“Dude, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?” Here’s my answer.

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“Dude, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?

It was November of 2002. I had just released my first novel, The Last Jihad. I was doing a telephone interview on a hard rock radio station in Rochester, New York, the city closest to where I grew up in Upstate New York. And the radio host, a guy who called himself “Brother Weese,” asked me this very question.

Here’s my answer.

The story of my spiritual journey — how I was raised by a Jewish father and Gentile mother and came to believe that Jesus is, in fact, the Jewish Messiah — was just released online by a ministry called, “One For Israel.” 

Click here to watch the 9-minute video.

Click here to see my father, Len Rosenberg share his spiritual journey.

I hope you’ll watch them both and share them with family and friends.

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“Egypt: Many challenges, much progress.” Here are 10 articles & news stories by Members of our Evangelical Delegation describing what we saw, heard & learned in this Biblical country.

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Please pray for Egypt — yes, the Christians there and all Egyptians face many, many challenges, and yet they have made so much progress in just the last few years.

I have just returned to Jerusalem from eight historic days in Egypt. It was a joy and honor to lead a Delegation of sixteen American Evangelical leaders in that beautiful, Biblical country that has gone through two revolutions and nearly a civil war in the last decade. We learned so much and were deeply blessed by our time. We are still trying to process it all, but if we could sum up in one word what we saw happening there it would be: “progress.”

  • We met with more than three dozen Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Protestant Christian leaders, including a 90 minute meeting with Pope Tawadros II — all of them were honest about the challenges they face, yet to a person they expressed how encouraged they are by the progress they are seeing in terms of religious freedom, honor and recognition by the government, the unprecedented freedom they now have to build and renovate churches, and more. (My colleague Johnnie Moore and I write about this more in our columns posted below.)  
  • We attended the openings of the new mosque and massive new cathedral, the largest in the Mideast, both located in the new administrative capital, about 30 miles east of Cairo.
  • I was asked to briefly address the Protestant Christmas service at the “Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church” in Cairo. The full service, including my brief remarks, were broadcast live on Egyptian TV to the entire country.
  • Our Delegation also met with Members of the Egyptian Parliament, Muslim clerics, NGO leaders and other members of civil and religious society — it was so interesting to be able to have deep and detailed conversations about both the problems and the progress Egypt is making from their unique perspectives.
  • Last Thursday, I was invited to attend a major policy address delivered by my friend, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the campus of American University in Cairo, and then go with him and his team to visit the new mosque and cathedral.
  • By God’s grace, I was also able to arrange for Secretary Pompeo to do an exclusive interview with CBN News correspondent Chris Mitchell. (I highly recommend you watch the excellent CBN coverage — see below)

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What follows are 10 articles, columns, and interviews that my colleagues and I have written and/or produced, each describing what we saw and heard during our time in Egypt from our individual angles.

I hope that you’ll take the time to read and watch them; share them with your family, friends, churches, seminaries and other spheres of influence; and use the information to pray in a more educated and effective way for Egypt’s national leaders, Muslims and Christians.

  1. Egypt’s leader deserves US support — Pompeo’s visit was a welcome move — op-ed by Joel C. Rosenberg and Johnnie Moore (published by Fox News)
  2. Opinion: Egypt’s El-Sisi Is A Friend To Christians — op-ed by Joel C. Rosenberg and Johnnie Moore (published by The Daily Caller)
  3. Egypt’s El Sisi Builds Middle East’s Largest Church, A “Game Changer” In The Region (CBN News story, both print and video)
  4. “Jerusalem Dateline” devotes nearly entire 28 minute program to coverage of historic events in Egypt, including the visit of an Evangelical Delegation (CBN News story, both print and video)
  5. Exclusive: Pompeo vows US to stand with persecuted believers: “Christians Central To Middle East” (CBN News story, both print and video)
  6. FRC’s Tony Perkins joins Egypt’s President, Coptic believers for opening of cathedral near Cairo (FRC press release)
  7. A Cairo Christmas — op-ed by Tony Perkins (published by The Patriot Post)
  8. Egypt is rebuilding its churches, making slow but significant steps toward reform — op-ed by Dr. Darrell Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (published by the Dallas Morning News)
  9. Wise Men Still Bring Gifts: Our Extraordinary Christmas In Egypt — column by Rick Segal, Vice President of Bethlehem College & Seminary (published on the Desiring God website)
  10. Coexistence: Mark’s reflections from Cairo — by Mark Rodgers, founder of The Clapham Group (published on The Clapham Group website)

