When Your Only Friend is Israel . . .

When Your Only Friend is Israel . . .
Vol: 112 Issue: 31 Monday, January 31, 2011

In an intervie
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w with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Syria’s Bashar al Assad said he wasn’t all that worried about the popular uprisings across the Middle East affecting his regime.

Assad says that the main reason he isn’t worried is because unlike those leaders now under fire, especially in Egypt, his government has never pursued close relations with Israel.  According to Assad, that is at the center of the unrest.

“Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence…you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances.”

For its part, Israel has taken the unusual and unexpected step of calling on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of Mubarak’s government.  

Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West’s interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime. The diplomatic measures came after statements in Western capitals implying that the United States and European Union supported Mubarak’s ouster.

On Saturday night, Ha”aretz reported,  the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries.

The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt’s stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible.

“The Americans and the Europeans are being pulled along by public opinion and aren’t considering their genuine interests,” one senior Israeli official said. “Even if they are critical of Mubarak they have to make their friends feel that they’re not alone. Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West, how everyone is abandoning Mubarak, and this will have very serious implications.”

Netanyahu announced at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that the security cabinet will convene Monday to discuss the situation in Egypt.

“The peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these relations will continue to exist,” Netanyahu told his ministers. “We are closely monitoring events in Egypt and the region and are making efforts to preserve its security and stability.”

So Bashar Assad’s only real enemy, Israel, turns out to be Mubarak’s only real friend.  And if your only friend is Israel . . .

King Abdullah of Jordan had better listen up.

Assessment:

Nobody knows what will happen next although there are no shortage of folks willing to guess.   Including me.

It is certainly an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization, founded by Egyptian schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928, is the oldest Islamic political group and the world’s most influential.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s stated mission is twofold; 1) to implement Sharia Law worldwide and; 2) re-establish the Islamic caliphate. 

The Muslim Brotherhood claims that it opposes violence as a means to achieving its goals, a claim that is repeated by the news media, almost as if it was part of the organization’s title:

“The Muslim Brotherhood, dedicated to achieving Islamic goals through peaceful means. . .”  — Are you kidding?

The Principle of the Big Lie says that if the lie is bold enough and big enough and repeated enough times, it will soon become the accepted truth despite the totality of evidence to the contrary.

The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda have the same objectives.   They differ only in methodology and timing.   

Osama bin-Laden claimed he was influenced by the Brotherhood and Ayman al Zawahiri was a lifelong member.  

The Muslim Brotherhood’s theology is based on the doctrine of salafiyya: the belief that present-day Muslims have been corrupted and must return to the pristine form of Islam practiced in Mohammed’s time.

The Brotherhood’s creed is: “God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

See? The Big Lie.  Just ignore the ‘jihad’ and ‘death for the sake of Allah’ part.   The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t the enemy.  It is dedicated to non-violence — except when absolutely necessary.

In 1948, Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud al Nuqrashi outlawed the Brotherhood.  That made killing him absolutely necessary.   When Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel, that making killing him absolutely necessary. 

But mostly, the Muslim Brotherhood trains and finances terrorist groups while publicly denouncing them. You see?  They are only as violent as they have to be — otherwise, they are really nice guys.  

The latest reports from Egypt have the Muslim Brotherhood partnering up with Mohammed el Baradei, former head of the IAEA that the Director of US-Jewish foreign policy umbrella groups called “a stooge of Iran.”

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, accused ElBaradei of covering up Iran’s true nuclear weaponization capacities while he directed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.

“He is a stooge of Iran, and I don’t use the term lightly,” Hoenlein said in an online recorded interview with Yeshiva World News on the Egyptian crisis. “He fronted for them, he distorted the reports.”

But as of this moment, Mohammed el Baradei, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, is the most probable next leader of Egypt.  

The Bible forecasts a coming war between Israel and the descendents of Esau.  My friend Bill Salhus has identified each player by their modern incarnations.

“Psalm 83 predicts the Arab kingdom will someday rise against the Jewish kingdom to banish the name of Israel forever.  Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia along with eight other Arab populations join the Arab kingdom in this pending prophetic war. . . “

Thanks to the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt was on the wrong side of the political fence.  But all that may be changing – and fast. 

Salhus summarized the overall Middle Eastern meltdown brilliantly at his website, saying:

“January 2011 has seen the governments of Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt become severely challenged. The government of Jordan is expected to be next. Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan are involved in Psalm 83 and Tunisia appears to take part in the Ezekiel 38 & 39 prophecy. It appears high time Christians familiarize themselves with the prophecies of Isaiah 19, Isaiah 17, Jeremiah 49, Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38 & 39. These are a few of the world changing prophecies stage setting on the prophetic horizon.”

If Salhus is right –and I tend to believe that he is – the next Arab kingdom to fall will be the House of Saud.  

This is only January. 

Bible Prophecy: A Singing Telegram?

