Putin directed Russian intelligence to disrupt U.S. elections, concludes DNI report. Heading into his 17th year in power, Putin is becoming more brazen. It’s time to confront and contain him.

 

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Let’s be clear about two important facts.

First, Donald Trump and Mike Pence won a decisive victory in the November elections, and they won fair and square. While Democrats, left-wing activists, and many in Hollywood and the media hate this, it’s still true.

Second, Russian intelligence — directed by Vladimir Putin — actively tried to disrupt, influence and discredit the recent American elections. Tried, but failed. That’s the conclusion of an important new report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

Hillary’s supporters can’t nullify Mr. Trump’s victory with the new DNI report. But Mr. Trump’s supporters shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it or mounting evidence of Putin’s aggression.

  • The Russians hacked into computers of the Democratic Committee, and into other American computer networks.
  • Moscow leaked information negative to Hillary Clinton.
  • The Kremlin used their wide array of propaganda tools to try to influence the American electoral process against Clinton and in favor of Trump.
  • These are very serious issues.
  • Russia launched a direct assault against America’s democratic system.
  • But there is no evidence that Moscow actually changed vote totals or compromised the integrity of our voting process.
  • The DNI report, for example, “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying” — and this is important.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton lost not because the Russians stole the election. They didn’t. She lost because she was a deeply flawed and uninspiring candidate, essentially running for Mr. Obama’s third term at a time when Americans believed the country was heading in the wrong direction and needed big, bold, serious change in Washington.

The Trump-Pence ticket won, as did so many Republicans up and down the ballot, because voters perceived that they offered more hope for such real change. Thus, on Friday, January 20th, Messrs. Trump and Pence will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States, respectively and legitimately.

I pray their administration will be successful. We all should. We need them to urgently reenergize the American economy, recommit America to being governed by the Constitution (not liberal judges), rebuild the U.S. military, protect us and our allies from the forces of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, and begin the process of undoing the enormous damage caused by eight years of Mr. Obama’s weakness, indecision, disarmament and appeasement.

That said, it is equally critical that Mr. Trump make safeguarding the American people, our institutions and our allies, from Russian aggression one of his top priorities.

As I noted in my first column of 2017, “I believe that Vladimir Putin and the way he’s leading Russia is going to be a big, big issue over the next several years.”

Now heading into his seventeenth year in power, Mr. Putin is becoming steadily more aggressive. In recent years, he has:

  • Sent Russian forces into Chechnya, bombing civilians, committing war crimes, and leaving at least 150,000 people dead or missing
  • Invaded the country of Georgia
  • Invaded Ukraine
  • Annexed the Ukrainian region of Ukraine
  • Sent Russian military forces into Syria fight on behalf of the regime of a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad (with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran), deliberately targeting civilians in such places as Aleppo and thus committing war crimes
  • Sold state-of-the-art missile systems and nuclear technology to Iran
  • Systematically silenced political opponents, dissidents, and journalists, many of whom have been jailed or found murdered
  • Massed 55,000 Russian troops on the border of Ukraine
  • Made threatening moves against the Baltic states and other NATO allies.

President Obama and Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry should have gotten tough with Putin. They refused. They didn’t understand the threat he posed, or didn’t care. They tried to appease him. They offered a “reset.” We all know what a disaster that was.

The Trump-Pence team should take a dramatically different approach.

Throughout the campaign and the transition, however, Mr. Trump has had a strange and unsettlingly soft approach towards Putin. I can’t say exactly why. I’m hesitant to speculate. But if he wants to avoid the mistakes the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team made, he can and should change course.

The overwhelming evidence of Russian attacks on our political system simply underscores the growing brazenness of Mr. Putin, and the importance of the Trump-Pence team taking decisive measures to confront and contain him from the first days in office.

For starters, Mr. Trump could:

  • support a full bipartisan investigation into Russia’s efforts to attack America’s electoral system
  • use tougher language to denounce Putin’s aggressions against the U.S. and our allies
  • move to bolster U.S. and NATO forces in the Baltics
  • start providing weapons and intelligence to Ukraine to better defend themselves
  • and appoint experienced senior officials in the State Department and throughout his administration who clearly see an unchecked Putin as a threat to our national security and won’t hesitate to speak and act with moral clarity on such vital issues.

Let’s pray that he and his team take these and other steps before Mr. Putin’s aggression moves to the next level.

To read the full declassified DNI report, please click here.