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Game-changing moment: Egyptian President Sisi makes history building largest church in the Mideast. Our Evangelical Delegation was honored to be here for the opening. A few thoughts.

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(Cairo, Egypt) — It’s impossible to overstate how historic this is: a pious Sunni Muslim Arab President builds the largest church in the Middle East and gives it as a Christmas present to the Christians of his country.

Can you remember the last time this happened? Neither can I.

Yet this is precisely what happened last night — the eve of Eastern Christmas — as the “Nativity of the Christ Cathedral” was formally opened and inaugurated on live national television by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II in the country’s new administrative capital city, located about 28 miles east of Cairo.

I had the joy of witnessing this game-changing moment first-hand, alongside the Delegation of fifteen-other American Evangelical leaders that President Sisi asked us to bring, and it moved me to my core. At numerous points I found myself quite emotional at seeing this event unfold and reflecting upon how much progress Egypt has made in just a few years.

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• The economy is now growing at over 5% annually.

• The country is vastly safer than it was during the so-called Arab Spring.

• Tourism is rebounding.

• Inflation and unemployment are dropping.

• And overall Muslims and Christians are living peacefully together, despite two revolutions that almost tipped into full-blown civil war, and a wave of terrorist attacks against Christians and their church buildings here.

Do enormous religious, social and economic challenges in Egypt remain? Absolutely. But every single one of the dozens of senior Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Protestant leaders we met with told us they feel so encouraged by the progress and forward momentum they’re seeing and experiencing.

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To our astonishment, the Delegation and I were also invited by President Sisi to attend the inauguration of the massive new mosque — one of the largest in the world — located just a few miles away from the cathedral. We didn’t know until the night before that we would be invited, and were deeply encouraged that Pope Tawadros attended as a VIP guest (at Sisi’s side), as did Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of Egypt’s two million Protestant Evangelicals.

Joining in all the festivities were Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and many senior Muslim clerics and leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere in the region.

All of it was broadcast live on Egyptian TV. All evening, Egyptians watched Christians and Muslims singing together, walking together, laughing and conversing together, and visiting each other’s holy places. It was a beautiful picture of what people here want the “New Egypt” to be.

Soon, I will share more on our Delegation’s work and what we’ve been learning. For now, I just wanted to share with you the remarkable story of the opening of this enormous new church in the heart of the world’s largest Arab Muslim country. And the powerfully positive message of religious freedom and tolerance that it sent not only to 100 million Egyptians but to people and leaders throughout the Muslim world.

For us and our Egyptian Christian brothers and sisters, it has been a very Merry Christmas, indeed!

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What to watch in 2019: Russia building dangerous military alliance with Iran, Turkey, Libya and other enemies of Israel as U.S. withdraws from Syria.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — As 2019 begins, I will be writing a series of columns on leaders, countries and global trend lines to keep a close eye upon.

Chief among them: Russian President Vladmir Putin’s diplomatic and military activity in recent months. Putin is steadily building strategic alliances with Israel’s worst enemies, from the leaders of Iran who long to create a nuclear-armed Persian empire to President Recep Erdogan of Turkey who sees himself as a modern day sultan longing to create a new Ottoman empire.

