Columnist includes “The Kremlin Conspiracy” on his list of Christmas gift recommendations — calls it a “tale of post-Soviet intrigue.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch the video segment by clicking here.

The following is the transcript of the interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosenberg: It is.

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

Rosenberg: I appreciate it, Shannon.

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Let’s be clear: Vladimir Putin will be happy to welcome Saudi Arabia into Moscow’s orbit if the U.S. cuts Riyadh loose. (Here are four must-read articles on the importance of maintaining our alliance with the Saudis, including the statement by President Trump.)

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BREAKING — UPDATED INFORMATION SINCE I FIRST POSTED THIS BLOG:

(Denver, Colorado) — Whither the U.S.-Saudi alliance?

A ferocious debate over this question is raging in Washington at this very moment, and the stakes are high. 

On on side of the debate are many in the media, along with numerous former advisors to President Barack Obama. They have never liked how close Washington has been with Riyadh and they are freshly determined to smash the Saudis in the mouth because of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist.

Most of these voices had no problem with President Obama cutting a nuclear deal with Iran — one of America’s most dangerous enemies and certainly the worst terrorist state on the planet. Despite Iran’s history of murdering thousands of their own people and others throughout the Middle East (now especially in Syria and Yemen), these voices saw no problem with providing the ayatollahs with $150 billion in cash, removing economic sanctions from Iran, or legitimizing Tehran’s previously illegal enrichment of uranium. They never once during the process seriously tried to require Iran to stop funding terrorism, building longer range missiles, or sowing seeds of revolution and destruction throughout the Middle East. But the Saudis, oh the Saudis, these folks claim, these are the blood-thirsty despots who really need to be punished.

What’s more, a growing number of Republicans on Capitol Hill are also ready to impose severe punishments on the entire Saudi government over the Khashoggi affair. Some are calling into question the nature of the alliance itself.

On the other side of the debate are those who fully agree that the Khashoggi murder was despicable and must be punished, but are calling for cooler heads to prevail when it comes to upending American policy in the Gulf region. They make the case that we need the Saudis to help us counter Iran and Russia in the Middle East, to help us fight the Radicals like al Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, to keep oil flowing, and hopefully to advance Arab-Israeli peace.

They make the case that the 33 year-old Saudi Crown Prince is making bold, serious, and important reforms at home, and wants to work more closely with the U.S. and the West. Yes, he has made mistakes, even serious ones. But he should be helped, coached, encouraged, not cut loose.

What’s more, these voices caution that punishing the entire Saudi government — rather than targeting the operatives responsible for the crime — would be a serious mistake, one that could rupture the alliance. Some worry that if Washington hits the Saudis too hard, this could drive Riyadh into the waiting (eager) arms of Vladimir Putin and the Russians, and/or into the arms of the Chinese.

Putin is headed to the G20 summit in Argentina and plans to meet with the Saudi delegation. He would absolutely love to flip Riyadh from the American camp into the Russian orbit. I don’t believe Saudi King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) are inclined at the moment to switch sides to the Kremlin. But I fully expect Putin to make a very tempting offer. And who knows where the king and his son might wind up if most of Washington loses focus on U.S. national security interests in the region, in addition to our enormously important human rights concerns.

At the moment, the anti-MBS/anti-Saudi faction is the loudest. Their articles, interviews and speeches are everywhere.

It’s tougher for the average reader or viewer to find articles and statements by those who want to punish those responsible for the murder of Khashoggi but who also want to maintain or even strengthen the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

Here are a few worth reading, including the statement by President Trump just before Thanksgiving.

I found particularly insightful the columns by Elliott Abrams and William McGurn. Both urge President Trump to send a retired senior American statesman who is liked and trusted by the Saudis — perhaps former Secretary of State James Baker, or former V.P. Dick Cheney — to meet with MBS in Riyadh. They recommend such a statesman quietly recommend big, specific, immediate reforms MBS should make that would signal to the world just how serious he is about taking the kingdom in a different, better, more positive direction.

