Please join me in Iowa on August 9th for The Family Leadership Summit. @theFAMiLYLEADER

FamilyLeaderSummit-graphicJust wanted to let you know that I’ve accepted an invitation to speak at the 3rd Annual Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in August.

I hope to address the future of America, Israel and the Middle East in the light of the Scriptures.

Two years ago, I spoke at the first Summit on the non-fiction book I had just released that summer, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time? For more about what I said then, please click here.

Please register today and make plans to join us.

The Summit will be held Saturday, August 9th in the Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa, from 10am to 5:30pm.

“The Family Leadership Summit is designed to educate and mobilize the conservative base regarding worldview application and issues that impact the family,” notes the website. “The Summit will provide Iowans the opportunity to hear top conservative national leaders, gathered together in one place, cast their leadership vision.”

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Will Iraq fall to jihadists? Did US forces die in vain? Will ISIS create an Islamic caliphate? Then what? Here are the latest developments.

 

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Long War Journal. Laris Karklis/The Washington Post.

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Long War Journal. Laris Karklis/The Washington Post.

(Washington, D.C.) — The President and his top advisors have told us over and over again in recent years that “al Qaeda is on the run,” and “we decimated al Qaeda.” 

Now we know it’s not true.

In recent days, an ultra-radical faction of the Sunni terrorist network — ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq & Al Sham — has captured huge swaths of Iraqi territory, hundreds of millions of dollars from Iraqi banks, and even U.S. military equipment.

At the moment, ISIS forces are rapidly moving toward Baghdad, imposing Sharia law, killing thousands, terrorizing millions, creating an exodus of Iraqis trying to flee for safety, and raising serious new questions:

I’m not going to try to answer these questions today. Just the fact that they need to be asked shows how badly U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has failed, and how high the stakes are for the American people, for Israel, and for our Arab allies.

At the moment, I need to go back to finishing the manuscript for my new novel on a future ISIS plot to conquer the Middle East and build and Islamic caliphate.

But first, please keep praying for the Lord to intervene and stop the rise of the jihadists, pray for safety for all Iraqis (and Syrians), and please keep praying for courage for the Christians. Pray, too, for regional and world leaders to have wisdom to know how best to stabilize and pacify the situation.

Then, please keep on top of the latest developments.  Here is some of the latest news coverage from the epicenter worth paying attention to:

“The Obama administration is facing its worst-case scenario in Iraq, which seems on the verge of crumbling as Islamic militants march on Baghdad,” reports The Hill newspaper. “Just more than three years after U.S. soldiers left the country, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken over hundreds of square miles ranging from Syria’s coast to the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit. The terrorist group is in control of a wide swath of land from which it could launch attacks on the West, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte warned Thursday.”

“If these people succeed in multiple countries, that is going to represent some kind of permanent terrorist threat to the West, to our interests around the world and to ourselves,” he said on MSNBC. 

“The sudden developments have left the White House with few good options and opened President Obama to severe criticism from Republican critics in an election year,” The Hill noted. “They argue the failure to reach a security agreement that would have left some troops in Iraq has hastened the government’s downfall. What’s more, the group is now taking access of U.S. arms and equipment that were left behind when troops left after nearly a decade in Iraq. Militants posted pictures on Twitter that showed they had acquired U.S. Humvees and armored vehicles….U.S. officials are worried that more weapons could fall into ISIS’s hands if the militants reach Baghdad. The U.S. has already sold the Iraqi military armed helicopters, drones, Hellfire missiles and a number of small arms….”

“This is pretty bad…These guys are our mortal enemies. These are the people, or one strain of the group of people, we’ve been fighting at least since 9/11,” said Michael Eisenstadt, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute’s Military and Security Studies Program….“It feeds the perception that the United States is being pushed out of the region and the few accomplishments that we’ve had seem be unraveling,” he said.  

THE LATEST HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING (via Drudge):

Exodus from Iraq as chaos spreads…
UN: 800k refugees…
Terrorists ‘full-blown army’…
Medieval Sharia Law Imposed…
‘Roads lined with decapitated police and soldiers’…
Iraqi government ‘paralyzed’…
Army Collapses…
VIDEO: Thousands of soldiers captured by ISIS…
Iran Deploys Forces…
Americans evacuated…
USA Secretly Flying Drones…
Pentagon: Rebels may have captured military equipment…
PAPER: ‘Worst case scenario’…
FLASHBACK: Biden: Iraq One of Obama’s ‘Great Achievements’…
Vets in Congress: ‘What was point of all that?’…
Oil Soars…
OBAMA HINTS AT ACTION…

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My next novel, or a real headline? “ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, ‘Slaughter’ King Abdullah.”

