsty. To show unconditional love to the most vulnerable in society.

This is why The Joshua Fund exists. Since our founding in 2006, The Joshua Fund has invested millions of dollars in blessing Holocaust survivors, the elderly, single mothers, the homeless, widows, orphans, and other poor and needy Jewish and Arab families in the epicenter. Would you pray with us as we seek to serve the Lord in meeting the needs of the people to be “warm and well fed,” and share this prayer request with a friend? Would you also financially invest in this work, that we can help more needy people — Jews and Arabs — in the epicenter? Thanks so much. May the Lord bless you as you care for the needs of those less fortunate.

“You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

>> If you would like to make a generous, tax-deductible, year-end financial gift to The Joshua Fund, we would be very grateful. You give securely on-line by clicking here.

Or, you can send a check in the mail. Please make your check payable to “The Joshua Fund” and send to:

  • The Joshua Fund
  • PO Box 2589
  • Monument, CO  80132-2589

Thank you for your investment! The Joshua Fund’s 2013 Donor Report & video update is now online.

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Watch the video message, and read the full report, at www.joshuafund.net.

Watch the video message, and read the full report, at http://www.joshuafund.net.

Dear faithful friend –

Because of you — through your faithful prayers and generous financial support — the Lord has touched the lives of thousands of Jewish and Arab families in the epicenter in real and practical ways with the love of Jesus Christ.

A few examples:

  • By God’s grace, The Joshua Fund provided food and other relief supplies to more than 43,940 poor and needy Jewish and Arab families this year — an increase of more than 4% over 2012.
  • Two new distribution centers have just opened, bringing us to a total of 14 centers distributing relief supplies throughout Israel. We are prayerfully considering opening 2 or 3 new distribution centers in 2014.
  • We have had the honor of helping Christian ministries that are doing relief work among refugees escaping the civil war in Syria.
  • TJF has also planned and funded retreats for pastors and ministry leaders, and provided biblical training, encouragement and refreshment for those serving throughout the epicenter region.

On our website, www.joshuafund.net, we have posted the 2013 Donor Report to give you a sense of the many projects you have helped to fund in 2013, and get a glimpse of the lives the Lord has blessed because of you.

We have also posted a short video message I recently taped sharing some of the highlights of the Donor Report.

I hope you will pour yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee and sit down beside the fireplace and watch the video and read through the report. In the process, I hope you will be encouraged by what God has done through your investment.

From all of us on the Board and staff of The Joshua Fund — both here in North America and in Israel — thank you so much for standing with us. We count it a great privilege to serve you in this work.

Yours for blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,

Joel C. Rosenberg

Founder and President, The Joshua Fund

>> If you would like to make a generous, tax-deductible, year-end financial gift to The Joshua Fund, we would be very grateful. You give securely on-line by clicking here.

Or, you can send a check in the mail. Please make your check payable to “The Joshua Fund” and send to:

The Joshua Fund

PO Box 2589

Monument, CO  80132-2589

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel urges Washington to demand “total dismantling” of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm
Elie Wiesel (photo credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews/File/Times of Israel)

Elie Wiesel (photo credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews/File/Times of Israel)

(Washington, D.C.) — “Elie Wiesel urged Congress to enhance sanctions on Iran and the Obama administration to demand the ‘total dismantling’ of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure,” reports the Times of Israel.

“Our nation is morally compromised when it contemplates allowing a country calling for the destruction of the State of Israel to remain within reach of nuclear weapons,” the Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist said in a public letter posted in a full-page New York Times ad on Wednesday, the Times noted.

“I appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the regime’s public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel,” Wiesel said in the ad. “And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met.”

“The Obama administration has said a total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is an unrealistic expectation and has asked Congress to refrain for now from advancing an enhanced sanctions bill, saying it would disrupt talks between Iran and the major powers aimed at stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the Times reported. “Michael Steinhardt, a major philanthropist, paid for the ad through This World, a group led by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a former Republican congressional candidate who has been critical of Obama’s Middle East policies.”

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