WEEK OF JULY 28 THROUGH AUGUST 3
"Peaceful" Islam Kills 48 More Christians in Nigeria
Aug. 2….(In The Days) Four dozen people were killed in attacks on multiple churches in Kano, Nigeria earlier this week in a wave of bombings the military blamed on Islamic terrorists. The explosions Monday left 45 dead according to a report from African news service BosNewsLife and seemed to indicate a spreading Islamic insurgency in the country. Thirsty-nine bodies were recovered from the wreckage of the Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church after the attack, which occurred in the middle of a Monday night worship service. Another six bodies were found in two other area churches. Witnesses claimed in local reports that there were another four explosions in the same Sabin Gari area, causing widespread general panic as dust and smoke hovered in the air. The local military said the attack came from suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which translates into “western education is a sin.” The group has been waging a war in the region for the past four years, saying it wants an Islamic state.
Boko Haram has said in the past it wants Christians to leave the predominantly Muslim area of northern Nigeria, where Kano lies. In May, Nigeria launched a major offensive against Boko Haram but it failed to end the terrorist attacks. In recent weeks, at least three schools in the region were attacked by the militant group and just this past weekend, at least 20 people were left dead during a clash in the village of Dawashe.
Iran: Hamas Must Go Back to Supporting Bashar Assad
Aug. 1….(DEBKA) The split in the Palestinian camp was more pronounced this week than ever. While a Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority team sat down with Israel in Washington for US-initiated peace talks after Israel agreed to release 104 jailed Palestinians, a secret Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran to patch up the Gaza rulers’ quarrel with Iran. debkafile reveals that the delegation, headed by Muhammad Nasr, included Hamas’ military wing commanders and some of the Palestinian prisoners freed to buy the release of the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit. Our Iranian sources reveal that Iranian officials made it clear that ties with Hamas would not be severed. But if the Palestinian group wanted the flow of money and weapons restored, it must revive its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and undersign Hizballah’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict. This was easier said than done. The Hamas delegation in Tehran was in no position for an authoritative reply, because it could only speak for one of the three sections of its bitterly divided movement, as listed by debkafile sources:
1. Politburo chief Khaled Meshaal’s party claims since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo that Hamas must henceforth obey the Brotherhood’s “world leadership” and not the leaders under military siege in Cairo. This is obviously an equivocation since the Egyptian Brotherhood constitutes the movement’s world leadership. Taking this line invites the Egyptian military to continue its crackdown on Hamas and the sealing off of the Gaza Strip by the destruction of the smuggling tunnels to Sinai which sustained it. This operation has deprived the Hamas regime of more than half of its regular revenue and is jeopardizing its grip on the territory.
2. The second party is led by the Hamas prime minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh. He has broken relations with Meshaal and no longer defers to his authority. Haniyeh argues that his movement should not worry about its low fortunes or the enmity of many parts of the Muslim world, including the new regime in Egypt, Iran, Damascus and HIzballah, because its focus should be on holding onto power in Gaza and enhancing its authority in the local population. Like Meshaal, Haniyeh also begs the question. How can he explain this policy when he is too broke to pay the salaries of government officials and members of the military wing, the Izzedin al Qassam Brigades.
3. The third group is headed by pro-Iranian, pro-Hizballah Mahmoud a-Zahar, along with the military wing commanders Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa and the Hamas representative in Turkey, Saleh al-Aruri, who is also in charge of Hamas operations on the West Bank. This group maintains that Hamas lacks the strength and resources for standing up to Egypt and its Persian Gulf backers led by Saudi Arabia and must therefore run back fast to the radical Iran-Syria-Hizballah fold.
The fate and fortunes of Hamas bear strongly on the US-led Israeli-Palestinian negotiating track which was resumed in Washington his week after a three-year stalemate and is due to continue within two weeks. Israel has twice switched its orientation with regard to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in the past nine months. In November 2012, Israel accepted the diplomacy of Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, for the ceasefire which ended its Pillar of Defense operation against Hamas missiles.
In July 2013, since the coup which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, Israel is cooperating with the Egyptian military and its champion, Saudi Arabia. This cooperation surfaced when Egyptian Apache gun ships appeared over Gaza skies following a secret Israeli deal with Cairo. What will happen when the Egyptian military goes forward with its plans for a major operation against Hamas, almost certainly in the teeth of opposition by the United States and Palestinian Authority with whom Israel launched peace talks this week?
Peace in The Middle East or a "Piece" of Middle East History
Aug. 1….(Newantisemitism) Since the re-birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948, conflicts and peace talks have come and gone, oft-repeated with a sense of hope and reconciliation. Borders have moved and settlements have risen over the last 65 years in a piece of land that is about the size of the state of New Jersey. Since I am not a political analyst, I will not even attempt at getting into the head of Secretary of State John Kerry and his recent involvement in this new round of peace talks, yet despite an appearance of renewed hope, I am very skeptical. Mr. Kerry's public announcement in the presence of Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat at the State Department on July 30th appeared to be nothing more than a cocktail of clichés and platitudes aimed at appeasing the media and the public (as if there was even a need to appease a group of people who have clearly showed more of their allegiance to one side, being the Palestinian side of course).
Don't quote me wrong, I think it is good to talk about peace and compromise for the future, as long as that compromise leads to a true win/win situation. Are we really talking about compromise if as a pre-condition to the peace talks, Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to order the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners (some of them serious offenders in the area of terrorism), while Hamas continues to send rockets to Israel as we speak. Not to mention Mahmoud Abbas statement that: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli, civilian or soldier, on our lands,”
In other words, Palestine would have to be, in the words of Adolf Hitler: "Judenrein" meaning "clean of Jews", a term used by Nazi Germany during WWII and the Holocaust. I cannot help but wonder what the world would say if Netanyahu would declare that Israel must be "clean of Palestinians"? Is this compromise or forced surrender? How could this new round of peace talks possibly succeed under these conditions?
It looks to me like Mr. Kerry and by extension the Obama administration are more interested in a piece of history in the Middle East than lasting peace in the region. Mr. Kerry is supposed to act as a facilitator between both parties but I get this strange feeling that he is thinking more along the line of: "What's in it for me and America" than "What's in it for the Israelis and the Palestinians". The events that transpired before the talks could even start, speak for themselves. So what is America facilitating; a new series of peace talks or the further weakening of Israel?
