On Inauguration Day, some thoughts on Obama’s disastrous legacy, the Trump-Pence approach towards Israel & the Arab world, and prayers for safety.

inaugurationdayToday is Inauguration Day in Washington. As the nations watch the world’s oldest democracy in action, let us pray for the safe and peaceful transition of power.

Let us pray the Lord shows great mercy to the American people by granting wisdom and discernment to the new President and Vice President and their families and team. America is in trouble. She is on the wrong track. She is at risk of implosion. A great turnaround is needed spiritually, politically, economically, and militarily. Americans, and the world, need this new administration to get the country back on track, to steer in the right direction, to stand tall with our allies and confront our enemies.

An encouraging note: I understand that Mike Pence will be taking the oath of office on President Ronald Reagan’s Bible, and that the Bible will be open to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Good for him. This is one of my favorite verses, and one we need to embrace.

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” said the Lord.

To be clear: this verse is not a promise to America. It’s actually a promise to Israel, and one I pray all Israelis will embrace. But 2 Chronicles 7:14 is based on a principle that is echoed in Jeremiah 18:8 for all nations. “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned,” said the Lord. God wants the people of every nation to turn to Him for forgiveness, wisdom and blessing, and if a nation says yes to Him, He promises to be gracious. Let’s say yes to that wonderful offer.

At the same time, let us pray for the Lord to show mercy on the outgoing President and his family. I believe Barack Obama has done great damage to our country and our world. This damage needs to be identified, corrected, and healed, and lessons learned. But I don’t wish the Obamas ill will. I want the Lord to be very gracious to this couple and their daughters and draw them close to Him in their post-White House life.

A few thoughts as we make this transition from one administration to the next:

  1. The world order is more unstable and dangerous than at any time since the peak of the Cold War.
  2. The United States has been badly weakened — the national debt is soaring, the military has been emasculated, the people are bitterly divided, our alliances are severely strained, our enemies find themselves emboldened.
  3. The Middle East is on fire — Iran is ascendant and increasingly aggressive, the Islamic State is engaged in genocide, Syria is imploding, Christians and other minorities are being slaughtered, and threats against Israel are steadily mounting.
  4. The strategic situation facing Israel is a conundrum, actually — on the one hand the Jewish State is stronger economically, technologically, and militarily than at any time since her prophetic rebirth as a sovereign state in 1948. On the other hand, global forces are working hard to isolate and delegitimize Israel.
  5. Far too many liberals in the academia and the media are engaged in a relentless assault against Israel’s morality and legitimacy, all of which is having a deleterious effect.
  6. At the same time, I regard this plummeting support for Israel among liberals and young people that I discussed in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post column as part of President Obama’s disastrous legacy on foreign policy.
  7. Yes, I readily agree that Mr. Obama did some good things vis-a-vis Israel, including supporting Iron Dome, the sale of F-35s to Israel and the recent Memorandum of Understanding on US-Israeli defense cooperation. For this we are and should be grateful.
  8. But let’s be honest: far too often, Mr. Obama castigated Israel as the major problem in the Middle East rather than support her as America’s most important and faithful ally. Mr. Obama was often belligerent with Israeli leaders while handling the leaders of Iran or North Korea, China or Russia with kid gloves. Mr. Obama and his senior advisors repeatedly expressed derision and disdain for Israel’s democratically elected leaders and policies while showing unconscionable deference to America’s enemies.
  9. “Do not be deceived,” say the Scriptures. “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) Over the past eight years, the Obama administration has sown doubt and disrespect towards Israel. Now we are reaping bitter fruit.
  10. That said, I am not discouraged. While I honestly have no idea how to change liberal views towards Israel (apart from prayer and leading them to Christ), I believe we can educate and influence Independents and Millennials about the strategic value of Israel as a faithful and trustworthy ally and friend. And we can — and must– work especially with Christian Millennials to help them learn what the Bible teaches about God’s love and plan for Israel and the Jewish people.
  11. At the same time, we need to make sure we show respect and friendship to the Palestinian people. After all, we want there to be real and lasting peace and security between Israel and the Palestinians. We want the Palestinian people to have wise and courageous leaders who will end the incitement of hatred and violence, root out corruption, establish security and the rule of law, create an environment of economic growth and job creation, and will sit down and really work together with Israel to build a better future. Let’s not be cynics. Blessed be the peacemakers. Let us pray and work to this end.
  12. At the same time, we also need to show respect and friendship to our other friends and allies in the Sunni Arab world. Wanting a healthier US-Israel alliance is not a zero sum game. Yes, we need to pray for and actively encourage the new administration and Congress to stand strongly with Israel on a bipartisan basis. But we also want our leaders to actively reaffirm our alliances with Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, the Gulf States and other key allies in the region.
  13. Indeed, we need to pray for and encourage the President and his administration  to choose to build on the encouraging if quiet strategic alliances that are being developed between Israel and many Sunni Arab states, in part because they have serious common enemies in Iran and the Islamic State.
  14. We also want the President and his administration to speak accurately and respectfully about Islam — to help the American people understand the threat posed both by Radical and Apocalyptic elements within the Muslim world, but also to help them understand that the vast majority of Muslims (90% or so) are not violent, not supportive of jihad or extremism, and are, can and should be friends and allies if we engage them respectfully.
  15. I’m encouraged that President Trump and Vice President Pence have repeatedly indicated their intention to reaffirm the importance of a strong, healthy US-Israel alliance, and that they see the Obama legacy on Israel and throughout the Mideast as unhealthy and in many ways harmful.
  16. I’m encouraged by most of the President’s picks for his national security team. Overall, it’s a very smart and experienced team. They have good relations both with Israel and Sunni Arab leaders. They see the significant threats posed by Iran and ISIS and seem committed to confronting both. Most of them rightly see Vladimir Putin as a serious threat to US national security and believe in a reinvigorated NATO alliance. They want to rebuild the American military and American alliances around the world. They can provide a much needed breath of fresh air and hope for a new beginning.
  17. Getting American economic, domestic and foreign policy back on the right track will not be quick or easy. There will be moments of frustration, discouragement and dismay. But let us be prayerful and patient and let us trust the grace and sovereignty of the Lord each and every day. After all, we are in His hands, and they are good, strong, faithful hands.

