Thursday, May 23, 2013
London's brutal, barbaric attack defies description. It's seems unbelievable yet all too real in today's world. Why did these attackers driven by Islamic ideology murder this lone British soldier? What drives some – certainly not all – Muslims to wage "holy war" on infidels? What motivates a suicide bomber in Afghanistan? Or Al-Qaeda who kidnapped, killed and be-headed Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002? We talked with Professor Moshe Sharon of the Hebrew University about the tenets of Islam, why some are waging a "holy war" and the difference between the "house of war" and the "house of peace." Perhaps it will help bring some understanding to the incomprehensible.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
It was a sobering call. We talked with Segen, a 35-year old Eritrean woman caught in the web of kidnapping, human trafficking and extortion in the Sinai. She’s being tortured by Bedouin tribesmen who are demanding $33,000 in ransom from her Eritrean family. If they don’t pay, she might end up like five others who were kidnapped along with her … dead. She says their bodies – weakened by lack of food and water – couldn’t stand up to the torture. The Bedouins would beat their private parts and vital areas around the heart. Their bodies simply gave out.
Segen also mentioned that sometimes they’re hung up in a way the Bedouins call “Jesus Christ.” One can imagine what that’s like…a modern-day version of crucifixion. By the way, did I mention Segen is five months pregnant? There are hundreds of Eritreans like Segen currently in the Sinai who've been kidnapped and thousands more who have passed through this human gristmill. Many did not survive. Most are Christian.
Will the Egyptian government stop this barbaric modern-day slave trade? Many believe they could, but the answer may lie with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. If the embassy put enough pressure and used enough leverage, some believe they could force the Morsi government to stop this barbarism. Egypt has the power to stop it, if they but had the will.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
When the light hits Syria, it seems to cast a shadow that looks like Iran's. The huge explosions outside of Damascus early Sunday are the latest indication of Iran's tentacles inside Syria. One of the reported targets of the raid was Fateh-110 precision guided missiles manufactured in Iran. Iran is supplying Syria with weapons like the Fateh-110, funds and personnel. They desperately want to keep President Assad's regime alive. But in light of the Assad's current precarious situation, does Iran have even bigger plans? According to retired Israel General Shimon Shapira, they do. His brief from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs called "Iran's Plans to Take Over Syria" documents a detailed and elaborate plan not just to keep Assad's regime alive but to gobble Syria up and make it an Iranian Shiite state. It's a prescient analysis with profound implications for the future of the Middle East.
Here's his executive summary: The full report can be seen here: http://jcpa.org/article/irans-plans-to-take-over-syria/
- In mid-April, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah paid a secret visit to Tehran where he met with the top Iranian officials headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Gen. Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Suleimani prepared an operational plan named after him based upon the establishment of a 150,000-man force for Syria, the majority of whom will come from Iran, Iraq, and a smaller number from Hizbullah and the Gulf states.
- Suleimani's involvement was significant. He has been the spearhead of Iranian military activism in the Middle East. In January 2012, he declared that the Islamic Republic controlled "one way or another" Iraq and South Lebanon. Even before recent events in Syria, observers in the Arab world have been warning for years about growing evidence of "Iranian expansionism."
- An important expression of Syria's centrality in Iranian strategy was voiced by Mehdi Taaib, who heads Khamenei's think tank. He recently stated that "Syria is the 35th district of Iran and it has greater strategic importance for Iran than Khuzestan [an Arab-populated district inside Iran]." Significantly, Taaib was drawing a comparison between Syria and a district that is under full Iranian sovereignty.
- Tehran has had political ambitions with respect to Syria for years and has indeed invested huge resources in making Syria a Shiite state. The Syrian regime let Iranian missionaries work freely to strengthen the Shiite faith in Damascus and the cities of the Alawite coast, as well as the smaller towns and villages. In both urban and rural parts of Syria, Sunnis and others who adopted the Shiite faith received privileges and preferential treatment in the disbursement of Iranian aid money.
- Iran is also recruiting Shiite forces in Iraq for the warfare in Syria. These are organized in a sister framework of Lebanese Hizbullah. Known as the League of the Righteous People and Kateeb Hizbullah, its mission is to defend the Shiite centers in Damascus. It is likely that Tehran will make every effort to recruit additional Shiite elements from Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and even from Pakistan.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Bill Koenig has served as a White House correspondent for many years. He's the author of "Eye to Eye, Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel" and runs a website called Koenig International News (www.watch.org). During a recent visit to Jerusalem, we talked about his perspective on the situation in the Middle East, the dangers threatening Israel and how Christians should be responding "for such a time as this."
Monday, April 08, 2013
What does it look like when a nation stands still? That's what happens every year during Holocaust Remembrance Day. For two minutes, a siren sounds throughout the country and traffic stops, people halt and the Jewish state pauses to remember the six million who died in the Holocaust. It's a sobering reminder of the horrors of what is called the "Shoah" here in Israel. Here's two minutes of video of what it looks like here in Israel along with some footage from those darks days. Please be forewarned some of this footage is graphic. Yet it's a stark picture of the abyss and why the Jewish people vow "never again."
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
The late iconic radio announcer Paul Harvey once hosted a program called "The Rest of the Story." He related little known facts about well-known stories that brought an entirely different perspective. The same could be said about the current riots in Israeli jails by Palestinian prisoners.
They rioted following the death of 64-year-old Maysara Abuhamdia who died of cancer in Beersheba's Soroka Hospital. After his death, some prisoners began a three-day hunger strike. Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe demanded an international investigation into his death and accused Israel of medical negligence.
An Israeli court sentenced Abuhamdia - a Hamas operative - to life for attempted murder. He recruited a terrorist to blow himself up in Caffit's, a busy Jerusalem café in 2002.