Mr. Kerry is not the first American Secretary of State who has tried to disentangle the Gordian knot of the Middle East crisis. Just about every Secretary of State since Henry Kissinger in 1973 tried their diplomatic hand at it. While some of them achieved some degree of success, one component was ALWAYS missing from the table and it is of course the perspective of the most important player in the Middle East: The Creator of all things, God Himself. I understand that my Utopian dream of a modern biblical land of Israel has little or no chance of happening (at least for the time being), but that doesn't and will not change the facts that:
• The Land belongs to the Creator (Leviticus 25:23)
• The Land was given by the Creator to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:7)
• The Land was given unconditionally through a Covenant (Genesis 17:7-8)
• The Land was given by the Creator to the descendants of Isaac (Genesis17:19)
• The Land was given by the Creator to the descendants of Jacob (Genesis 28)
• The Land promise is as certain as the order of the universe (Jeremiah 31:35-37)
• The Land's name is Israel not Palestine (Ezekiel 37:11-12)
• The Land will see real peace only when Yeshua the Messiah returns (Ezekiel 39:25-29)
I am convinced that we should put a little less emphasis on the Oslo Agreements and the Camp David Accords and a little more on the Abrahamic Covenant because it is the only viable division of the land and also because it is the only viable setting for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in the absence of war. That is of course if the Palestinian Authority was interested in such an agreement. As it turns out, the Palestinian Authority doesn't represent the majority of the "Palestinian voice" on the street. But as it also turns out, the Palestinian Authority is not really focusing on the well being of Palestinians as much as they are on the complete annihilation of the Jews.
In the meantime, let us ponder on what God told us through the Jewish prophet Joel:
I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land. (Joel 3:2).
Eritrea, Another Country Punishing Christians for their Faith
Aug. 1….(Worthy News) Eritrean authorities are punishing 39 Christian high school students by subjecting them to beatings and hard labor, according to Open Doors. Sources told Open Doors that after completing their mandatory four-month military training, the students were arrested for their "Christian beliefs and for their commitment to Christ" and are being held at the SAWA military training center; sources also report that Eritrean authorities are threatening them with long prison sentences should they fail to renounce Christ.
Since 2002, worship outside the government-sanctioned Sunni Muslim, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea has been forbidden; earlier this year, the government began a renewed crackdown on all Christians outside state-approved churches, according to Open Doors.
The architect of this religious repression is President Isaias Afewerki who has been in power since Eritrea's liberation in 1991. After a two-year border war with Ethiopia, Afewerki began cracking down on anything he perceived as a threat to Eritrea's national unity, wrote Elizabeth Kendal in the November 2012 Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. "He cancelled elections and closed all independent media. Opposition figures, politicians, activists and journalists, were removed, mostly to underground secret prisons for the 'disappeared.'"
According to Kendal, by the end of 2010, an estimated 3,000 Protestant Christians were incarcerated for their faith inside shipping containers at desert camps and in underground prison cells. "The conditions are inhumane: Children and the elderly are amongst the prisoners sharing skin diseases, dysentery and other horrors in confined, unventilated spaces. Torture is routine, several Christians have died in custody, and others have perished in the desert trying to escape." Christians make up 47 percent of Eritrea’s population of 5.2 million, according to Operation World.
Obama and Kerry Begin Mideast Peace Talks
July 31….(Times of Israel) Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians got a boost Tuesday morning, with US President Barack Obama holding a joint meeting with both sides as the first negotiations in three years kicked off. Obama held the meeting at the White House. Before seeing Obama on Tuesday, the negotiators met together without American mediators. After leaving the White House they returned to the State Department for a three-way meeting with Kerry and top aides.
* (US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, sits across from Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, third right, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, second right, Yitzhak Molcho, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fourth right, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, at an Iftar dinner, which celebrates Ramadan, at the State Department in Washington.) FOJ Note: The mere fact that President Obama began these peace talks within a celebration of Ramadan echoes the fact that this whole episode is a blatant mockery of the One True God, Jehovah. The PA negotiators won’t even accept the reality that the nation of Israel should be a Jewish nation. Also, the fact that President Obama leads an American effort to divide the “Promised Land” all the while he glorifies Allah in the White House portends a coming judgment from God on the United States. America is positioned in the crosshairs of a jealous God! This process is the beginning of final-status arrangements on a nine-month timetable, a timeframe that will bring terrible trauma to the USA.
July 31….(Times of Israel) With a cast of characters that has presided over numerous failed Middle East peace efforts, the Obama administration launched a fresh bid for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with the resumption of substantive negotiations. Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to a nine-month timeline for final-status negotiations, an official there revealed early Monday afternoon, hours before the peace talks were set to start. Despite words of encouragement, deep skepticism about the prospects for success surrounded the initial discussions, which were opening with a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. He named a former US ambassador to Israel to shepherd what all sides believe will be a protracted and difficult process.
The Israeli side will be led by chief negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who was active in the Bush’s administration’s ill-fated Annapolis peace talks with the Palestinians, and Yitzhak Molcho, a veteran adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was part of the Israeli team involved in Obama’s two previous attempts to broker negotiations. Those two efforts relied heavily on Dennis Ross, a former Indyk colleague and Mideast peace envoy, and veteran negotiator George Mitchell.
The Palestinian team will be led by Saeb Erekat and President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser, Mohammed Shtayyeh, both of whom have been major players in failed negotiations with the Israelis since 1991.
Former envoy Martin Indyk, who played key roles in the Clinton administration’s multiple, unsuccessful pushes to broker peace deals between Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians, will assume the day-to-day responsibility for keeping the talks alive for the next nine months. “This is the beginning of final-status arrangements on a nine-month timetable,” said State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki. She emphasized that the two sides “have agreed to a timetable” but that “it is not a deadline, but an agreement that they will work together for at least this period.” Indyk played a key role in the Clinton Administration’s multiple unsuccessful pushes to broker peace deals between Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians. It is Indyk, whom Kerry characterized as "realistic," who will be assuming the day-to-day responsibility for keeping the talks alive for the next nine months. But just 18 months ago in an interview with Israel's Army Radio, even Indyk stated that he was not "particularly optimistic" that future peace talks would succeed. "I think that the heart of the matter is that the maximum concession that this government of Israel would be prepared to make fall far short of the minimum requirements that Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) will insist on," Indyk said at the time. "Though it may be possible to keep the talks going, which is a good thing, I find it very hard to believe that they will reach an agreement."
Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli government minister and veteran peace activist who notably played a significant role in the secret talks that birthed the "Oslo Accords," believes that reaching a permanent agreement with the Palestinians is "almost impossible." Speaking at the Jerusalem Press Club this week, Beilin reckoned that an interim agreement was more probable and doable. "An interim solution would likely include a Palestinian state on Areas A and B of the West Bank (currently under Palestinian autonomy), and potentially some parts of Area C (controlled by Israel), while Israel would hold on to the settlement blocs," he asserted. Beilin explained: "Netanyahu might agree to such a solution; he aims to prevent a bi-national state and thus seeks to separate, demographically, Israelis from Palestinians. And Abbas might agree to a smaller state than he had hoped for, if he realizes that he will be unable to achieve his original goal, a state within the 1967 lines." However, Beilin believes that if the coming nine months are spent solely on discussing final status issues and the talks fail to yield results, it will be impossible to follow this with negotiations on an interim agreement.
A New State of Palestine: No Jews Allowed!
