How do Israelis view the incoming Trump-Pence administration? My analysis and new poll numbers.

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(Dallas, Texas) — On Thanksgiving Day, I landed at Washington Dulles Airport to begin a month in the States. On the agenda: board meetings with my colleagues at The Joshua Fund; planning meetings in Dallas, Chicago and Manhattan for the March 2017 release of my new political thriller, Without Warning (about massive ISIS attacks inside the U.S. homeland); research calls and meetings for the next novel (which I hope to begin writing in January); and much-anticipated time with family and friends.

But the number one question people I’m being asked is this: What do Israelis think about the election of Donald Trump and the transition to a Trump-Pence administration?

Here’s the short version:

  • Israelis were as stunned as the rest of the world by the elections — especially since the media said Hillary Clinton was a “sure thing.”
  • That said, the Netanyahu government appears enormously encouraged by the election results and believe they will have true and dependable friends and allies at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue beginning on January 20th.
  • The Israeli public at large is steadily warming towards Trump — I would describe the mood as cautiously optimistic. (see new poll results below)
  • By contrast, the Palestinian leadership seems cautiously pessimistic — deeply concerned Trump will be too “pro-Israel.”

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to attend The Jerusalem Post’s annual Diplomatic Conference. Attending were about 400 foreign ambassadors, defense attaches, other diplomats and journalists. Speaking to the group was a range of senior Israeli government officials — both members of the Cabinet and opposition leaders — and it was an interesting early look at Israeli thinking at the highest level.

The keynote was delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. In his address, he notably did not specifically discuss the Trump victory or his relationship with the President-elect, per se. But Netanyahu did describe himself as “supremely optimistic” with Israel’s present economic and diplomatic environment and her long-term future.

“Supremely optimistic” is not exactly the way most Israelis or Mideast analysts would typically describe the premier.

“Good morning,” Netanyahu began his remarks. “I’m going to dispel a longstanding myth about me and I think you should brace yourselves. If you read some of the, well the other papers in this country you might come out with the impression that I’m a gloomy guy, that I’m pessimistic, that I’m a fear monger. So I’m glad you’re sitting down because what I’m about to tell you will startle you: I am supremely optimistic. In fact, I’ve never been more hopeful. I’m hopeful about Israel, I’m hopeful about our region, I’m hopeful about peace. I’m even hopeful about the UN, can you imagine that?”

Subtext: Israel has new friends in Washington that see Israel as a hopeful, positive, trustworthy force in a turbulent, dangerous region — Trump and Pence are men I can do business with.

It’s a mood echoed by a new poll of the Israeli public, released this week.

  • 83% of Israelis see Mr. Trump as “pro-Israel,” notes a report in the Times of Israel.
  • Only 3% of Israelis, however, believe Trump will actually keep his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Keep in mind:

  • Trump and Netanyahu have a friendship that goes back many years.
  • Many Americans don’t realize it, but Israelis know that Trump actually endorsed Netanyahu in a recent campaign here and even cut a TV ad supporting Bibi.
  • Trump had a private meeting with Netanyahu (and separately with Egyptian President el-Sisi) in New York in September.
  • Trump spoke to Netanyahu almost immediately after the election and invited the Israeli leader to come to the U.S. to visit. (Netanyahu asked if he could wait until Trump took office so as not to further strain his relationship with Obama).
  • Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer has already met with Trump and Pence at Trump Tower.
  • Pence is deeply trusted by the Netanyahu team as strongly pro-Israel and is a key intermediary for the transition team.

As Trump puts together his national security team, Israelis will be looking very closely for more definitive clues as to the Trump-Pence approach to the region. More on that soon.

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Why did the Russian Prime Minister just visit Jerusalem and Jericho? Moscow is moving aggressively to fill the vacuum Obama created in the Middle East.

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medvedev-abbas-shakinghands(Jericho, West Bank) — Make no mistake: the Kremlin is not waiting for the Trump-Pence administration to staff up and figure out its policies in the epicenter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev are moving aggressively to meet with Middle Eastern leaders, court them, woo them, sell them weapons, sell them nuclear technology, and whisper in their ears that Moscow — not Washington — is the friend and ally they can trust over the long haul.

Last week, just days after the stunning American elections, I arrived in Jericho to host a conference of Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders and their wives. As it happened, when my wife and I arrived at the hotel where the conference was to be held, we found it surrounded by heavily armed soldiers. There were new checkpoints on all the nearby roads. There were snipers on the roof. There were armed bodyguards everywhere, and the lobby was filled with dozens of advisors and protocol officers, standing around smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.

Why? Because Medvedev was on his way to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (aka, Abu Mazen).

Over the course of several days, the two leaders discussed the future of Moscow’s relationship with the Palestinians, and specifically the Kremlin’s offer to host peace talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Abbas also used the occasion to name a street in Jericho after Medvedev to thank him for all the money the Kremlin has poured into the Palestinian Authority in recent years.

Medvedev’s first stop on this Mideast tour was in Israel where he met privately with Mr. Netanyahu. Officially, they marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between Israel and the Russian Federation. But they also discussed Netanyahu’s concerns about Russian military involvement in Syria, and the growing Iranian threat to the region, even as Moscow keeps selling Tehran nuclear technology and advanced military equipment.

The Russian premier also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (who himself recently visited Moscow). Medvedev also toured Yad Vashem, and visited the Western Wall.

This was Medvedev’s first state visit to Israel and the P.A. He was last here as a private citizen in 1990.

