BREAKING: Brazen domestic terror attack on Members of Congress. James Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, shot & killed by Capitol Police after firing upwards of 100 rounds, wounding five people, including House Majority Whip. Here’s the latest.

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UPDATE on Thursday at 3pm eastern:

  • House Majority Whip Steve Scalise still in critical condition.
  • This morning, Scalise underwent third surgery in 24 hours.
  • President Trump and the First Lady visited Scalise last night.
  • Vice President Pence visited him this morning.
  • Security concerns among lawmakers on Capitol Hill growing.

(Washington, D.C.) — Washington has been shaken by a brazen, premeditated domestic terror attack on Members of Congress.

Security has been tightened at the White House and around the Capitol.

No evidence of foreign terrorism.

The man who opened fire on Members of Congress and Congressional staff at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia — wounding five people, including the House Majority Whip — has just died.

James Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, was shot by Capitol Police during his morning rampage in which he may fired as many as 100 rounds. He was rushed to the hospital under police supervision but succumbed to his wounds.

Multiple news reports say he was Bernie Sanders supporter who volunteered on the Sanders presidential campaign. He reportedly said he was going to “destroy Trump.” One report said he seemed intent on “killing as many Republicans as possible.”

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Here’s the latest on this developing story.

In the meantime, please continue praying for all those wounded and traumatized. Let us also be extremely grateful to the quick response and professionalism of the Capitol Police and other heroes on the scene who prevented this terrible event from become a deadly bloodbath.

Here’s the latest from the New York Times:

  • A lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team at a practice field in a Washington suburb Wednesday, using a rifle to shower the field with bullets that struck five people, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.
  • President Trump, in a statement from the White House, said the shooting suspect had died.
  • Law enforcement authorities identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis.
  • Two members of Mr. Scalise’s protective police detail were wounded as they exchanged gunfire with the gunman in what other lawmakers described as a chaotic, terror-filled ten minutes that turned the baseball practice into an early-morning nightmare.
  • The police said two of the five people were critically wounded.
  • Standing at second base, Mr. Scalise was struck in the hip, according to witnesses, and collapsed as the shots rang out, one after another, from behind a chain-link fence near the third-base dugout.
  • Witnesses said Mr. Scalise, of Louisiana, “army crawled” his way toward taller grass as the shooting continued.
  • The authorities said the Capitol Police and local officers arrived minutes after they received desperate calls for help from those under siege at the field.
  • The F.B.I. said the bureau would take the lead in the investigation, treating it as an assault on a federal officer….
  • Mr. Hodgkinson appeared to be have been fervent fan of Senator Bernie Sanders, according to a Facebook page with references to the Vermont senator. A LinkedIn page for James Hodgkinson had a profile photo showing Mr. Sanders’s famous hair and glasses and the words, “The Dawn of a New Democracy.”

  • In a statement Wednesday morning, Mr. Sanders said he had been told the alleged shooter had volunteered for his presidential campaign. Mr. Sanders offered his “hopes and prayers” for the shooting victims….

The Daily Mail is reporting:

  • The gunman who opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice session this morning before being killed by cops has been identified as a Trump-hating Bernie Sanders supporter.
  • Sixty-six-year-old James T. Hodgkinson from Belleville, Illinois, was killed by Capitol Police after firing up to 100 rounds from an assault rifle at a baseball park in Alexandria, Virginia, leaving five injured including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.
  • Hodgkinson was a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter and campaigned for the left-wing senator to get the Democratic nomination for president last year. The union tradesman, who ran a home inspection business, threatened to ‘destroy’ the president and his administration on social media.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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BREAKING: Gunman opens fire on Members of Congress, hits House Majority Whip. Five wounded, plus the assailant. Here’s the latest.