Bible Prophecy: A Singing Telegram?
Vol: 112 Issue: 29 Saturday, January 29, 2011

According to the online dictionary, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma.

According to the Mayo Clinic PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, upsetting dreams, emotional numbness, a sense of hopelessness, memory problems, irritability, self-destructive behavior (drinking, drug abuse) trouble sleeping and concentration, hallucinations, etc.

PTSD is fairly common among combat veterans and those with dangerous, high-stress jobs like police and firefighters, victims of violent crime, and sometimes eyewitnesses to violent or stressful events.

Summarized in layman’s terms, PTSD is what happens when you’ve seen too much.  Too much death.  Too much mayhem. Too much chaos. Too much terror.   Or sometimes, by knowing too much.

One can be traumatized by knowledge; it happens all the time. What is more traumatic than acquiring the knowledge that one has a terminal disease and six months to get one’s affairs in order?

The movie, “Asteroid” was all about the trauma experienced by a core group of scientists, politicians and other officials with knowledge of an approaching killer asteroid.

Should they inform the general public when there was no hope?  What would it mean?  Would civilization break down into chaos and lawlessness? 

Knowledge is power.  Not all power is good.  It depends on who has it and what they use it for.   In the 21st century, we even have a term to describe the effects of too much knowledge – information overload.

Think of it like electrical power.  Electrical outlets are grounded to prevent too much power from burning up the lines or frying whatever is plugged into them.

Too much information with insufficient grounding can burn out a person as efficiently as a bad ground wire can fry a computer or a TV.

Assessment:

I get emails all the time from people that say they subscribe to the OL because they just can’t bear to watch TV anymore.  They want to be in the know – but only on a need to know basis.

If I don’t need to know, I don’t want to know.  I like it here inside my bubble.  

For many Christians, Bible prophecy is like that.  Sometimes, it is just too much information.  If viewed from the perspective of the here & now, there isn’t much about it that is good news.

During a meeting the other day, somebody suggested trying to take a lighter tone.  It sounds like a great idea, except that Egypt is currently descending into chaos as Cairo goes up in flames.  

On the lighter side. . . ummm, er, well . . . (you see what I mean?)  

How does one discuss the end of the world in a light and breezy manner, anyway?  Singing telegram? 

Dum, dum da dum, da dum. . . Woe unto the inhabitants of the earth . . . for the devil is come down to you, knowing he hath but a short time. . . da, dum.

(Maybe an accompanying dance routine?)

Bible prophecy is a wonderful witnessing tool for the unsaved.  Most unbelievers are agnostic – they don’t rule out the existence of God, but they have their doubts. 

Witnessing the unfolding of Bible prophecy before one’s eyes is powerful evidence that God is real.  If God is real, then Satan is real. 

Suddenly, the choices become crystal clear.  On one side is salvation, heaven, and possibly the Rapture.  On the other side is damnation, hell, with the probability of the Tribulation first.

But for Christians happy inside their bubble, Bible prophecy is an information invasion.  They are saved but they don’t really want to know that the Lord is coming soon. 

What does a person do with that kind of information?  What do you tell your kids or your grandkids?  (I recall my own kids hoping the Lord would wait until they learned to drive.)

Bible prophecy isn’t for everyone.  For some, it is just too scary to even contemplate.  For others, it is a kind of ‘gee-whiz’ trivia game in which every single happening is somehow connected to Bible prophecy.

For others, it is evidence that the Lord God is not just real, but that He is alive and deeply engaged in human affairs.  

The chaos of the Middle East, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, Russia’s role as Iran’s patron, the climate change debate, global politics, America’s political decline, all these things are part of the Big Picture.

What that means is that what looks like uncontrolled chaos is really part of a larger, pre-ordained Divine Plan, already outlined in advance, like the program of a play.

Events up until now have followed that Divine Plan to the letter, which means that we can have confidence that all things will continue to play out as predicted. 

God remains on the Throne and you can trust His Word.  We will have earthquakes and famines and wars, (oh my!) together with rumors of wars, pestilential disease, ethnic unrest and strange celestial happenings.

But instead of being harbingers of doom, to us they are signs of redemption.  It is not cause for fear, but rather grounds for eager anticipation.  

The same Jesus that warned of war and tribulation and judgment also told the Church:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

How do we know He isn’t referring to His Second Coming in this passage?

When He is ready, He will come for us — and bring us to where He is – in his Father’s House.

Where is the Father’s House? That is where Jesus is preparing a place for us. It is where He is and where we will join Him. 

Contrast that with the Second Coming, Jesus brings judgment on the earth, after which He sets up His Millennial Kingdom.   Notice He is not in His Father’s House, containing many mansions, but returning in power and great glory.

He reigns during the Millennial Kingdom on earth from Jerusalem.  So He can’t be referring to taking the Church to His Father’s House — in Jerusalem.   But that’s where He will be at the Second Coming. In Jerusalem.

