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Netanyahu Coming to New York to Address U.N. Next Week: Will confront Palestinian statehood bid and Ahmadinejad

September 17, 2011

Published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

Senior aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin originally told me the PM was not going to come to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly this year. But things have changed. Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Iran and Turkey are intensifying and Israel is becoming increasingly isolated. Haaretz and Ynet News are now reporting that Netanyahu is coming to New York and will deliver a major address before the U.N. General Assembly next week. [Update: Some reports say the speech will be Wednesday; others say Friday; I’ll keep you posted.] The decision reflects the PM’s desire to personally, directly and very publicly confront the Palestinian effort to unilaterally declare a state and receive a U.N. blessing, rather than engage in direct negotiations with the Jewish State. Netanyahu will also strongly condemn Iran’s bid for nuclear weapons and challenge the world to rein in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is also coming to the U.N. next week.

During a press conference in Jerusalem yesterday with the visiting Czech Prime Minister, Netanyahu told reporters: “I have decided to personally convey the message of direct negotiation and striving for peace at the General Assembly — I know Israel doesn’t get a fair hearing at the General Assembly. It has an automatic majority which is quick to denounce Israel. I have decided to go… to tell the truth.”

The Palestinian Authority this week announced that on Friday, September 23rd it will formally submit its bid for full membership in the United Nations. A General Assembly vote would likely go overwhelmingly in favor of the Palestinians. The U.S., however, has vowed to veto a Palestinian statehood bid if it comes before the U.N. Security Council.

Please pray for wisdom for Israeli leaders, and especially the Prime Minister, as he comes to the U.S. Please pray for the protection of all Israeli diplomats around the world, and especially those in Jordan and Egypt who are under direct threat. Please pray for Christians, too, to show unconditional love and unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish people as Israel is increasingly isolated internationally. Please also pray for tensions between Israel and Turkey to be defused — in the last few weeks, Turkey has broken off diplomatic relations with Israel, kicked out Israel’s ambassador, cut off trade ties with Israel, and now is threatening to send war ships to accompany another flotilla to Gaza.

>> To learn more about and support The Joshua Fund’s efforts to educate Christians around the world about God’s love and plan for Israel, and to support our humanitarian relief work to care for needy Israelis and Palestinians, please click here.

>> To pre-order a copy of The Tehran Initiative, my new political thriller that will be released October 18th, please click here

UPCOMING EVENTS WHERE JOEL WILL BE SPEAKING THIS FALL:

Is Obama About to Push Palestinian State in September? This Would Be A Terrible Mistake.

April 14, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

>> Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman faces corruption charges — may be indicted soon

>> Mubarak had heart attack during questioning: state TV

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As international support builds for the Palestinians to unilaterally declare their own state at the U.N. General Assembly opening session in September, I am growing increasingly concerned the President Obama is preparing to endorse such a move and even push for it.

  • A new article in The Economist reports that “before the UN vote of February 18th [condemning Israel for building settlements in Judea and Samaria], Barack Obama reportedly encouraged Mr Cameron and others to take a tough line on Israel. In phone calls to his European allies, Mr Obama is said to have expressed frustration at Mr Netanyahu’s approach to settlements, but to have explained he had ‘too many domestic fires to extinguish” to risk a bust-up over Israel.’” The reporter says this allegation cannot be confirmed, but “in private, European officials have told Israel that their pressure is choreographed with America.”
  • A new Washington Post column asks: Is Obama Abandoning Diplomatic Support For Israel?

America can ill afford turning on Israel at all, much less now. To do so would be a terrible mistake.

Bible prophecy makes it clear that in the last days the nations of the world will divide up the land of Israel. But the Scriptures are also crystal clear that the nations will face the judgment of Almighty God for doing so. “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat [“the Lord judges”]. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Book of Joel 3:1-2).

Let the nations be warned by the God of Israel: they are on a dangerous and disastrous road. Let us pray they turn around before it is too late.

One could wish the clear warning of the Bible would be enough to dissuade the President from dividing the land of Israel. I am not sure it will. Perhaps sheer politics will help. A new poll shows that 51% of Americans oppose a unilateral declaration, and only 31% supporting one. Nevertheless, the President and his senior advisors don’t seem to be listening to the Lord, or the people on this one.

“The United States plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday, suggesting a stronger U.S. hand in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” reports Reuters. “President Barack Obama will lay out U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks, Clinton told Arab and U.S. policy makers in a speech that placed particular emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

“The president will be speaking in greater detail about America’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks,” Clinton said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, Reuters reported. “America’s core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights, resolve long-standing conflicts, counter Iran’s threats and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies….This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.”

That said, there are disturbing signs that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may be succumbing to this intense international pressure. Consider the following headlines from Israeli newspapers in recent days:

Developing…..

Why is the New Iranian Video About the Soon Coming of the Messiah Significant?