Shooting-Congressman-June2017(Washington, D.C.) — Here’s what we know so far:

  • Five people wounded, reports the NYT and CNN
  • House Majority Whip Scalise was hit — airlifted to G.W. Hospital in D.C. and now in stable condition.
  • Two Capitol Police officers reportedly shot.
  • The gunman was also shot in return fire and is in custody.
  • Reports of at least 60 shots fired.
  • Security being tightened around White House and the Capitol.
  • VP Pence cancelled a morning speech and was rushed back to the White House.
  • Investigation underway.
  • Please pray for Rep. Scalise and the others hit.
  • Let’s be grateful for the Capitol Police who saved many lives by their quick and professional response.

“House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was among at least two people shot Wednesday morning during a GOP baseball practice at an Alexandria, Virginia, ball field,” reports NBC News. “He was in stable condition, said two different senior-level GOP aides. One source said the Republican lawmaker was wounded in the hip area. ”

“Two sources said at least one Capitol Police officer was also shot,” noted the NBC report. “Police confirmed in tweets that it was investigating reports of a ‘multiple shooting’ and that the suspect was ‘in custody’ and ‘not a threat.’ The victims were being rushed to the hospital.”

Politico reports: “Katie Filous, a 29-year-old resident of Alexandria’s Old Town section, said she had just gotten out of her car to take her four dogs to the park when someone on the ballfield screamed, ‘Everybody get down! Someone has a rifle!’ She said a woman who looked like a security guard or a Secret Service member pulled out a handgun and shot at the man.”

Developing….I’ll post more as additional facts become known. For the latest, please follow me on Twitter.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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An invitation to attend the 2018 Epicenter Prayer Summit in Jerusalem. (Pastors, start planning your own tour to Israel to join us at the Summit.)

EpicenterPrayerSummitDear friends —

It is with great excitement about God’s love for the people of Israel that I cordially invite you to join us for the Epicenter Prayer Summit, which will be held in Jerusalem the evening of Wednesday, July 11th, and all day Thursday, July 12th, 2018.

The Summit will be the centerpiece of The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Tour” of Israel which will take place July 3 – July 15, 2018.

Please consider joining us on our tour.

If you’re a pastor or ministry leader, please consider custom-designing a tour that would be perfect for your congregation by contacting Inspiration Cruises & Tours.

We pray that many congregations will take this opportunity to visit Israel and join us in Jerusalem for the Epicenter Prayer Summit.

Keynote speakers for the Summit include Anne Graham Lotz, Dr. Ronnie Floyd and me. Also speaking will be local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith. We will be joined by leaders of various Jewish, Israeli Arab and Palestinian Arab ministries as they share with the Summit participants about what they see the Lord doing from their unique vantage points. They will also be sharing real-time prayer requests for their ministries, as well as praying for unity among the brethren in the Land.

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The focus of the Summit will be the urgency of praying for the peace of Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel to all people in the Epicenter and asking the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit to bring about a revival in His Church and a sweeping spiritual awakening in the Land and throughout the region. Please prayerfully consider joining us. I would love to see you there!

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Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,

Joel C. Rosenberg

Chairman and Founder of The Joshua Fund

> Pastors and ministry leaders:  to begin planning your own tour of Israel in July 2018 that allows you to bring your people to the Summit, please click here.

> Lay people: to learn more about The Joshua Fund’s next tour of Israel — and to register while there is still space — please click here.

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BREAKING NEWS: Terrorists massacre Christians in Egypt. 26 dead, 25 wounded. Please pray. Here’s the latest.

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(Washington, D.C.) — Terribly sad news out of Egypt this morning: terrorists “attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others,” reports the BBC.

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I’ll post updates on Twitter as more news becomes available. In the meantime, please pray for the victims and their families. Please pray for our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt to be strong and brave and bold witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ despite such these evil attacks by the Islamic State and other jihadi groups. Please pray, too, for President el-Sisi and the leaders of Egypt, including the police and security forces, that the Lord will grant favor to their efforts to establish lasting security and calm throughout the entire country for Christians and for all Egyptians.