So why did Medvedev decide to come to the epicenter now — for the first time in two and a half decades — and just hours after the American presidential elections?

The answer is obvious: the Russians want to be the dominant global power in the Middle East. Putin and Medvedev see an enormous vacuum in the Middle East created by President Obama’s steady and foolish retreat, and they are making all kinds of moves to fill that vacuum with Russian money, arms and technology before the next President decides exactly what U.S. foreign policy in the region will be.

Consider just a few examples of Russian efforts in the region:

President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence have their work cut out for them.

  • Russia is going to be the big global story in the coming years — Putin is a Czar in the making, he’s an imperialist, he’s dangerous.
  • It’s not yet clear Trump sees the Russian threat clearly — so it’s going to be interesting to see who Trump brings onto his national security team.
  • Pence sees the Russian challenge clearly. I’ve discussed it with him, and I’m confident he will offer the new President wise counsel.
  • I’m also encouraged that Trump has asked Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo also gets it. He’s a West Point graduate, served honorably in the U.S. armed forces, sits on the House Intelligence Committee, and will bring a wealth of experience to the CIA. I had the opportunity to meet privately with Pompeo in his Capitol Hill office for an hour or so earlier this summer and was very impressed. He’s a smart pick, and an encouraging one.
  • Regarding General Mike Flynn, the incoming National Security Advisor, I don’t know him personally, but am studying him carefully.
  • We’ll see who Trump picks to run State and Defense — I’m praying they are leaders who truly see the Russian threat and are prepared to give the new President wise and thoughtful counsel.

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She. Has. Been. Stopped.

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She. Has. Been. Stopped.

I thank God these prayers have been answered in an absolutely stunning, historic and largely unexpected night.

To her credit, Hillary Clinton has called Trump to concede the race — something I’m not sure I ever truly thought I’d see.

So now it’s official:

  • Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States
  • Gov. Mike Pence will be the next Vice President of the United States
  • The House will remain in conservative Republican control.
  • The Senate — another stunner — will remain under Republican control.

Coming from behind, making many mistakes, yet finishing strong, Mr. Trump did the impossible in this campaign, becoming the first non-politician, non-war hero ever to win the presidency in the entire history of the Republic.

He just finished his acceptance speech — I thought it was gracious, positive, and remarkably humble.

Trump said it is “time to bind the wounds” of the nation that promised, “I will be President for all Americans.” He said “the forgotten people” of the country will be “forgotten no longer.” He said he would need the help of many to bring the country together, and he would seek the help even of those who did not support him. Good for him. It was the best speech I’ve ever heard Trump give — presidential — and it was just what we needed to hear from the victor.

The Clintons were defeated tonight. The Obamas were defeated tonight. The Left was crushed. They look and sound deeply shaken. They didn’t see this coming. They are now bracing for impact, as is the media and the markets.

Let us pray for our new President and Vice President, and their families and teams — for safety, for wisdom, for stamina. Let us pray for a peaceful transition of power come January. And let us continue to pray that the Lord would show mercy to an America in deep trouble and deeply divided.

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> Here’s an interview I did yesterday on CBN News on Evangelicals and the elections.

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[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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UPDATED: BRACE FOR IMPACT. Hillary on verge of defeat. Trump-Pence on verge of victory. Media and markets reeling in shock. (Some thoughts on Election Day as we await the results.)

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9th UPDATE:

  • It’s 9:30 in the morning in Israel. Lynn and I have been up since 5am watching the election results come in and what a stunning night.
  • It looks like the Trump-Pence team is poised to win (along with a GOP majority in the House and Senate).
  • The Hillary team is bracing for impact — not conceding yet, but visibly shaken by how voters have turned against her en masse.
  • True, the races in many states are still very close — the AP has called Pennsylvania for Trump which appears to give him the presidency, but Fox News isn’t ready to call it for Trump at this hour.
  • The Trump-Pence team is bracing for impact — cautiously preparing for the increasingly real possibility that they have done the impossible and will have the enormous responsibility of governing come January.
  • The media and markets are reeling — in total shock over what appears to be developing when they never saw it coming.
  • We’re still praying Hillary can and will be stopped from every taking office.
  • We’re still praying we can actually get pro-life Supreme Court Justices, and repealing Obamacare, and so many other positive policies.
  • We’re cautiously optimistic. But we’re still “bracing for impact” as our new day begins here. May the Lord have mercy on us all.
  • >> Here’s an additional interview I did yesterday on CBN News on Evangelicals and the elections.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8: Soon, we will know who the next President of the United States will be.

Yet as that moment approaches, I keep thinking of the takeaway line from the recent film, “Sully.” The last words the captain of that Airbus A320 told his passengers as the plane’s engines failed and they headed for a crash landing on the Hudson River were as chilling as they were sobering.

Brace for impact.

Like that plane, America is rapidly losing altitude. We need a captain who can steer us to safety. As you know, I have serious reservations about Mr. Trump. But I shudder to imagine Hillary Clinton at the controls.

Today, here in Israel, I did a live interview on Facebook with a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network discussing this very topic — brace for impactin more depth. It runs about 17 minutes. Please click here to watch.

In the meantime, let us keep praying without ceasing that the Lord may have mercy on America at such a dangerous and decisive moment.

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UPDATE ON MY LAST COLUMN:  On Thursday, I wrote a column on this blog explaining why I changed my position from #NeverTrump to voting for the Trump-Pence ticket. I expected a range of reactions — from anger to disappointment to agreement — and got these and many more.