(IRAQ-UNREST-MOSUL-JIHADISTS-FILESWashington, D.C.) — Last month, when I was in Amman doing research for my new novel about the “ISIS” threat, most of the top Jordanian officials I spoke with warned of an “explosion” of Radical Islamic extremism and foreign jihadist fighters coming out of Syria that could threaten other nations in the region, including them.

“I’m not worried about Syria imploding,” a senior advisor to Jordan’s Foreign Minister told me, “I’m worried about it exploding” and sending newly emboldened terrorists across the region and across the globe.

I specifically asked Jordan’s Interior Minister, His Excellency Hussein Hazza’ Al-Majali, if ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Arabic for the “Levant,” or Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel) — was a particularly serious threat. Without hesitation, he agreed it was.

Majali said he wasn’t worried about ISIS toppling King Abdullah II, assuring me that he and the King’s intelligence and security forces work around the clock to prevent just such a disaster. But when I asked him if the plot of my new novel was credible, he assured me that, unfortunately, it was.

It’s too early to give too many details of my fictional plot away. Suffice it to say that one headline after another has come out this week that feel ripped from the pages of my manuscript.

Including this one, just published today: “ISIS THREATENS TO INVADE JORDAN, ‘SLAUGHTER’ KING ABDULLAH.”

“That’s a bit creepy,” my wife just told me upon hearing the news. My thoughts exactly.

The manuscript is due June 25th. The book is slated to release in March 2015. In the meantime, please pray for the moderate Arabs in the epicenter — King Abdullah II chief among them — to be strong and decisive in putting down this rapidly rising threat from ISIS and other jihadists. Let’s pray for the safety of the King, and the millions of Jordanians who live a very stable and peaceful life. And again, let’s keep praying for the people of Iraq and Syria who are suffering terribly at this dark time.

Here are a few excerpts from the story:

“The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS — said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda — have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East,” writes Khaled Abu Toameh, a former Arab affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post. “Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon. Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.”….

“According to the sources, ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed with his lieutenants the possibility of extending the group’s control beyond Syria and Iraq,” Toameh notes. “One of the ideas discussed envisages focusing ISIS’s efforts on Jordan, where Islamist movements already have a significant presence. Jordan was also chosen because it has shared borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easier for the terrorists to infiltrate the kingdom.

“Jordanian political analyst Oraib al-Rantawi sounded alarm bells by noting that the ISIS threat to move its fight to the kingdom was real and imminent,” the report states.

“We in Jordan cannot afford the luxury of just waiting and monitoring,” he cautioned. “The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms. It has become a strategic danger; it is no longer a security threat from groups or cells. We must start thinking outside the box. The time has come to increase coordination and cooperation with the regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to contain the crawling of extremism and terrorism.”

“The ISIS terrorists see Jordan’s Western-backed King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and have publicly called for his execution,” says Toameh. “ISIS terrorists recently posted a video on YouTube in which they threatened to ‘slaughter’ Abdullah, whom they denounced as a ‘tyrant.’ Some of the terrorists who appeared in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and vowed to launch suicide attacks inside the kingdom.”

 

Urgent: Pray for Iraq as Christians join mass exodus from Mosul & ISIS moves towards Baghdad.

 

An image taken from a video uploaded on Sunday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claiming to show fighters in Tikrit, Iraq. (Credit ISIS, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

An image taken from a video uploaded on Sunday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claiming to show fighters in Tikrit, Iraq. (Credit ISIS, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

(Washington, D.C.) — Please pray for Christians in Iraq, as well as all of Iraqis, as the ISIS jihadist offensive intensifies — and share this with others to pray, as well.

Now that U.S. military forces have all been withdrawn, the radical Islamist groups have launched a “surge” of their own, one that they have been preparing for quite some time. There is a real danger now that Iraq could completely collapse and soon be in the hands of Radicals.