NOTE: here are links to the two new polls I referenced in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post column, “Liberals Are Turning Against The Jewish State.”

I would encourage you to carefully study the details of both surveys to get the full picture.


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Latest example of liberals turning against Israel? “Columbia prof. says Israel advocates will ‘infest’ Trump administration.” No wonder Millennials are trending in the wrong direction.

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UPDATED: Earlier today, the Jerusalem Post published a column I wrote on liberals increasingly turning against Israel.

Need a fresh example?  Check out this breaking headline: “Columbia prof. says Israel advocates will ‘infest’ Trump administration.

Let me be clear: many liberals love Israel and continue to defend the Jewish people and the Jewish State. But the trend lines are troubling.

Yes, overall, the majority of Americans still support Israel and see her as a faithful friend and ally of the U.S. and Western democracy. But the steady drumbeat of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and biased reporting by liberals throughout academia, the media and the political class are having a deleterious effect, poisoning the thinking of a growing number of Americans.

President Obama’s deeply flawed Mideast policies and highly contentious relationship with Israeli leaders over the past eight years have also had a decidedly negative effect, souring liberal — and especially those who see themselves as “very liberal” — on the morality, trustworthiness and utility of Israel as an ally.

The data show Millennials are souring on Israel. Professors like this one at Columbia are a significant part of the reason why. We need a new approach to reaching Millennials and helping them understand God’s Biblical love and plan for Israel and the Jewish people, while also helping them understand God’s love and plan for Israel’s neighbors.

“True, the Trump-Pence administration is expected to be pro-Israel,” I noted in the Post. “But growing numbers of liberals, Independents and young people are breaking against Israel. This is a serious strategic challenge and one Israeli leaders and American friends of the Jewish state urgently must analyze and address.”

A new strategic challenge is emerging: Liberals are turning against Israel. My column for the Jerusalem Post (Update: here are links to important new polling)

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LIBERALS ARE TURNING AGAINST THE JEWISH STATE

By Joel C. Rosenberg, The Jerusalem Post, January 19, 2017

The inauguration of Donald Trump will mark the first time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ever had a Republican to work with in the White House.

Bill Clinton was President in Bibi’s first term (1996 to 1999) and repeatedly pressured Israel to make dangerous concessions to Yasser Arafat. When Bibi resisted, Clinton deployed his top political advisors — James Carville, Bob Shrum and Stan Greenberg – to run Ehud Barak’s campaign to oust Netanyahu from office.

When Bibi returned to office in March 2009, Barack Obama had just been inaugurated. The Illinois Democrat proceeded to skip Israel on his first visit to the region. He suggested creating “daylight” between America and Israel would help make peace. He aggressively pressured Israel to divide Jerusalem and to retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 lines. And when Netanyahu balked, Obama made Hillary Clinton his “designated yeller.”

Obama deserves credit for supporting Iron Dome and a $38 billion. ten-year military aid deal with Israel. But this hardly absolves him from cutting a naïve nuclear deal with Iran, abandoning his own red line in Syria, withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq, and repeatedly underestimating the ISIS threat, all of which put Israeli security at risk.

In his final days in office, Obama doubled down on this disastrous legacy, refusing to veto back Israel at the U.N. and supporting a pointless “peace conference” in Paris that excluded Israelis and Palestinians.

For Netanyahu, Friday can’t come soon enough.

Dismissing recent moves by Obama and the French as the “final palpitations of yesterday’s world,” Netanyahu told reporters, “Tomorrow will look a lot different, and tomorrow is very close.”

The Israeli public overwhelmingly agrees. Fully 83% of Israelis say they expect Trump to be “pro-Israel,” according to a December poll.

This may prove true, but….

[To read the full column on the Jerusalem Post website, please click here]

Here are links to two important surveys that I site in my JPost column. I would encourage you to carefully study the details of both surveys to get the full picture:

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as a dual US-Israeli 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.]

What do Evangelicals believe about Israel, the land of the Bible and the future of the Jewish State? My interview in Jerusalem with Pastor Greg Laurie.

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(Central Israel) — Wherever I travel and speak around the world, I’m asked about what Evangelical Christians believe about Israel and the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish State? I’m also asked about why Evangelicals love Israel so much, why we believe it’s so important, and what we believe about Bible prophecy.

These are questions I love to answer, and I especially loved sitting down recently in the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with my dear friend, Greg Laurie, to discuss these topics for a TV program he was recording. Greg is a well-known pastor, Bible teacher and evangelist based in Orange County, California. He’s been to Israel numerous times, brings tour groups here often, and has been a speaker at one of our Epicenter Conferences.

Here’s a link to the 30 minute program that has been uploaded to YouTube. The videography is gorgeous, the story is fun to watch (especially when Greg and his wife go off-roading in the Judean wilderness with our Israeli tour guide friend, Iddo), and the conversations are relevant and, I believe, quite important.

I hope you’ll take some time to watch it and share it with others.

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

 

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Let’s be clear about two important facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For starters, Mr. Trump could:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among them:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GOSPEL:

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

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There is good news to report as 2017 begins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s possible.

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

If that’s the case, I totally disagree.

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

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

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

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

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

FOLLOW UP FACTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

today-kathielee-withoutwarning

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

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

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