July 31….(Israel Today) The Israeli media on Tuesday picked up on the fact that renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in Washington had gotten off to a rocky start after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared that what he was aiming for was an independent state ethnically cleansed of all Jews. "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli, civilian or soldier on our lands," Abbas told reporters in Cairo on Monday following a meeting with interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour. The statement was a difficult one for Israelis to swallow, especially since one of Abbas' peace demands is that Israel provide thousands more work permits to Palestinian laborers and open its gates to settlement by millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees." But that the Palestinians expect their future state to be Judenrein, cleansed of Jews was never in doubt.
In an interview with Tablet Magazine in 2011, Palestinian Ambassador to the US Maen Rashid Areikat clearly stated that no Jew would be allowed to reside in the State of Palestine. "Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?" Areikat was asked by interviewer David Samuels, to which the ambassador answered, "Absolutely." Similar statements have been uttered by Palestinian officials since the launch of the peace process nearly two decades ago. In fact, the Palestinian Authority under Abbas continues to enforce the death penalty against any Arabs who dare to sell land to Israeli Jews.
In 2012, Hebron resident Mohammed Abu Shahala was reportedly tortured and sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority for brokering the sale of a local apartment to a Jewish family. In 2010, a Palestinian court ruled in favor of an appeal by public prosecutor Ahmed al-Mughani requesting that anyone found guilty of selling land to a Jew automatically receive the death penalty. Al-Mughani felt the law in its prior form had been too lax by allowing Abbas to indefinitely delay the execution of any "traitor" who had dealings with the hated Jews.
Kerry in Secret Final-status Talks with Netanyahu and Abbas on Borders, Security, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley
July 31….(DEBKA) The ceremonial launch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations early Tuesday, July 30, over the Muslim iftar meal in the State Department Jefferson room, made a photogenic front for the real brass-tacks bargaining on core issues of the long Middle East dispute, which Secretary of State John Kerry has been handling discreetly with the principals, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. This was first revealed exclusively in the last DEBKA Weekly issue of Friday, July 26.
While the formal US-led talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were being set up for the benefit of the public in the US, the Arab world, Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry was putting hard questions to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and pushing for answers on borders, security, the Jordan Rift Valley and Jerusalem. From time to time, he brought Arab leaders into the process, especially from the Persian Gulf.
Abbas made his sudden trip to Cairo Monday, July 27 to demonstrate to the US Secretary and Israeli prime minister that he had his own lines to Arab rulers independent of Kerry’s tactics. In the end, his show fizzled. No important Egyptian leader had time to see him before the formal launch of talks in Washington or clue him in on the Egyptian military’s plans for the Gaza Strip and its Hamas rulers. The technical aspects and negotiating procedures were left to the official negotiators, Justice Minister Tzipi Llivni and Saeb Erekat, to sort out Tuesday. However, debkafile’s sources in Jerusalem and Washington report exclusively that Kerry had meanwhile challenged Netanyahu on three core issues: Would he adopt the security arrangements-versus-borders formula conceded by his predecessor Ehud Olmert to President Obama and Abbas in early 2009, in which he offered to cede around 94.6 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians?
Although the Palestinians never accepted the offer, they are now trying to make it the starting-point of the current round of talks. If Netanyahu rejected this, Kerry asked what alternative he had in mind in terms of territory he is prepared to cede on the West Bank, bearing in mind that Jewish settlements stand on app. 9.8 percent of the West Bank (not counting Jerusalem). In this way, the US Secretary quietly launched final-status negotiations on future borders. He also asked the Israeli prime minister what he meant in terms of the scope and depth of Israel’s proposed withdrawal when he insisted that Israel must retain a security presence on the Jordan Rift Valley which marks part of Israel’s eastern border. Kerry wanted to know if Jewish communities would be removed and only a military presence left in place. This question jumped the process fast forward to the interrelations between security measures and the final borders between the Israeli and Palestinian states.
Sec. Kerry also wanted to find out how much financial aid Israel was ready to commit for raising the standard of living of West Bank Palestinians. A question he addressed to both Netanyahu and Abbas related to the deployment of an international force as a buffer between the Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces. The prime minister was open to discussing this plan. Abbas gave his answer from Cairo Monday night when he declared that “not a single Israeli must remain in the Palestinian State, whether soldier or civilian.” He indicated that he would not object to an international force on the lines of UNIFIL in Lebanon or the Multinational Force in Sinai, or even NATO units. He also asked Kerry to put forward ideas on the Jerusalem question and the shape of the Palestinian State’s borders.
Iran: Armageddon at Hand, Prepare for War
(Islamic messiah Mahdi expected to return with Jesus, kill infidels)
July 31….(WND) Iran is again asserting that Armageddon is at hand and that the Islamic regime’s followers, indeed all of Islam, must prepare for a monumental change in the world. Officials of the Islamic regime last month held their annual conference on the Mahdism Doctrine to prepare for the coming of the last Islamic messiah, the Shiites’ 12th Imam, Mahdi. Shiites, whose clerics rule Iran with an iron fist, believe that at the end of times, Mahdi, a 9th century prophet, will reappear with Jesus Christ at his side, kill all the infidels and raise the flag of Islam in all four corners of the world, establishing worldwide Islamic governance.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, said at the conference that, “I hope (Iran’s) Islamic Revolution is that of the righteous government before the coming,” according to Fars News Agency, the regime’s media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards. “Righteous government” is a key to Mahdi’s return, the Shiites believe. “It has been stated in the Islamic hadith that a wave of uprisings (such as the current upheavals in the Arab world) takes place before the main uprising and that the righteous government takes place before the coming, which I hope (Iran’s) Islamic Revolution is that.” A high Iranian politician said recently that he believes the Syrian revolution could be the catalyst for sparking a worldwide conflagration that will usher in an era of Muslim domination of the world. “One can smell from the crisis in Syria the coming of the end of times and the coming of the last Islamic messiah,” said Ruhollah Hosseinian, a member of the Islamic regime’s parliament. Hosseinian has served as deputy of the Intelligence Ministry and a member of the board of trustees of the Islamic Revolution Document Center.
FOJ Note: The “Prince of Persia” (a fallen angel of principality rank) (Ezekiel 38) is active, and working overtime these days, manipulating and preparing Iran for its role in the Tribulation era war. Iran’s actions only echoes the fact the Biblical Last Days are indeed at our doorstep!
Obama: ‘Islam has Contributed Mightily to the Character’ of US
July 31….(Trunews) President Obama late last Thursday celebrated Ramadan with a traditional dinner in the State Dining Room, saying that throughout the nation’s history, “Islam has contributed in a major way to the character of our country.” In remarks before the Iftar dinner, eaten by Muslims after sunset to end the day of fasting, Obama quoted from the Koran, according to a White House pool report. “As the Koran teaches, whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see its results.” “Muslim-Americans and their good works have helped mightily to build our nation, and we’ve seen the results,” he added.
Obama, who has hosted five Iftar dinners, focused on entrepreneurship during much of his speech. “Every day, Muslim-Americans are helping to shape the way that we think and the way that we work and the way that we do business,” he said. “And that’s the spirit that we celebrate tonight, the dreamers, the creators whose ideas are pioneering new industries, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities for all of us.”