The Christians of Iraq are particularly vulnerable. By the grace of God, I have had the opportunity to travel into Iraq four times since its liberation, usually with members of The Joshua Fund team. We have met with and encouraged Christian pastors and ministry leaders. We have prayed with the persecuted believers there, and invested in humanitarian relief projects, evangelism projects and Bible teaching conferences. I even had the joy of teaching at one of those pastor retreats, as several pastors and I taught through the Book of Philippians, verse by verse. We have had the chance to see what very difficult lives these brothers and sisters face, and we are deeply concerned for what is happening there now, especially in the province of Ninevah, where Mosul is located. Indeed, Mosul is the modern city where the ancient ruins of the city of Ninevah are located.

Please join us in faithfully interceding for the believers in Iraq as the situation goes from bad to worse.

Here are the latest, gloomy headlines:

Following up on my blog posts of the last two days (here, and here), I wanted to make you aware of an email I just received from Open Doors, an evangelical Christian ministry to works to help persecuted Christians around the world, including in the Middle East.

Here is their statement:

“If this continues, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians. This could be the last migration of Christians from Mosul.”

That’s the perspective of a representative of Open Doors in Iraq of the massive exodus of Christians and people of other faiths this week.

Some reports placed the numbers fleeing Mosul at 500,000 due to its seizure by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Iraq and Syria-based Sunni Muslim extremist group. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq and former home to a significant number of Assyrian Christians. ISIS has now reportedly vowed to take over Baghdad.

Many of the Christians are fleeing with only the clothes on their backs to Kurdistan, an autonomous northern part of Iraq and considered a safer place. “The Islamist terrorists want to make Iraq a ‘Muslim only’ nation and as a result they want all Christians out,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry.

“The situation for Christians has deteriorated each year over the past 10 years. Iraqi Christians have faced kidnappings, threats and even death for being followers of Jesus. And they have little faith in their government to provide security as we see in the tragedy unfolding this week.”

The Open Doors representative for Iraq says that some of the Christians have found temporary shelter in nearby monasteries and in several schools in mainly Christian villages.

“When this goes on like this, Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians,” the Open Doors spokesman says. “Until Monday an estimated 1,000 Christian families still lived in Mosul.” A Christian man in Mosul told World Watch Monitor (WWM) that he “was able to make my wife and children leave Mosul, but now I am stuck in the house and can’t move.”

The crisis worries many Christians in Kurdistan.

A Christian refugee working in Erbil, an hour’s drive from Mosul, told WWM: “What is happening in Mosul now can badly affect our stay as refugees here in Kurdistan as some ISIS militia come from Syria. I hope this will make the United Nations work more on our papers for emigration and allow us to travel abroad as soon as possible; we applied to migrate to Europe.”

In the 1990’s the Christian population in Iraq was estimated at over 1.2 million. Open Doors places the number now at around 330,000. Iraq is ranked No. 4 of 50 countries on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians….

Prayer Requests:

  • The refugees will find a safe place to stay
  • The Christians who still remain in Mosul will feel the peace only the Lord can give
  • An end to all bloodshed and instability in Iraq

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State of Emergency: ISIS radical jihadists “sweeping towards Baghdad,” capture $429 million from Mosul’s central bank. Christians on the run. Latest developments.

ISIS_pic(Washington, D.C.) — The situation in Iraq is rapidly going from bad to worse.

An al-Qaeda splinter group known as ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham — is on a killing rampage in both Iraq and Syria. ISIS is a faction even more Radical and deadly than the main terror network formerly run by Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the ISIS jihadists see al Qaeda as too moderate, and they are Hell-bent on spreading fear and chaos throughout the region.

Most Americans know very little about ISIS. But it’s time to learn. At the moment, I’m hard at work trying to finish writing a new international political thriller about the ISIS threat to the stability of the Middle East. It is due to my publisher, Tyndale, on June 25th. But it isn’t slated to be released next March.

In the meantime, here is some background, and here are the latest developments. In recent days, ISIS has:

Seized violent control of Mosul (ancient Ninevah), Iraq’s second largest city

Seized control of Mosul’s central bank, reportedly looting $429 million, arguably making ISIS the world’s richest terror group

Seized more Iraqi towns and territory, and is reportedly now “sweeping towards Baghdad,” according to the New York Times. (see below)

Thousands of Mosul residents are fleeing from their homes, many leaving in the middle of the night, despite curfews and checkpoints.

