It’s now 5:30am. The sun will soon be rising here, and as it does Israelis — and the world — will be awakening to a miracle.
With 95% of the actual votes counted, Netanyahu and his Likud Party have surged from 20 seats in the final newspaper polls to 29 actual seatsin the next Knesset (parliament). That’s a five-seat lead over Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni and their Zionist Union opposition party.
Yachad — 0 (did not get enough votes to pass the minimum threshold)
Did Netanyahu’s speech to Congress convince Israelis he was most qualified to protect Israel from a dangerous Iran nuclear deal? Yes.
Did President Obama’s attacks against the Prime Minister backfire? Yes.
Did the millions and millions of dollars spent by foreigners to bring down Netanyahu completely fail? Yes.
It’s going to fascinating to watch the enemies of Netanyahu explain this away. I know several of Bibi’s top campaign operatives. They have done an absolutely outstanding job.
But in the end, a result like this cannot be fully explained in human terms.
This was a miracle.
Unexpected. Unexplainable. Unbelievable. But true.
“Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;Daniel said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.” (Biblical Book of Daniel, chapter two, verses 19 through 21)
(Source: Times of Israel, based on exit poll numbers)
UPDATED AT 12:30am ISRAEL TIME: (Central Israel) — The voting here in Israel ended at 10pm local time on Tuesday (4pm eastern).
The TV network exit polls show a stunning turn of events — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party were down at 20 seats last week, at least four seats behind opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the “Zionist Union” party.
Tonight, Netanyahu and his team appear to be at 27 or 28 seats, tied with — or possibly a seat ahead — of Herzog.
If these numbers hold, Netanyahu may have an easier path to put together a governing coalition with center-right parties and return as Prime Minister. However, there is talk that President Reuven Rivlin will insist on a “unity government” where Netanyahu and Herzog would be required to share power and govern together, rather than Netanyahu serving as the sole premier.
It’s too soon to know exactly how this will play out. The process of building a governing coalition in Israel is complicated and often very messy and not easily predicted. There could be lots of twists and turns in the saga in the coming days and weeks.
Still, the early evidence tonight points to dramatic comeback by Netanyahu, one that seems to put him in a better position to building a majority coalition.
President Obama and his political operatives did everything possible to unseat Netanyahu. It does not seem to have worked.
Given how cold President Obama has been towards Netanyahu, expect the deep freeze to get worse in the next two years if Netanyahu is the sole PM. The President’s approach towards Israel could get far uglier than it even has been thus far, especially since Mr. Obama will never face voters again.
More analysis tomorrow. Now it is well past midnight.
Isaac “Buji” Herzog is the Israeli opposition leader and head of the Labor Party. Tzipi Livni is a former Israeli foreign minister and former head of the largest political party in Israel, though under her leadership the party shrunk considerably.
UPDATED AT 9:50pm ISRAEL TIME. (Jerusalem, Israel) — As I wrote on March 9th, polls have been breaking against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party, raising the very real possibility that Netanyahu will not return as premier after Tuesday’s elections. I was not predicting “Bibi” would lose. He has certainly shown an uncanny to regain the political momentum over the years, and he could do so again.
But every political analyst in Israel now sees a distinct possibility that a new PM will emerge. This has drawn increasing focus on Isaac “Buji” Herzog, the head of the Labor Party and Israel’s opposition leader. Is Herzog ready to be Israel’s next Prime Minister? Can this quiet, self-effacing son of Israel’s first President (Chaim Herzog) be trusted to protect the country from numerous and rising threats, from Iran and ISIS to Hezbollah, Hamas and the PLO? Does he have what it takes to stand up against mounting international pressures to give up more and more Israeli territory in the ever-elusive search for peace? And will Israeli voters remove Benjamin Netanyahu — who is serving his ninth year as premier — from power and put the untested Herzog in the top spot?
These are several of the big questions on people minds here as the last day of campaigning wraps up. We are now just a few hours away from the polls opening here on Tuesday morning for what very well could prove the most consequential Israeli national elections in a generation.
