The Word: The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again… Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously. (Isaiah 24:19-23)
Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours; I am a dread to my friends– those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” (Psalm 31:9-14)
- Pointers for prayer: The LORD God is our God of hope. One of the purposes of the Scriptures that He has inspired is to give us hope. God wants us to know Him, and to overflow with the hope that only comes by a deep relationship with the Father God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though we look this week at many troublesome areas, we can still praise the LORD that He is in complete control, and only in Him is our hope.
- Once again, as you read through this latest report please seek the LORD for a greater understanding of God’s prophetic word about the nation and people of Israel today. Pray earnestly for God to give many in the Church the burden to pray, leading to a greater understanding of the current situation within Israel and the Middle East. Please continue to pray that your church may be blessed in blessing Israel, according to God’s promise.
Has the world learnt so little?
As I begin to write this week’s report, I am painfully aware that the date for this publication is September 11 – the thirteenth anniversary of that horrific day back in 2001. Even at the thought of that event, my heart beats an extra beat and a feeling of nausea rises from the pit of my stomach. On my desk in front of me, I have four quotes that I have printed off from a download. The first quote is from Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the Twin Towers, which are taken from a speech at the opening ceremony for the World Trade Centre in 1973. Minoru Yamasaki stated, “The World Trade Centre is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace. It’s a representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men and, through cooperation, his ability to find greatness.” I then have a quote by Betty Ong, a flight attendant on board American Airlines Flight 11. This was the first plane to be hijacked, and the quote is from a phone call to the airline’s operations centre before the aircraft was flown into the North Tower. “The cockpit is not answering, somebody’s stabbed in business class… I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.” The third quote is from Osama bin Laden, who stated on 7th October, 2001, “America has been hit by Allah at its most vulnerable point, destroying, thank god, its most prestigious buildings.” Finally, the famous quote from the then USA President George W. Bush on the 16th September 2001: “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.” I wonder, if at the time, Mr. Bush really ever imagined what would still be happening 13 years later in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Egypt, Iran etc. etc.?
Everybody who lived through 9/11 will no doubt remember exactly what they were doing at the time. I know I will never forget. I knew God had called my family and I to live ‘by faith’ and to put our trust 100% in Him when He spoke into our lives and when we stepped into fulltime ministry with Christian Friends of Israel on 4th July 2001. However, we also knew that had we not heard from God, or had we have acted outside of His blessing, we would sink very quickly as I had handed in my notice with my job in the National Health Service (NHS) – for we had no savings; our son was only 6 years old and we had a mortgage to pay every month. Having returned from Israel, for the first two months we saw a few small miracles, but didn’t receive much financial help at all. Then on Tuesday 11th September 2001, I received a phone call from a local charity to say that they felt led to bless us with 12 months of funding. I knew this was God answering the call upon our lives. Within minutes of that call however, and before I could rejoice in our news, I received another phone call telling me to put the TV news on quickly… as the horrific events of a series of four coordinated suicide attacks upon the United States was happening.
On that Tuesday morning, 19 terrorists from the Islamic militant group Al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets, crashing two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City; both towers collapsed within hours. I know there is a huge amount of footage on the internet, and far too many ‘conspiracy theories’ which are just pure baloney, however one film footage, taken from a hand-held camcorder really brought the horrific events back home to me. It was filmed by a couple called Bob and Bri from their home, 36 floors up and 500 yards away from the North Tower. To view it click here:
For those like Bob and Bri, one cannot imagine the harrowing ordeal that they went through. For the rest of us who watched from afar, I’m sure many, like me were numb with shock as we watched the tragedy unfolding. The images of death and destruction will never fade. At the time, 9/11 felt like a turning point in history and I remember most politicians and commentators alike proclaiming that things would never be the same again. Thirteen years on, there are still no words to describe the horror of that terrible day in Manhattan. For the families of the victims, no memorial can ever be grand enough nor soften the pain.
Thinking back to that day, I knew at that moment that a new war had begun, one which would eventually oppose all who stood for Truth; for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and especially one that would oppose the Jewish people and all who stood with Israel. This war from Islam would also creep into all who were spiritually asleep – the liberal thinkers who would dilute the Word of God, and a new tide of opposition and oppression would even befall our nation of Britain, eating away the sovereignty of God’s Word like a cancer – even effecting the areas of the Church were once stood the firm foundation of Charles Wesley. Pro-Palestinian groups would arise – displaying their works under cover of ‘humanitarian works’ yet caring little for the Arab Palestinians themselves. And they would win the hearts of many, yet oppose those who stood for God’s purposes for Israel strongly.