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I officially started writing a new political thriller today after months of research. Here’s a quick update.

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(Central Israel) — As the new year begins, I’m deeply grateful to be back home in Israel and officially underway with writing a new political thriller.

This is a totally new story with new characters (Russians, not Radical Muslims) and a new locale (Moscow, not the Middle East).

As I get deeper into the project, I’ll give you more details and keep you posted on my progress. For now, let me just say that over the past few months I’ve been doing a great deal of research, and I’m deeply grateful for a series of fascinating conversations with a wide range of leaders and experts on Russia whose insights have been invaluable.

Among them:

  • Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada, one of our great NATO allies
  • James Woolsey, former CIA Director who served during the administration of President Bill Clinton
  • Porter Goss, former CIA Director who served during the administration of President George W. Bush
  • Lt.-General (ret.) Jerry Boykin, former Delta Force commander
  • Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of FORBES magazine
  • Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin (2000 to 2005)

Meanwhile, of course, Without Warning will release on March 14th. This is my third and final thriller about the Islamic State, chemical weapons, a New York Times foreign correspondent, a Mossad agent, the Syrian civil war, and a series of catastrophic attacks on the U.S., Israel and Jordan.

We’re working on the details of the book tour right now and I’ll share more details soon.

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A big, untold story: online videos of Jews explaining why they believe Jesus is the Messiah have been viewed more than 23 million times. Here’s the latest. (Update)

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” — the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16)

With so much bad news in the U.S., Israel, Russia and around the world these days, I thought it might be good to kick off 2017 with some very good news.

Here, then, is an update to a column I published on September 22, 2015 about “a big, untold story” that “the media isn’t reporting” but is very much “worth examining.”

“Millions of Jews have begun a quest to find the Messiah,” I wrote at the time, based on conversations with key Messianic Jewish ministry leaders in the U.S. and Israel. “For reasons I cannot fully explain, Jews are suddenly searching for answers to the deepest and most important questions concerning life and death and God and atonement and eternity, in numbers unprecedented in history. Some are searching through the Hebrew Scriptures for answers. A stunning number are actually reading the New Testament, most for the first time. They are searching on Google for information about the Messiah. They are even watching a new series of videos by Jews who claim to have found the answers. The videos — some of which have gone viral — were produced and posted on a new website called www.imetmessiah.com.”

The numbers as of September 2015 were nothing short of astonishing. “More than 10 million people have watched these [English-language testimony] videos just in the past few months,” I explained, while “more than 900,000 Hebrew speakers have watched the Hebrew-language versions of these videos in just the past four months.”

Since then, however — despite the stigma in the Jewish community against consider the claims of Jesus — the videos have continued to go viral and are surging beyond anything I would have imagined.

Eitan Bar, a native Israeli and a devoted follower of Yeshua, heads a team that is producing the videos and helping to develop digital evangelism strategies for two ministries, One For Israel (based in Israel and led by Dr. Erez Soref) and Chosen People Ministries (based in the U.S. and led by Dr. Mitch Glaser). Recently, I asked Eitan if he had updated figures.

Here’s what he told me (and has now posted in an online report):

Eitan’s online report also includes numerous encouraging quotes by Jews who have been watching the videos and either started their own spiritual journeys to figure out who Jesus (Yeshua) is or who have actually become His followers.

A few examples:

  • “Finally, I have reached the destination I was looking for, for years! …I considered myself to be an atheist for a long while, resisting any kind of explanation of God. Until, I came across your video about who Jesus is, that you did in Jerusalem. My jaw dropped. So I decided to keep away from your videos so not to fall for it. But, like a cat who is drawn to the taste of cream, I wanted more. Everyday I would visit your websites to watch more and more of your video teachings. I found truth and endless love that I never came across in Judaism. Thank you so, so much!” — a Jewish woman in her 40s who lives in central Israel
  • “I found Yeshua on YouTube, through one of your advertised videos about the falsehood of the rabbinic oral law. I felt that I had to check what it is all about and found a whole new world!! Yeshua changed my life and I’m thankful to Him and to you because of it. I feel that my life was saved. All the information in your videos is so rich in content, pleasant to watch, and the way you explain things is so good that I came to that moment in my life of understanding who Yeshua really is. I thank you from the depth of my soul! I want more Jews to know the truth, which is that Yeshua is the Messiah who we’ve been waiting for all along!” — a young Jewish man who works in Jerusalem
  • “First, I have no words to thank you (Eitan) and Moti for the articles and videos. I saw your video-ad on YouTube a year or two ago, but when I realized that it’s all about “Christianity” and “Jesus”, I switched it off. Lately, I came across your videos once again, and it grabbed me so I decided to read the prophecies in the Old Testament. I was surprised to find out they all point to Yeshua . Then I wanted to find out about the lifestyle of Messianic Jews – how do you live your lives – only to realize that it’s not about what we do, but about what’s inside, the change is inside the heart.  …I found our Messiah and two days ago gave Him my heart.” — an Orthodox Jewish man

It’s amazing to think how few Jewish people have ever examined the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the most famous Israeli in all of human history. Fortunately, that’s changing now.