Interestingly, both cite the example of former President Nixon discreetly and very effectively communicating with the Chinese leadership in Beijing after the Tiananmen Square, warning them — as a long-time trusted friend — that the massacre was a huge deal and they simply could not proceed with their “business as usual” approach. First, Nixon personally traveled to Beijing to have off-the-record talks with the most senior leaders. Second, Nixon sent a follow up letter that was respectful, frank and specific — a letter that was kept secret for decades. Abrams and McGurn argue Nixon’s approach worked, helping both President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton reengage with China on more positive terms for both countries, while not ignoring the atrocities that had been committed.

I commend both articles to your attention.

  1. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “The U.S.-Saudi partnership is vital — We don’t condone Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. But the kingdom is a powerful force for Mideast stability. (op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal)
  2. Elliott Abrams: “More Realpolitik, Please — Trump is right: We should not break with Saudi Arabia. But we should demand a higher price for our support.” (column published by National Review Online)
  3. William McGurn: “Nixon, Now More Than Ever — Trump could use an elder statesman to tell the Saudis what they need to hear.” (op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal)
  4. Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia. (The White House)

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How will American Evangelicals react to the Trump peace plan? Here are the comments I made to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has just published a feature-length article exploring how American Evangelicals will react once President Trump’s Middle East peace plan is released.

I was interviewed by reporter Amir Tibon for the story, as was Dr. Darrell Bock, one of my fellow co-founders of the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem

To read the article in full on-line, please click here. I found it quite fair, balanced, even nuanced.

The following are selected excerpts:

  • [A]s the Trump administration finalizes its long-expected Middle East peace plan, the bond between Trump and the evangelical community could face a serious test.
  • Trump’s Mideast team has been working on the peace plan for more than 18 months. Last week, a White House official told Haaretz that the administration is aiming to release it within the next two months. On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported about a “crucial” meeting in the White House that will determine when and how exactly the plan will be presented….
  • The Palestinian leadership has frequently accused Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner, and special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, of being biased toward Israel. However, the administration has insisted for months that its plan will be fair toward the Palestinians, and that both sides will be required to make tough decisions once the plan becomes public.
  • If the plan does indeed include certain Israeli concessions, it could also create a dilemma for many in the U.S. evangelical community.
  • “It’s too early to say how evangelicals will respond to the plan, because we have no idea what will be the contents,” says Prof. Darrell Bock, a New Testament scholar who has also conducted research on evangelical public opinion in recent years. “However, it could definitely be uncomfortable to some evangelicals if there are territorial concessions included in it.”…..
  • “There is enormous trust among most evangelical Christians in President Trump’s love and support for Israel,” says Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical author-activist who lives in Jerusalem. Rosenberg has participated in a number of headline-making meetings over the past year between evangelical leaders and Arab heads of state, including Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and, more recently, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • Rosenberg told Haaretz this week that if the Trump peace plan can bring Israel closer to the broader Arab world, that would make many evangelicals more eager to support it.
  • “If this leads Arab countries to get closer to Israel, most American evangelicals will give Trump enormous credit for that,” Rosenberg explains. “It would be huge inside our community. Evangelicals overwhelmingly support peace. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
  • However, he concedes there are “different shades” within the evangelical world, and that “there are some evangelicals who think that if you support Israel, you should be against the Arabs and the Palestinians. But that’s not representative of all evangelicals. Most of us do care for the Palestinians and truly want to see peace and prosperity in the region,” he says.
  • Both Bock and Stearns seemingly agree with Rosenberg’s analysis about the importance of broader Arab support for the peace plan.
  • “Many evangelicals would support a plan if they saw that it enhances the stability of Israel and its acceptance by other countries in the region,” Bock says. Stearns adds that “those of us who visit Israel more frequently, and are aware of the complexity of the region and the nuances of the conflict, are very encouraged to see Israel get closer to some of its neighbors in recent years. So if there is an opportunity to make genuine peace between Israel and some of these countries in the region, we’d be in favor of that.”….