I just landed at Ben Gurion International Airport. In a short while I will be on the “Sean Hannity Radio Show” to preview the Israeli elections. Over the next 48 hours, I will be blogging and Tweeting extensively on the race. But here are a few initial thoughts:
The big, breaking news here tonight is that the Herzog-Livni ticket is imploding at the 11th hour — Tzipi Livni is actually stepping off the ticket in a completely stunning political move. The two have been running for the last several months as a team in a “rotation agreement.” That is, “buy one, get one free.” If you vote for their combined faction (two political parties running together) and they win the most seats in the Knesset (parliament) then Herzog had promised to serve as Prime Minister for two years, and Livni for the second two years. But Livni is very unpopular. Within their parties, the rotation agreement was very unpopular. There was growing pressure to remove her from the ticket, but some strategists on the left feared doing so this late in the game would reflect badly on Herzog and raise questions about his judgment and ability to lead. Nevertheless, at the 11th hour, Livni announced that she will no longer be part of the rotation agreement. She says she’s dropping off voluntarily, yet some say Herzog pushed her off. This is a late-breaking story. The details are not yet clear. Neither are the implications. Will Herzog be helped or hurt by this move? A highly dramatic election has just gotten far more dramatic.
Herzog says, “I trust the Obama Administration to get a good deal” on the Iran nuclear issue. In a must-read interview in The Atlantic, the left-wing Israeli opposition leader indicates that he trusts the direction that President Obama is going in with regards to Iran. This is a huge dividing line for Israelis who increasingly distrust the American administration and fear Iran is being given a green light to build not just one nuclear weapon but a whole arsenal.
Herzog proudly says he will divide Jerusalem and roll Israel back to the pre-1967 lines (or close) to create a sovereign Palestinian state. In another must-read interview, Herzog is not shy about saying he believes Israel should give up part of its own capital to the PLO. This is another huge dividing line for Israelis.
That said, Herzog has not talked much about following Obama’s lead on Iran or dividing Jerusalem but rather focused on socio-economic issues. The theory of his campaign has been to blur differences with Netanyahu on security matters, and accentuate them on domestic and economic affairs. But several interviews Herzog has given has given us a clearer window on his instincts and objectives, and could rattle voters as they head to the polls.
Please pray for the people of Israel as we head to the polls on Tuesday. Please pray that above all the Lord’s will is done. As we read in Daniel chapter two, the Lord removes kings and establishes kings according to His sovereign will. Amen.
[Stay tuned to this blog and my Twitter account for updates]
(Tucson, Arizona) — Last month, I addressed the closing dinner of the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville. Last night, I addressed a conference of pastors and ministry leaders here in Tucson. The message here was nearly the same as at NRB. People have been asking me to share my notes because of the urgency of the subjects I discussed. So I am posting them here tonight.
The following is the formal message I prepared for the NRB Convention. While I did not deliver the speech verbatim, you will get the essential points I made that night.
WHEN YOU SEE A SWORD COMING:Three Existential Threats Facing America
Joel C. Rosenberg
Address to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention
February 26, 2015
My text tonight is Ezekiel chapter 33, verses one through nine. It is a famous passage — one that you all know — about the role of the “Watchman on the Wall.” I believe it is deeply relevant to our times.
33 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’
7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
More than 2,500 years ago, the Lord spoke these words to the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel.
A man of God
Born in Israel
Exiled and living in Iraq
Amidst grave dangers rising
What was Ezekiel commanded to do? The text is clear.
Listen to God
Watch for threats
Warn the people, come what may
This was a divine calling – an enormous responsibility. And God was clear. Some would listen to Ezekiel’s warnings. Some would not. Ezekiel was not going to be held responsible for the decision others made to obey the Lord or not. He would be held responsible for obeying the Lord, teaching people the Word of God and warning the people when God told him to speak. Fortunately, Ezekiel was faithful to the task.
As followers of Jesus Christ — and as pastors and ministry leaders and religious broadcasters — each of you are, in our modern times, also watchmen on the walls. In many ways, you have the same calling. The same responsibility.
To listen to the Word of God, found in the Bible
To speak the Word of God — to tell people the bad news and the good news according to the Scriptures
To warn people of threats that are rising
To speak the truth in love, come what may
God warned Ezekiel — as He warns us today — that if He speaks and we don’t share His Word with others, we will be held to account. What’s more, if we see threats rising, and we do not warn people, we will be held to account.
Tonight, as I look out America, I see three existential threats.
Threat #1 — What if America is not simply in a season of decline but heading towards collapse, towards implosion?
Threat #2 — What if America is not simply at rising risk of attack by Radical Islam but heading towards the risk of annihilation by Apocalyptic Islam?
Threat #3 — What if America is not simply entering a season of strained relations with Israel but heading towards total abandonment of the Jewish State?
Let’s take those one by one.
Threat #1 — What if America is not simply in a season of decline but heading towards collapse, towards implosion?
In 2012, I wrote a non-fiction book called, Implosion: Can America Recover From Her Economic & Spiritual Challenges in Time? I commend it to your attention because every passing day I believe the analysis is proving to be true and its message is becoming more urgent. The nation – and the Church – must know how much danger we are in. If we are silent, or if we soften it around the edges, we will be held to account before the Lord.
I respectfully disagree. There is a long list of reasons America faces implosion, but I can sum it up in one number: 58 million.
Since 1973, Americans have aborted 58 million babies. Think about that — 58 million. It is a staggering number. And if something doesn’t happen soon to change course, in less than two years we will hit 60 million.
If this happens, we as Americans will have murdered ten times more human beings than the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis.
We know the judgment of God that fell upon Nazi Germany. What do we think is going to happen to a nation that exterminates ten times more people than the Nazis?
The judgment of Almighty God is coming. There is no way out. The souls of 58 million babies are crying out for justice – and they will get it.But for this to happen we need to be pleading with God to have mercy on us. We need to be calling people to prayer, fasting and above all repentance.
I’m grateful for pastors like Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Bible teachers like Anne Graham Lotz who are calling the Church to precisely this. May their tribe increase.
As watchmen, are you warning America of the coming implosion? Are you calling the Church and nation to prayer and fasting and repentance? Is there more that you can do? Let us be found faithful, for I believe our time is running out.
RADICAL ISLAM AND APOCALYPTIC ISLAM
Threat #2 — What if America is not simply at rising risk of attack by Radical Islam but heading towards the risk of annihilation by Apocalyptic Islam?
There are two core themes in my books, both novels and non-fiction:
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blind-sided by it.
Evil, unchecked, is the prelude to genocide.
On December 7, 1941, we were blindsided by an evil we did not understand.
It happened again on September 11, 2001.
The 9/11 Commission Report stated that the attacks perpetrated by al Qaeda were “not a failure of intelligence but a failure of imagination.” Despite all of the data that was pouring in, our leaders in Washington simply never imagined that such an attack were possible.
Fourteen years later, we have a President who refuses to define “Radical Islam” as the source of the threat we face in the Middle East and North Africa.
Running in 2008, said Iran was a small country and did not pose a serious threat to us
January 2014: said ISIS was a “jayvee” squad, not a serious threat
August 28, 2014: “We don’t have a strategy yet” to defeat ISIS.
January 20, 2015: didn’t mention Islam or Islamism or AQI in his SOTU address
My friends, we cannot defeat an enemy we refuse to define.
The threat of Radical Islam is a very serious threat to us and our allies.
Consider the words of Jordan’s King Abdullah, not only a Muslim but a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
we are in a “Third World War”
“This is a war inside Islam. So we [Muslims] have to own up to it. We have to take the lead. And we have to start fighting back.”
“This is a Muslim problem. We need to take ownership of this. We need to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong.” (interview on CBS 60 Minutes, December 5, 2014)
The King and his senior advisors get it. They aren’t Radicals, but Reformers. And they are actively engaged in fighting the Radicals militarily, diplomatically, politically, financially, and even theologically.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also gets it. He, too, is a Muslim – and he, too, is engaging the fight on multiple fronts.
Consider his speech on January 1, 2015 at Al Azhar University in Cairo:
“Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants…so that they themselves may win? Impossible.”
“We are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting for your next move.”
