Israel and Jordan hit with deadly terrorist attacks this week. I ask Christians around the world to pray for Jews, Muslims and Christians in both countries.

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(Washington, D.C.) — My heart is heavy this morning as I grieve for those Israelis and Jordanians affected by two terrorist attacks this week — one just north of Amman on Monday that killed five Jordanian intelligence officers, and the other in the heart of  Tel Aviv yesterday, a mass shooting event by two Palestinians that left four Israelis dead and sixteen wounded.

These attacks are bitter reminders of the clear and present danger posed to America and our allies by the forces of Radical Islam. They’re also a reminder of the critical importance of understanding the politics, ideology and theology driving our enemies to murder Jews, Muslims and Christians.

We cannot defeat an enemy we refuse to define. Yet so many Western leaders — and some who seek to lead the Western alliance — have repeatedly demonstrated that they don’t truly understand what motivates our enemy and thus risk being blind-sided by future attacks.

What makes these attacks all the more tragic is that terrorism in Israel has actually been declining steadily in recent months, and most of these have been isolated knife attacks, not shootings. In fact, until Wednesday, not a single Israeli civilian had been killed by a terrorist in three months.

Meanwhile, under the impressive leadership of King Abdullah II, Jordan remains one of the safest and most secure countries in the Arab world, despite the implosion of Syria to their north, the ISIS surge across Iraq to their east, and a massive influx of refugees that has increased Jordan’s population by some 30% in recent years.

As I noted in a recent Jerusalem Post column, “Jordanian commandos, General Intelligence Directorate operatives and elite police units are taking down an ISIS or related cell inside Jordan every week. As a result of excellent intelligence and security work, Jordan hasn’t had a major terrorist attack inside its borders since 2005, certainly nothing like the recent jihadist attacks in Brussels, Paris, Istanbul, San Bernardino and elsewhere.”

In light of these events, I ask Christians around the world to please pray faithfully for those who were wounded and traumatized, that in His great love and mercy the Lord would grant them quick and full physical, emotional and spiritual recoveries.

Please pray, too, for the families and friends of those killed, that the Lord would grant them His divine comfort and “a peace that passes all understanding,” of which the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:7.

At the same time, please pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah II and their security services as they work to bring to justice to those responsible, comfort those who are grieving, and stay on the offensive against those who seek to rob, kill and destroy.

For more on these developing stories:

  • “The Jordanian government said a terrorist attack against the office of the national intelligence agency Monday killed five employees, including three intelligence officers, in a rare assault on a crucial U.S. ally in the Middle East,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “The attack occurred at the office of the General Intelligence Directorate in the Baqa’a Palestinian refugee camp north of the capital Amman, the official Petra News Agency quoted government spokesman Mohammed Momani as saying.”
  • “Four people have been killed and 16 people have been wounded in a terror attack at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv in a terror attack,” reported Ynet News. “Two alleged terrorists have been neutralized at the scene. One of the terrorists have died, the other is being treated in the hospital in critical condition.”

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Study finds 10 million Muslims have become followers of Christ since 1960.

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(Washington, D.C.) — 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.

Yesterday, I had the honor of addressing the pastors at the “Watchmen on the Wall” conference organized by the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins, president of FRC, asked me to brief the gathering on the latest on the persecuted Church in the Middle East and it was my joy to do so — especially to share this exciting news.

Here are notes I used for my presentation. You’ll find details regarding the soaring number of Muslim conversions under point #4, including a link to the peer-reviewed journal article where these data are found. Hope you find them helpful.

1.) The sobering reality is that 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution.” This was the finding from the most recent report on global persecution from Open Doors. Some 7,100 Christians were killed for their faith last year. up 50% from the previous year. Some 2,400 churches were destroyed or damaged last year. According to the president of Open Doors, “The level of exclusion, discrimination, and violence against Christians is unprecedented, spreading and intensifying.”
What countries top the list of the worst for persecution of Christians? Nine of the top 10 are Muslim majority countries.
  1. North Korea (14 years in a row at the top)
  2. Iraq
  3. Eritrea
  4. Afghanistan
  5. Syria
  6. Pakistan
  7. Somalia
  8. Sudan
  9. Iran
  10. Libya
This doesn’t mean that all Muslims are dangerous or are persecutors of Christians. The vast majority of Muslims do not intend us harm. However, this does mean that empirical evidence confirms that wherever the forces of Radical Islam — and Apocalyptic Islam — are highly active or in control, followers of Jesus Christ are in grave danger.
The Scriptures repeatedly warn believers to expect persecution, especially as the return of Christ approaches (see Matthew 24:8).
  • The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Everyone who lives a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
  • The Lord Jesus told His disciples in John 16:2, “an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” That hour has now come.
2.) The Church in Syria and Iraq today is not simply facing persecution — it’s facing genocideWhat is genocide? Jay Sekulow, head of the American Center for Law and Justice, and his team note, “The Holocaust gave rise to the necessity to define what ‘genocide’ is, and Article 2 of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) did just that,” defining it as:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Tragically, this is exactly what is happening in Syria and Iraq. The forces of the Islamic State are beheading, crucifying, torturing, starving and enslaving Christians, and trying to forcibly convert them to Islam. Many Christians are dying. Many are fleeing. Some, sadly, are converting away. This is genocide. Consider the facts:
• The number of Christians in Syria has dropped from 1.25 million to 500,000 in recent years, according to analyses by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).

• The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped from 1.4 million to fewer than 275,000 in recent years, which ACLJ notes is “an 80% drop.”

To his credit, Secretary of State John Kerry (finally) declared ISIS’s actions “genocide” earlier this year.

On Sunday evening in Jerusalem, I had tea with the Vicar of Baghdad — Anglican Canon Andrew White — and some pastors and friends. For years he lived in the capital of Iraq, ministering to Christians from many denominations and trying to be a witness to Muslims of Christ’s love and mercy. He explained to us that in 2014 he finally had to evacuate from Iraq because it had just become too dangerous. The stories he told us of ISIS atrocities he knew of first hand were horrific. He described a father forced by ISIS jihadists to renounce his Christian faith and convert to Islam or watch his children beheaded. He told another story of several young Christian children threatened by ISIS to convert to Islam or their parents would be murdered. But the children refused to convert saying they loved Jesus, and Jesus loved them and cared for them, and they had to always stay close to Jesus. Their parents were murdered in front of them.