FOJ Note: Didn’t this President gloat that America was not a Christian country? Has he ever alluded to the notion that Christianity basically built this nation back in 1776? I don’t ever recall studying about the contributions of Islam to the fashioning of the great American Republic, or that any Muslims were even on the continent until recent decades. Amazingly, Islamic nations will not even allow Christians any freedoms, no matter how small, in their countries. In fact, Christians in Muslims nations are being chased away and or killed off. Why doesn’t President Obama point that out?
PA Minister: New Peace Talks Will Help us Conquer Israel Later
July 30….(Israel Today) There are more than a few in the Palestinian Authority who are upset over the pending renewal of peace talks with Israel. Hamas in particular believes the move to be a detriment to the Palestinian cause. But Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash reassured everyone last week that the political peace process is just a ruse, and part of a larger scheme to defeat their enemy.
In a sermon delivered in the presence of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV, Al-Habbash compared the US-driven peace negotiations to the Hudaybiyyah Peace Treaty concluded between Islam's prophet Mohammed and the Quraish tribe of Mecca. Peace talks with Israel at this time are "the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet Mohammed did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah," Al-Habbash stated, noting that all of the Palestinians' achievements to date "never would have happened through Hamas' impulsive adventure."
Al-Habbash explained that, like Hamas, many of Mohammed's companions burned with anger that their leader was negotiating with the Quraish tribe rather than attacking Mecca. But Mohammed knew that only a more measured approach would lead to ultimate victory. Two years after signing the treaty, Mohammed's forces had gained enough strength and he launched the brutal conquest of Mecca. "This is the example and this is the model" that the Palestinian leadership is following, Al-Habbash acknowledged.
Amazingly, all of the doe-eyed Israeli commentators who believe that this round of negotiations is for some reason going to be different from all the previous fail to take the simple step of listening to what the Palestinians themselves are saying. "Abbas is a real peace partner," they shout, while willfully ignoring what Abbas' own ministers are telling the public, in his name and in his presence, without any refutation by the "president.
Syrian Army & Hizballah Capture Homs
(Decisive Assad Victory looming unless Obama gets more involved)
July 30….(DEBKA) Three months after winning the strategic town of Al Qusayr, the combined Syrian and Hizballah armies have captured the historic Muslim Brotherhood city of Homs, 162 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that Sunday, July 28, jeeps with recoilless guns, pick-up trucks with anti air guns - all loaded with defeated rebel Farouq Brigades fighters were to be seen fleeing the city. As they fled, Syrian and Hizballah army tanks facing no resistance rolled into the center of Homs, the old city and the Khladiyeh district and hoisted images of President Bashar Assad.
The fall of Homs, which the rebels designated from the start of the uprising “capital of the revolution,” opens the way for Syrian-Hizballah forces to move north on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Aleppo’s capture would grant Assad a decisive victory in the civil war and confer on the Lebanese Shiite terrorist Hizballah for the first time the standing of an armed force with strategic capabilities, as well as giving the Iran-Syrian-Hizballah alliance a major boost.
Early Monday, Syrian ground-to-ground missiles were pounding rebel fortifications Aleppo to soften their resistance, while Syrian air force helicopters struck Kurdish PYG units ranged along the Syrian-Turkish border. Although the helicopters flew over the frontier, they did not run into any interference from the Turkish air force, its artillery emplacements or the NATO Patriot anti-missile batteries deployed there. The Kurdish units were targeted to prevent them moving into Aleppo in defense of the city’s Kurdish quarters against the Syrian army-Hizballah advance.
After the fall of Homs and the fast approaching Syrian assault on Aleppo, Washington, Jerusalem and Ankara have run out of time for quibbling whether to step into the Syrian conflict. The critical decision facing them now is whether to save Aleppo from a savage Syrian army-Hizballah onslaught that will determine the final fate of the war, or continue to stand aside.
The various tactics outlined by top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey last week for US military intervention at a cost of $1 billion per day have been overtaken by events. The Obama administration must now decide very quickly whether Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers should be allowed to win the Syrian civil war or stopped at Aleppo.
Obama Funding Syrian Rebels Beheading Christians
July 30….(Infowars) Remember when al-Qaeda members were the bad guys? Obama is now pushing massive funding for Syrian rebels who have not only been linked to al-Qaeda, but are gruesomely beheading innocent Christians. And virtually no one seems to even be questioning the Obama administration’s support of these chaotic troops who kill innocent citizens using US-funded arms in a bid to throw Syria’s current system into insanity. What’s perhaps even worse is that Obama has been pushing to continue this funding in a battle with reasonable lawmakers in a move that highlights his continued support of Syrian rebels who massacre innocents in public beheading sessions (that are met with applause and cheers).
It’s even hidden in the mainstream news, yet the media pieces on the subject somehow fail to generate any social media sharing or view counts for the most part. Just look at the August 2012 Reuters admission that Obama secretly went ahead and enabled support for Syrian rebels while bypassing any form of checks or balances. Flash forward to June 2013 with the headline ‘Syrians behead Christians for helping military, as CIA ships in arms.’ In other words the supposedly ‘Christian’ (a laughable declaration) Obama not only allows for these rebels to kill all Christians who do not convert and pay excessive taxes to the rebel army, but is the driving force behind it. How truly Christian of him, umm? In fact, let’s look at the options innocent Christians are given by the Syrian rebels who wield CIA-given weaponry as according to the missionaries who have been to the Christian communities in Syria:
1. Renounce their Christian faith and convert immediately to Islam (to potentially have your life spared after swearing to the Syrian rebels and Islam).
2. Pay an extremely heavy tax to the Syrian rebels to potentially save your life and be able to secretly continue being a Christian (unless they decided to behead you anyway).
3. Immediately choose death, likely via beheading in the center of town to scare off your friends and family from challenging the Syrian rebel army.
4. Flee for your life and hope the Syrian rebels don’t find you or kill your family. All of your belongings left behind now belong to the Syrian rebels.
As you can see, these are the truly ’humane’ options supported by the United States government. And they’re getting away with this thanks to the general public having no idea what’s going on. In two months, the funding officially runs out, at least for this fiscal year. Amazingly, however, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees both went ahead and approved the continued support of the Syrian rebels. Just like how our elected officials recently sided with the NSA in continuing the gargantuan funding that fuels the agency.
The media is doing a great job on covering a bogus debate (if they cover the subject at all) over whether or not they need more funding to take down Assad, and once again it’s up to independent news outlets to blast this information out. If you ever had doubts as to the true nature of the sociopaths inside the American government and the lengths they will go to secure their agenda, you now have proof.
If Palestinians Really Want Peace, Why Demand Terrorist Release?
