Israeli President Shimon Peres met with President Obama at the White House to discuss the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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Christian leaders around the world need to wake up and take notice of a rising new threat to Mideast security: the leaders of the Palestinian people are planning to go to the U.N. General Assembly this September and unilaterally declare their state in the “pre-1967 war borders,” and a dangerous momentum of international political support for this plan is growing.

Should the Palestinians proceed with their plans, growing evidence suggests they will receive an overwhelming majority vote at the U.N. in favor of dividing the land of Israel and dividing the city of Jerusalem. Indeed, a steadily growing number of countries around the world are signaling that they are ready to recognize a Palestinian state that includes all of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and at least half of Jerusalem as its capital. However, by making a unilateral declaration, the Palestinians will have chosen to refuse all negotiations with the Israelis. They will have chosen to abandon all diplomacy. They will have chosen to reject concessions and compromise. And they will have chosen to reject giving Israel the assurances of peace and security that the Jewish people so eagerly want. Even though Israel has given the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, withdrawn from southern Lebanon, withdrawn from Gaza, and offered even more sweeping concessions to Palestinian negotiators in recent years — indeed, far more sweeping than I personally am comfortable with — the Palestinian leadership continues to say “no, no, no,” just as they did after the June 1967 war when they issued their famous “Three Noes” declaration from Khartoum: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.”

“We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated and help it understand that there can be no talks without a stop to settlements,” Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority, told the New York Times. “Without that, our goal is membership in the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

As I first warned in a detailed column on the subject last December, this is a very dangerous development. If the Palestinians make a unilateral declaration of what they want, what will stop Israel from unilaterally declaring what they want? What if the Palestinians try to forcibly evict the Jews living in the West Bank? Those Jews would certainly fight back. Would the Israeli military move to defend the Jewish settlers? Would Palestinian security forces then fire upon the Israeli forces? Would the U.N. move into to condemn and isolate Israel, and even impose draconian economic sanctions on the Jewish state? Events could spiral out of control. Indeed, the likelihood is that far more violence — not peace — would result by such a Palestinian declaration of statehood outside the context of negotiations with Israel. Still, one country after another around the world is encouraging the Palestinian leadership to go in this direction and promising to publicly support them at the U.N. this fall. Some believe that after a big victory in the U.N. General Assembly, a resolution will later be brought before the U.N. Security Council to ratify the legal status of the newly declared state.

On Tuesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres met with President Obama at the White House. Initial reports suggest they discuss the stalled peace process and how to proceed. I hope that behind closed doors Peres was very clear and direct with Obama about what a dangerous road the Palestinians are on. Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu has continually offered direct negotiations with the Palestinians, yet the Palestinians keep refusing to sit down and talk face to face. They claim Netanyahu isn’t serious about making peace or new concessions. Yet Netanyahu was the first Israeli leader ever to give land to Yasser Arafat when he gave away Hebron in 1997. I pray that Peres conveyed to the American President what Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last month: “We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September. It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action….Paralysis, rhetoric, inaction will deepen the isolation of Israel.”  An isolated Israel is not likely to feel secure enough to make peace with the Palestinians. What’s more, when Israel’s enemies (like Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas) see Israel increasingly isolated, they are more likely to launch a new war.

Publicly, the Obama administration says it opposes the Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare. But there is growing concern among pro-Israel leaders in Washington that should the issue come before the U.N. Security Council, Obama might direct his U.N. ambassador to abstain rather than to veto such a resolution.

Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) Those who truly seek peace will encourage diplomacy, not rash, arrogant, unilateral actions on either side. Sadly, there are far too many leaders in the epicenter who do not seek true peace, and too many leaders around the world who are encouraging reckless behavior.

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

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


New video blog on Iranian film posted at http://www.joshuafund.net.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Richard Goldstone, Head of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission, after the presentation of its report to the Human Rights Council (Geneva, Sept 2009 - UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre)

In a stunning development in the history of the Middle East, the author of the U.N.’s scurrilous, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel “Goldstone Report” has finally looked carefully at the evidence and concluded after two years of more study and more careful evaluation that the evidence proves that Israel did not target innocent civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.  It’s about time.

In a Washington Post op-ed published on Friday, Richard Goldstone conceded that the facts paint a far different picture that what his U.N. report indicated when it was initially published. Indeed, he admitted that the Israeli government “dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza,” and proved that those allegations were untrue, that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” By sharp contrast, Goldstone also admitted that Hamas has “not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel” and, in fact, continues to allow — or support — such attacks against innocent Israeli citizens, which he finally called “heinous acts” of terrorism.

Goldstone’s retraction is a dramatic vindication for Israel, and I thank the God of Israel for prompting it.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has now called on the U.N. to formally and officially retract the entire Goldstone Report.  “There are very few instances in which those who disseminate libels retract their libel,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “This happened in the case of the Goldstone report. This leads us to call for the immediate cancellation of the Goldstone report.” A Hamas spokesman, meanwhile, said that “Goldstone’s retreat is reprehensible.”

That said, Goldstone’s op-ed cannot undue the tremendous damage that has already been done. For the last several years, world governments, human rights activists and Israel’s enemies have used the Goldstone Report as “proof” that Israel is a blood-thirsty, uncivilized, cruel and oppressive country that deliberately targets Palestinian civilians for death and destruction. This has now been proven patently untrue, but in the meantime the Goldstone Report has caused incalculable damage to Israel’s reputation, and has been used to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend herself against Hamas attacks. Hundreds of millions of anti-Semitic Muslims (and untold Europeans) have already heard what they wanted to hear and won’t listen to or care about Goldstone’s change of mind, even though he has finally looked carefully at the facts. Let us pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would change hearts and minds throughout the region and the world and bring peace to Jerusalem and the epicenter. The U.N. doesn’t offer a ray of hope. Only Christ does.