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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead.


JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes, died on Saturday at the age of 85 and after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffered from failure vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

The Associated Press reported that his son, Gilad Sharon, said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Sharon’s nurse, Marina Lifschitz, said he had not suffered while lying comatose, though he had at times given basic responses to stimuli. She recalled at one point holding up a picture of his late wife, Lily, for him to view.”And suddenly I saw a tear simply rolling out of his eye. That is very difficult to forget,” Lifschitz told reporters.

A maverick in war and politics, Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.

“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.

“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of Sharon, a famously burly and blunt figure with a prizefighter’s rolling gait.
“He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be given a state funeral.

One official said Sharon’s remains would lie in state in parliament in Jerusalem on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning, followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence in southern Israel.Among foreign dignitaries expected to attend are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the official said.

Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment on the death from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Sharon’s Likud party successor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been holding U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
But in Gaza, the Hamas Islamists whose political fortunes rose with the Israeli withdrawal savored Sharon’s demise.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure of this tyrant,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi, whose movement preaches the destruction of the Jewish state.
“Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile.”
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.
Some diplomats believed that had he remained in good health, he would have secured peace with the Palestinians after overcoming domestic critics to force through the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region . . . I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land,” Sharon said in 2004, explaining his move.
But critics said the unilateralism he favored helped discredit diplomacy and embolden ideological hardliners.
As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history, a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000 and an Israeli military crackdown after peace talks collapsed. As Israel’s leader, he besieged his arch-nemesis Yasser Arafat with tanks after suicide bombers flooded Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Long a champion of Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours.”
He said the contested decision to quit the Gaza Strip, which pulled apart his Likud party and persuaded him to form a new political force, would enable Israel to strengthen its hold over “territory which is essential to our existence.”
It was a reference to the West Bank, where his government began the construction of a massive barrier during the Palestinian uprising. Israel called it a security measure – Palestinians condemned the project as a land grab.
Sharon dominated Israel to a degree not seen since the era of its founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Like many native Israeli leaders, Sharon, born in British-mandated Palestine, grew up in a farming community. He later lived in a sprawling ranch in southern Israel, and was often photographed lumbering through its fields.
Sharon joined the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground at the age of 14.
Wounded as a young officer in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, he went on to lead key commando units and crafted a policy of reprisals – even at the cost of innocent lives – for cross-border Palestinian guerrilla raids.
Along with a reputation in the military for recklessness and disobeying orders, Sharon was hailed for daring operations that brought victories on the battlefield. He retired a major-general.
“It was he who set out the principle that no one who attacked our troops or civilians would be immune, no matter where they were,” said ex-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Passed over for chief-of-staff, Sharon left the military in the summer of 1973. Three months after he quit, he was back as a reservist-general, commanding troops that launched a counter-offensive that helped rout Egyptian forces in the Yom Kippur 1973 Middle East war.
A photo of Sharon in the desert, in battle fatigues and with his head bandaged, became an iconic image of the conflict.
He helped form the Likud party, which courted Israel’s underclass of Jews of Middle Eastern descent and rose to power in the 1977 election, ending the dominance of the “European” Labor Party.
Appointed agriculture minister, Sharon used that post and his chairmanship of a ministerial settlements committee to break ground on new settlements – helping to earn him the nickname “Bulldozer.”
As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel’s most divisive campaigns.
What started as a stab against Palestinian guerrillas on the border evolved into a murky and costly bid to install a government more friendly to Israel in Beirut.
Arab hatred of Sharon crested with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen.

Sharon denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore “personal responsibility” for not preventing the bloodshed.

Sharon described those findings as a “mark of Cain”, and many thought that his political career was finished. But after holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected as the head of the Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.
As a cabinet minister, he visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000, the third holiest place in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the site of the Biblical Jewish Temples.
The visit, in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that has never won international recognition, was widely seen as a spark for the second Palestinian uprising.
During the subsequent tsunami of violence, the respected Palestinian-American academic Edward Said called Sharon a “homicidal prime minister” who deployed “systematic barbarity” against the Palestinians throughout his career.
“Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?” Said wrote in The Nation newspaper in 2002, a year before his death.
Known in Israel by his popular nickname “Arik”, Sharon could charm with a grandfatherly glint in his eye and a jocular laugh. He could also flash disapproval with a cold, steely stare. He had a penchant for Broadway musicals and copious amounts of food.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit’s sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.
“Sharon was a mass of contradictions – a peerless cynic and a proven patriot, a man who built up the Likud and then walked out on it, who mixed up Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank while pulling out of Gaza,” said Uzi Benziman, author of “Sharon: An Israeli Caesar.”
He noted the varying theories about what motivated the Gaza withdrawal, including that it aimed to distract from corruption allegations at the time that dogged Sharon and his sons.
“Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that Sharon’s legacy was to convey to Israelis that holding on to all of the (Palestinian) territories would not last,” Benziman said. “He was the last of the real leaders.”

© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Former ASA Scholars: Israel Boycott Antithetical to Scholarly Pursuits.


A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010.
A boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)

The decision by the 5,000-member American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli universities has drawn widespread condemnation. At a time when the humanities discipline as a whole is facing declining funding and student participation, some American Studies scholars say narrow pursuits such as boycotting Israel may distract from efforts to revamp the field and from values such as the free exchange of ideas that form the core of a liberal arts education.

“As a scholar, I deeply value the free exchange of ideas,” former American Studies Association president and Stanford University professor of English Dr. Shelley Fisher Fishkin told JNS.org. “Academic boycotts make the free exchange of ideas impossible. For that reason, I think the ASA’s endorsement of the boycott was a big mistake.”

Fishkin, who served as ASA president from 2004-2005, was part of a group of eight former ASA presidents who sent an open letter to ASA members—66 percent of whom endorsed the boycott of Israel in a Dec. 15 vote—opposing the move on the grounds that it is “antithetical to the mission of free and open inquiry for which a scholarly organization stands.”

While Fishkin is personally opposed to many of the policies of the Israeli government, she draws the line at boycotts.

“I understand the impulse to do something to register a protest [against Israel’s policies], but I do not believe that boycotting Israeli universities is a sensible response,” she told JNS.org.

Fishkin says the ASA’s boycott is counterproductive because it targets some of Israel’s most progressive institutions.