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Gaza Aftershocks: Hamas fires 460 rockets. Netanyahu chooses cease-fire rather than invasion. Israeli Defense Minister resigns. Now, early elections look imminent. Here’s the latest.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — It’s been a dramatic week here in the Holy Land. But buckle up. Far more drama lies ahead. Here are the highlights, followed by some analysis.

MONDAY:

TUESDAY

  • The terrorist group, the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, fires 460 rockets at Jewish civilians in southern Israel in less than 24 hours.
  • Never have so many rockets been fired at Israel in a single day — at times, they are being fired one per minute.
  • Thankfully, the Iron Dome system shoots down many of the incoming rockets. Others fall harmlessly in empty fields, but some do real damage.
  • By God’s grace, no Israelis are killed.
  • However, 108 Israelis are hospitalized due to injuries, anxiety and shock.
  • The IDF retaliates with air strikes, hitting 160 Hamas targets.
  • Then, to everyone’s surprise, both sides accept a cease-fire that was negotiated behind the scenes by the Egyptians and the United Nations.
  • The rockets stop falling. The IDF stops retaliating.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Israeli parents, children and elderly re-emerge from bomb shelters, and “normal” life slowly begins again.

WEDNESDAY

  • Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigns from the government to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to accept the cease-fire.
  • “What happened yesterday, the ceasefire, together with the deal with Hamas, is a capitulation to terror. There is no other way of explaining it,” Liberman says. “What we are doing right now is buying quiet for a heavy price with no long-term plan to reduce violence toward us….Our response was drastically lacking to the 500 rockets fired at us.”
  • Netanyahu in not apologetic for accepting the cease-fire, saying Hamas “begged for a cease-fire, and they know very well why.” 
  • “Leadership is not doing the easy thing,” Netanyahu says. “Leadership is doing the right thing, even if it’s difficult.”
  • Right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett demands to be named Defense Minister, saying if he does not receive this position he and his political party will also resign the government.
  • At present, elections aren’t scheduled until November 2019. But speculation is now rampant throughout the Israeli media that early elections are all but inevitable.
  • With the departure of Liberman and his party, Netanyahu has a coalition of only 61 of the 120 seats in the Knesset (parliament). If Bennett leaves, and Netanyahu cannot find a party in the opposition to join his coalition, the government will fall and snap elections will be triggered. 

ANALYSIS

  • Many Israelis — especially those who live in the south near the Gaza border — are angry at Netanyahu and the government for agreeing to a cease-fire too quickly. They want the IDF to bombard Hamas far more heavily. Some are calling for the IDF to invade the Gaza Strip and crush Hamas once and for all.
  • My heart goes out to all those in the south who are exhausted by the Hamas attacks and want this conflict to be over and done with. I’m praying that a true and lasting calm and stability can be established for them, as well as for the Palestinians in Gaza who are suffering terribly under the wicked tyranny of Hamas.
  • That said, let’s keep a few things in mind:
  • First: Despite 460 rockets, not a single Israeli died in the attacks. (Sadly — and ironically — a Palestinian from the West Bank who was working in Ashkelon was killed by one of the rockets.)
  • Second: Hamas knows they cannot defeat the IDF via conventional warfare. Instead, they are trying to use rocket fire to lure the IDF into a bloody ground war in the Gaza Strip. During such a war, many Palestinians would die. This would make headlines around the world. Israel would be roundly condemned and Hamas hopes to win the war for public opinion.
  • Third: An invasion of Gaza would lead to the death of many Israeli soldiers. To what end? Having evacuated from Gaza in 2005, Israel does not want to re-occupy the Strip. Should Israel lose Jewish lives, and suffer international condemnation, in order to help the Palestinian Authority re-take control of the Strip? Is that in Israel’s interest? 
  • Fourth: True, there are no easy, simple answers here. But getting lured into a ground war in Gaza under the current circumstances is unwise. Could circumstances change, necessitating a ground war? Yes. But we’re not there now. Yes, Hamas is a problem. But they are not an existential threat. Iran, however, does pose such a threat. Israel would be wise to keep our eye on the Iran threat and build a regional security alliance with our Arab neighbors capable of protecting us and them. This — not another Gaza war — could bring real peace and security.