Photo [right] usatoday.com (click on photo).
The 11th September 2001 will remain in most people’s memory, however did you realise that on this date four years later, in 2005 – the last Israeli troops were pulled out of Gaza – in a land for peace promise? Did you know on the 13 September 1993, Rabin and PLO Terrorist Yasser Arafat shook hands on a peace deal before cheering crowds on the White House lawn in Washington? If the horror of 11th September 2001 was immediately evident to the millions of people who were transfixed by the images on their television screens, why is it that the Western World and the politicians in particular, appear to have not learnt the painful lessons?
Why is it that America is suddenly ‘up-in-arms’ over ISIS or IS as it now calls itself, yet have ignored the 200,000 Muslims killed in Syria over the past few years? Why is it that the Politicians believe ISIS to be a different breed to Hezbollah or Hamas? Why is it that the US and potentially even Britain attack ISIS by military fire yet condemn Israel for protecting themselves against Hamas? Weeks after 9/11, the death toll peaked at 6,000. Ten years later, the figure was believed to be 2,996, including the 19 hijackers. Yet has anybody counted the death toll of those killed by Islamic Terrorists since 2001? Since 9/11, the remains of 41 per cent of victims, sifted from the debris of what became known as Ground Zero, have still not been identified. But who can identify the victims of the 200,000 Muslims that have been killed by Muslims in Syria? Or the hundreds of Christians killed by ISIS in Iraq? Or the hundreds of Palestinian civilians that were forced to be human shields by Hamas in Gaza? Has the world really learnt so little about what is at the heart of those who will die for Allah or kill in the name of Islam?
While Politicians and media analysts refuse to see the real connections among Islamic terrorist groups, the horrific images of the beheading of American journalist James Foley might have served as a wake-up call, yet surely after 9/11 was a wake-up call really needed? Yet in truth, the ideologies of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, and al-Qaeda are still not seen as one common threat. Isn’t it time for the ‘enlightened’ Western World to wake up to the danger and understand that these groups are all the same religion, all the same Islamic terrorist action, all the same madness, all the same barbarism? Come on Church/world, wake up! The Middle East terrorist groups and Iran (the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism) have a lot more in common than is generally understood. All these Islamic groups are fundamentally intolerant of Christians and Jews and countless other groups. All these Islamic groups have a shared goal of imposing Sharia law on society. All these Islamic groups want to wage Jihad. After all, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, stated, “We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry `There is no god but Allah` resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.” Has the world really learnt so little?
What is the reward for a female Islamist?
According to a report in ‘The Independent’ Newspaper on Monday, up to 60 British women have gone to Syria and joined the Islamic State’s al-Khansaa brigade, an all-female unit that administers strict Sharia law and punishes those who don’t follow its extreme interpretation as imposed by the terrorist group. One of the prominent leaders in this group is a 20-year old girl from Glasgow, Scotland, named Aqsa Mahmood, who has been in Syria since November 2013, according to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation. Her parents, Muzaffar and Khalida Mahmood, self-described ‘moderate’ Muslims, said they were shocked by their daughter’s turn for the extreme. “Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide,” her parents said. Aqsa Mahmood reportedly married an Islamic State fighter after her arrival in Syria. According to reports, most of the women who went to Syria to fight are between the ages of 18 and 24.
An unnamed Islamic State official said the women’s group was created to prevent mixing between men and women. “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law,” the official said. Sources stated that the group was also formed to expose men who dress up as women in order to avoid imprisonment – the mind boggles! Among the identities of other Britons who have fled to fight in Syria are 16-year-old twin sisters Zahra and Salma Halane from Manchester, and Sally Jones, a mother of two who converted to Islam and left her Kent home reportedly to marry a jihadi she had met online. However, I’m at a bit of a loss as to why these women would join this extreme Islamic cause, after all, they could be killed – and as far as I’m aware, Islamic tradition states that it is the men who are rewarded with the 70 virgins in the afterlife – there is no reward when a woman becomes a martyr. And why would British women want to be bound by the strict sharia demands of this Islamic way of life (see below)?