“Israeli universities are often at the forefront of fostering dialogue between Arabs and Jews, of educating the future leaders of Arab universities and of providing the next generation with the tools of critical thinking that can allow them to construct a society more equitable and just than that of their parents,” she says.

Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University who has taught in the field for more than 40 years, shares Fishkin’s sentiments on the ASA’s move.

“I’m outraged by this, and my sense is that the organization has become utterly foolish,” Whitfield toldJNS.org.

Whitfield explains that he is not surprised by the ASA’s actions against Israel. The professor says he quit the organization nearly 20 years ago because it had become highly politicized and that the recent boycott proves he was right.

The boycott is the result of the type of groupthink mentality that has permeated the ASA, he says.

“This is driven by a kind of groupthink and hostility to not only Israel, but to a broader assumption that conscience is inevitably on the side of those who claim to be oppressed,” he says.

Whitfield adds that he believes the growth of ethnic studies within the American studies discipline may have also played a role in the ASA’s hostility to Israel.

“What seems to be the case is the emergence of ethnic studies may have tilted the organization heavily in favor of people of color, in this case the Palestinians,” he says.

Ethnic studies, which emerged from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and early ’70s, places an emphasis on the study non-European culture in the U.S, such as African-American studies or Native American studies.

But ethnic studies has also garnered considerable criticism, with some accusing it of “anti-Americanism”—former University of Colorado at Boulder ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill in 2005 blamed the 9/11 attacks on U.S. foreign policy.

The ASA’s focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meanwhile, comes against the backdrop of a growing decline of interest in the humanities, as students and administrators are becoming less interested in the type of scholarship that is produced across that discipline today.

“In 2010, just 7 percent of college graduates nationally majored in the humanities, down from 14 percent in 1966,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Much of this decline has been attributed to budget issues, rising tuition and student loan debt, and an overall lack of enthusiasm for the humanities by students, who flock to degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields instead.

These problems are compounded by the fact that humanities majors are less likely to find jobs after they graduate. According to a report by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, graduates who majored in English faced a 9.8 percent unemployment rate, and for history, religion and philosophy, majors it was 9.5 percent. By comparison, chemistry graduates only faced 5.6 percent unemployment.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

SEAN SAVAGE/JNS.ORG

For the original article, visit jns.org.

The Media Uses Double Standards Against Israel.


The mainstream media tends to ignore Jewish persecution.
The mainstream media tends to ignore Jewish persecution. (Reuters file photo)

Israel is so constantly subject to obscene double standards by the media that it reminds me of a touching scene from the movie Defiance, about Jewish partisans during the Holocaust, where the prayer leader begs of G-d, “Please, choose another people! We’ve run out of blood, so please choose another people.”

When incidents that portray the truth about Israel as the victim, they are often ignored by the media. This past week, two incidents that occurred in Jerusalem received zero mainstream media coverage, outside of the Israel/Jewish-related media. If the shoe had been on the other foot, there would have been wall-to-wall media coverage, United Nations condemnations and who knows what else.

At the holiest Jewish site in the world, Jews dared to sing Hanukkah songs and pray—and for this they were attacked by Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday. In Israel, which is often falsely condemned for “oppressing” Arabs, Jews were banned from praying at the site after the Muslims attacked them. There was no media coverage surrounding any of this—no calls from world leaders about this Palestinian Arab action creating a crisis for peace talks or being an obstacle to peace. Imagine what would have happened if Jews attacked Arabs while they were praying.

A 2-year-old toddler, Avigail Ben-Zion, sustained serious head injuries as a result of Arab terrorists throwing a three-pound rock through the window of the car her mother was driving in Jerusalem Thursday night. For that, there was a complete black wall of silence.

Both of these incidents occurred in Jerusalem—and there was literally not one foreign or international news organization that covered either of these stories. Imagine what would happen if Jewish teenagers threw rocks at Arab toddlers.

Jews pray, and Jews drive cars; they are attacked, and the media ignores it. Media ignoring these incidents is simply insane.

Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1983 called “Neighborhood Bully,” which is a perfect description of today. Here are some lyrics: “He’s criticized and condemned for being alive. We are supposed to turn a blind eye while millions of Israeli citizens are in danger. He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin, he’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in. The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land—he’s wandered the earth an exiled man. Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn. He’s always on trial for just being born. He’s the neighborhood bully.”

Everything in Israel attracts undue media attention—except when Jews are harmed. A Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, had the answer when he wrote “Instead of Excessive Apology” in 1911: “We constantly and very loudly apologize. … Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault. … Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell’?”

Israel needs to act in its best interest always and regularly—and sometimes forget about negative publicity.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent public relations agency.

My Visit Reminds Me That Christians Must Pray for and Support Israel.


Steve Strang in Israel
Steve Strang (center) poses for a photo in Efrat, Israel, with (left to right) rabbi David Nekrutman, Anne Ayalon, Sherry Khoury and her husband, pastor Steven Khoury, at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation.

JERUSALEM, Israel—My sixth trip to Israel makes me realize more than ever the importance of Bible-believing Christians standing with Israel.

Nearly all my adult life, I’ve supported Israel by raising money to help the Jewish people, sponsoring events that foster support for Israel with other leaders such as John Hagee or encouraging people to travel to Israel, as my wife and I are doing this week with our friend and author Perry Stone.

I flew to Israel early, before the tour, to network with key leaders in a whirlwind couple of days of nonstop meetings that will provide story ideas for our print magazines or online. As soon as I have time to digest all I saw and learned, I will write articles about the interesting people I met.

But now I want to give an overview of who I met and what I learned, much of which is important not only for me but for each of us.

1. We must stand with other Christian believers in the land.

I met with Dan Juster, one of the apostolic leaders that is also one of the deepest thinkers in the modern Messianic movement. He helped me understand spiritually what’s going on in the land and how believers need prayer and support.

I then attended the exciting King of Kings congregation in downtown Jerusalem, pastored by my friend Wayne Hilsden. I had time to only attend one service while in Israel. While I would have enjoyed being at a service in Hebrew, I was more comfortable in Wayne’s English service that had the same spirit and style I’m used to in my own church. You can see their worship here.