April 4, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

NEW: The Joshua Fund posts video blog analyzing new Iranian video that says the Twelfth Imam is coming soon

Last night, I returned from a week in Europe where I had the opportunity to brief several dozen Iranian, Arab, Israeli, European and American pastors and Christian ministry leaders about the new feature-length documentary film produced by the Iranian government and its religious allies called, The Coming Is Near. As I will explain in more detail below, I believe now is the time for pastors and ministry leaders around the world to use the occasion of the release of this film to accelerate and intensify their own teaching about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and to answer the questions being asked by millions of people throughout the Middle East and elsewhere about who the Messiah is and when/how/why He will return.

The film, The Coming Is Near, was brought to the attention of the West by Reza Khalili, a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps member who became a double agent for the CIA working against Iran in the 1980s. It explains how the current wars and revolutions in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere throughout the Middle East and North Africa are signs consistent with Shia Islamic End Times teaching that the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) and Jesus will soon appear on earth to usher in the destruction of Israel, the establishment of an Islamic caliphate (kingdom), and the end of days. As I write about in The Twelfth Imam and Inside The Revolution, Shia Muslims are convinced that Jesus will come as a deputy to the Mahdi and force all Jews and Christians to either convert to Islam or die.

Why is this new film significant? I see several reasons:

  1. The film has attracted international attention through reports by the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Drudge Report, and other media outlets — this is good because it is further helping people around the world to understand what the current Iranian regime believes and why it is so dangerous.
  2. The film has been screened and approved at the highest levels of Iranian government, providing further confirmation that the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad believe their eschatology is being vindicated and thus emboldening them to continue pursuing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.
  3. The film is being screened throughout Iran for military officers and soldiers as well as for paramilitary units, suggesting that Iran’s leaders are trying to prepare their forces for a rapidly approaching genocidal war against Israel, the U.S. and the West and to encourage them not to fear because Shia Muslims are on the winning side of history.
  4. The film is being translated from Farsi (the language of Iran) to Arabic, suggesting that it will soon be shown and distributed throughout the broader Middle East and North Africa to prepare other Muslims — Sunni and Shia – for a genocidal war with Israel and the West.
  5. The film is full of false teaching (the Twelfth Imam is not the true Messiah, cannot save mankind and will not set up a global Islamic kingdom), delivered by false teachers (Iranian clerics), who follow a false religion (Islam), but it is useful in that it is further evidence that our Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely correct when He warned His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that “false messiahs” and “false prophets” will come in the last days before Christ’s own return. Indeed, while we can’t know for certain that a false Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam is actually coming soon, we must recognize that this is possible, would be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, would create much deception in the world, and would need to be countered with great courage and wisdom by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
  6. The film is full of evil, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-Christian teaching, but it is serving one particularly good function: it is beginning to accelerate and intensify an on-going conversation among Muslims and Jews throughout the world who are asking, “Who is the Messiah? When will He come? What signs will precede His coming? How shall we recognize Him when He comes? And how shall we live differently in light of His soon arrival?”
  7. The film, in my view, should immediately lead to Christian ministries producing films and TV programs explaining what the Bible says about the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how to both prepare for His return and live lives of holiness, prayer, evangelism, discipleship and church planting in view of Christ Jesus’ coming. Followers of Jesus Christ should be ready and willing to answer people’s questions from the Scriptures, and teach other believers how to answer these questions from the Bible, as well. One of the ministry leaders I spoke to who is responsible for broadcasting and webcasting programs that are seen by hundreds of thousands of Iranian and Arab Muslims and Christians throughout North Africa and the Middle East has already committed to having his staff make the Second Coming of Jesus Christ a new and important theme of their programming in the weeks and months ahead.

Please pray that many Christian leaders around the world will see this as an important moment to teach Bible truths in love and with great courage, that Jesus of Nazareth is the only true Messiah and the Savior of the world, and that He is coming back soon. As Jesus Himself said in John 14:1-3 and 6, ”Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also….I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Also worth noting: Reza Khalili notes that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Ahmadinejad’s top adviser and chief of staff was directly involved with this project. Khalili quotes Mashaei as saying:

Therefore let us shout out loud that The Coming is soon and that evil should be fearful. We live with these thoughts every day and our lives are filled with The Coming of the last imam. That human will reappear and fill the world with justice and establish his promised governance on earth. The very world has witnessed too much bloodshed of the innocent for others to build their palaces. The very world is filled with shouts for justice. The innocent and the oppressed are losing their lives to world powers. It is in this very world where the oppressors rule and this world that Allah will command the last imam to appear and forever put an end to injustice. At that time the world will belong to the righteous.

What Does Mubarak’s Downfall Mean for Christians in Egypt?

February 14, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

What does the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak mean for Christians in Egypt? That’s the question I’m being asked about again and again in TV and radio interviews over the past few days, so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts this morning.

First, senior pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt estimate there are some 2.5 million followers of Jesus Christ in their country. Most of these are born again converts who were raised as nominal Christians inside the historic Coptic (Orthodox) church. There are about eight to ten million Coptics in the country, all told, and there is a significant revival going on among them. By God’s grace, a growing number of Egyptian Muslims are leaving Islam and turning to Jesus every year. Amen. May this accelerate in the weeks and months ahead.

Second, believers in Egypt face significant harassment, ostracization, and outright persecution. Both the Mubarak government and the Islamists have worked hard to intimidate the Church over the years. While there are wonderfully bold and courageous pastors and lay leaders, many have come to live in fear and anxiety as a result.

Third, this is the most dramatic moment in the history of the modern Middle East since the downfall of the Saddam regime and the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Reformers are boldly proclaiming their solutions for Egypt’s problems. Likewise, the Radicals are boldly proclaiming their solutions for Egypt’s ills. Now it is time for the Revivalists — followers of our Lord Jesus who want to revive what Egypt once had before Islam: First Century, New Testament, Biblical Christianity — to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. True freedom and liberation — spiritually and socially — will only come when individuals choose to begin a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. Only then does the Lord offer us the free gift of life eternal and life abundant, as we read in John 3:16 and John 10:10.

Fourth, our job as believers around the world at this moment of turmoil, change and uncertainty is to stand with our brothers and sisters in Egypt, encourage them, pray for them, provide whatever training or resources they need, and provide some funding if possible to help them proclaim the gospel, make disciples, train new pastors, plant new churches, care for the poor and needy, and minister to the people in many other ways. We can’t do the work of the Church in Egypt for them, nor should we. But we can — and must — let them know that they are not alone. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12 that “you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” He told us that “if one member [of the Body] suffers, all the members suffer with it.” In Philippians 2, he urged believers to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” He encouraged us to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” In other words, we need to do a better job understanding the needs of the Egyptian Church and seek ways to stand with them and encourage them, not be selfish or prideful or focused merely on ourselves.

My wife, Lynn, our four sons, Lynn’s mom, and I had the joy of living in Egypt — in a suburb of Cairo, actually – for nearly three months in late 2005 and early 2006 when I was researching and writing a book. During that time, we had the opportunity to see the enormous surge of Christianity underway in the Middle East and North Africa firsthand. We met with Egyptian Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and Nominal Christian Background Believers (NCBBs). We met believers engaged in satellite television ministry, in radio ministry, in Internet ministry, in gospel literature distribution, and in all manner of evangelism outreaches and discipleship programs. It was also a remarkable time to study the history and culture of Egypt. We visited the great museum in Cairo, climbed inside the pyramids, and traveled around the country to places like Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh. We learned so much, saw so much poverty, so much sadness, such stagnation, such political and spiritual stagnation.

We also made some dear friends and visited a variety of churches to better understand the challenges facing believers in that historic country. One of these was the famous “garbage church” in the caves above Cairo, located right next to the biggest “city” of trash and waste products I have ever seen in my life.

To get to the “garbage church,” you must first drive through this “city” of badly built brick and cement apartment buildings teeming with an estimated fifteen to thirty thousand “garbage people”—no one knows for sure, and the numbers are always changing—living amid literally thousands of tons of trash. Everywhere you look you see people picking through it, sorting it, rebagging it, looking for objects of value and hoping to sell plastic bottles and the like to recyclers. The stench is unbelievable.

But then you come through it to the other side, to a paved parking lot and a lovely little Christian chapel, nestled against huge cliffs. Carved into the cliffs are the most amazing scenes of Jesus walking on water, Jesus on the cross, Jesus ascending to heaven, and so forth, each with a Bible verse inscribed below it in Arabic and English, all done by a Polish artist. Inside the six caves are six chapels, the largest of which holds twenty thousand people.

Our guide that day was an MBB named Addel. He shared with us (by translation) how he was lost in drugs and alcohol and the depression of living in the garbage village. He also shared with us how he came to hear an audiocassette of one of the priests at the church and how God used that sermon to convict him of his sin and point him to what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins and offer him forgiveness. Now Addel greets visitors who come to see this extraordinary ministry and tells them the story of what God is doing there.

The church was planted, he said, in 1978 by a Coptic priest with a burden for reaching the people Paul called “the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” with the Good News that they could be adopted by the King of kings. So many people became Christians in the years that followed that in 1992 they had to covert the largest cave into a worship amphitheater. On an average weekend, some ten thousand new and growing believers from the garbage community come to sing and hear the message of the gospel and learn how to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Services are held on Thursday nights (the most popular service), Friday mornings, and Sunday evenings. In May of 2005, more than twenty thousand Arab believers gathered at the garbage church for a day of prayer for their unsaved Muslim friends to become followers of Christ. The event was broadcast throughout the Middle East on a Christian satellite television network, allowing millions more to see God powerfully at work.

With our kids, Lynn and I have been watching events unfold in Egypt through the lenses of our own experiences there, but more importantly through the lenses of Scripture. We know through Isaiah 19 that the future of Egypt is going to get far worse in the last days before the return of Christ. We also know that eventually Egypt will experience a great national awakening. Millions of Egyptians will come to faith in Jesus Christ and worship Him during the Millennial Kingdom, when He reigns from His throne in Jerusalem. We are praying for the Lord to show us and The Joshua Fund team board and staff how we can be a blessing not only to Israel, but also to her neighbors, like the dear people of Egypt who have suffered so long and need to find hope and freedom in Jesus. We’d love for you to join us in these vital prayers, as well. Thanks so much, and may the Lord bless you as you bless Israel and Egypt at this critical hour.

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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JUST POSTED: Here’s my interview on Fox News Channel on Sunday (Feb 13) with Shannon Bream, discussing the implications of the fall of the Mubarak regime for Israel, for followers of Jesus Christ in Egypt, and for the battle between Radicals and Reformers in Iran.

Why the Radicals want Egypt

February 4, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

>> FYI: I’m scheduled to be on the Glenn Beck show on the Fox News Channel at 5pm eastern for the full hour to analyze the crisis in Egypt, the Iranian angle, and the impact on Israel and on Christians in the Middle East. Please join us if you can.

>> Later today, Lord willing, I’ll post a video blog on The Joshua Fund’s website discussing the future of Egypt from the perspective of Bible prophecy, specifically Isaiah 19.

UPDATED: Thirty-two years ago this week, the Islamic Revolution reached its zenith in Iran. The Shah had been forced to flee. His regime had collapsed. And on February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini landed at Tehran International Airport, welcomed by throngs of Islamic militants thinking he was the Twelfth Imam and shouting, “The Holy One has come! The Holy One has come!”

Khomeini’s expressed mission, however, was not simply to seize control of Iran. He vowed to “export the Islamic Revolution.” Iran has been funding terrorist and subversive groups ever since.

If Egypt falls into the hands of the Radicals, this will be a disaster of historic proportions. Egypt and Iran would be the Twin Towers of the epicenter, two nations that have collapsed at the hands of the jihadists who are determined to rebuild the Islamic caliphate and usher in the End of Days, even if many in our foreign policy establishment don’t recognize this.

In many ways, Egypt and Iran could not be more different. Egypt is ethnically Arab and spiritually Sunni. Iran is ethnically Persian and spiritually Shia. Traditionally, Arabs and Persians have hated each other. So have Sunnis and Shias. But now they are coming together for two common objectives:

  1. To surround Israel, destroy the Jews, and capture Jerusalem for Islam.
  2. To surround the Arabian peninsula, destroy the “apostate” House of Saud regime, and capture control of Mecca and Medina

This is why the Iranian regime is so excited by what is happening in Egypt, and determined to help where and  how they can.

“Uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia will spell an ‘irreparable defeat’ for the United States, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday, adding that the recent wave of unrest sweeping through the Mideast was a result of Iran’s Islamic Revolution,” reports Reuters and Haaretz.

“Speaking with worshippers during Friday prayers in Tehran, Khamenei said that ‘if they [protesters] are able to push this through then what will happen to the U.S. policies in the region will be an irreparable defeat for America….Today’s events in North of Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and certain other countries have another sense for the Iranian nation. They have special meaning. This is the same as ‘Islamic awakening,’ which is the result of the victory of the big revolution of the Iranian nation,” the Supreme Leader was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.”

“The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement called upon people and governments around the world to strongly condemn what it said were Israeli and American ‘interferences aimed at diverting Egyptians’ justice-seeking movement, by creating counter-revolt and using rioters….Iran also warns that any opposition to the movement of the Egyptian people … will bring about the anger and hatred of all Muslims around the world,’ the statement said.”

Developing….

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

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Who Is Mohammed Elbaradei?

January 31, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

Last week, few Westerners knew the name Mohammed ElBaradei. Today, this well-educated, genteel-sounding, Nobel laureate has suddenly emerged as the face of the protest movement in Egypt. But who is he really, and is he a force for genuine, positive change? Three clues tell us the answer is “no,” ElBaradei is not someone we can trust, and we do not want him running Egypt.

1. ElBaradei is an apologist for Iran. As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, from 1997 to 2009, the Iranians repeatedly lied to ElBaradei’s face, and he either let them or didn’t know the difference. The Iranians dramatically accelerated their nuclear enrichment program in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law during those 12 years. But ElBaradei never seemed bothered. Iran built three secret nuclear facilities during this time, yet ElBaredei never seemed to notice (until other intelligence agencies called his attention to them). For more on this, please read:

2. ElBaredei is anti-Israel. During his tenure at the IAEA, Iranian leaders publicly and consistently called for the “annihilation” of Israel, denied the Holocaust of six million Jews during World War II, said that the Jewish State was doomed to destruction, that the fall of Israel was “imminent,” as was the coming of the Twelfth Imam which would coincide with the destruction of not just Israel but also the U.S. At the same time, the Iranians feverishly accelerated their illegal uranium enrichment program even as they developed ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and Europe. Yet in 2009, ElBaradei actually declared that Israel was the greatest threat to the peace and security of the Middle East, not Iran.

3. Third, ElBaradei is an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood. For starters, the Brotherhood is openly supporting ElBaradei and saying they want to form a “unity” government with him, and he’s welcoming their support. What’s more, in an interview on CNN on January 30, 2011, ElBaradei flatly denied that the Muslim Brotherhood is a fundamentalist Islamic organization, claiming that this was “a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime.” He went on to deny that if the Brotherhood gained control of the Egyptian government they wouldn’t create a Radical Islamic regime that would be similar to what happened in Iran in 1979. To be sure, the Brotherhood are Sunni Radicals and the Ayatollah Khomeini was a Shia Radical. But aside from those theological differences, the Brotherhood has been one of the most anti-Western, virulently jihadist organizations in the Middle East for decades. They have believed and taught that Islam is the answer, and violent jihad is the way. This was true of its founder Hassan al-Banna. This was true of its intellectual leader Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s and 1960s. This is true of its most famous and deadly disciples, Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian national. It remains true with the Hamas terror movement in Gaza, which is an offshoot of the Egyptian Brotherhood. I document all this in my non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution.

Here’s the transcript of the stunning interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria (or watch this video — this portion begins at 7:12 minutes into the clip):

CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA: Mohamed, one of the visions that haunts Americans is of the Iranian revolution, where a dictator, pro-American dictator, was replaced by an even worse regime that was even more anti-American and more threatening to the region.  People worry about the Muslim Brotherhood.  Are you confident that a post-Mubarak Egypt will not give rise to some kind of Islamic fundamentalist force that will undermine the democracy of Egypt?

MOHAMMED ELBARADEI: I’m quite confident of that, Fareed.  This is a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime, that it’s either us, the ruthless dictators, or above them the al Qaeda types. You know, the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism, as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places.  The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group.  They are a minority in Egypt.  They are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of credibility because all the other liberal parties have been smothered for 30 years. They are in favor of a federalist state.  They are in favor of a wording on the base of constitution that….every Egyptian has the same rights, same obligation, that the state in no way will be a state based on religion.  And I have been reaching out to them.  We need to include them.  They are part of the Egyptian society, as much as the Marxist party here.  I think this myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime has no – has no iota of reality. As you know, Fareed, I’ve worked with Iranians, I’ve worked here.  There is 100 percent difference between the two societies.

ZAKARIA: If there were a democratic government with Muslim Brotherhood participation, do you believe that Egypt would still be at peace with Israel?

ELBARADEI: Of course.  I mean, I – again, the whole issue of peace in the Middle East is an issue which everybody – nobody wants to go to war, Fareed.

For more on the dangers posed by the Muslim Brotherhood:

Inside The Egyptian Revolution

January 30, 2011

published with permission by Joel Rosenberg

A protester burns a picture of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak during clashes in Cairo January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to Mubarak’s three-decade rule. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

In the past several days, the dynamic of the protests in Egypt has changed rapidly, and not for the better. What started out as a genuine and positive pro-freedom movement is being steadily co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood and other violent and extremist forces. There is now a growing risk that the overthrow of the Mubarak regime could lead either to an authoritarian military regime, or a Radical Islamist regime. We must pray neither scenario comes to pass. The people of Egypt would be further oppressed. The U.S., Israel and the West would be endangered. Bottom line: This is a very complex and fast-moving crisis, and it could get much worse.

Let me explain and put the situation in some context.

In my 2009 non-fiction book Inside The Revolution: Why the followers of Jihad, Jefferson and Jesus are battling to dominate the Middle East and take over the world, I outlined a range of players in the region, who they are and what they want:

  • The Radicals are extremist Muslims who want to overthrow every regime from North Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and replace them with Islamist dictatorships who believe that “Islam is the answer and jihad is the way.” These include groups such as al Qaeda, Iranian Twelvers, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the like.
  • The Reformers are moderate Muslims who say, “Islam is the answer, but jihad is not the way; we need more freedom, more openness, more protection of human rights and civil rights, free elections, free markets, and the creation of full-blown Jeffersonian democracies, if at all possible.” In this group historically have been Kemal Mustafa Ataturk (the founder of modern, democratic Turkey; though sadly Turkey is now moving away from his model); Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (who made peace with Israel but was then assassinated by Radicals); Jordanian Kings Hussein (the father, who made peace with Israel and initiated a democratically elected parliament while retaining his authority as monarch) and Abdullah II (the son and current monarch who has been advancing his father’s reforms incrementally); Morrocan King Mohammed VI; the current leaders of Iraq such as President Jalal Talabani and Nouri al-Maliki; and the popular pro-democracy movement in Iran that we saw take to the streets by the millions last summer)
  • The Revivalists are former Muslims who say, “Islam is not the answer, jihad is not the way, Jesus is the way — and the only way for our part of the world to move forward and make real and lasting social, economic and spiritual progress is to skip back in our history before Islam and revive what we once had: first century, New Testament, Biblical Christianity.” These followers of Jesus Christ in the Islamic world tend to be apolitical and are focused on evangelism, discipleship, church planting, pastor training and spiritual renewal. By using dual strategies of an air war (satellite TV, radio and the Internet) and a ground war (especially the house church movement), their numbers have swelled into the millions since 1979, despite widespread (and recently intensifying) persecution. I profile a number of their leaders in the book, though few of them are known by name in the West.

These first three are the revolutionary forces in the region, people and movements who advocate and push for dramatic, sweeping change.

Then there is another set of important players:

  • The Resisters tend to be secular Arab nationalist leaders who oppose significant change of almost any kind. They may be Muslims but they certainly aren’t revolutionaries. They don’t want to build an Islamic empire. They want to build their own empires. They want to hold onto the power, wealth and prestige that they currently have, and gain more if they can. They strongly oppose revolutionary movements of all kinds. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a classic Resister. So are leaders like Syrian President Bashar Assad, Libyan leader Moammar Ghadaffi, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, and so forth. Previously, Saddam Hussein fell into this camp.
  • The Reticent tend to be weak-willed Arab leaders who seem constantly pulled in opposite directions. They don’t have strong convictions. At times they seem to want peace with Israel, for example, and even a modicum of political or social reform, but then other forces push back at them and they waffle or change their tune. At the moment, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is the best example of a Reticent leader. He has been offered historic deals by recent Israeli Prime Ministers to make peace and create a Palestinian state and have dramatic economic change and growth. He has occassionally shown real interest in positive change, but has never had the courage to say “yes.”
  • Finally, and most importantly, are the Rank-and-File — these are the billion-plus everyday Muslims citizens who work hard, play by the rules, are trying to find decent jobs to feed and educate their families. They aren’t revolutionaries. They long for more freedom and opportunity, but mainly they keep their heads down and try not to be noticed and not be interfered with. They are the audience to which the revolutionaries are playing. They are watching the battle between the Radicals and the Reformers, and they are increasingly curious about the message of the Revivalists. And some of them are making their move and joining one of the revolutionary movements.

That said, let’s focus again on the crisis at hand. What we are witnessing in Egypt is an historic clash between true Reformer Muslims who want free elections and free markets, and Radical Muslims who want to use the protests to overthrow the Mubarak regime and install a violent, extremist Islamist government. The Revivalists in Egypt are, for the most part, staying underground. True to their nature, they are remaining apolitical and  are devoting themselves to much prayer for the future of their country and the souls of their friends and neighbors.

For the first few days of last week, most of the initial protestors on the streets of Egypt were peaceful, respectful, somewhat educated, and poor to middle class. I believe they were genuinely calling for an end to the Mubarak regime’s corruption and authoritarian rule in order to achieve more freedom, more opportunity, a better economy, more and better jobs, and a democratic government that would respect and protect their human rights and civil rights and set them free from the stagnant, stultified, oppressive Egyptian system they have suffered under for so long.

However, beginning on Thursday and accelerating throughout the day on Friday, the situation began to change dramatically.

The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood (which began in Egypt in the 1920) had initially been caught off guard by sudden and intense rise of the protests and had not been involved in planning or developing these protests. But sensing an opportunity, they decided to move decisively and try to coopt the movement for their own purposes. They mobilized their followers throughout the country and told them to take to the streets.  That’s when the complexion of the protests took a turn for the worse, characterized by:

These are not the actions of a true pro-freedom movement. Almost none of this happened last summer when millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To the contrary, the Iranian people, to their great credit, initiated what was overwhelming a classic non-violent, principled protest movement against the Radical regime.

President Mubarak’s response to the protests has been badly overdone and typically authoritarian — shutting down the Internet, blocking social media like Facebook and Twitter, and now blocking even the Al Jazeera satellite TV network. What’s more, the police and army at times have been thuggish and brutal (though not always; their have been fascinating reports of policemen and soldiers embracing the protestors, encouraging them even).

So I find myself in a quandary. I strongly support the right of the Egyptian people to have free elections and free markets and true opportunity in the 21st century. What’s more, I want the Church to be free to share the gospel and win Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ, make disciples and plant new congregations without government oppression and without violent attacks by Radical Muslims. I do believe Mubarak has stayed too long. He has not responded to the yearning of the Egyptian people to be free. His day is coming to an end.

That said, however, I don’t want to see the Muslim Brotherhood win. For all of Mubarak’s sins, he is not a Radical. He doesn’t want to launch a jihad against the U.S., Israel or the West. He has maintained the peace treaty with Israel. He has worked to counter the Hamas movement in Gaza. He is strongly opposed to the Iranian nuclear weapons program and has worked closely with the West to counter it. The Obama administration needs to be careful to support positive change in Egypt and support human rights there, without cutting the legs out from underneath Mubarak precipitously, the way President Carter did to the Shah of Iran in 1979. The Shah had his many flaws, no question about it. But Carter’s actions helped trigger the Islamic Revolution and led to the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the loss of an American ally, and the rise of a terror-exporting country that has gained in lethality ever since. We dare not make the same mistakes with Egypt.

I am praying, therefore, that the Lord would be merciful to the people of Egypt, and that He would give wisdom to Mr. Mubarak and his senior advisors. My ideal at this point is that Mubarak would hand the keys to the kingdom to a group of Reformers, men truly committed to steadily expanding hope, growth and opportunity for all their people, and doing so in a way that creates order and stability, not an opening for the Muslim Brotherhood to seize control. This will not be easy. I am not convinced Egypt spymaster-turned-new-Vice President Omar Suleiman is the man to accomplish this. But I know that ultimately the Lord is in charge, and this — and nothing else — is what should give us all hope.

As the Hebrew Prophet Daniel once said while living under a brutal Middle Eastern dictator:

“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.” (Daniel 2:20-21)

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Revolution in Egypt? Is Jordan Next? Regional Instability Rising Rapidly

January 28, 2011

published with permission from Joel Rosenberg

Is Egypt about to erupt in a full-blown revolution that could lead to the fall of the Mubarak regime? Might Jordan’s government be next?

One thing’s for certain: no one predicted the demonstrations in Egypt would grow so big so fast. Momentum for the protests is growing. A Facebook page promoting the democracy protests grew from 20,000 members on Wednesday to 80,000 on Thursday. The government then reportedly shut down Facebook, and disrupted internet service in parts of the country. Twitter has been blocked. Police are beating protesters.

One key factor few are seeing at the moment: economics. Egyptians are suffering double-digit inflation and record food prices in recent years, and particularly in 2010. Most people are already dirt poor. Soaring food prices are causing them to fear they may not be able to feed their families. This is creating a “perfect storm” of anger against the Mubarak regime — it’s corrupt, authoritarian, anti-human rights, and resistant to all positive economic and political reform. It’s been bad for the thirty years Mubarak has been in power. But with high inflation, especially for food, Egyptians are being pushed over the brink.

Calls for Mubarak to step down growing. “Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog turned Egyptian reform campaigner, said he expected big demonstrations across Egypt on Friday, and that it was time for President Hosni Mubarak to go,” reported Reuters. “ElBaradei, 68, left Vienna, where he lives, for Cairo on Thursday to join a growing wave of protests against Mubarak inspired by Tunisia’s overthrow of their authoritarian president. He told Reuters he would not lead the street rallies, but that his role was ‘to manage the change politically.’” On Friday, however, ElBaradei was placed under house arrest in Egypt.

In my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution, I described Mubarak as a “classic Resister” — he doesn’t want real change of any kind. He just wants to retain power, keep things stable, keep wealth and power for himself, and pass the keys to the kingdom on to his son, Gamal. But such resistance to positive change is inflaming the “rank-and-file,” every day Egyptians who feel increasingly desperate, and see others in the region (Tunisians, Iraqis, and the people of southern Sudan) as changing their governments and having more say in the affairs of state. They are yearning for something better, and now they’ve taken to the streets in hopes of getting it.

Meanwhile, protests have mounted in recent days in Jordan. Reports the AP:  “The economy saw a record deficit of $2 billion this year, inflation rising…to 6.1 percent just last month and rampant unemployment and poverty — estimated at 12 and 25 percent respectively. ‘The government buys cars and spends lavishly on its parties and travel, while many Jordanians are jobless or can barely put food on their tables to feed their hungry children,’ said civil servant Mahmoud Thiabat, 31, a father of three who earns $395 a month.”

In Egypt, I don’t see the protests being driven primarily by the Muslim Brotherhood (which started in Egypt in the 1920s) or by Radicals in general, though they’re certainly trying to take advantage. This would be a nightmare scenario we need to pray never happens. We don’t want this to be another Iranian Revolution where an Islamic Radical madman takes over. If Mubarak falls, we want to see a group of pro-democracy, pro-free market, serious Reformers come to power. In Jordan, there is a very high risk that Islamic Radicals would take over the regime. As I write in Inside The Revolution, “It is precisely because the Jordanians have made such progress [with positive political and economic reforms in the past two decades] that I am worried by the Radicals’ determination to launch a jihad there, seize the capital, and create a new anti-Israel, anti-Western base for Iran and al Qaeda. Therefore, I often pray for Jordan’s peace, prosperity and continued progress. I pray for King Abdullah’s health and safety, and I pray that the Lord would grant him the wisdom to know how best to move forward in such challenging times.”

Please keep praying for Egypt’s 80 million people — for freedom, for safety, for courage, and for the gospel to be spread to an entire nation desperately needing God’s love and plan for their lives.

Pray, too, for the people of Jordan and all the nations of the region as instability rises rapidly.

Note: For the past several years, The Joshua Fund has been supporting ministry leaders and projects in Egypt and Jordan to share the gospel, make disciples and strengthen the Church. Please pray these investments would be fruitful, and please help us if you can.

