Romney, Gingrich and Santorum dominated the discussion at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum. (photo montage: AP/Politico)

>> The Tehran Initiative — the new political thriller seemingly ripped from the headlines — has hit the NYT, WSJ, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists and is available for Christmas and Hannukah in hardcover or e-book


Three GOP presidential candidates on Wednesday dominated the discussion of Israel, Iran and the economy at the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Washington, D.C. What follows is an update to the recent column I wrote rating the GOP candidates on the Iran issue. I saw nothing to change my previous ratings, but there were new nuances.
  • Romney, Gingrich and Santorum gave serious, substantive addresses and answers during the Q&A sessions.
  • The first two were important to watch because, obviously, they are leading in the polls — and many believe are the most plausible contenders for the Republican nomination. To their credit, both also delivered strong performances — Gingrich’s was better, but Romney wasn’t bad; either will be much better on Israel than President Obama, something more and more American Jews are beginning to realize.
  • Gingrich said he’d appoint John Bolton to be Secretary of State, and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — love that; other elements of the speech were excellent, too — definitely worth watching.
  • Romney promised to make his first state visit to Israel, noting that Obama has visited a slew of Mideast countries and offered to meet with Ahmadinejad, but hasn’t found time to visit our most important and trustworthy ally in the region, Israel — amen; he said other good things, too, but the question remains whether he can be trusted on these issues when the Mideast heats up since he hasn’t exactly demonstrated himself as a man of lasting convictions.
  • Santorum’s speech stood out to me — it’s worth watching, along with the other two. The man clearly has deep convictions on Israel and Iran. He knows these issues. He’s thought long and hard about them. He spoke to the RJC first, and spoke of a “gathering storm” building in the Middle East, borrowing Winston Churchill’s line regarding the rise of the Nazi threat in the 1930s. Santorum also impressed me as he explained how he led on major legislation to impose economic sanctions on Iran in 2006, before it was “popular.” He was opposed in the Senate by Joe Biden, and even opposed by President Bush. Yet as he explained, he eventually got his legislation passed unanimously as the situation in Iran worsened and Washington began to wake up to the dangers. Santorum was ahead of his time on the Iran issue, and the only one of the three to have put a specific plan on the table to neutralize Iran’s nuclear threat. Some say Santorum doesn’t have a shot. He’s only at 7% among likely voters in Iowa in the new ABC/Washington Post poll (though that’s up from 2% earlier this year). Still, there are 25 days to go before the Iowa caucuses — that’s a lifetime in politics, and it’s certainly been a wild ride so far. Who knows what will happen next? Regardless, Santorum’s is a welcome and important voice in the GOP debate and his foreign policy experience is vital to the party.
  • Bachmann’s speech was okay, and she clearly loves Israel, but she lacked the gravitas of the others — and she made a very odd point of saying that a donor has told her he’s ready to pay for the move of the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador’s residence to Israel if she’s elected; that seemed a strange thing to say when she makes such a point of criticizing cronyism in politics.
  • Perry said he’d increase aid to Israel — but didn’t he just say he was going to reduce all foreign aid?
  • Huntsman was irrelevant, bless his heart.
  • The RJC deserves credit for not inviting Ron Paul who is an isolationist, has a deep disrespect for Israel’s security needs and strategic importance to U.S. national security, and he is, frankly, out to lunch on the Iran issue.



Watch the best three speeches for yourself from the C-SPAN archives, in the order they were delivered:

>> The Tehran Initiative has hit the NYT, WSJ, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists and is available for Christmas and Hannukah in hardcover or e-book

STATE OF THE EPICENTER 2011: Year end report to The Joshua Fund board on the geopolitical challenges facing Israel at the moment

On December 2 and 3, The Joshua Fund held our last board meeting of the year. We reviewed our work in 2011, prayed for our staff and allies and for the peace of Jerusalem, and approved our budget for 2012. We are currently producing and mailing to our donors an end-of-the-year report on the kinds of projects we have invested in this year to: 1) educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus; 2) to care for the poor and needy in Israel in real and practical ways, including caring for Holocaust survivors, the elderly, single mothers, orphans, and others; and 3) to expand our humanitarian relief operations to care for more people and to stockpile supplies ahead of the next war. Soon, we will post this report on-line as well.

During our meetings, I briefed TJF’s board of directors and senior staff on the “State of the Epicenter” and the geopolitical challenges facing Israel and the Christian community in the epicenter at the moment. What follows is an executive summary of my report. I hope you’ll read it and share it with others. I also hope that you’ll pray faithfully for our board and staff that we can be faithful to the work that the Lord has called us. And would you prayerfully consider making a generous, year-end, tax deductible donation to The Joshua Fund at this critical time? Thank you so very much.

