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Israeli scholar says 1st century Jews awaited Messiah who would die & rise again. Argues “third day resurrection” an idea that pre-dates Jesus.

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2015 at 1:40 pm
“The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a fascinating book by Dr. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University.

“The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a fascinating book by Dr. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University.

This is the week of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. Millions of Jews in Israel and around the world are celebrating the story of how the Jewish people were saved from the “angel of death” in ancient times if they put the blood of a perfect slain lamb on the doorposts of their homes in Egypt.

This is also the week of Good Friday and Easter. Billions of Christians around the world are celebrating the death of Jesus of Nazareth, and His resurrection from the tomb three days later, and the belief that all mankind can be saved from the “angel of death” in our times if we, too, trust in the blood of a perfect slain Passover Lamb.

But did the Jews of the first century really believe the Messiah would one day come to earth, die as a “suffering servant” — as an atonement for sins and the redemption of Israel — and would then rise from the dead on the third day?

A respected professor and Dead Sea Scrolls expert at Hebrew University says “yes.” Based on concrete evidence, he argues that the death and “third day” resurrection of the Messiah is, in fact, a distinctly Jewish concept that actually pre-dates Jesus.

Dr. Israel Knohl has based on his conclusions on many years of research and recently analyzed archaeological evidence, including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll. Indeed, Knohl argues that this notion of the Messiah rising on the third day is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah.

I had the opportunity to sit and discuss this with Dr. Knohl at length a few years ago and it was an absolutely fascinating conversation.

I first heard of him when he drew worldwide media attention several years ago for his research, including a major article in the New York Times and several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review — see here, and here, and here.

The Times story, which ran under the headline, “Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection,” begins as follows: “A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days. If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time. The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.”

The tablet has been named by scholars as “Gabriel’s Revelation” because it suggests that the angel Gabriel was instructed by God to direct that the Messiah be raised from the dead on the third day.

The stone tablet was discovered about fifteen years ago and is owned by a Israeli-Swiss Jewish man by the name of David Jeselsohn who didn’t understand its significance when he purchased it. The Times article was published in 2008. Dr. Knohl then published a book about all this in 2009 entitled, Messiahs and Resurrection in “The Gabriel Revelation.” That was a follow up to his previous book, The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls (first published in Hebrew in 2000 and then in English in 2002).

In the book, Dr. Knohl explains the various Jewish theories about the Messiah, including the idea of a “Messiah son of David” who will be a reigning king on the earth like King David was, and a “Messiah son of Joseph” who will be rejected by his brothers, mistreated, left for dead but will eventually reappear and save not only the nation of Israel but the world like Joseph did in the book of Genesis.

As an evangelical Christian from a Jewish heritage (my father is Jewish, my mother is Gentile), this subject fascinates me and my family.

Several years ago, my wife and sons and I were studying the book of I Corinthians. One day we focused on I Corinithians 15:1-5, which reads, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve [apostles]. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time….”

We studied how the Hebrew Scriptures speak of the Messiah suffering and dying to atone for our sins and how we see these ancient prophecies described in Isaiah 53, in Daniel 9:26 (which says the Messiah will come for atonement, then be “cut off,” and afterwards Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed), and Psalm 22. We also looked carefully at the Gospel accounts to show how Jesus remarkably fulfilled each of these prophecies. Then I read excerpts of the Times story to Lynn and the boys, and we discussed why many Jewish people think the idea of a suffering Messiah who dies and rises again on the third day is a Christian idea, when really it is a Jewish idea, as explained with such intriguing research by Dr. Knohl.

I would commend these articles — and his books — to your attention. Read them yourself. Study and discuss them with family and friends.

And during this Passover, Good Friday and Easter week, let me encourage you to consider the following critically important questions:

  • What if the ancient Hebrew prophecies really did foretell that the Jewish Messiah would die as an atonement for our sins but was also supposed to be buried and raised from the dead on the third day?
  • What if Jews in the first century really believed that the coming Messiah would be rejected by the religious leaders of the day in order to be killed on Passover (the ultimate Passover Lamb) and raised from the dead on the third day, on the Feast of First Fruits?
  • Did the life of Jesus of Nazareth fit with the ancient Hebrew prophecies?
  • Why should that matter?
  • How should you respond?