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Israel’s Channel 10 News broadcasts story on Evangelical Israeli citizen meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. Here’s the video (with English subtitles).

Channel10-Joel-screenshot(Jerusalem, Israel) — In a story headlined, “Israeli In Saudi,” Israel’s Channel 10 News broadcast a report Wednesday evening about our Evangelical Delegation’s meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince, putting a special focus on my dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

The report was by Barak Ravid, one of the nation’s leading diplomatic correspondent’s. It ran during the 8pm broadcast. 

Ravid published a separate report via Axios, the U.S.-based news wire system (see below).

You can watch the TV segment with English subtitles by clicking here.

Channel10-Israeli-in-Saudi

Inside the Saudi crown prince’s meeting with U.S. evangelicals

By Barak Ravid, Axios, November 7, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) told a group of American evangelical leaders last Thursday that he is going to punish those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but stressed that the crisis must not shift the focus away from the Iranian threat in the region and the world, Joel Rosenberg, who organized the delegation and attended the meeting, told me.

Inside the room: Rosenberg said MBS attacked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Iranians and even the Russians. “He said his enemies are using everything they can to exploit this situation and make it worse,” Rosenberg said. “He said, ‘Listen, I am arresting people, firing people. Iran? When they kill people are they arresting people? No. You get promoted. What about the Russians? What about the Turks?'”

Rosenberg — a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who heads an evangelical foundation, lives in Israel and once worked with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — organized the visit to Saudi Arabia. He told me that the Khashoggi murder was the first issue raised in the meeting, and “the crown prince was not defensive about it.”

  • “He said, ‘Listen, this is a heinous act,’ Rosenberg told me. “He said, ‘It’s a terrible mistake and we have already arrested 18 people. I fired 5, we are going to get to the bottom of this and people will have to pay. It’s a completely unacceptable mistake and it comes at a time that threatens all the reforms we are trying to get done. It’s a disaster.'”

The Saudi crown prince used the meeting with the delegation, which included some of President Trump’s staunchest evangelical supporters, to convey a message to the White House and to Senate Republicans who are pushing for sanctions against Saudi Arabia.

  • “He had two messages on this,” Rosenberg said. “‘It was horrible and unacceptable’ and ‘I can’t let this stop me from all the reforms we have to get done to make life better for the Saudi people and to protect ourselves from the enemies — Iran, the Muslim brotherhood, al-Qaeda, ISIS.'”

The Saudi crown prince spoke for half an hour about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and about the warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Rosenberg said.

  • “We did bring up — maybe the most sensitive issue was … the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On that he talked to us at length but asked us not to be public on that part of the conversation.”

Background: The evangelical delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia and meeting with MBS were scheduled long before the Khashoggi crisis exploded. The members of the delegation consulted White House officials while deciding whether to go ahead with it. They ultimately decided to go, citing the unprecedented nature of the meeting, and MBS sat with the group for 2 hours in his palace in Riyadh.

Jerusalem Post lead story — “Saudi Crown Prince to Evangelicals: Khashoggi murder was terrible ‘heinous act.'” Israeli newspaper publishes first in-depth article on what MBS told us behind closed doors in the Palace in Riyadh.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — On Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post published the first in-depth story on our Evangelical Delegation to Saudi Arabia, why we went, and what the Crown Prince told us behind closed doors. 