FRIDAY UPDATE

>> Flashback: Jan 26 posting on crisis building in Egypt

Political Changes in Israel: Barak Quits Labor Party, Creates New Centrist Faction

January 18, 2011

>> Fmr. Delta Force commander Gen. Jerry Boykin to speak at 2011 Epicenter Conference. Come with The Joshua Fund on a prayer & vision tour of Israel and attend the conference as part of the package

Interesting political developments today in Israel as Defense Minister Ehud  Barak bolted the Labor Party, his own political party, the party of which he is the head. He has created a new, “centrist” party and pulled a number of allies along. Why did he do it? Clues can be found in the articles below. Will it strengthen or hurt the Netanyahu government? For now, I believe it will strengthen. Why? Because it means the most far Left-wing members of the Labor Party are no longer in the government and thus can’t bring down the government. What’s more, those center-Left leaders like Barak who believe the Iranian threat compels them to help Netanyahu prepare for war, should it come, are able to keep their eye on their mission, and won’t have to worry about internal, divisive politics for the time being. They are free to vote and act their consciences and not worry they’ll be stabbed in the back, politically speaking, by those who believe they are traitors for serving in a Netanyahu government.

Meanwhile, interesting developments with Iran. More evidence that Israel and the U.S. developed the Stuxnet computer virus together, and that Russian officials are warning Tehran not to turn on the Bushehr reactor for the time being, lest there be a Chernobyl-style meltdown. And outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan is now backtracking on his confident prediction that Iran won’t have the Bomb until at least 2015. Now he’s saying he could be wrong and Iran could have nuclear weapons sooner, though he still believes that Iran’s efforts have been slowed down in recent months. Developing….

Iran Has Enough Enriched Uranium to Build 4 Nuclear Bombs

January 10, 2011

“Officials say Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium stockpiled to create as many as four atomic weapons if it decided to further process the fuel,” reports the Wall Street Journal this morning. “The U.S. and the IAEA also worry Iran could have deployed advanced centrifuges at clandestine sites.”

To put this in context, in September 2009, Israel’s former Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold told me that the latest U.N. report indicated Iran had enough low-enriched uranium (LEU) to build two nuclear bombs, should it take the LEU to 90%-plus weapons purity.

That said, evidence continues to surface in the media that economic sanctions and covert operations to slow down Iran’s development of nuclear weapons are working. Iran may have the LEU, but it doesn’t seem to have the other materials needed to actually build or test atomic bombs it would seem — at least not yet. Last week, the outgoing head of the Mossad said he felt Iran wouldn’t likely be able to build operations nuclear weapons until 2015. Washington officials, therefore, believe the likelihood of an Israeli war with Iran over the nuclear issue has declined somewhat in the near-term.

“The Obama administration has concluded that Iran’s nuclear program has been slowed by a combination of sanctions, sabotage and Iran’s own technical troubles,” noted columnist David Ignatius in yesterday’s Washington Post. “Because of the delay, U.S. officials see what one describes as “a little bit of space” before any military showdown with Iran….A senior Obama administration official [said], ‘They’re not moving as fast as we had feared a year ago’….This new assessment of Iran’s nuclear setbacks has lowered the temperature on what had been 2010′s hottest strategic issue. Last summer, Jerusalem and Washington were talking themselves into a war fever, prompted in part by a powerful article in the Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg that starkly described the likelihood of military action. This fever seems to have broken.”

Indeed, Israeli covert efforts to stop Iran appear to be working so well that Iran is trying hard to strike back. A Reuters wire story notes that “Iran has arrested a ‘network of spies’ linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service which it blames for the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010, Iran’s state television reported on Monday….Under Iran’s penal code, imposed since its 1979 Islamic revolution, espionage can carry the death penalty. In December Iran hanged an Iranian man convicted of spying for Israel. Another Iranian man was hanged in 2008 for allegedly working with Mossad. Israel denied having any links with the case.”

Is this true, or Iranian propaganda? This remains to be seen. The Iranian regime has been deeply embarrassed by recent revelations that its nuclear program has been severely slowed down by covert operations, including the Stuxnet computer virus, the assassination of senior Iranian nuclear scientists, defections by key scientists and other sabotage efforts, all presumably masterminded by various Western intelligence agencies, including Mossad and the CIA. Sometimes, Iranian officials have been known to arrest people and charge them with espionage to make big, splashy headlines, only to later release the accused when it’s clear there is no real evidence against them. Over the weekend, for example, CNN reported that Iran deported an American woman after dropping trumped up espionage charges against her.

In related news, “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed on Sunday Israeli assessments of delays in the Iranian nuclear program and called for more work on sanctions to bring Tehran to heel,” reported Haaretz. “Clinton, on a tour of Gulf Arab countries to shore up support for pressure on Iran, arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. She will also visit Dubai, Oman and Qatar on the five-day trip….Clinton said a recent assessment by the retiring chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service that Iran would not be able to build an atomic bomb until at least 2015 should not undercut international determination to keep the pressure on Iran through sanctions and other means to come clean about its atomic work. ‘The timeline is not so important as the international effort to try to ensure that whatever the timeline, Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons,’ Clinton told reporters on her plane as it arrived in Abu Dhabi. ‘I don’t know that it gives much comfort to somebody who is in the Gulf, or who is in a country that Iran has vowed to destroy, that it’s a one-year or a three-year timeframe.’”

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