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>> Please click here for a simple, concise summary of the Gospel message, and a clear explanation of how best to respond.

>> If you would also like to listen to an audio account of how my parents and I became followers of Jesus Christ, please click here.

What is the most controversial prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, and why read it at Passover?

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2015 at 4:20 pm
The Great Isaiah Scroll on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Great Isaiah Scroll on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The actual Great Isaiah Scroll (source: The Israel Museum).

The actual Great Isaiah Scroll (source: The Israel Museum).

(Central Israel) — Have you ever been to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem? Have you ever seen the Great Isaiah Scroll on display there?

It is absolutely breathtaking. And it contains what many believe is the most controversial prophecy in the entire Hebrew Bible.

“The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947,” notes the Israel Museum on its website. “It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah. Dating from ca. 125 BCE, it is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some one thousand years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible known to us before the scrolls’ discovery.”

So, what is this most controversial of ancient Biblical prophecies, and why read it at Passover?

The passage begins in Isaiah 52 and goes through the entirety of chapter 53.

To read the translation in the Orthodox Jewish Bible, please click here.

52:13 Behold, My servant will prosper, he will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. 15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.

53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; he has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, he will see His offspring, he will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, he will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

Rather than analyze it myself, let me ask you: Of whom is the Lord God of Israel speaking?

Of whom is the Hebrew prophet Isaiah describing to the nation of Israel, and to the world?

Why do you think this is such a controversial prophecy?

What relevance do you think it has to the Passover season?

I’ll write more on this soon. But first I’d like your thoughts. And share this post with family and friends through social media and get their thoughts. (Please be respectful and gracious. Not everyone agrees, and some disagree vehemently.)

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The deal is bad. Very bad. But let’s not panic. Here’s why. (Some thoughts on the Iran deal, Passover & Easter.)

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

iran-nuclear-graphic(Central Israel) — On Thursday evening, rather than pore over the details of the deal that the P5+1 just struck with Iran regarding its nuclear program, I took one of my sons to a wonderful Passover Seder attended by Jewish and non-Jewish friends in Kfar Shmaryahu, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Tonight, our entire family is looking forward to attending a Seder with Jewish and Arab friends near Netanya.

Please forgive me, therefore, for not writing sooner about the deal.

A few brief observations for now:

So yes, the deal is bad. Very bad. But let’s not panic. After all, is it not curious that the deal was announced on the eve of Passover and Easter?

  • The Biblical story of Passover reminds us that there is a sovereign, holy, all-seeing, all-mighty God who loves Israel, and will protect His people, even knowing our weaknesses, sins and flaws.
  • The Scriptural account of Passover reminds us that God vows to bring judgment on nations who seek to curse and destroy Israel and the Jewish people, and do not repent.
  • Passover also tells us that God will protect anyone and everyone from divine judgment — not just Jews — if they place their faith in the blood of the perfect lamb.
  • What’s more, the Biblical story of Easter — the death and resurrection of Jesus our Messiah, our Passover lamb — teaches us that God loves the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles.
  • The Biblical account of Easter teaches us that God doesn’t want His judgment to fall on anyone. Rather, the Lord God Almighty offers salvation, forgiveness, great hope and eternal life to all who will repent and receive Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Lord.

We certainly need to pray for our leaders and for the peace of Jerusalem at this critical time. We need to pray this deal is changed and cannot put Iran on the legal path to nuclear weapons.

That said, this is not a season to fear our enemies. It is a season to draw close to the Lord, read His Word, and discover (or rediscover) His love for all people.

Destroying Israel is “nonnegotiable,” says Iran militia leadership. Also vows to bring down Saudi Arabia.

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

iran-flagAs the United States and other world powers were making significant concessions to the Iranian government regarding its illegal nuclear program this week, a high-ranking Iranian militia leader repeated his country’s vow to destroy Israel.

He threatened to bring down the government of Saudi Arabia, as well, for Riyadh’s role in fighting Iranian-backed terrorists in Yemen.

Here are excerpts from the Times of Israel story:

  • “The commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that ‘erasing Israel off the map’ is ‘non-negotiable”….
  • Militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi also threatened Saudi Arabia, saying that the offensive it is leading in Yemen “will have a fate like the fate of Saddam Hussein.”
  • Naqdi’s comments were made public as Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue nuclear negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June.
  • In 2014, Naqdi said Iran was stepping up efforts to arm West Bank Palestinians for battle against Israel, adding the move would lead to Israel’s annihilation, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
  • “Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” Naqdi said.
  • “The Zionists should know that the next war won’t be confined to the present borders and the Mujahedeen will push them back,” he added. Naqdi claimed that much of Hamas’s arsenal, training and technical knowhow in the summer conflict with Israel was supplied by Iran….

Why are world leaders not listening to the leaders of Iran?

Only last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, called yet again for “Death to America,” yet none of this seems to be giving the White House or other leaders pause as they make dangerous concessions to Iran regarding its nuclear program and aggression in the region.

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Come with me to Israel & Jordan. Here are the details on The Joshua Fund’s 2015 “Prayer & Vision Tour of the Holy Land.”

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 9:34 am
Register today to tour Israel and Jordan with us this Fall.

Register today to tour Israel and Jordan with us this Fall.

Dear Friends:

It is with great excitement about God’s love for the people of Israel and her neighbors that I cordially invite you to join us for The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Tour Of The Holy Land.”

The Israel portion of the tour will be October 14-25, 2015.

And for the first time ever, we will lead an optional additional tour to the Biblical sites of the Kingdom of Jordan for those who want to extend their time and learn more. This will be from October 25-29, 2015.

If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2015 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.

If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other!

  • You will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse and participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy.
  • You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith.
  • You will have the opportunity to hear solid Bible teaching, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people of the epicenter, and have the joy of worshipping the Lord in the land of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles.
  • I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the Epicenter.
  • And, as I mentioned, for those who want to learn more, we are offering our first-ever extension to visit Biblical and historic sites in Jordan such as Mount Nebo, Petra and the capital of Amman.

Now more than ever, it is vitally important for Christians to “learn, pray, give and go” — to really learn how much God loves the people of Israel, Jordan and the region; to pray with and for Jews and Arabs; to give to ministries that are truly blessing people on both sides in the name of Jesus; and actually go to the Holy Land to stand with these dear people in these challenging times.

To learn more about this Prayer & Vision Tour of the Holy Land — to get your questions answered, and to register — please click here.

Please prayerfully consider coming to visit the Land we love and now call our home to meet the people we love and now call our neighbors. We would love to see you there!

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

Joel C. Rosenberg

Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund

>> To make a secure, tax-deductible, financial contribution to the work of The Joshua Fund, please click here

With March 31 deadline fast approaching, growing number of experts warn against deal with Iran. Here’s the latest.

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2015 at 4:28 pm
Officials of Britain, Russia, China, France, Germany, European Union, the United States and Iran wait for the start of a meeting on Iran's nuclear program at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland Monday, March 30, 2015. Negotiations are entering a critical phase with differences still remaining just two days before a deadline for the outline of an agreement. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

Officials of Britain, Russia, China, France, Germany, European Union, the United States and Iran wait for the start of a meeting on Iran’s nuclear program at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland Monday, March 30, 2015. Negotiations are entering a critical phase with differences still remaining just two days before a deadline for the outline of an agreement. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

(Central Israel) — Less than 48 hours remain for a nuclear deal to be worked out with Iran before the March 31st deadline is reached.

Details of a potential deal are leaking out of the marathon talks being held in Lausanne, Switzerland, but they are far from encouraging.

In fact, a growing number of highly respected leaders, nuclear experts and Middle East analysts — both Democrats and Republicans — say they are deeply troubled by the apparent concessions being made to Iran, as well as Iran’s increasingly aggressive actions in the region, most recently in Yemen.

Here are the latest details:

For more, here are excerpts from the latest Reuters news story from Lausanne:

  • Iran and six world powers tried to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday, but officials cautioned that attempts to reach a preliminary deal by a deadline in two days could yet fall apart.
  • The two sides explored compromises in areas including numbers of centrifuges used to enrich uranium that Iran could operate, and its nuclear enrichment work for medical research.
  • But Israel, which feels especially threatened by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, said details of a possible framework agreement emerging from the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, were even worse than it feared.
  • Foreign ministers from the six countries [held] their first full meeting with Iran’s foreign minister on Monday morning.
  • German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there had been “some progress and some setbacks in the last hours…I can’t rule out that there will be further crises in these negotiations.”
  • The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China want more than a 10-year suspension of Iran’s most sensitive nuclear work.
  • Tehran, which denies it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, is demanding an immediate end to international sanctions that are crippling its economy.
  • A Western diplomat said duration could be traded off if there were real efforts on some key parameters. “We all want it to be 15 years, but there will be different durations for various aspects of the deal,” the diplomat told reporters.
  • Iranian negotiator Hamid Baidinejad said “15 years is out of question for Iran but 10 years is being discussed”….
  • Several officials told Reuters that Tehran had indicated a willingness to cut the number of centrifuges it uses to fewer than 6,000, thereby slowing its program, and to send most of its enriched uranium stockpiles for storage in Russia.
  • Senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi told reporters dispatching stockpiles abroad “was not on Iran’s agenda”.
  • Western powers were meanwhile considering allowing Iran to conduct limited and closely monitored enrichment-related work for medical purposes at an underground facility, the officials added on condition of anonymity.
  • Iran had originally insisted on keeping in operation all the nearly 10,000 centrifuges it currently uses, but said in November that Washington had indicated it could accept around 6,000.
  • Iranian officials say they have been pushing for 6,500-7,000.
  • Baidinejad said cutting the number of Iran’s centrifuges to 6,000 “was one of the proposed ideas by the other party”….
  • “Everything could still fall apart” before Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline for a framework agreement, a Western official told Reuters….
  • One concerns Iran’s demand to continue with research into a new generation of advanced centrifuges that can purify uranium faster and in greater quantities for use in nuclear power plants or, if very highly enriched, in weapons.
  • Another question is over the speed of removing United Nations sanctions on Iran. A senior U.S. official said there were other unresolved questions but expected those would fall into place if the big sticking points could be worked out.
  • The U.S. official said negotiators were working towards something that would be called an “understanding” rather than a formal agreement, which would form the basis of a comprehensive deal, including all technical details, to be tied up by June 30…..
  • The powers’ aim is to ensure that for the next decade Iran is kept at least one year away from being able to produce enough fissile nuclear material for a single weapon.
  • “It has to be a deal which puts the bomb beyond Iran’s reach. There can’t be any compromise about that,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said. “If we’re going to get this done here … Iran has got to take a deep breath and take some tough decisions.”
  • His remarks contrasted with hostility from Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal but is not a party to the talks.
  • “This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in Jerusalem.
  • Referring to advances made by Houthi rebels allied to Tehran in Yemen, he accused the Islamic republic of trying to “conquer the entire Middle East”.
  • “The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis is very dangerous to humanity, and must be stopped,” Netanyahu said.
  • Israel has previously threatened to attack Iran if it is unhappy with an eventual deal.

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Mounting evidence suggests President Obama preparing to “divorce” Israel. What are the implications if he does?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 12:50 pm

MEME-ObamaAbandonIsraelUPDATED: (Central Israel) — Is a divorce coming between the President of the United States and the State of Israel?

Once, it would have been almost preposterous even to ask such a question. Today, however, it feels like it’s a matter of “when,” not “if” Mr. Obama will formally abandon American support for the Jewish State. And the situation is rapidly going from bad to worse.

Readers of this blog may recall that I posted this column on January 14, 2015: “Will President Obama abandon or fully turn against Israel in last two years in office, amidst ISIS & Iran threats? Exclusive poll results.” According an exclusive poll I commissioned late last year, a remarkable 47.4% of Americans fear the President will turn against Israel soon given that he won’t ever face the voters again. I suspect the number would be much higher today

As I traveled through the U.S. in January and February on The Third Target book tour speaking to Christian audiences and meeting with Evangelical leaders, I found many who are becoming deeply concerned that an historic and disastrous break is coming. Speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention recently, I raised this question: “What if America is not simply entering a season of strained relations with Israel, but we are heading towards total American abandonment of the Jewish State?”

Consider just a handful of headlines published since I gave that speech:

For an American President, or Congress, or the American people to turn against Israel and the Jewish people would be more than bad policy or unfortunate politics. According to Bible prophecy, such moves would pose an existential threat to the future of the United States.

  • In Genesis 12:1-3, the Lord God vows that He will bless those who bless Israel and the Jewish people, and curse those who curse them.
  • In Joel 3:2, the Lord God warns that He will bring into judgment “all the nations” who “divide My land,” the Land of Israel.
  • In Ezekiel 38-39, the Lord God warns that a group of nations led by Russia (Magog) and Iran (Persia) will form an alliance and attack Israel in the “last days,” andthat no nation will come to Israel’s defense — indeed, Israel will be abandoned by all of its friends and allies when this terrible moment occurs.
  • What’s more, in Zechariah 12:2-3, the Lord God warns that the nations will become intoxicated and start “reeling” with the desire to conquer and control Jerusalem and that “it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”
  • In Zechariah 14:1-2, the Lord God warns that “a day is coming” when “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” and “then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations.”
  • Also in Revelation 16, the Lord God warns that all nations will not simply abandon Israel but will eventually actively turn violent towards Israel and attack Israel and the Jewish people in the End of Days (the Battle of Har Meggido, the Mountain of Meggido, also known as the Battle of Armageddon).

As noted at the NRB Convention, “the Bible teaches us that all nations will turn against Israel in the last days — and all nations will face judgment for it — but woe into us if it happens on our watch.”

Have we come to that fateful moment? Not quite yet, but we are getting dangerously close. Even though 70% of Americans see Israel favorably and support Israel, we are watching the President:

  • negotiate an incredibly dangerous nuclear deal with Iran
  • refuse to share the precise details of this deal with Israel, America’s most faithful and trusted ally in the region
  • treat the Israeli Prime Minister nearly as persona non grata
  • send the VP and Secretary of State out of country to avoid seeing the Prime Minister
  • send his political strategists and operatives to defeat the Prime Minister and his party in Israel’s recent elections
  • seem to threaten revenge because the PM won reelection
  • threaten to abandon Israel at the UN and allow anti-Israel resolutions to pass without an American veto
  • threaten to force Israel to divide Jerusalem and roll back to her pre-1967 borders or face severe international consequences
  • and now declassify details of Israel’s top secret nuclear program in what is being described as an “unprecedented move”

This is the most dangerous moment in the 67-year history of the U.S.-Israel relationship. What do the next two years hold? I cannot say for sure. I’m praying for the President and his top advisors to back off, turn from this dangerous path and find common ground with Israel, despite policy and personality differences. The Bible has many stories of the God of Israel changing the hearts of lost or confused or proud or rebellious leaders, including leaders of Israel. Will you join me in praying for healing in this relationship between the President and the leaders and people of Israel?

But this much I know: on top of all America’s national challenges and sins, including 58 million abortions, we dare not also abandon or turn against Israel and the Jewish people. If we do, we will seal our fate and face the judgment of God.

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Just days before nuclear talks end, Iran seizes Yemen. U.S. evacuates, but Saudis & Arab coalition launch war to retake Yemen. Where will this lead?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 2:51 am
(source: Al-Arabiya)

(source: Al-Arabiya)

In just a few days, we will reach the March 31st deadline to complete nuclear negotiations with Iran.Yet rather than conclude a deal that would truly stop Iran from getting The Bomb and constrain Iranian aggression in the Middle East, consider the surreal events presently unfolding:

Please pray that this terrible deal with Iran will:

  • fall apart
  • by blocked by France or another country at the negotiating table
  • be blocked by Congress
  • be dramatically changed to become a good deal that blocks Iran from The Bomb

Time is running out. Former Ambassador John Bolton has written an op-ed for the New York Times that the negotiations have failed and the time has come to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Consider this excerpt: “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Clearly, the Obama administration is not going to attack Iran.

Might Israel and a Sunni Arab alliance?

Developing….

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Israeli Arabs voted in higher numbers this time than in the last election. This is good news. Here’s why.

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 10:46 am
Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

(Central Israel) — Arab citizens of Israel turned out to the polls on March 17th in significantly higher numbers than in the previous election, according to research published today by the Jerusalem Post. Indeed, some 444,000 Israeli Arabs voted last week, compared to only 349,000 last time.

As a new citizen of Israel, I’m encouraged by this. Arabs are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel. In this country, as in few others in the region, Arab citizens — along with Jewish citizens and all other citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion — have the legal right to vote and to be fully engaged in free and fair elections in every possible way.

This is good news. A democracy is healthier when everyone exercises their right not simply to vote, but also their right to speak out, to publish their views, to peaceably assemble, to choose their leaders and to influence public policy according to their own religious and political beliefs, morals and values.

True, the Israeli Arab parties are significantly out of the mainstream. Some of these parties advance Communist ideology, or Islamist views, or anti-Zionist nationalist views. Indeed, the Joint (Arab) List — which just won 13 seats in the Knesset — includes parties that advance each of these views. But that’s okay.

You don’t have to agree with their beliefs to support their right to hold and advance such views in a free and democratic society. Indeed, part of the beauty of truly free societies is that despite their various flaws, they respect and vigorously protect the right of people to hold and advance minority positions.

This isn’t happening in Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia. But it’s happening in Israel, and it should be celebrated.

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post article:

  • Israeli Arab voter turnout was 63.5 percent in the election compared to 56% in 2013, according to the Statnet research institute, which had predicted a 63.4% turnout prior to the election.
  • Yousef Makladeh, CEO of Statnet.co.il shared its research data and polling statistics prior to the election with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, which demonstrated that the polling company was surprisingly accurate in its pre-election polling.
  • Makledeh said that 82% of Israeli Arabs voted for Arab parties in the Joint (Arab) List compared to 77% who voted for Arab parties in 2013….
  • In 2013, the Arab parties together received 349,000 votes compared to 444,000 in this election, an increase of 27.3%….
  • The Joint List ended up with 13 seats in the Knesset.
  • Apart from the Joint List, Arab voters supported in descending order: the Zionist Union with 22.8% (25,806 votes), the Likud 15.3% (17,394), Yisrael Beytenu 13.7% (15,538), Kulanu 11.8% (13,432), Meretz 11.2% (12,752), Shas 8.8% (10,016), and Yesh Atid 4.1% (4,662).

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In meeting with Israeli Arab leaders, Netanyahu apologizes for comments that “hurt the Arab citizens.” Good. That was the right thing to do.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm
Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu-Arabs2(Central Israel) — During a meeting today with leaders from various Arab communities in Israel, newly-reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israeli Arab citizens for comments he made on Election Day.

“I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. I had no intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry if I did,” Netanyahu told the leaders. “My actions as prime minister, including the tremendous investment in minority sectors prove the opposite. I think, too, that we must never let anyone outside the state of Israel interfere with our democratic process….I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender. I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens.”

Good. That was the right thing to do. The PM was right to apologize. His remarks were insensitive and unhelpful. I would encourage him to be pro-active in the weeks and months to come in reaching out to Israeli Arab leaders, including them in his plans for the country, and continuing to invest in the economic growth, development and progress of Israeli Arab communities. As I noted yesterday on this blog, “Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our national culture and society. They are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel and they should be honored and protected by our leaders, whatever their religious or political views.”

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