Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

Demonizing Israel and the Jews

posted by jfletcher

My friend at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, is a wealth of information, especially for people of faith struggling to understand the dynamics in the Arab-Israeli conflict. His book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, is a hard look at the alarming rise in anti-Semitism worldwide; the book includes essays and interviews with leading experts. In the interview below, Dr. Gerstenfeld explains the startling implications of this form of hatred.

 

JF: To what era does the current anti-Semitism compare to?

MG: We cannot speak that way because it is different. We are in a period called post. In previous periods, anti-Semitism was always direct. Today’s anti-Semitism isn’t direct. If you say today that the Jews are absolute evil, or Israel is absolute evil, you must say Israeli is committing genocide against the Palestinians. It is very rare to find a Western politician who repeats these things.

The Arab countries in the Middle East have for decades demonized Israel, to Western leadership, which for reasons not entirely clear, listen to them politely. The Bush Administration, for example, was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood years before Obama began mainstreaming them and allowing them to have positions of influence within the White House.

The NGOs in Israel should devote more time to monitoring religious anti-Israel groups, chief among them the so-called “Christian Palestinianists.”

JF: In the Mitchell Bard chapter [Demonizing Israel and the Jews] on the Saudi lobby, we learn of widespread influence there in the U.S. government. Yet we hear mostly about the alleged Jewish lobby.

MG: The issue is, the Arabs have many allies. Among the worst reactionaries in the world. No religion out of which so much murder comes as there is in certain parts of Islam.

Shia phobia or Sunni phobia…we never hear about this. They murder each other!

Arabs and their allies are conducting a total war against Israel. A total war means a war of lies. The PA [Palestinian Authority] promotes lies; lying in Islam is permitted. bds-300x210

JF: NGOs against Israel. Tell us why they are so problematic.

MG: I believe that there is a long masochistic tradition in Judaism. It already in certain ways starts with Abraham. Abraham asked God to make a maximum effort to prevent the disaster of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet he makes no effort to save his son after God asks him to sacrifice Isaac. Remarkably different! No fear of confronting God for others. Then the prophets incessantly criticize Israel. In the Talmudic tradition, we find texts that say it’s better to be persecuted than to persecute.

Many NGOs are part of that.

JF: Anti-Israel foes in the Church. How deep is this problem?

MG: I think it is very widespread. We have to separate here the church in its broad sense. We have Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox churches. The Catholic church is a corporation like a chief executive. A fairly homogenous operation. Today its attitude toward anti-Semitism is much more severe than it’s ever been. The Catholic Church today is much less the problem than the other groups.

Protestants are the more segmented group. Mainline churches—you have problems in the U.S., Europe, the Scottish Church, the Dutch Protestant Church, the state church in Norway. The evangelicals have been pro Israel, but a major effort is to bring them in on the Palestinian side. A huge problem and the problems are rising.

NGO Monitor examines this some, but there is no such monitoring of the churches.

Eastern churches simply often try to please Muslims. Why doesn’t the New York Times report this?

JF: When do you feel media turned against Israel?

MG: It was a gradual process. And it has gotten worse over the years. I think the main development was the 1982 Lebanon War.

Another touchy point: the inability of successive Israeli governments to deal with the propaganda war. Israel has a brilliant instrument in the IDF. We have a cyber-war unit which may become the best unit in the world to fight cyber problems. On the propaganda war…it is a large failure.

Journalists are divided into two groups: those who live by ethics, and those who don’t.

JF: Marvin Heir [dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center] relates the Chirac story in France. Do you find that most leaders are in denial?

MG: There are a variety of reasons. 1) Not all Western leaders are equal. We have to make a certain separation from naïve Americans and Europeans. These are two different categories. For the Europeans, it affects the image of the “New Europe.” The false image of Europe is that it is peaceful, separate from the past. Now the image of the New Europe is a radically false image. 2) It hinges on oil. Europeans feel they handled the boycott after the Yom Kippur War [1973] very badly. The Arabs need to sell oil; otherwise they cannot live. 3) Emergence of Muslim communities in their own lands. They let in millions of people from a radically different culture and background. The Europeans have to ask themselves if all these people can be integrated. This has led to major problems. And…I do not stereotype all Muslims.

Most extreme acts of anti-Semitism go beyond the acts of anti-Semitism by native Europeans.

JF: Anti-Israelism is the new anti-Semitism, isn’t it?

MG: It is a third generation anti-Semitism. First it was religious in nature. Today, the Jewish state is attacked and that is the new anti-Semitism.

What they have in common is that in all versions, Jews are seen as absolute evil.

JF: Thank you, Manfred Gerstenfeld, for educating us.