The President insists that we are not at war with Islam. Obviously. The vast majority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are not a danger. But research shows that 7% to 10% of Muslims worldwide do support violent jihad. That’s upwards of 150 million people. If it were a single country — the Islamic Republic of Radicalstan — it would the world’s 9th largest, just ahead of Russia (146 million).
But the threat we face is not simply from Radical Islam. Indeed, it not even primarily from Radical Islam at this hour.
The most serious threat we face in the Middle East and North Africa is what I call “Apocalyptic Islam.”
This is a term each of needs to become familiar with and begin to teach others.
For the first time in all of human history, we have not just one but two nation states who rulers are driven not by political ideology — or even mere religious theology — but by apocalyptic End Times eschatology.
The Islamic Republic of Iran today is ruled by an apocalyptic, genocidal death cult.
So is the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The former are Shia. The latter are Sunni.
Both believe the End of days has come.
Both believe their messiah – known as the “Mahdi” — is coming at any moment.
Both are trying to hasten the coming of the Mahdi.
Yet each has entirely different strategies.
ISIS wants to build a caliphate.
Iran wants to build The Bomb.
ISIS is committing genocide now.
Iran is preparing to commit genocide later.
In the near term, ISIS is more dangerous. Why? Because ISIS is on a jihadist rampage right now. Robbing. Killing. Destroying. Enslaving. Raping. Torturing. Beheading. As Americans, we dare not turn a blind eye to this threat. If we don’t defeat the jihadists over there, they are coming here. We must act, and act now.
That said, as Christians we have different responsibilities. The government’s job is to defeat and destroy our enemies. Our job as Christians is to love our enemies, and all those who are living under their reign of terror.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we must not be blind to the enormous suffering inside the Muslim world, nor deaf to their cries for help, nor dull to the tyranny we face. Christ commands us to love them, to serve them, to bless them, to tell them the good news that they may have life. We must act, and act now.
Longer term, Iran is the most dangerous, especially if the President approves this nuclear deal that is emerging. Why? Because the apocalyptic leaders of Iran are biding their time to build a nuclear arsenal capable of killing millions of people in a matter of minutes.
Far too few people in the West truly understand the nature and threat of Radical Islam, much less that of Apocalyptic Islam. Indeed, many dismiss these concerns all together. But it is empirical fact that a deep and widespread belief exists within the Islamic world that we are living in the End of Days.
According to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center, “in most countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, more than half or more of Muslims believe they will love to see the return of the Mahdi.” That’s more than 750 million Muslims.
Egypt — 40% of Muslims believe the return of the Mahdi is imminent.
Jordan — 41%
Palestinians — 46%
Iraq — 72%
What’s more, the reportfound that an enormous number of Muslims believe that Jesus is coming back to earth (to serve under the Mahdi.)
Jordan — 29% of Muslims believe Jesus is coming back to earth
Egypt — 39%
Palestinians — 46%
Iraq — 64%
Apocalyptic Islamic eschatology is a photographic negative of Biblical eschatology. The leaders of Iran and ISIS believe the way to hasten the coming of the messiah to kill as many people as possible. The followers of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, believe the way to hasten the coming of the messiah is to save as many people as possible. (Matthew 24:14)
Which brings me back to you — the watchmen on the wall.
Are you warning the nation of the “coming sword” – the threat of both Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam — and explaining to people their similarities and their differences?
Are you urging the Church to fulfill the Great Commission by preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations, including Muslim nations?
Let us not simply tell the bad news. Let us tell the good news. And there is much good news. Since 1979, more Muslims have come to faith on Christ and renounced Islam than in the last 14 centuries of Islam combined.
So now is not the time to cower in fear. Now is the time to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit — with courage and conviction — because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.”
Which brings me finally to Threat #3 — What if America is not simply entering a season of strained relations with Israel, but we are heading towards total American abandonment of the Jewish State?
Genesis 12:1-3 — God says He will bless those who bless Israel and the Jewish people, and curse those who curse them.
Joel 3:2 — God warns the nations that He will judge all who divide the Land of Israel.
Ezekiel 38-39 — God warns that a group of nations will attack Israel in the “last days” but no nation will come to Israel’s defense.
Revelation 16 — God warns that all nations in the End of Days will attack Israel.
The Bible teaches us that all nations will turn against Israel in the last days — and all nations will face judgment for it — but woe into us if it happens on our watch.
Have we come to that fateful moment? It is not yet clear. Still, we are watching the President:
negotiate an incredibly dangerous deal with Iran
refuse to share the details of this detail with Israel, America’s most faithful and trusted ally in the region
refuse to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister when he came to address a Joint Session of Congress on matters of existential importance to both of our nations.
send the VP and Secretary of State out of country to avoid seeing the Prime Minister
send his political strategists and operatives to defeat the Prime Minister and his party in Israel’s elections (March 17th)
This is the most dangerous moment in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
What do the next two years hold?
I’m not sure. But this much I know: on top of all America’s national challenges and sins, we dare not also abandon or turn against Israel and the Jewish people. If we do, we will seal our fate with God.
Which brings me back to you — the watchmen on the walls.
Are you warning the nation and the Church of the dangerous road the President has us on vis-à-vis Israel?
Are you mobilizing Christians to love and bless and pray for and stand with Israel and the Jewish people in this critical hour?
I am afraid I cannot tell you whether God will grant America a Third Great Awakening and/or raise up a King like Josiah (see 2 Chronicles 34-35) and thus forestall the coming judgment.
I cannot tell you whether the American government will do its job to protect us and our allies from Radical and Apocalyptic Islam before it’s too late.
Or whether the Church will do her job in fulfilling the Great Commission and standing with our persecuted brothers and sisters in the epicenter.
Or whether America and the Church will stand with Israel and bless her and the Jewish people.
All I can tell you is that you and I have been called to be watchmen on the walls.
Our job is to:
Listen to and study and know the Word of God
Teach the Word of God
Watch for threats
Warn the people, come what may
We are not going to be held responsible if people do not listen to us or to the Word of God. We will be held to account if we fail to speak and act when the Lord commands us to do so.
Much is hanging in the balance. May you and I be found faithful to the task.
Zionist Union leader Isaac (“Bouji”) Herzog (left), with Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu in November 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90/Times of Israel)
(Tucson, Arizona) — A week from Tuesday, on March 17th, millions of Israelis will go to the polls for one of the most consequential national elections of our times. We will be casting ballots for the political party of our choice, and in so doing choosing the makeup of the next Knesset (parliament) and our next Prime Minister.
As I’ve been traveling across the U.S. in recent weeks on The Third Targetbook tour, people have been asking me whether Benjamin Netanyahu will return as Prime Minister, particularly in the wake of his impressive but controversial speech to Congress.
The honest answer is: I have no idea.
There is a groundswell of “Anybody But Bibi” voters. Some 30,000 Israelis turned out the other night for a rally in Tel Aviv calling for Netanyahu to be defeated and removed from office. Most of the Israeli media hates Netanyahu and are doing everything they can to disparage and discredit him. The left-wing parties in Israel can’t stand Bibi and are throwing all they can at him. Some on the center-right have policy disagreements and/or personal frustrations with him in his ninth year as Israel’s premier. And President Obama’s top operatives are in Israel working to unseat the PM.
That said, polls show Israelis trust Netanyahu to be Prime Minister and to keep the country safe from Iran, ISIS and other threats significantly more than Yitzhak (“Bouji”) Herzog, head of the Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua Party. (The two have formed the “Zionist Union” faction as the main opposition party to Bibi; if they come out on top, they have pledged that Herzog would serve as PM for two years, and then Livni for two years.)
What’s more, most Israelis feel that Netanyahu was right to go to the U.S. to speak about the Iran nuclear threat, and most do not trust President Obama to cut a good deal with Iran that would keep Israel safe.
At the moment, most polls show a dead heat between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the Zionist Union, though one outlier poll yesterday showed Netanyahu’s team ahead by five seats.
It appears to be a jump ball between Netanyahu and Herzog. It could go either way. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu could lose his position as PM this month, even as the showdown with Iran builds to a crescendo. I’m not predicting one way or the other, just trying to keep you up to speed.
The Israel portion of the tour will be October 14-25, 2015.