Note:

  • On November 24, 2017, Putin, Iranian President Rouhani and Erdogan held a summit together in Sochi, Russia.
  • On April 4, 2018, the three met for a summit in Ankara, Turkey.
  • On September 7, 2018, the three met for a summit in Tehran, Iran.
  • On December 28, 2018, it was reported that the Russian, Iranian and Turkish leaders would hold their next summit in Moscow in early 2019.

This would be cause for concern enough if the U.S. superpower was playing a robust and proactive role in the Epicenter. But it is all the more concerning with President Trump’s recent decision to remove all U.S. forces from Syria in recent months and his statement yesterday that Iran “can do what they want there (in Syria), frankly,”

It’s still more concerning when you look at the other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that the Kremlin is selling arms to and building alliances with.

I will provide more analysis on this soon. For now, take a look at these recent headlines and you’ll get a sense of what Putin is up to.

For some, this may sound like a political thriller of mine — The Ezekiel Option or The Kremlin Conspiracy. But what makes it chilling is that these headlines are all too real. Stay tuned.

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Is the Church on the verge of extinction in the Middle East? Not if we stand faithfully with our brothers & sisters in Christ. Would you make a generous year-end investment in The Joshua Fund? Help us strengthen Evangelicals in the Middle East to preach the Gospel, make disciples & encourage pastors.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Did you see this painful headline published in The (UK) Telegraph on December 1st? 

“CHRISTIANS ON BRINK OF EXTINCTION IN MIDDLE  EAST, WARNS ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.”

“Christians who were the first founders of the church are on brink of ‘imminent extinction,’ the Archbishop of Canterbury is warning,” the article began. “Describing the ‘daily threat of murder’ faced in the Middle East, the Most Reverend Justin Welby says Christians are experiencing ‘the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th Century.'”

Such horrific persecution isn’t happening in all of the Middle East. Certainly not here in Israel, the West Bank, or in Jordan. But in some parts of the Middle East — Syria and northern Iraq, in Gaza and sections of Lebanon — the Islamic State and other terrorist groups have been systematically trying to wipe out Christians. Progress is being made to defeat ISIS and the other jihadists, but the battle is far from over.

Christians in Egypt have also been under attack by ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood since the so-called Arab Spring. This, too, is getting better. Both Coptic Orthodox and Protestant Evangelical Christians in Egypt are safer than several years ago, but much more must be done.

While governments have the responsibility to protect their citizens and bring justice to those who do evil, we as followers of Jesus Christ have the responsibility to stand with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East — to pray for them, visit them, encourage them and invest financially in their work. That’s why my wife, Lynn, and I founded The Joshua Fund in the summer of 2006, to strengthen the Church in the Middle East to be a light in the darkness and a blessing to those poor in resources and poor in spirit. 

The Joshua Fund (TJF) like a venture capital fund. We come alongside small but growing and promising congregations and ministries in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and five neighboring Arab countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) and invest in them with encouragement, prayer, and, when appropriate, with financial resources to help them preach the Gospel, make disciples, plant more churches and grow, not die.

Over the last 12 years, we have seen ferocious, demonic attacks against the Church. But have also seen the Lord be so faithful to His promises in His Word. He has blessed The Joshua Fund with a wonderful board of directors and staff willing to love and serve the Church, even during severe trials. That said, I believe it’s your faithful prayers and generous financial support that has truly allowed us to invest in God’s Kingdom work and to make an eternal impact.

As 2018 comes to a close, I want to thank you so much for all your help. Whether you’re a regular donor, or someone just learning about The Joshua Fund, please keep reading below and you’ll learn of some of the projects we have invested in during 2018. To learn even more, please read the full 2018 Donor Impact Report.

And in these last days of the year, would you be willing to make a generous, tax-deductible, secure, year-end investment in this special ministry? Thank you!

Here are some of the ways your prayers and financial support are making an impact in the lives of people in the Epicenter…..