What I didn’t expect was the magnitude of the interest.

On a typical day, my blog receives between 3,000 and 6,000 views. Before this particular column, the most views my blog had ever received in a single day was just over 83,000.

But over the last few days, this column on my reluctant conversion away from the #NeverTrump camp went viral. On Thursday, it was viewed by 104,449 people. On Friday, it was viewed by 433,629 people. As of this hour, the column has been viewed more than 1.25 million times.

One of the folks who read it was nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. He then quoted it in his latest column on why he, too, switched from being #NeverTrump to voting for the Trump-Pence ticket. It’s an excellent article and I hope you’ll take a moment read it and share it with others.

I don’t share this update with you to pat myself on the back in anyway. Quite the contrary, it was enormously difficult for me to change my position, and then go public with that change. But I think the enormous interest my article received was evidence, perhaps, that there were an enormous number of Americans similarly struggling with competing convictions and wrestling with how to reconcile them in such dark and difficult times.

To everyone who read the article, and commented, and shared it with others, let me just say thanks. I hope it was helpful and thought-provoking, regardless of how you ended up voting.

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[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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After much prayer and soul-searching, I have reluctantly decided to vote for the Trump-Pence ticket. Here’s why.

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This is not easy for me. I did not get to this point lightly. Rather, it has been a matter of intense examination of the candidates and party platforms, studying the Scriptures (particularly I Samuel 8-12; see below), and listening to many thoughtful voices in the debate.

Anyone who has been tracking my writing during the course of this campaign knows how deeply concerned I am about Mr. Trump — his lack of experience, flip-flopping on issues, and the unkind and at times even vulgar or vitriolic language he uses against his critics. I had hoped he would be defeated in the primaries. Or challenged by a plausible third party candidate. Or would drop out after the release of the deeply offensive video of him speaking with Billy Bush.

But this is where we are. Now, it is truly is a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There’s no way around it, and the moment of decision has arrived.

True, I had previously stated that I could “never” vote for Mr. Trump. So I readily concede this is a reversal. I have no doubt I will disappoint some for changing my position. But this is where I am, and I want to explain how I got here.

The heart of the matter is this: I have been going through what many Evangelicals are going through – an internal battle between competing convictions.

I could never support Hillary. Indeed, much of my professional life has been fighting the Clintons, dating back to when I worked for Bill Bennett and Jack Kemp at Empower America, and for Rush Limbaugh as director of research. So the question for me has been this: should I vote for Trump, a third party candidate, write-in a candidate, or not vote at all? For many of my friends, this hasn’t been a difficult choice. For me it’s been difficult to determine which of my deeply held convictions should be elevated as paramount, even when the others I hold so dearly are being violated.

To be sure, my vote is not more important than anyone else’s. I know many Americans are struggling the same way I am. Indeed, in writing this I’m not even trying to persuade you to agree with me. I have friends whose deepest convictions tell them they simply cannot vote for Mr. Trump, that they will trust the sovereignty of God and live with the consequences. I respect them. I don’t question their motives. I know exactly where they’re coming from.

But for those who are interested, here are ten reasons why I have decided to vote for the Trump-Pence ticket:

  1. The most important is this: Hillary Clinton must never be elected President under any circumstances. She must be stopped. As I have written, she would be an absolute catastrophe for America. Should she be elected and the Democratic Platform enacted, this dynamic would accelerate the country towards divine judgment and implosion.
  2. Hillary and her advisors may have committed federal crimes. The decision by the Director of the FBI to reopen the criminal investigation put into sharp relief for me  the gravity of the situation facing us.
  3. Electing Hillary could very well lead to a constitutional crisis that could paralyze the federal government and make us vulnerable. These were points made this week by Doug Schoen, a senior Democrat pollster and strategist who once worked for President Bill Clinton. Schoen announced that he – a long-time Hillary supporter – could no longer in good conscience vote for her. This helped persuade me that I could no longer in good conscience avoid casting a vote to stop her.
  4. Aside from criminality, Hillary is the most corrupt and flawed candidate ever to run on a major party ticket for President. Americans are exhausted by the culture of corruption and scandal that perennially surrounds the Clintons. Four more years would distract us from tackling the serious challenges facing the American people.
  5. Hillary Clinton is the poster child for “politics as usual” at a time when we need change.
  6. Yes, as I stated above, I have deep reservations about Mr. Trump. I have not sugar-coated these concerns. Rather, I have written and spoken about them throughout the campaign. In January I wrote 39 reasons why a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe (see here and here). I concede this could still turn out to be true. But it also should be noted that in the ten months since I wrote those columns, an excellent Republican Platform was drafted and approved. Also, Mr. Trump has made a series of very specific and attractive commitments. He has promised:
    1. To pursue pro-life policies at the federal level
    2. To appoint Supreme Court Justices in the model of Antonin Scalia (and has issued a specific – and impressive – list of names from which he promises to draw to make his appointments to the Court
    3. To defund Planned Parenthood
    4. To rebuild the American military
    5. To protect America’s borders
    6. To strengthen America’s alliances with Israel and our Sunni Arab partners
    7. To repeal and replace Obamacare
    8. To cut taxes, reform the tax code, revitalize American manufacturing, create jobs for Blue Collar Americans, and expand economic freedom and opportunity for all Americans
  7. Do I have concerns as to whether Mr. Trump will keep all of these promises? Yes. But I have come to believe it is worth electing him in the hopes that he will keep his word. I am certain Hillary will aggressively pursue an agenda that goes against everything I believe.
  8. I believe Governor Mike Pence would make a superb Vice President.
    1. Lynn and I know Mike and Karen and have the highest respect for them. In our personal time with them, we have been deeply encouraged by their humility and character.
    2. Mike and Karen are devout Evangelical Christians.
    3. Mike is a principled conservative and is deeply knowledgeable and experienced in economic, social and foreign policy matters.
    4. Karen is a great friend, soulmate and counselor to her husband.
    5. More recently, we spent time with them in Jerusalem when the Governor led a trade delegation to Israel. They love Israel deeply. They love the Jewish people. Mike gets the seriousness of the threats posed by Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and is serious about countering them. He has deep respect for our Sunni Arab allies and understands the importance of working together with all our allies in the Middle East to counter Iran and ISIS.
    6. Mr. Trump was wise to choose Gov. Pence to serve as Vice President and deserves credit for the choice. If this is a signal of the type of leaders he will appoint in office, this would be a good thing.
  9. Hopefully, Mr. Trump would also appoint solid, experienced conservatives to key positions throughout the Cabinet and Executive Branch. I know for certain Mrs. Clinton would appoint hardcore liberals if she is elected.
  10. Finally, I have been studying I Samuel chapters 8 through 12 as I’ve been wrestling with the question, “Can I vote for a candidate for whom I have serious reservations?” In this fascinating passage, the Hebrew judge and prophet Samuel is grieved by the direction ancient Israel is going. He is grieved by Israel’s rebellion against the Lord. They want an earthly king, someone tall and strong and decisive — rather than the Lord — to govern them, lead them, protect them and solve their problems. Samuel goes to the Lord with great anguish to protest, but the Lord tells him three times to “listen to the voice of the people.” The Lord even directs Samuel to publicly anoint and bless a seriously flawed and woefully inexperienced man named Saul to be the king. The Lord does this even though He knows that Saul will fail the people and need to be replaced. But the Lord gives Samuel one further directive: Make sure the people understand what they are doing, and how urgently they need to turn back to the Lord – not to a man – to see their nation blessed and saved. “Now then, listen to their voice,” said the Lord. “However, you shall [also] solemnly warn them.” Did God tell Samuel to support a flawed man for the highest position of leadership in the nation even though it went directly against Samuel’s conscience? Yes, He did. But Samuel was never to stop calling the nation back to the Lord until the day he died. Now I am not Samuel, and Mr. Trump is not Saul. The details are different. But the principle is intriguing, and it has been helpful to me.

Today, I live in Israel and am a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. But I was born and raised in the United States. I am an American citizen and profoundly grateful for this birthright. Heroic men and women have laid down their lives to give me the right to vote, and I am grateful. I can’t say I am happy with the choices I have, but I am finally at peace about what I should do.

To be clear, I am not endorsing Mr. Trump. I am simply saying I am going to vote for him (by absentee ballot) because Hillary must be stopped.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray faithfully and earnestly for the Trump, Pence, Clinton and Kaine families and for their teams. I will pray the Lord has mercy on them, and mercy on each and every American.

Finally, I will also keep meditating on a sobering passage of Scripture at this critical moment — 1 Samuel 12:22-25 – and encourage other believers to do the same:

“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself,” said Samuel to his nation. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”

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[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 necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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With the liberation of Mosul underway, Iraq wants to create a new province to protect Christians & other minorities. I wholeheartedly agree. Here’s the latest.

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Finally, the battle to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from the bloodthirsty clutches of the Islamic State is underway.

With Iraqi Christians, Yazidis and other minorities suffering nothing short of genocide, the Iraqi military is currently engaged in a serious, systematic, albeit long-overdue campaign to crush ISIS and restore safety and stability to northern Iraq once and for all. Baghdad is working with a coalition that includes Iraqi Kurdish paramilitary forces known as the Peshmerga, backed up by U.S. intelligence, air support, special forces and tactical advisors.

This is good news, and I’m encouraged by early reports of progress, as this is a strategy to defeat ISIS that I’ve been advocating for some time (see here, here, and here).

The big question, as I see it, is not whether this coalition will ultimately be successful in liberating northern Iraq from ISIS (I believe they will be), but what happens the day after ISIS is gone. How will order be restored? How will the Christian community begin to rebuild their lives? And how will Baghdad help, rather than harm?

To this end, I wholeheartedly support an initiative by senior Iraqi government leaders to create a new province in northern Iraq — including the Nineveh Plain — that would specifically serve as a safe haven for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis and other minorities.

There once were some 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, after so many years of war and terrorism and now a systematic effort by ISIS to annihilate the Christian community, there are today fewer than 350,000 professed followers of Jesus Christ in the country that was the birthplace of Abraham and Sarah and the home of many Biblical prophets, from Daniel and Ezekiel to Jonah and Nahum, to name just a few.

To their credit, a number of current Iraqi leaders are being clear that they don’t want their Christian community to have to flee to Europe or America to find protection from ISIS. They don’t want ISIS to be successful in their declared mission to “break the cross” and annihilate Christ-followers in Iraq. What’s more, some of them have come to recognize that the only way to build a stable, healthy, lasting republic is to help Christians there not only survive but thrive. Among other things, that means giving Iraqi Christians a real stake in governing themselves.

The creation of a new province in northern Iraq has been a topic of discussion for several years within the upper echelons in Baghdad. With the liberation of northern Iraq finally underway, the discussion is now picking up tempo, as is international support for the idea.

