By Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram
There was really only one candidate. Everyone knew who was going to win before the election was called. Even though he ran practically unopposed, Mahmoud Abbas chose to build his platform on the headstone of his mentor Yasser Arafat.
On the campaign trail his Arabic public speeches promised - as did Arafat's - that he would demand complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, meaning a full pullback from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights. Furthermore, Abbas vowed that no other city but Jerusalem would become the capital of his new Islamic state.
Describing the Palestinians' number one "non-violent" code word for the demise of the Jewish state, he assured his supporters that he will demand "the right of return" of millions of Palestinians into the state of Israel. Furthermore, he promised to protect terrorists from the "Zionist Enemy," an odious term usually reserved for the tongues of Iranian politicians and the Hizbullah.
In his victory speech Abbas said, "We offer this victory to the soul of the brother, martyr Yasser Arafat…The small jihad is over and the big jihad has begun."
While speaking out against terrorism (a word he does not use) - including rocket attacks - he has also campaigned side by side with terrorist leaders, lauded terrorists as heroes and clearly opposed using his police force and Fatah militias to end attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 10, 05)
Arafat's Proven Recipe for Favor with the World
For forty years Arafat careful designed and executed his strategy to become a world leader while at the same time tirelessly working towards replacing Israel with an Islamic Arab state. Arafat managed to outwit the world by sometimes claiming to be against violence while never lifting a finger to stop it and always claiming that he was too weak to take steps against terrorism without further Western financial support. Arafat successfully gained the adoration of most of the world and became the darling of the Muslim peoples.
Before the elections, Abbas' Fatah terrorist wing, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, spoke out. They vowed to continue their suicide attacks after their man won: "Yes… We will stop only when there is a full withdrawal from the Palestinian areas and there is progress in the peace process. In the first phase, they must pull out from our cities; then, they must release all the prisoners, dismantle all the settlements and accept all the Palestinian demands. Then we will heed Abu Mazen's [Abbas] calls." (Ibid.)
Israel's fear is that Abbas will continue to play the Arafat game, a popularly elected leader who makes no changes, but who convinces the world that he really wants to live in peace with Israel. There appear to be many world leaders who have chosen to believe an elected Palestinian leader will automatically do his utmost to attain a full peace accord with his Jewish neighbor. Journalist Yosef Goell of the Jerusalem Post states, "Regrettably, there is not the slightest shred of evidence to support such an assumption." (Ibid.)
Goell notes a very important reality: "[I]f truly democratic elections were to be held today in Egypt and Jordan, they would replace the authoritarian Mubarak and Hashemite regimes." However, Goell points out that these two secular dictators are, as is sometimes the case in the Arab world, more pro-western and liberal than their subjects - many of whom are fundamentalist Islamics. These two rulers even signed peace treaties with Israel - under timely pressure from the U.S., of course.
Ironically, if Mubarak and the Hashemites were somehow voted out, opinion polls show that their countrymen would democratically elect leaders who would vow to annul the peace treaty with Israel. (Ibid.) It is important to recall that there are "democratic" elections in Iran, a country completely under a "democractic dictatorship" of the Mullahs.
Israel's Military Strategists Consider Various Scenarios
As always, the analysts at Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must be occupied with examining the various possible scenarios that could be played out among the Palestinians. Here are some of the military's current observations, as analyzed by journalist Arieh O'Sullivan.
1. Mahmoud Abbas will most likely "remain under Arafat's umbrella." This means the military doesn't expect him to make any radical departures from Arafat's legacy.
2. Some of the terrorist groups have been fairly quiet after Arafat's death and before the election. But the IDF believes that disappointment over expected rewards in the corrupt society will lead them to return to terrorism as a way of flexing their muscles. Indeed suicide bombers have already renewed their horrifying operations.
3. Israel's security agencies are observing an increased flow of funding, direction, expertise and even weaponry to Palestinian terrorist groups.
4. Israel's government is calling for the disarmament of terrorist groups as a basic condition for renewing peace talks, but this is more of an item on a wish list than any realistic possibility. Therefore the IDF cannot relax its crackdown on terrorists.
5. Numerous external obstacles stand in Abbas' way such as the Hizbullah terrorist organization backed by Iran, Syria and Lebanon who see any arrangement with the Jewish state as a threat to their playing field. The last thing they would want to see is the Israeli-Palestinian issue resolved resulting in their disappearance from the regional agenda. (Ibid)
6. Corruption in the Palestinian Authority, deep-rooted hatred for Israel in the Palestinian culture created through the educational system and all media, a theology that demands the entire Middle East to be Islamic, and anarchy and violence on Palestinian streets will make it next to impossible to birth a peace-loving Palestinian state alongside Israel.
