Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Caroline GlickBy Caroline B. Glick

Over the past week, Israel has been criticized for being insufficiently supportive of democratic change in Egypt. While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been careful to praise the cause of democracy while warning against the dangers of an Islamic takeover of the most populous Arab state, many Israelis have not been so diplomatic.

To understand why, it is necessary to take a little tour of the Arab world.

In the midst of Tunisia’s revolution last month, the Jewish Agency mobilized to evacuate any members of the country’s Jewish community who wished to leave. Until the end of French colonial rule in 1956, Tunisia’s Jewish community numbered 100,000 members. But like for all Jewish communities in the Arab world, the advent of Arab nationalism in the mid-20th century forced the overwhelming majority of Tunisia’s Jews to leave the country. Today, with between 1,500 and 3,000 members, Tunisia’s tiny Jewish community is among the largest in the Arab world.

So far, six families have left for Israel. Many more may follow. Two weeks ago, Daniel Cohen from Tunis’s Jewish community told Haaretz, “If the situation continues as it is now, we will definitely have to leave or immigrate to Israel.”

Since then, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahda, has returned to Tunisia after 22 years living in exile in London. He was sentenced to life in prison in absentia on terrorism charges by the regime of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Then on Monday night, unidentified assailants set fire to a synagogue in the town of Ghabes and burned the Torah scrolls. In an interview with AFP, Trabelsi Perez, president of the Ghriba synagogue, said the crime was made all the more shocking by the fact that it occurred as police were stationed close by.

The day after the attack, Roger Bismuth, president of Tunisia’s Jewish community, disputed the view that the scorching of Torah scrolls had anything to do with anti-Semitism. The man responsible for representing Tunisia’s Jewish community before the evolving new regime told The Jerusalem Post that the attack was the fault of the Jews themselves, “because they left [the synagogue] open… This is not an attack on the Jewish community.”

The fear now gripping the Jews of Tunisia is not surprising. The same fear gripped the much smaller Iraqi Jewish community after the US and Britain toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. The Iraqi community was the oldest, and arguably the most successful, Jewish community in the Arab world until World War II. Its 150,000 members were leading businessmen and civil servants during the period of British rule.

Following the establishment of Israel, the Iraqi government revoked the citizenship of the country’s Jews, forced them to flee and stole their property down to their wedding rings. The expropriated property of Iraqi Jewry is valued today at more than $4 billion.

Only 7,000 Jews remained in Iraq after the mass aliya of 1951. By the time Saddam was toppled in 2003, only 32 Jews remained. They were mainly elderly, and impoverished. And owing to al-Qaida threats and government harassment, they were all forced to flee.

Shortly after they overthrew Saddam, US forces found the archives of the Jewish community submerged in a flooded basement of a secret police building in Baghdad. The archive was dried and frozen and sent to the US for preservation. Last year, despite the fact that Saddam’s secret police only had the archive because they stole it from the Jews, the Iraqi government demanded its return as a national treasure.

As embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began his counteroffensive against the anti-regime protesters, his mouthpieces began alleging that the protesters were incited by the Mossad.

For their part, the anti-regime protesters claim that Mubarak is an Israeli puppet. The protesters brandish placards with Mubarak’s image plastered with Stars of David. A photo of an effigy of newly appointed vice president, and intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman burned in Tahrir Square showed him portrayed as a Jew.

On Wednesday night, Channel 10’s Arab affairs commentator Zvi Yehezkeli ran a depressing report on the status of the graves of Jewish sages buried in the Muslim world. The report chronicled the travels of Rabbi Yisrael Gabbai, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has taken upon himself to travel to save these important shrines. As Yehezkeli reported, last week Gabbai traveled to Iran and visited the graves of Purim heroes Queen Esther and Mordechai the Jew, and the prophets Daniel and Habbakuk.

He was moved to travel to Iran after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered Esther and Mordechai’s tomb destroyed. The Iranian media followed up Ahmadinejad’s edict with a campaign claiming that Esther and Mordechai were responsible for the murder of 170,000 Iranians.

Gabbai’s travels have brought him to Iran, Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and beyond. And throughout the Arab and Muslim world, like the dwindling Jewish communities, Jewish cemeteries are targets for anti-Semitic attacks. “We’re talking about thousands of cemeteries throughout the Arab world. It’s the same problem everywhere,” he said.

Israelis have been overwhelmingly outspoken in our criticism of Western support for the antiregime forces in Egypt due to our deep-seated concern that the current regime will be replaced by one dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Representing a minimum of 30 percent of Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood is the only well organized political force in the country outside the regime.

The Muslim Brothers’ organizational prowess and willingness to use violence to achieve their aims was likely demonstrated within hours of the start of the unrest. Shortly after the demonstrations began, operatives from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza – that is Hamas – knew to cross the border into Sinai. And last Thursday, a police station in Suez was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and firebombs.

Hamas has a long history of operations in Sinai. It also has close ties with Beduin gangs in the area that were reportedly involved in attacking another police station in northern Sinai.

Western – and particularly American – willingness to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood is anything other than a totalitarian movement has been greeted by disbelief and astonishment by Israelis from across the political spectrum.

It is the likelihood that the Muslim Brotherhood will rise to power, not an aversion to Arab democracy, that has caused Israel to fear the popular revolt against Mubarak’s regime. If the Muslim Brotherhood were not a factor in Egypt, then Israel would probably have simply been indifferent to events there, as it has been to the development of democracy in Iraq and to the popular revolt in Tunisia.

Israel’s indifference to democratization of the Arab world has been a cause of consternation for some of its traditional supporters in conservative circles in the US and Europe. Israelis are accused of provincialism. As citizens of the only democracy in the Middle East, we are admonished for not supporting democracy among our neighbors.

The fact is that Israeli indifference to democratic currents in Arab societies is not due to provincialism. Israelis are indifferent because we realize that whether under authoritarian rule or democracy, anti-Semitism is the unifying sentiment of the Arab world. Fractured along socioeconomic, tribal, religious, political, ethnic and other lines, the glue that binds Arab societies is hatred of Jews.

A Pew Research Center opinion survey of Arab attitudes towards Jews from June 2009 makes this clear. Ninety-five percent of Egyptians, 97% of Jordanians and Palestinians and 98% of Lebanese expressed unfavorable opinions of Jews. Threequarters of Turks, Pakistanis and Indonesians also expressed hostile views of Jews.

Throughout the Arab and Muslim world, genocidal anti-Semitic propaganda is all-pervasive. And as Prof. Robert Wistrich has written,

“The ubiquity of the hate and prejudice exemplified by this hard-core anti-Semitism undoubtedly exceeds the demonization of earlier historical periods – whether the Christian Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the Dreyfus Affair in France, or the Judeophobia of Tsarist Russia. The only comparable example would be that of Nazi Germany in which we can also speak of an ‘eliminationist anti-Semitism’ of genocidal dimensions, which ultimately culminated in the Holocaust.”

That is why for most Israelis, the issue of how Arabs are governed is as irrelevant as the results of the 1852 US presidential elections were for American blacks. Since both parties excluded them, they were indifferent to who was in power.

What these numbers, and the anti-Semitic behavior of Arabs, show Israelis is that it makes no difference which regime rules where. As long as the Arab peoples hate Jews, there will be no peace between their countries and Israel. No one will be better for Israel than Mubarak. They can only be the same or worse.

This is why no one expected for the democratically elected Iraqi government to sign a peace treaty with Israel or even end Iraq’s official state of war with the Jewish state. Indeed, Iraq remains in an official state of war with Israel. And after independent lawmaker Mithal al-Alusi visited Israel in 2008, two of his sons were murdered. Alusi’s life remains under constant threat.

One of the more troubling aspects of the Western media coverage of the tumult in Egypt over the past two weeks has been the media’s move to airbrush out all evidence of the protesters’ anti-Semitism.

As John Rosenthal pointed out this week at The Weekly Standard, Germany’s Die Welt ran a frontpage photo that featured a poster of Mubarak with a Star of David across his forehead in the background. The photo caption made no mention of the anti-Semitic image. And its online edition did not run the picture.

And as author Bruce Bawer noted at the Pajamas Media website, Jeanne Moos of CNN scanned the protesters’ signs, noting how authentic and heartwarming their misspelled English messages were, yet failed to mention that one of the signs she showed portrayed Mubarak as a Jew.

Given the Western media’s obsessive coverage of the Arab-Israel conflict, at first blush it seems odd that they would ignore the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the presumably prodemocracy protesters. But on second thought, it isn’t that surprising.

If the media reported on the overwhelming Jew hatred in the Arab world generally and in Egypt specifically, it would ruin the narrative of the Arab conflict with Israel. That narrative explains the roots of the conflict as frustrated Arab-Palestinian nationalism. It steadfastly denies any more deeply seated antipathy of Jews that is projected onto the Jewish state. The fact that the one Jewish state stands alone against 23 Arab states and 57 Muslim states whose populations are united in their hatred of Jews necessarily requires a revision of the narrative. And so their hatred is ignored.

But Israelis don’t need CNN to tell us how our neighbors feel about us. We know already. And because we know, while we wish them the best of luck with their democracy movements, and would welcome the advent of a tolerant society in Egypt, we recognize that that tolerance will end when it comes to the Jews. And so whether they are democrats or autocrats, we fully expect they will continue to hate us.

Related Links

Die Welt Sees No Anti-Semitism – The Weekly Standard
The Source of Anti-Semitism – (Andy Woods)
Israel’s government raises alarm at events in Egypt – The Guardian
Hundreds march against government in Jordan – AP
Rand Paul Repeats Calls to End Aid to Israel – Commentary Magazine


Mitchell BardBy Dr. Mitchell Bard

The impact of unrest in Egypt on Israel’s security will not be known until it is clear who will be leading the country. Whatever his failings as a leader within Egypt, Hosni Mubarak faithfully upheld the peace treaty with Israel. If, however, Mubarak is replaced by someone who does not keep the country’s treaty commitments, Israel’s security will be endangered.

Since signing the peace deal with Egypt in 1979, Israel has reduced the percentage of its GDP devoted to defense spending by nearly a third – from 23% in the 1970s to 9% today. Israel also significantly reduced the number of soldiers stationed on its southern border and has been able to focus its strategic planning on other threats. Peace with Egypt has contributed to the economic growth of Israel and also was a catalyst for other peace negotiations. Psychologically, the treaty also showed Israelis that peace with an Arab, Muslim state is possible.

A change in regime could easily lead to the reversal of these trends. While Mubarak fulfilled the letter of the peace treaty, he was never fully committed to its spirit. The media, military and general public were never conditioned to accept Israel as their neighbor. The Egyptian media in particular has often been critical of Israel to the point of anti-Semitism and the military has consistently directed war games against Israel.

If the next leader of Egypt reneges on the treaty, Israel will find itself essentially surrounded by enemies – the same position it was in for decades following independence. A potentially belligerent Egypt would join the threats currently posed to Israel from Hamas in Gaza, Syria – who remains formally at war with Israel, and Lebanon who has become essentially an Iranian proxy dominated by Hezbollah. Jordan is also facing unrest and its future is uncertain.

If this scenario plays out, the region will be destabilized and become a powderkeg for renewed conflict. The risks of compromise with the Palestinians would also grow as the creation of a Palestinian state would complete Israel’s encirclement by potentially hostile forces.

A change in the Egyptian regime has broader implications as well, especially if the Islamist-oriented Muslim Brotherhood – a crucial player in the protests – gains power. This scenario would open the possibility for Egypt to become an Islamic republic – much like Iran, a base for terror and even a more internally repressive regime. The Brotherhood has pledged to revoke the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and, since Egypt has the region’s largest military force, it could threaten not only Israel but pro-Western regimes such as Jordan and the Gulf states as well.

Mohammed ElBaradei has emerged as one possible opposition leader, but it is by no means clear which direction he would take the country if he were to take power. The fact that he is now backed by the Muslim Brotherhood is cause for concern, as is his vocal criticism of Israel and his record as an apologist for Iran during his term as head of the International Atomic Energy Administration.

Egyptians deserve freedom and democracy, but that is not always the outcome of revolutions. The 1979 Iranian revolution, for example, started as a revolt against the oppression of the Shah but resulted in the establishment of an Islamic tyranny; the 2005 revolt in Lebanon paved the way for the takeover of Hezbollah; and the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections brought Hamas to power and helped doom peace talks.

Despite the historical precedent, Egypt could emerge from the current turmoil with a democratic government that is committed to good relations with Israel. Israel, unfortunately, must plan for the possibility of a different outcome.

Related Links

Israel fears Islamic rule in Egypt once Mubarak removed – Daily Nation
Obama to Egyptian Army: Remove Mubarak now, start transition – DEBKAfile
US response to Egypt draws criticism in Israel – My Way News
Psalm 83 or Ezekiel 38 – Which is the Next Middle East News Headline? – BPB (Bill Salus)
New Jordanian PM in talks to form gov’t with opposition – Jerusalem Post

Bill SalusBy Bill Salus

With Arab protests sweeping throughout the Middle East, many pundits are pondering the fate of Jordan. Will the Jordanian government collapse alongside Lebanon’s, Tunisia’s, and Egypt’s? Interestingly, Jordan can be found in end time’s bible prophecy. If the prophecies centered on Jordan are about to find fulfillment, then the best days of the Hashemite Kingdom are behind it.

Someday Jordan will break ties with Israel. It’s simply a matter of time according to Psalm 83:6-8. Making matters worse, Jordan will befriend Israel’s worst enemies in the process. Rather than calling on America and the west at the time of dire need, Psalm 83 predicts they will call on Assyria, which incorporates modern day Syria and Iraq.

Syria is already a proxy of Iran’s and Iraq has been inclined to become one ever since the summer 2010 U.S. troop withdrawal. Thus, allegiance with Syria, Iraq, and by proxy, Iran, appears to be Jordan’s prophetic endgame.

Psalm 83:6-8 lists a group of ten Arab populations that will someday confederate in a final attempt to destroy the state of Israel. The goal of the confederacy is to wipe Israel off of the map and set up one last Arab state called Palestine. Jordan is identified inside the list of nations as Edom, Moab, and Ammon. Their modern day equivalents are showcased inside the image.

To Jordan’s credit, it appears the Arab nation possibly gets drawn into the war with Israel reluctantly rather than voluntarily. Psalm 83:8 tells us that Jordan is one of the weaker members of the confederacy.

“Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.” (Psalm 83:8 nkjv)

Asaph, the Psalmist informs us the children of Lot who were Moab, the eldest, and Ammon require assistance in the war effort. They need Assyrian military support. The Hebrew word used for “helped” is zeroa and means forces, power, might, strong arm or shoulder and/or strength. Loosely translated the verse reads Assyria has joined the Psalm 83:6-8 confederacy and become a strong shoulder of military support for Jordan. Note that Assyria’s military support is only given to Jordan. This suggests the other Psalm 83 confederates are not lacking in strength at the time.

In 2010, King Abdullah II of Jordan warned on several occasions that the Middle East was on the verge of war. He told the Chicago Tribune in April, 2010:

“The chance of conflict is always very high. War would be disastrous for the Israelis, for the Arabs, for all of us. If we hit the summer and there’s no active (peace) process, there’s a very good chance for conflict.”

When a summertime war was averted he suggested in September 2010 that it could still occur by the end of 2010. The point he was making on both occasions is a Middle East war could break out at any time.

In December of 2010, King Abdullah II met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad in a rare meeting to improve bilateral relations between the two nations. One month later in January of 2011, he phoned Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to alert him of his concerns about Iran’s clandestine goals for the Middle East. The Jordanian King warned Netanyahu that Iran aims to form a Shia Crescent inside the Fertile Crescent.

Then in February of 2011 due to protests inside of Jordan, King Abdullah sacked his government in order to avoid escalating protests inside his homeland. King Abdullah’s recent pinball reactions remind us of “Humpty Dumpty’s” sad tale. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Jordan is the fish out of water in the Middle East. If Egypt falls then Jordan will likely soon follow. Egypt’s and Jordan’s treaties with Israel are earning them billions of dollars of American aid. However, many Egyptians and Jordanians are ready to throw their peace treaties out with the baby’s bath water. Even King Abdullah said in 2010 that his country’s economy was better off before his father made peace with Israel in 1994.

If Psalm 83 is racing full speed ahead upon humanity’s horizon, then Mideast events are going to heat up rather than cool down. Understanding the low ranking status and primary purposes of the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) sheds light on their need for military support in Psalm 83.

On the Southern Front of Psalm 83 is the Egyptian army that is world ranked at number #17 with an active military personnel strength of 450,000 and active reserves of 254,000. This doesn’t include Hamas units with about 10,000 personnel located out of Gaza and untold scores of Qassam and other assorted rockets, some of which Hamas boasted in 2010 could reach Tel Aviv.

On the Northern Front of Psalm 83 there is Syria, Lebanon, and Hezbollah inside of Lebanon. Syria’s army is world ranked at #34 and has active military of personnel of 296,000 and active military reserve of 132,500. Additionally, many experts believe Saddam Hussein transported his weapons of mass destruction into Syria prior to America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. Lastly, Syria is thought to have the most advanced scud missiles in the world.

Lebanon’s army is world ranked at #42. Their active military personnel number about 72,000 as of 2008. Hezbollah units in Lebanon have about 1,000 active personnel and reserves estimated at 6,000 to 10,000, and according to Netanyahu has 60,000 rockets. Additionally, in April of 2010 Syria reportedly supplied Hezbollah with scud missiles.

The Eastern Front of Psalm 83 consists of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Jordan. The Saudi army is world ranked at #24 and consists of 124,000 active military personnel with an additional estimated 20,000 reservists. Additionally, the Saudis are attempting to procure $60 billion in arms from America and 2 nuclear weapons from Pakistan.

Information about Iraq’s army and arsenal is difficult to access due to its burgeoning relationship with Iran. Much like Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas, some military analysts suggest Iran is covertly arming the pro-Iranian factions inside Iraq with advanced weapons as well. It appears Iraq is world ranked at #37. They have a relatively new US-trained Army of about 100,000 soldiers with zero reserves and a goal to reach a 200,000-man force. It remains an Army under construction.

The Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) has descended from the 1940’s era British-led “Arab Legion.” This force is purely defensive in nature and thus lacks any ranking among the world’s armies. The JAF active military personnel number about 100,500 and reserves are estimated at 70,000. Their military mission objectives are to defend:

  1. The borders of the Hashemite Kingdom,
  2. The people within the Hashemite Kingdom,
  3. The reigning Monarch.

This means the JAF is a combat ineffective force at best because as a whole it is not designed for and does not train for offensive operations of the type that Psalm 83 has declared will occur. The Jordanian’s receive U.S. Army assistance of a technical and hardware nature which is overwhelmingly orientated toward defensive command and control (C2).

Therefore, it is of little prophetic wonder that Israel will literally conquer most of Jordan as a result of the Psalm 83 war, as confirmed by the prophecy in Jeremiah 49:2. Even with the assistance of Syrian and Iraqi forces the Jordanians will lose against Israel. Furthermore, America has taught the new Iraqi military a lot in counter insurgency (COIN) and defensive operations, rather than how to go on the offense against another nation state.

Lastly, we can’t forget the Palestinian Authority, a/k/a “Palestine,” is a lightly armed paramilitary police force known as the “Palestinian National Security Forces” organized into 10 battalions and trained by the U.S. in Jordan.”

In contrast to their Psalm 83 enemies, the Israeli Defense Forces are world ranked at #11 and their active and reserve forces in Israel number about 600,000 with another 2.8 million immediately available for military service. These additional reserves include those with prior service and/or some partial training.

Suffice it to say, Israel is outnumbered, out-manned, outgunned, and needs divine empowerment when it comes time to face off with the Psalm 83 confederacy. In my book Isralestine, The Ancient Blueprints of the Future Middle East, I describe the prelude, event, and aftermath of this climatic concluding Arab-Israeli battle.

[*** Military specifics above and JAF comments provided by Sean Osborne of the Northeast Intelligence Network. The Information was primarily collected from the U.S. Library of Congress; Central Intelligence Agency, GlobalSecurity.Org, and Wikipedia. Sean Osborne’s web/blogsite is:]

Related Links

Jordan’s King Meets With Muslim Brotherhood – New York Times
Is the Church in Psalm 83? – BPB (Bill Salus)
Hezbollah confirms members escaped Egyptian jails during demos – Monsters and Critics
Egyptian Forces Detain Reporters as Tahrir Square Clashes Turn Violent – Bloomberg
Regional upheaval ‘could spread to Syria’ – AFP

Caroline GlickBy Caroline B. Glick

The Egyptian multitudes on the streets of Cairo are a stunning sight. With their banners calling for freedom and an end to the reign of President Hosni Mubarak the story these images tell is a simple one as old as time.

On the one hand we have the young, dispossessed and weak protesters. And on the other we have the old, corrupt and tyrannical Mubarak. Hans Christian Andersen taught us who to support when we were wee tots.

But does his wisdom apply in this case?

Certainly it is true that the regime is populated by old men. Mubarak is 82 years old. It is also true that his regime is corrupt and tyrannical. Since the Muslim Brotherhood spinoff Islamic Jihad terror group murdered Mubarak’s predecessor president Anwar Sadat in 1981, Egypt has been governed by emergency laws that ban democratic freedoms. Mubarak has consistently rejected US pressure to ease regime repression and enact liberal reforms in governance.

This reality has led many American commentators across the political spectrum to side enthusiastically with the rioters. A prestigious working group on Egypt formed in recent months by Middle East experts from Left and Right issued a statement over the weekend calling for the Obama administration to dump Mubarak and withdraw its support for the Egyptian regime. It recommended further that the administration force Mubarak to abdicate and his regime to fall by suspending all economic and military assistance to Egypt for the duration.

The blue ribbon panel’s recommendations were applauded by its members’ many friends across the political spectrum. For instance, the conservative Weekly Standard‘s editor William Kristol praised the panel on Sunday and wrote,

“It’s time for the US government to take an active role… to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.”

The problem with this recommendation is that it is based entirely on the nature of Mubarak’s regime. If the regime was the biggest problem, then certainly removing US support for it would make sense. However, the character of the protesters is not liberal.

Indeed, their character is a bigger problem than the character of the regime they seek to overthrow.

According to a Pew opinion survey of Egyptians from June 2010, 59 percent said they back Islamists. Only 27% said they back modernizers. Half of Egyptians support Hamas. Thirty percent support Hizbullah and 20% support al Qaida. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. When this preference is translated into actual government policy, it is clear that the Islam they support is the al Qaida Salafist version.

Eighty two percent of Egyptians support executing adulterers by stoning, 77% support whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. 84% support executing any Muslim who changes his religion.

When given the opportunity, the crowds on the street are not shy about showing what motivates them. They attack Mubarak and his new Vice President Omar Suleiman as American puppets and Zionist agents. The US, protesters told CNN‘s Nick Robertson, is controlled by Israel. They hate and want to destroy Israel. That is why they hate Mubarak and Suleiman.

What all of this makes clear is that if the regime falls, the successor regime will not be a liberal democracy. Mubarak’s military authoritarianism will be replaced by Islamic totalitarianism. The US’s greatest Arab ally will become its greatest enemy. Israel’s peace partner will again become its gravest foe.

Understanding this, Israeli officials and commentators have been nearly unanimous in their negative responses to what is happening in Egypt. The IDF, the national security council, all intelligence agencies and the government as well as the media have all agreed that Israel’s entire regional approach will have to change dramatically in the event that Egypt’s regime is overthrown.

None of the scenarios under discussion are positive.

What has most confounded Israeli officials and commentators alike has not been the strength of the anti-regime protests, but the American response to them. Outside the far Left, commentators from all major newspapers, radio and television stations have variously characterized the US response to events in Egypt as irrational, irresponsible, catastrophic, stupid, blind, treacherous, and terrifying.

They have pointed out that the Obama administration’s behavior – as well as that of many of its prominent conservative critics – is liable to have disastrous consequences for the US’s other authoritarian Arab allies, for Israel and for the US itself.

The question most Israelis are asking is why are the Americans behaving so destructively? Why are President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charting a course that will necessarily lead to the transformation of Egypt into the first Salafist Islamic theocracy? And why are conservative commentators and Republican politicians urging them to be even more outspoken in their support for the rioters in the streets?

Does the US not understand what will happen in the region as a result of its actions? Does the US really fail to understand what will happen to its strategic interests in the Middle East if the Muslim Brotherhood either forms the next regime or is the power behind the throne of the next regime in Cairo?

Distressingly, the answer is that indeed, the US has no idea what it is doing. The reason the world’s only (quickly declining) superpower is riding blind is because its leaders are trapped between two irrational, narcissistic policy paradigms and they can’t see their way past them.

The first paradigm is former president George W. Bush’s democracy agenda and its concomitant support for open elections.

Bush supporters and former administration officials have spent the last month since the riots began in Tunisia crowing that events prove Bush’s push for democratization in the Arab world is the correct approach.

The problem is that while Bush’s diagnosis of the dangers of the democracy deficit in the Arab world was correct, his antidote for solving this problem was completely wrong.

Bush was right that tyranny breeds radicalism and instability and is therefore dangerous for the US.

But his belief that free elections would solve the problem of Arab radicalism and instability was completely wrong. At base, Bush’s belief was based on a narcissistic view of Western values as universal.

When, due to US pressure, the Palestinians were given the opportunity to vote in open and free elections in 2006, they voted for Hamas and its totalitarian agenda. When due to US pressure, the Egyptians were given limited freedom to choose their legislators in 2005, where they could they elected the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood to lead them.

The failure of his elections policy convinced Bush to end his support for elections in his last two years in office.

Frustratingly, Bush’s push for elections was rarely criticized on its merits. Under the spell of the other policy paradigm captivating American foreign policy elites – anti-colonialism – Bush’s leftist opponents never argued that the problem with his policy is that it falsely assumes that Western values are universal values. Blinded by their anti-Western dogma, they claimed that his bid for freedom was nothing more than a modern-day version of Christian missionary imperialism.

It is this anti-colonialist paradigm, with its foundational assumption that the US has no right to criticize non-Westerners that has informed the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It was the anti-colonialist paradigm that caused Obama not to support the pro-Western protesters seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime in the wake of the stolen 2009 presidential elections.

As Obama put it at the time,

“It’s not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the US president meddling in the Iranian elections.”

And it is this anti-colonialist paradigm that has guided Obama’s courtship of the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian regimes and his unwillingness to lift a hand to help the March 14 movement in Lebanon.

Moreover, since the paradigm claims that the non-Western world’s grievances towards the West are legitimate, Obama’s Middle East policy is based on the view that the best way to impact the Arab world is by joining its campaign against Israel. This was the central theme of Obama’s speech before an audience dominated by Muslim Brotherhood members in Cairo in June 2009.

Like the pro-democracy paradigm, the anti-colonialist paradigm is narcissistic. Whereas Western democracy champions believe that all people are born with the same Western liberal democratic values, post-colonialists believe that non-Westerners are nothing more than victims of the West. They are not responsible for any of their own pathologies because they are not actors. Only Westerners (and Israelis) are actors. Non-Westerners are objects. And like all objects, they cannot be held responsible for anything they do because they are wholly controlled by forces beyond their control.

Anti-colonialists by definition must always support the most anti-Western forces as “authentic.” In light of Mubarak’s 30-year alliance with the US, it makes sense that Obama’s instincts would place the US president on the side of the protesters.

So there we have it. The US policy towards Egypt is dictated by the irrational narcissism of two opposing sides to a policy debate that has nothing to do with reality.

Add to that Obama’s electoral concern about looking like he is on the right side of justice and we have a US policy that is wholly antithetical to US interests.

This presents a daunting, perhaps insurmountable challenge for the US’s remaining authoritarian Arab allies. In Jordan and Saudi Arabia, until now restive publics have been fearful of opposing their leaders because the US supports them. Now that the US is abandoning its most important ally and siding with its worst enemies, the Hashemites and the Sauds don’t look so powerful to their Arab streets. The same can be said for the Kuwaiti leadership and the pro-American political forces in Iraq.

As for Israel, America’s behavior towards Egypt should put to rest the notion that Israel can make further territorial sacrifices in places like the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley in exchange for US security guarantees. US behavior today – and the across-the-board nature of American rejection of Mubarak – is as clear a sign as one can find that US guarantees are not credible.

As Prof. Barry Rubin wrote this week,

“There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt but the Obama administration may be adopting something close to the worst option.”

Unfortunately, given the cluelessness of the US foreign policy debate, this situation is only likely to grow worse.

Related Links

Muslim Brotherhood; not quite the YMCA – Bill Randles Blog
WHO IS MOHAMED ELBARADEI? – Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog
Protest Snowball Knocks Over Jordanian Government – Arutz Sheva
Egyptians fill Tahrir Square in massive rally – USA Today
Bolton: If Mubarak falls in Egypt, Israel should bomb Iran – Raw Story

Terry JamesBy Terry James
Rapture Ready

A diagnosis of current, troubling realities in the Middle Eastern region of the world leads to a disturbing prognosis. Indigestion is possibly the culprit that threatens to bring on the terminal condition that prophecy calls Armageddon. Okay, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to liken what’s going on in the most volatile part of the world to a human gastrointestinal condition. But it certainly seems that it is gas that is shaping up to be at least one incendiary ingredient that might ignite history’s final holocaust.

While the Mideast broils with vitriol against Israel, the one nation on earth specifically pointed out by Zechariah the prophet as being at the center of end-times hatred, a situation taking place in the belly of that geographical beast bears watching. Natural gas is emerging as a burning issue in that highly volatile region. Key prophetic players are at the center of the ongoing developments.

The European Union (EU) is at the heart of matters involving the recent discovery of natural gas in Iraq’s Kurdish region. The EU has been striving to lessen dependence on Russia for supplying natural gas. Discoveries in Iraq open the possibility that the Europeans might be successful in accomplishing that independence. However, quickly rearranging relationships among nations surrounding the region of new gas discovery provoke some interesting thought, prophetically speaking.

The Nabucco consortium, a European group of oil and gas companies, hopes to construct a pipeline to southern Europe through Turkey. Nabucco is much more than just a commercial enterprise. It is an attempt to shift the balance of power in European energy politics, according to expert observers.

If the 3,300-kilometer Nabucco is built, it will be the first major natural gas pipeline into central and eastern Europe that isn’t controlled by Moscow.

This is important because the EU fears Russian control of such a large chunk of its gas supply. Several EU member states have also suffered severe winter gas supply disruptions in recent years as Russia fought with its neighbor Ukraine over transit rights.

So Nabucco has strong political backing from the European Commission, and is treated with disdain by the Kremlin. (James Herron, “Iraqi Gas Discovery Boosts EU Hopes of Gas Independence,” Wall Street Journal, 1/26/11)

Europe’s plans are far from being a done deal. The pipeline must go through both Iran (to an extent) and Turkey, as stated before. The Russians are almost certainly going to have a major objection to losing their monopoly on gas-supply operations in the region. And that country’s influence is considerable. Russia has over the past several years made ever-tightening alliances with the two major nations with which the EU must deal in order to bring natural gas from the Kurdish gas fields. At the same time, those nations, Turkey and Iran, are continuing to solidify relations with each other. The three – Russia, Iran, and Turkey — have formed a triad of sorts. It is a most fascinating arrangement in these strange days of quickly moving geopolitical realignments.

Russia and Turkey have just signed in Istanbul a strategic cooperation protocol for enhancing their bilateral relations. This was arranged by the Turkish-Russian Joint Strategic Planning Group, which is charged with carrying out preparatory work for the high-level Cooperation Council meeting in Moscow this March. Although the group didn’t divulge any details of the strategic protocol, it is logical to presume that considerations regarding the proposed EU pipeline figure in the planning.

One source reports:

Russian-Turkish ties have predominantly expanded on an economic basis, especially with energy deals. Projects in the energy sector such as Samsun-Ceyhan, South Stream and Nabucco will also be on the agenda of the preparatory talks.

Turkey receives 70 percent of its energy resources, including gas and oil, from Russia. Turkey will also put into operation its first nuclear power plant with the cooperation of Russia. (“Russia, Turkey Sign Strategic Cooperation Protocol,” People’s Daily Online, 1/21/11)

Russia no doubt intends to continue to exert hegemony over Middle East energy sources and supplies at all cost. Turkey, under its recently installed, antagonistic-to-Israel, Islamist regime, is firmly ensconced within the Russian-Iranian (Persian) camp. The EU will likely have to look elsewhere for its energy independence from the Russian Bear.

There is such a source to the south of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Can you guess who that is?

In 2009, a partnership that included Texas Based Noble Energy Inc. and Israeli oil companies discovered Tamar, an offshore gas field containing eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It was the largest gas find in the world in 2009 and the largest ever for Israel at the time.

Last December, the company announced the discovery of the Leviathan field, which contains a whopping 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to supply all of Israel’s gas needs for 100 years — and promises to turn the once resource-starved country into a net energy exporter. (Charles Levinson, “Israel to Launch State Fund Within a Year,” Wall Street Journal, 1/26/11)

There is talk of the EU contracting with Israel to provide the much-needed natural gas supply. It will be fascinating to watch developments, in consideration of the Gog-Magog prophecy of Ezekiel chapters 38-39.

Related Links

Minister seeks to expedite Tamar gas flow – Globes
Is the Qatar-Iraq-Turkey-Europe Natural Gas Pipeline Project feasible? – Sunday’s Zaman
Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Part 1) – BPB (Thomas Ice)
Nabucco delayed? – UPI
Israel Gas Explorers Outperform as Egypt Unrest May Create Void – Bloomberg

Joseph FarahBy Joseph Farah

In case you didn’t notice, and few have, there is a global Islamist revolution under way.

The world’s press doesn’t see it.

The talking heads on cable TV don’t see it.

Washington doesn’t see it.

It’s a case of not noticing the forest for the trees.

With revolts going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan, most of them clearly orchestrated from Iran, it’s easy to believe these are unrelated, disconnected uprisings.

But if you have been observing the Muslim world like I have been for 35 years, what’s happening right now is as big a development – maybe bigger – than what happened in 1979 when backers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, with a push from Jimmy Carter, overthrew Iran’s Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi in one of the most tragic and unfortunate international developments of the late 20th century. We, in the West, have been paying the price for it ever since.

This is the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the aid and encouragement of Tehran. And the ripple effect of what we’re seeing is hard to overstate.

As the leader of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned over the weekend, the unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States.

I’ve done my part to alert the public to the insidious work of the Muslim Brotherhood, including right here in the U.S. But, again, most Americans don’t get it. They’ve been hoodwinked by the media and government school system into believing there is no active conspiracy for a worldwide caliphate, and certainly no threat to the U.S. from what the brotherhood refers to as the Muslim Mafia.

An amazing book by the same name, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” was published more than a year ago by WND Books with the intention of exposing the secret international cabal working on behalf of Saudi-style Shariah law right here in America. Again, the book, a work of daring and courage and enterprise got a collective yawn from the politically correct establishment news media.

Now, as Rev. Jeremiah Wright would say, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Imagine if Egypt falls.

Hosni Mubarak is nothing but a dictator, it’s true. But he is a dictator who is holding the line on Islamic radicalism. If his regime goes, it will be replaced by something similar to what we see in Iran today – a government run by zealous mullahs hell-bent on bringing about a worldwide Islamic revolution.

Egypt is the largest and arguably most important Arab country in the Middle East. For decades now it has been at relative peace with its neighbor, Israel. How long will that last if Mubarak is replaced with a Muslim Brotherhood leader? Keep in mind it was the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, for making peace with Israel.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is still in the midst of a quagmire in Afghanistan, while still engaged in Iraq. It can ill afford an explosion of violence and revolution and instability through the Middle East and the Islamic world.

But that appears to be just what is coming.

The U.S. is also mired in deep recession. Try to imagine how that economic dislocation will be exacerbated by a disruption of the flow of Middle East oil, as happened in the 1970s.

Remember, the U.S. and Israel are the primary targets. Europe has already capitulated to Islam. Israel and the U.S. stand virtually alone, and the U.S. is in denial of the threat.

What you see happening around the Islamic world today is big. It’s dangerous. It’s explosive.

If you think America, which has arrogantly and ignorantly refused to develop its own energy sources, is somehow immune, you are in for a rude awakening.

Related Links

Mubarak shuffles cabinet but protesters say “Go!” – Reuters
Worldwide Islamist revolution explodes – WND (Aaron Klein)
Egyptian troops hunt Hamas gunmen fighting to control N. Sinai. Two captured – DEBKAfile
Egypt crisis: country braced for ‘march of a million’ –
Egypt’s next leader a ‘stooge of Iran?’ – Israel Today (Ryan Jones)

Aaron KleinBy Aaron Klein

Islamists stand to gain the most from the so-called popular revolts targeting the regimes of Egypt, Yemin, and Tunisia, Israeli and Middle Eastern security officials warned today.

Also, the Hezbollah terrorist organization stands poised to hijack the Lebanese government, the security officials told WND.

The security officials said the hands of Islamists can be seen in the orchestration of the street protests, which have been championed by the White House and painted by much of the world news media as popular uprisings.

Algeria, Jordan and Morocco are taking note, fearing similar outbreaks.

In recent days, violent protests have targeted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and toppled the 23-year rule of President Zine Abidine Ben Ali, who fled Tunisia Jan. 14. Also, Hezbollah collapsed the Lebanese government, which is in the process of forming a new government led by a Hezbollah-backed prime minister.

Today witnessed the largest protests in years against Yemen’s leader, Ali Abullah Saleh, who is considered a crucial ally in the U.S. fight against al-Qaida in his country and in the Middle East.

Similarly, Tunisia’s Ben Ali largely was seen as an ally of the West, even working behind the scenes with Israel on occasion, Israeli security official said.

The news media largely has painted the revolts in Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt as popular unrest, citing the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to make the arrangements for the demonstrations.

But the Israeli and Arab governments fear the protests are being used by Islamists who seek power.

Israeli security officials told WND the Islamists have been taking advantage of populous sentiment against the Arab regimes to work up the masses into revolt that can usher in Islamic rule.

An Egyptian security official noted the main opposition group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, was directly involved in protest organization.

The Brotherhood seeks to spread Islam around the world, in large part using nonviolent means. Hamas and al-Qaida are violent Brotherhood offshoots.

Israeli officials believe Mubarak will survive since his regime has a tight grip over his country’s security forces. Less certain is the political stability of the country after the aging Mubarak’s demise.

White House officials today announced protests in Egypt give Mubarak’s regime a “great opportunity” to advance some of the political reforms U.S. officials have been discussing with Cairo, including freedom of speech.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, speaking in a White House webcast, also urged the government and protesters in Egypt to refrain from violence.

Egyptian officials, however, warned the Muslim Brotherhood has the most to gain from any political reform.

While the protests in Egypt may be tempered, they already toppled the Tunisian regime of Ben Ali.

Just today Tunisia’s foreign minister announced his resignation, as the country’s security forces continued to battle with protesters who want the ouster of Ben Ali’s other authorities.

According to both Israeli and other Middle Eastern security officials speaking in recent days to WND, Islamists were largely instigating the protests in Tunisia under the cover of a popular uprising.

“It is absolutely a popular uprising, but the Islamists are using the faces of ordinary citizens, the images of doctors and lawyers we are seeing, to bring themselves to power. They (Islamists) are instigating the protests behind the scenes,” said an Egyptian security official.

Clearly emboldened by the Tunisian and Egyptian protests, banners wielded by protesters in Yemen today demanded the country’s president abandon changes to the constitution that would grant Saleh another 10 years in power.

“If the (ruling) party doesn’t respond to our demands, we will escalate this until the president falls, just like what happened in Tunisia,” Ayub Hassan, one protester, told the UK Telegraph.

In Egypt today, protests continued for a third consecutive day, with tens of thousands reportedly congregating in the nation’s main cities, some chanting anti-regime slogans.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia seems to be hijacking the country’s government using legal means.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah used its veto power to topple the government of the Western-oriented prime minister, Saad Hariri.

Hezbollah feared Hariri would use security forces to arrest members of its militia following indictments expected to be issued in the near future against Hezbollah for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

This week, the Hezbollah-backed candidate for prime minister, Najib Mikat, seemed poised to form the next government, sending Hariri into the opposition amid the threat of sectarian clashes.

Hezbollah members reportedly deployed on the streets of Beirut this week in a clear signal intended to deter Hariri backers from rioting.

Related Links

Sources in Egypt and West: US secretly backed protest – DEBKAfile
Israeli intelligence: Hizbullah to control Lebanon but will avoid official role – World Tribune
Without Egypt, Israel will be left with no friends in Mideast – Ha’aretz
Muslim Brotherhood as the only force capable of replacing Mubarak – Canada Free Press
New protests erupt in Yemen –
Pressure on Jordan’s king grows in third week of Friday protests – Boston Globe
Psalm 83 … Preview of a Coming Attraction – BPB (Jack Kelley)

Israel’s New Regional Fire Brigade

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Christian World News
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David DolanBy David Dolan

In the wake of a devastating forest fire near the city of Haifa earlier this month which left over forty Israelis dead, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for the establishment of a regional firefighting brigade. The brigade would be made up of firefighters and equipment from Israel and several regional countries, including Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Jordan.

All five countries suffer from wild fires every year, especially Greece which has large blazes almost every summer. All also sent firefighting forces to Israel to help put out the huge forest fire on Mount Carmel, which was the worst ever in Israel’s modern history.

Netanyahu said that “The assistance that was given to Israel should serve as a model for additional cooperation in our region. By pooling our resources and knowledge of our countries, we can better prepare and respond to natural disasters.” Meanwhile Israel’s State Comptroller issued a scathing report which was highly critical of the government, saying the fire demonstrated it was not prepared to fight the Carmel blaze despite a spate of forest fires sparked off by Hizbullah rockets in 2006.

Related Links

Knesset Votes Against Inquiry into Carmel Fire – Arutz Sheva
Netanyahu calls for regional firefighting force – ICEJ News
PM to leaders: create a regional fire fighting force – The Jerusalem Post
Firefighter’s death brings Carmel toll to 44 – JTA
Holy War for the Promised Land: Israel at the Crossroads – David Dolan (Book)

Jack KelleyBy Jack Kelley

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (Luke 2:21)

Before the Lord ordained the ritual of circumcision for males, He arranged for the coagulating pro-enzyme called prothrombin to be at 130% of normal adult levels on the eighth day of life, and for natural analgesic enzymes in the blood to be at lifetime highs as well.

Circumcision on any other day can be a painful and bloody event, but on the eighth day of life it’s remarkably less so. Of course, this is a fact the medical profession has only learned in the last century. Back then people just knew that everything worked better when they were obedient to God’s commands.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

It was 33 days after Jesus had been circumcised. Since Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb for Mary’s purification, the Law permitted them to use the two birds instead. (Exodus 12:8)

The Visit of the Magi

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel … (Numbers 24:17)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” (Matt. 2:1-6)

The Magi were Parthian Priests, descendants of the priesthood the Prophet Daniel had organized in Persia some 500 years earlier, upon learning the timing of Messiah’s coming (Daniel 9:25). Knowing the time was at hand, these priests had been searching the heavens for the promised sign of His coming, a new star in the Eastern sky.

Parthia was a powerful kingdom north and east of Israel, a remnant of the Persian Empire that had recently defeated the Roman Legions, and the Magi were among Parthia’s most powerful leaders. No Parthian ruler could ascend to the throne without their blessing and indeed their political influence was felt through out the Middle East.

Contrary to the popular Christmas Carol they were king-makers, not kings, and they were many more than three. Since Israel was under Roman control, the Magi technically represented an enemy country. Aware of this, but not intimidated, they traveled in a huge caravan with lots of guards, and their arrival in Jerusalem set the whole city a-buzz.

Herod would be called a Jordanian today. He was appointed King by the Roman Senate. In short he was a pretender to the throne in Israel, and now these Parthian King-makers had come seeking the one born to be Israel’s King. No wonder he was disturbed.

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matt. 2:7-12)

The three gifts are symbolic of the Messiah’s three present offices in His Kingdom. Gold is the gift for a King, frankincense points to the Priest, and myrrh, an embalming spice that foretold His death, represents the Prophet.

The Magi didn’t arrive on the night the Lord was born. The text indicates that by the time they did arrive, Joseph and Mary had found a house to stay in. And as we read above, they had already had Jesus circumcised and dedicated at the Temple on His eighth day of life, and Mary had completed her 33 day time of purification as required by the Law.

If Jesus was born on Rosh HaShannah as seems likely, the family would have stayed in the Jerusalem area for Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles as well, since Joseph’s attendance, as with all able bodied males, was mandatory.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matt 2:13-15)

Too poor to buy a lamb for the purification only a few days ago, Joseph and his family suddenly had the means to travel to Egypt and stay there until Herod died. How can this be?

Tradition has it that because of his lifetime of service at the highest levels of Babylonian and Persian governments, Daniel had become a wealthy man. Since he was most likely castrated by Nebuchadnezzar he had no heirs, and so after he formed the Magi, he left his fortune in their care to be given to the Messiah upon His birth. If so then the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh came from Daniel’s estate, and were delivered to the Holy Family just in time to fund their escape from Herod’s soldiers.

This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matt 2:16)

The Magi had been watching for the star. When they first saw it they made preparations for a long journey and once prepared, set out to follow it. We don’t know exactly where they set out from, when they first noticed the star, or how long it took them to get ready, but their journey could easily have been several hundred miles long. The only clue we get as to the time of their arrival is that after asking them when they first spotted the star, Herod ordered all the boys in Bethlehem below the age of two years killed.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” (Matt. 2:19-20)

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:39-40)

Home at last. A journey of several days had lasted several years. And just about every day of it a reminder to our Lord that the world He came to save held no place for Him.

“Foxes have holes,” He would later say, “And birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)

It’s always fascinated me that after reading Micah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace, Herod and the chief priests sent the Magi to Bethlehem in search of Him, but didn’t go to see for themselves. Did they think they were sending the Magi on a futile search, certain they wouldn’t find anything? If so, why did they consult their Scriptures for an answer to Herod’s question, and why did Herod have all those children killed?

Maybe Herod can be excused for not going. He wasn’t even Jewish and probably knew very little of Messianic prophecy. But the Chief Priests were reading from their own scriptures, and with evidence of the star the Magi had followed to confirm the prophecy, they should have been the first to investigate. After all, Messianic prophecy was being fulfilled right before their very eyes. What I’d give to have overheard their discussions on this.

The nature of the Lord’s life on Earth had been predicted long before, and right from the start there prophecies were proving to be all too true.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

The only ones who even had a clue as to Who He was were given their understanding through a direct revelation from God. They included Joseph and Mary of course. The Parthian priests had learned of Him through Daniel’s revelation, and the shepherds witnessed the angelic visitation. Two others, Simeon and Anna, had both received direct revelations about the baby and gave eyewitness testimony that He was the Christ child (Luke 2:25-38). This was a fulfillment of Deut. 19:15, A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

And that’s it. Having looked for the arrival of the promised Messiah for nearly 4000 years, when He came only a hand full of His people understood. There’s no indication that either the priest who performed the circumcision or the one who received the obligatory sacrifice of the firstborn had any idea who this child was.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

And yet He had come for the sole purpose of healing the incredible rift in our relationship with God, (Colossians 1:19), delivering us from the unspeakable horrors of the destiny due us (Romans 5:9) and elevating us to the highest position in His Kingdom (Ephes. 2:6). Not because we could ever earn or deserve it, but because He loved us enough to do it, and had promised He would.