Right now, He is still preparing our place in Heaven.  And when it is ready, He will come for us, and receive us unto Himself.  

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

At the Rapture, the Lord descends, the Church rises, the Tribulation falls and the Church dwells with the Lord forever.

At the 2nd Coming, the Lord descends, the rebellion is crushed, the Jews are redeemed, the Messiah is anointed and He rules from Jerusalem for 1,000 years.

On the earth, gloom and doom and destruction and judgment on a Christ-rejecting world.   But for the Church, it’s a singing telegram.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:18)

Dum, de, dum dum dum dum.

Fourteen Billion Years of Creation

Fourteen Billion Years of Creation
Vol: 112 Issue: 28 Friday, January 28, 2011

An international team of astronomers working with NASA claim that they have discovered the most distant and most ancient galaxy ever found.  The light now visible from that galaxy left its original starting point, according to NASA, left there 13.2 billion years ago.

So in that sense, NASA astronomers are actually peering backward through time.  Here is how that works (with a tip o’ the hat to Canadian astrophysicist Michio Kaku).  

Light travels at 186,000 miles per second.  That’s so fast that it is impossible to detect movement, but it is movement, just the same. So there a time lag between when the light leaves an object and when it reaches the eye of the viewer.

When you look in the mirror, you aren’t really seeing yourself as you are.  You are seeing yourself as you were a billionth of a second ago – you are actually peering through time into the past – recent past, but the past, nonetheless.

So when NASA is looking at this ancient galaxy, it is actually looking into the past to a period some 450 million years after the Big Bang.  In cosmic terms, that is like the time lag between when the mirror reflects your image to when you are able to see it.  It is practically like being there.

Roughly a 10th the width of the Milky Way galaxy, the new star-packed discovery confirms that a period of rapid star-birth unfolded in the era after the Big Bang, which took place about 13.75 billion years ago.

“The nighttime sky would have looked very different then,” says study lead author Rychard Bouwens of the University of California Santa Cruz and Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

Massive blue stars created by dense clouds of hydrogen gas would have been born and died within millions of years’ time, quick by cosmic standards, their death blasts filling space with charged, radioactive particles. “Probably, it wouldn’t have been a very healthy time for life, if planets even existed then,” Bouwens adds.

The report, in this week’s edition of the journal Nature, shows stars formed in the galaxy at a 10th the ratethey did in galaxies only slightly younger, ones dating to about 700 million years after the Big Bang. Those galaxies themselves were much busier star factories than today’s comparatively quiet ones.

Newly installed instruments aboard the Hubble space telescope, 30 times more sensitive than their predecessors, allowed astronomers to peer deeply into space to find the galaxy, one of 6,000 contained in a “deep-field” view collected over 100 hours of telescope viewing time. “We have pushed Hubble about as far back as it can go,” Bouwens adds.

“Just as archaeologists sift through deeper layers of sand to uncover the past, cosmologists use large telescopes and sensitive detectors to study galaxies at ever greater distances from Earth,” says Naveen Reddy of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, in a commentary on the study. Because the speed of light, 5.9 trillion miles per year, is finite, he notes, looking at more and more distant stars allows astronomers to “peer farther back in time.”

As already noted, the speed of light is finite.  Because the universe has that speed limit, science is able to measure distances as expressed in light years with more or less pinpoint accuracy.

So if the Bible is true and Creation took only six days, how did the light Galaxy UDFj-39546284 manage to get so far away?  

Assessment:

“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”(Psalms 90:4)

One might argue that the Psalmist was simply using a figure of speech to express the unknowable and incalculable, except for two things.  First, a thousand years is neither unknowable nor incalculable.  It is ten centuries or one hundred decades. It is roughly 14 lifetimes. 

So it can be both known and calculated.

Secondly, the same figure is repeated as a literal truth by the Apostle Peter.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

Assuming that this defines the length of a Creation ‘day’ as taking one thousand years is therefore no exegetic stretch – but still, it is interpretative, not doctrinal.   A Creation ‘day’ could mean a thousand years . . . or it could mean a literal 24 hour day.

But a ‘day’ is measured by the length of time it takes the earth to complete one turn on its axis and the earth wasn’t formed until the beginning of the Third Day.  

Of course, one might argue that Genesis 1:1 covers the creation of both heaven and earth, setting the cosmological clock in motion and defining a ‘day.’

What do I think?  I think that Genesis 1:5 defines a day pretty clearly: “And evening and the morning were the first day.”

But even if we take the interpretative view that a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day, we come up 13.75 billion years short, give or take six thousand.  Is Genesis wrong?

I think not.  And I believe that this latest NASA announcement confirms it.  NASA also confirmed the existence of what it calls the “dark force” that it says is pushing the universe apart as it has been since the “Big Bang.”

In theory, at the point of the Big Bang, the known laws of physics, such as gravity and relativity, break down in the state of singularity. But after the Big Bang, the newly born universe inflated and continues to expand.

So the scientific theory of the Big Bang is not much different than the Creation story, except that it excludes a Creator and attributes the Big Bang to an unknown cosmic Force.

Science postulates that at the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was packed so tightly together that it was no larger than a pinpoint before it started to expand. 

First the pinprick of light, which then expands and expands at the speed of light, but how long the process actually took would depend largely on your point of reference.

Suppose you were able to stand outside of space and time with God and watch the process take place.  But your point of reference is the twenty-four hour earth clock. 

So you watch and witness the creation and expansion of the universe (Genesis 1:5) until the light that began with the Big Bang catches up with the expanding universe.  God says that counted as the evening and the morning of the first day.

Follow along with me.  You are standing with God and outside of space and time, but your wristwatch is set according the rotation of the earth on its axis. So six days how long it actually took from your point of reference, (which is the same as God’s.)

In the Bible, who is describing Creation?  Moses? 

Moses is writing it down — but Moses wasn’t there.  Moses writes “God said” – and it was so.  What took a day — from God’s point of view – was what the Big Bang describes, from the universe’s point of view, as having taken 14 billion years. 

A star that was bumped up flat against our star at the point of Creation would move away from it as fast as the universe is expanding – which is 186,000 miles per second at the universe’s current size – how fast would light travel when the universe itself was compressed into the size of a baseball?  

How long did it take to travel 186,000 miles per second when the earth and Venus were two inches apart, as the Big Bang Theory demands?

It makes one’s head hurt to spend too much time on it, but it doesn’t hurt as much as arguing that first the universe spread out to the size it was six thousand years ago and then God created the earth in six twenty-four hour days.

Where are we going with this?  It is really pretty obvious.  Whenever the sciences make a discovery, medical, geographic, astronomic, physical, or natural, it ultimately confirms, rather than denies, the teaching of Scripture.

Mankind might fill in the gaps in his knowledge with mythology, but when the myths are disproved, the actual science brings us back to the Bible.  The Bible told us light was in motion before astronomy did.  The Bible declared the expanding universe way before Edwin Hubble discovered it.

The Bible says that creation took six literal days – the Big Bang theory says it took an instant of time – or it took 14 billion years — depending on where one is standing when one takes the measurement.  

From where God was standing, it took six literal days. It really isn’t that complicated.

The discovery of the world’s oldest galaxy, together with an actual image of both the galaxy and the dark force that continues to expand our universe, are so completely in harmony with Creation that it astonishes me that there can be such a thing as an unbelieving scientist.

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:21)

The ignorant and uneducated might be excused for their skepticism, but the scientist finds himself indicted by the Apostle Paul – he is without excuse.

How is it possible that the world could be created in six literal days and yet there are galaxies 13.75 billion light years away?

With God, all things are possible.  Including creating the universe in six days.  Or even the really, really hard, stuff.

Like saving a wretch like me. 

Too Early For Kumbaya

Too Early For Kumbaya
Vol: 112 Issue: 27 Thursday, January 27, 2011

It began in Tunisia with a continuing series of street protests throughout the country over high unemployment, food inflation, freedom of speech, poor living conditions and endemic corruption in the government.

The demonstrations erupted following the self-immolation of a street vendor who was refused an audience with the local governor to complain about being shook down by local police.  

In frustration, Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself with gasoline in front of a local government building and set himself alight.

Bouazizi’s last, desperate act of frustration triggered a wave of defiance that continued to spread until finally on January 14, 2011 Tunisian president Ben Ali stepped down from the presidency — and kept on going until he was safely out of Tunis.

Tunisian unrest began spreading across the Arab world.  Demonstrations spread to Libya, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Albania, Lebanon and most recently, Egypt. In Egypt, protestors are chanting, “Ben Ali, tell Mubarak he is next.” 

Egypt is but one of two countries to have a formalized peace treaty with Israel; the other being Jordan. Egypt’s peace treaty cost its author, Anwar Sadat, his life.  Sadat was gunned down by members of the Muslim Brotherhood among his own troops as a consequence of that peace treaty.  

Sadat’s vice-president, Hosni Mubarak, assumed Egypt’s presidency in 1981.  Mubarak has held the office ever since, thanks in part to billions in US aid that came with his keeping the peace with Israel and his brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated his predecessor.   

But like Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak keeps the peace by ruling with an iron hand and he kept his office by vote-rigging and official intimidation. And following the Tunis riots, Mubarak’s grip on power also appears to be slipping.   

On Jan. 25, tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets. Police appeared completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who dared to challenge them. Initially, at least, police forces allowed protesters to vent.

But by nightfall, the police responded with beatings, tear gas, water cannons and rubber-coated bullets, finally dispersing crowds by the next morning. At least four people — including one police officer — were reportedly killed, and dozens were injured.