As a Jewish follower of Yeshua myself, I am thrilled to see the Lord using these websites, videos and social media to spread the Gospel so broadly and so rapidly throughout Israel via Hebrew and throughout the English speaking world.

While surely many Gentiles are watching the English language videos, many Jews are watching them, too. What’s more, we can be confident that the vast majority of those watching the Hebrew language videos are Jews. This suggests the possibility that in a world of about 14.5 million Jewish people — including about six million Jews in Israel — more Jewish people have been exposed to the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah in the last two or three years than in any other two to three year period in human history.

Would you be praying for each and every person that has watched, that the Lord would be drawing him or her to His heart? Would you be praying for all the people that work for these and related ministries for continued boldness, wisdom and discernment, and the Lord’s spiritual and physical protection? Also, would you share these videos on your Facebook pages, and through Twitter and other social media so that they are seen by even more people in 2017? Might you even consider giving financially to such ministries?

Thanks so much — may the Lord bless you and your family as you give Jews and Gentiles the opportunity to hear the Gospel for themselves and make their own personal decision for or against Yeshua!

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GOSPEL:

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A new bipartisan move, led by Senators Rubio & Cardin, is underway in Congress to defend Israel against UN Resolution 2334. This is encouraging. Here’s the latest.

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There is good news to report as 2017 begins.

With Members of Congress back in Washington to begin a new legislative session, a major bipartisan effort is now underway in both chambers to counter U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, the anti-Israel measure President Obama shamefully refused to veto just before Hanukkah and Christmas.

I commend my friend, Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, and Sen. Ben Cardin, the Maryland Democrat, for leading this effort to defend Israel, America’s most faithful and loyal ally in the Middle East. Today, they introduced a Senate resolution with broad bipartisan support that strongly opposes the actions taken by the U.N. and the Obama administration and lays out a positive American agenda towards Israel and the peace process with the Palestinians going forward. In the House, a similar resolution has been introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY),  which I also commend.

President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have, to their credit, denounced UNSC Resolution 2334. If they move quickly to enact the Rubio-Cardin recommendations, these will be steps in the right direction.

We need a new way forward on U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. The Obama-Clinton-Kerry approach was a disaster.

Like most of my fellow Evangelicals, I want there to be a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. I support good faith efforts to bring healing and reconciliation between both sides and I am praying to that end. After all, in the Scriptures the Psalmist commands us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” What’s more, our Lord Jesus Christ instructed us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Therefore, I believe there should be direct peace talks between both sides at the highest levels. The talks should be serious and constructive and hopefully lead to the end of the conflict and real protection of Israel’s rights and security needs balanced with real protection for Palestinian human rights and civil rights and security needs. Unfortunately, since 2009 the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused Israel’s oft-repeated offers for direct bilateral negotiations. They also brought the Hamas terror organization into their government and have supported two rocket wars against Israel.

This is no way to make peace. Nor is the UN’s attempt to force a solution on Israel. We must vigorously oppose any and all efforts by the U.N. and other international bodies to dictate terms to Israel, or unilaterally declare illegal Israel’s legitimate claim to Jerusalem, the Biblical and eternal capital of the Jewish people. We must also strongly oppose every effort by the UN and others to delegitimize Israel and isolate her through boycotts, sanctions and divestment (ie, the “BDS” movement). Such efforts are unfair, unjust, and counter-productive. They make peace more difficult to achieve, not easier.

All that said, let me be clear: strongly supporting Israel’s freedom and security against Radical Islamic terrorism and international anti-Semitism and injustice does NOT mean a person has to be against the Palestinian people. Christ commanded us to love our neighbors and our enemies. We can — and should — love the Palestinians, and want a better life for them, and pray for their welfare, and support serious efforts to improve their lives and defend their rights and freedoms against injustices of all kinds. Indeed, Christians outside the region can — and should — pray for the Palestinian people personally, and get to know personally our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ. We should work to understand their needs, and develop sincere friendships, stand with them against poverty and terror and injustice, and encourage them as they proclaim the Gospel to their people and shine the light of Christ in the darkness. The Scriptures are crystal clear: God loves the Jewish and Palestinian people dearly, and so must we.