July 29….(Israel Today) It would seem counterproductive to achieving a genuine peace to set free those who had so brutally done all they could to ensure peace found no footing. And yet, the Palestinian Authority last week was adamant it would not rejoin US-backed peace talks with Israel until the latter agreed to loose 104 terrorists jailed for either murdering or attempting to murder Israeli Jews.
Under normal circumstances, such a demand would leave those on the losing end of that equation scratching their heads. "It's hard for many Israelis to grasp why their partners for peace demand that the murderers of children be freed," wrote Avi Mayer, the Jewish Agency's director of new media, on his Twitter account.
But after nearly two decades of a failed peace process, most Israelis know better. They know the Palestinian leadership isn't looking for a genuine peace. They know that Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO remain dedicated to the movement's founding principles of never accepting Israel and working continuously, through any means, to bring about the eventual demise of the "Zionist entity."
So, why does Israel continue to play this game? Why is it that every few years Israel repeats what it knows is the wasted gesture of setting free blood-soaked killers? Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar had the answer at Sunday's cabinet meeting, where he passionately argued in favor of the prisoner release despite admitting nothing good could come of it. "I don't believe we can get a peace agreement with the Palestinians, but I want to preserve Israel's international standing," Saar was quoted as saying by Ha'aretz reporter Barak Ravid. The minister continued: "If we don't vote for the prisoner release our last few friends around the world might not support us anymore in the UN."
Sadly, this is the kind of groveling to which Israel's leaders have been reduced. As with every previous release of jailed terrorists, this will send a clear message that even the most savage acts of violence against even the most innocent of Israelis will not earn one lasting punishment, but rather a hero's status.
Graham: Why is Obama Silent While Iran Tortures American Pastor?
July 29….(Worthy News) One of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders wants to know why President Obama has remained silent as Iran tortures an American pastor held captive in one of the Islamic republic’s most notorious prisons.
Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, told Fox News the imprisonment and torture of Pastor Saeed Abedini is a blatant example of “religious intolerance.” “Many in the international community are expressing outrage over this blatant example of religious intolerance,” Graham said. “I ask that our government do the same and demand that Pastor Saeed Abedini be released and allowed to return home to his wife and family in the United States.”
Graham said Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, is terrified to hear reports of her husband’s physical condition. “Naghmeh worries that she and her two young children may never see Saeed again,” he told Fox News. Graham also said Abedini’s wife is especially troubled by President Obama’s silence on the matter. “She’s discouraged by the fact that our own government seems to have abandoned them,” Graham said. “President Obama has been silent on the issue as an American Christian endures the horrors of Evin Prison.” Not once has the president telephone the pastor’s wife. “Sadly, since then our government appears to have done little to pressure Iran to release a fellow American citizen,” Graham said. Six months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Iranians to release Abedini, but since then the Obama Administration has been silent. Abedini traveled to his homeland last year to visit family and help build an orphanage on family-owned land. During that visit, he was pulled off a bus and arrested. He spent months languishing in jail without any notice of charges. Iranian officials sentenced him to eight years in prison. “Pastor Saeed was in Iran trying to help children,” Graham told Fox News. “With the permission of Iran’s government, he was working to build an orphanage. But his humanitarian mission led to an arrest on bogus charges and nearly a year of inhumane treatment simply because he loves Jesus Christ.”
Since his imprisonment, Abedini has suffered long stints in solitary confinement, and, according to his family and attorneys in Iran, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates inside Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. The pastor has been suffering from serious injuries including internal bleeding from beatings.
The Iranians claim he was convicted of endangering national security. However, Pastor Abedini’s family said in reality, he was sent to prison for one reason, because he is a Christian. More than a decade ago, Abedini helped organize home churches in Iran, where Christians are forbidden from praying in public. He was arrested in 2009 but was released after promising to stop formally organizing house churches.
WEEK OF JULY 21 THROUGH JULY 27
Obama Praises Former Vietnamese Communist Dictator Ho Chi Minh
FOJ Note: President Obama insults every American soldier who fought in Viet Nam with his praise of Ho Chi Minh. Minh was a Communist dictator. He didn’t ever hold the precious ideals Liberty and freedom as did Washington and Jefferson. I was around during the Viet Nam era, and I know the truth about Communism. Furthermore, I know a Communist by his political stripes, and I dare say that President Obama is politically more aligned with the values of Communism than he is with the ideals of America’s Founding Fathers! So, it is no surprise to me that Mr. Obama can find praise for Ho Chi Minh, Marx, Lenin, or even Fidel Castro, for they framed the basis of the Socialism.
July 26….(Fox News) It may come as some unwelcome news to the families of the nearly 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding. That was the impression President Obama gave on Thursday when he spoke to the press after his meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. Sang brought Obama a copy of a letter sent to President Harry Truman from Ho Chi Minh in which the communist dictator spoke hopefully of cooperation with the United States.
Obama, striking a wistful tone, observed that it may have taken 67 years, but the United States and Vietnam were finally enjoying the relationship that Ho once wrote of. After all, Obama said, Ho had been “inspired by the words of Thomas Jefferson.” The message here was that if only we might have bridged our differences then, if only Ho and Truman could have done what Obama and Sang did this week, so much unpleasantness might have been avoided..
While Jefferson did get pretty fired up about “the blood of tyrants,” it’s hard to see how the Sage of Monticello inspired the murderous career of the Vietnamese dictator. Ho famously slaughtered his opponents, including the infamous butchery of peasant farmers who resisted his brutal taxation in the early days of Ho’s regime. Not particularly Jeffersonian.
Estimates run as high as half-a-million American’s were killed in Ho’s effort to consolidate power after his communist forces drove the French out of Indochina. The killing of landlords and bourgeois-class merchants was famous even in its day and since then has been documented in even more horrifying detail. And those who carried his banner forward following his death in 1969, he remains “Uncle Ho” even to this day, built upon his brutal regime. Following the final US retreat from Vietnam untold thousands of Vietnamese, deemed collaborators by the regime, were put to death. He and his Leninist regime used Lenin’s tactics: murder, terror and “reeducation” to obtain, maintain and expand power. Ho, whose preserved corpse lies in a glass tomb modeled after Lenin’s in Hanoi, was a seriously bad actor. Whether the United States should have sought to oust him or not or whether the war was rightly fought, Ho was not any heir to Jefferson and the American Founding Fathers.
In Obama’s credulous citing of the Constitution as an inspiration, there is particular historical dissonance. One of the great murders of the 20th century could not have been truly inspired by the most significant advancement of the rights of the individual in human history. One of the great murders of the 20th century could not have been truly inspired by the most significant advancement of the rights of the individual in human history.
Obama may have just been trying to flatter his guest who was obviously eager to show that Ho was not the monster history shows him to be. But his connection between the American founders and Ho shows either a massive lack of historical knowledge on the part of the president or a remarkable degree of moral flexibility. While the president and his team will no doubt dismiss any mention of this as “phony,” this, which as either a gaffe or facile flattery, will not be so easily waved off. The memories and frustrations of America’s Vietnam veterans remain strong forces even today.