As it happens, yesterday morning I met with Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda at the Embassy here in Washington. We discussed a wide range of issues, including President el-Sisi’s recent visit to Washington, the important efforts Cairo is making to protect Christians, and the government’s efforts to reach out to Christian leaders — Coptic, Catholic and Protestant — to build better relations. I greatly appreciated my time with the Ambassador, and I believe that the government there is making progress, though clearly there is much more that needs to be done.

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Earlier this month, as readers of this blog know, I visited Egyptian Christian leaders in Cairo to stand in solidarity with them, get an update on their situation, and pray together. Indeed, I am praying the Lord will open the door for me to return to Egypt later this year to deepen these relationships. Eleven years ago, Lynn and our four sons and I lived in Cairo for several months while I was working on a book. We have a great love for Egypt, and we grieve for the persecution the Christians have been going through and all the political and economic troubles the nation has endured in recent years.

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The Bible is clear: God loves the people of Egypt. Much Biblical history happened in Egypt. Many major Biblical leaders lived in Egypt at one point in their lives — Joseph, the patriarchs, the entire nation of Israel, Moses, and the prophet Jeremiah, to name a few. Even the Lord Jesus lived there for a time with his parents when He was young. John Mark took the Gospel to Egypt in the First Century, and Egypt became a great center of discipleship early on. The prophet Isaiah indicates a very difficult but also very blessed future for Egypt (see Isaiah 19), so it’s important that we pray faithfully for the Christians of Egypt, and all Egyptians in these challenging and tumultuous times and find ways to stand with them and help them.

Here is what we know so far, as reported by the BBC:

  • Gunmen have attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others, state media report.
  • The bus was heading towards the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, 220km (140 miles) south of Cairo, when it came under fire.
  • No group immediately said it was behind the attack.
  • But Islamic State (IS) militants have targeted Copts several times in recent months, and vowed to do so again.
  • Two suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services at churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta on 9 April left 46 people dead.
  • Another suicide bombing at a church in the capital in December killed 29 people, while a Christian community was forced to flee the town of el-Arish in the northern Sinai peninsula after a series of gun attacks in February.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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President concludes most successful visit to Israel by any American leader in decades by profoundly resetting the alliance. (My analysis of the two-day trip.)

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(Washington, D.C.) — Let’s be honest. The cynics and haters won’t be able to say one good thing about it. But the only fair analysis is that the President’s two-day visit to Israel was the most successful visit by an American leader to the Jewish State in decades.

It was meticulously planned, remarkably well executed, safe from start to finish, and it accomplished just what it had to. What’s more, the visit didn’t get derailed by unforced errors or unnecessary controversies.

Above all, President Trump’s visit projected the image of a reengaged American superpower in the region, profoundly reset and immensely strengthened the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, so badly strained after the eight years of the Obama administration. This is a very good and highly welcomed development.

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The President had four clear objectives for the visit. He came:

  1. To show his love for the State of Israel and reaffirm the U.S.-Israeli alliance
  2. To stand in solidarity with the Israeli people against radical Islamist terrorism — especially the threat of Iran and ISIS — and in solidarity with the Jewish people who suffered catastrophically in the Holocaust
  3. To visit Jewish and Christian holy and historic sites and show respect for both faiths
  4. To meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss next steps towards peace

He accomplished all this in spades. Indeed, to his credit, Mr. Trump is now:

  • The first U.S. President ever to visit Israel on his first official trip abroad.
  • The first U.S. President to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site in modern Judaism, and spend time in prayer and reflection there.
  • The first U.S. President to fly directly from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv, Israel (prompting Prime Minister Netanyahu to say he hopes that a regional peace can be established that would allow him to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh.)

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These firsts — plus his clearly warm and personal interactions with Israeli leaders and his equally warm and encouraging official words reaffirming the U.S.-Israeli alliance in all of his prepared remarks — were deeply appreciated by the Israeli people.

Another big moment came when the President met in Bethlehem with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Mr. Trump said during his public remarks, at Mr. Abbas’ side. “We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice.”

As the Times of Israel noted, this was a “reference to the salaries paid by the [Palestinian Authority] to jailed Palestinian terrorists and to the families of Palestinian prisoners killed while committing terror attacks.”

