Who is Yair Lapid? And how did he suddenly become the 2nd most powerful man in Israel?

Rising star: Yair Lapid.

Rising star: Yair Lapid.

“It appears that the big winner of the elections is Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party,” reports the Times of Israel, “and US commentator Jeffrey Goldberg is already speculating about the White House reading up on the news anchor-turned-political superstar.” On Tuesday, Goldberg Tweeted: “I wonder if someone in the White House is right now researching the question, “Who is Yair Lapid, and what exactly does he think?”

Here’s an interesting profile the Times ran last fall — “Yesh Atid sets out to prove it’s more politics than personality: Buffeted with claims that the party stands for nothing, or all the wrong things, Yair Lapid and his clutch of fresh-faced comrades aim for supremacy in the battle for the center.”

Wednesday morning headlines in Israel:

  • Yedioth Ahronoth – Israel wanted change: A blow to Netanyahu, a leap for Lapid
  • Maariv – A weakened right, a blow to Netanyahu, the big winner: Yair Lapid
  • Israel Hayom – Lapid’s surprise, Likud’s disappointment
  • Haaretz – Dramatic achievement for Yair Lapid, disappointment in the Likud

(Source: Times of Israel)

What do Israel’s election results mean? I’ll speak Wed night. in San Diego. Please join us, or watch online.

maranatha-Jan2012What a dramatic election in Israel. The final results have not yet been fully tallied, but we the contours are already emerging and it’s been a stunner. Nearly every analyst said Israel was moving sharply to the right. The early evidence suggests that a massive centrist coalition is emerging.

On Wednesday night, I’m looking forward to being with my dear friend, Ray Bentley, the Senior Pastor of Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, California, to talk about these issues. At Ray’s invitation, I’ll speak about the Israeli elections, what the results are, what they mean, and how they may affect U.S.-Israeli relations, and the future of the Middle East. Lord willing, we’ll also discuss the latest developments in countries like Syria and Egypt, in realm of the Palestinian conflict, and with the Iranian nuclear threat. And I hope to examine events through what I call the “third lens” of Scripture to see what the Lord is doing in the region and what Bible prophecy says about the future.

The event begins at 7pm Pacific time (10pm Eastern) at Maranatha Chapel, and is free of charge. Please join us in person. I’d love to meet you. Or, if you’re not anywhere near San Diego, you can watch it live online by clicking here at http://www.maranathachapel.org/.

Ray and his wife, Vicki, love the Jews and Arabs in the epicenter as much as anyone else I know. Ray has been a keynote speaker at several Epicenter Conferences over the years, including in Jerusalem, the Philippines, and in  Germany. He’s been a strong and faithful supporter of and advocate for The Joshua Fund, nearly from the beginning. It will be a joy to be with him and his congregation, and I really hope you can join us.

>> Also, come with me and The Joshua Fund to Israel in 2013 for a “Prayer & Vision Tour” and Epicenter Conference — you’ve read about Israel, now come step into the story.


UPDATED: Netanyahu/Likud receive humbling blow. Unconfirmed #s: 60 seats for right, 60 for left.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu places a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City after casting his ballot for the parliamentary election January 22, 2013. (Reuters photo)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu places a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City after casting his ballot for the parliamentary election January 22, 2013. (Reuters photo)

UPDATE AT MIDNIGHT: The Jerusalem Post reports at midnight eastern time: “With 99% of votes tallied, Right and Left blocs tie with 60 seats each; voter turnout 66.6% – Likud-Beytenu receive 31 seats, Labor 19, Bayit Yehudi and Shas 11, Livni and Meretz 6 each, UAL-Taal 5, Hadash 4, Kadima 2

ORIGINAL POST: Official results are not yet in….I’ll have them for you when they are…..but the final exit polls suggest a humbling blow to Netanyahu and his center-right Likud-Beitenu partys….it looks like the parties of the right will have only 61 seats combined…..the parties of the left appear to have 59 seats….as I mentioned earlier in the day, first-time candidate Yair Lapid and his new center-left party Yesh Atid — which means, “there is a future” — is the rising star of the night, seemingly having zoomed out of nowhere to perhaps be the second-most powerful party in the State of Israel….now remember, it’s not finall….it’s still possible for the final numbers to be worse for Netanyahu, and better for the left….it is now possible for Netanyahu not to be able to form a governing coalition….at the very least, it will be challenge putting together — and holding together — a stable governing coalition….rough night for him….and it’s not over yet.

