Earlier this month, after speaking at the Jerusalem Leaders Summit on the differences between Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, I was interviewed by a columnist for Ma’ariv, a popular Israeli daily.
We discussed the subject of my speech, but she became much more interested in my failed political consulting career, my life as the author of political thrillers, and my faith in Jesus.
The article — linked below — was published in Hebrew. But here is an English translation, if you’re interested.
By Tal Schneider, Ma’ariv, November 15, 2015
(Jerusalem, Israel) — All the candidates who’ve worked with Joel Rosenberg lost, so he became a writer of bestselling security thrillers portraying the Israeli prime minister attacking Iran.
In an interview he says what he has learned from working with Netanyahu, and how Jesus changed his life
After working as an aide for Benjamin Netanyahu, the media mogul Steve Forbes who ran the US presidential race, the American right-wing political candidates and even Natan Sharansky, Joel Rosenberg came to the conclusion that a seasoned political consultant and leader in his field he will not be. A short time later Rosenberg, an evangelical Christian loves Christ and loves Jews, decided to write political thrillers.
A decade later, his books — all of which are terrifying scenarios and prophecies, such as genocide, using chemical weapons held by ISIS or the Israeli prime minister who does not listen to the advice of an American president leads a preventive war against Iran — have become bestsellers.
A week and a half ago, Rosenberg was one of the speakers in the Jerusalem Leaders Summit, a gathering of organizations conservatives and rightists reached by political leaders from Europe. The conference, organized in part by The Heritage Foundation, dealt with security threats to democratic countries. Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and Member of Knessets Yoav Kish, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Avi Dichter, all from the Likud, were among the speakers.
….As a former political adviser to Republican presidential candidates, Rosenberg has this to say about the race for the Republican fascinating president of the United States, where the participating colorful candidates like Donald Trump or Ben Carson….
Q: Who do you think is suitable for the job?
A: You won’t catch me answering that. I will only say that the president or the next president of the United States should be ready to go to war with Iran. And whoever it is will have to be a person with experience, vision and an action plan. Unfortunately, some of the candidates currently do not have any experience. I would like to know better their worldview in our region. What do they know about the threats here?
Q: So according to this approach, you have backed Hillary Clinton, having the most experience?
A: No, no. You need to have a plan of action [to neutralize Iran and ISIS] and vision. Experience is not enough. And I remind you that Clinton supported the nuclear agreement with Iran, the agreement gave Iran two ways to get a nuclear bomb — whether they comply with the agreement and or whether they cheat and get The Bomb. The next president must be prepared for this, and some of them have no idea what to do.
“Help me to be helpful”
Rosenberg is an American who lived most of his life in Washington, DC. He is the son of a Christian mother and his father was an Orthodox Jew who discovered Jesus in the 70s.
He was educated as a Christian and as an adult became a devout believer. Jesus is his great love, and when he wants, during the interview, to illustrate why not to pick a Republican [presidential] candidate too early in the campaign, he takes the Bible out of the bag, and turns pages to I Samuel.
“Samuel comes to Bethlehem without knowing which of Jesse’s sons is to be the next king,” says Rosenberg with excitement. “Samuel did not know the boys and God did not tell him [ahead of time] whom to choose. He points to the oldest, and God says to him: ‘No, it’s not that one.’ He goes to the next in line, and God says no. And this continues on. David is not even in the room at that point.”
The moral of Rosenberg’s story is also about the Republican race — all options are open. Who can be elected? I asked. “Even someone from the middle or bottom of the polls,” he says.
“We must wait and not be impressed by the people leading [in the polls] right now.”
What Rosenberg does not try to hide is the fact that his political advice — sometime in the 90s and beginning of the decade — was not successful. He worked for several conservative right-wing candidates and was former senior adviser to the two Republican presidential campaigns of the editor in chief of FORBES magazine, Steve Forbes (1996 and 2000). Forbes lost both cases. Rosenberg had also worked for senior figures such as former Republican Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett. Later, he worked on the U.S. advisory team of the Natan Sharansky.
Then, in September 2000, immediately after the failure of the Camp David talks, while Ehud Barak was Israel’s prime minister, Rosenberg was recruited Rosenberg to be part of a political consulting team for Benjamin Netanyahu…..Netanyahu was prevented home from winning, and the campaign was short-lived.
“I was a political consultant in Washington,” says Rosenberg. “All the candidates with whom I worked lost. Natan Sharansky resigned from politics. Then Netanyahu hired me with a team of consultants in Washington. It was supposed to be a ‘comeback campaign.’ We started to coordinate interviews in the American media, working on Op-Eds and more. Bibi was very strong in the polls. We worked with him for a few months until it became clear that he was blocked from running. Sharon ran and won instead.
Q: So you’ve decided to leave politics?