1.      The geopolitical climate in the epicenter deteriorated significantly in 2011, as has religious freedom in most of the Arab and Persian world.

  • All evidence indicates that Iran is closer than ever to building nuclear weapons, while also building up its missile forces and the missile forces of its allies such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
  • The Iranian regime is signaling that the Arab revolutions point to the imminent arrival of the Twelfth Imam and the destruction of Israel.
  • The Iranian regime is cracking down ferociously on the house church networks there.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s cynically named “Freedom and Justice Party” dominated the first round of Egyptian parliamentary elections — together with the radical, Salafist “Al-Nour” party, the hardline Islamists have captured more than 60% of the vote….Israelis expect Egyptian relations with them to sour and Egyptian Christians expect persecution to intensify.
  • Libya now appears to be in the hands of Radical Muslims imposing Sharia law – the situation could end up being worse there than under Gadhafi.
  • Syria’s bloodthirsty regime has killed more than 3,500 of its own citizens this year and the openness that existed to spread the Gospel has evaporated — the regime deserves to be overthrown.
  • Iraq is requiring all U.S. military forces to leave by the end of 2011.
  • With Iraqi Christians are increasingly under attack – including a direct attack inside a church in Baghdad in October 2010, a deadly series of attacks on churches in April 2011 at Easter, and a car bombing directly in front of a church in Baghdad in August 2011 — thousands of born-again believers and nominal Christians have received visas to leave Iraq on the basis of religious persecution.
  • The Palestinian leadership has made peace with Hamas rather than Israel, and is trying to build an international coalition at the U.N. to allow them to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state without directly negotiating with Israel.
  • Russia will become an increasingly important factor in the epicenter in 2012 as Vladimir Putin runs for president again next March – if Putin wins, we should expect the Kremlin to aggressively deepen alliances with Israel’s enemies. [Update: Putin shaken by United Russia’s poor election performance; party formed by Vladimir Putin sees support drop by 15% in result seen as test of prime minister’s personal popularity; also: Mikhail Gorbachev calls for a new vote in Russia over allegations of voter fraud.]

 2.     As 2011 ends, the prospect of a major war in the epicenter in 2012 is significantly rising.

  • Recently, I spoke with a Member of Congress who met personally with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders just before Thanksgiving – he reported that the Israeli leaders weren’t asking for help; they all seem resigned to the prospect that Israel will have to take action on their own, and probably sooner than later.
  • Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are clearly laying the political groundwork inside Israel to launch preemptive strikes if the world doesn’t take decisive action first.
  • The leaks out of Jerusalem about the Netanyahu Cabinet actively discussing a preemptive strike don’t appear to be planned – but they appear to be accurate.
  • In early November, the Israeli Air Force launched another major exercise to practice long range bombing runs – previously the exercise had taken IAF fighter jets to Greece; this time they flew to Italy.
  • The former Mossad chief Meir Dagan is warning Israel not to launch a war that he says would be a “catastrophe.”
  • Barak is reported to believe Israel has a window of no more than one year to stop Iran from getting the Bomb.
  • The Obama administration is publicly pressuring Israel not to consider preemptive strikes, based on the notion that they fear Israel is preparing for such strikes.
  • The French, British and Canadians recently imposed new economic sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank in attempt to force the Iranian regime to the negotiating table and to forestall an Israeli first strike; the Obama administration, however, refused to sanction Iran’s Central Bank.

3.     In light of these sobering realities, The Joshua Fund must remain focused on executing our “Operation Epicenter” strategy as we “pray for peace, but prepare for war.”

  • We must be READY for all eventualities — for a war, if it comes…for other possible national disasters and crises…for a year that is calm after all and provides us the opportunity to continue expanding our humanitarian relief efforts to care for more poor and needy Israelis and Palestinians, and to stockpile more resources for the future.
  • We must be FAITHFUL in teaching the Word God in order to: 1) educate and mobilize the Church to bless Israel and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; 2) to strengthen the persecuted followers of Jesus Christ in the epicenter; and 3) to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to rediscover the power of Holy Scriptures and obey every command of the Lord — after all, as the Hebrew Scriptures teach us: “The word of the Lord came to Joel, son of Pethuel: Hear this, O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land….’Wake up, you drunkards!’….Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near….Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning….Then the Lord will be zealous for His land and will have pity on His people.” (Book of Joel, excerpts from chapters one and two)
  • We must NOT GROW WEARY in well-doing — it is not easy to stand with Israel, or be a true blessing to the Jewish and Palestinian people, or be a follower of Jesus Christ in the Middle East, but now is not a time to get discouraged or fall asleep on the job, or get distracted, or question whether the Lord hears our prayers and will answer them with power….to the contrary, now is the time to trust the Lord will all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to remember that we serve a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God.
  • Here are some Scriptures we need to keep in mind during this coming year:
  • Ezekiel 38:7 – “Get ready, be prepared.”
  • Psalm 40:10 — “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.”
  • Isaiah 26:2 — “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful.”
  • Luke 16:10 — “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 — “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
  • Galatians 6:9-10 — “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

Thanks so much for your faithful prayers and generous financial support, especially given how challenging the economy is right now. We are so grateful to the Lord for you and we ask the Lord to bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.



On November 30th, President Obama spoke to Jewish donors to the Democratic National Committee at a $10,000 per plate fund-raising dinner in Manhattan. “Obviously, no ally is more important than the state of Israel,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “This administration — I try not to pat myself too much on the back — but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.” You’ve got to be kidding me. While it’s true that President Obama hasn’t cut off U.S. military aid to the Jewish State, it’s also true that the Obama administration consistently treats Israel as the problem in the Middle East, as the obstacle to peace, as a thorn in our flesh, rather than as our most trusted ally and a beacon of freedom and democracy in a very dangerous and turbulent region. In the last two years, the White House has tried to force Israel to divide Jerusalem, to divide the Land of Israel, to negotiate with Hamas, and stop building Jewish homes in their capital city. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Consider five recent examples of the Obama administration treating Israel as the problem, not as our most important, valued, trusted ally in the Middle East:

  1. On October 4th, we learned that President Obama sent a senior U.S. administration official to Israel to publicly pressure Israel not to even consider launching preemptive military strikes against Iran’s nuclear program, even though Israel views an Iranian nuclear bomb as an existential threat. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, “U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Israel Monday with a clear message from his boss in Washington: The United States opposes any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
  2. On November 8th, President Obama was caught on an open microphone at an economic summit trashing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of our most important ally. In a conversation overheard and recorded by reporters, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Mr. Obama, “I can’t stand him [Netanyahu]. He’s a liar.” Mr. Obama did not defend the top leader of our most important Mideast ally. Rather, he told Sarzoky, “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.”
  3. On December 3rd, President Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly accused Israel of being the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. As Voice of America news reported: “During a forum in Washington late Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Israel needs to start by getting back ‘to the damn table’ and negotiating peace with the Palestinians. He also called on Israel to mend its fraying relationships with traditional partners like Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.”
  4. Also on December 3rd, it was reported that President Obama’s “ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, recently told a conference hosted by the European Jewish Union that Israel is to blame for growing anti-Semitism harbored by people of Muslim faith.” According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Gutman said, “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Gutman “also argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.”
  5. On December 5th, Defense Secretary Panetta again applied public pressure on Israel not to take decisive actions against Iran to prevent a Second Holocaust. “The United States has pointedly ramped up its public warnings over the last few weeks about the risks of military action against Iran, accompanied by private words of caution to Israel, which sees Tehran’s nuclear push as a direct threat,” reported Reuters. “Panetta said it [an Israeli preemptive strike] risked ‘an escalation’ that could ‘consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret.’ It could also hobble the fragile U.S. and European economies and might do little to actually stop Iran from getting an atomic weapon.”

What makes all this dangerous is that it signals to Israel’s enemies — and our own — that there is daylight between the U.S. and Israel, that President Obama is not a true and trusted friend of Israel. Iranian leaders and others are getting the impression that if they hit Israel, the U.S. might not be there to back Israel up. Radical Islamic jihadists think they smell blood in the water, and they are feverishly arming themselves for a war of annihilation against the Jewish state.

That said, here are five specific ways you can pray despite this offensive White House attitude towards Israel:


>>DEVELOPING: Former Mossad chief: Israeli attack on Iran must be stopped to avert catastrophe — Meir Dagan speaks out against military offensive on Iran, expresses concern that Defense Minister Barak believes Israel only has less than a year to carry out an attack.

>> DEVELOPING: New York Times reports “Images Show Devastation at Iran [Military/Nuclear] Base After Blast”


UPDATE ON EGYPTIAN ELECTIONS (Dec 6): The Islamist bloc won more than 60% of the vote in last week’s round of parliamentary elections. The Muslim Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice Party” won 36.6%, while the newer radical Salafist party known as Al-Nour won 24.4%. There are differences in the ideologies of these parties, but the trend line is becoming clear: the hardline Islamic fundamentalists are gaining power and the pro-democracy moderates are being trounced. Make no mistake: this is a dangerous development for the U.S. and Israel. In February, the Muslim Brotherhood reiterated its intent to end Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel that has been in force since 1979.

ORIGINAL POST: Please pray for the nation of Egypt at this critical juncture. The battle between the Radicals, the Reformers and the Revivalists is intensifying. Voting is underway in the first of several rounds of parliamentary elections. Egypt’s Christian long-persecuted and oppressed minority fears the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate the elections, move the country in a Radical Islamic direction, and make life even more difficult for all non-Muslims. That appears likely, though it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions quite yet. Roughly ten percent of Egypt’s 76 million people are known as Coptic or Orthodox Christians. Many of these are nominal Christians, but there is a spiritual awakening happening within the Church and a growing number of Copts are born again believers. A steadily growing number of Muslims are also turning to faith in Jesus Christ in Egypt today, though not nearly as fast as in Sudan or Iran. The Joshua Fund this year has invested in several projects to train and encourage Egyptian pastors and lay people and encourage them to share the Gospel and plant new congregations. Please pray that such work bears fruit and that more and more Egyptians find true hope, freedom and eternal security through faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible.

“Unofficial initial results from the first two days of Egypt’s parliamentary elections pointed to a dominant showing for Islamist candidates, fulfilling most analysts’ expectations that conservative religious politicians could have the upper hand in next year’s drafting of a new Egyptian constitution,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Initial tallies put the powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP, in a leading position, followed by the Nour Party, which represents the ultraconservative Salafi school of Islam, FJP said. An FJP official said the party’s vote-counting observers expect the group to win as much as 50% of the vote. A Nour Party spokesman said the early returns point to a Salafi capture of about 10% to 15% of seats in the incoming Parliament….The results are far from final—a second and third round of elections covering two-thirds of Egypt’s 27 governorates are scheduled to take place in December and January. Individual candidate races that didn’t secure at least 51% will face runoffs beginning next week. But the early results indicate that Egypt—the largest Arab country and under former President Hosni Mubarak one of the region’s staunchest defenders of secular governance—is set to pivot toward political Islam. The next voting rounds include mostly smaller Egyptian cities and villages, where Islamist rule is popular.”

The Associated Press is reporting that “following an unexpectedly large turnout, Egypt’s election commission announced Thursday a delay in final results for the first-round of parliamentary elections while judges monitoring the count said Islamist parties are poised to gain a parliamentary majority.” The AP also notes that “the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and best organized group, could take as much as 45% of the seats being contested. The Egyptian bloc coalition of liberal parties and the ultra-fundamentalist Nour party were competing for second place, the judges said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the count remains incomplete.”

At least one Israeli media outlet isn’t hedging its analysis. Israeli Channel 7 news posted this headline on its website: “Muslim Brotherhood Takes Elections by Storm –Islamist parties are expected to control Cairo’s parliament by the spring with the Muslim Brotherhood projected to be in the driver’s seat.”The report noted that “continued success by Islamists will allow them to give Cairo’s government and constitution a decidedly Islamist character. It could also lead Cairo to shift away from the West towards the Iranian axis….The Muslim Brotherhood, which birthed the virulently anti-Israel Hamas terror militia, might also seek to effectively annex Gaza. Should Hamas be triumphant in future PA elections, they would also gain a foothold in Judea and Samaria.”


The Fox News Channel published the following column of mine on their website:


Why would Iran authorize a major terrorist operation on American soil? Skeptics say the much-discussed “foiled” Iranian plot makes no sense. We will know soon enough if the Feds have sufficient evidence related to this specific plot. But Iranian leaders may, in fact, have a motive to accelerate direct attacks on the U.S.: Shia Islamic eschatology, or “End Times” theology.

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are convinced that the End of Days has come. They believe the Shia messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Mahdi” will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom known as the caliphate. 

What’s more, they believe the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan”), and the United States (which they call the “Great Satan”). We should not, therefore, be surprised that Iran is probing for weaknesses in American intelligence and homeland security.

Khamenei told Iranians in July 2010 that he personally met with the Twelfth Imam. He also claimed to be the personal representative of the Mahdi on earth, and said all Muslims must “obey him.” Meanwhile, Western intelligence agencies say he continues to work with Ahmadinejad and the Iranian military to develop nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Much of the media has focused on Iran’s threats to wipe Israel “off the map.” But journalists have generally ignored the fact that….[to read the full column, please click here]

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