First look at the exit polls — here’s why Netanyahu is so worried

UPDATED @ 3pm Eastern (10pm Israel time): The polls have officially closed….I’ll post official results as they’re released….TV network projections looking close to the exit polls I reported earlier, except that Likud may have done a little better than feared….Channel 2 puts Likud first at 31 seats…..Yesh Atid looks to be second with 18-19 seats….Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) is projected to receive 12 seats (big surge from 2009, but perhaps not as good as expected)….developing…..

ORIGINAL POST: Here’s the first look at the exit polls as of 8:30pm local time in Israel (1:30pm eastern). These come from a trusted source in Israel. Bear in mind they are exit polls, not final numbers.

  • 29-30 Likud (Netanyahu’s party, currently has 27 seats in parliament; formed an alliance with the Israel Beitenu party; thought they’d get a combined 40-42 seats; then Beitenu leader, Avigdor Lieberman, was indicted on corruption charges) 
  • 18 Yesh Atid (this is a new center-left party led by Yair Lapid, a first time candidate and rapidly rising star)
  • 14 Habayit Hayehudi (this center-right party currently has 3 seats, but is now led by a new rising star Naphtali Bennett)
  • 14 Labor
  • 14 Shas
  • 4-5 Hatnua (Livni)

This is why Netanyahu went public in the last hour, saying “Likud rule is in danger.” He’s urging his voters to “drop everything and go vote for the Likud-Beytenu list,” saying, “It’s very important for guaranteeing the future of the state of Israel.”

Netanyahu: “Likud rule in danger.” Likud concerns now outright fear.

netanyahu-mapUPDATED @ 1:30pm EASTERN: Just 90 minutes before the polls close in Israel….nearly 64% of Israelis have voted so far….record high turnout….but what were whispers of “concern” amongst Likud leaders in Israel over the past few hours about low turnout for the leading center-right party — Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party — has now dramatically intensified into outright fear.

Likud rule is in danger,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook wall, reports the Times of Israel. “The Likud leader repeats his call to his supporters to drop everything and go vote for the Likud-Beytenu list. ‘It’s very important for guaranteeing the future of the state of Israel,’ he says.”

The Times also reports: “The Twittersphere is awash with purported leaks from the TV exit polls which, based on initial small samples, ostensibly show why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sounding worried. The leaks purport to show the Likud doing less well than even the more pessimistic final polls, falling below the 30-seat mark, and Jewish Home and Yesh Atid competing to be the second biggest party with 16 or so seats each. Labor is down at 14-15. The leaks still show a right-wing/Orthodox bloc managing to win more than 61 seats, but only just.”


Likud concerned over lower than expected turnout of their voters so far. How serious is it?

Rising star? Yair Lapid, founder of new Israeli party, Yesh Atid.

Rising star? Yair Lapid, founder of new party, Yesh Atid.

UPDATED AT 1:00pm EASTERN: A record 58% of eligible Israeli voters have already voted. Number could hit 70% by the time polls close at 10pm. Apparently there’s a record turnout of first-time voters, as well. What’s more, I’m hearing that Likud is seeing lower-than-expected turnout amongst its voters, at least so far. Likud leaders and their political operatives are growing concerned about the implications, if these three trends continue through the evening.

How serious is it? Could Netanyahu be in danger of not continuing as Prime Minister? Which parties are benefitting and which ones are in trouble at the moment? The buzz in the Israeli media is the new center-left party of Yair Lapid — a former TV host now running for the first time for Knesset and a rising star in the Israeli political firmament — is doing better than expected. Apparently, so is Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party. Are these whispers accurate? Not yet clear. Developing….