Here’s the full text of the statement issued by Sen. Rubio, with a link to the full text of the Rubio-Cardin Senate resolution — I commend both to your attention:

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a Senate resolution objecting to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, as well as all efforts that undermine direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a secure and peaceful settlement. They are joined in this effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Todd Young (R-IN).

“Efforts to delegitimize Israel have been underway a long time at the United Nations and have now sadly been aided by the outgoing administration, but the time has come to turn back the tide and renew America’s commitment to the Jewish state,” said Rubio. “When it comes to the U.S.-Israel alliance, we believe that senators of both parties must stand firmly with Israel and condemn efforts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. This resolution expresses the Senate’s rejection of continued anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations, reiterates our commitment to Israel, and urges the incoming administration to work with Congress on this issue.”

“I am deeply disappointed that the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which is a one-sided text that makes direct negotiations for a two-state solution more challenging.  Our Senate Resolution sends the message that the U.S.-Israel partnership is ironclad,” said Cardin.  “Going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.  I hope that in 2017 we can look at policies and actions that facilitate resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and I stand ready to support productive efforts.”

“The decision taken by the President to abstain from this vote–to fail to act on behalf of an ally represents a failure of leadership and judgment. It is highly regrettable that one of President Obama’s last actions in office was again to abandon our ally Israel,” said McConnell. “As this resolution notes, the United Nations is not the appropriate venue for dictating parameters for a two state solution, this can only come from direct negotiations between the parties.”

“Since the days of ‘Zionism is racism,’ the U.N. has been a fervently anti-Israel body and, unfortunately, that bias has never diminished. Knowing this, past administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution,” said Schumer. “Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolutions 2334, this administration has not followed in that path. This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution.”

A PDF of the resolution is available here. The resolution:

  • Expresses grave objection to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016);
  • Calls for United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that it is no longer one-sided and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiations between the parties;
  • Rejects efforts by outside bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, to impose solutions from the outside that set back the cause of peace;
  • Demands that the United States ensure that no action is taken at the Paris Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict scheduled for January 15, 2017, that imposes an agreement or parameters on the parties;
  • Notes that granting membership and statehood standing to the Palestinians at the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and other international institutions outside of the context of a bilateral peace agreement with Israel would cause severe harm to the peace process, and would likely trigger the implementation of penalties under sections 7036 and 7041(j) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (division K of Public Law 114–113);
  • Rejects any efforts by the United Nations, United Nations agencies, United Nations member states, and other international organizations to use United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to further isolate Israel through economic or other boycotts or any other measures, and urges the United States Government to take action where needed to counter any attempts to use United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to further isolate Israel;
  • Urges the current presidential administration and all future presidential administrations to uphold the practice of vetoing all United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to insert the Council into the peace process, recognize unilateral Palestinian actions including declaration of a Palestinian state, or dictate terms and a timeline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • Reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to continue to seek a sustainable, just, and secure two-state solution to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and
  • Urges the incoming Administration to work with Congress to create conditions that facilitate the resumption of direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of achieving a sustainable agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as an American citizen and an author. They do not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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Threats To Watch In 2017 — #1: Putin is massing 55,000 troops on border of Ukraine & threatening the Baltic States. NATO looks weak. What the Trump-Pence team should do immediately.

withoutwarning-joel-videoAs 2017 begins and the Trump-Pence administration is set to take office in Washington, what are the major threats that should be on your radar screen? What could potentially hit us without warning if we and our leaders are not paying close attention?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of columns on this topic. But as I’ve been doing research over the past few months for a new novel about Russia, I have come to believe that the threat Moscow now poses to the U.S. and our allies is real and growing.

Here’s the transcript of a new video blog I’ve just posted:

One thing I’m concerned about is Vladimir Putin. I believe that Vladimir Putin and the way he’s leading Russia is going to be a big, big issue over the next several years. And I must say I’m cautiously pessimistic at the moment with the way the President-elect is dealing with this.