Obama Hosts Ramadan Dinner at White House Today
FOJ Note: Ever hear of the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”?
July 26….(CBS) President Barack Obama saluted Muslim Americans on Thursday for their contributions in helping build the nation as business entrepreneurs, technology innovators and pioneers in medicine. Obama spoke at a White House dinner he hosted to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The meal, or Iftar, breaks the day of fasting when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Obama said Ramadan is "a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it's also a time for family and friends to come together." He said it is a White House tradition to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, adding that these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country and reaffirms the freedom to worship. Obama said Americans and people in the Middle East also have a common goal for economic opportunity and entrepreneurship. "We work a little harder, we aim a little higher and we keep striving to create more opportunity for our children and future generations," Obama said. "Of course this isn't just the American dream, it's the aspiration of people around the world. It's the basic, human desire for progress, to find dignity that comes from work to give our children something better." He said these yearnings for economic freedom and opportunity, just as much as political freedom, "are at the root of so much of the change we've seen around the world in the past few years, including in North Africa and in the Middle East." Obama was joined by members of his administration, elected officials, religious leaders and members of the diplomatic corps as he hosted his fifth Iftar in the State Dining Room.
CBO: Killing Babies Will Save the Government Money
July 26….(In The Days) “Priceless” is the value most moms and dads would put on their newborn child. A newborn represents the delicate and fragile nature of life itself. Many would call their newborn baby a “miracle.” But the current administration in Washington, DC does not seem to agree with the “priceless” evaluation, at least it does not act like it agrees. If there is a way to support the abortion industry with taxpayer dollars, President Obama and the rest of our government finds and implements it.
Now, even the “non-partisan” Congressional Budget Office has joined this pro-abortion cabal by placing a value on the lives of unborn children. CBO recently reported that, if passed by Congress, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would cost the government $225 million over the next 10 years by allowing children to be born instead of aborted.
The CBO says killing children will save the government money in healthcare costs and expenditures in welfare and other social programs. Well, by all means then, let’s kill some children, shall we? The Orwellian implications of the CBO’s report are terrifying. It first assumes each and every child born as a result of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will be a failure and thus a burden on society. One can hear a potential Planned Parenthood rallying cry, “an abortion in time saves the government a dime.” What’s next? Abortion tax credits? Not much of a stretch in light of the Obama administration’s insistence that people of faith provide abortion-inducing drugs as part of their health insurance plans.
The irony of it all is that those who would sacrifice our children on the altar of “balancing the budget” care not one whit about burdening future generations with mountains of debt. While President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits stretch as far into the future as the mind can conceive, his administration is giving Planned Parenthood more than $500 million a year. Who today holds to the biblical command “Thou shalt not steal”? Not our government. It is gone, just like the 55 million pre-born children who have been snuffed out in America since 1973. These numbers turn human beings who are valuable in and of themselves into objects which can (should?) be discarded if found too expensive. And this may be the whole method of Obamacare!
Debtor USA, Borrowing While Giving Away Billions
July 26….(FOJ) The United States is notorious for having its fingers in many pies. One of the ways Uncle Sam tries to coerce other states to get in line with his preferred policies is by doling out foreign aid – and lots of it. While foreign aid is a small portion of the American budget, it seems silly for a nation going bankrupt to be borrowing money from China, just so it can give it away. The US is providing hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid to some of the world's richest countries, while at the same time borrowing billions back from one of them. The United States recently has continued to pump around $50 billion in aid to other countries each year. In terms of the absolute value of aid given, the United States is the world's top donor by far. So where is all that money going?
The Congressional Research Service showed that in 2010 the US handed out a total of $1.4bn to 16 foreign countries that held at least $10bn in US Treasury securities. Four countries in the world's top 10 richest received foreign aid last year with China receiving $27.2m, India $126.6m, Brazil $25m, and Russia $71.5million. In looking at assistance in 2010 and 2011, it’s clear the United States is not particularly selective in how it spreads its aid. In 2010 151 countries received some form of foreign aid. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq continue to consume a very large portion of the assistance budget, as do the longstanding aid packages to Israel and Egypt. These five countries have been among the top 10 recipients of US foreign aid since at least 2006. Oddly enough, most of the top recipients of US foreign aid are Muslim countries, eleven out of the top 15, to be exact! The US does not seek any sort of loyalty to the United States for handing out those billions either. In fact the nations that we send the most billions, fight us at every turn in the UN. During September of this year, anti-US demonstrations unfolded in 29 countries, all with large Muslim populations. Those 29 countries received, over three years between 2008 and 2010, a total of $39 billion dollars in assistance from the US, and each country applauded the destruction of the USA. And what does the Obama Administration want to do about it? He wants to give them more money, and more weapons.
Virtually all of this assistance is used to buy weapons, and then we spend even more billions trying to foment peace-processes. Such is now the case in the new round of the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and the Palestinians! Spend that money! Send the F-16’s, and then send aid to the rebel terrorists in Libya and Syria.
While the US is by far the largest donor nation in the world, Saudi Arabia is the second largest donor of foreign aid. However, Saudi Arabia only donates to Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest providers of aid to the Palestinian people. Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has given more than $480 million in monetary support to the Palestinian Authority. Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the US government has committed over $6 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.
The US also sends Israel about 3 billion dollars in aid each year.
Syria Has Become a Terrorist Hotbed
(Extremists are not just trying to overthrow Assad but to set up an Islamic state on Israel’s doorstep, general warns)
July 25….(Times of Israel) An extensive global jihad center is developing right on Israel’s doorstep, the IDF’s head of military research Aviv Kochavi said Tuesday evening, warning about throngs of Islamist fighters streaming into Syria. “In front of our eyes, right in our backyard, a global center for jihad is developing, which can affect not only Syria and Israel but also Lebanon, Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula, and can radiate to the entire region,” the major general said at a graduation ceremony for intelligence officers. “Syria is one of our biggest enemies,” Kochavi said, “and it’s becoming a regional center for jihadis, who are also enemies of Israel.”
For example, Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, a radical group fighting Assad in Syria, announced that it had merged with al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq in April. Kochavi also warned that some of the groups aligned with the Syrian rebels are not fighting for the same goal as the rest of the opposition. “The extremist Muslims and jihad fighters being drawn there are no longer merely trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad but to set up a religious Islamic state,” he explained. He acknowledged that, in the long run, the “winds of change” in the region could bring opportunity and growth, but said that, for the time being, Syria was the “most disturbing example” of a growing risk. Kochavi’s comments came as officials in Washington are debating greater involvement in the Syrian conflict, and specifically whether to arm the Syrian rebels, and as the United Nations Security Council is gearing up for an informal meeting with the Syrian opposition to explore ways to end the war.
IDF officials have previously stated that the Syrian conflict doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon, particularly as foreign jihadi fighters are flocking to the country. Meanwhile, Israel’s new fence along the Syrian border is expected to be completed next month.