As I told editors Yaakov Katz and Seth Frantzman in the Post’s offices yesterday, the entire meeting in the Royal Palace was on the record, except for what MBS told us regarding his views of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Our team took detailed notes and I provided some of the excerpts of our conversation to the Post. Here’s the article.

MBS TO EVANGELICALS: KHASHOGGI MURDER WAS TERRIBLE “HEINOUS ACT”:  But he won’t let it stop his ability to take his country where he wants to go, the delegation head says.

By Seth Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said he will not let the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi hinder the vision he has for his country, a visiting Evangelical delegation relayed.

“The crown prince called it a heinous act,” Joel Rosenberg, who led the delegation of Evangelical Christians from the US on November 1, told The Jerusalem Post, adding how the Saudi leader is reshaping the Middle East. “He said it was a terrible mistake.”

According to Rosenberg, the Saudi leader was convincing in seeking to put the perpetrators in prison.

“He also wants to keep moving. He doesn’t want it [the killing] to implode his ability to take his country where it wants to go.”

MBS was willing to discuss the killing and understood concerns over it, but wanted to stress that the tragedy would not cause him to stop his reforms. “My enemies are exploiting this to the fullest,” he said.

The crown prince also said the head of Egyptian intelligence recently came to Riyadh, and a terrorist cell with Saudi citizens had been caught in northern Sinai. “They were planning to assassinate me,” MBS told the delegation.

“We must fight the extremists and defeat them or they will stop us and the reforms we are making to make life better for the people of Saudi Arabia,” he said during the historic meeting at the Royal Palace in Riyadh. “We are fighting extremists in the ideological war and we are fighting terrorists in a physical war,” he said, sketching out a plan to bolster an alliance in the region with the US and other Saudi allies.

The visit came at a time of great change in the region. Rosenberg arrived in Riyadh a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Oman and days after Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was in the United Arab Emirates. It also came in wake of the Manama Dialogue summit where Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had praised the US for defeating ISIS and confronting Iran.

The crown prince sat for hours with the delegation of Christian leaders. For Rosenberg, a dual US-Israel citizen, it was the culmination of a series of similar discussions. He has met multiple times with….

[To read the rest of the article online, please click here.]

We must stand with and pray for the Christians of Egypt. They just experienced a vicious terror attack. I met with the Coptic Pope and the head of the Egyptian Protestants on Sunday in Cairo in solidarity. Here’s an update.

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(Cairo, Egypt, November 5, 2018) — Completing an 11-day swing to three Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — on Sunday evening I met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of all the Protestant churches in Egypt. We met in Cairo in the office of His Holiness the Pope.

I expressed to both leaders my deepest condolences for the horrific terrorist attack against Egyptian Christians on Friday in Minya. ISIS jihadists killed seven Christians and wounded 18 more, including children. They were returning from a child’s baptism celebration. Overall the security situation in Egypt has been improving. But this was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt this year.

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In addition, I briefed both leaders on the work of our Evangelical Delegation in the region, and particularly on our meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Pope Tawadros welcomed the Crown Prince to the church he shepherds earlier this year in an historic and unprecedented moment. I had mentioned to MBS when we met with him on Thursday that I would be seeing the Pope a few days later. It should be noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK also met with MBS earlier this year in London, which was also unprecedented and very encouraging. (see pictures below.)

Please keep the Christians of Egypt — and all Egyptians — in your prayers as they battle terrorists and extremists and work to transform their society towards a safer and more prosperous future. The Bible is clear: God loves Egypt. We should, too.

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Arab, Israeli & U.S. media report on our Evangelical Delegation’s historic visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — overall the coverage was quite fair & positive. Here’s a sampling.

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(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) — It’s been an extraordinary week traveling into the United Arab Emirates with Evangelical leaders for four days and into Saudi Arabia for three, meeting with the most senior government leaders in both countries. It was the first time either country had ever invited Evangelical leaders to come meet with them and we were humbled to come in the name of Jesus.