Last month when I was in the States, I had a very encouraging phone conversation with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry who has spent a great deal of time examining the issue. He recently introduced a bipartisan resolution towards this end and is urging both Congress and whomever is elected the next President of the United States to support a new Iraqi province to protect the Christians.

Fortenberry has impressive street cred on the issue. Earlier this year, the Nebraska Republican led the effort to persuade Members of Congress to officially define the ISIS slaughter of Christians as genocide. In March, the House passed Fortenberry’s resolution by a unanimous vote of 383-0. Two days later, the Obama administration finally agreed to formally define the actions of ISIS as genocide.

Working closely with Fortenberry and his colleagues on these matters is Robert Nicholson, an Evangelical Christian and public policy specialist based in Manhattan. Nicholson has written and spoken extensively on the subject of protecting and strengthening persecuted Christians in the Middle East. After talking with him at some length, and reading a good deal of his work, I believe Nicholson is making a principled and effective moral and strategic case for the U.S. fully backing the creation of such a new province. I especially commend his most recent article, “The Strategic Case For A Safe Haven In Northern Iraq,” to your attention.

“This province would not be an externally created construct,” Nicholson wrote with several colleagues earlier this year. “It would be a political recognition of the province’s underlying ethnic and cultural makeup, building on what has already been taking place. Indeed, on January 21, 2014, Iraq’s Council of Ministers ‘agreed, in principle, to turn the districts of Tuz Khurmato, Fallujah, and the Nineveh Plains into provinces,’ pursuant to Articles 61 and 80 of the Iraqi Constitution. What remains is for the United States, its allies in the coalition against ISIS, and regional partners to support the Iraqis as they begin a transition toward greater federalism and greater protection for the country’s most vulnerable communities.”

I  agree, and I’m committed to doing everything I can to encourage more support in the House for Rep. Fortenberry’s resolution, and to create a Senate version, too.

Four times in recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit, preach and teach in northern Iraq. I’ve traveled twice across the Nineveh Plain, and had the honor of meeting with persecuted Christians there. Indeed, it has become a great passion of mine to find ways to support and encourage and even fund the pastors and Christian leaders of Iraq. I don’t believe the creation of a new province and thus a safe haven will solve all their problems. But I do believe it’s vital that Western Christians stand with our brothers and sisters, especially as they face genocide. We should do everything we can to help them recover from the tyranny of ISIS, and to help the Iraqi Church be a witness and blessing to their Muslim and Yazidi neighbors who have suffered so greatly under ISIS, as well.

[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 necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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Stunning: A senior Democrat strategist says he is no longer supporting Hillary for president, warns of “constitutional crisis” if she is elected. Here’s the latest.

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With just one week to go to Election Day in the U.S., here are three new and significant developments worth noting.

First, it is becoming increasingly clear that the FBI’s decision to re-open the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton and her most senior advisors, including Huma Abedin, has grave implications for the country.

  • The Bureau has reportedly found some 650,000 emails on the computer of Abedin’s estranged husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
  • All of those emails have to be carefully reviewed to see what they contain, including classified information. Then the evidence must be assessed to determine if criminal charges should be brought against anyone.
  • It could take several weeks, or even months, to complete the investigation. Even the mainstream media is beginning to see the significance of this. “FBI officials are unlikely to finish their review of new emails potentially related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server before the November 8 election,” reports CNN.

Second, a senior Democrat strategist has just publicly announced that he cannot support Hillary for President and warns a “constitutional crisis” will ensue if she wins.

  • Doug Schoen is a highly respected pollster and political strategist for the Democrat Party. He has known the Clintons for more than two decades. He worked for President Bill Clinton. And until this week, he has supported Hillary for President.
  • But on Monday he warned of a “constitutional crisis” that will ensue if America elects a candidate who is actively under criminal investigation by the FBI.
  • “I am now convinced that we will be facing the very real possibility of a constitutional crisis with many dimensions and deleterious consequences should Secretary Clinton win the election,” Schoen wrote in a column for The Hill and for Foxnews.com. Donald Trump likes to say that the Clinton email scandal is worse than Watergate. I remember Watergate very well. What troubled me most, other than the crimes committed, was that the United States was paralyzed and unable to act. President Nixon and the government were rendered impotent, unable to govern and meet its responsibilities to the American public. I worry that the same thing could happen after a victory by Secretary Clinton and could carry on into her term of office.”
  • So with seven days to go, Schoen said he will not vote for Clinton — stunning — you couldn’t make this up if you tried.
  • To be clear, this is not a Republican operative, or a conservative strategist, or an Evangelical leader making the case of a grave threat to American democracy. This is a top Democrat who has been part of the Clinton-Obama team for decades, breaking with Hillary in the final week of the campaign. Unbelievable.
  • Here’s the transcript, and a link to the video.

Third, another long-time strategist and pollster for the Democrat Party says he now believes the news about the FBI’s criminal investigation will cause undecided voters to turn against Hillary in significant numbers and that “the dam is about to break.”

  • Patrick Caddell was President Jimmy Carter’s pollster.
  • He helped design the Carter re-election campaign in 1980. He helped Carter drive the narrative that Ronald Reagan was too conservative, too dangerous and unqualified to be president. He was certain Carter was going to win — his own polls had Carter up big — until the final weekend of that campaign.
  • At the last moment, “undecideds” broke decisively against Carter and for Reagan.
  • Caddell now says this campaign feels like 1980 — in large part because of the FBI investigation, he believes it’s possible that a significant percentage of the remaining 12-15% of undecided voters could break against Hillary in these final days.
  • We’ll see. There could be many more twists and turns in this final week — indeed, you’d almost have to expect them given the pattern of this race.
  • That said, it is noteworthy that long-time senior Democrats like Schoen and Caddell are warning that events could shift rapidly because of the deep distrust Americans have towards Mrs. Clinton and their exhaustion with the culture of corruption and seemingly never-ending seasons of scandal. Many Democrats — notably the Bernie Sanders supporters — are also exhausted by the Clintons and want change.