I also learned firsthand of the opposition and persecution some believers face in Israel. Wayne pointed out an “anti-missionary” standing outside the service to urge young Jewish believers in Yeshua to turn away.

2. We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for a spiritual awakening in the land.

King of Kings has prayer 16 hours a day atop a 17-story building. The view over the city was magnificent. What a strategic location! The next day, I visited another 24/7 prayer ministry in a mixed Jewish and Arab area south of the Old City. To avoid attention, this group posts only small signs that say “24/7,” which the initiated know means intercessory prayer is offered there around the clock.

The prayer room is located in the TBN building and has a view of the Dome of the Rock. I didn’t interview anyone there. Instead, I joined the prayers for the peace of Jerusalem for strengthening believers, for nations standing with Israel and for ways to reach the Arab community with the gospel.

3. The Arab Christian community needs our support.

It is well known that at one time, the majority of the population in Bethlehem was Christian. According to a 2012 article in Israel Hayom, the municipality says that 40 percent of the 32,000 residents of Bethlehem are Christian. But, unofficial data suggests the percentage is actually lower. While many Arab Christians are nominal Christians whose families have been Christians for generations, there is a small and struggling evangelical Christian Arab community there.

One of the most impressive meetings I had was with a young Arab pastor named Steven Khoury, whose Calvary Church reaches about 400 people a week in the part of Jerusalem around the Mount of Olives. It is the only evangelical church in that area. They have a hard time even finding a place to meet. Members of his church have been killed by radicals, and he has had trouble raising the funds he needs to operate and buy property. I was impressed by this passionate young man, and I plan to write more about his church later.

4. There is a new era of understanding between evangelicals and some Orthodox Jews.

Steven Khoury is a good friend to a young Orthodox rabbi named David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. In the biblical town of Efrat, it is the first example I’ve seen of the Orthodox community reaching out to evangelicals. That impressed me as well, and I will also write about it later.

My personal experience with the Orthodox has been no cooperation and often hostility. So I’m encouraged to hear about the breakthroughs between the two groups and to hear that at least at this center, the Orthodox seem to value the support that Christian Zionists give Israel.

5. It’s good to know a networker in a foreign land.

The friend who set up most of my appointments is Anne Ayalon, the wife of Danny Ayalon, who has served as an Israeli ambassador to the United States, in the Knesset and in many other important posts. Anne is a humble woman who has done as much as anyone I know to bridge the evangelical Christian and Jewish communities. Born an American, she converted to Judaism when she got married but describes herself only as a “woman of faith.” She declined to be interviewed because she prefers to be behind the scenes, where she is a connector and influencer.

I had many other wonderful meetings, including one with Chris Mitchell, bureau chief of the CBN Jerusalem bureau, who recently wrote an important new book called Dateline Jerusalem, which he calls an “eyewitness account of prophecies unfolding in the Middle East.” I also met some Israeli intellectuals who teach leadership principles from Bible characters to officers in the Israeli Defense Forces. And I got a very quick tour of the Bible Lands Museum by its director and saw the “Book of Books” display. I plan to go back to spend hours learning more about this wonderful land that gave us the Bible, which is God’s revelation to man.

My meetings have not ended. Later, I’m meeting with leaders of Magen David Adom—the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross which is the first responder in disasters—and with leaders of Operation Lifeshield. Both are charities for which we’ve raised money in the past. I also am meeting the head of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and a local publisher.

As I process what I’ve learned and do more research, I’ll write more. And I’ll tell you about this amazing tour with Perry Stone. My head is spinning after the first day of visiting the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Ascension, the Hill of Ill Counsel, the recently discovered Pool of Siloam, a kibbutz where a pivotal battle was won in the war of 1948, and some archeological digs south of the Temple Mount with actual pavement where Jesus would have walked. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have six more days before the trip ends!

If you stand with Israel, if you’ve had a life-changing trip to Israel or if you learned anything from this column, leave your comments below.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter at @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

Arab Christians Lobby to Join the Israel Defense Forces.


Nadaf Bibi
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Greek Orthodox priest Fr. Gabriel Nadaf in Jerusalem, on Aug. 5, 2013. Nadaf is a vocal supporter of Christian recruitment into the Israel Defense Forces. (Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90)

Over the summer, the Israeli media highlighted a phenomenon that is both intriguing and encouraging: a movement among Israel’s Christian Arabs advocating that their community be drafted, along with the country’s Jewish and Druze citizens, into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Historically, Israel’s Arab citizens have been exempted from mandatory conscription. There have been exceptions—many Bedouin, for example, have served in the IDF with distinction—but those who actually volunteer are a tiny minority. At the same time, many Arabs have complained, not without justification, that the exemption marginalizes them from fully participating in Israeli life.

That now appears to be changing, against the background of a broader reassessment of the conscription policy. Earlier this year, a Knesset committee headed by Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry approved measures that would draft the majority of haredi men—another minority that has largely avoided military service—with criminal sanctions waiting in the wings in the case that draft quotas are not met.

But the indications are that draft dodging won’t be too much of a problem when it comes to Christian Arabs. Their community, at 130,000 strong, makes up just less than 10 percent of the total Arab population in Israel. In the weeks that followed the formation of a new political party, B’nei Brit HaHadasha (“Sons of the New Testament”), by a merchant seaman, Bishara Shilyan, whose nephew serves as a major in the Israeli Army, around 90 Arab Christians enlisted in the IDF. It seems like a tiny number, but it’s a threefold increase compared to 2010. And earlier this month, around 250 Arab Christian youths attended a recruitment event organized by the IDF with the assistance of Ft. Gabriel Nadaf, an Orthodox priest from Nazareth and a vocal supporter of Christian recruitment into the armed forces.

This new mood among Christian Arabs has worried the Communists and Arab nationalists who have traditionally played a central role in the political leadership of Israel’s Arab citizens. You can imagine them tearing their hair out when they hear statements like this one, from Fr. Nadaf: “It’s only natural that the country which protects us deserves that we contribute to its defense.”

A predictable condemnation came in the form of a statement from Kairos, a radical PalestinianChristian organization that denies the right of Israel to exist and promotes anti-Semitic interpretations of Christian theology.