IDF Faces Building Al Qaeda Threat on 3 Borders: Golan, Lebanon, Sinai
July 25….(DEBKA) the IDF’s military intelligence (AMAN) chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi Tuesday night, July 23, when he said that Syria had become a global battleground for al Qaeda. Addressing a passing-out ceremony at the IDF’s Officers’ School, Kochavi warned that the thousands of al Qaeda pouring into Syria from around the world are fighting to create an Islamic state there, just as they are in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. This peril, he said, is closing in on Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. At the UN Security Council in New York, his words were echoed by Robert Serry, UN Coordinator of the Middle East peace process, who said Syria “is increasingly turning into a big global battleground.” It is important to note that Gen. Kochavi issued his warning shortly after returning home from meetings in Washington with senior US military and intelligence officers. He flew to the US on July 17, on the day that hostilities flared between the Israeli and Syrian armies in the southern Golan on a scale which was never released to the public. That clash marked the bankruptcy of the government and army command’s efforts to stop the tide of violence from reaching Israel’s northern borders by means of a tactic of virtual non-involvement, aside from limited aid to certain Syrian rebel groups, medical care for some of their wounded and certain unreported small-scale operations.
Threats from five separate sources now threaten to swamp those efforts entirely. They are posed by the Syrian army; Hizballah; global jiahdists; armed Syrian rebel militias funded by Saudi Arabia; and Al Qaeda groups bolstered for the first time by the arrival in recent weeks Pakistani Taliban groups of fighters. Islamist forces are thrusting forward strongly in eastern, northern and western Syria. They murder any non-Islamist rebel chiefs, especial Free Syrian Army commanders, standing in their way and are moving on towards Lebanon and Jordan as well. What strikes most concern in Jerusalem, are the first signs of a tie-in between al Qaeda in Syria and al Qaeda in Sinai. The intelligence chief’ went to Washington with a report that coordinated terrorist operations against Israel were shaping up for the first time from Syria, Sinai and possibly Lebanon too. It was suddenly borne in on Israel that its two strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons and the transfer of advanced hardware to Hizballah were wide of the mark. The greatest danger has turned out to be Al Qaeda’s spreading potency. Anyway, chemical warfare has since spread across the Syrian battlefield and Hizballah forces fighting in Syria simply take direct delivery of advanced weapons from the Syrian army, without even trying to transfer them to Lebanon. The IDF has failed to come to grips with Al Qaeda on the Syrian front no less than the Egyptian army, for different reasons, has succeeded in curbing the jihadist marauders in Sinai.
As the mainstream Syrian rebel movement crumbles, al Qaeda is bolstered by an influx of fighters, weapons and funds from across the Muslim world, including the Persian Gulf. Over the past year, the IDF has had to reconfigure its deployment against Syria, first to contend with the potential of chemical weapons, then Iranian military involvement, followed by Hizballah’s advance towards the Israeli border and now al Qaeda’s inroads. Gen. Kochavi was not led to expect a sympathetic hearing in Washington for Israel’s concerns.
The Obama administration is up to its neck in its efforts to speed the US military drawdown in Afghanistan and break off contact with the Taliban, whose Pakistani branch has meanwhile turned up in Syria. The Israeli intelligence chief found Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, fully engaged in phrasing an open letter to senators to rebuff their criticism of President Barack Obama’s decision to stay out of the Syrian conflict: In his letter, he outlined the five options for involvement with price tags:
1. Training, advising and assisting the opposition;
2. Conducting limited strikes;
3. Establishing a no-fly zone;
4. Creating buffer zones inside Syria;
5. Controlling Damascus’s chemical arms.
Gen Dempsey estimated that the first option would cost about $500m a year, while each of the other four actions would require roughly $1bn a month, i.e., $12bn a year. The US army chief did not elaborate on the long-term cost to the US treasury of non-involvement in operations to keep al Qaeda at bay as it fights to get a stranglehold on Syria, like in Yemen and North African Sahara.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and its chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz are struggling with imperatives to cut down on military outlay at the very moment when they need extra funding too keep the Al Qaeda menace away from Israel’s door. Gen. Dempsey has helped them by calculating costs. But that’s as far as it goes. For the fight, Israel is on its own.
US City Looks to Penalize Bible Believers
July 25….(WND) Think it’s hot in Texas these days? Just wait a few weeks, until the San Antonio City Council ends its summer hiatus and resumes work on a proposed change to its nondiscrimination ordinances that apparently will discriminate against all who take the Bible at its word and follow it. That’s because the change creates a penalty for those who ever exhibit a “bias,” which clearly could include adopting the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, with a permanent ban on participation in city government, business or employment.
Opponents of the plan, which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the nondiscrimination ordinances, charge it is a violation of constitutional Article VI, paragraph 3, which states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The opponents explain that the ordinance would bar anyone from office who has “demonstrated a bias” against someone based on categories that include “sexual orientation.” The proposal, however, does not define “bias,” which, according to local church leaders, could mean someone who declares homosexual behavior is sinful.
The new ordinance would state: “No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.” Anyone in office who demonstrates a bias would be considered guilty of “malfeasance” and removed from office.
Church leaders who oppose the proposed change argue it violates First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association. It also violates, they say, the Texas Religious Freedom Act and the Texas Constitution. Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith Outreach International, who has been alerting city residents about the issue. says that the reference to “bias” could mean anything. “The ordinance says that if you have at any point demonstrate a bias, without defining what a bias is or who will determine whether or not one has been exercised, that you cannot get a city contract,” Flowers said. “Neither can any of your subcontractors who have demonstrated a bias sign on to the contract.” Many pastors are concerned. “If you voice any opinion, no matter how many years back it’s been, it can be used against you.
An analysis released by pastors said the “ordinance violates Texas and federal Constitutions by creating a religious test for involvement in city government.” The church leaders said it allows the city council “to prohibit those that speak their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality from serving on city boards.” “For example, if a person publicly expresses their religious belief that homosexual behavior is a sin, even if this expression is at a church service, that person could be frozen out of involvement with city government.” The analysis also contends businesses “run by people of faith will be subject to criminal penalties if they refuse to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs relating to homosexuality.” The council, which declined to advance the plan when it first was discussed, is scheduled to resume talks on the controversy in August.
Sen. Ted Cruz Issues Major Gay Marriage Warning for Pastors
July 24….(The Blaze) Supporters of traditional marriage often fear the free speech ramifications that could emerge as a result of increasing support for gay marriage in the United States. But are these worries really legitimate? In an interview with CBN's David Brody, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, joined in this chorus, warning that the push in favor of same-sex unions could, indeed, put First Amendment protections at risk. "If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that's the next step of where it gets enforced," he said of hate speech regulations that are in place in other countries. "It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage and that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government," Cruz added.