DOUG SCHOEN: As you know, I have been a supporter of Secretary Clinton… But given that this investigation is going to go on for many months after the election… But if the Secretary of State wins, we will have a president under criminal investigation, with Huma Abedin under criminal investigation, with the Secretary of State, the president-elect, should she win under investigation.

Harris, under these circumstances, I am actively reassessing my support. I’m not a Trump…. 

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS: Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. You are not going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

SCHOEN: Harris, I’m deeply concerned that we’ll have a constitutional crisis if she’s elected.

FAULKNER: Wow….

SCHOEN: I want to learn more this week. See what we see. But as of today, I am not a supporter of the Secretary of State for the nation’s highest office.

FAULKNER: How long have you known the Clintons.

SCHOEN: I’ve known the Clintons since ’94.

I share these with you not as a political analyst trying to handicap the “horse race,” per se. There are plenty of pundits out there offering their educated and not-so-educated guesses on who will win the American presidential race, how and why. I’ve certainly done my share of political analysis in my career, but that’s not my purpose here.

Rather, I’m writing as one seeking to “analyze this present time,” not simply through the lens of geopolitics and economics but through what I call “the third lens,” the lens of the Scriptures. In the Hebrew Scriptures — notably in Ezekiel chapter 33 — the Lord speaks of the importance of being a “watchman on the wall.” If you see threats coming against a nation, you must be faithful to warn people of those threats and give them the opportunity and the time to take action.

In my fiction and non-fiction books, and in my columns and speeches, I have consistently sought to warn people of threats I see coming against the United States, against Israel, against our Arab allies in the Mideast and around the world, and against the Church. As the author of Implosion: Can America Recover From Her Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, I’m deeply concerned about the direction America is headed, and never more so than right now. I believe America is not simply facing a season of decline but is in danger of outright collapse.

Thus, I have been praying earnestly that the Lord would give us a president who could help turn this ship of state around and get America heading in the right direction. We need much more than that, of course. We need a sweeping spiritual revival in the Church and another Great Awakening across the land. But a president who truly understood the enormous threats America faces from within and without, and who was serious about helping lead the nation back to the right track, could be of critical help.

Hillary Clinton is clearly not that candidate. As I have warned throughout this year, a Hillary presidency would be a catastrophe for America. The news of the last few days simply underscores this.

To be sure, I’ve written in detail about Donald Trump’s serious flaws and the risks a Trump presidency would pose. I haven’t sugar-coated the truth about either candidate. Rather, I’m trying to be honest in my analysis, even though many of my readers don’t want to hear it, so people understand the risks the nation faces from either candidate.

Today, I focused on Mrs. Clinton, because of these three significant new developments.

Last point: I will continue to pray faithfully for each of the candidates and their families and advisors. And I will continue to pray that the Lord will be merciful to America. The nation has many hard days ahead no matter who wins next week. Rather than be anxious or discouraged or angry, however, the Lord calls us to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

[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.]

BREAKING: FBI reopens criminal investigation of Hillary. This is a huge story — especially coming just days before the election. Here’s the latest.