“Those who call for recruiting Christians to the occupation army do not represent us, do not represent our churches and do not represent the Christians,” Kairos says. “We need to be united. We need to protect our national identity. Only our Arab Palestinian identity will be able to protect us and protect our interests.”

It’s true that this view was once very common among Arab Christians. During the last century, Christians were an important presence among the theorists and political leaders of the Arab nationalist movement. Among the Palestinians, the late George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was a Christian, as was his rival Nayef Hawatmeh, founder of the breakaway Democratic Front, who was born into a Christian tribe in Jordan. And the Ba’ath Party—overthrown in Iraq during the 2003 war but still in power in Syria—was founded by another Christian, Michel Aflaq.

It’s widely believed that by the time Aflaq died in 1989, he’d converted to Islam—a faith he equated with revolutionary Arab nationalism. But for Arab Christians, Aflaq’s conversion was a harbinger of the present time, when Islam has superseded nationalism as the main channel for discontent in the Arab world, leaving Christians feeling increasingly marginalized.

For that reason, the image of Arab Christians wanting to join the IDF suggests a hitherto unprecedented fracturing of Arab national identity. In an interview with Inter Press Service, Bishara Shilyan neatly summarized how this has impacted his community: “Jews call us ‘Arabs.’ For Muslims, we’re ‘Christians,’ not Arabs. We’re Israeli Christians, nothing short of that.”

At a time when Christian communities across the Islamic world are facing vicious persecution in the form of arrests, mob violence and bombings of churches, it’s no coincidence that this assertive form of Christian identity has manifested in democratic Israel. Increasingly, Christians in the Middle East understand that if their faith is to have a future in the region, the states in which they live need to be governed by the values of democracy and tolerance. A state that is Jewish in terms of its identity, but which gives the same rights and demands the same duties of all of its citizens, is truly a revolutionary development for the Middle East—and a key reason why so many of its neighbors dream of its destruction.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the New York Post, Ha’aretz, Mosaic and many other publications.

IBB presidency or Nigeria dies.


Babangida-03

The Arab world desperately wants Nigeria dead or under their firm control. In June 2010, Gadhafi announced in Libya that Nigeria should split into several countries or at least on religious basis of Islam versus Christians or North versus South.

If this failed, the Arabs want a Somali or Sudan situation in Nigeria, preferring the Somali scenario if they cannot control Nigeria because as they claim, Nigeria is too large. What they mean by too large is that Nigerian influence in Africa is creating a clog in their efforts at Arabizing all of Africa.

The arrow head of the Arab world’s Arabization policy in Africa is Gadhafi who after forcibly annexing the Auzon Strip from Chad, sponsored destabilization in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Mali, Cote d’ Ivoire, Niger, etc in pursuance of the Arabization of Africa policy, laced with inordinate imperial personal ambition.

In 1998, his strategy got a fillip with the founding of his community of Sahel-Savannah States (CEN – SAD) which he was hoping to use to control the envisaged African Union (AU.) The CEN – SAD, at the moment, ropes in 25 African states from West, East, and Central Africa, and includes Senegal, Cote d’Ivore, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Comoro Islands etc. Most of these unsuspecting African countries were stable until they joined CEN – SAD.

Nigeria refused to join CEN-SAD so the Arabs used jihadist President Babangida to smuggle Nigeria into the full membership of the Organization of Islamic countries (OIC). Nigeria is not an Islamic country, if anything she is circular by her constitutional provisions but Nigeria remains a member of the OIC even now and becomes active in it when a Northern President is in power. On 9 May, 1997, in flagrant defiance of a UN embargo on flights in and out of Libya, Col. Gadhafi invaded Nigeria with his planes carrying 1,000 members of his rag-tag army, plus 500 journalists. They strategically occupied the Kano airport and his other reception facilities, with the connivance of his Nigerian Muslim dictator host. The purpose was to launch a jihad in supposedly religiously secular Nigeria, or at least precipitate a serious schism between the predominantly Moslem north of the country and the Christian and animist south. Nigeria proved too sophisticated to be so cheaply destabilized so Gadhafi settled for an accommodation to come to the aid of Abacha who was ready to plunge Nigeria into chaos at the time to become President for life in the mould of President Nassir of Egypt. The deal was finally sealed during Abacha’s overnight strategizing meeting with Gadhafi in Chad just before Abacha died mysteriously in office frolicking with Arab prostitutes.

With Nigeria returning to the semblance of civilian leadership in 1999, the Arab world decided to use ‘Sharia’ to dismember Nigeria. Pakistan, Libya and Saudi Arabia, to name a few countries, pumped substantial funds into Zamfara, the first of Nigeria’s Sharia states, to start the process of Islamizing, (or at least to trigger mayhem and civil war) in Nigeria as in the Sudan. There have been a series of skirmishes since then in the guise of Islamic fundamentalists such as the Boko Haram gangs or imported jihadists from the neighbouring countries of Niger and Chad, sacking whole Nigerian villages at night or burning down police stations and killing law enforcement officers in broad day light.

By the time Iran was ready, after some quick negotiations, to smuggle 13 container loads of war arsenals into Nigeria, including rockets and rocket launchers, Nigeria’s sick President Yar’Adua was already brain dead in a Saudi hospital as guest of the Saudi monarch. Saudi Arabia connived with the family of Yar’dua and the leadership of the Nigerian army at the time, a General of Northern Nigerian stock, to smuggle Yar’Adua back into Nigeria like a thief in the night. The Nigerian security system was severely breached and troops were moved from the North to secure strategic locations at the nation’s capital Abuja, including the seat of power, for the clandestine incidence. In the morning, they ransacked the Acting President’s office to intimidate him and tried to stage a coup by laying in wait for the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, to occupy the President’s seat so as to be arrested by them for usurping the seat of the President who had returned in the night to the country. The Iranian cargo of death was already on its way to Nigeria and would have come in handy at the time but for the patience and security astuteness of the Acting President Jonathan.

Yar’Adua’s body finally gave way in May 2010 so the wife could no longer continue her puppet master public display of padding and propping-up the dummy president to the applause of some two-for-a-kobo prostitute religious leaders. President Jonathan sacked ministers supporting Yar’Adua’s wife’s intrigues in government and that led to the immediate exposure and detention of the arms cache at the Apapa ports in June 2010. The head of Customs was Yar’Adua’s wife’s family member so proper documentation procedure was breached as there was no form ‘M’ and other compulsory documents required for all importations. The grossly improper and inadequate shipment document used for the deadly cargo, with the cooperation of the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria to facilitate quick diplomatic clearance, claimed that the cargo contained building materials.