The President should be commended for raising this immensely important issue. As I’ve written, “It is impossible to move forward with any kind of peace process if the Palestinian government is paying more than $300 million a year to reward terrorists and their families. The Israeli government has called for an immediate repeal of this PA law and practice. The U.S. and other Arab governments should do so, as well, in order to truly move the prospects for real and lasting peace forward.”

Hopefully we will soon learn that the President and his aides pressed this point even more in private discussions with Mr. Abbas.

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On a separate note, I found it encouraging to see an American leader praying and meditating at the Western Wall. It was also encouraging to see him bring his family — including his Jewish daughter and son-in-law — to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum, to show their respects to the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis.

What’s more, consider what the President did not do on this trip. He:

  • Did not unveil an American-imposed peace plan and pressure Israel to accept it
  • Did not even use the words “two state solution” during his entire visit
  • Did not criticize Israeli settlements, or mention them publicly at all
  • Did not criticize Israeli policies of any kind
  • Did not surprise the Israelis with major announcements of any kind, much less any policies that weren’t carefully discussed in advance
  • Did not go off message, either in his public remarks or on Twitter

Given the train wreck of the last eight years, and the tumultuous nature of the President’s first 100 days, these are not small matters. Coming on the heels of a very successful — and impressive — visit to Saudi Arabia, they suggest Mr. Trump’s seriousness about rebuilding U.S. alliances in the epicenter and creating a united front against the forces of Iran and ISIS.

True, the President did not announce that he was moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he has repeatedly promised to do so, and which he should do. That said, most Israelis won’t be bothered by this. The reset of the alliance is what matters most, and this was advanced beautifully.

What does the future hold? That’s a great question. Even while saying countering Iran and eradicating the Islamic State are his top regional priorities, the President seems determined to get a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. Most experts see very little chance of a breakthrough any time soon. Indeed, there’s a very real risk that such efforts could distract from efforts to deal with Iran and ISIS. I’ll analyze this in the weeks ahead.

For now, it’s enough to be grateful for a successful presidential visit to the epicenter. Finally we have an administration that wants to project American leadership in the region. Finally we have an administration that wants to reset and strengthen the U.S.-Israeli alliance. Finally we have an administration willing to call out radical Islamist terrorism. Indeed, finally we have an administration willing and able to recognize — and determined to capitalize on — the historic strategic alignment underway in the region between Israel and the Sunni Arabs.

Let’s be grateful that some of our prayers have been answered. And as we continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and for stability and security for everyone in the region, let’s keep praying for U.S., Israeli and Arab leaders to have the wisdom to make continued progress, despite so many obstacles, challenges and enemies.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump at The Israel Museum.

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President Trump meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

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President Trump and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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At Arab Summit, President boldly urges Muslim leaders to “drive out the terrorists and extremists” from their nations and houses of worship. (My analysis of the historic and well-crafted speech.)

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(Washington, D.C.) — Wow. Readers of this blog know I have never been shy about expressing my concerns about Mr. Trump when necessary. But the President deserves a great deal of credit for going to meet with our Sunni Arab allies in the Mideast and for the speech he delivered yesterday in Saudi Arabia to the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries.

Finally we have an American President who wants to project American leadership — that of the world’s only superpower — in the Middle East.

The address was well-crafted and respectful, even nuanced, at times. But it was also clear, honest, and bold. Indeed, it was unlike any speech any American President has ever delivered face to face to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and other Muslim countries. Below, you’ll find key excerpts, a link to the full transcript and a link to the video of the full 34 minute speech. I would encourage you to both watch and read the address in full.

A few first impressions:

  1. The President rightly thanked America’s Sunni Muslim allies for their friendship and hospitality, he honored their historic achievements, rich culture and heritage, and he reached out a hand of friendship and support against common enemies.
  2. The President made it clear that the U.S. seeks “partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals” — he thanked specific countries by name for working with the U.S. to fight terrorism.
  3. It was good to see the President be so respectful of the vast majority of Muslims who are not jihadists and want to fight terrorism — this was particularly notable given that as a candidate he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. (though he has since rightly modified that position).
  4. At the same time, the President was commendably clear and refreshingly honest that the region must confront “the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires.” I was stunned but pleased to see the President dramatically warn that the souls of the radicals who kill innocents will be “condemned.” It was a line that echoed the brilliant and courageous speech given by Egyptian President el-Sisi at Al-Azhar University several years ago. This is no small matter. No other American President has ever made such direct statements on “Islamist extremism” in the heart of the Muslim world.
  5. The President rightly called out Iran and ISIS as the most dangerous and destabilizing forces in the region — he called for “eradicating ISIS,” then put special emphasis on working closely with the Sunnis to counter the Iranian threat. This was a sharp and very welcome contrast to President Obama’s approach of appeasing Iran.
  6. The President rightly noted the history of coexistence of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the region’s past, and urged the Muslim world to make peace with Israel — then explained he was headed to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to advance between the Israelis and Palestinians. He offered no specifics. Perhaps he can create a breakthrough in the peace process — he certainly believes he can — though I concede I’m somewhat skeptical for reasons I’ll write about soon.
  7. Overall, the speech will likely be very well received in the region — in addition with the President’s individual meetings with Arab leaders at the White House, the visit and speech will help re-set America’s alliances in the Arab Muslim world, which were terribly strained and dishonored during the Obama years. Indeed, the President’s visit is highlighting an increasingly unified U.S.-Sunni-Israeli alliance against Iran’s Shia apocalypticism and regional aggression. These are important and positive developments. Let’s pray the administration can carefully and wisely build on what was accomplished.

UPDATE: I commend to your attention this analysis by Amos Yadlin, a former senior intelligence chief in Israel. “The royal welcome the President received in Saudi Arabia and his meetings with a long list of Arab and Muslim leaders provide him with numerous accomplishments, [including]  the image of the authoritative leader of a superpower [and] the demonstration of a united front against Iran and the Islamic State….”

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Key Excerpts:

  • I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….
  • To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce….
  • There can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it…..
  • If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.
  • This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil….
  • America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH….
  • [T]here is…much work to do. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians. Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED….
  • We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals….
  • From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room….
  • Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region….
  • Today, billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great question of our time. Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?
  • If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring—more suffering and despair. But if we act—if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world—then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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President arrives in Saudi Arabia to meet with Arab & Muslim leaders. Here’s the latest, including his itinerary.

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(Washington, D.C.) — No one would have predicted that the candidate who called for a “Muslim ban” would, upon becoming President of the United States, make Saudi Arabia the first stop on his first international trip. Or that he would turn the trip into an opportunity to meet with dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders from all over the world.

That said, the President is absolutely right to work hard on building American relationships and alliances throughout the Muslim world. He’s also right to deliver a major address on the threat posed by radical Islamism and the need for all Muslims to strongly oppose and counter the radicals.

To his credit, he will then travel to Israel — and specifically to Jerusalem — to strengthen U.S.-Israeli ties, and explore ways of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Then he heads to Rome to meet with the Pope, and onward to meet with NATO leaders.

No other President has specifically designed a foreign trip — especially his first — to reach out to Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders. In the days ahead, I hope to provide analysis of his trip, his meetings and his speeches. For now, let’s be praying for the President’s safety and for the trip to have a positive impact.

Here’s what we know so far.

ITINERARY:

  • Friday: President departed Washington
  • Saturday: Arrive in Saudi Arabia, meet with the King, dinner with royal family
  • Sunday: President to meet with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; meet with Islamic leaders from all over the world, including the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Indonesia; and deliver major address on threats to the region from radical Islamists
  • Monday: President arrives in Israel, meets with President Reuven Rivlin, meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu, visits the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has dinner with the Netanyahus
  • Tuesday: President meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, lays a wreath at Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, and delivers a major address at the Israel Museum
  • Wednesday: President meets with Pope Francis in Rome, then flies to Brussels
  • Thursday: President participates in NATO Summit.
  • Friday: President is in Sicily, Italy, participating in G7 Summit
  • Saturday: G7 Summit, then return to Washington

NEWS COVERAGE:

ANALYSIS BY MIDEAST EXPERTS:

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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How close did Russia come to intervening in the Six Day War against Israel? My interview with CBN News.

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This month, Israelis are celebrating — and Palestinians are mourning — the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, which set into motion the reunification of Jerusalem, as well as Judea and Samaria (i.e., the “West Bank” of the Jordan River), under Jewish control for the first time in more than 2,000 years.

The Christian Broadcasting Network asked me to discuss these historic and controversial events with two specific questions in mind:

  1. How close did the Soviet Union come to actively intervening militarily in the Six Day War on the side of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and against the State of Israel?
  2. How significant was the war and its aftermath in terms of Biblical prophecy?

Here’s the text of the story that Chris Mitchell, CBN’s Middle East Bureau Chief, filed. [ To watch the 5 minute video of his report, please click here.]

ALMOST ARMAGEDDON: WHY THE SIX-DAY WAR WAS A PROPHETIC MILESTONE

By Chris Mitchell, CBN News bureau chief

JERUSALEM, Israel – The 1967 Six-Day War pitted a relatively young Israel against five established Arab armies. One of the world’s superpowers also came dangerously close to entering the war, which led to fears of a potential Armageddon.

June 5, 1967. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a cable to President Lyndon Johnson informing him the war had begun.

“Israel’s existence and integrity have been endangered,” he wrote, adding a request: “Prevent the Soviet Union from exploiting and enlarging the conflict … [at Israel’s] greatest hour of danger.”

“What most people don’t realize is that the actor that was perhaps the most dangerous, but operating sort of behind the scenes, was the Soviet Union,” Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg told CBN News.

While Israel faced the combined might of Arab countries, it was the Soviet Union casting a giant shadow over the war.

“Now June 5, 1967, the morning Eshkol orders Israeli bombers into action and they’re successful, Soviet Premier Kosygin dials the hotline right into the White House and demands to talk to President Johnson,” Rosenberg continued. “Now the hotline was rarely used except in the most extreme crisis. And the message that Kosygin sent heavily implied that if the United States didn’t force Israel back down, that the Soviets were going to take direct military action. And this took the conflict to an entirely different level.”

President Johnson had told Eshkol the U.S. might cut off political and military assistance to Israel in case of a preemptive strike.

“So the Israeli leadership was already taking a huge risk that Johnson would keep his word. Once the Soviets got involved, a dynamic changed. Suddenly the Johnson White House saw the conflict not simply in terms of Israeli Egyptian-Syrian terms but in U.S.-Soviet terms,” Rosenberg explained.

That led Johnson to send the Sixth Fleet steaming toward Israel as a show of support.

Rosenberg believes the fact that the Soviets never got involved was part of the Six-Day War miracle.

“I think it’s one of the untold stories – or rarely told stories – of God’s protection of Israel is the fact that the Soviets seemed to come so close that they were threatening at the to the Americans, to the Israelis directly,”  he said. “They were promising their Arab allies that they would do more, and they were actually moving military forces closer and closer to Israel.”

Rosenberg also sees the war as a prophetic milestone.

“The Bible does say that Jerusalem will come back under Jewish control and it happened in June 1967. The Bible does say that Judea and Samaria – what the world calls the West Bank – will be in Jewish hands,” he said. “It’s part of the biblical heartland and God says He will restore the land and restore people to the land. And I think you also see God giving this land back to the Jewish people – not because we deserve it but because God had promised it.”   The Six-Day War became a turning point for Jewish immigration to the land of Israel.

“Throughout the Old Testament, God says that He is going to draw the Jewish people back to the land. But what is interesting is at that moment when Mordecai Gur, the Israeli general, said on the radio, ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands.’ When that was broadcast, not just through Israel but worldwide, it electrified Jewish communities all over the planet.”

“The level of aliyah – Jews leaving their exile countries and coming back to the land of their forefathers – skyrocketed in the years ahead,” Rosenberg said.

“In fact famously we know that Natan Sharansky, the hero of the Soviet Refusniks – you know Jews were refused being allowed to leave for such a long time – Natan Sharansky, who is now the head of the Jewish Agency in charge of helping Jews come back to Israel, said that when – he didn’t even identify himself as a Jew in 1967 – but when he heard that radio broadcast that Mordecai Gur had said, ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands,’ something lit up in him. It’s like a frequency had turned on inside of him. ‘I’m Jewish. This is important. I need to think about helping my Jewish brothers and sisters get back to the land of our forefathers.'”

Although Israel survived one of its darkest moments, Rosenberg says it still faces threats from the north, backed by a familiar interloper.

“I see that the Russians are very actively moving into this region,” he continued. “They have made Iran their primary ally. They are selling the most advanced weaponry, including the most advanced anti-aircraft missiles. They’re selling nuclear technology to Iran, the worst terror state in the region. And now they are working hand in glove with Iran to prop up [President] Bashar al-Assad, who has slaughtered some 500,000 people in Syria. So you now have Russian forces, Iranian forces helping Syrian forces just a few miles north of Israel.”

Fifty years since the battle for Jerusalem took place, Rosenberg says Israel and its capital remain on the front lines.

“Jerusalem was reunited 50 years ago, but the battle for Jerusalem remains. It’s a political battle. It’s an economic battle, with people trying to isolate Israel politically around the world,” he said. “People are trying to boycott, divest and sanction Israel in part because Israel has Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is the flash point. Jerusalem is the epicenter. You know for 4,000 years people have wanted this city and they have fought hard to get it. And so, the fact that Israel controls it today is biblical, it’s prophetic, but it’s also complicated and we need to be praying for the peace of Jerusalem and praying for Israel to be secure,” he concluded.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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Greetings from Cairo. I’m here to visit Egyptian Christians & stand in solidarity with them in the face of terrorism.

Egypt-Pyramids(

Cairo, Egypt) — Marhaba — hello in Arabic — from the capital of Egypt.

It has been such a joy to be here and meet with Egyptian Christian leaders over the past several days. By God’s grace, I have had the opportunity to step behind the headlines and hear what the Lord is doing in Egypt, discuss the recent terrorist attacks and other challenges facing Christians here, and pray with and for our brothers and sisters.

Among the leaders I met with were Rev. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, the President of the Protestant Churches of Egypt; and Rev. Dr. Atef Gendy, President of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. These and the other leaders I met with were so helpful and encouraging and I am deeply grateful for my time with them. 

[Note: For some context, here is a recent interview I gave to CBN News on the suicide bombings targeting Egyptian churches on Palm Sunday, how President el-Sisi is responding, and my recent meeting with the Egyptian president in Washington.]

It’s been eleven years since I was last here. My wife, Lynn, and I and our four sons lived in Cairo — in the district of Heliopolis, actually — for almost three months (from November 2005 through January 2006) while I was working on a book project. So much has happened since then. The Arab Spring. The fall of the Mubarak regime. The rise of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The fall of Morsi and the Brotherhood. The election of President el-Sisi. The tensions between President Obama and the el-Sisi administration. A surge of terrorism in the Sinai. And now a new season of strengthened U.S.-Egyptian relations under the Trump-Pence administration, with President el-Sisi having been invited to visit the White House last month for the first time since he took office several years ago.

It is very special, therefore, to be back and to stand in solidarity with the Christians of Egypt who have bravely and patiently stood for the Lord and His Word through many dangers, toils and traumas. I was glad to hear from so many leaders that Christians are feeling strengthened and encouraged by the Lord of late, despite attacks by the Islamic State and other jihadists. They are not retaliating against the terrorists. They are not calling for revenge. They are loving their neighbors, and their enemies, just as our Savior commands, and they are steadily earning the respect of the Muslim majority.

Egypt-DrZaki

With a population of some 93 million people, and a long and rich history of civilization and global significance, modern Egypt is both the most populous nation in the Arab League and the intellectual capital of the Arab and Sunni Muslim world.

Egypt is also a nation with a fascinating Biblical history and future. Indeed, Egypt is one of the most important nations in the Scriptures. It is mentioned in the Bible more than any other country except for Israel. Many important Biblical leaders lived in and served God in Egypt during ancient times — from Moses and Aaron and Joshua to Joseph and Jeremiah — and so many important Biblical events occurred here. What’s  more, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself lived here for a time as a little boy, having been brought by his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, at the direction of an angel who warned that the Romans were going to try to kill Jesus. 

Egypt-DrGendy

Both the Old and New Testaments make clear that God has a great love for the people of Egypt, just as He loves all people in the world. The Apostle Mark brought the Gospel here in the First Century A.D. and Egypt became an important center of Christian preaching, teaching, discipleship and worship. It remains so today.

Please join me in praying for the Christians of Egypt, indeed for all the people of Egypt, including President el-Sisi and all the nation’s government, business and religious leaders. This is a very special place, dear to God’s heart. May it be dear to ours, as well.

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Articles I’ve written about Egypt:

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Confirmed: President will visit Israel, Saudi Arabia & the Vatican this month. Trip designed to reach out to Jews, Muslims & Christians, strengthen U.S. alliances, advance peace.

AirForceOne

(Central Israel) — President Trump made it official yesterday: his first foreign trip will begin with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican where he will meet with the Pope. From there, he will participate in a NATO Summit in Brussels, followed by the G-7 Summit in Sicily, Italy. He will depart the U.S. on May 19.

As we continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem, let’s pray that this trip to the region would help advance the cause of regional stability, security and religious freedom and an open and respectful dialogue between Jews, Muslims and followers of Jesus.

Mr. Trump made the announcement of his “historic” trip on an already big day. The House passed a bill to “repeal and replace” Obamacare after months of painstaking negotiations on Capitol Hill. It was also the National Day of Prayer. The President met with Evangelical leaders and signed an Executive Order advancing religious freedom.

The President’s decision to visit Israel on his first foreign trip keeps a campaign pledge. It also further underscores the warm and close bonds this White House is intentionally building with the Israeli people and government, a sharp contrast to the last eight years. President Obama skipped Israel on his first visit to the Mideast in June of 2009.

I’m very encouraged that the President is coming here to the epicenter. He will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, visit key religious and historic sites, and outline his vision for peace. He may also meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, though that has not been confirmed. He just met with Abbas in Washington on Wednesday.

The decision to visit Rome — and meet with the Pope — will underscore the President’s efforts to strengthen ties to Christian leaders. His emphasis, so far, has been with Evangelical leaders, many of whom helped him win the presidency.

The decision to visit Saudi Arabia first was dramatic for a leader who consistently attacks “radical Islamic terrorism” and called for a “Muslim ban” during his campaign.

But Mr. Trump has been intentionally — and rightly — reaching out to Arab Muslim leaders in recent months to forge a working alliance against Iran and ISIS. He recently met with the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince, along with Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi and Palestinian leaders.

“Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies, to combat extremism, terrorism and violence,” Mr. Trump said, “and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”

“Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East,” he said.

“Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace,” Mr. Trump said at a ceremony at the White House, in which he said he would go to “Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome.”

“The Saudi stop will consist of three meetings for Mr. Trump: one with the current monarch, King Salman; a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which consists of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries; and a broader meeting with Arab and Muslim countries,” reports the New York Times.

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Without Warning — my new thriller about ISIS operatives launching catastrophic terrorist attacks inside the U.S. using chemical weapons captured in Syria, and the hunt for the ISIS leader by a secret coalition of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — is now available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Lifeway, and your favorite general market and Christian bookstores. To order online, please click here.

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