I’m hearing reports from friends in Iraq that Christians are fleeing from Mosul, fearful that ISIS terrorists may slaughter them.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared a “state of emergency.”

Please pray for the Christians in Iraq, for the Lord to give them courage and strength to stand strong for Him amidst the chaos. Please pray for all the residents of Mosul, and all Iraqis, who see a new reign of terror falling upon them. And it’s not just Iraq. ISIS terrorists are wreaking havoc and on a killing rampage in Syria, too. So please pray for the Christians in Syria, and for the Lord to establish calm and stability and safety in Syria and Iraq, and stop the ISIS killers, along with all the other terror groups that have been unleashed.

Here are more details on the latest developments:

“Sunni militants who overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul as government forces crumbled in disarray extended their reach in a lightning advance on Wednesday, pressing south toward Baghdad,” reported the New York Times. “They occupied facilities in the strategic oil refining town of Baiji and seized the city of Tikrit with little resistance, security officials and residents said.”

“By late Wednesday there were unconfirmed reports that the Sunni militants, many aligned with the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, were battling loyalist forces at the northern entrance to the city of Samarra, about 70 miles north of Baghdad,” the Times noted. “The city is known for a sacred Shiite shrine that was bombed in 2006, during the height of the American-led occupation, touching off sectarian mayhem between the Sunni minority and Shiite majority. An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, called for the formation of a special force to defend religious sites in Iraq. The authorities in neighboring Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, canceled all visas and flights for pilgrims to Baghdad and intensified border security, Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.”

The Times added: “The remarkably fast advance of the Sunni militants, who now control strategically important swaths of northern and western Iraq, reflects the spillover of the Sunni insurgency in Syria and the inability of Iraq’s Shiite-led government to pacify the country in the more than two years since American forces departed after eight years of war and occupation. Insurgents also raided the Turkish consulate in Mosul and seized the consul general and 47 other Turkish citizens, including special-forces soldiers and three children of diplomats, the Turkish prime minister’s office said. The development raised the possibility that Turkey, a NATO ally that borders both Syria and Iraq, would become directly entangled in the fast-moving crisis.”

HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING:

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Iraq declares “emergency” as ISIS, an al Qaeda breakaway faction, captures key city of Mosul. What is ISIS and why is it important?

 

Al-Qaeda breakaway group -- ISIS -- captures key Iraqi city of Mosul. (graphic: NYT

Al-Qaeda breakaway group — ISIS — captures key Iraqi city of Mosul. (graphic: NYT

(Washington, D.C.) — The Iraqi government has declared a “state of emergency” after losing control of one of its major cities — Mosul (ancient Ninevah) — to a Sunni insurgent group that is a breakaway faction of al Qaeda.

The group is commonly referred to as “ISIS” (pronounced “EYE-sis”), which stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham.” Al Sham refers to the “Levant,” or the region of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Jordan.

ISIS wants to wage violent jihad in order to establish an Islamic caliphate or kingdom in the entire region.

It is currently recruiting foreign jihadist fighters to wage jihad in Syria to topple Bashar al-Assad’s regime. ISIS is also fighting to bring down the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. Ideally, its leaders would like to topple Jordan’s King Abdullah II and capture the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as part of its caliphate. Then it wants to annihilate the Jews, destroy Israel, and capture Jerusalem, as well.

In February, the main al Qaeda leadership broke ties with ISIS, as reported by the New York Times.

At the moment, I’m writing a new international political thriller about ISIS, to be released next spring.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest developments:

“Iraqi army soldiers abandoned their weapons and fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, as Sunni militants freed hundreds of prisoners and seized military bases, police stations, banks and the provincial governor’s headquarters,” reports the New York Times. “The insurgent attacks were among the most audacious assaults on the Iraqi government since the American military withdrawal more than two years ago.”