Human rights in the Middle East
Navi Pillay (Navanethem Pillay) served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014. A South African of Indian Tamil origin, she was the first non-white woman judge of the High Court of South Africa, and she also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court for Rwanda. Her four-year term as High Commissioner for Human Rights began on 1 September 2008 and was extended an additional two years in 2012. She was succeeded in September 2014 by Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad. However her alleged ‘distain’ for Israel was always a recipe for controversy. Recently, JSpace.com wrote about comments from UNHRC head Navi Pillay, who said Israel should share its Iron Dome missile defence system with Hamas. If that wasn’t outrageous enough, they have now found a report from April in which Navi Pillay allegedly stated that when Palestinian men beat their wives, Israel is to blame. To find the story, click on the JSpace link above.
I don’t want to comment on this story here, however, I thought it would be helpful to take a quick look at the Human rights in the Middle East. Here are a few facts: In Lebanon, we find Christians are persecuted and Arab Palestinians are not allowed to own homes or land and are barred from becoming lawyers, engineers and doctors. In Syria there is no free elections, no freedom of expression, no freedom of movement and discrimination against women, ethnic and religious groups. In the last three years, 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, most of them by the Syrian regime, which also used chemical weapons against its own citizens. Yemen doesn’t appear much better: Here we find discrimination against women. Yemen has one of the worst records of child marriage in the world, and there is no freedom of press. Homosexuality is illegal is Yemen and punishments range from floggings to death.
In Saudi Arabia, women are heavily discriminated against. Only 5% of Saudi Arabian women work (world’s lowest percentage). Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive motor vehicles, and under Saudi law, all females must have a male guardian, typically a father, brother or husband. Girls and women are forbidden from traveling, conducting official business or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians. Muslim women must cover all parts of their body but eyes and hands (enforced by the “religious police”). Stoning sentences are still issued by law. There is no religious freedom, and practice of non-Muslim religions is actively prohibited. There is no freedom of expression and no freedom of press.
Palestinian Authority and Hamas: Under the PLO/PA and Hamas we once again find that Christians are persecuted and most flee to Israel. Women are discriminated against and Islamic dress code for women is law. Homosexuals are persecuted and flee to Israel. Capital punishment is legal in Gaza and the ‘West Bank’ under the Palestinian Authority and selling land to a Jew is a crime punishable by death. There is no freedom of press and no freedom of expression. Egypt – who you’ll remember were supposed to be the ‘reconciliation party’ between Hamas and Israel in the latest war have a history of persecution of Coptic Christians. In Egypt there is no freedom of expression; Journalists are jailed; Anti-Semitic articles, editorials and TV shows are in the official, government-owned media; Women are abused and discriminated against, and Arab Palestinians can’t work, study or become Egyptian citizens.
Jordan: This was created as Trans-Jordan and was supposed to be the Arab-Palestine, leaving Jewish Palestine to become Israel. Yet in Jordan, Arab Palestinians (the vast majority of the population) are underrepresented in Parliament. Jews also are discriminated against and cannot become citizens of Jordan. Iran: Here we find the death penalty for adultery; No freedom of expression; No freedom of press; No freedom of movement. Iran is number one in the world for executing juvenile offenders, hanging homosexuals, and killing demonstrators. It has state-mandated beatings for women for not wearing a veil.
I could go on and on… Every Middle Eastern country, but Israel, practices Apartheid against women, non-Muslims, gays, and other minorities to one degree or another. According to Freedom House statistics, Israel is the only FREE country in the Middle East. Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East; The only country with a free press and freedom of expression. Israel recognises fully the rights of Christians and Muslims and prohibits any discrimination based on religion. Muslims and Christian citizens of Israel vote, sit in Parliament, the Supreme Court, the IDF and hold important positions in business, universities, hospitals and the cultural life of the nation of Israel. In Israel, all citizens enjoy freedom and equality, regardless of religion, race or gender. As a matter of fact, Israel is the ONLY country in the Middle East NOT practicing any form of Apartheid. So why do pro-Palestinians and other political groups hold an Apartheid week against the only country in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid? This then leaves a massive question. Are those who campaign against Israel doing so out of ignorance or worse… anti-Semitism? I’ll leave you to decide.
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, i24 News & Israel National Radio