And for the first time ever, we will lead an optional additional tour to the Biblical sites of the Kingdom of Jordan for those who want to extend their time and learn more. This will be from October 25-29, 2015.
If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2015 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.
If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other!
You will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse and participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy.
You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith.
You will have the opportunity to hear solid Bible teaching, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people of the epicenter, and have the joy of worshipping the Lord in the land of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles.
I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the Epicenter.
And, as I mentioned, for those who want to learn more, we are offering our first-ever extension to visit Biblical and historic sites in Jordan such as Mount Nebo, Petra and the capital of Amman.
Now more than ever, it is vitally important for Christians to “learn, pray, give and go” — to really learn how much God loves the people of Israel, Jordan and the region; to pray with and for Jews and Arabs; to give to ministries that are truly blessing people on both sides in the name of Jesus; and actually go to the Holy Land to stand with these dear people in these challenging times.
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for a new round of nuclear negotiations on Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(Washington, D.C.) — Consider the odd developments of the past few days:
* The leader of our most faithful and trusted ally comes to Washington to warn of a mortal and rising threat from a dangerous and deceiving enemy.
* The President of the United States refuses to meet with him.
* The President sends his VP out of the country to avoid our ally.
* The President sends the Secretary of State out of the country to avoid our ally, and instead to meet with our enemy.
* The President refuses to allow any of his Cabinet Members attend the speech by our ally.
* The White House pressures Members of Congress to boycott the speech of our ally.
* The President’s first comment after the ally’s speech is that he didn’t bother to watch or listen to it.
If I had written that as a novel, would anyone buy it? Of course not. They would say, “That’s ridiculous! That’s not credible! No President would act that way.”
Yet this is exactly what is happening. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Now comes the news that even though President Obama is bending over backwards to make concessions to Iran, the Iranian leadership has now utterly rejected the President’s deal, calling it “unacceptable.” That’s the first thing Iran and Israel have every agreed on. More on that in a moment.
A radio host asked me this morning: Did Israel’s Prime Minister come to Congress to boost his political fortunes because he’s in a neck-and-neck race back home? No. That’s not it.
Mr. Netanyahu came because he believes Israel is in mortal danger if Iranian leaders driven by “Apocalyptic Islam” are able to build atomic weapons and the high-speed missiles to deliver them. Netanyahu knew there was a huge risk in coming to the U.S. amidst such controversy. But he also knows that if he does not come back to power as Prime Minister after March 17th that he would never be able to forgive himself if he failed to use his time in office to raise the alarm and urge his friends, the American people, to stop Iran from getting The Bomb, rather than putting Iran on a legal pathway to The Bomb.
The Bible says in Ezekiel 33:1-9 that if the watchman on the wall sees a threat emerging, he must warn people, or he will be held to account. In the Bible, Mordechai urged Queen Esther to intercede with the King to try to save the Jewish people. She bravely spoke the truth to power. The Bible tells us that God sent Moses to speak to the Pharoah to save the Jewish people. Moses risked his life to speak truth to power. In the 1930s, Winston Churchill warned of the gathering storm of Adolf Hitler & the Nazi Third Reich. Few listened but Churchill was right. In the 1960s & 70s, Ronald Reagan warned us of the danger of appeasing Soviet communism. Few listened, but Reagan was right.
True “watchmen on the wall” often walk a lonely journey. But they are motivated not by crass personal ambition, but by deep personal conviction.
Now, back to Iran rejecting the President’s deal.
According to Reuters, “Iran rejected on Tuesday as ‘unacceptable’ U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand that it freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years but said it would continue talks on a deal, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported. Iran laid out the position as the U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers met for a second day of negotiations and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a stinging critique of the agreement they are trying to hammer out.”
“Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met a day after Obama told Reuters that Iran must commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a landmark atomic deal to be reached,” Reuters noted.”
“Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands,” Zarif was quoted by Fars as saying.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Iran saves us from this dangerous, disastrous deal?
The Prime Minister of Israel addressing a Joint Session of Congress on March 3, 2015.
(Washington, D.C.) — That was one for the ages.
In 25 years living in or near the nation’s capital, I have never actually been to a Joint Session of Congress. But if there was ever a speech I wanted to hear, it was this one.
