President Trump: Tell Mahmoud Abbas the Palestinian Authority must stop paying terrorists & their families.

Trump-Abbas

UPDATE: “The President raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the White House press corps during his May 3rd briefing.

No report yet on how Mr. Abbas responded.

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ORIGINAL POST: (Jerusalem, Israel) — Today, President Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his top advisors at the White House.

Good. The Palestinian people continue to struggle with immense poverty, unemployment, corruption, and a culture of terrorism and radicalism. They need friends in government, the church and the private sector who will show them honor and compassion. They also need friends who will “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Today’s gathering is the latest in a series of meetings Mr. Trump is having with the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. I applaud him for building these relationships and strengthening vital alliances.

In this context, it is critical that Mr. Trump uses today’s meeting to tell Mr. Abbas in no uncertain terms that the PA must stop paying Palestinian terrorists who injure and kill Americans and Israelis, and paying their families.

Indeed, Mr. Trump should tell Mr. Abbas that Congress will pass — and he will sign — the “Taylor Force Act,” legislation that specifically forbids the PA from rewarding Palestinian terrorists, and prevents the U.S. from providing foreign aid to the PA if they continue funding terrorism.

report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israel-based research center run by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold, found that “overall, the PA pays about 1.152 billion shekels ($303 million) in the 2016 budget as terror-related salaries and allowances. This equals about seven percent of the overall budget.”

“The PA payment of salaries to the imprisoned terrorists and to the families of the dead terrorists is anchored in a series of Palestinian laws and government decrees, chiefly Laws No. 14 and No. 19 of 2004, and Law No. 1 of 2013,” noted the report.

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.

“I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying it terrorists,’” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Unfortunately, a senior PA cabinet minister says the PA will continue to pay incarcerated terrorists.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ‘outright rejects’ Israeli demands to halt payments to prisoners held by Israel, Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said Saturday,” reported the Times of Israel.

This is unacceptable. The Palestinian people have it hard enough. They need better leadership than this. The Palestinian government should be nurturing an environment to create jobs and economic growth, not terrorism.

Let us pray — and press — for real change. Starting now.

For more reading on this important topic:

[Note: These comments are made in my personal capacity as a US-Israeli citizen and author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization that takes no position on legislative issues.]

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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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Are there really ancient prophecies in the Bible that promised the rebirth of Israel in the “last days”? As modern Israel turns 69, it’s an important question to consider.

israelUPDATED: (Central Israel) — Today marks 69 years since the dramatic rebirth of the modern State of Israel in May of 1948. Israelis are joyfully celebrating independence, security and growing prosperity, but not everyone is happy. Sadly, there are many people in this region and around the world who despise Israel and seek her isolation, demise, and even annihilation.

Rather than address these (very important) geopolitical issues today, however, I’d like to address a question that many people ask me when I travel and speak around the world: Are there really ancient prophecies in the Bible that promised the rebirth of Israel in the last days, despite all the wars and rumors of wars and controversy this would ignite?

Yes, there are — I’ll walk you through a number of the Biblical passages in a moment.

But first some context: according to studies by Pew Research, only 40 percent of American Jews believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people in the first place. That means that six in ten American Jews don’t believe this, or are not sure. More Israeli Jews believe that God gave the land of Israel to them, but the number is still only 61 percent. That means that four in ten Israelis don’t believe God gave them the land they are currently living on, or are not sure. [click here for link to Pew study, scroll to page 106.]

PEW-Israel-God-given

By contrast, a majority of Americans (52 percent) agree with the following statement: “The rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the return of millions of Jews to the Holy Land after centuries of exile represent the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies.” What’s more, 70 percent of Evangelical Christians agree that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people and that the current State of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy. (see the results of an exclusive poll I commissioned by McLaughlin & Associates, a leading polling firm in the U.S., published in my non-fiction book, Epicenter, p. 301-303.)

Now, let’s explore the prophecies themselves.

The most famous of these, perhaps, are found in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 36 through 39. Here, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, writing more than 2,500 years ago, describes in great detail, in chapter after chapter, how “in the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16) the Lord will remember the Jewish people, resurrect the “dry bones” of the Jewish people who seemed left for dead (Ezekiel 37:1-14), remember the land of Israel, bring the Jewish people back to the land, cause the land of Israel to flourish again, and help the Jewish people rebuild the ancient ruins of Israel.

The prophet also describes how the Lord would help the Jewish people survive and multiply and be blessed again in a resurrected land of Israel—which Ezekiel describes as “the center of the world” (Ezekiel 38:12)—even though their enemies would repeatedly seek to destroy them.

Consider a few excerpts from these important passages:

  • Ezekiel 36:8-10—“But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown. I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.”
  • Ezekiel 36:22-24—“It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name. . . . For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.”
  • Ezekiel 37:1, 11-14—“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. . . . Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” Therefore prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,’ declares the Lord.”’”
  • Ezekiel 38:8, 12—“After many days you [Gog, a key enemy of Israel] will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. . . . the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.”

That said, Ezekiel was by no means the only Hebrew prophet who foretold Israel’s miraculous rebirth and the Jews’ return to the Holy Land after centuries of exile. Consider several other key passages of Scripture:

  • Isaiah 66:8-9—“‘Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?’ says your God.”
  • Jeremiah 16:14-15—“‘Therefore behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when it will no longer be said, “As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but, “As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.” For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.’”
  • Jeremiah 31:3-9—“The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the planters will plant and will enjoy them. For there will be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” . . . Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they will return here. With weeping they will come, and by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; for I am a father to Israel.’”
  • Amos 9:11-15—“‘In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the Lord who does this. ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”

In the New Testament era, Jesus of Nazareth repeatedly reaffirmed the teachings of the Hebrew prophets. Indeed, he challenged people for not having read r understood or believed the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • Matthew 5:17—“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
  • Matthew 19:4 (NLT)—“‘Haven’t you read the Scriptures?’ Jesus replied.
  • Matthew 22:29 (NLT)—“Jesus replied, ‘Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.’”

By reaffirming the truth and the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus reaffirmed the truth and the value of God’s promises to resurrect the people and the land of Israel in the last days.

What’s more, Christ specifically spoke of the rebirth of Israel in Matthew 24:32-33. Now learn the parable from the fig tree,” he said. “When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”

What is the “parable from the fig tree” to which Jesus referred? The fig tree repeatedly symbolizes the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament. In Jeremiah 24, for example, the Lord referred to the Jewish people as figs—some good, some bad—as he promised to bring them back from captivity to the Promised Land. Hosea 9:10 says, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season.” In Micah 4, in a passage specifically about the last days and people coming to Jerusalem to visit the Lord’s Temple, Micah writes that when it comes to the Jewish people in the last days, “each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree.”

When Jesus spoke of the “parable from the fig tree” in Matthew’s Gospel, he was referencing these and similar passages. He was saying that when you see the State of Israel reborn, and Jews coming back to the Holy Land, and the land of Israel turning green and flourishing again—and when you see this happening in the context of all the other signs, all the other “birth pangs”—then you should know we are in a special and distinctive moment in history, a moment unlike any other. At that time, while we won’t know the day or hour of Christ’s return, the Lord Jesus told us to “recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).

The apostles certainly believed the ancient prophecies about the rebirth of Israel would one day come to pass. In Acts 1:6, they asked the Lord Jesus after his resurrection if he was now going to bring the prophetic promises to fulfillment, end the Roman occupation, and rebuild the kingdom of Israel. It is reasonable to believe they expected Israel to be reborn as a politically independent state at any moment.

“Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” they asked. Jesus did not say that theirs was a stupid question. He did not say those prophecies about Israel’s future rebirth were inaccurate or irrelevant or canceled by Jewish unfaithfulness to God, or that his followers were misinterpreting those passages. Rather, he said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7). For Christ and his apostles, it was not a matter of if the Father would fulfill his promises to Israel and the Jewish people, but when. And since the Lord Jesus knew the promises would not be fulfilled for more than 1,900 years, he mercifully chose not to give the disciples any details, for it may well have discouraged them.

The apostle Paul also repeatedly affirmed the truth and value of all the Hebrew prophecies in the Scriptures. In so doing he reaffirmed the rebirth of Israel and the re-gathering of the Jews in the last days.

  • In 2 Timothy 3:16, for example, Paul writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching.” That certainly covers all the prophecies in the Old Testament, including those describing the future resurrection of Israel.
  • In Romans 9:3-4, Paul writes about his deep love for “my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” and explains that to the children of Israel “belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” When he speaks of “the covenants,” Paul speaks of all the covenants. He does not exclude the Abrahamic covenant, in which the Lord unconditionally promised the land of Israel to the Jews, his chosen people according to Genesis 12 and 17, among other passages.
  • What’s more, when Paul speaks of “the promises,” he speaks of all God’s promises to the Jewish people. He does not exclude the promises of Ezekiel 36, 37, 38, or any of the other promises of resurrecting the nation of Israel or re-gathering the Jewish people to Israel.

Indeed, the most definitive and conclusive sign that we are living in the era the Bible calls the “last days” was the miraculous rebirth of the State of Israel in May 1948, the return of millions of Jews to the Holy Land after centuries of exile, the wars and rumors of wars that have engulfed the Jewish state for the last half century and more, the rebuilding of the ancient ruins in Israel, and the increasing international focus on the nation of Israel as the epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future. Some Bible scholars have described the rebirth of Israel as the “super sign,” and I agree.

Many people did not see the modern resurrection of the Jewish state coming. Many thought it would never happen and shouldn’t. For centuries, world leaders had cruelly scattered and persecuted the Jewish people and denied their right to return to their ancient homeland.

Sadly, even many church leaders throughout history came to believe in a pernicious doctrine called “replacement theology,” which denied the veracity and legitimacy of Bible prophecies that said Israel would be reborn in the last days. Such replacement theologians, and the pastors and laypeople who read and followed their conclusions, said God had rejected the Jewish people and would no longer honor the ancient covenants to give the Jewish people the heretofore “Promised Land.” Unfortunately, many people in the United States and around the world also vigorously opposed the creation of the modern State of Israel. Indeed, most of the Arab and Islamic world was willing to use any means necessary, including war, to strangle the reborn infant nation in her cradle, as they demonstrated time and time again.

Yet those who were watching events through the lens of Scripture knew Israel would one day be reborn. What’s more, those who believed the ancient biblical prophecies were true and valid often did much to assist the young nation of Israel.

One last major point: There is a critically important passage of Scripture we must consider in this context of the prophetic rebirth of the State of Israel and its implications for the future of the United States.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

Later in the Bible, these promises to Abram were passed down to his grandson Jacob, who was renamed Israel.

“Then his father Isaac said to him . . . ‘Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.’” Genesis 27:26, 29

Still later in the Bible, the Lord again explicitly repeats these promises. “Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel. . . . Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him,” we are told in Numbers 24:1-2. Then the Lord spoke through Balaam:

“The oracle of him who hears the words of God. . . . How fair are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel! . . . Blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” “” Numbers 24:4-5, 9

The Bible’s message is clear: God promises to bless individuals and nations who bless the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and he promises to curse those who curse Jews and Israel.

The “whole counsel of Scripture” commands us to love and pray for and bless Israel’s neighbors, as well. It’s not either/or — it’s both/and. We are supposed to love and bless Israelis and Palestinians, as well as all the others in the Middle East. That said, there are specific directives to the Lord’s people to love and show mercy to Israel and the Jewish people, and we ignore these at our peril.

The good news is that America has been Israel’s most faithful friend and ally for the past seven decades, since helping to bring about the prophetic rebirth of the Jewish state. We have blessed the Jewish people here at home and around the globe. And in so many ways, the Lord has, in fact, blessed the United States of America as a result. If we remain faithful allies of Israel and continue to bless the Jewish people in real and practical ways—while we increasingly turn our hearts back to the Lord, who made this promise in the first place—then I believe God will continue to bless America and help us recover from our many challenges and our many sins. God made this wonderful promise, and we can depend upon him to be true to his Word.

But let us make no mistake: if the United States stops blessing Israel and the Jewish people and either abandons them or begins actively working against them, then we will no longer be eligible for the blessings of God. Rather, we will face God’s curse. This is a fate no nation can long endure. Certainly not ours. Indeed, given all the other enormous and existential economic, fiscal, spiritual, and moral challenges we face, I have no doubt that America will most certainly implode if we stop actively and consistently blessing Israel and the Jewish people.

That does not mean we have to agree with everything Israel says or does. That does not mean we need to turn a blind eye to mistakes, or sin or injustice. Not at all. The Hebrew prophets were often directed by the Lord to speak to the nation of Israel — to the people and the leaders — to warn them of their mistakes and urge them to turn and follow the Lord. Yet let’s remember they did this out of a deep love for the God of Israel, and the people of Israel. They weren’t trying to be hostile to Israel, even when she was on the wrong track. They were trying to help her get back on the right track. Can America — and other nations — be helpful to Israel in pointing out mistakes and encouraging her to go in the right direction? Of course.

But let’s be clear: God will not be mocked. One way or another, America will reap what she sows. So will every nation.

Therefore:

  • Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
  • Let us study the ancient Biblical prophecies.
  • Let us love Israel and the Jewish people with sincere and humble and helpful hearts.
  • Let us love the Palestinian people and all of Israel’s neighbors in the same way.
  • Let us pray for U.S. and Israeli leaders, and all the leaders in the region — they face enormous and complicated challenges.
  • Let us pray for the Church in the epicenter to be a light in the darkness and a voice of hope for the hopeless.
  • Let us be faithful to knowing God’s Word and obeying it in these last days, knowing that each of us will face an accounting in due time.

[This article is adapted from a chapter of my 2012 book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?]

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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.

> 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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Israel abuzz that President Trump will visit Jerusalem in May. If it happens, will Trump announce he’s moving US embassy to Jerusalem? Here’s what we know so far.

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(Central Israel) — The Israeli media today is buzzing with speculation that President Trump is coming to Israel in May, and make Jerusalem his first foreign destination since taking office in January.

Big question: If the speculation is accurate, is the President is planning to announce that he is moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he repeatedly promised during the campaign and in the early weeks of his administration?

The timing of the President’s potential visit is certainly curious, as it could come one day before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty during the Six Day War of 1967.

The Palestinian leadership is strongly opposed to the U.S. moving the embassy, even to West Jerusalem. Various Arab states have expressed their concerns and opposition, as well. On May 3rd, President Trump will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The President is going to Brussels for a summit of NATO leaders on May 25.
  • The President will then attend a G-7 summit in Italy May 26-27.
  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin formally invited to President Trump in January to visit Israel at his earliest opportunity.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Mr. Trump at the White House in February and personally reiterated the invitation.
  • President Trump told Netanyahu he wants to visit Israel very soon in his administration, as he has actually never visited the Jewish State before.
  • The working theory in the Israeli press is that Air Force One will arrive in Israel on May 22, and depart on May 23.
  • During his 24 hours on the ground, it is being speculated that Mr. Trump with meet with the Prime Minister, tour Jerusalem, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial, the Western Wall and other key sites, possibly including Masada and the Allenby Bridge which connects Israel to the Kingdom of Jordan.
  • It is not clear whether he would make a major speech, or address the Knesset.
  • Yesterday, an advance team from Washington arrived in Israel.
  • Trump confirmed the trip is being considered, but did not confirm anything is set.
  • There is also speculation the President might visit Saudi Arabia, and possibly Egypt and Jordan in May or early June.
  • Senior U.S. officials have visited each country in recent days, and President Trump met with leaders from each of these countries in Washington since taking office.

“U.S. President Donald Trump is to arrive in Israel for a whirlwind visit on the morning of May 22, and will leave in the early afternoon a day later,” the Times of Israel is reporting. “The timing of his visit is significant, as it will be immediately before Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, which begins on the evening of May 23….No previous US president has visited Israel in the first months of his term.”

The Jerusalem Post notes that “Trump may use his visit to Israel next month to announce the moving of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” citing Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida). “DeSantis, who is chairman of the House committee with oversight of US embassies around the world, said the timing of Trump’s visit – two days before Jerusalem Day, marking 50 years since the reunification of the capital – is not accidental.”

“What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem when you are over there celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem?” DeSantis asked. “I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not, and will send a powerful signal to other countries around the world that America is back and will stand by our allies and will not let folks cow us into not doing the right thing.”

The Post added that “Moscow announced earlier this month that it recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that it expects east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. It also made clear that it had no intention of moving its embassy. Yediot Aharonot reported on Thursday that Trump may announce united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but might say that the time is not yet right to move the embassy.”

That said, a headline in Haaretz this morning states: “Israel Believes Trump Will Not Seek to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem for Now, Officials Say.”

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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.

> 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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Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Let us remember those who died & those who risked their lives to tell the world the truth about Hitler’s genocide.

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Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, said Santayana.

Today is Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. How will you remember the Holocaust and teach your children?

This year, let us all make time to remember the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis, including 1.5 million children. Let us honor their memories, and pledge ourselves never to forget them. Let us devote ourselves to making sure such evil is never allowed to happen again. This is not just a time for Jews to remember. This is a day for the whole world to remember and commit themselves to standing against evil and against genocide in our time.

My hope and prayer this year is that in addition to remembering those who died in the “Shoah” — the Holocaust — we will also remember four extraordinary heroes who escaped from Auschwitz in the spring of 1944 to tell the world the truth about the atrocities Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were really committing.

  • Rudolf Vrba
  • Alfred Wetzler
  • Arnost Rosin
  • Czeslaw Mordowicz

It is the story of these four men that inspired me to write The Auschwitz Escape. In 2014, FoxNews.com published a column I wrote sketching out their true and remarkably dramatic saga. I hope you’ll take a moment to read the whole column, and share it with others.

REMEMBERING FOUR HEROES OF THE HOLOCAUST: They pulled off the greatest escape in human history – from a Nazi death camp – to tell the world the truth about Hitler, but no few know their names.

By Joel C. Rosenberg

To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.

In 1933, the world was blindsided by the rise of Adolf Hitler.

In 1939, it was stunned by the German invasion of Poland and the Nazi leader’s bloodthirsty quest for global domination. Perhaps most tragically, most of the world did not understand Hitler’s plan to annihilate the Jews until it was almost too late.

Today, we face dangerous new threats from Iran, North Korea, and a rising czar in Russia, not from Germany.

Yet curiously, in recent weeks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have each warned that as we confront current challenges we must be careful to learn the lessons of history regarding how the world failed to understand the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis and deal with it decisively, before events spun out of control.

I agree, and as an example, I would point the extraordinary events that occurred in the spring of 1944.

Four men pulled off the greatest escapes in all of human history, from a Nazi death camp in southern Poland. They did not simply escape to save their own lives. Nor did they escape merely to tell the world about a terrible crime against humanity that had been – and was being – committed. What set these true heroes apart is that they planned and executed their escapes in the hope of stopping a horrific crime before it was committed – the extermination of the Jews of Hungary.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of these escapes, and to draw attention to the significance these unknown – or unremembered – events, and the lessons they have to teach us, I recently wrote a work of historical fiction, “The Auschwitz Escape.” I changed the names of key figures involved so as not to put words in their mouths that cannot be verified to be their own. But it is my deepest hope that the book will cause many to dig into the real history of these remarkable heroes.

Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler were Slovak Jews. They escaped from Auschwitz on April 7, 1944.

Arnost Rosin was also a Slovak Jew. Czeslaw Mordowicz was a Polish Jew. Together they escaped from Auschwitz on May 27, 1944.

Upon making it safely to Czechoslovakia, Vrba, only 19 years old, and Wetzler, 25, linked up with the Jewish underground. They explained Auschwitz was not simply a labor camp, as most thought, but rather a death camp. The Nazis were systematically murdering prisoners, mostly Jews, using poison gas called “Zyklon B,” then burning their bodies in enormous ovens.

The men explained the Nazis were dramatically enlarging an expansion camp a few miles from Auschwitz called “Birkenau,” building new train tracks, enormous new gas chambers, and massive new crematoria. They had also completed ramps leading all those arriving in the cattle cars directly into the gas chambers.

Vrba and Wetzler said they had heard SS guards talking about Hungarian “salami” that would soon be arriving. They knew from their jobs as clerks in the camp that none of Hungary’s nearly 450,000 Jews had yet arrived, even though Jews from most of Europe had come already.

They urged the Czech Jewish leaders to warn Hungarian Jews immediately so they would revolt and not get on the trains. They also urged that the Allied leaders be notified so they would mount an operation to liberate Auschwitz.

Both men were asked to separately draft detailed eyewitness reports. Their reports were then cross-checked, compiled into a single report, and then simultaneously translated into multiple languages.

Eventually, Mordowicz, 23, and Rosin, 30, escaped as well. When they got to Czechoslovakia, they wrote up reports of their own, which were added to the existing document. But all this took precious time the Hungarian Jews did not have.

The report, known as “The Auschwitz Protocol,” was sent to Jewish and Allied leaders in early June 1944. Excerpts were leaked to the press, creating an international uproar. But the Germans had begun deporting Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in massive numbers on May 15th. And “The Auschwitz Protocol” landed in the hands of President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and their top aides just as the Allies were executing the D-Day invasion of Normandy and trying to liberate France.

On July 2nd, the U.S. began bombing Budapest. Admiral Miklos Horthy’s, the Nazi-backed Regent of Hungary, feared the air raid was in reprisal for the Jewish deportations. He ordered the trains halted. Thus, while, more than 300,000 Hungarian Jews had already been sent to Auschwitz and gassed, 120,000 more Hungarian Jews were saved from deportation and certain death.

Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian, would later note, “The Auschwitz Protocol” was responsible for “the largest single greatest rescue of Jews in the Second World War.”

That said, neither the U.S. nor the British military took direct action to liberate Auschwitz during the war. Nor did they bomb the train lines to the death camps, or bomb the camps themselves, as Jewish leaders had implored.

When the Soviets finally entered Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, only 7,000 prisoners remained alive. More than 1.1 million had already been exterminated.

Why didn’t Washington and London take decisive action upon receiving detailed, inside intelligence? Couldn’t they have at least tried to stop the Holocaust, or at least disrupt it, knowing the hellish nightmare people in the camps were experiencing?

Historians have been debating this for years. Yet the issues are not academic. Today, our leaders also face urgent questions.

Let’s consider just one. Iran has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” It has threatened to create world without the “Great Satan” (aka, the U.S.), as well. The mullahs are actively developing the ability to build nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them.

Do we currently have inside sources giving us accurate intelligence on the state of Iran’s nuclear program? If diplomacy and sanctions fail, should the West take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the mullahs can set into motion a Second Holocaust?

Rather than attack ourselves, should the U.S. support an Israeli preemptive strike? What are the risks of launching such a strike? What are the risks of delay?

Would history forgive us if we wait too long and Iran strikes first?

The moral courage that Rudolf Vrba, Alfred Wetzler, Arnost Rosin, and Czeslaw Mordowicz demonstrated seventy years ago was extraordinary. They understood the nature and threat of evil, and they risked their lives to tell the world the truth.

They deserve to be remembered and heralded by Jews and Christians and all who care about freedom and human dignity.

We must never forget what they did, and why they did it. But we must also be ready to act wisely, bravely and decisively if a mortal threat rises again. For if we learn nothing else from the history of the Holocaust, we had better learn this: Evil, unchecked, is the prelude to genocide.

> 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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Join me in Israel in 2018 for The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Trip” and an Epicenter Prayer Summit.

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Dear 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. Or, 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!

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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Three facts every Israeli should know about Good Friday and Easter.

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Jesus-onthecross(Central Israel) — It is fascinating to live in Israel and discover how little Israelis know about Easter and the impact of the Easter story on humanity.

Whether Israelis choose to believe the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah or not, it would certainly behoove all Israelis to read and to know the Messianic prophecies laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures, the basic New Testament story of Jesus’ life, and to better understand how the story of the most famous and beloved Jewish man in human history continues to impact the world.

To that end, here are three specific facts that every Israeli — and every Jewish person around the world — ought to know.

  1. An Israeli scholar from Hebrew University says First Century Jews awaited a Messiah who would die and rise again from the dead, and argues that “third day resurrection” is a Jewish concept that pre-dates Christianity.
  2. More former Muslims are celebrating Easter this year as devout followers of Jesus than at any other time in human history.
  3. Despite historic reticence to read the New Testament, what’s newsworthy is that more Jewish people in Israel, North America and around the world are, in fact, reading the Gospels, reading the entire New Testament, and exploring the claims of Jesus to be Messiah in recent years than at any other time in the last 2,000 years.

Let me take a few moments to explain in more detail.

  1. An Israeli scholar from Hebrew University says First Century Jews awaited a Messiah who would die and rise again from the dead, and argues that “third day resurrection” is a Jewish concept that pre-dates Christianity. 
    • Dr. Israel Knohl asserts that the notion that God can and does raise people from the dead is a concept founded in the Hebrew (Old Testament) Scriptures.
    • He further argues that the Hebrew Scriptures foretell the coming of a “Suffering Servant” Messiah who will die as an atonement for the sins of the people, and then rise from the dead to reign as a kingly Messiah.
    • What’s more, he argues that “third day resurrection” is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah.
    • Dr. Knohl has based on his conclusions on many years of research of the Hebrew Scriptures, ancient Jewish writings, and recently analyzed archaeological evidence, including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll.
    • He points to Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and the story of Josephy as examples of a “Suffering Servant” Messiah.
    • Regarding resurrection, there are many Old Testament examples, including Ezekiel 37 — but one particularly notable example is from the Book of Job: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see.” (Job 19:25-27)
    • Regarding “third day resurrection,” one example comes from the Hebrew prophet Hosea: “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us…He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
    • I had the opportunity to sit and discuss these and other elements of his research with Dr. Knohl at length a few years ago and it was an absolutely fascinating conversation.
    • Here is an article I wrote on the topic several years ago, with links to articles in the New York Times, Biblical Archaeology Review, and other publications that have covered Knohl’s dramatic and controversial findings.
  2. More former Muslims will celebrate Easter this year as devout followers of Jesus than at any other time in human history.
    • An unprecedented spiritual revolution is underway in the Islamic world.From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims who have converted away from Islam and become true followers of Jesus Christ has skyrocketed, from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people.
    • Amidst persecution and even genocide, the Church in the Middle East is growing in ways never seen in fourteen centuries of Islam — and
    • There is now scholarly documentation backing up these numbers.
    • I commend to your attention the following: “Believers In Christ From A Muslim Background: A Global Census” is a 19 page peer-reviewed article written by two respected Christian scholars, Dr. Duane Alexander Miller, a professor at St. Mary’s University in Texas, and Patrick Johnstone, the long-time editor of Operation World (a series of books that carefully documented the state of Christianity in every country on a planet and which sold more than 2.5 million copies.)
    • Their study, published 2015 in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion (out of Baylor University) examined all the research that has been done on Muslim conversions to Christianity from 1960 to 2010.
    • They carefully analyzed country-by-country data and tried to take special care to weed out double-counting, possible exaggerations, and a range of other issues and variables. Their conclusions were stunning.
    • Here is an article I wrote on the subject last year.
    • Here are several other articles I have written or been quoted in in recent years ago with stories of former Muslims who now follow Jesus and are celebrating His death and resurrection on Easter and every day. (see here, here and here.
  3.  Despite historic reticence to read the New Testament, more Jewish people in Israel, North America and around the world are, in fact, reading the Gospels, reading the entire New Testament, and exploring the claims of Jesus to be Messiah in recent years than at any other time in the last 2,000 years — and this is a very good thing.
    • Just as all Christians should read and understand the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in full, I believe all Jews should read and understand the New Testament in full.
    • Jewish-Christian relations would be significantly enhanced if we would all read and study the Holy Scriptures that are so important to the faith and culture of the other.
    • To that end, I’m actually astounded by the growing interest Jews have in understanding the New Testament, and by how many Rabbis and Jewish scholars are encouraging their fellow Jews to read the New Testament in full.
    • Online short-form videos in English explaining the Gospels and the New Testament to Jewish people have been watched more than 23 million times over the last several years, as I reported in December 2016.
    • The Hebrew-language versions of these online videos in Israel have been watched more than 9 million times over the past few years.
    • What’s more, there is a remarkable — if largely unnoticed — movement among Rabbis and Jewish scholars in recent years encouraging Jewish people to read the New Testament to learn more about ancient Judaism and to better understand the life and teachings of Jesus.
    • EXAMPLE: Consider this column on the Times of Israel news site by Joshua Stanton, the Associate Director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and founding co-editor of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. The article was about three American Rabbis who were competing on the “American Bible Challenge” TV quiz show. Stanton found it interesting (and good) that these Rabbis were competing in an environment that requires them to know the New Testament in great detail, not just the Hebrew Scriptures. He noted:  The presence of the new rabbinical team might point to a different phenomenon altogether: an interest on the part of some Jews to read the Christian bible. Far from an exercise in assimilation, it stems from the increased recognition that embedded within Christian texts are kernels of wisdom about early rabbinic Judaism. If Jesus was a rabbi, then he and his followers would likely exhibit traits similar to those of other rabbis and their discipleship circles. In learning about one early rabbi (albeit a unique one, whose followers eventually split from the rabbinic tradition), we as Jews might gain insight into our own tradition.” He also noted that “while some of us still experience surface tension in reading the sacred texts of other traditions, the concern associated with reading the Christian Bible may be decreasing. With animosity quite low between Jews and Christians in the United States, and differences clearly defined, Jews may grow increasingly comfortable with the insights they gain from Christian texts, even as they recognize the differences inherent to them.”
    • EXAMPLE: Consider this story that CNN ran a story called, “Jews Reclaim Jesus As One Of Their Own.”
    • EXAMPLE: Consider a recent book — written by a prominent American Rabbi named Shmuley Boteach — called, Kosher Jesus. The Rabbi argued that while Jesus is not the Messiah, he was Jewish, was a Rabbi, was a great teacher, and that Jews should read the New Testament and learn from this remarkable “brother” of theirs. The book has sparked widespread discussion and controversy, arguably more than any book of its kind. Rabbi Boteach noted in a column he wrote for Jewish Week that “the ferocious battle that has been waged in the press and blogosphere over my new book, Kosher Jesus (Gefen Publishing House), in the weeks leading up to its publication…has obscured both its message and the reason for its publication. The book goes back to the original gospel source materials to uncover the true story of Jesus and portray him for who he was prior to later Christian editors significantly modifying the story to accommodate the Romans. Jesus was a Torah-committed Jew whose mission was to restore Jewish observance fully among his Jewish brethren and fight Roman persecution. For doing so he was turned over by the Roman collaborator, High Priest Caiaphas, who owed his office to the Romans, and was murdered by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate….Publisher’s Weekly reviewed the book as an ‘informed and cogent primer on Jesus of Nazareth…a brave stab at re-evaluating Jesus through an intensive look at the New Testament and historical documents…and a well-researched analysis that will certainly reopen intra-faith and interfaith dialogue.’….Why is it necessary for Jews to reclaim the Jewish Jesus and educate Christians about the source of his teachings? First, virtually all Jewish ideas that have shaped the world have been taken from our people without attribution so that Judaism is treated today as a discarded relic with little contemporary relevance. We gave the world God. Today his name is Jesus. We gave the world the Sabbath. Today it’s called Sunday. We gave the world the Ten Commandments. Today it’s called morality. And we gave the world the biblical insistence that all humans are created equally in the image of God. Today it’s called democracy. As a result, young Jews are not even aware of the transformative ideas of their own faith, which might explain their lack of attachment to it….”
    • EXAMPLE: Several American Rabbis and Jewish writers have been discussing the trend of Jews talking more about Jesus.
      • Josh Fleet, the associate religion editor at the Huffington Post, wrote an article entitled, The J-Word: Why Jesus Is Taboo in Polite Jewish Conversation.”  Excerpt: “[T]he topic of Jesus should not be a Jewish taboo. If we believe so much that our relationship with Christianity is based on deceit, tragedy and senseless hatred — that it has broken us — then we are obligated to believe it can be based on trust, opportunity and boundless love — that it can be fixed….Though we may not admit it, we are fascinated by Jesus. The latest trend has some reclaiming him as a devoutly Jewish sage — or at least someone Jews can learn from today. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, published in November 2011 and written from a Jewish perspective, re-contextualizes Christian Scripture and provides an opening for increased Jewish-Christian communion. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus…argues that Jesus never claimed that high celestial throne and seeks to give Jews foolproof, text-based responses to “Jews for Jesus” and other Christian missionaries with conversion on the mind. The debate aroused by Boteach’s book — responses range from positive to reasonable to overblown and sensational — shows that old wounds aren’t healed by a couple generations of cultural acceptance. In Orthodox circles, some rabbis have called for Kosher Jesus to be banned, with at least one rabbi asserting that Boteach should be excommunicated.”
      • Rabbi Jason Miller, an American Rabbi based in Michigan, posted a blog with this headline:Jesus, We Can Finally Talk About Jesus.”  
        • Excerpt: “I’ve always said that the only times Jewish people mention Jesus are when they stub their toe, miss the bus, or tell you about their theater tickets to a certain Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera. Two new books will change that. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus and The Jewish Annotated New Testament (edited by Marc Z. Brettler and Amy-Jill Levine). The former discusses the Jewish life of Jesus of Nazareth and the latter is a newly revised edition of the Christian Scriptures with notes and essays from Jewish scholars in the hope of making the “New Testament” accessible to Jews.
        • Excerpt: “As I have been reading the many criticisms of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his Kosher Jesus, one thing that I’ve noticed is the strong discomfort his attackers have with even mentioning Jesus. As Josh Fleet mentioned in his Huffington Post article, some of Boteach’s critics refuse to even type out the name Jesus. Instead they refer to Boteach’s book as Kosher J. abbreviating the name of Jesus in a way that is reminiscent of how they refuse to spell out the word “God” or “Lord” choosing instead to use “G-d” or “L-rd”. This struck me as odd as it seems to put Jesus in the same category as God whose name must not be rendered in print (even though the English words “God” and “Lord” are not actual names for the Jewish deity and I’ve never understood a ban on spelling out God’s name in Latin characters). In any event, it is similarly odd that many of Boteach’s critics who are eager to put him in herem (excommunication) for having the chutzpah to publish a book about Jesus of Nazareth are the same Chabad Lubavitch members who seem to be placing their bets that the late Lubavitch rebbe is the messiah. One man’s false messiah is another man’s god. One man’s spiritual leader is another man’s messiah.”
        • Excerpt: “When you consider how little most Jews know about Jesus from a historical perspective, it is actually an exciting time when this discussion will no longer be taboo. While some religious Jews will claim it is dangerous to read books like Kosher Jesus or to have Brettler and Levine’s commentary of the “New Testament” on your bookshelf for reference, I actually think that this will lead to better Jewish-Christian dialogue. It will also alleviate so much of the misinformation and ignorance that many Jews have about Christianity and its roots. I’m eager to see where this leads and I’m grateful to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for having the conviction to publish Kosher Jesus, and to Profs. Brettler and Levine for using their scholarship to educate us on a religion about which we have been hesitant to learn more.”
    • EXAMPLE: Several years ago, the New York Times ran an intriguing article headlined, “Focusing on the Jewish story of the New Testament.” It was about two professors – Amy-Jill Levine of Vanderbilt, and Marc Zvi Brettler of Brandeis – both practicing Jews, who had just released The Jewish Annotated New Testament (through Oxford University Press) in hopes of encouraging more Jews to read the New Testament and learn more about their own Jewish history and the Jewish roots of Christianity. Levine told the Times, “The more I study the New Testament, the better a Jew I become.” The release of their version prompted much news coverage (though for space I won’t link to the articles here.)
    • EXAMPLE: The Jewish Chronicle published an article headlined, “We Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of Saying ‘Rabbi Jesus.”   Excerpt: “In a recent YouTube video, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat in the West Bank, Shlomo Riskin, praised Jesus and referred to him as “Rabbi Jesus”. Riskin is the charismatic founder of the Centre for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Co-operation, which engages in dialogue primarily with evangelical Christians. The video was clearly posted for a Christian audience but it has caused shock waves among Orthodox Jews and especially the Charedi community. Rabbi Riskin stated on the video that Jesus was a model rabbi who ‘lived the life of a Jewish rabbi in Israel.’….Accusations of heresy are now being thrown at Rabbi Riskin, who had to offer a retraction in another YouTube video where he expressed remorse at describing Jesus as a rabbi stating it was an “unfortunate” term. It is a great shame that Rabbi Riskin was forced to backtrack because there has been a significant change in Jewish attitudes towards Christianity….Jewish education today should include learning that Jesus and his family would have been Torah observant, kept Shabbat, circumcised their males, attended synagogue, observed purity laws in relation to childbirth and menstruation, kept kosher, and so on. While the Gospels record disputes about Jesus’s interpretation of a few of these, the notion of a Christian Jesus, who did not live by Torah or only by its ethical values, does not fit historical reality….Geza Vermes and Ed Sanders are two scholars who in recent years have drawn wide attention among Christians to Jesus’s Jewish origins. Jesus was a Jew, not an alien intruder in first-century Palestine….Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel, a conservative Jew in California, wrote a blog headlined, “Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s bold acknowledgement of Jesus as a 1st century Sage and ‘Rabbi’”
    • EXAMPLE: Benyamin Cohen, the son of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, published a book entitled, My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith. Excerpt: “One day a Georgia-born son of an Orthodox rabbi discovers that his enthusiasm for Judaism is flagging. He observes the Sabbath, he goes to synagogue, and he even flies to New York on weekends for a series of “speed dates” with nice, eligible Jewish girls. But, something is missing. Looking out of his window and across the street at one of the hundreds of churches in Atlanta, he asks, ‘What would it be like to be a Christian?’ So begins Benyamin Cohen’s hilarious journey that is My Jesus Year—part memoir, part spiritual quest, and part anthropologist’s mission. Among Cohen’s many adventures (and misadventures), he finds himself in some rather unlikely places: jumping into the mosh-pit at a Christian rock concert, seeing his face projected on the giant JumboTron of an African-American megachurch, visiting a potential convert with two young Mormon missionaries, attending a Christian ‘professional wrestling’ match, and waking up early for a sunrise Easter service on top of Stone Mountain—a Confederate memorial and former base of operations for the KKK. During his year-long exploration, Cohen sees the best and the worst of Christianity— from megachurches to storefront churches; from crass commercialization of religion to the simple, moving faith of the humble believer; from the profound to the profane to the just plain laughable. Throughout, he keeps an open heart and mind, a good sense of humor, and takes what he learns from Christianity to reflect on his own faith and relationship to God. By year’s end, to Cohen’s surprise, his search for universal answers and truths in the Bible Belt actually make him a better Jew.”
    • EXAMPLE: Rabbi Michael J. Cook, an American Reform Jewish leader, published a book nearly a decade ago titled, Modern Jews Engage the New Testament: Enhancing Jewish Well-Being in a Christian Environment.
      • Publishers Weekly wrote:This arcane treatise aims to familiarize Jews with the New Testament. According to Cook, Jews shortchange themselves by failing to learn about the New Testament since they live in a Christian environment where their ignorance is a handicap. He wrote this manual to help Jews overcome this limitation, which he contends is a departure from the value Jews place on knowledge. At Hebrew Union College, where Cook teaches Judeo-Christian studies, rabbinical students have to learn the New Testament, a requirement that he feels should be mandated for all Jewish seminarians and college students. His handbook lays out the content for such courses for the benefit of non-Jews and secularists as well as Jews. Unfortunately, instead of presenting a primer, Cook offers a complicated text, replete with esoteric diagrams. His assumption of a base of knowledge contradicts his assertion that Jews know little about the New Testament. He examines the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, discussing their abstruse and often contradictory meanings. Most beginning readers will get lost in Cook’s perplexing consideration of minutiae, despite his comprehensive expertise.”
      • This was a topic Rabbi Cook had been discussing for several years. In April 2006, Ynet News published this story: “Rabbi: Jews should know New Testament — Reform rabbi says time has come to break ‘self-imposed ignorance’ about Christian bible; conservative and orthodox movements: matter so simple.”

While far too many in Israel and the Jewish world don’t yet know these facts, I will say I’m encouraged by the trend lines.

After all, shouldn’t every Israeli — indeed, every Jew — read and understand the full story of Jesus, the most famous and beloved Jew in human history?

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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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Meeting Egyptian President el-Sisi, the man who wants to “rebrand” Egypt. (My new column in The Jerusalem Post.)

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(Central Israel) — This morning, The Jerusalem Post published a new column of mine. In it, I describe my recent meeting with the leader of Egypt and three distinct impressions of him that I walked away with. Below, you’ll find a few excerpts, and a link to the full column on the Post website.

I ask all Christians around the world to continue praying for the Christians of Egypt as they mourn those killed and comfort those wounded and traumatized in two savage suicide bombings there on Palm Sunday. Please also continue praying for the leaders of Egypt as they battle the radicals and work to improve security — and the economy — for Christians and all their citizens.

As I noted yesterday, these attacks were not isolated incidents. Rather, “they are the latest salvos in a dangerous new ISIS offensive to destabilize Egypt, and they underscore the urgency of close Egyptian security cooperation with both the U.S. and Israel to neutralize this jihadist threat.” Let us stand in solidarity with Egypt at this critical time.

MEETING EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT SISI, THE MAN WHO WANTS TO “REBRAND” EGYPT: He wants Egypt to be seen as a trusted, stable ally of the West. 

By Joel C. Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2017

On Wednesday, I had the honor of participating in a two-hour meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi in Washington, DC….

As a result of what I saw and heard during the meeting, as well as in President Sisi’s interactions with US President Donald Trump, congressional leaders and American business leaders, I came away with three distinct impressions.

  • First, President Sisi is a man determined to rebrand Egypt as a trustworthy and stable American and Western ally after years of political chaos and instability.
  • Second, as the former commander-in-chief of the Egyptian military, Sisi is well trained and well positioned to make Egypt an effective leader in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
  • Third, as the leader of the first Arab nation ever to sign a peace treaty with Israel, President Sisi believes Egypt offers a model that can help lead the region to peace with the Jewish state. What has intrigued me as I have studied Sisi is how much he admires the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, even though Sadat was assassinated for visiting Jerusalem and agreeing to the 1979 Camp David Accords. Most Egyptians opposed the peace deal then. Many still do.

[To read the full column, please click here.]

[To read my March 7th column in The Jerusalem Post — “It’s Time For Washington To Strengthen Ties With Egypt” — please click here.]

[To read my April 17, 2016 column in The Jerusalem Post — “Meeting Jordan’s Warrior King: A first-hand look at how the West’s most faithful Sunni Arab ally is confronting Islamic State” — please click here.]

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(President el-Sisi meets with Middle East experts at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 5th. Photo credit: Embassy of Egypt.)

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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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ISIS targets Egypt, vows to “liberate” Cairo, slaughter Christians. Palm Sunday attacks on two Egyptian churches latest salvo in dangerous new offensive. Here’s the latest.

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(Central Israel) — Having just landed back in Israel last night to rejoin my family and celebrate Passover, I was heart-broken to hear the news out of Cairo.

But let’s be clear: the savage attacks by the Islamic State yesterday against Christians in two Egyptian churches packed for Palm Sunday are not isolated incidents. They are the latest salvos in a dangerous new ISIS offensive to destabilize Egypt, and they underscore the urgency of close Egyptian security cooperation with both the U.S. and Israel to neutralize this jihadist threat.

Consider the context of the two church attacks.

In May 2016, ISIS released a blizzard of videos and social media statements in support of “Sinai Province,” one of their jihadist affiliates. Since then, ISIS in the Sinai has ramped up its terrorist attacks against Egyptian citizens and military forces in Sinai and rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel.

“The series warns Egyptians against adopting the ‘new religion’ of democracy, and urge them to ‘wake up and realize [their] salvation is with sharia,'” noted an analysis in the journal, Foreign Affairs, headlined, ISIS TARGETS EGYPT: Why The Group Set Its Sights On Sinai. “They play up Sinai’s location as the ‘land of the prophet Moses,’ denounce Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a new Pharaoh, and curse him for ‘protecting the Jews.'”

“In addition to criticizing the Egyptian government, the latest videos dub Sinai the ‘gateway to Palestine,’ from which ISIS will ‘liberate’ Jerusalem and its iconic al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Foreign Affairs articles explains. “The videos show Egyptian leaders and military officials meeting Israeli counterparts, and call Israel’s Jews ‘victims in waiting,’ whom ISIS will deal with after the Egyptian ‘apostates.’ As one fighter warns, Israelis will soon meet the same fate as their supposed Egyptian collaborators: ‘the knives used to slice open the necks of your spies will slaughter your soldiers tomorrow.'”

Then, just two months ago, ISIS released a 20-minute video specifically declaring war on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community — which comprises about 10 percent of Egypt’s 93 million people — and vowing to assassinate Coptic Pope Tawadros II.

In the video, “a masked man, identified as Abu Abdallah al-Masri…promises that Islamists jailed in Egypt will be freed soon, when the group takes the capital,” reported The Times of London. “Al-Masri, which means ‘The Egyptian,’ was the nom-de-guerre given by the terrorist group to the militant it claims was behind a December suicide bombing that targeted a Cairo chapel within St Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Pope. Twenty-nine people, mostly women and children, were killed in the blast, which was the deadliest to hit Egypt’s Christians in living memory.”

“To my brothers in captivity: rejoice, you believers, do not falter or grieve. I swear to God we will very soon liberate Cairo and free you from captivity,” the militant said, clutching an assault rifle in a wheat field. “We will come bearing explosives, I swear we will, so rejoice you believers.”

It was in this context, then, that President el-Sisi just made his first visit to Washington to meet with President Trump and rebuild U.S.-Egyptian relations, especially with regards to security cooperation. It was also in this context that ISIS chose to strike two Egyptian churches, and that el-Sisi subsequently announced a “state of emergency” to deploy additional security forces across the country to protect Egyptians from the jihadists.

Please join me in praying for Egypt. Lynn and our four sons and I lived in Cairo for nearly three months in late 2005 while I was researching and writing a book. We spent several weeks on the Sinai peninsula, even traveling to the traditional site of Mount Sinai where Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments. We have a deep love for the people of Egypt and have deep concerns over the dangers that the people and leaders of Egypt face.

As such, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with President el-Sisi last week, to better understand his vision for Egypt and how he intends to deal with the ISIS threat, and numerous other challenges, from improving Egypt’s economy, to improving relations between Muslims and Christians, to helping Israelis and Palestinians find a way to live together in peace. In  October 2013, I wrote of Mr. el-Sisi, “clearly he is someone to keep an eye on.” In January 2014, I wrote a column titled, “Who to watch in 2014 — #4: Egyptian army chief al-Sisi. He’s set to announce presidential bid in 72 hours.” Given recent developments, I will continue to write about him and trends in Egypt.

Here’s the latest from the Associated Press:

  • Suicide bombers struck hours apart at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt, killing 44 people and turning Palm Sunday services into scenes of horror and outrage at the government that led the president to call for a three-month state of emergency.
  • The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the violence, adding to fears that extremists are shifting their focus to civilians, especially Egypt’s Christian minority.
  • The attacks in the northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria that also left 126 people wounded came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit.
  • Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic church who will meet with Francis on April 28-29, was in the Alexandra cathedral at the time of the bombing but was unhurt, the Interior Ministry said.
  • It was the single deadliest day for Christians in decades and the worst since a bombing at a Cairo church in December killed 30 people….

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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 — 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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Syria is a showdown between Trump and Putin over who is the dominant power in the Mideast. [Interview with CBN News.]

CBN-Syriainterview-Apr2017(Washington, D.C.) — Yesterday was the last full day of my five-week book tour. I must say it was sobering to finish by discussing Syrian sarin gas attacks and an American President’s response to such attacks, given how central these issues are to the trilogy.

The pictures were sickening, as was the casualty count. “Eighty-six people including at least 27 children died in Khan Sheikhun in an attack the United States has blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad,” reports a French news network, noting that the U.S. is publicly signaling more attacks could be necessary.

I was interviewed on Fox News and CBN News about the President’s decision to order airstrikes against Syria, particularly noteworthy given that President Obama never ordered a military response in Syria in six years despite repeated chemical weapons attacks against civilians. As soon as we get the video from Fox, I’ll post it.

Here is the online story that CBN News posted — I hope you’ll also take a moment to read it and watch the expanded video clip (which lasts 4:36 minutes) as I explain why it was so important for President Trump to do what he did.

Let me just add that President Trump urgently needs to determine and then explain  American national security interests in Syria, his goals for protecting U.S. interests, and then work closely with his national security advisors to develop a realistic game plan. American must not be lured into trying to fix a horrific civil war. Syria is imploding. Washington can’t stop that. But the U.S. also must not allow terror states to use weapons of mass destruction with impunity, nor let the Russians and Iranians set up a new terror base camp on Israel’s northeastern borders.

Please keep praying for the suffering Syrian people and for Syrian pastors and ministry leaders operating amidst such hellish conditions. Please pray, too, for the protection of U.S. forces in the Mideast — as well as for protection of all Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians — from possible Syrian escalation. Pray, too, for American and regional leaders to have wisdom to know how best to proceed in a very difficult, very complicated environment.

JOEL ROSENBERG: SYRIA IS TRUMP VS. PUTIN (interview with Gary Lane, CBN)

Author and Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg says Syrian President Assad’s chemical weapons attack against his own people and President Trump’s response is a test between the new U.S. president and Russia’s leader.

Rosenberg told CBN News, “It’s not just about Syria. This is a test between the United States and Russia over who is the dominant power, the guiding power in the Middle East today.”

The author of the new political thriller, “Without Warning” says President Trump’s response was the correct course of action.

“These are war crimes and the president had to move. He has to reassert American leadership. We are the only superpower on the planet and we have not acted like that in the last eight years—we have almost no credibility in the Middle East and that’s why Russia, Iran, Assad, ISIS all feel like they can act with impunity.”

Rosenberg said Vladimir Putin did not keep his word and was not serious when he assured President Obama that he would get Syrian President Assad to remove all his chemical weapons stockpile from the country.

“That was a complete lie,” Rosenberg insists.

The best-selling author says President Trump’s retaliatory military strike sends a message not just to Assad, but to Vladimir Putin.

“…We are the world’s superpower and there is a new sheriff in town. I think there is a sense among Israeli leaders and among Sunni Arab leaders that the tide is turning, that the United States is back.”

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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 — 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: PRESIDENT ORDERS STRIKES ON SYRIA AFTER CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS KILL CHILDREN. Here’s the latest.

Syria-USstrikesUPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — President Trump on Thursday night ordered U.S. military forces to launch strikes against Syrian targets after the Assad regime again used chemical weapons to slaughter Syrians, including scores of children.

The President should be commended for moving fast and hitting hard.

Now the big question: What will the President do next? Is this a one-off attack, or will the President order a series of attacks? What are the President’s goals in Syria? He should destroy Syria’s airfields and air force. He should create safe zones where Syrians can be protected from chemical weapons attacks and other attacks. And he must prove that he will hit Assad with tremendous force so no leader or terrorist believes they can use weapons of mass destruction with impunity.

It’s not just about Syria — the President sent a powerful message tonight to Putin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the North Koreans, and other American enemies and opponents. But there must be follow up and a clear, coherent and focused strategy.

More key questions:

  • What did Putin know, and when did he know it? Did Putin know Assad was ordering chemical weapons attacks against children? Did Putin support the move? Putin led the deal in 2013 to remove “all” chemical weapons from Syria. That’s why President Obama said he didn’t need to strike after Assad crossed the “red line” using WMD the first time. Clearly, not all the chemical weapons were removed. So what are the consequences of Putin’s lies to the U.S. and the world?
  • When will Assad be handed over to stand trial for war crimes? He has used chemical weapons repeatedly. He’s responsible for a civil war that has killed some 500,000 people. He’s created a humanitarian crisis where more than five million Syrians have fled the country for their very lives.
  • Where Russian advisors on the Syrian air base that was hit? Were any killed? What will Putin do next?

Expect the Israeli military to be on high alert for possible reprisal attacks.

I expect our key Sunni Arab allies — notably Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis and most of the Gulf states — to fully and publicly support President Trump’s actions.

Let’s be praying for the President and his national security advisors, for U.S. military forces around the world and particularly in the Middle East, and for the suffering people of Syria.

Here’s the latest on the strikes — please follow me on Twitter for the continuing updates.

The United States launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011,” Fox News is reporting.

“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

“Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles targeted an airbase at Shayrat, located outside Homs,” Fox noted. “The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said initial indications were that the strike “had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment … reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”

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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 — 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.