MG: My pleasure.

Evangelicals Silent on Hamas Kidnappings

posted by jfletcher

Bradley Scott’s shout-out to the White House, silent so far about the kidnapping of three Israeli youth this week, could also be directed at an audience formerly supportive of Israel: American Christian leaders.

Response from American “Christian Palestinianists” to the kidnappings this week by Hamas of three Israeli teenagers is almost non-existent. These supporters of the Palestinian Narrative (the idea that Israel is a belligerent and violent bully in the “occupation”) never miss an opportunity to criticize Israel loudly over real or perceived abuses of Palestinians.

This silence is shameful and outrageous. Yet it goes on.

When looking at the usual suspects, one is struck by the fact that only a couple have even mentioned the kidnapping of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrah. The hostages have names and should be recognized.

Those American Christian supporters of the Palestinians are led by a host of well-known activists, media outlets, and ministry leaders, among them: writer Donald Miller, Sojourners, Shane Claiborne, Christianity Today magazine, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), Telos Group, Lynne Hybels, World Vision, Relevant magazine, and Tony Campolo.

Todd Deatherage, co-founder of Telos, posted about the kidnappings on Twitter, citing a statement that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the kidnappings. CMEP posted about the kidnappings on its Facebook page.

The others, especially Miller—who has accused the Israel Defense Forces of war crimes, without documentation—are silent in the face of this humanitarian outrage. In particular, media outlets like Christianity Today usually are quick to post negative articles about Israel (for example, when the Knesset considers bills to curtail “missionary activity”), yet so far the flagship periodical of the American evangelical world is silent about the kidnapping of Jewish youth by jihadists.

Relevant, a leader in the evangelical Millennial community, has also been silent about the kidnappings, yet rarely misses an opportunity to portray Israel in the most negative light possible. The grotesque abduction of Shaer, Frankel (an American citizen), and Yifrah does not fit the anti-Israel narrative of Relevant, CT, and others, and goes a long way in explaining their silence on this story.

Some Christian media are spotlighting the kidnappings. World magazine, in the “Midday Roundup” on June 16, detailed the Israeli search:

“Politically charged. Israeli troops have been searching house to house in the city of Hebron for three teenagers who went missing in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the militant group Hamas kidnapped them. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev blamed the kidnappings on the Palestinian Authority, but a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that was not the case. He said Israeli security controlled the area where the teens went missing. Today, Abbas publicly condemned the kidnappings.”

Abbas, of course, has allowed incitement against Jews to rage in Palestinian society for decades, and images of Palestinian children holding up three fingers to symbolize the cultural delight in the taking of three hostages have made the rounds on social media.

Posters of terrorist "martyrs" in Jerusalem's Old City.

Posters of terrorist “martyrs” in Jerusalem’s Old City.

CAMERA, a Boston-based media watchdog group, has acknowledged the silence from several surprising quarters.

One would hope that those progressives who identify as Christian in America would have the decency to decry the kidnappings. Usually, the only time such do reply in these situations is when they take the opportunity to employ a common tactic from the Left: change the subject. This involves changing the focus from three Jewish kidnap victims now in the hands of jihadists, to focus on Israeli checkpoints, “occupation,” etc.

This silence stands as a macabre witness to the erosion of morality in the American Christian leadership community.

It would appear that Jewish life is cheap in powerful religious circles. We have been down this bloody and horrifying road before.

I call on the aforementioned activists for the Palestinians—and their wider circle of friends—to acknowledge these kidnappings.

All in Good Fun?

posted by jfletcher

One of the primary sources of hope in our world today is the marvelous example of predictive prophecy in the Bible.

Contrary to the view of some Christian leaders in America—who like to marginalize Bible prophecy teaching—the Bible is loaded with such examples. From epic, sweeping prophecies (God promising Noah He will never again destroy the earth by water, in Genesis 9) to the more mundane (though no less miraculous: Matthew 17:27, the coin in the fish’s mouth)…God is telling us loudly that He knows all, considers all, and cares about every person.

Only a Being whose essence is love would provide us with such irrefutable evidence that He is alive and active in our world. One of my favorite “substitute words” for prophecies is promises. When God promises to do what He said He would do (Isaiah 46:9,10), we can all have confidence that Good is in control. By reading the Bible, we get the full picture of God’s overall plan for humanity, and the planet itself.

It is divine revelation.

Yet it is supremely ironic (and a fulfillment of prophecy; see 2 Peter 3) that major Christian leaders today, and many ministries—including apologetics ministries—either ignore or marginalize prophecy. As Bob DeWaay writes in the Winter 2014 issue of Critical Issues Commentary:

“As soon as divine revelation is rejected, despised or twisted we end up in despair of knowing the truth.”