I wish you could have been there with me. It was so fascinating — and so humbling — to be in the House Chamber as the Prime Minister of Israel arrived to thunderous and continuous applause.
As I listened to him speak, I felt I was witnessing history being made, as if Winston Churchill himself were personally warning us of the gathering storm.
On the eve of Purim, the Jewish holiday remembering the Biblical book of Esther and the Persian plot to annihilate the Jewish people 2,500 years ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned the world of a new Persian/Iranian threat to Israel and the world. He made it clear how dangerous this Iran deal is, and Iran’s repeated threats to annihilate Israel and the U.S., and why we need to work together to stop Iran, not help them get The Bomb. [To read the transcript of the speech, please click here]
It was electric in that chamber. One standing ovation after another. From Democrats and Republicans. Liberals and conservatives. Young and old. Rabbis and pastors. There was such a sense of unity and warmth and bipartisanship. It was so rare, and so refreshing — I’ve never experienced anything else like it in the political realm. [To watch the video of the speech, please click here]
Many of you have emailed or Tweeted me or sent me Facebook messages asking for my observations and analysis. I appreciate that. Late in the afternoon, I was interviewed by Tony Perkins, who had also been to the speech. We spoke for 27 minutes. We analyzed the speech, its substance, its tone, its Biblical allusions, and its implications. Rather than write up an analysis, then, I’d encouraged you to listen to this podcast. [to listen, please click here]
UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — Why did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want to address a Joint Session of Congress despite intense – even unprecedented — political attacks against him from the Obama administration, the media, and the left-wing in Israel?
Because he understands something too few in the West do – that the most serious threat we face today is not simply from “Radical Islam,” but from “Apocalyptic Islam.”
“I think the West misunderstood, and still misunderstands, the threat” posed by Iran, Mr. Netanyahu told me during a 2007 interview for a documentary film I was producing. “It is a fanatic, messianic ideology that seeks to have an apocalyptic battle for world supremacy with the West. It seeks to correct what it sees as an accident of history, where the West has risen, and Islam had declined. The correction is supposed to be done by the resurrection of an Islamic empire and the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary, to obliterate Islam’s enemies, and to subjugate the rest.”
“This is a pathological ideology, much like Naziism was,” Mr. Netanyahu, then out of office, continued. “It poses a threat, in my judgment, in many ways bigger than Naziism. Because Hitler embarked on a world conflict and then sought to achieve nuclear weapons, where as the leading Radical Islamic regime – Iran — is seeking to first acquire nuclear weapons and then embark on a world conflict. And that is what is not yet understood in the West, and certainly, if it’s understood, it’s not acted upon.”
Today, for the first time in human history, the world faces not just one but two nation states whose rulers are driven by an apocalyptic, genocidal, End Times eschatology that seeks not simply to attack us but to annihilate us.
The first is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The second is Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). The leaders of the former are Shia. The latter are Sunni. Both believe the End of Days has come. Both believe the Islamic messiah – known as the “Mahdi” — is coming at any moment. Both are trying to hasten the coming of the Mahdi so that he can conquer the earth and establish justice and peace. They speak often of such things.
That said, each has a different strategy to speed up the Mahdi’s arrival. ISIS wants to build a caliphate. Iran wants to build The Bomb. ISIS is committing genocide now. Iran is preparing to commit genocide later, openly stating it seeks to wipe Israel off the map and create a world without the United States, which they describe as the “Great Satan.”
In the immediate term, ISIS is more dangerous, as journalist Graeme Wood explains in a must-read article in The Atlantic. Why? Because ISIS is on a jihadist rampage right now – robbing, killing, destroying, enslaving, raping, torturing, beheading and burning people alive.
Longer term, Prime Minister Netanyahu argues that Iran is the most dangerous, especially if the President approves this disastrous nuclear deal. Why? Because the apocalyptic leaders of Iran are biding their time to build a nuclear arsenal capable of killing tens of millions of people in a matter of minutes. Thus, the Prime Minister will urge Congress to do everything in its Constitutional power to block ratification and implementation of treaty with Iran giving the mullahs a legal path to uranium enrichment, plutonium development, building ICBMs, and building nuclear warheads.