While Mubarak is struggling to maintain power in what was one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, the more or less constant power struggle ongoing in Lebanon erupted anew following the nomination of a Hezbollah-backed politician as the new prime minister.

Demonstrations erupted almost immediately after it became clear that Hezbollah’s candidate would win. The protest turned violent when soldiers prevented a crowd of angry men from storming a Hezbollah-allied political office.

Demonstrators seized an Al Jazeera news truck and ripped it apart before setting it on fire. Extended gunfire was heard, but it remains unclear who was doing the shooting.  What seems clear is that the shooting is only just beginning. 

Yemenis are revolting against the thirty-two year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, in large part because of the Saleh regime’s cooperation with the United States in the war against al-Qaeda. 

But it is the growing sense of anger and popular unrest in Jordan that is particularly noteworthy.

Jordan was carved out of Mesopotamia and Southern Syria by the British in 1923 without regard for tribal affiliations. 

Britain installed the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan under King Abdullah Hussein in the part that became Jordan and his brother, Faisal as King of Iraq.   

But while Jordan had a Mesopotamian (Hashemite) King, Britain created Trans-Jordan primarily out of what had been the Ottoman Empire’s province of Southern Syria, which included Jerusalem.  

Britain divided the Jordanian territory at the Jordan River, designating that part west of the Jordan River as Palestine and that part east of the Jordan as “Trans-Jordan” and later, just Jordan.

In Jordan, where some 70% of the population self-identify as “Palestinians” the memory of “Black September”, 1970 remains fresh. 

During ten days in September, King Hussein of Jordan responded to PLO/Syrian plans to assassinate him and take over the country with an assault that killed more than three thousand Palestinians.

On January 21, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman to protest against the government, egged on by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood underground. 

As mentioned earlier, Jordan is the only other country to sign a formal peace treaty with Israel. 

Randa Habib, Jordan’s bureau chief for Agence France Presse has covered the region for 24 years.

“What started as a spontaneous movement by common people who were concerned about rising food prices has been highjacked by the Islamists and the unions, transforming itself from a social movement into a political movement,” she said.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Albania on January 21 to protest Sali Berisha, leader of Albania’s ruling Democratic Party.

Police retaliated with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas until someone fired live shots into the crowd, killing three protesters. A fourth remains in critical condition with a gunshot wound to his head.

In several Algerian towns, including the capital, riots broke out after the steep jump in food prices. Five Algerians set themselves on fire mimicking the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia. More than 1,000 were injured during clashes between protesters and police.

Reports from the tightly-controlled Libyan press said that Bani Walid, just east of Tripoli was the scene of anti-government demonstrations (some say rioting) has Libyan strongman Muammar Khaddafi considering the possibilities of a threat to his forty-year iron rule.

What in the world is going on?

Assessment:

Most of the analysis that has been offered up to this point has been heavily censored in the West by the constraints of political correctness.  

The effort to dismiss the influence of radical Islam and the links to Israel and America are hard to ignore, but evidently, not impossible to ignore, if you work at it.

It isn’t about masses of the oppressed, yearning to cast off the yoke of tyranny that weighs heavy against their necks, yearning for freedom and democracy and self-government, the way the mainstream narrative is being presented.  

Most of the oppressed either don’t know they are oppressed, (how can you know if you have nothing else to compare it to?) or they don’t care, provided they approve of their oppressors. 

In all the cases listed above, it is primarily a case of swapping oppressors, not lifting the yoke of oppression. 

These are not hopeful signs that the grip of Middle Eastern oppression is easing and that behind the curtain are millions of Western-friendly citizens eager to embrace democracy and capitalism.   

I wish that they were.  But wishing isn’t the same thing as believing. 

And political correctness isn’t the same thing as reality. The politically correct view is that this is not a war between religions, but the three powers involved here are Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

The main instigators throughout the region are the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and their governmental patrons.  The riots aren’t in Tehran, Riyadh and Damascus. 

They are in countries hostile to al-Qaeda, or those that are friendly (or at least cooperative) with Washington.

Or have peace treaties with Israel.   

SOTU: ”Oh No We Can t”

SOTU: ”Oh No We Can t”
Vol: 112 Issue: 26 Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I was joking last night with another OL member that I was watching President Obama’s speech “so that you don’t have to” – but as it turns out, I didn’t have to, either.  I heard the same speech last year.

The only thing that was really different was that Supreme Court Justices Alito, Thomas and Scalia decided that after the public rebuke Obama handed the Court at last year’s SOTU address they would just skip this year’s altogether.

The Supreme Court usually attends the State of the Union address as a formal demonstration of neutrality by not applauding for either Republicans or Democrats.  Their collective absence was therefore just as public a rebuke of the President. 