THERE'S DEMOCRACY AND THEN THERE'S DEMOCRACY
Israeli minister, Natan Sharansky, points out that even these elections were not "truly democratic" because free elections can only happen in a free society - in societies where their citizens do not live in fear. The elections were not plagued by fraud, as the international observers witnessed. But, says Sharansky, that is different from a free election. Sharansky noted, "Imagine that monitors would have come to the Soviet Union in times of elections under Leonid Brezhnev - there was no fraud there, either, but there was also no other candidate. Here, too, there was no other candidate. I don't think there was fraud, but it's not a free and democratic election, because a free and democratic election can only take place in free and democractic societies." (Ibid.)
Sharansky too fears that if the world is deceived into believing that democracy has arrived on the doorstep of the Palestinian territories, then all Israel will have to do now is give them independence. "If that is what we do, then we will find that we have given independence not to a democratic state, but to a terrorist state." He said, "That is an important step not to fall into.” (Ibid.)
Still we must remember, this Palestinian election is the very first even remotely free election ever in the entire Arab world. The very fact that all Palestinians wanted an election, and held it with no violence against voters or politicians can be credited to the fact that the Palestinian population has been exposed to Israeli democracy since 1967.
Indeed, many Palestinians are quite proud about the recent election. One voter said, "I believe the Arab world could benefit from our experiences."
One other ray of hope could be sensed among the Palestinians. As they experience a mushrooming lawlessness and a rise in murder and burglary among themselves, while at the same time suffering an accumulated fatigue from anarchy, they are displaying less ferver for continued violence against Israel, and its resulting consequences.
Many have come to the conclusion that the Intifada has gained them little except a steep decline in their standard of living. A growing number are actually boldly calling on terrorists to stop using their homes and yards as places to launch Kassam rockets or attack Israelis - which invariably results in Israeli retaliation. Perhaps there just might be a strong enough surge among the common Arab folk to actually convince Mahmoud Abbas to give peace a chance. Unfortunately, we mustn’t hold our breath.
||I am so thankful to present these requests of help from our congregations. With no doubt the effort Istandwithisrael.com is making to help the needy in Israel and to exalt the Lord certainly brings glory to His name. Of course, there are so many families in need that we totally understand if it will take time to fill all these requests. We thank you so much for this holy work you are doing. - Eitan and Connie Shiskoff, Tents of Mercy, Kiryat Yam
Thank you for honoring our application for financial assistance for the L. family. We trust the Lord to bring them out of their present difficulties and firmly establish them in the Land. - Evan Thomas, Beit Asaph Congregation, Netanya
I want to thank you for the gift of $1500 to study Hebrew at Tel Aviv University. I began classes this week. Your gift will enable me to learn Hebrew better and more rapidly and by God’s grace we will soon be able to share the gospel with Israelis in their native tongue. - Ron Cantor, Tiferet Yeshua, Tel Aviv
A Human Disaster of Biblical Proportions
By Avner Boskey
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth and a time to die . . . a time to uproot what is planted . . . a time to tear down . . . a time to weep . . . a time to mourn . . . a time to search, and a time to give up as lost . ." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-6)
The shocking earthquake which occurred more than six miles below the ocean floor off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia has brought staggering death and destruction to over 160,000, as well as dislocation and disease to possibly five million more. The world has stood horrified and mute at the scale of human tragedy and disaster.
An American reporter, Michael Dobbs from the Washington Post was swimming in the ocean
and nearly killed in the tsunami. (www.freerepublic.com/f‚ocus/f-news/1308957/posts)
He said "The speed with which it all happened seemed like a scene from the Bible - a natural phenomenon unlike anything I had experienced before. As the waters rose at an incredible rate, I half expected to catch sight of Noah's Ark. Instead of the Ark, I grabbed hold of a wooden catamaran..."
A British tourist James Scoffield described his experience in the port of Tricomalee: "The wave came out of nowhere. People were running, screaming. I saw bodies littering the streets, floating in the pools. . . I am not a religious man but this is a disaster of Biblical proportions." (www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2004600538,00.html)
Another British tourist Al Howard described the city of Banda Aceh shortly after the tsunami hit. He
said "Everything was flattened. It was like a nuclear bomb had hit the place. I've seen bodies before but nothing like this. We lost count. The destruction was of Biblical proportions." (www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/29/161210)
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared on national television, "Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before". The director of Sri Lanka's National Disaster Management Center N.D. Hettiarachchi said, "I think this is the worst ever natural disaster in Sri Lanka".
Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute said the shaking had disturbed the Earth's rotation. "All the planet is vibrating,'' he told SKY TG24 TV. Geologist Gianluca Valensise of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said that "this felt more like an omen."
A biblical disaster of spiritual proportions
How are we to understand and interpret this unprecedented disaster in light of the Bible and God's heart?
Tears - The first stop on our journey must be shock and grief. Empathy. Compassion. Tears. Agony of soul. “And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?" (Jonah 4:11) The human tragedy is massive and nearly incomprehensible.
Giving aid - "What can we do to help?" might be the next step. Concrete steps could include: contributing to a disaster relief fund; praying for the survivors; taking an ongoing interest in long-term help for those scarred and orphaned by the quake's aftermath.
A heart exam - It will be necessary to take a heart exam as well. Are judgmental attitudes rising in our own hearts against the Asian peoples, or the Moslems?
Remember Yeshua's words in Luke 13:1-5: "Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that the Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'"
The sobering thing about disasters is that they are a wake-up call to all who hear. It would be missing the mark to conclude that Indonesian babies are guiltier than other nation's babies, or that Swedish tourists are more worthy of condemnation than tourists of other nations. A wake-up call is meant to bring a sober spirit to the fore. It is meant to bring the fear of God to center stage. The world is being called to account by God to sit up and take notice - to take notice of the God of the Hebrews who is also the Sovereign All-powerful Lord of history.
"Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the might . . .
glory and strength . . .the glory due to His name.
Worship the LORD in holy array.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters.
The God of glory thunders, THE LORD upon many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful.
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars . . .
The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness. . .
The voice of the LORD . . . strips the forests bare
and in His Temple everything says 'Glory!'
The LORD sat as King at the Flood.
Yes, the LORD sits as King forever!" (Psalm 29:1-10)
The Fruit of Repentance - Wake-up calls are God-sent opportunities to get things right with Him. They bring our lives to a screeching halt. They cause us to look deep within and to ask ourselves if there is any wicked way within us (see Psalm 139:24).
In August 1999 Bob Jones, a prophetic brother in America, prophesied that America would receive two wake-up calls, and that the Lord would unsheathe His sword if America would not heed the wake-up calls. 9/11 was that first wake-up call. God intended it to move hearts to repentance. For a few months churches were full. But eventually across America a strong nationalism subtly edged out biblical repentance, and a deep turning back to God did not come to pass. Can it be honestly said that there is more prayer and intercession taking place in America now than there was just after 9/11? Could it be that a second wake-up call is coming to America?
The tsunami is a wake-up call to the nations of the world to turn their hearts back to the God of Israel - to repent of materialism, cruelty, pornography, abortion, murder, anti-Jewish hatred, etc.
Isaiah points out that at the end of days geological judgments are going to get heavier and not lighter:
"Behold, the LORD lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface, and scatters its inhabitants. . . The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty . . . For the windows above are opened, and the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken asunder, the earth is split through, the earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard, and it totters like a hut, for its transgression is heavy upon it. . . " (see Isa.24:1-21).
Birth Pangs Among the Waves - Like a burning trumpet, the voice of the LORD is ringing out, heralding the onset of a birth - or at least, of birth pangs. Yeshua the Messiah spoke to His disciples about the end of days and taught: "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
Yet Yeshua gave us believers in Him a special promise: "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your re-demption is drawing near!" (Luke 21:28). We are to take courage and draw renewed confidence from this bold declaration. And we are to look heavenward with unconcealed expectancy for Messiah's soon return: "And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27). That is what Yeshua wants from us. That should be our heart response to His words.
The final harvest of the nations is what is next on the agenda. The full repentance, regathering and restoration of Israel is next on the agenda. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to intercede. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves for the work at hand. Yeshua invites us to not be bent over with fear or anxiety, but to straighten up and to rejoice greatly. We are about to see what prophets and angels have longed to behold (see 1 Pet.1:101-12)!
A Warning - God declares unashamedly that He was the Author of the ten plagues, and that they came to the earth from His hand. But Pharoah responded to God's judgments with ambivalence. First he repented and permitted Moses to begin the Hebrew exodus, but then he refused to obey what God required of him. Pharoah was given the opportunity to acknowledge and obey God, yet eventually he hardened his heart and refused to believe that Almighty God was guiding the whole process.