Far too few people in the West truly understand the nature and threat of Radical Islam. Fewer still are aware of — much less understand — the nature and threat of Apocalyptic Islam. Indeed, many dismiss these concerns all together.
However, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center, “in most countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, more than half or more of Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi.” In a world of 1.5 billion Muslims, that means more than 750 million Muslims believe not only that the Mahdi is coming, but that his arrival is imminent.
In Egypt, 40% of Muslims believe the return of the Mahdi is imminent. In Jordan, the number is 41%. Among Palestinians, it’s 46%. In Iraq, a stunning 72% of Muslims believe the Islamic messiah is coming soon.
What’s more, the Pew report found that an enormous number of Muslims believe that Jesus is literally coming back to earth. In Islamic eschatology, Jesus is not the Savior, nor the Son of God. Thus, Muslims do not believe Jesus will reign as the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” as prophesied in the Bible. Rather, Apocalyptic Islamic eschatology asserts that Jesus will come as a deputy, serving under the Mahdi, forcing people to convert to Islam or die.
In Jordan, 29% of Muslims believe Jesus is coming back to earth. In Egypt, the number is 39%. Among Palestinians, the number is 46%. In Iraq, a remarkable 64% of Muslims believe Jesus is coming back. Not all of these Muslims are dangerous, of course. But the leaders of Apocalyptic Islam are seeking to mobilize the masses who share their End Times theology towards violent, even genocidal, ends.
The President is ignoring such facts and their implications. The Prime Minister is not.
“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Mr. Netanyahu told a reporter in March of 2009, upon coming back to power after a decade in the political wilderness. Speaking of the Iranian leadership, he said, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”
Mr. Netanyahu is still sounding the alarm. Mr. Obama is still refusing to listen.
President Obama gives exclusive interview to Reuters on his Iran policy. (photo credit: Reuters)
(Washington, D.C.) — Greetings from the AIPAC Policy Conference. AIPAC stands for the “American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” I have been to many of these over the past 25 years in Washington. But this is one for the ages.
There was a tumultuous reception here this morning for Israel’s Prime Minister from the 16,000 delegates. I lost track of the number of standing ovations. It was moving to be a part of (Israeli leaders rarely receive standing O’s anywhere else in the world, including in Israel.) The Prime Minister thanked America for our long-standing strategic alliance and called for bipartisanship in preventing Iran from building The Bomb.
Please be praying for the PM, his wife Sara and his team as they prepare for the speech to the Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday at 11am eastern. Thanks. I have been invited to attend the speech, and hope to provide details and analysis via Twitter, and later on this blog and in various media interviews.
For now I can tell you there is so much political tension and spiritual warfare in this city. We really need to be faithfully praying for Israel’s leaders, as well as for America’s leaders — for wisdom and discernment and for healing between our governments.
We are witnessing the most dramatic and unsettling clash in the 66 year history of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
President Obama is setting the stage for an historic and painful showdown — not with our enemy, Iran, but with our best friend and ally in the Middle East, Israel.
The President is signaling he is ready to give Iranian leaders most of what they want in the nuclear negotiations, and that he has no intention of meeting with Israel’s top leaders or listening to their deep concerns.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is signaling that he believes the nuclear deal is an historic mistake that threatens the very survival of Israel. He’s also making it clear that he will do everything he possibly can to persuade Congress to reject this emerging deal because it would put Iran on the path to legally building The Bomb.
And now a top Senate Democrat is now blasting the Obama administration over the wrong and dangerous path it is headed down regarding Iran.
“When it comes to defending the US-Israel relationship, I am not intimidated by anyone—not Israel’s political enemies, and not by my political friends when I believe they’re wrong,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said today. “As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me, as long as I have a vote and a say and a chance to protect the interest of Israel, the region, and the national security interests of the United States—Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon. It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch.”
Menendez added: ““Here we are, near the end of negotiations, and the goal posts have moved from dismantlement to reconfiguration. From a peaceful nuclear program to just enough to detect break out. From no right-to-enrichment to getting an alarm system.
More analysis soon. For now, let me give you links to several of the key speeches and news stories:
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