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UPDATED: For yet another week, the news of the American election cycle continues to go from bad to worse to nightmarish to surreal. With the future of the world’s greatest democracy — and world’s only superpower — at stake, it’s important to take a few minutes to see what is happening and consider why it matters.
  • The ugliest presidential campaign in U.S. history — a dispiriting battle between two of the most disliked and distrusted candidates in U.S. history — has just taken another bizarre twist.
  • FBI Director James Comey announced on Friday that he is reopening the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the discovery of “new device” containing new, previously unexamined, email evidence.
  • [UPDATE: Watergate investigative reporter Carl Bernstein: FBI Would Not Reopen Case Unless New Evidence Was “A Real Bombshell”]
  • Make no mistake: this is a huge story — especially coming just 11 days before the election.
  • It radically changes the narrative for undecided voters in swing states from focusing on the deep and serious flaws of Mr. Trump to focusing on the persistent pattern of corruption, and now the possibility of criminal behavior, of Hillary Clinton.
  • While it’s unclear whether these new developments will ultimately lead to an indictment, it does mean the criminal investigation of Hillary will continue for weeks, if not months, certainly well past Election Day.
  • At the very least, it shows that Comey and the Bureau felt they absolutely had to make these serious developments public, even at what could turn out to be the most damaging moment possible for the Clinton campaign.
  • I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Hillary is without a doubt “the most corrupt and deeply flawed Democratic candidate that has emerged” in the history of our Republic.
  • I’ve offered dozens of reasons why “her election will be a disaster for the American family, American workers, Americans serving in the military, and for American national security.”
  • The news of the last 24 hours simply underscores these assessments.
  • Yet the news is jarring and dramatic because Comey announced last summer that he was not going to pursue a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton. That decision itself was downright bizarre given the fact that the Bureau’s own investigation found Hillary was “extremely careless” in handling classified information by having a private email server in her house and that Hillary and her staff destroyed more than 30,000 emails.
  • Comey told us at the time that “110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification.”
  • Given the seriousness of the evidence the FBI had uncovered, Comey’s decision not to prosecute any of this was seen by many Americans as evidence of a cover-up, and thus of corruption at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Numerous American citizens have been prosecuted for handling classified information in an improper manner — yet who has ever destroyed 30,000-plus pieces of evidence and avoided prosecution?
  • Have Comey and his team changed their mind? What evidence have they uncovered that caused them to make such a radical change of direction? How damning is it?
  • Oh how we could wish this was some all just some epic political thriller we were reading or watching on the silver screen. But this is cold, harsh reality, and immensely painful.
  • The world’s greatest democracy is stumbling badly.
  • The world’s only superpower looks increasingly weak, disoriented, unclear, unsure.
  • Tragically, America is not simply in a season of decline — as evidenced by the choices we have before us — but is heading for implosion.
  • American weakness is creating an opening for freedom’s enemies to advance.
  • What’s more, as painful as it is for me to say it, America is heading towards divine judgment — for many reasons, but perhaps above all for murdering 58 million babies since 1973.
  • While it grieves me to see where America is today, it does not surprise me.
  • Politics won’t save us now — only a Great Awakening provided by the Almighty God of the universe can save us now.
  • Will the Lord Jesus Christ grant us such a sweeping spiritual revival and renewal? I hope so, I pray so, but I don’t know.
  • So I keep forcing myself to look away from the news and from Twitter and social media and turn my eyes back to the Lord — to our great and glorious and soon-coming King. He is good, and He is sovereign, and no matter who is elected president my hope is not lost, because my hope is in the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He has graciously granted me citizenship in His glorious kingdom. He will come and make all things new, and all things right. He will bring justice and righteousness and life everlasting, and I cannot wait.
  • My task right now, therefore, is not to fear or worry about what the future holds but to remain faithful to all that the Lord instructs me through the Scriptures. For example, as darkness falls, I am to remain “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer,” as the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome.
  • I could never vote for Hillary under any circumstances, but I have promised to pray faithfully for her and her family. Indeed, regardless of how grieved I am by both nominees, I am 100% committed to genuinely and faithfully praying for both of them and their families. I will continue to pray that the Lord Jesus Christ shows them great mercy, that they will seek Him with all their heart, and that He will supernaturally change them and bear much good fruit in and through them.
  • As I noted in my October 9th column, the God of the Bible is a change agent. All through the Scriptures we see God saving, changing and redeeming broken, burdened, troubled lives, and it is breathtaking to behold. The Lord loves to change hearts and minds and mouths. He alone has the power to change lives, and I truly pray He will show His great mercy and love to the Clintons and the Trumps. Meanwhile, I am praying for those who can provide either family and either candidate sound, Biblical, spiritual counsel. Both families need true, faithful believers around them speaking the truth in love, as do we all.
  • Whoever wins the presidency and is given the task of leading America for the next four years, I will pray for faithfully and consistently. This is what the Apostle Paul commands of us, and thus, I hope you and your family and friends will also be faithful in praying for the next president and for all the Members of Congress and for the future of the Court.
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4)

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[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.]

Where from here? 22 years ago, Jordan signed an historic peace treaty with Israel. Will other Arab countries follow? A few thoughts.

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(Central Israel) — One of my regrets in life is that I never had the opportunity to meet Jordan’s King Hussein, truly one of the most courageous and compassionate Arab leaders of the 20th century.

Twenty-two years ago — on October 26, 1994 — Hussein made history by signing a peace treaty with the State of Israel. In so doing, Hussein became only the second Sunni Arab Muslim leader to do so.

The first, of course, was President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt, another of the great Arab leaders of our age.

Which Arab state will be next? What Arab leader will follow the lead of Sadat and Hussein in making peace with the Jewish State? And when?

Admittedly, I’m not holding my breath. Nor should you. But as I’ve been writing about on this blog for some time, there are, in fact, signs of encouraging behind-the-scenes cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab world, including a number of intriguing public meetings between prominent Israeli and Saudi notables. Why? In part because a growing number of Arab leaders in the region now recognize that the true existential threat to them is not the presence of a sovereign Jewish State but rather Iran’s menacing nuclear program and the genocidal, apocalyptic ambitions of the Islamic State.

King Hussein knew full well that he was taking an enormous risk when he signed the historic peace accord with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin during an elaborate ceremony that was overseen by President Bill Clinton, held on the Israeli-Jordanian border, attended by some 4,500 guests.

Hussein had grown up in the bubbling cauldron that is the modern Middle East. As a teenager, he was standing at the side of his grandfather, King Abdullah I, when Abdullah was brutally assassinated by a Palestinian radical just outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the summer of 1951. Over the next four decades, Hussein survived literally dozens of plots against his life, including the effort by Yasser Arafat and the PLO to overthrow him in 1970 (what became known as “Black September.”) Hussein also knew all too well how his friend, Sadat, was cruelly assassinated by Islamic jihadists in 1981, just two years after Egypt made peace with Israel.

Yet remarkably, twenty-two years ago, Hussein made the decision to proceed anyway, knowing all the history and all the threats and all the risks. He thus demonstrated his extraordinary wisdom and impressive drive to bring peace and prosperity and stability and opportunity to the people of Jordan.

Today, seventeen years after Hussein’s untimely death from cancer, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty still holds. Why? Much of the credit goes to the equally-extraordinary leadership of his son, King Abdullah II, who continues to follow in his father’s impressive footsteps, steadily seeking to improve the quality of life for all Jordanians, while navigating ever-turbulent regional storms.