That may sound sterile, but for someone who was at Caffit's that day in 2002, the story was very personal. Here's what she posted about Mr. Abuhamdia on Facebook:
"… My heart skipped a beat today as I realized the man (responsible for) nearly killed and maimed dozens of people, including myself who watched the whole drama personally died of cancer in an Israeli jail. I had forgiven this man but can't forget that day … as I watched the owner and waiter of Cafit bravely pin this man to the ground. Somewhere deep inside I had a fear he'd return to the streets to kill. I'm shocked as I looked on Google the outrage about this man, who actually received mercy of 11 more years of life when he sought to end the lives of many, including mine.
I want to shout from the housetops that that day is profoundly in my remembrance as a day when I, a witness, was spared harm and others spared death. I feel I would have been easily hit by shrapnel from the position I was standing in. I thanked G-d many times for his mercy to use me as a witness but also that I was spared harm in front of Café Cafit in Jerusalem that day in 2002.
I have now learned through many media outlets that this man died of cancer in an Israeli hospital today. I had always had a low level fear that he might return to the streets, you don't forget the one who tried to murder you.
What is the most shocking to me is that as I Googled this man's name and the circumstances of death from cancer is the outrage of media outlets all over the world at how he had been treated, not gotten to hospitals in time to treat his cancer, etc. etc. and yet he tried to kill and maim myself and many others and would have died at his own hand that day.
As at Passover we are instructed not to rejoice at the judgment of our enemy as the Everlasting Lord has compassion on the Egyptians too, so I don't rejoice but express a profound sense of awe again that I was spared that day and my enemy has passed and that all would be aware as the news is filled with the riots in prisons today that as Paul Harvey would say there is "the rest of the story"...
Thursday, March 28, 2013
What better place for a story teller to come than the scene of the Greatest Story Ever Told … Israel. That's why Gary and Cindy Bayer have been doing for years, bringing the best storytellers of our generation to the land of the Bible to see for themselves this land called "holy."
Writers come to experience for themselves not only the sights and sounds of the land but also to meet the people - "the living stones" - that make this land come alive. They call it the "Writer's Gathering."
Living in what the Bible views as the "center of the world," Gary and Cindy Bayer have a front row seat for events unfolding in this very strategic crossroads of the Middle East. Both were drawn to Israel for different reasons. But having met and married there, they now share a common purpose which has opened doors to relationships with local people and has given them the opportunity to share their journey of faith.
Here's our Gary and Cindy describe it on their website, The Place of Stories is Israel
After marrying in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday 2005, Gary and Cindy created The Writers' Gathering Jerusalem which sponsors established screenwriters, TV writers, playwrights, and novelists for a two-week experience in Israel. The news media often paints a negative portrait of life in this ancient contested crossroads, but Gary and Cindy believe that exposing writers to the history and the uniqueness of the various peoples that call this tiny land "home" could give the world a more positive view of this Land of the Bible.
They are also very involved in sharing their table with others at both their Sea of Galilee home (The Place of Stories) and their little rooftop apartment on the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. In the States they enjoy speaking engagements, meeting writers, and seeing their five children and five grandchildren.
With the Sea of Galilee as a backdrop, we sat down with Gary and talked about his desire to share the joy of story in the land of the Bible.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
How would you feel if you went to church and wondered if this Sunday your church might be bombed?
How would you feel if you expected a knock on your door from government officials who might imprison you for holding a prayer meeting in your home?
How would you feel if suddenly the mood on your street turned unfriendly, then hostile and even violent because people knew you were one of "those Christians?"
From Cairo to China, from Bangladesh to Baghdad, from the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Sudan, the number one faith under assault around the world is Christianity. Believers in Jesus are facing persecution, torture and even death for their faith in the One whose death and resurrection will be celebrated again this Easter Sunday.
Three noted authors -- Nina Shea, Paul Johnson and Lela Gilbert -- collaborated in a new release, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christianity, documenting this chilling phenomenon.
Dr. William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, called it the “most authoritative account to date on this subject.”
March 27 is the official launch of this powerful and timely work.
Jerusalem Dateline interviewed Nina Shea recently. We asked her what Christians in the West, who often have trouble relating to our brothers and sisters facing persecution, can do. Shea explains we can pray, educate ourselves, and “raise our voices because they can’t raise theirs.”
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
This week, tthe Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University released its annual report on the threats facing Israel. Number one remains the danger of a nuclear Iran.
Amos Yadlin, the former chief of Israeli military intelligence, now directs the INSS. At their press briefing, he explained how advanced Iran's nuclear program is, why they haven't "broken out" yet, and that 2013 might be the year the nuclear showdown in the Middle East reaches a climax.
His analysis is significant because as one journalist commented at the briefing, "he's been in the room" (where Israeli leaders have made decisions concerning Iran).
Friday, January 18, 2013
What would you do if someone tried to kill your child? Would you pray for them? Love them? Curse them? Be bitter toward them?
David and Leah Ortiz had to make these choices. On Wednesday, an Israeli court convicted Jack Teitel of trying to kill their 15-year-old son Ami in March of 2008. Teitel delivered a bomb disguised in a Purim gift basket in his attempt to drive Messianic Jews (those who believe Jesus is the Messiah) from the land of Israel. He also killed two Palestinian Arabs and planted a pipe bomb at the home of a university professor.
The bomb nearly killed Ami and shattered his young body. Miraculously, he survived and has made a remarkable recovery. Yet after nearly five years, he still suffers the physical effects of the bombing.
From the very beginning, Ami and his family had to make a choice to forgive or not to forgive. They chose to forgive.
After the court's verdict, David and Leah talked about the choices they made, the ordeal they went through, and how the Body of the Lord stood by them. It's a story of redemption, forgiveness, and the power of prayer.