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Thursday, March 21, 2013

KUDOS MR. PRESIDENT


When our government leaders get it wrong with regard to Israel I have no hesitation pointing it out, the same should be true when they get it right. Our president’s record on Israel has been spotty at best, but over the last couple of days he has made a strong effort to reaffirm our position toward Israel, our best ally in the Middle East.

In his arrival speech in Israel on Wednesday of this week he began with the following: “I’m so honored to be here as you prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel. Yet I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages — to be “masters of their own fate” in “their own sovereign state.” And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

As I begin my second term as President, Israel is the first stop on my first foreign trip. This is no accident. Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril. So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.”

These words are very different than those he delivered in Cairo, Egypt during his June 2009 visit. Here is an excerpt from that speech: “America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

In his speech in Egypt it sounded like the primary justification for America’s support for Israel is the Holocaust. In other words, the fact that the Holy Land is the birthplace of the Jewish people and their 3,000 year history there is irrelevant to their claim to land in that region as a Jewish State.

Understandably, Mr. Obama targeted his speech to the Muslim audience he was addressing, but it left many of us wondering whether he questioned Israel’s legitimate historical claim to the land they now possess. With this week’s speech he has clarified his position and affirmed the right of the State of Israel to exist based on its long history as opposed to a period preceding World War 2 and the subsequent events of the Holocaust. His specific use of the word “redemption” is stunning...”after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.

Thank you Mr. President.

While many critics will claim that this was no more than the latest example of political expediency by the Obama administration, it cannot be denied that he spoke with moral clarity and boldness.

Again, thank you Mr. President, kudos to you from one of the concerned citizens of America who believes that it is in our national interest, but more importantly, the biblically declared WILL OF GOD that we stand with Israel. Please keep it up.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

BOMBS IN THE BACKGROUND


The President of the United States is now present in the epicenter of world tensions. Mr. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu came across as friends and partners on Wednesday unlike their interactions over the last four years where there seemed to be acrimony. Mr. Obama stated: “there is not a lot of daylight" between America’s and Israel’s regional policies. Backslapping aside, there is great concern in many circles that the fine points of difference are huge.

Today, President Obama met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where Abbas stated: ”America and the Palestinian Authority are partners in pursuit to just peace that ends occupation and war". On the same day more rockets were fired from Palestinian controlled Gaza into Israel. Since when is peace achievable while the supposedly interested party is firing rockets as the backdrop for the discussion?

In fairness to full disclosure, the rockets were fired by Hamas supporters, the other significant faction within the Palestinian government. But what is the obvious lesson here? The Palestinians themselves are in no condition to offer peace to anyone while still in such conflict with themselves. The Palestinian Authority cannot govern its own representatives now, how could it promise safety for Israel going into the future?

Mr. Abbas also said: "I wish to thank the President [Obama] for his commitment to provide support to the Palestinian people," and continued: "We hope to exercise normal life over the free state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital". Normal life? Two factions of the Palestinian Government at such odds that one faction fires rockets while the other presses for peace? Mr. Obama stated: “It is a hard slog to work through all of these issues.''

Hard slog” is not an honest representation of the situation. It will be impossible to bring peace through a two-state solution given these conditions. There will never be peace with a divided Jerusalem and patchwork borders that are not secure. The Time of Israel reported: “Obama should see what it’s like here,” says Sderot mother after rocket lands in her yard.

In the meantime, Israel awaits Presidential response to the Kassam rocket fire on Sderot from either Mr. Obama or Mr. Abbas. These rockets were launched from territory controlled by the Palestinian faction Hamas, and Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and support peace. Yet during Operation Pillar of Defense, earlier this year when over 2,000 rockets were fired into Israel, Mr. Abbas stubbornly refused to disassociate himself from those attacks.

Israel has not yet issued a formal response to the attacks. According to the Jerusalem Post: “One government official said that Palestinian President Abbas cannot say he is a ‘peace-maker’ while staying silent when rockets are being fired on Israel.”

So there you have it…peacemaking with bombs in the background.

As always, we who care should pray and work for the true, lasting peace of Jerusalem.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

NO HARM, NO FOUL?

I am in Nashville, Tennessee at the largest annual gathering of religious broadcasters in the U.S. as one of several representatives of the Israel Allies Foundation. The Israel Allies Foundation works with parliaments around the world to mobilize political support for Israel based on Judeo-Christian values. We build an active global network of faith-based, pro-Israel legislators. As a part of our primary mission, we build formal and direct lines of communication between the government of Israel and Christian leaders worldwide, equipping Christians for political advocacy.

There is a light snow falling on this March Saturday in Nashville. The temperature is a bit above freezing so the flakes fall harmlessly onto the surface and quickly disappear. No harm, no foul.

However, in Israel at 2pm today (Shabbat), three Syrian mortars fell in the southern Golan Heights near moshav Ramat Mashimim. While none of the mortars caused injuries, this is deeply troubling.

The incident is the deepest and southernmost penetration of Syrian fire into Israeli territory in years. While the Israeli Defense Force believes it is nothing more than errant fire spilling over from Syria’s internal conflict, it follows another incident on Wednesday of this week when a tank shell landed in the central Golan community of Alonei Habashan. In that case, there were also no injuries.

Let’s be clear, these are NOT snowflakes. In each case there could have been injuries or death. This is what Israelies must live with on a regular basis. Shabbat, above all days in the week, families gather in homes and parks to enjoy life together. The terror these incidents incite, does cause harm.

The need to stand for peaceful borders for the State of Israelis not an imaginary cause. This is real. This is now.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Friday, March 1, 2013

ZION UNDER SEIGE

Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people have a right to exist in peace in the biblical land of Israel - the historical birthplace of the Jewish people.

This week, while addressing the UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in Vienna, the Turkish Prime Minister equated Zionism to “a crime against humanity.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply condemned the remark calling it a "dark and mendacious statement, the likes of which we thought had passed from the world." Thankfully, the United States and the United Nations joined the criticism with John Kerry, the newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of State declaring: “We not only disagree with it, we found it objectionable.” Objectionable? It should be resolutely condemned in no uncertain terms. Surprisingly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was even a little stronger declaring: “it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.” This is a welcome but unusual departure from its normal anti-Israel stand.

What is really stunning for me in all of this is the ease in which a world leader can hold such prejudicial views toward the very idea of a Jewish homeland. Just a reminder to the world: the State of Israel is not a concept, it is a reality, it is not a hoped for possibility, it is a biblically promised land. There can be no tolerance for a position as hateful, menacing and contrary to the Bible as declared by the Turkish Leader.

Jews and Christians alike should pay attention to the gathering clouds. We must not be caught off guard be a rising tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Biblicalism.

We should pray for these situations. We must also find definitive ways to let our voices be heard by our political leaders. We can make a difference.

And as always, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.