Indeed, Abdullah II seems born for this challenging moment. He strikes me as uniquely qualified to protect his kingdom from all threats foreign and domestic, and build on his father’s legacy of moderation, tolerance and strength, as a I wrote earlier this spring when Lynn and I had the humbling honor of visiting with His Majesty in Amman.

Today, thank God, Israel and Jordan are working quietly but closely on security, intelligence, agricultural, economic and energy matters. They are also working closely with other Sunni Arab countries like Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf emirates on vital security issues, most notably the fight against ISIS and the effort to protect the region from emboldened Iranian aggression.

What’s more, just last month Israel and Jordan signed a 15-year, $10 billion agreement in which Israel will provide natural gas it is drilling in the Mediterranean to the kingdom at low prices. Some Jordanians are protesting the agreement, but it really is a win-win for both sides. Jordan is the first country to whom Israel has agreed to export its natural gas, and the deal will help the Hashemite Kingdom “$600 million a year from the state’s energy bill.”

Of course, the pressures on Egypt and Jordan to distance themselves from Israel, even to abandon their treaties, are enormous. Both Radical Islamists and Apocalyptic Islamists see Jordanian and Egyptian leaders as apostates, betrayers of the cause, and seek to bring them down as rapidly and violently as possible. Such are some of the themes in my most recent series of novels, The Third Target and The First Hostage. Such issues also play a significant element in my forthcoming thriller, Without Warning (though I’m not ready to go into any detail yet).

Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians have been enormously blessed by these peace treaties. Without continuous war amongst us, we have all seen our economies grow and our children pursue their education and their dreams in a far better way than they could have. True, a fair and compassionate agreement must still be forged between Israelis and Palestinians — and for this I pray every day. I hope you do, too.

But on this day when we remember the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty (and its predecessor between Israel and Egypt), let us be likewise committed to standing with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President el-Sisi. Let us be praying for them and their governments and their people. Let us be praying for peace, stability, and economic growth for Jordan and Egypt.

For if the jihadists succeed and Jordan and Egypt become destabilized, this would have catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. Such is the nightmare scenario I pray we only read about in novels, not see play out in real life.

[PHOTO: Front page of the New York Times reporting on the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in 1994; and a photo of Jordan’s King Hussein sharing a smoke with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.]

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HUGE LOSS FOR THE ISLAMIC STATE: Dabiq seized by coalition forces. What happened to all the Islamic prophecies of an apocalyptic, End of Days battle in which the West would be destroyed?

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The false prophecies of ISIS have fallen flat.

As the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the control of the Islamic State in Iraq was launched this week, coalition forces quietly liberated another key site from ISIS control in Syria — the Syrian town of Dabiq.

Few Westerners seemed to notice, but this was actually huge strategic and psychological loss for the Islamic State. Why? Because ISIS leaders have long proclaimed that Dabiq would be the site of an apocalyptic battle in the End of Days. Indeed, control of Dabiq is central to the eschatology of the Islamic State.

“The Islamic State’s magazine is called, Dabiq,” I noted on Fox News in January. “Most people have no idea what that means. [Dabiq] is a little town in the north of Syria. Why is that important? Because they believe, based on ancient Islamic prophecies, that the Western world — ‘the forces of Rome’ — will be drawn to that spot for the second-to-last battle of all history, and that the West will lose, and the Islamic State will win, and then they head to Jerusalem. The idea is that they believe that the End of Days has come, their messiah — known as the ‘Mahdi’ — will come reign over the entire world at any moment. The [leaders of ISIS] are driven by an Islamic eschatology that’s genocidal. And that’s why it’s so dangerous. And yet most leaders — including the President and our two front-runners on the Democrat and Republican side — they don’t understand it. They don’t talk about it. That’s a problem.”

[To read other articles I’ve written about the significance of Dabiq and why the next President and his or her advisors need to understand the eschatology behind it, please click here, here, and here.]

Yet as of this week, Dabiq has been seized from ISIS in what has to be one of the most anti-climatic battle of the ages. Now, ISIS leaders are furiously spinning that none of this really matters, that Dabiq was never really so important to them.

“It is without doubt that Dabiq was crucial to the Islamic State’s propaganda apparatus,” noted an analysis this week in the Washington Post. “Data from Google shows how its attacks in the West fueled the apocalyptic rhetoric, and the reverse. Search interest in the term ‘Dabiq’ first spiked in December 2014 when the magazine under the same title published strong criticism of al-Qaeda, referring to the apocalyptic battle that was assumed to be ahead. From that point onward, search interest always spiked when terrorist attacks in Western countries occurred: the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the Copenhagen attacks, and finally the devastating Paris attacks with more than 130 victims.'”

“It’s easy to conclude that ISIS’ leaders cited the prophesy cynically. They played it up when it was to their advantage and downplayed it when it was not,” wrote William McCants, author of “The ISIS Apocalypse” which was published last year. “But another theory I offered is that ISIS, like other apocalyptic groups, changes its understanding of prophecy’s fulfillment based on circumstances.”

“Other researchers have voiced similar doubts whether Dabiq’s loss implies the end of its prophecy being used in ISIS propaganda,” noted the Post. “Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at London’s Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, wrote that the apocalypse narrative had stalled, but was ‘not undermined.'”

Here’s coverage on how the (less-than-apocalyptic) battle for Dabiq played out:

COMING SOON: In the days ahead, I’ll post more coverage and analysis of the battle for Mosul.

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