Right now, we keep hearing very warm, kind words about Mr. Putin from Mr. Trump. This may be a negotiating tactic, right? You have a President-elect who is known for “The Art of the Deal.” So he may be trying to send a positive signal early on to Putin to say, “Hey, listen, we don’t have to have a bad relationship. I’m willing to start in a positive way. But we’re going to have some serious issues that we’re going to have to talk about.”

That’s possible.

I would note that it’s a different strategy than Mr. Trump is taking with Iran. It’s a different strategy than he’s taking with China. It’s a much softer approach, and it suggests the other possibility — not that it’s a negotiating tactic, but that it’s really what Mr. Trump believes, that Putin is not a threat.

If that’s the case, I totally disagree.

Mr. Putin is a threat. He’s already invaded and seized part of the nation state of Georgia. He’s already invaded and seized Crimea. He’s already invaded and seized Eastern Ukraine. And now he has 55,000 Russian troops massed on the border of Ukraine and [not far from] the three Baltic States — Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Is Putin going to invade and try to seize those countries as well?

We don’t know that yet, right? But there are very few NATO troops there right now in the Baltics, and yet those are NATO allies.

So, when you have a Russian leader who has shown as much aggression in recent years as Putin has, and you’re not doing more to build up U.S. and NATO forces — including mechanized ground forces, mechanized divisions — inside the Baltics to make sure that Putin doesn’t seem them as an easy grab; when you’re sending messages that seem very soft and conciliatory towards Russia; then you run the risk of being blindsided by an evil you don’t see.

I just hope and pray that the new President of the United States and his team will take countering that threat posed by Putin as seriously as they’re taking the China, North Korea and Radical Islam threats, as well.

FOLLOW UP FACTS:

CRITICAL ISSUES: Ukraine is a key ally of the U.S. and the Western alliance, but it is not a NATO ally. NATO is not obligated to come to her defense. But the Trump-Pence team needs to decide how it would handle a Russian move to seize all of Ukraine.

The Baltic States, meanwhile, are full NATO allies. A Russian invasion would trigger Article V of the NATO treaty. This would require a full-scale military response by the U.S. and the rest of the European countries who are members of NATO. This could quickly escalate to a nuclear confrontation. To do nothing — to abandon the Baltics to the Kremlin — would mean the end of NATO. No ally around the world would ever trust their alliances with the U.S. again. It could mean the collapse of U.S. global leadership. Clearly, the stakes are high.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The Trump-Pence team have a clear domestic  agenda that involves turbo-charging the U.S. economy and creating millions of new jobs, ending illegal immigration and protecting America’s borders. On foreign policy, their top priorities are dealing with China and challenges in Asia, and confronting Radical Islam. The President elect understandably does not show any interest in a confrontation with Russia.

It is important, then, that President Trump immediately and significantly increases NATO air and ground forces — and missile defenses — in and around the Baltics and Poland, as well as in Germany and France upon taking office. He needs to make it absolutely clear to Putin that we will fully support our NATO allies and will not countenance any hostile action against them. Should the Baltics be left essentially unprotected, Putin — an emerging Czar with imperialist appetites — may find himself tempted to strike.

The RAND Corporation report suggests that “a force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.” The report notes that “while not sufficient to mount a sustained defense of the region or to achieve NATO’s ultimate end state of restoring its members’ territorial integrity, such a posture would fundamentally change the strategic picture as seen from Moscow.”

I would leave the decision for the precise force structure to incoming Defense Secretary James Mattis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and our NATO allied commanders. But in principle I agree with the direction RAND is suggesting. We want to focus on China/Asia and Radical Islam. We want to avoid a conflict with Putin in Europe. Thus, we must strengthen NATO immediately to maintain our options.

Then the President should start a very focused process of insisting that each NATO country fully invest 2% of their annual GDP on defense spending. That’s what they promised to do when they joined the alliance. It’s high time each country pay its fair share.

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The TODAY Show urges viewers to pre-order, “WITHOUT WARNING.” (My next thriller, about catastrophic terror attacks inside the US & the hunt for the head of ISIS, will be published on 3/14.)

todayshow-withoutwarningThank you so much to my dear friend, Kathie Lee Gifford, for recommending my forthcoming novel, WITHOUT WARNING, to all of her viewers on the TODAY Show.

In a segment she did this week with her co-host, Hoda Kotb, called “Favorite Things,” Kathie urged viewers to pre-order the thriller before its March 14th release date.