Thank you Lord Jesus. We owe you our eternal lives. Blessings and honor and glory, love and worship, devotion and adoration be to you. For you alone are worthy.

Related Links

The Christmas Story (Part 1) – BPB (Jack Kelley)
The Star of Bethlehem – Probe Ministries (Raymond G. Bohlin)
Who Were the Magi? – Koinonia House (Chuck Missler)
Christ in the Old Testament – (Andy Woods)
Events Surrounding The Lord’s Birth – (Jack Kelley)
Children’s Stories of the Bible The Adult Version – Jack Kelley (Book)

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Will Israel launch a preemptive military strike against Iran to stop the current regime from building nuclear weapons, and if so, how soon? That’s a question I have been asked throughout this fall’s book tour for The Twelfth Imam.

As we end 2010, my sense is that the Stuxnet computer virus (which has infected more than 30,000 Iranian computers and brought Iranian enrichment of uranium almost to a standstill for the time being), the recent assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, the near assassination of another top Iranian nuclear scientist, and the effect of new economic sanctions are all having a significant impact. Anything is possible, of course, but some experts I’m talking to believe that there is a little more breathing room, and an Israeli strike would be generally unlikely before the fall of 2011, at the earliest. That is speculation, to be sure. The threat is very real. But some progress has been made against Iran this fall, and for this we should thank the Lord and the hard work of U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies.

Last Thursday and Friday, I attended a conference on “Confronting The Iran Threat,” organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Below I report on their on-the-record assessments of the current Iranian regime, the Twelfth Imam, the Green Movement, and the prospects for war.

Most interesting for me was the opportunity to have a private lunch with one of the more interesting speakers at the event, a gentleman named Uri Lubrani, who at the age of 82 serves an Iran advisor to Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon. Lubrani previously served as an Iran advisor to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and was Israel’s Ambassador to Iran before the revolution in 1979. He knew the Shah personally. He warned Israeli officials in Jerusalem that a revolution was coming. And he actually flew out of Tehran international airport on February 1, 1979, just hours before the Ayatollah Khomeini arrived back in Iran to crowds of millions shouting, “The Holy One has come! The Holy One has come!”

My personal conversation with Lubrani was off-the-record. But here are several of the comments he made to the conference attendees:

  • Assessing the Iranian President’s character: “Ahmadinejad is not…a clown. He is a clever, sophisticated, son-of-a-b—-.”
  • Assessing Ahmadinejad’s statements that he is in contact with the Twelfth Imam: “I believe Ahmadinejad really believes what he says. As mayor, he paved a road from the [Jamkaran] mosque to the capital so the Twelfth Imam could travel straight to Tehran.”
  • Assessing the Twelver End Times theology held by the Ayatollah Khamenei: “You have a totally irrational [religious] philosophy that is driving the Ayatollah’s regime in Tehran.”
  • Assessing Russia’s growing ambitions in the Middle East and growing alliance with Iran: “Russia is aspiring to be important in the world again.”
  • Assessing Turkey’s swing away from the West and towards Russia and Iran: “I detect in their rhetoric that they want to be a Middle East power…. They believe the Ottoman Empire should be resurrected.”
  • Assessing the Iranian threat: “Iran is on the warpath, and has been for some time.”
  • Assessing the need for the West to launch preemptive military strikes against Iran in the near term: “I’m against military action [at the moment]. I think it would be counterproductive…. The Iranian people are the West’s greatest ally.” Lubrani urged U.S. and Western leaders to do more to support the “Green Movement,” the pro-democracy movement in Iran. He is hopeful that there can be an overthrow of the Iranian regime by these pro-democracy forces before the need for military force arises.

One of the panels at the conference was entitled, “Increasing Threats, Diminishing Options: Should The Military Option Be Employed Against Iran.” The speakers were Israeli Major General Yaakov Amidror, former head of the IDF’s Research & Assessment Division; Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic who published the first interview with Netanyahu upon becoming Prime Minister in March 2009 (“Netanyahu To Obama — Stop Iran, Or I Will”), and wrote an influential cover story in September 2010 entitled “Point of No Return” on whether Israel will hit Iran soon; Reuel Marc Gerecht, former CIA operative; Ken Pollack, former Director for Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council, now with the Brookings Institution; and moderator Cliff May, former NYT reporter and now President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Key points made during the panel:

  • General Amidror: “Technically, Israel will be ready [to strike Iran] if and when the decision will be taken…. [but] no one is eager for war with Iran…. If war with Iran comes, “American planes will be used — the question is will it be American pilots or Israeli pilots flying those planes…. It would be a dirty one, a long one, one no one wants to be in…. We want to postpone as long as possible…. If you ask me for my assessment — and that’s what I for 25 years, doing assessments — I believe it is almost impossible to stop Iran without military force.”
  • Jeffrey Goldberg: Noted that he had written in his last article that there was a better than 50 percent chance of Israel hitting Iran by summer 2011. Now he believes the initial apparent success of the Stuxnet computer virus in slowing down Iran’s nuclear program, and “active programs to deny Iran of its nuclear scientists” (ie, assassinations), have worked to “elongate the timeline.” He believes Israeli officials now believe they have a little breathing room and that all things being equal, the “timeline” for an Israeli strike against Iran would now be “the end of 2011.”
  • Reuel Gerecht: “I’m skeptical that many of the worst case scenarios [about a U.S. or Israeli-led war against Iran] are likely…. Hezbollah would respond with everything they have [ie, missile attacks against Israel]…. I’m seriously doubtful that you’d see much of a [negative] reaction throughout the Middle East…. Main Iranian reaction would be terrorism [against Israeli and Western interests]…. The repercussions are quite sustainable, especially compared to the Iranians having the Bomb.”
  • Ken Pollack: “I’m a skeptic on the use of force against Iran… because I don’t think the math works out…..Will a strike work? I remain very skeptical…..I would give more credit to the [Obama] administration for sanctions that I would have expected.” He said evidence suggests the economic sanctions against Iran are having more impact on Iran’s economy — and creating more division within Iran’s government — than he’d expected. Worried that an Israeli strike against Iran would unify the Iranian government at a time when currently it is splintering.

During the Q&A session, I asked Jeffrey Goldberg to assess whether Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would order a preemptive military strike against Iran if diplomacy, sanctions, covert actions and other measures weren’t enough and Israel were endangered by another Holocaust. Goldberg replied, “Netanyahu doesn’t like to make decisions… but I think he would feel as if he failed Jewish history if he failed to stop Iran [from getting the Bomb] if nothing else works.”

Related Links

Iran said to have cut Hizbullah aid by 40% – Jerusalem Post
Iran’s opposition Green Movement stays below ground – Christian Science Monitor
Iran in secret talks on nuclear swap in bid to end sanctions –
Stuxnet Worm Delays Iran’s Nuclear Program – Christian Broadcasting Network
The Twelfth Imam – Joel C. Rosenberg (Book)