Excerpts from the story:

  • The rout in Mosul, the second-largest Iraqi city after Baghdad and an important center of the country’s petroleum industry, was breathtaking in its speed, and appeared to take government officials by surprise, not to mention residents of the city itself.
  • A major humiliation for the government forces in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated areas, the defeat also reflected the stamina of a broader Sunni insurgency that has been growing with the war in neighboring Syria.
  • Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered a state of emergency for the entire country. His Shiite-led government has been increasingly struggling to deal with the resurrection of Sunni militancy in Iraq since the American military departure at the end of 2011 following eight years of war and occupation.
  • By midday on Tuesday, militants believed to belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, one of the strongest extremist groups, were in control of much of central and southern Mosul, according to witnesses.
  • Local officials claimed that many of the fighters were jihadists who had swept in from the porous border with Syria, who have increasingly operated with impunity in that region even as President Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed ground lost to the insurgents elsewhere in Syria….
  • The Mosul assault came in a week when Mr. Maliki’s government has been trying to beat back a surging militant offensive concentrated in central and northern Iraq and carried out by hundreds of well-armed fighters roaming the country in pickup trucks, seemingly able to strike at will.
  • In Mosul, along with the cities of Samarra and Ramadi, the militants have stormed police stations, government offices and even a university. On Saturday, car bombs killed scores of people across the capital, Baghdad, in one of the deadliest coordinated attacks in weeks….

—————–

Israeli leaders elect former Speaker of the Knesset as its new President. Shimon Peres steps down after long tenure.

 

Reuven Rivlin, 74, was elected today as Israel's 10th President.

Reuven Rivlin, 74, was elected today as Israel’s 10th President.

Reuven Rivlin, 74, has been elected by the Members of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — to be the next President of the State of Israel.

The long-time Likud parliamentarian and former Speaker of the Knesset, will be Israel’s 10th President, replacing Shimon Peres, 90, who is retiring. Rivlin won on the second round of balloting.

Congratulations are in order. Let’s be praying for the new President as he takes office, that the Lord would give him great favor and wisdom in this challenging times.

“Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Rivlin is married and has four children,” reported Haaretz. “A lawyer by training, he served as director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association, as a member of the Jerusalem city council for a decade and as chairman of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene. He also served as Minister of Communications in the Sharon government at the start of the previous decade.”

“I have earned your trust as Speaker of this house, as one responsible for overseeing the proper and fair swinging of the pendulum of debate,” Rivlin wrote the MKs during his campaign, “Now I wish to make the President’s Residence a house of partnership, dialogue and understanding.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Rivlin, despite years of political tensions between the two. According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu told the president-elect that “you come from a deep and rich well” of Jewish and Israeli tradition. “You are a man of Jerusalem and a man of the land of Israel,” Netanyahu says, noting that the president has two missions: uniting the people of Israel and representing Israel abroad.

“Outgoing President Shimon Peres speaks to President-elect Reuven Rivlin on the phone after the latter’s election victory and says that he stands ready to help with the transition,” the Times reported on its live blog. “Peres congratulates him and wishes him the best of luck, and Rivlin says he will have a hard time filling Peres’s shoes.”

“The Knesset chose the candidate that all public opinion polls showed was most popular,” said Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, congratulating Rivlin on his election.

—————–

Today we honor men who fought on D-Day to defeat Nazis & end the Holocaust. Here is President Reagan’s remarkable speech at Point du Hoc on the 40th anniversary.

D-Day(Washington, D.C.) — Seventy years ago was “D-Day.” The bravest men America and our Allies had to offer stormed the French coast of Normandy.

They did it to defeat the cruel and evil Nazi tyranny. They did it not to conquer but to liberate. They did it to set free the people of France, and all the people of Europe.  They did it to liberate the concentration camps and end the Holocaust. They did it to protect their parents and wives and children back home. They did it to obey their leaders. And to honor their God.

Against all odds, they did it.

The more I learned about these men while I was researching and writing The Auschwitz Escape, the more impressed, humbled and grateful I became.

Today, let us honor the men who fought — those who died and those who survived. Let us remember them, and all our veterans, in prayer.

The following are remarks delivered by President Ronald Reagan on June 6, 1984 commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Invastion of Normandy. It is one of my favorite presidential speeches. I commend it to your attention. I encourage you to read it to your kids, or watch it here on this video.

—————————–

President Reagan: We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

I think I know what you may be thinking right now — thinking “we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.” Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren’t. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him — Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, “Sorry, I’m a few minutes late,” as if he’d been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he’d just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots’ Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet,” and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought — or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: “Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do.” Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance — a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It’s fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. Twenty million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We’re bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we’re with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States.