A: Yeah. I failed as an advisor. At the age of 34, my friends had already begun to get rich. I sat in my office in Washington and saw that I work for these candidates, but do I help them much? I sat down and thought to myself: I already have three children, but I failed. I said, “Lord, help me to be a useful person.”
Q: What did God say?
A: Personal failure can sometimes bring a lot of clarity in life. I learned from the people I met, including Dore Gold and Benjamin Netanyahu, and I came to the conclusion that instead of advancing various messages through politics, I will write political thrillers. My political knowledge and experience can be woven into the plot and images. I could write fiction instead of opinion columns. So I wrote a political thriller about the suicide pilots carrying out a kamikaze terrorist attack and smashing the planes into a presidential motorcade in Denver, Colorado. This would lead to a war in Iraq.
Q: You turned from political adviser to prophet?
A: Well, I started writing the book in January 2001….Then came the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The third plane took off from the airport near my home in Virginia, passed over our house and crashed into the Pentagon, not far from me. A few months later, President Bush delivered the annual State of the Union address, and referred to the “axis of evil” countries, and I realized that Iraq is going to be a target. My agent called and said, “Joel, this is a signal, we must publish the book.” So in November 2012, just before Thanksgiving, my first book, The Last Jihad, was published, and immediately entered the bestseller list.
Q: How did you manage to predict what’s going to happen?
A: People call me a modern Nostradamus. But I have not tried to foresee the events. Five months before the U.S. entered Iraq, my book was on the shelves and became a big hit. I was interviewed by hundreds of radio stations and media outlets. People have asked me: “How did you know in advance?” I said it was literature, narrative. But the plot and underlying assumptions are based on reality.
Q: Did President George W. Bush read your book before the invasion of Iraq?
A: I do not know. I have not talked to him about the book.
Q: Does Netanyahu reads your books?
A: I think the team that surrounds him read the books. But he and his team have real life to deal with. I learned from politicians how to produce a political argument. Today I create novels and narrative to explain to the world the truth.
Q: What truth?
A: The truth that Radical Islam is coming to America. I learned that from Netanyahu and Sharansky. You can see now how evil is increasing . People need to read that Radical Islam is coming to the United States. People do not deal with it seriously. In fact, my concern is not just Radical Islam, but Apocalyptic Islam, which is currently in two places: the Islamic Republic of Iran and ISIS.
Q: Is this the new Hasbara (Hebrew for “public relations”)?
A: My novels are not hasbara, but they can help educate people. As a result of the novels I am invited to lecture, talk to the media, to discuss the issues. There are currently two political entities — ISIS and Iran — whose leaders are driven by theories of End Times. They believe the messiah will come to establish a global Islamic kingdom. It is not normal Radical Islam, but beyond that — they believe the messiah will bring the annihilation of Israel and the United States.
Q: Your books are a mix between imagination and reality, are they not?
A: Yes. In my books comments, I use quotes made by the Islamic apocalyptic leaders…I certainly create characters and scenarios of what might happen if Western leaders do not understand the threat. One of my previous books was about an American president who presses an Israeli prime minister to avoid war in Iran. My imaginary Israeli Prime Minister realizes he has no choice and he launches the attack.
Q: Your character is based on Netanyahu?
A: In a way, yes. And the media has reported that at least three times Israel was planning to attack Iran.
Q: But Netanyahu did not attack, and according to reports, specifically former Defense Minister Ehud Barak put pressure to attack.
A: That’s right. But mine is a fictional character. Perhaps the Prime Minister in my book is a combination of Netanyahu and Ehud Barak….
Rosenberg’s new book, The Third Target, mixes reality with imagination. A New York Times journalist heard rumors that ISIS took over the storehouses of chemical weapons in Syria, and he decides to enter Syria to find out the truth, says Rosenberg about the plot of the book. Together with another journalist, they reveal a huge conspiracy about ISIS planning to commit genocide. At this point, ISIS has already taken on two countries, Iraq and Syria, and they want to take over a third country. The plot thickens.
Over a year ago, Rosenberg moved with his family to Israel.
“I found Christ,” he says. “I wish every Muslim, Buddhist or Jew in the world will discover Jesus as me. If an Evangelical Christian tells you he does not want others to believe in Christ, he is not telling the truth. I have traveled all over the world to talk about my love for Jesus. Jesus changed my life. I do not believe in coercion or fraud, but I would absolutely love for everyone to hear the gospel and make a decision on their own.”
Rosenberg says he feels a strong connection to Israel.
“I’m tied to Israel since the 80’s,” he says.” I have come to visit here for many years, and studied here during college.”
The vision of the prophet Ezekiel says all the Jews will return to Israel eventually, Rosenberg notes. Ezekiel’s prophecy began to be fulfilled, but not all the Jews have returned yet.
“I raise money to help Israel. I bring Evangelicals to visit. My goal is that all Jews will return. I do not feel threatened by Orthodox Jews. I know this society is diverse and tolerant. There is a real democracy here and that is one of the strengths of Israeli society.”
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