To be clear, ISIS is waging genocide not just against Christians — seeking to destroy all followers of Christ and to physically destroy all Christian houses of worship. They are also seeking to destroy the Yazidis (a minority sect in the region) and Muslims who don’t share their same theological and eschatological views. Indeed, it is Muslims who are dying most at the hands of ISIS. And, of course, ISIS continues to threaten to invade Israel and murder all the Jews. Why? Because they believe that such genocidal actions will help accelerate the coming of their so-called messiah — the Mahdi — and the return of Jesus (to be the Mahdi’s deputy). They also believe this will usher in the global Islamic kingdom or Caliphate and bring about the End of Days.
3.) By the grace of our sovereign God, the two safest places for Christians in the Middle East today are Israel and Jordan.
Israel is a Jewish State. It’s a democracy (where Christians can vote and Arabs can vote and serve in government; we have an Arab Supreme Court Justice and 17 Arabs serving as Members of the Knesset, up from 12 in the previous elections). Israel does not have a particularly large population of Christ followers (thought the numbers of Jewish, Arab and international believers is steadily growing). Still, Israel is an oasis of religious freedom and personal safety and security for Christians in a sea of fire.
Israel is by no means perfect. Like every country, our government and society has many flaws. Still, it never ceases to astound and grieve me when I see some Christians around the world — including some liberal, mainline denominations — attacking Israel as a country of “apartheid” and “racism” and using all kinds of other epithets and announcing boycotts and divestment from Israel as if it were some pariah state, rather than acknowledging that for all our flaws this is the safest place for Christians to be in the entire Middle East.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, meanwhile — our next door neighbor — is a Muslim monarchy. Like Israel, Jordan does not have a huge Christian population (though the numbers of Christ followers is steadily increasing). That said, King Abdullah II has created the safest political and cultural environment for Christians in all of the Middle East. He and the Royal Family and the Jordanian government show great respect for the Christian community. Churches operate freely. Attacks by Islamic extremists are not countenanced. The King even created a national park along the Jordan River several years ago, allowing 13 Christian denominations to build church facilities and perform baptisms in the River. This is unimaginable in almost any other Muslim-majority country.
Let us, therefore, pray for the people and leaders of these two countries. Let’s thank them and seek to bless them for the blessings they are to Christians, even though most of their leaders disagree with what we believe.
4.) Despite the worst persecution in the modern history of the Church (or maybe because of it), we are seeing the greatest harvest of souls in the Muslims world in the history of the Church.
As sheer savagery has been unleashed in the Middle East, the Spirit of the living God is moving in power and great glory. Satan is on the offensive, but so is Christ. Darkness is falling, but the Light of the gospel is shining in the darkness.
To this end, 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.
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.
In their analysis, the 10 million figure is actually a mid-range. They conclude the number of conversions could be as low as around 6 million or even as high as around 17 or 18 million. To be sure, it’s impossible to get absolutely precise numbers of conversions out of Iran or Saudi Arabia, among other countries. And one must keep in mind that the data they looked at does not include 2011 to the present, though there is evidence of continued — perhaps even accelerated — conversions in recent years. That said, the scholars conclude 10 million is a solid conservative estimate based on the data they obtained.
The chart above is from their article. It shows the surge of conversions in recent decades.
To date, this is the most definitive data I have personally seen verifying the Great Awakening that is underway in the Muslim world.
True, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10 million conversions does not seem like many. But in nearly fourteen centuries of Islam, there were almost no conversions to Christians. Some, but not many. Now there is a civil war inside Islam. Muslims are questioning what they believe, why they believe it, and whether they have the truth or not. Many are looking at the “purist” Islamic regimes in Iraq and ISIS and concluding, “If that’s Islam, I can’t be a part of it.” They’re searching satellite TV, radio and the Internet for answers. They are reading the Bible and examining the claims of Christ. Some are even seeing dreams and visions of Jesus — and they are coming to faith in numbers we’ve never seen.
To me what’s important is not the number per se — it’s the dynamic. It’s the trend lines. And they are moving in a positive direction for the first time since Islam was founded in the seventh century.
To read specific examples and testimonies of “Muslim Background Believers,” consider reading my 2009 book, Inside The Revolution. My friend, Tom Doyle, has told more examples in his books Dreams & Visions and Killing Christians. I highly encourage you to read these, as well.
The Vicar of Baghdad shared with me even more examples, including the story of an ISIS jihadist recently having a dream in which he saw “the man in white” — realized it was Jesus Christ, realized that faith in Christ was the only way to be forgiven of his sins and find true hope and peace and truly get to heaven — and converted away from Islam to Biblical Christianity and became born again.
CONCLUSION
Yes, darkness is falling on the modern Middle East. But the Hebrew prophet Isaiah told us that “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine upon them.” (Isaiah 9:2)
This was true when the Lord Jesus came to Israel the first time 2,000 years ago. Today, the Light of Christ is again dawning on the people living in great darkness as the persecuted Church shows the love of Christ and shares the Gospel message.
Our job is to come along side our persecuted brothers and sisters and love them, encourage them, pray for them, visit them, resource them, help them stand strong and courageous for our Lord and King.
The Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 5 to rejoice when we are persecuted. So many of our brothers and sisters in the Mideast are rejoicing. They are full of joy because Jesus is all they have. They’ve lost everything else, but they have never felt spiritually and emotionally wealthier than they do today.
As one Iraq pastor told me, “We are living similar lives to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Yes, the fires here in Iraq are seven times hotter than they were. But Jesus is here with us, walking with us in the fire.”
I’m so grateful for men like the Vicar of Baghdad who are living in the region, among suffering people, loving them, serving them in the name of Jesus.
My wife and sons and I are honored to be living in the epicenter and having the chance to meet and encourage and serve our brothers and sisters who are serving heroically against the odds.
And I’m so grateful for my colleagues at The Joshua Fund who are so dedicated to providing humanitarian relief for the poor and vulnerable in Israel, both Jews and Arabs, and for refugees fleeing from Assad and ISIS. They’re passionate about strengthening the Church in the epicenter to boldly preach the Gospel to all, to teach the whole counsel of God, and to make disciples and raise up new pastors. I love these guys, and I believe their ministry is more important than ever given what’s happening in the region.

Is There Any Good News In The Mideast? Yes, despite intense persecution of the Church, we’re also seeing a great harvest of Muslims turning to Christ. Here’s the latest.

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Recently, Lynn and I had the opportunity to have dinner in Jerusalem with our good friends, Tom and JoAnn Doyle. Among other things we talked about two important trend lines in the world of Gospel ministry to Muslims — persecution and harvest.

Below is an article on this subject that I asked Tom to write specifically for this blog. It’s very informative and encouraging. I hope you’ll not only read it but share it with others.

By way of context, Tom was a senior pastor in New Mexico and Colorado for more than two decades. Then, in the summer of 2001, the Lord called he and JoAnn to serve the persecuted Church in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Little did they know the horrific events of 9/11 were coming. Nor could they have possibly imagined that the greatest era of church growth in the Muslim world in fourteen centuries was about to accelerate even faster, deeper and wider. In recent years, Tom has written some excellent books on what God is doing among Muslims. Among them are Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe and DREAMS AND VISIONS: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?  I commend them both to you.

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Is There Any Good News In The Middle East? Yes, despite intense persecution, we’re also seeing a great harvest of Muslims turning to Christ. Here’s the latest.

By Tom Doyle

When you think of Christianity in the Middle East, the first word that probably comes to mind is persecution. 

But another word should come to mind – harvest. 

The year 2015 was certainly a year of persecution for followers of Jesus Christ in the Muslim world. But one of the reasons for this is the large number of Muslims who have left the religion of Islam and now embrace Jesus as their Savior.

That said, persecution is not stopping the spread of the gospel. To the contrary, the killing of Christians is accelerating the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. In fact, over the centuries, oppressors have never recognized that the persecution of Christians is always a failed initiative. It doesn’t destroy the church; it makes the church grow.

Welcome to the New Middle East. Muslims all over the region are coming to faith in Christ. What’s more, they’re willing to suffer persecution for the Lord Jesus Christ in part because they see a great harvest of other Muslims and want to be faithful in proclaiming the good news of salvation in a world of such darkness.

Here are some of the things my wife and team and I have been seeing as we travel in and out of the region:

  • In November 2015, I took a team to a country in the Middle East and witnessed something phenomenal: 25 former Muslims baptized as new believers in Jesus. The city where we were has a steadily growing underground church – indeed, they’ve seen 90 Muslims receive Jesus recently. And that’s just in one city. One was a woman who is married to a Muslim Imam (religious cleric). When she embraced Jesus, her irate husband found out and threw her out of the house and kept their three children. He vowed that if she were baptized he would kill her. But there she was, one of the 25 lining up to be baptized, and when she came out of the water there was overwhelming relief and joy on her face. By the world’s standards, she has lost everything, but she was not willing to deny Jesus and her love for Him.
  • In Syria, Farid – a pastor and national Christian leader – says: “We’ve never seen Muslims come to Jesus like this. The ongoing civil war in our country has soured many to religion since this is essentially a religious war. Jesus brings something that religion can never deliver. He brings hope and reconciliation.” Farid says that the Syrian underground church is growing rapidly and in some home groups Alawites and Muslims worship together. “In the streets of Syria, they are killing one another, but when they find Jesus and reconcile with the Father, only then can they reconcile to one another. Jesus is the only hope for Syria. We have seen more than 1,000 Muslims come to faith in Christ in Syria in the last few years. This brings us great joy in Syria.”
  • A pastor in Jordan named, Amir, says: “The amazing occurrence of dreams about Jesus seems to be even growing. Of the hundreds of Muslims that we are working with, the majority of them claim to have had one or more Jesus dreams. Jesus tells them in the dream how He loves them. What a message Jesus has in this sea of hatred all around us.”
  • In February of 2015, ISIS killed 21 Christians on the beach in Libya and released the horrific footage of their beheading. The video showed 20 Egyptian men and one man from Chad walking onto the beach in orange jumpsuits and an ISIS terrorist with their covered, in all black, leading each prisoner. The picture summarized the year of persecution for the church. In fact, it became a defining moment for the persecuted church in the region, much like the image of the lone Chinese dissident standing in front of a column of oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
  • In October of 2015, I took a small team to Egypt to meet the wives of those brave martyrs. Before we left, I happened to mention on a national radio program in the States what we were going to do. I said that we were going to Egypt to encourage these dear widows and bring letters that our e3 Partners team had written. We were so surprised but encouraged when listeners began to write letters to the martyrs for us to take with us. Over 2,000 from around the world poured in within two days. A kindergarten class from a Christian school even drew pictures and sent them in since they were too young to write. Emails came in from countries around the world. What a blessing these messages of solidarity were to these faithful Christian women.

During the research I did for my book, Killing Christians, I came to believe that persecuted believers have become the face of genuine Christianity around the world. As Evangelicals, we may not agree with every element of theology of the Coptic Church that these men came from. But in meeting their families and hearing their stories, there is no question in my mind that these men truly loved the Lord Jesus with their whole hearts, and I was moved that they were more than willing to die for Him.

 

We visited their widows in their simple poverty-stricken villages. They told us how their husbands had been held captive and tortured for 45 days but they never gave in to the free ticket out that was promised to them if all they would do is convert to Islam. One widow shared this: “How is it that we were given this privilege and honor to have someone in our family die for Jesus? We are just humble village people in an insignificant village in Egypt. But yet Jesus selected my husband for the most important thing we could ever do in life-to die for Jesus!”

So why is it that Muslims are now coming to faith in Christ in significant numbers? One of the reasons is that Islamic terrorists are killing violently for their faith, while followers of Jesus are dying peacefully for their faith. Muslims are watching the violence and it has soured them towards their religion. It has also opened them up to the possibility that there may be something to this Jesus after all. They see hate in Radical Islam and love among the Jesus followers, even as they are taken to be executed. What a contrast.

Yes, Christians are being persecuted openly in the Middle East. But they are standing strong, and this has served to spread the gospel even more rapidly. In a world of bad news, that is very good news.

Let us thank God for this – and let us be faithful in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters, that the Lord would give them strength and courage and boldness to keep living for Christ and keep preaching the Gospel, come what may.

Despite the persecution, killing, and terrorism in the Middle East, this is one of the Church’s finest hours.

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Tom Doyle is the Vice President of e3 Partners, focusing on evangelism and equipping the Church around the world, including in Muslim countries.

You can get real-time prayer requests from your brothers and sisters on the frontlines and in harms way at the face book page called 8thirty8.

In Tom’s recent book, Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where it is Not Safe to Believe, you can also read true stories of persecuted believers in the Middle East that will inspire you to live wholeheartedly for Christ.

Despite a bizarre week in Israeli politics, Sunni Arab leaders are quietly reaching out to Netanyahu to discuss restarting peace talks based on the “Saudi Plan.” Meanwhile, Abbas signals he may soon step down. Who would replace him?

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Very few Israelis or Palestinians believe the moment is ripe to craft a comprehensive peace deal. Pessimism over the seemingly never-ending “peace process” is rampant.

That said, there continue to be curious developments here I think you should be aware of. I laid out some in my column earlier in the week. There have been more since then. Among them:

  1. Despite a bizarre and topsy-turvy week in Israeli politics, there are credible reports that moderate Sunni Arab leaders are actively reaching out to Prime Minister Netanyahu with indications that they are open to making changes in the Saudi Peace Initiative to make it more palatable for Israelis.
  2. Netanyahu is signaling that he is not averse to opening new peace talks that would involve changes to the Saudi plan, so long as regional Arab leaders are the primary players in the talks, not the French.
  3. At the same time, however, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is privately indicating that he will soon need to step down from power. “My age and health don’t allow me to remain in power,” the 81-year-old Abbas recently told Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. “My term in office expired several years ago and I’m still in power only because of the Hamas, which staged a coup and is controlling the Gaza Strip and refusing to allow new elections.”
  4. The possibility that Abbas could soon step off the political stage could add a destabilizing factor into the mix, especially if the battle to succeed Abbas becomes heated, or even violent.
  5. Who will the next Palestinian leader be? Would he (or she) be more or less ready to strike a compromise with Israel? Would he or she encourage violent opposition to Israel, or encourage calm and reconciliation?
  6. Meanwhile, critics of Netanyahu are asking, “How serious is Bibi about really making peace?” His enemies say Bibi will never negotiate in good faith. But those close to him say he’s ready for an honest dialogue, and note that it was Menachem Began (the first leader of the Likud Party) who made peace with Egypt in 1979. [NOTE: I’m not taking a position on any of these internal political questions — who’s right? who’s wrong? — I’m just pointing out some of the trend lines I think are noteworthy.]
  7. The week began looking like Netanyahu would create a “unity” government with Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who is personally determined to find a peace deal with the Palestinians. But in a dramatic and unexpected reversal mid-week, Netanyahu decided to make a deal with right-wing leader Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel Our Home”) party instead of Herzog. Liberman is now slated to be Defense Minister, if the deal is finalized. This news has triggered a firestorm. Herzog is furious with Bibi. Current Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon is, too. Ya’alon resigned the government rather than accept his imminent demotion or even change of position, and Ya’alon had harsh words for both Netanyahu and Liberman.
  8. Many in Israel and the region regard Liberman as an acerbic, controversial, polarizing figure, and someone not known for being eager to make peace with the Palestinians or even other Arab states. To Bibi’s enemies, the offer to Liberman is proof Bibi and his government will never make peace.
  9. In these circumstances, then, one could imagine that the notion of Bibi including Liberman into his government — especially instead of Herzog, who believes that a “rare” chance to make regional peace is emerging — will sabotage whatever slowly improving ties there have been between Israel and the moderate Arab states.
  10. That may still prove the case. But at the moment, the Arab states are reaching out to Bibi, despite of the Liberman/Ya’alon brouhaha. This is intriguing, to say the least.
  11. At the moment, it’s Egyptian President el-Sisi who is taking the lead in communicating with Netanyahu. Earlier this week, the Egyptian leader publicly called on Israelis and Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table, and offered to help mediate those discussions. Netanyahu immediately responded positively to the suggestion. Sisi and Netanyahu then spoke on Friday when Netanyahu called to offer condolences over the crash of an Egyptian jetliner this week, a crash that may have been the result of terrorism, though the investigation has only just begun.
  12. Jordan’s King Abdullah II, currently on a state visit to Europe, has been quiet so far this week. That said, recent media reports (see here, here, here and here) indicate that behind the scenes he senses the environment for talks is improving and is quietly encouraging the peace process to begin again.
  13. UDPATED: As I wrote on Tuesday, something does appear to be afoot between Israel and her Sunni Arab neighbors. Where will it lead? I genuinely don’t know. But I am praying for peace because the Bible commands me to and because I truly want there to be calm and security and prosperity and genuine freedom and opportunity for everyone in the region. I hope you will join me in praying along these lines, as well. Let’s also be praying for President Abbas’ health and strength and that the Lord would show mercy to him and his family during this challenging and tense season. Let’s be praying for President el-Sisi as he deals with the crisis surrounding the loss of the EgyptAir jetliner and more than 60 people on board. Let’s also be praying for the leaders of Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis and the Gulf States as they talk to one another and seek peace. We don’t know if they’ll find a way forward, but as our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

[This column is based on my personal views and analysis. I share them in my personal capacity as an American and Israeli 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.]

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post published a very interesting story on the latest behind-the-scenes interactions between Israeli and Arab leaders. Here are some excerpts worth noting:

  • “Moderate Sunni Arab governments in the region have communicated to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu their willingness to engage in negotiations with Israel over possible changes to the Saudi peace initiative so that it may serve as the agreed-upon basis of renewed talks with the Palestinians,” reports the Jerusalem Post, based on a story first reported by Channel 10 on Friday….
  • Arab regimes led by Egypt and the wealthy Gulf sheikhdoms have signaled their desire to publicly change their posture toward Israel, according to Channel 10.
  • Officials in Arab capitals are now awaiting Netanyahu’s response to their offer of substantive discussions on the Saudi initiative so as to make it more palatable for Israel.
  • During a Twitter chat he held in the courtyard of his Jerusalem home in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day, Netanyahu said Israel is ready to talk about an amended Saudi peace initiative.
  • One of the questioners asked him in Arabic about the 2002 Saudi Initiative, otherwise known as the Arab Peace Plan, which calls for a two-state solution on the pre-1967 lines with a just settlement for Palestinian refugees. In exchange the Arab world would offer Israel normalized relations.
  • “Why don’t you accept the Arab initiative and what are the reasons why it is not implemented,” Twitter questioner @abosarah7 asked.
  • Netanyahu responded, also in Arabic, that an updated initiative which “addresses our concerns merits further discussion. Israel will always seek peace.”…..
  • In response to Sam Rubinstein from Brown University, Netanyahu said in a short video response, “I am willing to meet President Abbas today, right now. He can come to my home here in Jerusalem or I can go to his home here in Ramallah. Now I want you to forward that question to President Abbas and see what he says, #askAbbas.”
  • Channel 10 cites Western diplomatic sources as saying that a number of emissaries have relayed conciliatory Arab messages to Netanyahu, one of them being former British premier Tony Blair.

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Is something afoot between Israel & her Sunni Arab neighbors? (If not, why are Egyptian & even Saudi leaders suddenly talking so nicely to the Jewish State?)

Sisi-NetanyahuWINEP-Handshake-Turki-Amidror

>> CBN News Mideast bureau chief Chris Mitchell interviewed me for a story he just did on the ISIS threat to Jordan and why the U.S. needs to stand with our most faithful Sunni Arab ally. To watch his report, or read the transcript, please click here.

UPDATED: Is something afoot between Israel and her Sunni Arab neighbors? Consider a curious chain of events in the region over the past month or so:

  1. On the one hand, in recent weeks, the Israelis have flatly turned down an offer by the French to attend a summit in Paris later this summer aimed at kick-starting the moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. Israeli leaders say they keep calling for direct talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas keeps refusing to come to the table. Abbas says he wants an international conference because he doesn’t trust Netanyahu to operate in good faith. Abbas supports the French approach.
  2. In recent days, however, the opposition leader of the Israeli parliament — Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog — told reporters he is actively considering joining the Netanyahu government (likely as Foreign Minister) in order to pursue a “rare” opportunity for peace with Israel’s neighbors. “I have identified a rare regional diplomatic opportunity that may lapse and not return,” Herzog told dozens of party activists at a gathering that was secretly recorded and leaked to an Israeli TV station and newspaper. “I don’t say this based on nothing, but based on knowledge. don’t know if it will happen. But it could be that it will happen only due to a change in the government’s composition.”
  3. Some Zionist Union leaders have blasted such talk in recent days. They’ve said there is no rare moment for peace and have sharply criticized Herzog for being willing to sell out to Netanyahu. They say Herzog is simply angling for a senior government post because he’s slipping in the polls and could soon be voted out of leadership in his own political party. “In a scathing broadside, Yachimovich said the prime minister’s overtures were like ‘a bone Netanyahu has thrown, and called Herzog to come crawling back with the bone in his mouth,'” the Times of Israel reported.
  4. However, there are curious signs of a possible rapprochement between Israel and Sunni Arab neighbors. Over the last several years, Israeli and Saudi officials, for example, have been jointly developing strategies to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. Mostly this has been done under the radar, with occasional leaks to Israel, Western and Arab media. In June of 2015, however, a curious event happened. The Council on Foreign Relations hosted an event titled, “Regional Challenges and Opportunities: The View from Saudi Arabia and Israel.” In a rare — almost unprecedented — public event of its kind, the speakers were Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Anwar Eshki of Saudi Arabia and the Hon. Dore Gold, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.N., the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and a confidante of Netanyahu (who was about become Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry soon thereafter). Then, in April 2016, the Egyptians successfully negotiated a transfer of some islands in the Red Sea back to the Saudis, an agreement that required explicit Israeli consent since the islands were covered by the Camp David Accords. This curiously put Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi diplomats in the rare position of privately holding extensive meetings, and then publicly agreeing on a diplomatic accord. Then, earlier this month, something even more curious happened: a senior Saudi official (a member of the Saudi Royal Family, no less) — His Royal Highness Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. — spoke side-by-side at a “pathbreaking” event in Washington, D.C. with Yaakov Amidror, the former Israeli National Security Advisor and close confidante of Netanyahu. They certainly didn’t agree on everything. But they were friendly. They were candid. They talked about various pathways to peace, including the long-discussed Saudi Peace Initiative which was first released in 2002. It’s unthinkable that these two men agreed to do the event without approval from their respective governments at the highest levels, even though they are both “formers.” It was thus fascinating to watch two former officials (more senior that those speaking at the CFR event the previous June) from two nations so long at war talking respectfully, even as friends. Something does appear to be afoot. (watch here)
  5. Last week, Netanyahu gave a speech to a gathering of foreign ambassadors that seemed to hint he might be open to some version of the Saudi peace plan.”I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state — it’s about time,” Netanyahu told the diplomats. Then he added, “In recent years, I’ve seen formerly hostile states in the region and beyond, but especially in the region, form new and deep partnerships with us. I think this is a matter of great importance because I think this creates new hope. We can advance peace with the Palestinians directly and through the support of other nations, including in the region. It was once thought that the only way that we could advance peace with the Arab states was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That would certainly help enormously. But it’s also true that we might solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem by enjoying the support of Arab states who now see Israel more and more not as an enemy, but as an ally against the forces that threaten their own countries as well.”
  6. Then today, out of the blue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered to mediate an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. “El-Sisi promised Israel on Tuesday warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging its leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region,” Reuters reported. “In an impromptu speech at an infrastructure conference in the southern city of Assiut, Sisi said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis.” Curiously, Reuters also reported that “Sisi, who rarely speaks publicly about foreign policy, offered the 2002 Arab peace initiative as a potential way ahead. The initiative offered full recognition of Israel but only if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a ‘just solution’ for Palestinian refugees.”
  7. UPDATE: “This is a genuine opportunity,” said President el-Sisi on national television. “We are willing to make all efforts to help find a solution to this problem….I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role. It is a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution.”
  8. Immediately, Netanyahu spoke to reporters to offer praise for el-Sisi’s offer. “I welcome Egyptian President El-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region,” Netanyahu told reporters. “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President El-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”
  9. Then, very shortly thereafter, opposition leader Herzog put out a statement also praising el-Sisi’s statement. This was particularly significant given that Herzog is currently negotiating with Netanyahu to create a “unity government” and become the nation’s Foreign Minister.
  10. UPDATE: The French have announced they are postponing their summer peace summit.
  11. UPDATE: “Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu and Herzog were planning a joint trip to Cairo if the latter joined the coalition, presumably as foreign minister.”
  12. UPDATE: Next came the news that “a textbook introduced this semester by the government of President Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi requires Egyptian pupils to memorize the provisions of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty and delineate the ‘advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.'” According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, “the assignments from the ninth grade book, The Geography of the Arab World and the History of Modern Egypt, are part of a change to a more robust and positive treatment of peace with Israel than that manifested in books during the three decades in power of al-Sisi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Ofir Winter, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who recently authored a study of the book, termed it ‘the first buds of development’ in Egyptian educational attitudes towards peace.”
  13. UPDATE: Then, in a dramatic and unexpected twist in the week, Herzog abruptly backed out of coalition talks with Netanyahu when he learned that Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman was also talking about joining the government. Netanyahu then offered Liberman the position of Defense Minister and invited his party to join the government immediately. Negotiations are still on-going at this hour, but for the moment Herzog seems out, and Liberman seems in. What that does to the “rare” opportunity for peace in the region is anyone’s guess.

UPDATED ANALYSIS: So what exactly is going on? Clearly, it’s too early to say. With apologies to Shakespeare, it could be much ado about nothing. No one knows the actual contours of what is being discussed, and there are many twists and turns ahead. I’m not saying peace is at hand. History is littered with failed talks — if talks even get re-started any time soon.

Curiously quiet in the back and forth were Palestinian leaders — at least initially. Now there are rumors (not surprising) that Abbas is deeply unhappy about the prospect of Liberman joining the government.

Still, Christ said “blessed are the peacemakers.” The Psalmist commands us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” It’s always important to seek peace with one’s neighbors and enemies — to try, anyway — is it not, so long as you don’t make things worse and not better?

Netanyahu and his closest advisors have made the case in recent years that rather than Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates waiting to make peace with Israel until after a deal with the Palestinians is complete, why don’t Arab states make peace with Israel now, like Egypt and Jordan have? This, they argue, just might (might) create a framework of security and trust that could improve the chances of the Israelis and Palestinians finding a deal everyone could accept. I’m not saying they are right or wrong. I’m just highlighting their argument.

Until now, it would have been unimaginable that the Saudis would ever warm up to real peace with Israel. And the Gulf states aren’t likely to make formal peace with Israel before the Saudis do, if the Saudis ever do. But as I’ve been reporting for several years, there are definitely signs of thaw between Israel and the Sunni Arab states. (See here, here, and here, for a few examples.) This has never been more so than this past month.

Many Sunni Arab states increasingly see the apocalyptic leaders of Iran and ISIS as the real threats to regional peace and security, and increasingly see Israel as a potential ally in dealing with both threats.

That’s not to say the Sunni Arabs are happy with Israel. There are deep-seated cultural, ethnic and religious disagreements for many, and hatreds for some. But that’s an update on the current state of play.

[Final note: Are there prophetic implications to such trends, when viewed from the lens of Bible prophecy? Absolutely, and we’ll examine them if the process moves forward.]

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What are threats the next President will face? Here’s one: A Czar rising in Russia.

Putin-Rouhani-PoliticoAs we continue our look at major threats the next American President will face, we must take a hard look at Vladimir Putin.

In addition to invading Georgia and Ukraine in recent years, Putin has continued to rebuild Russia’s military and expand Russia’s military and diplomatic influence in the Middle East. Specially, Putin has:

  • aggressively forged a military alliance with Iran
  • sold state-of-the-art weapons systems to Iran
  • sent Russian troops into Syria to fight alongside Iran to prop up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad
  • expanded Russia’s arms and nuclear sales to countries throughout the Middle East
  • eagerly moved to fill the vacuum created by President Obama’s retreat from the Mideast.

The trend lines are as clear as they are dangerous. At his core, Putin is a Czar. He wants to dramatically expand the imperial reach of Mother Russia. He is testing and probing Western defenses and resolve to see when and where he can expand next. If he remains unchecked by the U.S. and NATO, Putin will make even more dangerous military incursions in the near future — possibly into Europe, but also in the Middle East.

I commend to your attention a recent article in Politico by Dennis Ross, a former senior advisor to President Obama who has becoming increasingly critical of the President. The article is titled, “Why Middle Eastern Leaders Are Talking to Putin, Not Obama: Russia is less dominant militarily but more willing to act, and that has changed the dynamics in the region.”

That said, to best understand how serious a threat Putin will be in the future, one must look at what he has said in the past. In 2014, I wrote a column for National Review on this subject. Let me cite here some of my findings.

  • In 2000, three Russian journalists — Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova, and Andrei Kolesnikov — published First Person, which may prove to be one of the most important books ever written about Putin. It is useful not because the journalists offered their own ­insights or analysis into Putin, but because they simply let Putin speak for himself. They interviewed the Russian leader six separate times, each time for about four hours. The book is merely a transcript, and when it comes to understanding Putin’s ambitions and approach, it is a gold mine of intelligence.
  • Putin on his mission in life: “My historical mission,” he insisted, is to stop “the collapse of the USSR” (p. 139). To do this, he vowed to “consolidate the armed forces, the Interior Ministry, and the FSB [the successor to the KGB, the secret police of the Soviet Union]” (p. 140). “If I can help save Russia from collapse, then I’ll have something to be proud of” (p. 204).
  • Putin on his style: “Everyone says I’m harsh, even brutal,” Putin acknowledged, without ever disputing such observations. “A dog senses when somebody is afraid of it, and bites,” he observed. “The same applies [to dealing with one’s enemies]. If you become jittery, they will think they are stronger. Only one thing works in such circumstances—to go on the offensive. You must hit first, and hit so hard that your opponent will not rise to his feet” (p. 168).
  • Putin on the czars: “From the very beginning, Russia was created as a super-centralized state. That’s practically laid down in its genetic code, its traditions, and the mentality of its people,” said Putin, adding, “In certain periods of time . . . in a certain place . . . under certain conditions . . . monarchy has played and continues to this day to play a positive role. . . . The monarch doesn’t have to worry about whether or not he will be elected, or about petty political interests, or about how to influence the electorate. He can think about the destiny of the people and not become distracted with trivialities” (p. 186).
  • Putin on his choice of history’s most interesting political leader: “Napoleon Bonaparte” (p. 194). On his rise from spy to president: “In the Kremlin, I have a different position. Nobody controls me here. I control everybody else” (p. 131).
  • Putin on his critics: “To hell with them” (p. 140).
In 2014, I engaged McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally-respected polling firm, to ask a series of questions of 1,000 likely U.S. voters. Among the questions we asked: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “In light of Russia’s invasion of southern Ukraine, and Russia selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and Russia selling arms to the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, I have come to believe that Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia pose a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our ally, Israel”?
We found a remarkable 72 percent of Americans said they agreed with such a statement. Only 19 percent disagreed.

Since 2014, the U.S. has retreated even more aggressively from the Middle East, and Putin has even more aggressively moved to fill the vacuum. Make no mistake: the Russian Bear is hungry, and unless he is stopped, he will devour again.

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Other Recent Articles In This Series

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39 reasons a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a catastrophe for America.

Hillary-2

It is now increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton will win the Democrat nomination for President. In my view, her election will be a disaster for the American family, American workers, Americans serving in the military, and for American national security.

As commanded in the Scriptures, I will pray for her, as for all leaders. But I cannot vote for her. Here are 39 specific reasons — specific things she has said, positions she has taken, lies she has told, and values she has espoused, all that I disagree with. (True, there are so many more reasons why she would be a disastrous president, but I think this list will suffice for now.)

Readers of this blog will remember that earlier this year, during the GOP primaries, I wrote two columns about Mr. Trump. The first was titled, “32 reasons a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for America.” The second was titled, “Seven more reasons a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe. Trump must be stopped.” That second column was dated March 1st. Two and a half months later, it does not appear now that Trump will be stopped. He seems on track to win the Republican nomination and to square off against Hillary in the Fall campaign.

Where does that leave the American people at this point? I honestly don’t know, but I confess I am grieving.

In 2012, I wrote a non-fiction book called, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?  Four years later, it feels to me like the American ship of state is hurtling towards an iceberg, and both people vying to be captain want us to accelerate rather than turn before it’s too late.

I was born in the United States. I was raised in the United States. I remain a loyal American citizen, even though I now live with my family in Israel — regularly shuttling back and forth — and have dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, as allowed by U.S. law. I love America more than I can possibly explain. My family found freedom and safety and opportunity there. We found a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ there. We learned the Word of God there, and made some of our dearest friends on the planet there. So what is unfolding in the country of my birth is as heart-breaking to me as it is surreal.