Palestinians create unity government with Hamas terror group. Why is this a problem?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with his new unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2, 2014 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90/Times of Israel)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with his new unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2, 2014 (photo: Issam Rimawi/Flash90/Times of Israel)

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace talks ended in April. Unfortunately, the Israelis and Palestinians did not make peace with each other. But in a development that surprised many, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank did make peace with the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

On Monday, the Palestinians announced a “unity” government comprised of the somewhat moderate Fatah movement and Hamas.

Why is this a problem?

Because Hamas is a radical terrorist organization. Its 1988 charter makes clear that it is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood; forbids all peace talks; calls for the annihilation of Israel by armed, violent jihad; seeks to impose Sharia law on every man, woman and child in the Holy Land; and would force all Jews and Christians to convert to Islam or be branded an infidel and suffer.

Consider a few quotes from the Hamas Charter:

  • The Preamble of the Hamas charter quotes Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood found Hassan al-Banna calling for the destruction of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
  • Article Eight of the Hamas charter: “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”
  • Article Eleven: “This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgment.”
  • Article Thirteen: “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement….There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
  • Article Thirteen: “When did the infidels do justice to the believers? ‘But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah.’ (from a section of the Qur’an known as, “The Cow,” verse 120).

For now, Mahmoud Abbas will remain president of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). But there is a new Prime Minister — Rami Hamdallah — a new cabinet, and many new questions about the implications of such an alliance.

The Israeli government immediately denounced the P.A.’s move, and urged the U.S. and other nations not to recognize or fund the new government.

“I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to run to recognize the Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part and which rests on Hamas,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and the international community must not embrace it. This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called for a suspension of U.S. financial aid to the Palestinians, which totaled about $440 million last year.

“President Abbas argues that the new government is composed of ministers without political affiliation, but this new government appears dependent upon Hamas and Hamas continues to support terrorism in its quest to destroy the state of Israel,” Cantor said in a statement. “The burden lies with this new unity government to demonstrate in words and actions that it is truly independent of Hamas, that it rejects terrorism, and that it is committed to a peaceful two-state solution, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”

A State Department spokesperson, however, said the Obama administration plans to continue funding the P.A.

Please pray:

  • For true and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • For salvation for all the leaders in the region through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • For the Lord to change the hearts of the Hamas leaders away from jihad and Sharia law and towards true peace and reconciliation.
  • For Palestinian Arab Christians to be strong and courageous and bold for Jesus Christ under a government partially led by Hamas.
  • For wisdom for Palestinian pastors to know how best to preach the Word and shepherd the flocks under their care at this critical time.

Here are more details on the new unity government:

“Palestinians overcame last-minute squabbles to form a new ‘government of national unity’ Monday, backed by the Islamist militant group Hamas, which the United States and Israel have branded a terrorist organization,” reports the Washington Post.

“The announcement of the transitional government, led by the moderate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and with ministries run mostly by technocrats, represents a significant step toward ending a seven-year feud between the Palestinian political factions that separately control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” the Post noted. “It also appears to skirt, barely, U.S. prohibitions on aid to a Palestinian government that has ‘undue’ Hamas presence or influence. The Obama administration had worked behind the scenes to suggest terms for the new coalition government that would not trigger the U.S. ban, reasoning that the money helps preserve American leverage.”

“The reconciliation pact throws together two antagonistic camps with opposing visions: Hamas, the resistance movement that controls the Gaza Strip and does not recognize Israel, and the Palestine Liberation Organization and its political party, Fatah, which just concluded nine months of ultimately fruitless peace negotiations with Israel,” added the Post. “Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO leader, promised that the new government would continue a course of nonviolence. He said any peace talks with the Israelis would take place under the auspices of the PLO — not the interim government.”

“Today we declare the end of the split and regaining the unity of the homeland,” Abbas said in a recorded speech on Palestine TV. “This black page in our history has been closed forever.”

“Left undecided for now is whether Hamas and its military wing will allow the new government to run the security forces in the Gaza Strip and whether Hamas would be allowed to operate more freely in the West Bank — permitted, for example, to stage mass rallies or run social programs, which the group is now banned from doing,” the Post reported.

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