Not a great start to what was supposed to be a speech all about ‘coming together as one nation’ and ‘setting aside our differences’ and other great, swelling words that somehow failed to come together properly. 

Obama emphasized bi-partisanship and ways that he could work with Republicans, but Obama made it clear that he defines ‘bipartisanship’ as agreeing with him.  When he spoke of compromise, he was speaking of Republicans compromising with Democrats, not the other way around.

The speech had the same surreal feel to it as did the atmosphere.  Much was made before the speech about the seating arrangements, with Democrats and Republicans sitting together in what ABCNews called “a gesture of bipartisanship and cooperation in the wake of the Tucson shooting.”

The speech was filled with platitudes that he presented as if the last two years of his administration didn’t happen.  He mentioned the last election as if it was going to be the last election.

“At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else.  It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded,” he said. “It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.”

But only an hour after delivering his SOTU speech, he kicked off Campaign 2012 with a trip to Wisconsin to sell the “five pillars of change” he said would define the second half of his term. 

Five pillars.  That sounds vaguely familiar.

Assessment:

The president outlined these ‘Five Pillars’ as innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction and reforming government.

Whew! That’s a relief, because I just figured out why the Five Pillars reference creeped me out.

There are also Five Pillars of Islam which serve as the foundation of Muslim life; Shahada, (testimony) Salat, (prayer) Zakat, (alms) Sawm, (fasting) and Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca).  

One has to assume that the president, who attended an Islamic madrassa as a boy in Indonesia, would have to be acquainted with the Five Pillars of Islam.  It can’t simply be a coincidence. 

Speeches like the SOTU are worked on and massaged and reworked and rewritten by teams of professional propagandists long before they ever get to the President’s desk.

It is practically inconceivable that all of those guys failed to see the connection between the Five Pillars reference and the Five Pillars of Islam, but even if all of them did, the President couldn’t have.  

Since it couldn’t have been accidental, it logically follows that it had to be deliberate. One wonders why.

Putting the subliminal reference to Islam aside, those parts of the speech that weren’t rhetoric were outright falsehoods, according to the Associated Press, which fact-checked each of the claims in his speech. 

A few examples include Obama’s sudden aversion to ‘earmarks’ which the AP noted, was not a problem for him when the Democrats controlled both Houses. 

“In early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: “Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that’s why I’ve opposed their outright elimination,” he said then.

Just a couple more, I promise. It is just so amazing to find an honest assessment of Obama’s serial deception being aired by the mainstream – it seems like just yesterday that they were hailing him as the new Messiah.

OBAMA: Praised the “important progress” made by the bipartisan fiscal commission he created last year.

THE FACTS: The panel’s co-chairmen last month recommended a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, each of them unpopular with one constituency or another, including raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting future benefit increases, raising the gasoline tax and rolling back popular tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction. But Obama has yet to sign on to any of the ideas, even though he promised when creating the panel that it would not be “one of those Washington gimmicks.”

Obama proposed eliminating “billions of dollars we currently give to oil companies.”  The AP noted dryly that;

“He made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.”

Having listened to the speech, compared the facts to the hyperbole, listened to the rebuttal speeches and the various pundits (did anybody else notice how visibly angry Britt Hume was?) if one were to summarize the speech into a single sentence, it would have to be, “The State of the Union is perilous.”

Or, put another way, “Oh no, we can’t.”

The ”Palestine Papers”

The ”Palestine Papers”
Vol: 112 Issue: 25 Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Sunday, the British daily newspaper, The Guardian, working in partnership with al Jazeera began publishing leaked cables and other secret diplomatic documents obtained by al Jazeera and dating from 1999 to 2010.

The “Palestine Papers” published by Al Jazeera and The Guardian allow those interested in the peace process an unprecedented glimpse into how the talks between Israel and the Palestinians were conducted.

This is the first publication of minutes of talks held by the Kadima government with the Palestinian Authority. What is revealed is not merely the positions of the parties and the gaps between them, but also the jokes and proposals never meant to see the light.

Israel’s Far Left Ha’aretz has evidently not only decided to accept the leaked documents uncritically, but it is prepared to offer its editorial opinion about what it says is really going on.  And of course, the villains are the Israeli and American governments. 

The documents show that contrary to the “no-partner” image perpetuated by Israelis, the Palestinians were holding serious negotiations on the borders of their future state and that they produced a detailed map of territorial exchanges in the West Bank and neighborhood partitions in East Jerusalem.

Actually, the leaked documents appear designed to undercut the Palestinian Authority’s credibility as much as they are likely to damage Israel’s. 

According to the Christian Science Monitor, there are five documents in particular that are ‘making waves.’ 

Palestinian Land Concessions: According to the Al Jazeera documents, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2008 proposed allowing Israel to keep almost all of its East Jerusalem settlements in a final deal. The only exception was the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa. Mr. Erekat described the concessions as “historic” but got a negative response from Tzipi Livni, then Israel’s foreign minister.

Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount: [Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb] Erekat tells Mitchell that the Palestinians are also willing to cede control of the Jewish and Armenian Quarters of the Old City, which surrounds the religious sites, to Israel.

The Palestinian “Right of Return:” The claim is that either the Palestinians proposed that only 10,000 refugees would be required to be allowed to return, or 10,000 a year for 10 years. Whether it’s 10,000 or 100,000 in the end, it would be another major concession.

Palestinian Partner For Peace:  Israel and its supporters have typically described members of the Palestinian leadership as unreliable peace partners, saying they rarely make meaningful concessions. But the portrait emerging from the Al Jazeera documents is one of a string of concessions from the Palestinian side that led nowhere and an increasingly frustrated and desperate Abbas. That frustration extends to the US.

Bibi Won’t Take My Calls:  In January 2010 Erekat complained to US diplomat David Hale that he couldn’t get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take phone calls from Abbas. .  . Erekat asks Hale to get the US to forcefully express support for a state based on the 1967 borders “with agreed swaps” and complains that he’s being given the cold-shoulder by the Israeli side. Referring to Palestinian offers to Israel, he says: “What is in that paper gives them the biggest Jerusalem in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state… What more can I give?”

Indeed, if one is to take these leaks at face value (Palestinian officials insist that some of the documents are fake) then the picture that emerges is one of Palestinian officials making all the concessions while Israel makes none at all.

So Hamas and the greater Arab world have been ‘had’ by the Palestinian Authority, who sold out the Arab cause by making all the concessions. 

And the US has been ‘had’ by the evil, perfidious Israelis who never really wanted peace in the first place.

Assessment:

The leaks are being selectively doled out by al Jazeera – no friend to the Palestinian Authority, and by the UK Guardian – no friend to Israel. They are being interpreted by Ha’aretz – which, typical of the Left, invariably sides with the perceived underdog without regard to the facts as they exist.

So rather than the leaked secret cables clarifying the actual situation as it exists, the leaks allow the media to shape the story according to their preferred worldview.   So al-Jazeera paints the Palestinian Authority as the villain while the British assassinate Israel’s character.

The Australian picked up on al Jazeera’s narrative:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, were attempting to fend off anger yesterday from their militant rival, Hamas, and their own party, Fatah, over claims they had “sold out” Palestinians in their eagerness to achieve a peace deal.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has used the release of hundreds of documents by Arab television network al-Jazeera to argue their opposition to negotiations with Israel is justified.  Hamas said the documents proved the Palestinian Authority was “attempting to liquidate the Palestinian cause”.

What is fascinating about the reaction is that if the leaks are true, the Palestinian Authority is under fire from all quarters for being sincere about seeking peace.  Conversely, it is Israel that is the stumbling-block to peace.

All that is necessary for one to buy that assessment of the situation is a frontal lobotomy and/or total ignorance of Middle East history. 

IF one takes the position (as do the media outlets quoted in today’s briefing) that Israel stole the land from the Palestinians, then everything that proceeds from that point forward is fruit of the poisoned tree.  

From there, it is easy to forget that the Balfour Declaration predated the creation of every other state in the modern Middle East. And that the 1947 UN Partition Plan which would have created a Palestinian State side-by-side with Israel was rejected by the Arab side in favor of a war of annihilation. 

It is easy to forget that the Arab side launched five wars against the Jewish State and that is how Israel ended up with the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan.  The Arab side gambled and lost and now they want their bets back.

It is easy to forget that Israel entered into the Oslo Agreement from a position of strength and that it has surrendered almost fifty percent of what had been its territory since, in exchange for a peace that never materialized.

It is easy to forget the actual history because it is so easy to hate Israel.  Israel should not exist.  Israel was declared to be a nation by the God of the Bible Who also said Israel will remain a nation for as long as the sun shines in the daytime and the moon at night.

The existence of Israel is a visible reminder that God exists and that He remains intimately engaged in the affairs of men.  

Israel’s existence screams that man is not sovereign on this earth.  The powers that be hope to use the destruction of Israel to drive a stake through the heart of the myth that the Lord is preparing His return.

If there is no Israel for the Messiah to return to, then Bible prophecy is also a myth.  God is not sovereign if He cannot keep His Word.  The Enemy wins.

Do I believe that the leaked documents are legitimate?  Some of them might be.  Even if they ALL are legitimate, they are sourced by Israel’s most intractable enemies, and are selectively being released in order to produce a narrative that fits the agenda.

It is not a question of “Israel, right or wrong” it is an issue of “history, true or false?” and it is a pretty transparent effort to bury actual history under the weight of history as some would prefer it.

The Bible says that in the last days, Israel will find itself so completely and utterly alone and friendless that it will have nowhere to turn in the face of global aggression.  It is then that the Lord God of Israel steps in.