“My [favorite thing] is an amazing book — it’s the third in a trilogy — by my friend, Joel Rosenberg,” Kathie said on the air. “This one is called, Without Warning. Available in March. Preorder — $26.99 — on Amazon.com. He understands the Middle East and everything that’s going on like nobody’s business, and he writes great thrillers that sometimes end up coming true.”

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Several weeks ago — after reading an advance copy of the novel — Kathie invited me, my literary agent and my son, Jacob, out to her home in Connecticut for a lovely lunch. We had a wonderful afternoon together, discussing the book, and the others in the series, and talking about future projects.

Kathie, who is an Evangelical Christian from a Jewish background (her maiden name was Kathie Epstein), is a huge supporter of the State of Israel. She loves the Scriptures and the Jewish people and does so much to promote Jewish-Christian relations and tourism to Israel. She has read every novel I have ever written and we finally met last year when The First Hostage was published. Lynn and I also had a fun dinner with her, her kids, and some mutual friends in Jerusalem earlier this year. We’re so grateful for her support and encouragement. Thank you, Kathie!

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A few things I’m thankful for this holiday season. (Reflections of an Israeli who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.)

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True, there aren’t many people in the world who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.

But as a person of Jewish heritage on my father’s side, and as a follower of Jesus the Messiah, I am one of them.

This year actually marks the third Hanukkah and Christmas season that I’ve had the joy and opportunity to celebrate both holidays as an Israeli citizen. And I must tell you I find it fascinating to live in a country where Jesus was actually born, where He ministered to the poor and forgotten, where He was crucified and raised on the third day — and yet a country where by and large Christmas is not celebrated.

Israel is not an easy place to live. It’s been quite challenging for Lynn and our four sons and I to move to a new country and acclimate to a new language and culture. But as these two holidays converge this year, and as I reflect on the past few years, I am profoundly thankful and grateful.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • I’m thankful for the amazing opportunity the Lord has given Lynn and me to be able to live and raise our family and write novels in the land where the Hebrew prophets, priests and kings lived, the very land where Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) and His disciples lived and ministered and transformed the world.
  • I’m thankful for the wonderful friends and neighbors that we have found in Israel, along with physical safety, economic opportunity, robust democracy and extraordinary religious freedom we have found there. Most Jews in Israel — and nearly every Jewish person in the government and in the court system — don’t believe what we believe, and yet they truly defend our right to assemble and worship and fully practice our beliefs without interference. That’s no small thing.
  • I’m thankful for all my Israeli friends who are curious about why a growing number of Jewish people do believe Yeshua is the Messiah.
  • I’m so thankful to live in the world’s only Jewish State that also works hard to protect the political and religious freedoms of her Arab citizens — Christians, Muslims, agnostics, atheists and others — and grants Arab citizens the right to vote, has Arabs who serve in the Knesset, serve in the police and military, even serve on the Supreme Court, and are vital and valued members of the society.
  • I’m thankful to be able to live in a nation that is an oasis of freedom and security in a region that’s on fire.
  • I’m thankful for all the Evangelical and Messianic Jews we have met and had the joy of becoming friends with throughout the Land, including so many pastors and ministry leaders and their wives and kids.
  • I’m thankful for all the dear Palestinians that Lynn and I have had the honor of meeting and befriending in recent years, especially the Evangelical pastors and ministry leaders and their wives and children living in the West Bank and in Gaza.
  • I’m very thankful for the opportunity to travel to visit our neighbors in Jordan not once but twice this year, including five extraordinary and special days with King Abdullah II and his advisors, such an amazing visit that Lynn and I will always cherish.
  • I’m deeply thankful for our Joshua Fund team who are so faithful in blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.
  • I’m thankful for the Holy Scriptures — the very words of the living God — whom the Jewish and Christian scribes have so carefully and courageously copied and transmitted to us down through the ages.
  • I’m thankful for the ancient Hebrew prophets like Micah who told us exactly where the Messiah would one day be born so we wouldn’t have to wonder or worry about it. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
  • I’m thankful for the ancient Hebrew prophets like Isaiah who told us the Messiah would live and minister in the Galilee region, bring light to those in darkness, come as a human baby boy, but also be El Gibor — Mighty God — and the One who would bring forgiveness and thus peace between us and God. “In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles….The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them….For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:1-6)
  • I’m deeply thankful for all of our family and friends back in the States who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and even come to visit us in Israel over the past few years — and so grateful that we could come back to spend the holiday season with them this year.
  • Above us, I am thankful to the God of Israel — and His Son, Yeshua — who has shown such mercy to me and my family, showered us with His grace and even adopted us into His royal family.