Israeli election drama underway: Who’ll lead Israel next? I’ll keep you posted on the results.

israel-electiondayUPDATED @ 12:30pm Eastern: Israel is holding national elections today, choosing leaders to handle enormously difficult challenges — Iran, Syria, Egypt, the Palestinian conflict. Please pray that the Lord would raise up leaders like the sons of Isaachar, “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32)

More than 5.6 million Israelis — Jews and Arabs — are eligible to go to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots for the 19th Knesset (parliament). With the left-wing parties deeply divided, the center-right Likud-Beitenu party is expected to win a significant victory, somewhere between 30 and 40 seats (out of 120). The second closest party will likely win fewer than 20 seats. Netanyahu, therefore, is likely to reemerge as Prime Minister, unless something dramatic and unexpected happens.

The real drama surrounds what kind of coalition government Netanyahu will build to lead Israel in 2013 and beyond, and who will emerge as key members of his government. I’ll keep you posted on the election results as they come in. Then, in the days ahead, we’ll analyze what they mean for Israelis, Palestinians, Iran, and allies of the Jewish State like the U.S.



Egyptian leader has urged Arabs to “nurse our children…on hatred” for Jews and Zionists — called Jews “bloodsuckers” and “pigs”

Lest there is any doubt that the new leader of Egypt has a deep and abiding hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, and wants all Egyptians to share his view, consider comments made in 2010. “Nearly three years ago, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech urging Egyptians to ‘nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred’ for Jews and Zionists,” reported the New York Times. “In a television interview months later, the same leader described Zionists as ‘these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.’ That leader, Mohamed Morsi, is now president of Egypt — and his comments may be coming back to haunt him.”

Last week, the White House condemned Morsi’s statements. “We completely reject the statements, as we do any language that espouses  religious hatred,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “This discourse — and this is a broader point  — this kind of discourse has been acceptable in the region for far too long and  is counter to the goal of peace. President Morsi should make clear that he  respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable  or productive in a democratic Egypt.”

Please pray for all the leaders of Egypt — especially Mr. Morsi — and for the entire nation. Pray, too, for the persecuted Church in Egypt that Christ would strengthen them and give them boldness to live the Word and preach the Word.

Extremist who tried to blow up Israeli pastor and his family convicted in Jerusalem.

Teitel at court, Wednesday (Photo: Gil Yohanan, Ynet News)

Teitel at court, Wednesday (Photo: Gil Yohanan, Ynet News)

UPDATED: Some good news from Israel this week: The extremist who murdered two Palestinians, tried to blow up Israeli pastor David Ortiz and his family (and nearly killed their 15 year old son, Ami), and tried to kill others, as well, has been found legally sane and convicted of his crimes by a court in Jerusalem.

Thank you so much to all who have prayed for the Ortiz family since the horrendous attack in March 2008. Ami, a strong and devoted follower of Yeshua (Jesus Christ), miraculously survived the explosion. He has endured at least 14 surgeries, and made recoveries no one initially thought was possible. He still has pain, and more surgeries to go. But he has come so far. He has publicly forgiven his attacker. He prays for the Teitel family to come to faith in Yeshua. He’s in college now, and even playing basketball again. Please continue to pray for him, and for his parents and siblings who have been through so much and continue to walk with the Lord and lift up His Name.

Here are excerpts from a very well-done CBN News report from Israel: “The attack was believed to have been directed against the Ortiz family because of their faith in Jesus. Ami’s mother, Leah, is a Messianic Jew and his father, David, a pastor in the city of Ariel. His mother said even though her son still has nearly 100 pieces of shrapnel in his body and constant ringing in his ears from the bomb, the family moved on a long time ago. ‘From the very beginning we knew we had to forgive him, and the Lord did a work of forgiveness in our hearts from the beginning,’ she told CBN News. ‘For me it was a supernatural thing that happened to me the very first day,’ she said. ‘The Lord really spoke to my heart directly through Psalm 36 and He really gave me the love of God for this person and commissioned me to pray for him and for his salvation,’ she said. ‘And so that’s what we concentrate on because if we concentrate on anything else, we won’t be able to heal, we won’t be able to go on with our lives, and everyone in our family has had to come to that place,’ his mother said. ‘At the end, there’s always justice with God because He’s the final judge,’ his father said. ‘So I feel peace. I really feel peace.’ In an earlier interview, Ami told CBN News he prays for Teitel. ‘I’m praying, hoping that in his time in jail he will think about it and understand and realize he’s done some pretty serious mistakes and he needs to repent,’ Ami said. Asked if he had forgiven him, he responded, ‘Oh yeah, like I said before in the interviews, from the beginning there was no hate for nobody.’ His mother added: ‘We’re able to comfort as the Lord has comforted us, like it says in II Corinthians. And so in a way it will never be over, but for good also and not just for the pain and the trauma….You know when I see my son’s body and the effects of his injuries, I die inside personally,’ she said. ‘But you know we just bring it before the Lord and we keep on going for the Lord.'”

“Yaakov ‘Jack’ Teitel, notoriously known as the ‘Jewish Terrorist,’ was convicted of the murder to two Palestinians and the attempted murder of two other people,” reports Ynet News. “The conviction, rendered by the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, stated that Teitel was in full control of his faculties at the time of the murders, thus debunking the defense’s repeated claims that he was legally insane and therefore should not be held responsible of his actions. Teitel was arrested in 2009 and was held without bail ever since. The indictment against him consisted of 10 counts, including premeditated murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms, arms manufacturing and incitement to violence. According to court transcripts, Teitel was convicted of the 1997 murder of Samir Akram, a Palestinian bus driver, who offered him a ride. Shortly after boarding the bus, Teitel instructed Akram to pull over to the side of the road, and shot him at point-black range. He was also convicted of the 1997 murder of Issa Jabarin, a Palestinian shepherd. Teitel shot him twice in the chest, at close range. Teitel was also found guilty of the 2008 attempted murder of then 15-year-old Ami Ortiz. Teitel placed explosives in a package delivered to Ortiz’ home, because he believed that the teen was the leader of a messianic cult. Ortiz suffered serious injuries as a result. The court further found Teitel guilty of incitement to violence and terror, after he publicly pledged a NIS 20,000 (roughly $5,000) reward to anyone killing gay men and women and ‘ridding the earth of this Sodom and Gomorrah.'”

Sad news: Israeli Mayor of Ariel passed away today

Ariel mayor Ron Nachman, shown here in October, 2007 (photo credit: Maya Levin/Flash90)

Ariel mayor Ron Nachman, shown here in October, 2007 (photo credit: Maya Levin/Flash90)

I learned some sad news this morning. Ron Nachman, the mayor of the Israeli city of Ariel, died today after battling cancer for several years. Lynn and I had the honor of meeting with Ron not long ago, while he was in remission. Ron was a good friend of evangelical Christians and sought to build relationships with pastors from all over the world. Please pray for Ron’s family and friends at this sad time.

“Ron was man of courage [and] incredible vision,” Ray Bentley, senior pastor of Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, told me in an email. “He reached out in a very real and genuine way to build a relationship with me, as well as other Christian Pastors. I consider him a dear friend, and we will miss him greatly. Ron was a bridge builder between Christians and Jews, and as a result of his efforts, Israel became more than politics. It became all about relationship. I have often visited Israel to visit the ancient stones of Israel’s past, but in Ron Nachman I became acquainted with the modern living stones. He leaves a huge hole that will not easily be replaced.”

“Ariel Mayor and former Knesset Member Ron Nachman died Friday at the age of 70 after battling cancer for the past several years,” reports Ynet News. “Nachman was born in 1942. In 1978, he was elected as head of the Ariel Council, a role which he gave up a year later. He was reelected in 1985 and served as the Samaria city’s mayor until his very last day. He served as Knesset member on behalf of the Likud party in the 13th Knesset and was a member of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Immigration Absorption Committee and the committee on the Second Television and Radio Authority.”

“He leaves behind a wife, four daughters and several grandchildren,” reports the Times of Israel.