An Iranian, Sheikh Ali Abbas Othman Hassan, with home in Abuja, and appearing to use his cleric suit as cover for terrorist activities in Nigeria, has been fingered and detained as a principal suspect for the importation of the cargo of death. Two other Iranian fronts behind the importation, Mr. Azini Agajany and Mr. Sayeed Akbar Tahmaesebi, are at the time of this report hiding in the Iranian embassy in Lagos. For damage control measures and to distract the Nigerian Security Agencies, Iran’s Secret Agency hoax-leaked to Israeli Security that the arms were heading for Gaza. Israel bought the idea due to her morbid fear of Iran, and inspired the insinuation in the Nigerian Security circles, that the cargo could be en-route to Israel. That is because Israel was unaware of the Arab world’s diabolical designs for and track record in Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria is not so close an ally of Israel that Israel would turn a blind eye to the shipment of huge illegal arms from Nigeria that does not produce arms. The consignment was being cleared here and illegally too, to use it to facilitate a jihad in Africa’s most populous and influential country, Nigeria, and Iran’s government is culpable.

Due to security scare, President Jonathan could not fly out as scheduled, to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in late September, 2010, until he reshuffled the military hierarchy and accepted or sacked his security adviser, Gen. Gusau, an IBB nurtured errand boy, standing as proxy candidate for the do-or-Nigeria die IBB presidency in 2011.

Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, (IBB), the jihadists former dictator-President of Nigeria and his cohorts have vowed to prevent Goodluck Jonathan from completing the two terms he won with his leader, President Yar’Adua, on the pretence of defending rotational Presidency that re-cycles rogues and largely illiterate leaders bereft of leadership ideas. The rogues recruited AIT, a popular Television station strapped desperately for funds, to fight their cause for them. There is the allegation that the Abuja bomb blast on the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence was an attempt to make Nigeria look insecure and a failed state in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The truth, however, is that the North has never given Nigeria good leaders. The North has always foisted on Nigeria bad leaders who are either stealing Nigeria dry in office or too sick to govern. After fifty years of failed leadership produced mainly by the North: Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Atiku, Yar’Adua, Nigeria urgently needs a breather from the crooked, dim and spent mob that over the period, collectively and systematically brought Nigeria down to her knees, destroyed our hopes, and turned our prospects as a people into painful despair. I do not think the North is short of quality materials. After all, while the South gave us Awo and Zik, the North produced leaders in the mold of the Sarduana and Murtala Muhammad. So why are characters like Babangida, Buhari, Atiku still fronting for the North now that Nigeria has reached the edge of the grave the Northern leaders dug for her? Does the North so desperately want Nigeria to die?

All that Babangida has to show for his over eight years in power in Nigeria, is private colossal wealth, and the edification of corruption in our body politics. The book, The Sink, by Jeffrey Robinson, an American writer, says it all about Babangida. “Of the $120 billion siphoned out of the Nigerian treasury into offshore accounts by dishonest politicians, $20 billion is allegedly traceable to IBB directly as president from 1985 to 1993.” The Wolfsberg Principles, an initiative of 11 banks and institutions across the world to fight serious international financial crimes, traced another $3 billion of our stolen money to Babangida’s accounts abroad, and $4.3 billion to Abacha’s. The World Bank and other international sources of information allege that his total loot from the Nigerian treasury is over $35 billion. Now he is threatening to use a fraction of that money to return to power and a figure of N400 billion has been mentioned by his cronies as his campaign chest.

The Gulf war oil windfall is Babangida’s often-referenced loot. Abacha set up a panel headed by the highly respected economist, Pius Okigbo, in October, 1994, to reorganize the CBN. Okigbo’s panel discovered that $12.2 billion of the $12.4 billion accruable from the Gulf War excess crude oil sales was frittered away or unaccounted for, through nebulous or phantom projects that could not be traced. Only $206 million was left in the account. According to Okigbo, “disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while the country was openly reeling with crushing external debt overhead. These represent, no matter the initial justification for creating the account, a gross abuse of public trust. ”

John Fashanu, in a private investigation published in African Confidential early in Obasanjo’s current regime, discovered an alleged $6 billion debt buy-back scam by IBB between 1988 and 1993. Another $14.4 billion disappeared into off shore accounts as currency stabilization and debt buy-back scheme that actually cost $2.5 billion. One of the front-companies used, Growth Management, based in London, bought the debt for 10 cents per dollar and resold to the government at 45 cents to steal 35 cents per dollar. Fashanu was trying to recover about $17 billion for the Nigerian government only for the CBN to say they had no records of the deals. The records are out there abroad but cleaned out at home to conceal the (theft) deals.

Babangida was ruthless in the way he amassed his colossal wealth. First is the illegal self-allocation of free oil, sold on the spot market. Then he initiated the corrupt culture of maintaining a huge monthly security vote virtually as personal pocket money. Rather than repair our refineries, let alone to work at maximum capacity, IBB built private refineries in Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Benin, where he took our crude to refine and sell back to us as fuel.

Luscious contracts for the construction of Abuja were awarded to front-companies of his and his cronies, including Julius Berger and Arab Contractors that between them virtually single-handedly handled the construction of the new Federal Capital. The security danger of foreign companies solely constructing a country’s capital and having access to its structural secrets, including possible Presidential underground escape routes and military arsenal volts, is mind boggling to say the least, but that is an issue for another day.

Although Babangida used mostly fictitious names for his numerous accounts abroad, EFCC could zero in on some of the accounts by following up on the dusts raised early in 2003 over the financing of his GLOBACOM. Documents on the loan supposed to have been granted on 9 February, 2001, were dated 28 August, 2006. The original ‘loan’ letter has not been presented. Apparently, Paribas Bank, based in Paris, was managing a slush fund from which investments in excess of US$400 million was made to buy into Alcatel (Globacom’s technical partners), Bouygues Telecoms, Peugeot and Total finaelf.