We came to listen, to learn, to build bridges of relationship between Muslims and Christians, to be advocates for our Christian brothers and sisters, to explain what it means to be an Evangelical, to answer questions, and to ask questions — direct and sometimes hard questions — on the most sensitive and controversial of issues.

We came not as representatives of the U.S. or Israel or any other country, but as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we were both surprised and encouraged by how warmly we were received. The Crown Princes of both countries each spent two full hours with us. Both let us engage them on everything we came to discuss, without restriction. We asked about the heinous and ghastly murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the lack of any Christian churches in Saudi Arabia, the historic (though steadily changing) Arab hostility to the State of Israel, and a wide range of other human rights and religious liberty issues. We also discussed at length the very real and existential threats posed by Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Radical Islamists to them, to the U.S. and Israel and to the Christian community. And they were candid and direct in their answers.

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We were not clear when we arrived in either countries whether they wanted our visit to be public. In the end, however, both countries issued statements to the press, released photos of our meetings with their leaders, and in so doing sent a strong signal throughout their own media and throughout the Arab and Muslim world that it’s not only acceptable but a good thing for Muslim leaders to meet with devout followers of Jesus Christ and have open and respectful dialogues, even on the most difficult of topics. I’m not sure I can explain just how encouraging this was. I believe speaks of a remarkable new day in the region. More on that in the days ahead.

For now, here’s a sampling of the coverage by Christian, Arab, Israeli, U.S. and other international media. I should note that our visits were viciously attacked by the Iranian press and other extremists who hate Christians and hate the fact that I’m also Jewish believer with Israeli citizenship. And yet our hosts, fully expecting the blowback, remarkably went public with our visits anyway. Did I mention it’s a new day in the region? 

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Coverage of Saudi Visit

 

Coverage of UAE Visit

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American Evangelical leaders met today with His Royal Highness Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Here’s the statement we released.

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Greetings from Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. God opened an unusual door this week — our Delegation of Evangelical Christian Leaders was invited to Saudi Arabia to meet with senior leaders.

Today, we had a two-hour meeting at the palace in Riyadh with H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Please pray for him, his family, his advisors, and for the leaders and people of this important country. Here is the statement our group just released.

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EVANGELICAL DELEGATION MEETS WITH HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, CROWN PRINCE OF THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA

Following Meetings in Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, American Christian Leaders Turn Their Attention to Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 1, 2018 – His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, welcomed to the Royal Palace the first-ever delegation of American Evangelical Christian leaders to engage in dialogue regarding his vision for the Kingdom and the region.

The group, led by New York Times best-selling Joel C. Rosenberg, arrived in Riyadh from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following similar historic meetings with government and religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, earlier in the week.

Following the meeting in Riyadh, the delegation issued a joint statement: 

“We were pleased by the invitation extended to us more than two months ago by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was an historic moment for the Saudi Crown Prince to openly welcome Evangelical Christian leaders to the Palace. We were encouraged by the candor of the two-hour conversation with him today. We discussed his ‘Vision 2030’ plan, the region, Islam and Christianity. Without question, this is a season of tremendous change in the Middle East, and therefore we have been grateful for the opportunity to meet in-person with key Arab leaders to understand their goals and to ask direct questions. We look forward to building upon these relationships and continuing the dialogue.”

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During the visit, the delegation also met with:

  • the Saudi Foreign Minister
  • Minister of Education
  • Minister of Islamic Affairs
  • Secretary General of “Etidal,” The Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology
  • Secretary-General of the Muslim World League.

Members of the delegation to Saudi Arabia hosted by Rosenberg included:

  • former U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
  • Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)
  • Michael Little, former president and COO of The Christian Broadcasting Network
  • Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team
  • Rev. Johnnie Moore, president of The Congress of Christian Leaders
  • Larry Ross, founder of A. Larry Ross Communications
  • Pastor Skip Heitzig, senior pastor of Calvary Albuquerque in New Mexico; and
  • Wayne Pederson, former chairman and CEO of the NRB