This of course is the great tragedy of the teaching of men like Brian McLaren, and other, more mainstream evangelical leaders who seem embarrassed or otherwise put-off by prophecy teaching. Sadly, this mindset is affecting Millennial leaders. Bloggers like Margaret Feinberg and even Southern Baptist heavyweight Ed Stetzer strive to take people away from prophecy teaching.

(In a 2013 piece in Charisma magazine, Feinberg twists the question of an earnest Millennial, who wants to know if we are living in the end-times.)

And because so many young people feel despair today, they have no way of finding a way out. The so-called Emergent theology says that we can’t know absolute truth, and so they twist Scripture.

I was reminded of all this a couple days ago, when yet another swipe at the new “Left Behind” movie (starring Nicholas Cage) appeared in the pages of Relevant magazine. Publisher Cameron Strang, who by extension also uses his magazine to marginalize the great fulfillment of prophecy—Israel—loves to mock Cage and this film.

Roman destruction in Jerusalem's Old City—prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24.

Roman destruction in Jerusalem’s Old City—prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24.

Here, I’m not arguing for or against the film itself, or even particularly about Dispensationalism (connected to several failed predictions of the Rapture in the past 40 years). What I am saying is that the “guilt by association” tag is harming legitimate prophecy teaching, and depriving young people in particular of a great source of hope in an increasingly hopeless world.

In a short piece titled, “When You Stare Into the ‘Left Behind’ Poster, the ‘Left Behind’ Poster Stares Back,” published May 29 in Relevant, we are treated to this jab:

“It’s been a little while since we’ve had any news to report on our generation’s defining moment, the release of Nicolas Cage’s Left Behind reboot. The film’s inner machinations have been shrouded in mystery, far from the public eye, perfecting every point of the story in much the same way Michelangelo perfected every point of the Sistine Chapel.”

Dripping with sarcasm, this is but one of several such tweaks in the past year. In an email response to my query about why the Relevant staff does this, Strang wrote:

“We don’t poke fun at Bible prophecy (never once has our coverage made light of any actual theology); we simply lampoon Christian culture kitsch.”

Except that isn’t really true.

A 2009 interview between authors Jason Boyett and Rob Stennett is a good example of the general tone Millennial Christian leaders take when discussing the subject of Christian eschatology. As Stennett explains:

“I’m really not sure if one day all the Christians will just vanish in piles of clothes and unmanned vehicles, because over the 2,000 years there have been so many different ways we imagined the end of the world coming. And I’m pretty positive it’s not going to happen in my lifetime, but now that I’ve said that I’ll probably be raptured right in the middle of answering this question (or you’ll be raptured right in the middle of the answer).”

In another 2009 piece, writer Brett McCracken clearly signaled the tone Relevant (and its publisher) take with regard to Christian eschatology:

“We could make fun of evangelical end-times ridiculousness all day, but the question remains: why does it sell? Why are we so strangely excited by the possibilities that the earth will be destroyed and throngs of people will perish at the hands of a God antsy to get the wheels turning on the whole Revelation thing?”

So…Cameron Strang says his magazine doesn’t “poke fun at Bible prophecy,” but one of his writers does, calling it “end-times ridiculousness.” And that’s just one example.

Relevant booth, "Catalyst East," Atlanta—influencing the next generation leaders.

Relevant booth, “Catalyst East,” Atlanta—influencing the next generation leaders.

Reading these pieces in Relevant, one comes away with the clear feeling that they do indeed mock “Rapture theology,” “Dispensationalists,” etc. The New Evangelicals do not like to emphasize the kind of eschatology associated with the imminent Return of Christ. They just don’t.

Let me speculate as to why this mindset is strong among Millennials:

•Traditionalists in the church embarrass them. They want to disassociate themselves from “old-school” religion or, as Relevant likes to say, “dead religion.”

•Classic Christian eschatology rubs against the Millennial view that they can “make the world better.” This follows the teaching of Millennial mentors like Rick Warren, who discourage the study of Bible prophecy. The question few ask is, “What if Warren & Friends are wrong?”

•Legitimate concerns over the irresponsible speculations of bad prophecy teachers. They have done great damage to the cause of prophecy teaching. Millennials are right to stay clear of such false teachers.

There is no greater evidence in our world today that God is alive and active…than the fulfillment of prophecy. Israel exists, against all odds, as perhaps the centerpiece of “end-times” theology.

It’s too bad leaders like Cameron Strang, Rick Warren, and Margaret Feinberg risk irrelevance by attacking prophecy teaching.