In the same way there are many people who are chewing on the events since the tsunami, who are considering whether or not God has anything to do with the "desolation wrought in the earth." It is important for all who love the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua to acknowledge that the God of the Bible has indeed shaken this planet in times past. We need to also recognize that He is truly shaking His rebellious planet once more. So let's make up our minds to follow this earth-shaking God whatever the cost.
Avner Boskey and his wife Rachel live in the Beer-sheva area of Israel with their four sons. They oversee Final Frontier Ministries, dedicated to stirring up the creative arts, worship, intercession, evangelism and the prophetic - within a Jewish and Israeli matrix. http://www.davidstent.org/
Dear Maoz Partner,
The Lord has given his followers a major key to healing the wounds of this planet.
Only God knows why He chose this plan but here it is: For the world to experience the fullness of the Power of Saving Grace, Israel must be evangelized.
God's Plan: The Gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."(Romans 1:16)
God's acceptance of Israel as His redeemed and returned people will be "Life from the Dead" of Biblical proportions for the peoples of the world. (Romans 11:15)
Can you believe this? Can you grasp its significance?
The result of revival in Israel will be revival throughout the nations, when God pours out His Spirit on all mankind, as the Prophet Joel prophesied.
The result of Israel's "fulfillment" will be fabulous "riches for the world...and riches for the Gentiles." Romans 11:12
How else can we say it? Bringing the message of everlasting life to Israel will absolutely affect all the peoples of the world! (All this, of course, is based on the promise God made to Abraham that "all the families of the world" would be blessed through his descendants.)
Our world has been focused as never before on the peoples of the 10/40 window as we witnessed the worst natural catastrophe of our lives.
Theses mostly unreached people are certainly included in God's plan to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel.
Since Israel is a major player in His Plan, we can expect that Satan would have put many and varied spiritual forces here to destroy, derail, disrupt and overturn the spreading of the Gospel in Israel.
And so the believers of the land who live and minister in Israel face a hostile corporate environment (although when we speak to one or two Israelis at a time, they are often more open to the Gospel than just about anyone anywhere!)
Great spiritual forces attached to the Orthodox establishment in Israel work tirelessly to keep Jewish believers from moving to Israel, and to keep the Israeli people from having the opportunity to make their own decision to follow the Messiah of Israel.
The cost of living and lack of good paying jobs (if there is employment at all) with sky-high taxes, has taken a heavy toll on the Israeli middle class, leaving a small extremely wealthy class and a super-large poor class. (Forty percent of the children of Israel live under the poverty line.) All the economy has deteriorated drastically since the beginning of the Intifada in the year 2000.
Facilities for Orthodox synagogues are built and paid for by the taxpayer. Facilities for the Messianic believers are not paid for by the taxpayer and land and property are the same prices in the cities of Israel as in downtown New York. Therefore, most congregations in Israel meet in facilities that greatly limit their effectiveness to grow, reach out, and serve the needs of the Messianic community.
The Good News, the Wonderful News is that congregations around the country are growing in spite of the limitations! We are witness to the fact that in our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua, God is performing miracles and Israelis are being saved, changed, and healed.
And as Israelis give tithes and offerings and learn the promises of God, they are prospering! No doubt about it!
God has never been limited by man’s limitation. He certainly does have in His hand a plan to see Israel saved.
A plan that will make it possible for the people of this land to hear the Gospel.
A plan to house His Messianic congregations in buildings that will allow for discipleship, activities, outreach, training centers and for ever-growing congregations.
We have a special request of you this month. We are asking you to be our overseas representative for the MaozIsrael Report and to sign up as many of your friends, relatives and acquaintances that you believe might be interested in being part of God's Saving Plan for Israel!
As more and more people hear about Maoz, we believe they will be interested in helping us expand. (Remember, a growing entity has many more needs than a dormant one!)
You can send us the names, addresses (and emails if possible) of friends who love Israel as you do. Send 5 or 10 names, or 100 if you wish! Each one of these people will receive a note from us stating that their friend (we will give your name) has suggested they might be interested in receiving the
MaozIsrael Report, which gives news from Israel with a Biblical perspective and which would give them opportunity to share our Messiah Yeshua with Israel.
By blessing Maoz in this simple way, you will in turn bless the Israelis who are building a spiritual community in Tel Aviv - for our children, our teens, our soldiers, our young singles, our young couples, our middle-aged singles and couples, our elderly...All have different needs!
Now you, as our representative can help us in a significant new way! We are very grateful for your prayers and your support for this ministry, and we bless you and yours from Zion!
Your partners in Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram