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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

IMMORAL MORAL EQUIVALENCE


The obvious attempt of the worldwide media to apply moral equivalency to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza is deeply flawed. Syndicated columnist Joel Mowbrey states: "The coverage of the [recent] 'violence'... has largely read like the equivalent of a chess match. Hamas refuses to halt suicide bombs. Israel targets a top Hamas leader. Suicide bombing in Jerusalem kills 16. Israel 'retaliates' with a strike in Gaza. What's at work is probably not anti-Semitism, but a misguided attempt at objectivity. But reporting 'facts' in a moral vacuum is not objectivity; it is, in fact, just the opposite. Absent proper context, the situation can seem as if it is two equally justifiable sides making moves and countermoves, nothing more."

Perhaps he is right that the style of media coverage is not blatant anti-Semitism on the part of the reporters or media outlets, but the constant drumbeat of “this side did this and this side did that” plays into the worst nature of those who ARE anti-Semitic.

Never has a nation been treated with such insolence as has Israel. They are constantly threatened and attacked. While the Israeli government and people are not without flaws, there is no moral equivalence between a rocket fired toward a town with the intent to terrorize innocent people and a retaliatory, precision airstrike of a rocket launcher in Gaza that has purposely and continually been fired toward homes, schools and synagogues.

Claiming the moral high-ground and claiming moral superiority is as human as breathing. We each do it in relationships of all sorts. Only with God’s help can we come to grips with our own failures. Pointing them out in others without the humility of self-evaluation only leads to all-consuming hatred.

While both Israelis and Palestinians must ultimately “examine the man in the mirror”, assess their own positions and find a way to live near one another in peace, the attempt to frame terrorism and military retaliation in defense of one’s nation as morally equivalent must stop.

Innocent lives are being lost, both Israeli and Palestinian. A ground war in Gaza seems imminent. I call upon the worldwide media to halt its efforts to make this a “tit for tat” dispute, making the worst-case scenarios seem more likely.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

IT ALL ADS UP


Add terrorist rockets fired from Egyptian territory to the list. This is not the first time this year that Egyptian territory being used as a base for terrorist attacks. In August 2012, after the election of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, concern rose over the future of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. In direct violation of the terms of the peace treaty, the Egyptian Military sent Tanks into the de-militarized zone without Israeli approval. President Mursi condemned Israeli retaliatory air strikes on the Gaza Strip as unacceptable aggression and ordered Egypt's prime minister to visit the besieged enclave in a show of support for the Palestinians. The fact that Israel had endured well over 1,000 rocket attacks this year alone, including those from Egyptian territory seems to mean nothing. This week’s visit to Gaza to meet with the leadership of Hamas does nothing to allay concerns.

Egypt’s failure to monitor and prevent terrorist activity its northern region places unnecessary pressure on Israel to retaliate within Egyptian territory.

In the meantime, AP (Associated Press) declared: "Air raid sirens wail in Jerusalem, signaling a possible rocket attack aimed at Israel's capital." Within thirty minutes they changed the story. The only difference? Changing the language from “Israel’s capital” to “Israel’s self-declared capital." They had it right the FIRST TIME! Mistakenly of course. The world press is determined to frame this whole circumstance as a result of Israel's policies. As always, it is Israel having to defend itself from worldwide criticism while defending its children from terrorists.

Israel must defend itself...WILL defend itself.

Ultimately, having done all that can be done politically and militarily, the only true hope is that God will change the hearts of men.
Pray, especially for the peace of Jerusalem.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SUB-HUMAN


Israelis and anyone who knows what they're doing and support it are all Sub-human, Sub-human, Sub-human.” This is a direct quote from a post on a popular web “Answer” sight as the “BEST” comment, “CHOSEN BY VOTERS.”

Sub-human. Where have I heard this before? The term "Untermensch" was utilized repeatedly in writings and speeches directed against the Jews during the time of Hitler. The term “sub-human” has been used throughout history to justify acts of prejudice against a race, gender or class of people.

To ever consider another human as “sub-human” is an attempted slap in the face of God Himself. It is declared in Holy Writ: So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Our U.S. Constitution begins with these immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The value of a person’s humanity is not up for debate. Yet, there it is: “Sub-human, Sub-human, Sub-human,” the comment voted “best.”

Never doubt it, there are haters in this world. Their pride blinds them. From this deeply rooted arrogance comes the capability of justifying even the most horrendous behaviors. We must be vigilant as individuals and as nations to expunge from our hearts any vestige of hatred.

Defamation of others by generalized categorization must be vehemently opposed and exposed for what it is; it is sin.

Peace will never fill the hating heart. Peace will never fill the hating race. Peace will never fill the hating nation. Peace will never fill the hating city.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE RUBBERBAND SNAPS

Just last Monday I posted an article (BACK TO THE FUTURE) in which I pointed out that nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since January 2012. What nation can endure this forever? Most of the rocket attacks have been fairly unsophisticated and inaccurate short-range projectiles, but they are deadly. The growing concern in Israel is that more sophisticated rockets are being supplied to Hamas.

Now the Israeli Defense Forces have struck back. Just a few hours ago Israeli warplanes targeted and killed the top military leader of Hamas. The Jerusalem post states: “The IAF (Israeli Air Force) struck and killed Hamas armed wing Izzadin Kassam Brigades commander Ahmed Jabari in central Gaza on Wednesday. The strike marked the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in Gaza, IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai announced.”

The assassination of Jabari by the Israelis is comparable to the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces last year. Unfortunately, there will be others prepared to take his place.

After killing Jabari the IAF went on to strike over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, primarily targeting their long-range rocket capabilities. This is an ominous but predictable development. Israel does not want a protracted war in Gaza. Hopefully, both sides of this most recent conflict will be sufficiently motivated to call an end to these developments. War is no friend. Children will die. Fathers and mothers will sacrifice their sons and daughters. May God have mercy upon us.

Just a few weeks ago I sat under a sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long, joyous, Jewish festival of Sukkot). I was having dinner alone and may have been the only non-Jewish person in the crowded space. I so enjoyed watching the tables slowly fill with families of different Jewish sects. Hats of all descriptions identified the theological or customary differences, but in that moment, on that glad holiday, seated under a sukkah, conflict seemed to be no more than a distant memory. Yet, all the while, young, uniformed men and women with automatic weapons patrolled; war is never very far away for the Israelis.

My heart is sad for the tensions that must now fill the space where I sat so peacefully on that warm October evening, soaking in the happiness of family celebrations. Now, only a month later, family table discussions must be anxious for what may soon come.

Please join with me in prayer for Jewish and Palestinian families and, as always, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

JUDEN


As I write, my incredible wife Sharon is on her way home from doing humanitarian work in the largest “township” in Johannesburg, South Africa. Two weeks of ministry among many churches in two regions of South Africa finishes in a place where desperately poor mothers abandon infants on trash piles. Babies on trash piles. How can our heart turn away from such human tragedy and need?

Since Sharon is gone I watched several episodes of “Band of Brothers” that I recorded long ago. Her tender heart prevents her from seeing the pain of war, even when it is nothing more that a Hollywood depiction, however, I am inspired and challenged to gratefulness for the “Greatest Generation.” The sacrifices and character of the WW2 Generation must never be forgotten.

I just finished episode 8, where Easy Company comes upon a German Death Camp where Jews were systematically murdered. The Nazis had abandoned the camp and upon finding an emaciated prisoner the shocked American officer asks: “why are you in this camp.” The answer: “Juden.” I could not finish the episode.

I have streaming tears as I think about my friend Henry, who survived a death camp, but lost most of his family. He literally walked over a significant area of Europe looking for his twin sister and miraculously found her alive. I will never forget having dinner together; I could not help but repeatedly sneak peaks at the tattooed numbers on their arms; twins by birth and horrendous experience. I think of my dear friends Josh and Rebekah and their three handsome boys. Jenny, Emme, Zander, Sam, Aaron, Enie…how could anyone want to harm, must less, murder beautiful, talented and incredibly gifted people such as these simply because they are “Juden.”  Yet, even in this very moment there are many who still intend to do exactly that.

I am so grateful to God that I now have the opportunity to learn, to experience and to work with and for my Jewish brothers and sisters, especially for the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders with Jerusalem as its undivided capital. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future.

It is not enough that Jews and Christians share similar ethics and religious foundation. We must find ways to cooperate on those things we share in common and forgiveness and understanding for where we do not. And all of us must resolve to join the Jewish people in their steadfast declaration: “never again.”

A simple point where we can begin? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Monday, November 12, 2012

BACK TO THE FUTURE


Over the last two days Israeli Defense Forces have returned fire into Syria after repeated attacks from Syrian mortar launches into Golan. As stated in the Jerusalem Post: “This is the first direct engagement with Syrian military since 1973.”

I have stood atop a mountain in the Golan Heights several times and marveled at how close Damascus, the capital of Syria is to Israel. If having Iran’s closest Middle Eastern ally’s center of government within eyesight is not troublesome enough, now there is a real possibility there is an intentional attempt to draw Israel into the conflict.

Earlier this year, rockets were fired from Egyptian territory into Israel’s southern towns. Additionally, nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza in 2012!  The day I left Israel on October 6, 2012, the IDF shot down an unmanned drone in Israeli territory. Reported by REUTERS: “The Israeli air force shot down a drone after it crossed into southern Israel on Saturday, the military said, but it remained unclear where the aircraft had come from. The drone was first spotted above the Mediterranean in the area of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to the west of Israel, said military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich. It was kept under surveillance and followed by Israeli air force jets before it was shot down above a forest in an unpopulated area near the border with the occupied West Bank.”

I am often asked whether there will be another Arab/Israeli war. My question is “has it ever stopped?” The United Nations seems content to do nothing to address these unrelenting rocket barrages. The worldwide media only reluctantly offer tidbits of information about these attacks, reporting them without any of the outrage usually attached to stories they relish reporting of a Jewish family building a home in disputed areas. Rockets fired on Jewish families, docile report, home built on disputed land, sensational commentary. What is wrong here is a very unbalanced scale.

Frankly, there are no winners in these ongoing provocations. Innocent families, both Palestinian and Jewish become pawns in senseless hatreds and disputes.

Must the past be repeated? Must war be the only choice? Must the past be the only future? The prayers of Israeli and Arab mothers are surely heard by God. I join them in asking that a miracle of change take place instead of military conflict. I also state that should we reach a point of no return, where war is the only solution, the worldwide community of nations and the international media will be complicit.

As we in America celebrate the honorable military service of our veterans, let us be grateful for their sacrifices and prayerful that greater conflict in the Middle East be avoided.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.