What do you think?

A Single Human Being

posted by jfletcher

Memorial Day.

Remembering the dead is always poignant. Those of us of a certain generation are emotional at the site of American flags on display in military cemeteries. Decorating family graves is bittersweet. Remembering those who gave their lives protecting us is no small matter. I think of all those 19-year-olds at places like Normandy and the Argonne, and too many others.

Can you imagine (I cannot), in the smoke and mist of battle, feeling alone in a forest, and calling out for your mother? God knows men on both sides have done that since time immemorial.

Thank you, Lord, that people have given of themselves to protect the rest of us.

Death is a specter in our world.

That’s why I take comfort in the promises of the Bible. Resurrection is a strong theme in Scripture, and it reminds us that each person is precious to God. Each one. Not only in our era, but all eras.Bible

Some might think it odd, but when these bits of memory float across my consciousness, I think of how much God has always loved humanity. The Babylonian scribe. The Aztec princess. The Russian officer at Pyana River.

All are precious in His site.

God is always concerned about the individual. Yes, He guides history and eras and civilizations, but the person matters to the Creator.

We hear an echo of this in the sublime closing speech delivered by Spencer Tracy’s character, Judge Dan Haywood, in “Judgment at Nuremberg”:

“Before the people of the world, let it now be noted that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: Justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.”

So we think about these things here in America, on Memorial Day weekend.

Is there life after death? The Bible says there is.

(An aside: there are plenty of evidences that the Bible is wholly true. Believing that is the key step in believing its promises of resurrection and full life in the life beyond.)

At the Getty Museum in California, there is a touching display of the effects of death on the human conscience.

An Athenian woman, identified as Sime, sits on a chair, surrounded by her family. The gravestone further depicts her as shaking hands with her husband, and the takeaway is that there is a bond between family members after death.

Our hearts feel more than a twinge at such images. Humanity shared is an intimate experience, no matter who we are or where we’re from. All die.

Yet the Bible speaks of resurrection. I have heard scholars say that ancient man, in his “primitive thinking” knew little about the afterlife. That’s silly and wrong. Job, for example, knew a great deal about the next life. So did the rest of the great figures of the Bible. The New Testament, echoing the Hebrew Scriptures, speaks much about the life beyond.

An elderly friend of mine is currently watching her best friend die from cancer. It has caused her to think about her own mortality, of course. We all do. She is grappling at this moment with understanding how God deals with us at such a time.

Another dear friend lost her mother to breast cancer 20 years ago. I firmly believe they will see each other again, in perfect health and joy everlasting.

The Bible speaks of a future time, when there will be—permanently—no more suffering or death or sadness.

An ancient grave in Jerusalem, which will one day be empty

An ancient grave in Jerusalem, which will one day be empty

“And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” (Isaiah 65:19)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I am sitting now on my deck, surrounded by woods and the melodies of a thousand songbirds. I am thinking of a placard I read at the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans; the words of a young man speeding across the English Channel in the early morning of June 6, 1944:

“The Channel waves bounced our craft like a bobber, and a heavy mist made visibility far from good. There was no conversation now. Each soldier was making his peace with himself as we got closer to the beach.”

I do not know what happened to that soldier. But I know—here at Memorial Day—that he mattered to God.

Who is in your thoughts on Memorial Day?

Previous Posts

Kay Wilson—Choosing Life
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the horrific Palestinian terror attack on my friend, Kay Wilson, and her friend, Kristine Luken. Kay survived, somehow; Kristine, a Christian, did not. Their attackers targeted them because they were looking to kill Jews. Ironically, Kristine was a person who

posted 11:49:49am Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Jesus Unmasked
Jesus Christ…the most famous figure in world history. According to the apostle John: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Yet, for all Hi

posted 11:21:27am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Rewarding the Innovators
Untold News, an Israel advocacy group based in New York, is making headway explaining the marvelous innovations produced by the Jewish state. To add a fine point to the popularity of the Untold News platform (now with more than 350,000 “likes” on Facebook), founder Marcella Rosen has announced t

posted 4:42:20pm Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

4 July, 1976
Israel today is besieged by fanatical jihadists. Three boys are murdered by Palestinian terrorists and the world’s reaction is annoyance with the Jewish state. What kind of insanity are we living in? From its founding in 1987, the terrorist group Hamas has been sworn to Israel’s destructio

posted 12:35:52pm Jul. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Demonizing Israel and the Jews
My friend at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, is a wealth of information, especially for people of faith struggling to understand the dynamics in the Arab-Israeli conflict. His book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, is a hard look at the alarming rise in anti-S

posted 4:10:02pm Jun. 20, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.