So on behalf of my family and our dear friends and colleagues at The Joshua Fund, allow me to wish our Jewish and Israeli friends a very Happy Hanukkah season — and to all of our friends who are followers of Jesus, allow me to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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What are the implications of the UN Security Council’s anti-Israel vote? Here’s the short version.

un-resolution2334-vote(Denver, Colorado) — It was deeply disappointing (though unfortunately not surprising) that on the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, President Obama helped an anti-Israel resolution pass in the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

The final vote was essentially unanimous — 14 nations in favor, while the U.S. officially abstained. But in this case the “abstention” was cosmetic. Mr. Obama supported this move. If he hadn’t, he would have done what American Presidents historically do when facing resolutions against the Jewish State: veto it.

In the days ahead, I will provide more detailed analysis.

For now, it’s important to note that this is not simply the meaningless act of UN diplomats blowing hot air. This resolution actually puts the State of Israel, our leaders, our citizens and businesses who work with and trade with us in very serious legal jeopardy.

Like many Evangelicals, I want there to be a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But I don’t believe a solution should be mandated — much less forced — by the world on Israel. There should be direct talks between both sides. The talks should be serious and constructive and should lead to the end of the conflict and real protection of Israel’s rights and security needs balanced with real protection for Palestinian human rights and civil rights and security needs.

Unilateral UN decisions are not helpful, and in this case could prove counter-productive.

I’m not worried, nor should you be. The Scriptures make clear that the God of Israel will keep us and protect us and He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is sovereign and good and on the job 24/7 and we can trust Him.  That said, we need to be wise and thus aware of the practical implications of this move.

Here is the full text of U.N. Resolution 2334.

Here is an analysis published by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot (Ynet News):

  • The resolution makes Israeli citizens that are involved in the settlement enterprise in the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits in courts all over the world.
  • Jerusalem is also worried that the resolution opens the door for lawsuits against Israeli officials at the ICC: government ministers and senior IDF officers who make decisions about construction in the settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the expropriation of lands could be accused of war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
  • The resolution can also lead to the creation of mechanisms to monitor and report Israeli actions, which could lead to sanctions being imposed against it.
  • The resolution’s wording can also be seen as a victory to the BDS Movement, as it opens the door for boycotts of goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
  • The resolution includes an article requiring the UN secretary-general to report to the Security Council every three months regarding its implementation. This will lead to continued pressure on Israel, putting it in a constant defensive position, similar to South Africa during the apartheid regime.
  • Article 5 of the resolution calls to create a distinction between the State of Israel and the settlements built on lands captured in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
  • This article calls on the international community not to aid those settlements and allows for countries and organizations to boycott the settlement enterprise—either directly or indirectly.
  • Officials in Jerusalem are worried such a call would encourage the European Union to make its policy of labeling settlement products into law and call for a boycott these products.
  • Such a move would lead banks, gas stations, HMOs, retailers, high-tech companies and others to close their branches beyond Green Line to avoid being included in the “blacklist” of companies doing business in the settlements and consequently being boycotted as a result.
  • Officials in Jerusalem are also worried that other nations in the world will follow in the footsteps of the European Union—even if not by boycotting the settlements, then at least by labeling settlement products.
  • Nevertheless, the resolution cannot be applied retroactively and has no immediate practical consequences. Since it was adopted under Chapter 6 of the United Nations Charter, it cannot be forced on Israel. Only resolutions passed under Chapter 7 can be imposed.

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BREAKING NEWS: Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey assassinated by Radical Islamic terrorist seeking “revenge” for Russia’s actions in Aleppo. UPDATE: Terror attacks in Berlin & Zurich.

turkey-russianambassassinatedUPDATED at 8pm eastern: The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was just assassinated in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

The assailant was a Radical Muslim who said he was doing this as “revenge” for Russia’s military actions in Aleppo, shouting, “Allahu Akbar…We die in Aleppo, you die here!”

“The shooter, who was wearing a suit and tie, has been identified as Mevlüt Mert Altintas, 22, a member of Ankara’s police riot squad,” reported the UK Daily Mail.

He reportedly fired 15 to 20 shots — killing the Ambassador and wounding at least three others — before being shot and killed by policy. The attack occurred at an art exhibit.

Turkish President Recip Erdogan quickly called Russian President Vladimir Putin after being briefed on the situation. Putin called the assassination a “provocation” aimed at destroying relations between Russia and Turkey and scuttling the so-called Syrian peace process.

