A few things I’m thankful for this holiday season. (Reflections of an Israeli who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.)

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True, there aren’t many people in the world who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.

But as a person of Jewish heritage on my father’s side, and as a follower of Jesus the Messiah, I am one of them.

This year actually marks the third Hanukkah and Christmas season that I’ve had the joy and opportunity to celebrate both holidays as an Israeli citizen. And I must tell you I find it fascinating to live in a country where Jesus was actually born, where He ministered to the poor and forgotten, where He was crucified and raised on the third day — and yet a country where by and large Christmas is not celebrated.

Israel is not an easy place to live. It’s been quite challenging for Lynn and our four sons and I to move to a new country and acclimate to a new language and culture. But as these two holidays converge this year, and as I reflect on the past few years, I am profoundly thankful and grateful.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • I’m thankful for the amazing opportunity the Lord has given Lynn and me to be able to live and raise our family and write novels in the land where the Hebrew prophets, priests and kings lived, the very land where Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) and His disciples lived and ministered and transformed the world.
  • I’m thankful for the wonderful friends and neighbors that we have found in Israel, along with physical safety, economic opportunity, robust democracy and extraordinary religious freedom we have found there. Most Jews in Israel — and nearly every Jewish person in the government and in the court system — don’t believe what we believe, and yet they truly defend our right to assemble and worship and fully practice our beliefs without interference. That’s no small thing.
  • I’m thankful for all my Israeli friends who are curious about why a growing number of Jewish people do believe Yeshua is the Messiah.
  • I’m so thankful to live in the world’s only Jewish State that also works hard to protect the political and religious freedoms of her Arab citizens — Christians, Muslims, agnostics, atheists and others — and grants Arab citizens the right to vote, has Arabs who serve in the Knesset, serve in the police and military, even serve on the Supreme Court, and are vital and valued members of the society.
  • I’m thankful to be able to live in a nation that is an oasis of freedom and security in a region that’s on fire.
  • I’m thankful for all the Evangelical and Messianic Jews we have met and had the joy of becoming friends with throughout the Land, including so many pastors and ministry leaders and their wives and kids.
  • I’m thankful for all the dear Palestinians that Lynn and I have had the honor of meeting and befriending in recent years, especially the Evangelical pastors and ministry leaders and their wives and children living in the West Bank and in Gaza.
  • I’m very thankful for the opportunity to travel to visit our neighbors in Jordan not once but twice this year, including five extraordinary and special days with King Abdullah II and his advisors, such an amazing visit that Lynn and I will always cherish.
  • I’m deeply thankful for our Joshua Fund team who are so faithful in blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.
  • I’m thankful for the Holy Scriptures — the very words of the living God — whom the Jewish and Christian scribes have so carefully and courageously copied and transmitted to us down through the ages.
  • I’m thankful for the ancient Hebrew prophets like Micah who told us exactly where the Messiah would one day be born so we wouldn’t have to wonder or worry about it. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
  • I’m thankful for the ancient Hebrew prophets like Isaiah who told us the Messiah would live and minister in the Galilee region, bring light to those in darkness, come as a human baby boy, but also be El Gibor — Mighty God — and the One who would bring forgiveness and thus peace between us and God. “In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles….The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them….For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:1-6)
  • I’m deeply thankful for all of our family and friends back in the States who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and even come to visit us in Israel over the past few years — and so grateful that we could come back to spend the holiday season with them this year.
  • Above us, I am thankful to the God of Israel — and His Son, Yeshua — who has shown such mercy to me and my family, showered us with His grace and even adopted us into His royal family.

So on behalf of my family and our dear friends and colleagues at The Joshua Fund, allow me to wish our Jewish and Israeli friends a very Happy Hanukkah season — and to all of our friends who are followers of Jesus, allow me to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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What are the implications of the UN Security Council’s anti-Israel vote? Here’s the short version.

un-resolution2334-vote(Denver, Colorado) — It was deeply disappointing (though unfortunately not surprising) that on the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, President Obama helped an anti-Israel resolution pass in the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

The final vote was essentially unanimous — 14 nations in favor, while the U.S. officially abstained. But in this case the “abstention” was cosmetic. Mr. Obama supported this move. If he hadn’t, he would have done what American Presidents historically do when facing resolutions against the Jewish State: veto it.

In the days ahead, I will provide more detailed analysis.

For now, it’s important to note that this is not simply the meaningless act of UN diplomats blowing hot air. This resolution actually puts the State of Israel, our leaders, our citizens and businesses who work with and trade with us in very serious legal jeopardy.

Like many Evangelicals, I want there to be a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But I don’t believe a solution should be mandated — much less forced — by the world on Israel. There should be direct talks between both sides. The talks should be serious and constructive and should lead to the end of the conflict and real protection of Israel’s rights and security needs balanced with real protection for Palestinian human rights and civil rights and security needs.

Unilateral UN decisions are not helpful, and in this case could prove counter-productive.

I’m not worried, nor should you be. The Scriptures make clear that the God of Israel will keep us and protect us and He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is sovereign and good and on the job 24/7 and we can trust Him.  That said, we need to be wise and thus aware of the practical implications of this move.

Here is the full text of U.N. Resolution 2334.

Here is an analysis published by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot (Ynet News):

  • The resolution makes Israeli citizens that are involved in the settlement enterprise in the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits in courts all over the world.
  • Jerusalem is also worried that the resolution opens the door for lawsuits against Israeli officials at the ICC: government ministers and senior IDF officers who make decisions about construction in the settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the expropriation of lands could be accused of war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
  • The resolution can also lead to the creation of mechanisms to monitor and report Israeli actions, which could lead to sanctions being imposed against it.
  • The resolution’s wording can also be seen as a victory to the BDS Movement, as it opens the door for boycotts of goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
  • The resolution includes an article requiring the UN secretary-general to report to the Security Council every three months regarding its implementation. This will lead to continued pressure on Israel, putting it in a constant defensive position, similar to South Africa during the apartheid regime.
  • Article 5 of the resolution calls to create a distinction between the State of Israel and the settlements built on lands captured in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
  • This article calls on the international community not to aid those settlements and allows for countries and organizations to boycott the settlement enterprise—either directly or indirectly.
  • Officials in Jerusalem are worried such a call would encourage the European Union to make its policy of labeling settlement products into law and call for a boycott these products.
  • Such a move would lead banks, gas stations, HMOs, retailers, high-tech companies and others to close their branches beyond Green Line to avoid being included in the “blacklist” of companies doing business in the settlements and consequently being boycotted as a result.
  • Officials in Jerusalem are also worried that other nations in the world will follow in the footsteps of the European Union—even if not by boycotting the settlements, then at least by labeling settlement products.
  • Nevertheless, the resolution cannot be applied retroactively and has no immediate practical consequences. Since it was adopted under Chapter 6 of the United Nations Charter, it cannot be forced on Israel. Only resolutions passed under Chapter 7 can be imposed.

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BREAKING NEWS: Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey assassinated by Radical Islamic terrorist seeking “revenge” for Russia’s actions in Aleppo. UPDATE: Terror attacks in Berlin & Zurich.

turkey-russianambassassinatedUPDATED at 8pm eastern: The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was just assassinated in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

The assailant was a Radical Muslim who said he was doing this as “revenge” for Russia’s military actions in Aleppo, shouting, “Allahu Akbar…We die in Aleppo, you die here!”

“The shooter, who was wearing a suit and tie, has been identified as Mevlüt Mert Altintas, 22, a member of Ankara’s police riot squad,” reported the UK Daily Mail.

He reportedly fired 15 to 20 shots — killing the Ambassador and wounding at least three others — before being shot and killed by policy. The attack occurred at an art exhibit.

Turkish President Recip Erdogan quickly called Russian President Vladimir Putin after being briefed on the situation. Putin called the assassination a “provocation” aimed at destroying relations between Russia and Turkey and scuttling the so-called Syrian peace process.

Later in the day came news of a terror attack in a Muslim prayer center in Zurich that killed at least three people, and another attack in a Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least nine people.

“In an odd coincidence, Putin had been planning to attend a Moscow play on Monday night written by Alexander Griboyedov, Russia’s ambassador to Iran, who was murdered in 1829,” reported Reuters. “Putin canceled when he heard his Turkish envoy had been murdered.”

Developing….

NOTE: Here’s the latest coverage:

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“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” Now more than ever, Jews & Muslims in the Epicenter need Good News. The Joshua Fund is a like a venture capital fund, investing in small but growing ministries that preach the Gospel, make disciples and serve the poor in Israel and the Arab world. Lives are being changed. Here’s the latest.

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

Darkness is falling on the people of the Middle East — war, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and even genocide. More than ever, they need the light of the Gospel and the hope of God’s love, forgiveness and eternal life (especially at Christmas, but every day of the year, as well!)

In 2006, Lynn and I founded The Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization “to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.” Over the past ten years, we and our team have seen and learned a great deal. Here are some of the two most encouraging lessons.

First, I see a tremendous openness to the Gospel message among my people, the Jewish people, in Israel and around the world that may very well be unprecedented since Jesus and the Apostles themselves were preaching and teaching in the First Century.

It’s not that every Jewish person who hears the Gospel is receiving the message and trusting in Jesus as Messiah, but so many more Jewish people are open to listening to the Gospel message. Many are asking questions about Jesus, searching for answers on the Internet, and watching online video testimonies of Jewish people explaining how they came to faith in Jesus. They’re curious about reading the New Testament, and some are stunned to learn that Jesus is Jewish, that His mother and earthly father were Jewish, that He lived and ministered to Jews in Israel, that He came to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ And they want to learn more.

That’s why the work of The Joshua Fund is so important at this extraordinary moment in history. Similar to a venture capital fund, we come alongside small but growing and promising congregations and ministries and we invest in them – with encouragement, with prayer, and, when appropriate, with financial resources. Why? So they can sow more seeds, and bear more fruit, and prepare the way for the Lord’s return. That’s why we count it such a joy and honor to invest in these ministries.”

Second, it’s not just Jewish people who are exploring and responding to the Gospel — what also excites me is that amidst the worst persecution in the modern history of the Church, we are seeing the greatest harvest of souls in the Muslim world in the history of the Church.

From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people. This was the conclusion of a ground-breaking peer-reviewed article published in 2015 by two respected Christian scholars, Dr. Duane Alexander Miller and Patrick Johnstone.

Now, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10 million conversions may appear to be a small percentage, but remember in nearly fourteen centuries of Islam, there were almost no conversions to Christ – some, but not many. Today, we are seeing unprecedented numbers of Muslims searching for hope via satellite TV, radio and the Internet. Some are reading the Bible and examining the claims of Christ for the first time. Others are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus. And they are coming to faith in numbers we’ve never seen before.

That’s why Lynn and I see it as so important for The Joshua Fund to invest not only in ministries to Jewish people but also in Arab pastors and ministry leaders who are reaching Muslims, to encourage and refresh them, to help them make disciples and train and equip new believers, and develop young leaders.

Here are a few excerpts from our 2016 Donor Report — examples of how your faithful prayer and financial investments are changing lives…..


“I am 23 and grew up in a Jewish Orthodox family. My stepfather is part of an extreme religious group in Judaism, and they sent me to an Orthodox boarding school in Israel. I asked once about Yeshua [Jesus] and was told to never ask about Him again. I slowly became secular. Just a year ago, Yeshua came back to my thoughts. I decided to return to a religious seminary and I spoke with the rabbis about Yeshua, and they convinced me that he was not the Messiah. I couldn’t connect with what they were teaching, it did not have the ring of truth, so I left school and became secular once again. Then all of a sudden, Yeshua once again came to mind. I knew that it was not me chasing Yeshua, but Yeshua was pursuing me, wanting me for Himself. Because of all the fears that I grew up with, I was afraid so I decided to ask Him, ‘If you are real, help me.’ Then, I came across videos about Yeshua on the internet and they helped me understand. I started reading the New Testament and found out how godly this book is and how far modern Judaism is from Moses’s Bible. How could they tell me Yeshua was anti-Semitic? My family is religious, so I’m believing in secret.”





Author Breaks Down Difference Between ‘Radical’ and ‘Apocalyptic’ Islam — and Israel’s Future Under Trump (My interview & podcast with Faithwire.com)

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>> How can Christians make a lasting difference in the lives of people facing great darkness in the Middle East? Ten years ago, my wife and I founded a non-profit organization called The Joshua Fund to answer that very question. Today, TJF is mobilizing Evangelical Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Our 2016 Donor Report shares how TJF is caring for the poor and needy, Holocaust survivors, and Syrian and Iraqi refugees, preaching the Gospel and strengthening the Church to make disciples in the epicenter by God’s grace and your help. Please take a moment to read the report and watch several short videos explaining what we do.

(Denver, Colorado) — Last week in Manhattan, I sat down for an interview with Billy Hallowell, senior editor of Faithwire.com. It was a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation and one I enjoyed a great deal.

Among the topics we discussed:

  • Why are Israelis cautiously optimistic about the incoming Trump-Pence administration?
  • What are the major threats facing the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East in the coming years?
  • Why is it important for the next President to educate the American people about the differences between Islam, Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam, and to be careful and nuanced in the discussion?
  • Why have I written a series of political thrillers — The Third Target, The First Hostage and the forthcoming novel, Without Warning — about the Islamic State, their genocidal brand of End Times theology, and their bloodthirsty drive to destroy Judeo-Christian society and establish a global caliphate?
  • What are some of the differences between Biblical eschatology and Islamic eschatology?

Here’s the article Hallowell just posted on our interview — and the podcast of our full discussion (it runs about 41 minutes):

Author Breaks Down Difference Between ‘Radical’ and ‘Apocalyptic’ Islam — and Israel’s Future Under Trump

By Billy Hallowell, Faithwire, December 16, 2016

Author Joel Rosenberg recently dropped by the Faithwire newsroom to talk about a wide array of subjects, including radical Islam, president-elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory — and Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Among the points of discussion, Rosenberg — author of the soon-to-release novel “Without Warning” — broke down some of the important differences he sees between radical and apocalyptic Islam, and discussed how Israelis have responded to Trump’s shocking presidential win against Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

“Radical Islam is the movement that says, ‘We will use force … to drive the infidels, mainly Judeo-Christian society, out of the regions that we call holy lands and holy places,’” Rosenberg explained, citing Al Qaeda, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban as some of the groups that subscribe to the ideology.

He continued, “A subset of radical Islam (called apocalyptic Islam) says, ‘We’re not just trying to use violence to drive infidels out of our region; we’re going to use violence to eradicate infidels.”

Rosenberg said adherents of apocalyptic Islam see no place for infidels in the world, believing a messiah will soon come to set up a global Islamic kingdom.

The author explained how both Iran and the Islamic State both subscribe to this latter ideology, though there are some important differences between the two parties.

To begin, Rosenberg said Iran is governed by leaders who are Shia Muslim and who “believe a very minority position on Islamic eschatology.”

“They are trying to bring about the end of days. They believe the Messiah — the Mahdi — is coming at any moment and that their job is to set into motion the conditions of chaos and carnage into which this so-called Messiah will one day come, set up his kingdom or caliphate and rule the world,” he said.

These leaders, he said, believe they can “hasten the coming” of the Messiah, also known as the Twelfth Imam; he also noted that Iran has focused on a long-term goal of building up its nuclear industry to create long-range missiles for a “global-termo nuclear holy war.”

The Islamic State, though, is quite different, according to Rosenberg. Unlike Iranian leaders, the terror group is Sunni and has a bit of a different take on eschatology. While adherents believe it’s possible to accelerate the end times, they don’t agree with Iran that “you have to wait until you build nuclear weapons,” according to Rosenberg.

“(The Islamic State thinks) if you have a sword and an AK-47, you can committ genocide today — you don’t have to wait for nuclear weapons,” he said, adding how they believe they can create conditions to trigger the arrival of the Mahdi.

Rosenberg called the situation involving Iran and the Islamic State concerning, considering it’s purportedly the first time in history the world has seen two people groups attempting to bring about the end times.

The author, who moved with his family from the U.S. to Israel in 2014, also discussed the recent U.S. presidential election, saying his fellow Israeli citizens watched it quite closely, as its “impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship was going to be enormous,” especially considering the fact that the relationship has been strained in recent years.

“We’re a small country and America’s a super power, and we live in a very dangerous neighborhood,” Rosenberg said, citing Christian slaughter in the Middle East, Iran’s purported quest for nuclear weapons and other problems in the region.

And much like the rest of the world, Israelis were apparently in shock the Wednesday after Election Day, as outlets like the New York Times, among others, diminished the chances of Trump securing the presidency. Overall, Rosenberg said there’s a cautious optimism in the wake of Trump’s win — one that is based on a few important issues.

“One thing has been consistent: (Trump) has talked about radical Islam … and has taunted both Hillary and Barack Obama, (saying), ‘You won’t even say it, you won’t ackowledge it, you don’t look at their ideology,’” he said in reference to Clinton and Obama and their refusal, at moments, to use terms like “radical Islam.”

Rosenberg continued, “That has cut through. People see that he is talking about it.”

While the author believes Trump has struck a chord with such rhetoric, he believes it would be beneficial to dial some of his comments back, as there are Sunni-Muslim Arab allies like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Listen to the full interview.

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So far, Trump’s emerging national security team is encouraging. Pro-Israel & serious about confronting Radical Islam. But Tillerson at State? Close ties to Putin raises serious concerns. [Video & transcript of my interview on Fox News]

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(Washington, D.C.) — On Sunday, I was interviewed on the Fox News Channel by anchor Shannon Bream on a range of foreign policy and national security topics, including:

  • the tragic terrorist attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt over the weekend
  • the future of US-Israel relations under a Trump-Pence administration
  • the President-elect’s emerging national security team, including concerns over ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as a possible Secretary of State, given his very close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin

To watch the video, please click here. Here, too, is the transcript of the interview.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Joining us now is the author of The First Hostage and many other best-sellers. He also served as a top advisor to leaders both here in the U.S. and in Israel, where he now lives. Joel Rosenberg, always good to see you.

ROSENBERG: Great to be with you.

BREAM: Let me start by getting your reaction to the bombing of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. We’ve often talked about the threat to religious minorities in that area, and Egypt had really been working towards stability. This is a setback.

ROSENBERG: It is. Look, Radical Islam is trying to destroy Christian communities in Syria, in Iraq, and now in Egypt. President el-Sisi has got his hands full. But it’s interesting when you think about President Trump — as then candidate Trump — who were the two leaders he met with at the U.N. [in September]? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President el-Sisi. I think that strengthening a Sunni Arab ally like el-Sisi, like the king of Jordan and others is going to be important. But this is a devastating blow, and as an Evangelical — an Israeli Evangelical, in that sense — my heart goes out to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Coptic Church. We need to be praying for them, and as a country — both America, Israel and our other allies — we need to be standing with Egypt in a very challenging moment.

BREAM: And by the way, one of our allies, Israel — where you now live full time — are taking delivery of a couple of F-35s, and talking about how that will give Israel different ways to probe, to gather surveillance, to go into places undetected, and they live in a very, very rough neighborhood.

ROSENBERG: There has been a lot of criticism by conservatives that President Obama has been horrible towards Israel. Look, there has been a horrible relationship between President Obama and Netanyahu, but we do have a Memorandum of Understanding of $38 billion of military cooperation over the next ten years, and these F-35s are critical both to U.S. national security and to Israel’s, especially with the Iran threat rising.

BREAM: And, as you know, many people say that our administration has been generally supportive of Israel but maybe there was a lack of chemistry between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu….

ROSENBERG: (laughing) yes, maybe….

BREAM: ….that’s a nice way to put that — but here is what Prime Minister Netanyahu had to say in a 60 Minutes interview that’s coming up later. We have a clip of him talking about how he views incoming President Trump.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude to support Israel is very clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish State, about the Jewish people, and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.

BREAM: He talked about how Trump will be truly supportive and understand the situation that Israel is facing there.

ROSENBERG: I was just with Netanyahu when he gave a briefing to about 400 foreign diplomats — ambassadors and defense attaches — in Jerusalem, just a week and a half ago. Netanyahu described himself as “supremely optimistic” about Israel’s future. He didn’t mention Trump in the speech, but the context seemed to be very strong, “I now have a friend and an ally in the White House.” And, of course, Vice President Mike Pence, I know him well, is strongly pro-Israel.

This is the first time that Netanyahu has ever had a Republican in the White House while he’s been a Prime Minister, and he’s the longest serving Prime Minister in the history of Israel. So he’s encouraged. And 83% of Israelis now say they believe that Trump will be pro-Israel.

You look at the Cabinet picks that are coming — General Mattis [at Defense], Mike Pompeo at CIA. Those are strong if you’re looking for someone who will focus on Radical Islam and taking on both Iran and ISIS.

I’m concerned about [Rex] Tillerson. Obviously, you just had that segment [talking about the pros and cons of Tillerson]. I think President Trump should be talking to a CEO of ExxonMobil and someone who knows Putin well. But Putin is a serious challenge — a challenge to the Middle East in Syria, a challenge to NATO, Georgia, Ukraine, Crimea, the Baltics that I’m concerned about. Tillerson does not strike me as a conservative, good choice to draw a line in the sand with Putin.

BREAM: Plenty of Senators asking questions….

ROSENBERG: ….and rightly so…

BREAM: …and there will be a thorough vetting of him, if he is the pick.

ROSENBERG: This could be a head fake to make us feel better about somebody else.

Compare [this with] how Trump is dealing with China where he’s talking tough, but he sends Terry Branstad — the Governor of Iowa — as a friend to China [to be the new Ambassador] to say you’ve got someone you can talk to. That’s not how he’s approaching Putin, and he needs to.

BREAM: All right — Joel Rosenberg — always good to see you.

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

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Through The Joshua Fund, Evangelical Christians are blessing Israel & her neighbors. Our 2016 Donor Report shares how we’re caring for the poor and needy, Holocaust survivors, and Syrian & Iraqi refugees, and strengthening the Church in the epicenter by God’s grace and your help.

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How can Evangelical Christians truly bless Israel in the name of Jesus, according to the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12:1-3 in which God promises to bless those who bless His people?

At the same time, how can Evangelicals not simply be a blessing to Israel and the Jewish people, but to the Palestinians and Lebanese and Syrians and Jordanians and Egyptians and Iraqis, as well? Did not the Lord command us to love our neighbors and our enemies?

How, then, can we as Evangelicals truly and effectively pray for and financially invest in the work the Lord is doing to bless and care for all people of the epicenter, both Jews and Arabs?

These were some of the questions my wife, Lynn, and I were wrestling through in late 2005 and early 2006 when the Lord gave us the idea to start The Joshua Fund.

It’s hard to believe that The Joshua Fund is already ten years old, but it’s true. In that time, we have had the joy of seeing the Lord demonstrate His kindness and faithfulness to Jews and Arabs in so many ways.

This year-end Donor Report — both text and short videos — let’s you step into the story for yourself. (please feel free to share it with others)

Come see how the Lord — with your prayers and support — is using TJF to care for the poor and vulnerable, widows and orphans, Holocaust survivors and refugees fleeing from Syrian and Iraq.

Come learn more about how He is using TJF to invest in pastors and ministry leaders who are preaching the Word of God, proclaiming the Gospel, and making disciples in Israel and the Arab world — and seeing lives transformed for eternity.

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

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

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

Here’s the short version:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep in mind:

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

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

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

medvedev-netanyahu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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She. Has. Been. Stopped.

nyt-trumptriumphs

She. Has. Been. Stopped.

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

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

So now it’s official:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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