But while so much of the road ahead is foggy for me, a few things remain clear: I must trust in the sovereignty of God, come what may. I must continue to pray regularly and faithfully for a sweeping spiritual revival in the American Church, and for a Great Awakening among the broader American public. I must pray more earnestly than ever that followers of Christ across America, myself included, will preach the Gospel — and preach the “whole counsel of God” — in the power of the Holy Spirit, and faithfully make disciples, and engage with their fellow Americans with love and gentleness and respect.

Darkness is falling. The forces of freedom are in retreat. But God is good and God is great and I’m grateful that I can rest in His love and mercy. I hope you can, too.


 

  1. For years, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton adamantly argued that Iran’s government had absolutely no right to enrich uranium — until she flip-flopped and supported a deal that gave Iran the full legal right to enrich uranium, and eventually enrich as much as they want. “I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment,” she told The Atlantic magazine. “Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right.”
  2. Now, Hillary says she is “very proud” of the Iran nuclear deal that gives Iran that full legal right to enrich uranium. [NOTE: For more on why the Iran nuclear deal is so dangerous, please click here.]
  3. Now, Hillary takes credit for making the deal happen. “I spent 18 months putting together the sanctions against Iran so that we could force them to the negotiating table,” she said on November 6, 2015.
  4. “Hillary Clinton Opened Door to Key U.S. Shift Toward Iran Nuclear Deal — At State Department, the Democratic front-runner and an aide softened their stance against letting Tehran enrich uranium.” — Wall Street Journal headline, September 8, 2015.
  5. “Hillary Clinton makes forceful case for Iran nuclear deal” — London Guardian headline, September 9, 2015
  6. “Clinton backs Obama’s ISIS strategy in Democratic debate” — Reuters headline, December 20, 2015.
  7. As a senior member of the administration, Hillary supported President Obama’s enormous ,dramatic, dangerous cuts to U.S. military spending. The national security portion of the federal budget has plunged from over 20% to under 16%, and from 4.6% of GDP to only 3.3% during the Obama years. The Army has cut its ranks by 40,000 troops. The Navy has cut the number of ships from 600 ships during the Reagan administration to only 272 ships today. This is almost as low as back in 1916 when we only had 245 active ships. While U.S. Navy ships are far more advanced today than back in 1916, of course, having so few jeopardizes America’s ability to defend the homeland and her allies and project power in crisis spots around the world.
  8. Hillary led the Obama administration’s failed “reset” policy with Russian President Vladimir Putin — yet she says she might try it again. During a presidential debate, NBC’s Lester Holt asked,Secretary Clinton, you famously handed Russia’s foreign minister a reset button in 2009. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea, fomented a war with Ukraine, provided weapons that downed an airliner, and launched operations, as we’ve just discussed, to support Assad in Syria. As president, would you hand Vladimir Putin a reset button?” Clinton refused to rule trying the disastrous approach a second time, saying, “Well, it would depend upon what I got for it,” Clinton said.
  9. Hillary called the Obama administration’s Libya policy her “greatest moment” as Secretary of State, even though President Obama himself calls it his “worst mistake.”
  10. Hillary open says she supports requiring Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines — even though President George W. Bush gave a written promise to Israel in 2004 that the U.S. would support “defensible borders” for Israel and would never force Israel all the way back to the indefensible 1967 borders; even though the 1967 borders didn’t establish peace but led to war; even though the Washington Post called this a “major shift” of U.S. foreign policy; even though this would mean forcing Israel to divide her capital of Jerusalem and forcing Israel to give away the Jewish and Christian Quarters of Jerusalem; even though this would mean forcing Israel to give away the Golan Heights to the murderous Assad regime, even as Syria is imploding and ISIS and other extremist groups are on the offensive; even though the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is serving in the 11th year of his four year term and refuses to call new elections; etc.
  11. Hillary was Secretary of State during the “worst crisis” in U.S.-Israel relations “in 35 years” a crisis she helped generate by actively trying to create “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel at the direction of President Obama, even as the Middle East was being set on fire in one Arab capital after another.
  12. Hillary is openly proud of the fact that as Secretary of State she was the “designated yeller” at Israel’s Prime Minister, trying to force him to take positions that the Israeli government felt would put their people in danger (such as engage in negotiations to give Iran the right to enrich uranium; such as forcing Israel back to indefensible borders and dividing Jerusalem; such as forcing Israel to stop building homes for Jewish residents in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem).
  13. Hillary emerged during the 2016 Democratic primaries as the chief supporter and defender of President Obama’s domestic, economic and foreign policies — “Hillary Clinton Clings to Obama’s Legacy in Democratic Debate,” noted a Time magazine headline.
  14. President Barack Obama has endorsed Hillary because he sees her as fully committed to implementing his third term in office — “Barack Obama tells Democrats it’s ‘time to unite behind Hillary Clinton,'” noted a March 2016 headline.
  15. Hillary — just in this campaign cycle alone — has proposed increasing taxes on the American people by $1 trillion
  16. Hillary — just in this campaign cycle alone — has proposed $1.1 trillion in increased federal spending.
  17. Hillary fully supports Obamacare, and absolutely refuses to repeal it — “Not on my watch,” she says.
  18. Hillary not only fully supports the federal government’s takeover of the private health care industry, she insists it was her idea — “It was called HillaryCare before it was called ObamaCare,” she told voters in Iowa.
  19. “Hillary Clinton: I Would Not Appoint Someone to the Supreme Court Who Didn’t Support Abortion” — Life News headline, March 29, 2016.
  20. Hillary said she is glad her husband vetoed the ban on partial birth abortion.
  21. Hillary fully supports homosexual marriage now, even though she was steadfast against it for a decade until she flip-flopped in 2013.
  22. Hillary has proposed “a sweeping gun control” plan in defiance of the Second Amendment — a striking flip-flop from her previous positions.
  23. “Secretary Clinton changes her position on (gun issues) every election year, it seems, having one position in 2000 and then campaigning against President Obama and saying we don’t need federal standards,” said Maryland Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley, during the December 19, 2015 debate.
  24. “We didn’t lose a single person” in Libya, Hillary actually said during a nationally televised debate during the 2016 campaign. Yet this is patently untrue. As Politico noted, “her comments ignore the 2012 attacks at the U.S. mission and CIA outpost in Benghazi, which killed four people including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.”
  25. “Hillary Clinton’s big Benghazi lie” — London Telegraph headline, October 24, 2015
  26. “‘She Lies!’: Mom of Benghazi Victim Blasts Hillary for Not Telling the Truth” — Fox News headline, October 22, 2015
  27. Hillary as Secretary of State fully supported President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, but then she flip-flopped as a 2016 presidential candidate becoming totally opposed to it.
  28. “45 times Secretary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes” — CNN headline.
  29. Hillary once called the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal she now opposes “the gold standard” of all U.S. trade deals — “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” she said as Secretary of State on November 15, 2012.
  30. “This is a classic political decision that you can flip-flop if you flop over to the popular side of an issue,” said David Alexrod, a Democratic strategist who advised President Obama’s bids for the White House, on CNN [regarding Hillary’s flip flops on supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal; see below]. “The great risk, though — her great liability in this race so far — has been this sense that she’s been inauthentic. This lurch on this issue opens her up for another charge of inauthenticity.”
  31. Hillary in February 2016 vowed to dramatically expand amnesty for illegal immigrants. “I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country,” Hillary said. “I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put Dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people, like many parents of Dreamers, and others, with deep ties and contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay, and I will fight for them.”
  32. “Hillary Clinton vows to expand Obama amnesty to more illegals” — Washington Times headline, May 5, 2015.
  33. “I remember landing under sniper fire,” Hillary told reporters during the 2008 presidential campaign, speaking of a visit to Bosnia in 1996. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” But as the London Telegraph reported, it never actually happened. “News footage of the event however showed her claims to have been wide of the mark, and reporters who accompanied her stated that there was no sniper fire. Her account was ridiculed by ABC News as ‘like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.'”
  34. “Video shows tarmac welcome, no snipers” — PolitiFact headline, noting, “Yes, Clinton later acknowledged that she was mistaken, but it’s hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn’t dodge sniper bullets. Quite simply, this kind of hyperbole deserves our harshest assessment. We rule Pants on Fire.”
  35. “For more than a decade, one piece of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s informal biography has been that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest. The story was even recounted in Bill Clinton’s autobiography” — except that it’s completely not true, the New York Times reported. “Sir Edmund became famous only after climbing Everest in 1953. Mrs. Clinton, as it happens, was born in 1947.”
  36. “Hillary Clinton’s absurd claim that she’s the only candidate being attacked by Wall Street” — PolitiFact headline, noting that Hillary said on the 2016 campaign trail, “I’m the only candidate in the Democratic primary, or actually on either side, who Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are actually running ads against.” PolitiFact responds: “Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are running ads against Clinton. But to say she’s the only one being attacked by people associated with the financial sector is preposterous. The financial sector has contributed to both sides of the aisles, including to Clinton’s own campaign. Groups backed by Wall Street have run attack ads against virtually every candidate. Clinton’s claim rates Pants on Fire!”
  37. “Clinton exaggerates Republicans’ plans to ‘privatize’ Social Security” — PolitiFact headline. In April 2016, Hillary said on the campaign trail that the Republicans “still want to privatize (Social Security). In fact, their whole idea is to turn over the Social Security trust fund to Wall Street.” PolitiFact responds, “Clinton’s statement takes a longstanding Democratic exaggeration about the scope of GOP overhaul proposals and makes it even further off-base by implying that payroll tax revenues would flow directly to Wall Street without any input from beneficiaries. We rate the statement Mostly False.”
  38. “I have now put out all of my emails,” Hillary said on Meet the Press in April 2016. But that’s not accurate. PolitiFact states: “In reality, only about half of the emails sent or received by Clinton on her private email server have been released.”
  39. “Every politician flip-flops,” notes a Politico columnist. “But Clinton flip-flops so frequently that course changes have become her signature move.”

[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.]

What are threats the next American President will face? Here’s one: The rise of a dictator in Turkey.

Erdogan

As I noted on this blog on Tuesday, whoever emerges as the next American President will inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East.

The Iran and ISIS threats are certainly chief among them. But there are more.

Keep your eyes on Turkey, for example — it’s rapidly emerging as anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel Islamist dictatorship.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the predominately Muslim Turkey emerged as a moderate, peaceful, even friendly democracy. Indeed, as I wrote about in my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution, in many ways Turkey emerged in the mid- to late-20th century as a model for the “Reformers,” those Muslims eager to show the world they were not violent extremists but eager to build a modern, safe country characterized by economic growth and even pluralism.

Turkey was welcomed into NATO. It became a faithfully ally of the U.S. and the West against the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. It became a beautiful tourist destination for millions of Europeans, and even tens of thousands of Israelis.

But all that began changing when Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as Turkey’s President in August of 2014, after serving 13 years as the Turkish Prime Minister.

Erdogan (pronounced “Air-do-wan”) is no Reformer. He’s an Islamic Radical. Driven perhaps by visions of restoring Turkey to the power and glory of the Ottoman Empire at its peak, Erdogan is aggressively fashioning himself into a brutal dictator. He’s cracking down on Internet freedom. He’s seizing churches. He’s seizing media outlets that speak out against him. He’s using the crisis in Syria not to go after ISIS — as he claims — but to bomb the Kurds who are at war with ISIS.

Did you know that almost 2,000 people have been prosecuted in Turkey since Erdogan came to power in 2014 for “insulting” the emerging dictator?

What’s more, after drawing Turkey close to Russia and Iran, he has now run afoul of Russia’s own rising Czar, Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin leader is apparently furious at Ergdogan for meddling in Syria, a key Russian client state.

Last August, President Putin reportedly told Turkey’s Ambassador to Moscow to “tell your dictator President he can go to hell” and “I shall make Syria to nothing but a ‘Big Stalingrad.” This, as the Russians have made a military alliance with neighboring Armenia and are reportedly building up military forces near Turkey.

Consider, too, the following headlines:

At some point, I hope to update Inside The Revolution to indicate the dangerous track Turkey is on under Erdogan. But for now, it’s important that the next President of the United States — and Congress — understand that path the dictator is on and be prepared to deal with him from a position of wisdom and strength.

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Five big things to celebrate on Israel’s 68th modern birthday.

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UPDATED: As the modern State of Israel turns 68 years old, the citizens and residents of this tiny country find themselves facing serious threats. But amidst all the sobering headlines, there is much good news, too.

Here are five big things I’m celebrating — I hope you will, too.

First, the very fact that the State of Israel exists today, and is celebrating her 68th modern birthday, is evidence of the dramatic fulfillment of ancient Biblical prophecies, and a powerful testimony that the Bible is the very Word of God. 

  • Many ancient Biblical prophecies — notably Ezekiel 36, 37, 38 & 39 — indicated that Israel would be reborn as a geopolitical nation state in the “last days” of history, that Jews would return en masse to the holy land, and that the Jewish people, with God’s help, would rebuild the “ancient ruins.”
  • For much of the past 1,900, many people around the world — including, unfortunately, many Church fathers — did not believe these prophecies would literally come to pass. Yet they have come to pass, and are continuing to do so.
  • This is both exciting and encouraging because it shows that God is faithful to His promises and merciful to His people, even when His people are not all seeking after Him, reading His Word, and/or obeying Him.
  • True, there are many Jews today who don’t believe in the prophecies, or their fulfillment. But according to a fascinating new Pew Forum study, 61% of Israeli Jews believe that God literally promised the Land to the Jewish people in the Scriptures, while only 40% Americans Jews believe Israel in the “Promised Land.” (see page 106 of the topline results.)

Second, despite innumerable threats by Israel’s neighbors to annihilate the Jewish State — and despite so many wars, intifadas, terrorism, boycotts and other attacks aimed at bringing such threats to pass — Israel is alive and growing.

Third, despite innumerable efforts to isolate Israel from the rest of the world, Israel now has diplomatic and growing economic relations with 161 countries, including behemoths like China and India, and even increasingly close working relations with a number of Sunni Arab countries

Fourth, the majority of Israelis believe that God exists, and are growing increasingly curious about reading the Bible. Consider the following:

  • 77% of Israeli Jews say they believe God exists, compared to 72% of Americans Jews, according to the 2016 Pew Forum study (see page 104).
  • 50% of Israeli Jews are absolutely certain about the existence of God, compared to 34% of American Jews. (see page 105 of the Pew study)
  • A 2015 survey found that “a majority of Israeli Jews, while identifying as ‘secular’ or ‘traditional,’ are nevertheless interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Bible,” reported Israel Today. “Conducted by the Motagim Institute on behalf of the religious website Maimonides Daily, the poll revealed that 54 percent of Israeli Jews feel they only have a ‘basic grasp’ of their national faith, and that 57 percent would commit at least five minute a day to reading the Bible.”

Fifth, there is new and compelling evidence that many Israelis believe faith in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah is not a contradiction to being Jewish, and many are exploring what faith in Jesus really means. Consider, too, the following data:

  • According to the sweeping 2015 Pew Forum study of Israeli religious attitudes, a stunning 18% of all Israeli Jews say that a Jew can believe that Jesus is the Messiah and still be Jewish. (see page 48 of the Pew study)
  • Remarkably, 19% of “Haredi” Israelis — very religious Orthodox Jews — say a Jew can believe that Jesus is the Messiah and still be Jewish. (see page 48 of the Pew study)
  • Fully 22% of “Hiloni” (or secular) Israelis say a Jew can believe Jesus is the Messiah and still be Jewish. (see page 48 of the Pew study)
  • While these numbers are lower than in the U.S. (fully 34% of American Jews say you can believe Jesus is the Messiah and remain Jewish, according to a previous Pew survey), they are still dramatic given the utter taboo “Messianic Judaism” has been — and remains — in Israel over the past 20 centuries.
  • What’s more, Israelis are growing increasingly curious about who Yeshua is, what He taught, and what it means to follow Him.
  • The Hebrew language evangelistic videos produced by the Israeli-based ministry One For Israel — run by Israelis for Israelis — were seen by more than 1.2 million Hebrew speaking Israelis just since early 2015. This is according to the latest numbers I received from the ministry’s director.
  • This means that of approximately 9 million Hebrew speakers on the planet, more than 1 in 9 have now chosen to watch one or more videos about the teachings of Yeshua just since the beginning of 2015.
  • There are now some 15,000 Jewish followers of Yeshua in Israel, up from just a few dozen in 1948.
  • In addition, there are several thousand Evangelical Arab followers of Jesus Christ, as well.
  • What’s more, there are growing ties of unity and fellowship between Jewish and Arab followers of Yeshua. There is a long way to go. There remains tension and distrust within both communities. But now that I’m living here, I can see some significant signs of progress. That’s a subject for another day. But this too is a reason to rejoice — and let us pray this unity grows and deepens.

Yes, sadly, darkness is falling in this region. But there is much good news and much to be encouraged by. Please pray for Israel and her neighbors. Pray for the Church here and throughout the region. And pray for the Lord to show you how you can be involved in blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Thanks, and God bless you.

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UPDATED: What are threats the next American President could face? Here’s one: The potential destabilization of our Sunni Arab allies, like Jordan, at the hands of ISIS & other extremists.

Jordan-King-flyingchopper

UPDATE: There has been some confusion in recent days about The Daily Caller article published earlier this week. Given how important these issues are to those of us in the region, to those in the U.S. government and the American people, let me be crystal clear.

  1. The primary danger I see to the future stability of the Hashemite Kingdom is not an internal danger, it’s an external danger. That is, the threat does not come from the citizens of Jordan. To the contrary, they overwhelmingly love their king, are grateful for his leadership and for the freedom and stability and opportunity they have in sharp contrast to many of their neighbors. Indeed, most believe Jordan is going in the right direction. Lynn and I saw this first hand, and public polling supports this.
  2. Rather, the primary threat to the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom right now comes from the Islamic State, which is on a genocidal killing spree in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has publicly threatened to overthrow King Abdullah II, seize Jordan as part of their caliphate, and fly their black flags over Amman.
  3. What makes the ISIS threat particularly worrisome to me is that there are now more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees living inside Jordan, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees. Are there ISIS radical sleeper cells hidden among them? We know there are. Jordan’s security services are taking down one ISIS or related cell a week — most publicly in an 11 hour recent gun battle in Irbid.
  4. Now, I have no doubt that most of these refugees are sincerely grateful to be housed in and cared for in Jordan. Indeed, King Abdullah II is to be highly commended for welcoming these refugees. He’s operating in the tradition of his father and great-grandfather who previously welcomed Palestinian refugees.Moreover, the King and the Jordanian people are showing beautiful Arab hospitality to people fleeing from the horrific civil war, brutal acts of terror by Al Nusra and other terror factions, and the murderous regimes of Assad and the Islamic State. Jordan is providing housing, food, water, clothing, medical care and education. I saw this first hand at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, and I was deeply impressed.
  5. Still, the challenge is that between 20% and 30% of the Jordanian population are not loyal, faithful Jordanians. Even if the vast majority of Syrian refugees, for example, are peaceful, grateful people, what if even 1% of the 1.3 million Syrians are members of the Islamic State, or al Qaeda or other terror groups? That would be 13,000 people. What if many others are not members of ISIS, but are loyal to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or sympathetic to his desire for a regional (and later global) caliphate? Do they have access to arms? Could they spark a violent uprising among some faction of their fellow refugees? I hope not. I pray not. But when you look at the fires burning in Syria and Iraq and Libya and Yemen, clearly there is cause for concern. As the King told the BBC in February, the influx of refugees has brought Jordan to the “boiling point.”
  6. This is what I mean when I say King Abdullah is sitting on a volcano — not that he governs Jordanian citizens who want to overthrow him, not at all, but that he now presides over so many people that he and his government do not know, some of whom may have dangerous designs. Some volcanos, of course, are dead or inert. Others blow when an earthquake occurs. Again, in a region shaking from tectonic geopolitical change, the threats to Jordan — and to all countries in the region — are real.
  7. The good news, in my view, is that Jordan’s King is uniquely qualified to handle this moment. He and his team have provided impressive stability year after year. Jordanians appreciate this. Israelis do, too. So do many Americans.
  8. That said, the King needs more help — he needs military equipment (including more Blackhawk helicopters) from the U.S., and he needs (and deserves) far more financial assistance from the Gulf states and European countries.
  9. The Jordanians are our friends and allies — let’s stand with them and help prevent worst case scenarios from ever taking place.

ORIGINAL STORY: Whoever emerges as the next American President will inherit a disaster in the Middle East.

Based on their track records, I have very little confidence that either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump are truly ready, willing or able to confront the forces of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, neutralize the Iran nuclear threat, or the destroy the forces of the Islamic State.

What’s more, I have very little confidence that Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump are truly committed to rebuilding the severely strained U.S.-Israeli alliance, or effectively strengthening America’s relationship with our Sunni Arab allies including Jordan, Egypt, the Saudis or the Gulf emirates.

To the contrary, I believe there is a significant risk that the U.S. alliance with each of these countries will further deteriorate over the next four years.

In the course of recent months, I’ve explained why Mr. Trump would be a catastrophe as the next President. (See here, and here.) Soon, I will lay out a detailed explanation of why Mrs. Clinton would also be catastrophic for the country, as well..

Each day this week, however, I want to lay out some of the major challenges the next President  will have to face in the Middle East, regardless of who wins.

Let’s start with Jordan. No Sunni  Arab country has been a more faithful ally to the U.S. or the Western alliance. But there is a real and growing dangers.

Today, The Daily Caller published an interview with me about the possibility of ISIS toppling King Abdullah II and the people and territory of Jordan falling into the hands of forces driven by Radical or Apocalyptic Islam. I pray such scenarios never come to pass. But it’s vital that the American people, Members of Congress, and especially the next President of the United States consider the risks and develop policies to effectively stand with and strengthen Jordan in these dark times.

Here are excerpts from the story….

Middle East Expert Warns Refugee Crisis Could Topple Jordanian King

By Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily Caller, May 10, 2016

Middle East expert and New York Times bestselling author Joel Rosenberg told The Daily Caller Monday that Jordan could see the downfall of its king and royal family due to increased pressure from ISIS and a refugee crisis.

Rosenberg has just returned to his home in Israel after spending five days with King Abdullah II touring the country. Jordan is regarded as one of the key Sunni allies for America in the Middle East.

“Jordan’s king is sitting on a volcano, nearly surrounded by a raging forest fire, bracing for a massive earthquake,” Rosenberg wrote in a recent op-ed.

North of Jordan is Syria, and to the east is Iraq. Jordan has accepted more 1.3 million refugees from Syria….

“[ISIS would] love to capture Amman and seize Jordan as part of the caliphate,” Rosenberg told TheDC.

He added that Jordanian security services are rounding up one ISIS or ISIS-related cell per week. The threat from refugees that Jordan faces is not only from the refugees themselves but from an uprising of disgruntled citizens.

As of December 2015, refugees constitute a third of Jordan’s population. “There’s the danger that people are going to get angry and that there’s some tipping point that people decide they’re not going to take it anymore and have Cairo style, Tripoli style protests that could become violent,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg….has written 11 novels about Middle Eastern terrorism, and five non-fiction books.

The author was fairly adamant that the U.S should provide Jordan more help. Currently the U.S gives Jordan a $1 billion in aid, but Rosenberg doesn’t think it’s enough.

“I think he’s not getting enough help and I think it’s incredibly dangerous what’s happening and it could lead to great danger, and even the demise of the Hashemites,” the author told TheDC.

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