Later in the day came news of a terror attack in a Muslim prayer center in Zurich that killed at least three people, and another attack in a Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least nine people.

“In an odd coincidence, Putin had been planning to attend a Moscow play on Monday night written by Alexander Griboyedov, Russia’s ambassador to Iran, who was murdered in 1829,” reported Reuters. “Putin canceled when he heard his Turkish envoy had been murdered.”

Developing….

NOTE: Here’s the latest coverage:

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“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” Now more than ever, Jews & Muslims in the Epicenter need Good News. The Joshua Fund is a like a venture capital fund, investing in small but growing ministries that preach the Gospel, make disciples and serve the poor in Israel and the Arab world. Lives are being changed. Here’s the latest.

z-joshuafund-donorreport-2016

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” — The Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16)

Darkness is falling on the people of the Middle East — war, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and even genocide. More than ever, they need the light of the Gospel and the hope of God’s love, forgiveness and eternal life (especially at Christmas, but every day of the year, as well!)

In 2006, Lynn and I founded The Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization “to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.” Over the past ten years, we and our team have seen and learned a great deal. Here are some of the two most encouraging lessons.

First, I see a tremendous openness to the Gospel message among my people, the Jewish people, in Israel and around the world that may very well be unprecedented since Jesus and the Apostles themselves were preaching and teaching in the First Century.

It’s not that every Jewish person who hears the Gospel is receiving the message and trusting in Jesus as Messiah, but so many more Jewish people are open to listening to the Gospel message. Many are asking questions about Jesus, searching for answers on the Internet, and watching online video testimonies of Jewish people explaining how they came to faith in Jesus. They’re curious about reading the New Testament, and some are stunned to learn that Jesus is Jewish, that His mother and earthly father were Jewish, that He lived and ministered to Jews in Israel, that He came to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ And they want to learn more.

That’s why the work of The Joshua Fund is so important at this extraordinary moment in history. Similar to a venture capital fund, we come alongside small but growing and promising congregations and ministries and we invest in them – with encouragement, with prayer, and, when appropriate, with financial resources. Why? So they can sow more seeds, and bear more fruit, and prepare the way for the Lord’s return. That’s why we count it such a joy and honor to invest in these ministries.”

Second, it’s not just Jewish people who are exploring and responding to the Gospel — what also excites me is that amidst the worst persecution in the modern history of the Church, we are seeing the greatest harvest of souls in the Muslim world in the history of the Church.

From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people. This was the conclusion of a ground-breaking peer-reviewed article published in 2015 by two respected Christian scholars, Dr. Duane Alexander Miller and Patrick Johnstone.

Now, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10 million conversions may appear to be a small percentage, but remember in nearly fourteen centuries of Islam, there were almost no conversions to Christ – some, but not many. Today, we are seeing unprecedented numbers of Muslims searching for hope via satellite TV, radio and the Internet. Some are reading the Bible and examining the claims of Christ for the first time. Others are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus. And they are coming to faith in numbers we’ve never seen before.

That’s why Lynn and I see it as so important for The Joshua Fund to invest not only in ministries to Jewish people but also in Arab pastors and ministry leaders who are reaching Muslims, to encourage and refresh them, to help them make disciples and train and equip new believers, and develop young leaders.

Here are a few excerpts from our 2016 Donor Report — examples of how your faithful prayer and financial investments are changing lives…..


“I am 23 and grew up in a Jewish Orthodox family. My stepfather is part of an extreme religious group in Judaism, and they sent me to an Orthodox boarding school in Israel. I asked once about Yeshua [Jesus] and was told to never ask about Him again. I slowly became secular. Just a year ago, Yeshua came back to my thoughts. I decided to return to a religious seminary and I spoke with the rabbis about Yeshua, and they convinced me that he was not the Messiah. I couldn’t connect with what they were teaching, it did not have the ring of truth, so I left school and became secular once again. Then all of a sudden, Yeshua once again came to mind. I knew that it was not me chasing Yeshua, but Yeshua was pursuing me, wanting me for Himself. Because of all the fears that I grew up with, I was afraid so I decided to ask Him, ‘If you are real, help me.’ Then, I came across videos about Yeshua on the internet and they helped me understand. I started reading the New Testament and found out how godly this book is and how far modern Judaism is from Moses’s Bible. How could they tell me Yeshua was anti-Semitic? My family is religious, so I’m believing in secret.”