“In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:8-10)

We haven’t been ‘had’ by Israel – the leaks show only what Israel’s enemies want to show – that goes without saying.  It is an effort to revise historical reality by manipulating current events.   It should be transparently obvious, but it won’t be.

Truth is no longer a reflection of reality, but rather a reflection of what people would like reality to look like.  That’s just how it is.  We are living in the last days before the Return of Christ – the time of Jacob’s Trouble is fast approaching.

Indeed, if we are as far along the timeline as we appear to be, this is exactly what we should have expected.

China Rising

China Rising
Vol: 112 Issue: 24 Monday, January 24, 2011

China is ‘preparing for conflicts in every direction’ according to the Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie who made his remarks to two Chinese state-owned newspapers.

Guanglie is scheduled to visit Great Britain next month, and London isn’t expecting any warmer relations than America got from Hu Jiantao during his visit. Hu never cracked a smile the whole time he was here.

Guanglie told the UK Telegraph:

“In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction. We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away.”

China repeatedly says it is planning a “peaceful rise” but the recent pace and scale of its military modernization has alarmed many of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan which described China’s military build-up as a “global concern” this month.

Liang’s remarks come at a time of increasingly difficult relations between the Chinese and US armed forces which a three-day visit by his counterpart Robert Gates is intended to address.

A year ago China froze substantive military relations to protest US arms sales to Taiwan. Relations deteriorated further this summer when China objected to US plans to deploy nuclear supercarrier USS George Washington off the Korean peninsula.

China is working on a “carrier-killer” ballistic missile called the Dong Feng 21.  US Navy Admiral Robert Willard said that he believes the ship-killer has already reached “initial operational capacity” and is nearly ready for deployment.

China also recently showed photographs of a new aircraft it is working on that looks just like the F117A stealth fighter.   China reverse-engineered an F117 Stealth that had been shot down over Serbia in 1999.

Professor Huang Jing from Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew School and a former adviser to China’s Army, said Beijing is losing its grip on its up and coming field grade officers.  The professor likened it to the Japanese officer corps of the 1930’s.

“The young officers are taking control of strategy and it is like young officers in Japan in the 1930s. This is very dangerous. They are on a collision course with a US-dominated system,” he said.

Given that China is so populous that it could simply walk, unarmed, over an enemy and prevail through sheer force of numbers, the specter of China militarizing the way that Japan did in the 1930’s is not just dangerous.

It is utterly terrifying.

Assessment:

There is only one thing rising in China faster than Japanese-style militarism — and that is the explosive growth of Christianity.  According to the The Economist, there could be as many as 130 million Christians in China, despite much smaller official estimates.

A study of China by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an American think-tank, says indirect survey evidence suggests many unaffiliated Christians are not in the official figures. And according to China Aid Association (CAA), a Texas-based lobby group, the director of the government body which supervises all religions in China said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130m in early 2008.

If so, it would mean China contains more Christians than Communists (party membership is 74m) and there may be more active Christians in China than in any other country. In 1949, when the Communists took power, less than 1% of the population had been baptized, most of them Catholics. Now the largest, fastest-growing number of Christians belong to Protestant “house churches”.

Currently, there are some 12,000 churches and 25,000 congregations in China.  

I caught part of an interview with Lauren Green on Fox News Channel about the exponential growth of Christianity in China on Sunday.  She said that at the current rate of expansion, it is estimated that by 2035, there would be more Christians in China than there are Chinese.

But according to the Book of the Revelation, during the Tribulation the “Kings of the East” will field an army of more than two hundred million.  “How can this be?”  I enquired of the Lord.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

At first, that made it even less clear.   Then it started to make some sense.  This Scripture explains that the Lord is waiting until the last possible moment to return for His Church, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Obviously, all won’t repent, but the Lord is waiting for all that will.

So as we approach The Time, it logically follows that there would be an outpouring of the Spirit as all those who the Lord foreknew would respond to the Spirit’s call.

And the Bible forecasts a massive revival just before the Return of Christ for His Church at the Rapture.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”  (Joel 2:28-29)

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” (Acts 2:17-18)

If, at the current rate of conversion, every person in China would be converted by 2035 – BUT Revelation predicts the Kings of the East will still be able to field an army of 200 million, then the conversions will have to stop well before 2035. 

The Kings of the East are NOT Christians.  At the time of their invasion, there aren’t any Christians. The Church has long since been Raptured and any Tribulation saints have long since been beheaded for their witness of Christ.

The population of China is currently one billion, three hundred and thirty-one million, four hundred sixty thousand people, (more or less.)  At the current rate of conversion, more than half the population of China will be Christians by 2020.   

If the Rapture hasn’t happened by then, there won’t be enough Chinese left to field an army of two hundred million – or even enough to make a significant contribution.  

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Adds a whole new perspective to the concept of “China Rising” — doesn’t it?