Making An Impact Through  Relief
• Provided non-perishable food packs monthly to an average of 2,000 needy families through 16 Distribution Centers operated by local congregations and ministries
• Hosted an Outreach Day with 6 Distribution Centers where TJF Tour participants served hundreds of families
• Gave support and counseling to single mothers with newborn babies and needy Israeli women
• Facilitated legal support for believers who are discriminated against, denied citizenship or persecuted because of their faith
• Enabled local congregations to stand with believers who are in dire financial need
• Funded medical costs for life-changing surgeries by Israeli doctors of children from neighboring countries
• Conducted outreaches during Jewish holidays including Passover, distributing food and gifts
• Supported a Mother’s Day evangelistic event for Arab women in the Galilee region
• Helped local churches offer spiritual care via Bible studies, discipleship and physical care for refugees living in Lebanon
• Partnered with those giving humanitarian relief, trauma counseling and medical aid to Iraqi, Arab, Nubian and Yazidi communities
• Hosted women’s conferences, discipleship programs, Bible teaching and fellowship for women marginalized by violence in the Epicenter

Making An Impact Through Relationships
• Supported trusted Christian ministry workers throughout the Epicenter, including Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Syria
• Distributed Hebrew, Arabic and Russian language audio Bibles, plus hundreds of print Bibles via trusted ministry partners 
• Hosted retreats and trainings that provided Bible study and encouragement for Jewish/ Arab pastors and ministry leaders, young people and underprivileged segments of the body of believers
• Undergirded the production and staff support for key Hebrew and Arabic evangelistic videos
• Hosted a pastor’s conference, giving training for evangelistic work among both Jews and Arabs
• Sent Arabic language Bible teaching radio broadcasts into the West Bank
• Conducted outreach amongst Arab cities and the West Bank
• Support for student ministry workers at Bible college
• Supported ministry of a special women’s outreach
• Funded evangelistic retreats for IDF soldiers
• Sponsored evangelistic trips for new immigrants from Ukraine to Biblical sites
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Come on a cruise to New England & Canada with Lynn and me in Fall 2019! Study Scripture, pray & worship together and learn about the work of The Joshua Fund. Get all the details & register today.

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Dear Friends — 

It is my joy to invite you and your family to join my wife, Lynn, and me on The Joshua Fund’s inaugural cruise, September 28 through October 5, 2019. During this 7-day journey from Boston to Montreal, we’ll have an opportunity to study the Scriptures and discuss what the Lord is doing in Israel and the Middle East, even as we witness God’s handiwork in creation, enjoy the colors of Fall, and visit beautiful places along the northeastern seaboard.

Will you prayerfully consider joining us? [Watch a brief video about the cruise]

Lynn and I founded The Joshua Fund in 2006 with the goals of blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus and of educating Christians in North America and beyond about God’s plan and purposes for the people of the Epicenter. This cruise will give us the opportunity to share with you what we’re seeing God do to build His Church.

With a new decade approaching, many people are asking me what’s in store for Israel and the Middle East? During special sessions on the cruise, I’ll be addressing this question, teaching on “Prophecy and Prayer in an Ever-Changing World,” and answering your questions about Biblical prophecy, and about the spread of the Gospel.

We’ll spend time in praise and worship and following God’s command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” In addition, we’ve invited ministry leaders from the region to join us and share first-hand their stories from the field, including how The Joshua Fund is helping them advance the Kingdom of Christ.

Rather than a typical conference, however, you’ll be traveling onboard Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam, and what a special journey it will be. Every detail will be carefully planned for you by our Christian travel provider, Inspiration Cruises & Tours. Come with us, other like-minded believers, and our special guests from Israel on an unforgettable adventure of learning and spiritual growth, as well as rest and relaxation.

We so look forward to spending time with you. Will you make plans now to join us?

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“Five minutes with author Joel C. Rosenberg.” The Blaze asks 8 questions about my forthcoming novel, how I got started writing, my faith, and more. Here’s the full interview.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — During this holiday season, it was great to do an interview with “The Blaze.” Here are the eight questions they asked me. My answer for the last one is included below. To read the full interview, please click here

  1. When did you first realize that you were interested in writing?
  2. Which of your books have you most enjoyed writing?
  3. You’ve said that your books focus on worst case scenarios that could happen in the near future, but hopefully won’t. Does it ever get stressful thinking up so many possible cataclysmic world events?
  4. You’ve frequently praised Jordan’s King Abdullah II. How important do you think Abdullah is to Mideast stability?
  5. You’ve spoken before about how when you first converted to Christianity, many people questioned how you could be both Jewish and Christian. You also mentioned how few Jewish Christians there were back just a few decades ago. In the years since your conversion, how has this changed? Is there a stronger network for Jewish Christians today?
  6. You’ve stressed that Christians need to not only pray for Israel, but for the Palestinians as well. Could you elaborate on that? 
  7. How significant do you think it is that the U.S. has moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem?
  8. What’s one thing that you wish people knew about you?
  9. Are you able to give any hints about what to expect in your upcoming book? 

Rosenberg: Happy to. I can’t wait for this next one to be released. It’s called, The Persian Gamble, and it comes out March 12. My hero is a man named Marcus Ryker. He’s a decorated former U.S. Marine, and decorated former Secret Service agent who served on the Presidential Protective Detail. This is a man who has taken enormous risks to protect his country and her leaders, and now he is on the most dangerous mission of his life. The Iranians are secretly working with Russia and North Korea to buy fully operational nuclear warheads. They intend to use these warheads soon in attacks against the U.S. and Israel that will make 9/11 pale by comparison. But through a series of events, Ryker uncovers Tehran’s plot — their huge, high-risk gamble — and now he’s in their blind spot. The Iranians don’t see Ryker coming, and that’s when things really get exciting.

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Help us strengthen the Church in the Mideast! Would you make a generous year-end investment in The Joshua Fund? Here are some of the ways your support in 2018 helped equip the Church to care for the poor and proclaim the Good News of God’s love in Israel & the Arab world. Thank you & God bless you!

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>> Watch a short video regarding The Joshua Fund’s 2018 Donor Impact Report 

(Jerusalem, Israel) — My wife, Lynn, and I founded The Joshua Fund in the summer of 2006, to strengthen the Church in the Middle East to be a blessing to those poor in resources and poor in spirit. And this is one of the deepest joys of our lives.

We think of The Joshua Fund (TJF) like a venture capital fund. TJF comes alongside small but growing and promising congregations and ministries in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and five neighboring Arab countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) and invests in them – with encouragement, with prayer, and, when appropriate, with financial resources – allowing them to plant more seeds and bear more fruit.

God has blessed TJF with a wonderful board of directors and staff — but it’s your faithful prayers and generous financial support that truly allows us to invest in God’s Kingdom work to make an eternal impact. Thank you so much for all your help. 

Whether you’re a regular donor, or someone just learning about The Joshua Fund, keep reading below and you’ll learn of some of the projects we have invested in during 2018. To learn even more, please read the full 2018 Donor Impact Report.

And please prayerfully consider making a generous, tax-deductible, year-end investment in this special ministry.

DonorReport-TJF-DCs2018

Here are just some of the ways your prayers and financial support are making an impact in the lives of people in the Epicenter…..

Making An Impact Through  Relief
• Provided non-perishable food packs monthly to an average of 2,000 needy families through 16 Distribution Centers operated by local congregations and ministries
• Hosted an Outreach Day with 6 Distribution Centers where TJF Tour participants served hundreds of families
• Gave support and counseling to single mothers with newborn babies and needy Israeli women
• Facilitated legal support for believers who are discriminated against, denied citizenship or persecuted because of their faith
• Enabled local congregations to stand with believers who are in dire financial need
• Funded medical costs for life-changing surgeries by Israeli doctors of children from neighboring countries
• Conducted outreaches during Jewish holidays including Passover, distributing food and gifts
• Supported a Mother’s Day evangelistic event for Arab women in the Galilee region
• Helped local churches offer spiritual care via Bible studies, discipleship and physical care for refugees living in Lebanon
• Partnered with those giving humanitarian relief, trauma counseling and medical aid to Iraqi, Arab, Nubian and Yazidi communities
• Hosted women’s conferences, discipleship programs, Bible teaching and fellowship for women marginalized by violence in the Epicenter

Making An Impact Through Relationships
• Supported trusted Christian ministry workers throughout the Epicenter, including Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Syria
• Distributed Hebrew, Arabic and Russian language audio Bibles, plus hundreds of print Bibles via trusted ministry partners 
• Hosted retreats and trainings that provided Bible study and encouragement for Jewish/ Arab pastors and ministry leaders, young people and underprivileged segments of the body of believers
• Undergirded the production and staff support for key Hebrew and Arabic evangelistic videos
• Hosted a pastor’s conference, giving training for evangelistic work among both Jews and Arabs
• Sent Arabic language Bible teaching radio broadcasts into the West Bank
• Conducted outreach amongst Arab cities and the West Bank
• Support for student ministry workers at Bible college
• Supported ministry of a special women’s outreach
• Funded evangelistic retreats for IDF soldiers
• Sponsored evangelistic trips for new immigrants from Ukraine to Biblical sites
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Columnist includes “The Kremlin Conspiracy” on his list of Christmas gift recommendations — calls it a “tale of post-Soviet intrigue.”

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(Washington, D.C.) — In a column titled, “Books! Books! For Christmas, for the Reader You Love,” author Quin Hillyer writes, “It’s time to do my part to revive The American Spectator’s  long and rich tradition of compiling excellent reading lists for Christmas.”

Hillyer’s offers mostly non-fiction titles for readers to purchase as Christmas gifts, so I’m honored that my most recent novel — a political thriller — made his list.

“The Kremlin Conspiracy, by Joel C. Rosenberg. Rosenberg is making a name for himself as a writer of international thrillers rooted in faith and freedom. Most of his novels have focused on the Middle East, but this tale of post-Soviet intrigue is every bit as good.”

Here’s a few other recent endorsements for The Kremlin Conspiracy:

  • “Rosenberg cranks up the suspense, delivering his most stunning, high-stakes thriller yet.” —Publishers Weekly
  • “A stellar novel of riveting action and political intrigue.” —Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Agent in Place
  • “Absolutely blown away by how good this guy is. . . . Simply masterful.” —Sean Parnell, New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon
  • “An uncanny talent for focusing his storytelling on real-world hot spots just as they are heating up.” —Porter Goss, former director of the CIA
  • “A full-throttle and frightening ride through tomorrow’s headlines.” —Brigadier General (U.S. Army, Retired) A. J. Tata, bestselling author of Direct Fire

If you’ve read The Kremlin Conspiracy already, buy a few copies as gifts for friends for Hanukkah or Christmas. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll put it on your wish list (or just get it for yourself, wrap it, put it under the tree with your name on it, and then you’ll be sure it will really be there!)

And don’t forget to pre-order my next thriller, The Persian Gamble, which releases on March 12, 2019.

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SecDef Mattis: “No smoking gun” linking MBS to Khashoggi murder. Senate considers upending US-Saudi alliance. On Fox News, I discussed this and our recent meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince.

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(Denver, Colorado) — Three big headlines broke this week in Washington.

  1. Secretary of Defense Mattis: “No smoking gun” linking Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi killing (Reuters)
  2. Secretary of State Pompeo: There is no “direct reporting” showing [Saudi] crown prince ordered Khashoggi killing. (Politico)
  3. Senate defies White House on Saudi support in Yemen — “The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen. The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with an appeal to hold off lest they upset progress of nascent talks on a cease-fire in Yemen.” (Politico)

On Wednesday night, I was interviewed on Fox News about the debate raging in the Senate over the future of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, and the recent meeting our Evangelical Delegation had with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

You can watch the video segment by clicking here.

The following is the transcript of the interview:

Shannon Bream, Fox News Anchor: Amid the wake of the initial furor on Capitol Hill aimed at Saudi Arabia in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Delegation of Evangelical leaders traveled to Riyadh and actually met with the Saudi Crown Prince. They talked to him about this. That group was led by our next guest, New York Times best-selling author — and author of the forthcoming novel, The Persian Gamble — Joel Rosenberg. Joel, good to have you with us tonight.

Rosenberg: Good to be with you, Shannon. Thank you.

Bream: Okay, so we see the pictures there of you all meeting. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, took a lot of heat from people for smiling and being in a picture with the Crown Prince around the time this was going on. You all were there, as well. You know people have concerns about you sitting down and having a conversation with him, as many report that U.S. intelligence has determined he does have a direct link. What can you tell us about your conversation with him? 

Rosenberg: Sure, Shannon, happy to do it. As you know, because you and I have talked about it for the last several years, I’ve been invited as a novelist but also as an Evangelical leader to bring Delegations of Evangelical Christians to now four different Arab Sunni Muslim countries — Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and now Saudi Arabia. We were invited by the Saudis well before — months before — the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We had accepted then, and in the midst of the whole furor — an understandable furor — over the horrific, sickening, ghastly murder of Khashoggi, we did consider not going. But we also believed this was the first time that the Saudis have ever invited Evangelical Christians to come and talk about issues important that are important to us, and to them. So, we continued forward. But we did begin our two-hour meeting with very direct, very frank questions about Khashoggi. 

Bream: And did you feel like the answers that you got were to your satisfaction, that he wasn’t directly involved? Because I want to play a little something that Democratic Senator Dick Durbin had to say about what he’s heard so far.

[Video Clip] Senator Durbin: There are many of us who believe that this execution of Khashoggi in Istanbul could never have taken place without the knowledge and direction of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. That is a fact which this administration has never been willing to acknowledge, and we’re asked to accept at face value that this sort of murder took place without his knowledge. I don’t accept it.

Bream: And he’s not the only one not buying it, Joel. 

Rosenberg: Right, and obviously my friend, Lindsey Graham, obviously feels very similarly. Look, let me tell you what he told us. The Crown Prince was very clear. He said this is a heinous crime. That’s the phrase he used — a heinous crime. He called it a terrible tragedy and crime, and he said that we have arrested people, we are prosecuting people, people will face justice for this. And he noted that when Iran or Russia or Turkey, when people are killed in those countries and the government has some involvement, or is perceived to have, he said, “Do people get arrested there? Do people get prosecuted? Do people get fired from senior positions? No — [but] I’m doing that.”

Now, I can’t tell you, Shannon, whether he was involved or not. He said he wasn’t. But what do we know right now? Right now, as you and I speak, we don’t have anyone in the CIA on the record saying that MBS — the Crown Prince — was definitely the one who ordered the hit. What we have are two people on the record, the Defense Secretary [James Mattis] and the former CIA Director now Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo, saying there is “no smoking gun” and no direct evidence. So, that’s all we have to go on. 

What I’m concerned about it that the Senate is getting ready to overthrow, in a sense, the U.S.-Saudi relationship based on an analysis, not on hard data. And that is risky. The last time the U.S. tried to push aside a leader that they weren’t that friendly with for a season was [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak, and we got the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. That was a huge mistake.

Bream: Yeah, and it’s a very delicate balance between human rights….

Rosenberg: It is.

Bream: ….and the U.S. being a moral compass for the world, and maintaining relationships that also benefit our national interest. Secretary Mattis said today, “We are seldom free to work with unblemished partners.” So, we’ll keep an eye on it. We know you will, as well. Come back, if you have an update. Great to see you, Joel.

Rosenberg: I appreciate it, Shannon.

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