Alcatel and Parabel National of France were worried at the time that their invoices for the telecom project were being inflated to launder funds by the supposed private owners of the sources of funds and that private cheques were being issued to finance the staggering project without recourse to borrowing from banks. They suspected illegal laundering of funds and threatened to withdraw collaboration on the project while alerting Interpol to investigate the sources of the private cheques being issued to finance the project. IBB could not participate in Obasanjo’s 2003, inauguration ceremonies, because he was allegedly out of the country sorting out the Interpol queries on the Alcatel’s slush account alert, at the time. Even now, the telecoms’ financing details through Siemens etc, could be investigated by the EFCC tracing ghost cheques to issuing private sources of funds and their local and international banks to unravel possible laundering of funds.

There is this strong allegation among the rank and file of the armed forces, and members of the defense correspondence of our newspapers attached to the seat of power, that Babangida arranged, in the last couple of weeks before leaving office, for several armoured vehicle loads of newly printed naira notes to be delivered daily to his new Minna palatial abode obviously with the connivance of Abacha, perhaps as his mentor’s retirement benefit. Abacha and Babangida had several serious financial problems with Abiola but one of them takes the cake. It was over some foreign war booty amounting to US$215m. It is alleged that Babangida had asked Abiola to help launder it when Babangida was in office but Abiola was not interested.

Babangida allegedly side-stepped Abiola and eventually prevailed upon a member of Abiola’s family in the custom of family friendship, to rescue the situation. Then the person suddenly died. It is further alleged that Abiola was asked to return the money and he truthfully and honestly said he knew nothing about it and even if there was such a thing, he had no authority over the matter. Then he was asked to pressurize the children of the deceased to play ball. Abiola refused, arguing that he had no legal or moral right to do so. The kids of the deceased wanted Abiola released but Abiola was too principled to succumb to blackmail so the powers that be decided early after his arrest, that he would die in detention for declaring himself president.

Perhaps you would want to join me to play the prude accountant, generous with figures. Let’s pretend that Babangida was a General throughout his service years in the Nigerian army. Again let’s assume he spent 30 years in the army and was paid N100,000 monthly (actually, salaries of Generals were less than N10,000 a month until recently) and he saved every kobo of his salary. He would be worth about N35,000,000 plus interest in the bank today. But Babangida’s 50 bedroom palatial abode in Minna is alleged to be conservatively worth billions of naira and he does not owe any bank on it. The largest, most prestigious housing estate in Alexandra, Egypt’s leading holiday resort town, is alleged to belong to Babangida. Even Egyptians cannot afford his rent, which is alleged to be in dollars. All his tenants are rich foreigners and the staff of multi-national companies operating in Alexandra. The estate is alleged to have its own airport, which Babangida uses when he visits in his private jet.

Babangida is alleged to own several other housing estates around the world, including houses on Bishop Avenue in London. He uses his London houses, it is alleged, as guest houses or gifts for people on his compromise list. He is considered generous with gifts of cars with their boots stuffed with naira notes when he wants some jobs done.

In the area of managing the national economy, Babangida bestowed his adroitness and moral degeneracy. His economy was dominated by male-wives, particularly in the banking and oil sectors. Women often brag about the efficacy of ‘bottom’ power. Feminine men sometimes flaunt it too as their passport to economic liberation. Between them and the suddenly very lucrative 419 business of the time, industry was complete. IBB’s chiefs, allegedly colluded with 419 criminals to create the over-night semi-illiterate money-bags without class or shame, (including the 150 members of the National Assembly, that in 2005 sent IBB a birthday card), and who together now form the bulk of his supporters and campaigners, to return him to power. Babangida (sapped) or totally wiped the middle class out of existence with the destruction of the naira, which he did by fiat in 1985, when he down graded the naira exchange rate from about N2 to N18 to the dollar. By the time he was forced out of office in 1993, the naira was exchanging at N60 to the dollar. Society was reduced to two social classes of either the very poor or the rich rogues. Babangida should be heading for Kirikiri not Aso Rock because the fight against corruption is a sham otherwise.

Shagari’s regime (1979-1983), incurred Buhari’s wrath when it decided to investigate the US$2.8 billion that disappeared from the Midland Bank, London account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation, (NNPC), during General Obasanjo’s era as military head of state that preceded Shagari’s. Dr. Olusola Saraki, Turaki of Ilorin, was the majority party leader of the Senate at the time and he headed the Senate Committee set up to trace the stolen money after some three years of clamour for such an investigation by members of the civil society. The money was traced to the Midland Bank London branch fixed account of Buhari, Obasanjo’s appointee as military head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. The Committee’s report was presented to the Senate during the tail end of Shagari’s regime in 1983, so the House decided to deal with the matter soon after the 1983 general elections.

The attempt at civilian-to-civilian transition provided the fillip for mayhem at the time. The elections were marred by massive rigging because incumbent political office holders were refusing to slacken their stranglehold on Nigeria Plc., mortgaged as the leaders private property. On the 31st December, 1983, Buhari struck under the cover of the political commotion that trailed the presidential election results. Buhari generally had no agenda for leadership but vendetta against those he called critics and rabble-rousers. Buhari did not see any moral wrong in his conversion of our oil money into his personal use. Rather he railed at the press and what he described as the self-righteous sections of the country for making a big deal out of the issue. He locked up without trial, politicians and critics including Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, notorious for clamouring for the exposure of the oil money rogue. Satire saved my neck at the time. Vera Ifudu, who was an NTA reporter then, was sacked through his prodding as military ruler, for reporting what Dr. Olusola Saraki had told her in an interview about how the missing money was traced to Buhari’s account at a Midland Bank London branch. Vera eventually won her case of wrongful dismissal in court against the NTA and was financially compensated.

Abacha rehabilitated Buhari with the chairmanship of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) before he (Abacha) died in 1998. When Obasanjo returned to power in May 1999 as civilian president, he found that over 2.5 billion naira had not been properly accounted for in the PTF and that there was not much on the ground to show for the colossal expenditure the agency was claiming. On the day Obasanjo announced the scrapping of the PTF, a non-staff brother-in-law of the boss, allegedly serving as his conduit on some PTF projects, died suddenly from what appeared to be heart failure. Haruna Adamu, who was appointed by Obasanjo to investigate the PTF before finally consigning it to the dung heap, allegedly quickly pocketed one hundred million naira of PTF’s money before operating table could be set up for him, thus forcing Obasanjo to hurriedly close the place down without further investigations. Buhari has been trying desperately since to return to power, perhaps to get a chance to shred the PTF documents?

The accusation in 1999/2000 that the president’s deputy, Atiku Abubakar, privatized Nigeria Incorporated to himself was not investigated because Obasanjo’s third term ambition was not strong at the time. Atiku denied ownership of African Petroleum (AP), which in the end turned out to be a bobby trap, laced with huge hidden debt, and was re-acquired by the government through the NNPC. However, Atiku was seen as a product of the Nigerian corrupt system. He retired as a boss of the Customs several years ago, an agency of government that reeks with corruption. There were some spats over contracts for the communications garget for the 8th All African Games in 2003, in Abuja, and the issue of bunkering crookedness, and illegal rents collected on crude oil lifting, which Obasanjo largely scuttled in the heat of his tenure elongation project in March 2006.

In August 2005, and early 2006, we heard of US security operatives raiding Atiku’s home in Washington, USA, over allegation of involvement with Mr. William Jefferson, a member of the US Congress, in a US $500,000 bribe over a telecommunications deal in Nigeria. Jefferson was alleged to have said that he needed to give the $500,000 to Atiku, to help secure Nigeria’s adoption of Internet technology from the USA based iGate Inc. In mid May 2006, the FBI claimed in a US court to have found marked US $90,000, of US $100,000 bribe money, collected from a business partner for Atiku, concealed in a freezer in the office of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson who at the time was claiming to have been duped by some Nigerians, had, in fact, collected $6.5 million from one Otumba Oyewole Fasawe, the Nigerian behind the Netlink Digital Television (NDTV) private business that Jefferson was contracted to supply with technology and failed. Jefferson had with great difficulty, and after a lot of pressure, managed to refund only $1.7 million of the $6.5 million he had received, at the time he was screaming foul-play against his crooked Nigerian partners he swindled. Mr. Vernon Jackson, Jefferson’s agent on the NDTV scam, was jailed in the USA in September 2006, for seven years over the deal. William Jefferson himself was jailed in 2009 in the USA over the scam.

The Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), under the supervision of Vice President Atiku, had apparently been used to finance the NDTV business and some Globacom debts. On May 31, 2006, the US government, in reaction to public speculation in Nigeria, denied having cleared Atiku of involvement in the NDTV fraud. Early in June 2006, Atiku was again alleged in a US court, where further hearing was continuing, to have been involved in the bribery scandal. In mid July 2006, the EFCC went to a bank and collected statements on Atiku’s current accounts.

On Thursday 7th September 2006, the Senate President read in the Nigerian Senate, a letter from President Obasanjo accompanying some documentary evidence, alleging conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, corrupt practices, and money laundering, against the Vice President. The submission, which was for the information of the Upper House, claimed that the President, acting on information received from the USA government, set up an administrative panel to investigate the allegations against Vice President Atiku.

The report of the panel, along with the findings of the EFCC, claimed that the Vice President utilized for private purposes, funds put in a fixed deposit account for the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), a department of government under his care. In essence, the Vice President was acting as money lender with government money for personal profit. US$10 million of the US$125 million fund was clearly used as collateral in support of a loan of N1.2 billion granted to Otumba Oyewole Fasawe by the Trans International bank in Lagos.

The financial gain made by the Vice President from Fasawe over the loan was paid into Atiku’s Campaign Organization account with Bank PHB. Umar Pariya, Atiku’s aide, acted as the go between on the transaction. The balance of US$115m of the PDTF money was transferred in April 2003, for reasons unconnected to PDTF activities, to Equatorial Trust Bank belonging to Dr. Mike Adenuga, the Vice president’s friend and Chairman of Globacom. The fund’s transfer, like the US$10 million withdrawn from it earlier, was done without the required recourse to the Federal Executive Council (FEC). Argument by the Vice President that the US$115m was put in Adenuga’s bank eight months after Globacom’s operating license was paid for or that no money was lost, does not alter the fact that the fund was moved without FEC’s awareness and for purposes unrelated to PDTF projects, including possible attempt to cushion Globacom over an urgent business deal or external debt repayment pressures for personal profit.

The Vice president’s defense at the time sounded like: “I am guilty but I shared my illicit gains with the President and my party, the PDP.” The Vice President, now politically dead, alleged that the President’s profits from the messy deals included N3 billion directly; their joint billions of Naira campaign fund; N100 million made to the president’s IBAD construction company; N11 million given to his Bell Comprehensive High School to buy buses; N200 million used to clear some of the president’s debts; N100 million contributed to his campaign fund; ugly arms deal scams; funds given to his African Leadership Forum and to buy cars for women (married or not), he was ensnaring to his bed etc; N500 million made available to the campaign chest of the PDP….

On Tuesday October 3, 2006, Chief Dan Etete, a Petroleum Resources Minister in General Abacha’s regime, opened a can of worms on the Vice President’s ugly oil deals, and how INTELS, (a company in which the VP had substantial interest and shared ownership with two Italians, Messrs Gabriel Volpi, and Angello Perruzi, and a Switzerland based lawyer called Lugano), sold a piece of land on the water front in Port-Harcourt to Shell for US$100m. The VP, using INTELS, and (Pecos Nigeria Limited, a business front of Otunba Oyewole Fasawe), blackmailed and pounced on 50% of Malabo’s oil bloc 245. Then with the connivance, treachery and crookedness of Shell, the Anglo Dutch Oil giant, stole the entire bloc 245 from Malabo at US$210m profit to the Vice president and his business cronies. Using similar tricks, the VP’s INTELS and Associates cornered 20% stake in oil bloc 247 belonging to another party.

The VP’s defense was that Etete should not be taken seriously because he was in exile after “supervising the collapse of Nigeria’s refineries…. and that Etete stole over US $5bn from the public treasury and allocated the oil bloc in question to himself when he was Minister of Petroleum Resources.” That during the scam in question and since, the Petroleum Ministry has been under the firm grip of the President, “all by himself, these last seven and half years. Every Nigerian is literate to the fact that all enquiries on oil and related matters go to the president’s desk….. When the big masquerade behind Etete is courageous enough to come out, the Vice president will respond.” What this means in essence is that others not mentioned in Etete’s report profited along with the VP from his oil projects’ looting business.

NAIWU OSAHON Hon. Khu Mkuu (Leader) World Pan-African Movement); Ameer Spiritual (Spiritual Prince) of the African race; MSc. (Salford); Dip.M.S; G.I.P.M; Dip.I.A (Liv.); D. Inst. M; G. Inst. M; G.I.W.M; A.M.N.I.M. Poet, Author of the magnum opus: ‘The end of knowledge’. One of the world’s leading authors of children’s books; Awarded; key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Honourary Councilmanship, Memphis City Council; Honourary Citizenship, County of Shelby; Honourary Commissionership, County of Shelby, Tennessee; and a silver shield trophy by Morehouse College, USA, for activities to unite and uplift the African race.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Why Christians Must Pray for and Support Israel.


Steve in Israel
Steve Strang (center) poses for a photo in Efrat, Israel, with (left to right) rabbi David Nekrutman, Anne Ayalon, Sherry Khoury and her husband, pastor Steven Khoury, at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation.

JERUSALEM, Israel—My sixth trip to Israel makes me realize more than ever the importance of Bible-believing Christians standing with Israel.

Nearly all my adult life, I’ve supported Israel by raising money to help the Jewish people, sponsoring events that foster support for Israel with other leaders such as John Hagee or encouraging people to travel to Israel, as my wife and I are doing this week with our friend and author Perry Stone.

I flew to Israel early, before the tour, to network with key leaders in a whirlwind couple of days of nonstop meetings that will provide story ideas for our print magazines or online. As soon as I have time to digest all I saw and learned, I will write articles about the interesting people I met.

But now I want to give an overview of who I met and what I learned, much of which is important not only for me but for each of us.

1. We must stand with other Christian believers in the land.

I met with Dan Juster, one of the apostolic leaders that is also one of the deepest thinkers in the modern Messianic movement. He helped me understand spiritually what’s going on in the land and how believers need prayer and support.

I then attended the exciting King of Kings congregation in downtown Jerusalem, pastored by my friend Wayne Hilsden. I had time to only attend one service while in Israel. While I would have enjoyed being at a service in Hebrew, I was more comfortable in Wayne’s English service that had the same spirit and style I’m used to in my own church. You can see their worship here.

I also learned firsthand of the opposition and persecution some believers face in Israel. Wayne pointed out an “anti-missionary” standing outside the service to urge young Jewish believers in Yeshua to turn away.

2. We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for a spiritual awakening in the land.

King of Kings has prayer 16 hours a day atop a 17-story building. The view over the city was magnificent. What a strategic location! The next day, I visited another 24/7 prayer ministry in a mixed Jewish and Arab area south of the Old City. To avoid attention, this group posts only small signs that say “24/7,” which the initiated know means intercessory prayer is offered there around the clock.

The prayer room is located in the TBN building and has a view of the Dome of the Rock. I didn’t interview anyone there. Instead, I joined the prayers for the peace of Jerusalem for strengthening believers, for nations standing with Israel and for ways to reach the Arab community with the gospel.

3. The Arab Christian community needs our support.

It is well known that at one time, the majority of the population in Bethlehem was Christian. According to a 2012 article in Israel Hayom, the municipality says that 40 percent of the 32,000 residents of Bethlehem are Christian. But, unofficial data suggests the percentage is actually lower. While many Arab Christians are nominal Christians whose families have been Christians for generations, there is a small and struggling evangelical Christian Arab community there.

One of the most impressive meetings I had was with a young Arab pastor named Steven Khoury, whose Calvary Church reaches about 400 people a week in the part of Jerusalem around the Mount of Olives. It is the only evangelical church in that area. They have a hard time even finding a place to meet. Members of his church have been killed by radicals, and he has had trouble raising the funds he needs to operate and buy property. I was impressed by this passionate young man, and I plan to write more about his church later.

4. There is a new era of understanding between evangelicals and some Orthodox Jews.

Steven Khoury is a good friend to a young Orthodox rabbi named David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. In the biblical town of Efrat, it is the first example I’ve seen of the Orthodox community reaching out to evangelicals. That impressed me as well, and I will also write about it later.

My personal experience with the Orthodox has been no cooperation and often hostility. So I’m encouraged to hear about the breakthroughs between the two groups and to hear that at least at this center, the Orthodox seem to value the support that Christian Zionists give Israel.

5. It’s good to know a networker in a foreign land.

The friend who set up most of my appointments is Anne Ayalon, the wife of Danny Ayalon, who has served as an Israeli ambassador to the United States, in the Knesset and in many other important posts. Anne is a humble woman who has done as much as anyone I know to bridge the evangelical Christian and Jewish communities. Born an American, she converted to Judaism when she got married but describes herself only as a “woman of faith.” She declined to be interviewed because she prefers to be behind the scenes, where she is a connector and influencer.

I had many other wonderful meetings, including one with Chris Mitchell, bureau chief of the CBN Jerusalem bureau, who recently wrote an important new book called Dateline Jerusalem, which he calls an “eyewitness account of prophecies unfolding in the Middle East.” I also met some Israeli intellectuals who teach leadership principles from Bible characters to officers in the Israeli Defense Forces. And I got a very quick tour of the Bible Lands Museum by its director and saw the “Book of Books” display. I plan to go back to spend hours learning more about this wonderful land that gave us the Bible, which is God’s revelation to man.

My meetings have not ended. Later, I’m meeting with leaders of Magen David Adom—the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross which is the first responder in disasters—and with leaders of Operation Lifeshield. Both are charities for which we’ve raised money in the past. I also am meeting the head of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and a local publisher.

As I process what I’ve learned and do more research, I’ll write more. And I’ll tell you about this amazing tour with Perry Stone. My head is spinning after the first day of visiting the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Ascension, the Hill of Ill Counsel, the recently discovered Pool of Siloam, a kibbutz where a pivotal battle was won in the war of 1948, and some archeological digs south of the Temple Mount with actual pavement where Jesus would have walked. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have six more days before the trip ends!

If you stand with Israel, if you’ve had a life-changing trip to Israel or if you learned anything from this column, leave your comments below.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter at @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

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