Some pro-gay marriage advocates in the US, the senator believes, want the nation to end up with the same ramifications on the books, and in a paradigm in which individuals can be punished or denigrated for refusing to substantiate or for speaking out against same-sex unions. Some might scoff at these insinuations, dismissing them as over-the-top, but Cruz is not necessarily manufacturing a paradigm. Consider the widely publicized case in Sweden back in 2005 surrounding Aake Green, a Pentecostal pastor. Green's plight corroborates the worries that Cruz has surrounding America's current trajectory. In 2003, the preacher likened homosexuality to cancer during one of his sermons. As a result, he was brought up on charges over these claims, statements that, in America, would currently be protected by the First Amendment. Mr. Green was convicted in June 2004 but allowed to remain free pending appeal. He was the first clergyman convicted under Swedish laws that make incitement to hatred against racial, religious or national groups illegal, legislation that was amended in 2003 to include homosexuals.
Sen. Cruz said spiritual revival is needed in America saying, “I think we’re at the edge of a precipice. If we keep going down this path we’re risking losing our nation. We’re risking losing our incredible oasis of liberty.”
Obama 'Pushed Boycott of Jerusalem, Biblical Territories'
July 24….(WND) A European Union boycott of financial dealings with Jews in the biblical West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem was fully coordinated with the Obama administration, a senior Palestinian negotiator told WND. “Without the US support, the EU wouldn’t have taken such measures,” the negotiator said. On Friday, the EU published guidelines forbidding its 28 members from having any financial dealings with what it calls Jewish settlements or territories that have been “occupied” by Israel since 1967. The preface to the guidelines states “the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic law.” “Only Israeli entities having their place of establishment within Israel’s pre-1967 borders will be considered eligible as final recipients” of funding such as “grants, prizes and financial instruments.”
A high-ranking Israeli foreign ministry official told Agence France-Presse on Friday that Israel met the ambassadors of Britain and France, and Germany’s deputy ambassador to convey a message that the boycott will cause a serious crisis in diplomatic relations. On Sunday, the popular Israel Today newspaper reported that hundreds of legal experts are drafting a document to reply to the EU boycott. The legal response will reportedly state that the so-called Jewish settlements are not illegal and that the term “occupied” does not apply to those territories.
A translation of the current version of the appeal reads the EU boycott is “based on misguided and legally flawed assumptions about the status of the Israeli settlements and the validity of the 1967 lines as Israel’s borders.”
Continues the document: “The EU’s definition of Judea and Samaria as ‘Palestinian territories’ or ‘occupied territories’ is devoid of any legal or factual merit. The area was never defined as such [under international law] and therefore the EU’s continuous use of this terminology undermines the negotiations for a permanent [peace] deal. … The EU’s perception of the Israeli settlements’ illegality stems from various different interpretations of international law.”
Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank, is dotted with biblical, historically Jewish cities, including Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world, where Jews have lived for more than 2,500 years.
Hebron is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, believed to be the resting place of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. There are accounts of the trials of the city’s Jewish community throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.
In 1929, as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, the entire Jewish community fled the city, with Hebron – including the market – becoming temporarily devoid of Jews until Israel recaptured the land in 1967.
The West Bank is also home to Shechem, or Nablus. The book of Genesis says Abraham entered Israel at the West Bank city of Shechem and received God’s promise of land for his offspring.
The nearby West Bank town of Beit El – in anciently times called Bethel, meaning “house of God” – is where Scripture says the patriarch Jacob slept on a stone pillow and dreamed of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. In that dream, God spoke directly to Jacob and reaffirmed the promise of land. Earlier, God had promised the land of Israel to Abraham at Beit El. In Exodus, the holy tabernacle rested just north of Beit El in Shiloh, believed to be the first area the ancient Israelites settled after fleeing Egypt.
News accounts routinely billed the Golan as “undisputed Syrian territory” until Israel “captured the region” in 1967. In actuality, the Golan has been out of Damascus’ control for far longer than the 19 years it was within its rule, from 1948 to 1967.
Even when Syria shortly held the Golan, some of it was stolen from Jews. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland on the Golan were purchased by Jews as far back as the late 19th century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire kicked out some Jews around the turn of the century.
But some of the Golan was still farmed by Jews until 1947, when Syria first became an independent state. Just before that, the territory was transferred back and forth between France, Britain and even Turkey, before it became a part of the French Mandate of Syria.
When the French Mandate ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria, which quickly seized land that was being worked by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Jewish Colonization Association. A year later, in 1948, Syria, along with other Arab countries, used the Golan to attack Israel in a war to destroy the newly formed Jewish state.
The Golan, steeped in Jewish history, is connected to the Torah and to the periods of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Golan Heights was referred to in the Torah as “Bashan”; the word “Golan” apparently derived from the biblical city of “Golan in Bashan.”
The book of Joshua relates how the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus.
The book of Kings tells how King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan; and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.
The online Jewish Virtual Library has an account of how in the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid-2nd century B.C., Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.
The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple’s destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism’s most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.
‘Secret Obama plan’ forfeits Temple Mount
The EU boycott came as Secretary of State John Kerry announced that both Israel and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to open negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
WND reported yesterday the Obama administration has quietly presented a plan in which the PA and Jordan would receive sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Israel would retain the land below the Western Wall, according to a senior PA negotiator.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
Israel has not agreed to the U.S. plan regarding the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator.
The negotiator, who is one of the main Palestinian figures leading the Arab side of the talks, further divulged Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA.
He said Jordan has been invited to play a key role in the discussions surrounding both the Temple Mount and Jerusalem while it will be the PA, with some Jordanian assistance, that would ultimately receive control of some of those areas.
WND was first to report in 2007 that Jordan had been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem hoping to gain more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, regarding the rest of Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. That formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem.
WND previously reported the Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, resulting in Arab majorities in some neighborhoods.
For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley, according to the leaked plan.
When it comes to the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Israel’s main population centers, Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory, as outlined in Kerry’s plan.
Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south.
The PA negotiator further said Israel rejected a Palestinian request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree not to place the final peace plan up for referendum in the Knesset. Indeed, Netanyahu announced that any plan must receive final approval in a national poll. “I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting. “Negotiations with the Palestinians will not be easy, but we are entering them with integrity, honesty and hope,” Netanyahu added.
The PA negotiator, meanwhile, said Netanyahu agreed that as a gesture to restart talks, Israel will enact a temporary freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank outside the main settlement blocs. According to Israeli sources, such a freeze has largely already been in place for several months now anyway. The negotiator warned that one of the toughest issues centers on control of water, with Kerry already reaching out to Turkey about the prospect of selling water at a cheaper rate to a future Palestinian state.
'Secret Obama Plan' Forfeits Temple Mount to Palestinians
July 23….(WND) The Obama administration has quietly presented a plan in which the Palestinian Authority and Jordan will receive sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Israel will retain the land below the Western Wall, according to a senior PA negotiator speaking to WND. The proposed plan is part of the basis for US-brokered talks that are set to resume in Washington next week after Secretary of State John Kerry announced that both Israel and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to open negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state.
Israel has not agreed to the US plan over the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator. The negotiator, who is one of the main Palestinian figures leading the Arab side of the talks, further divulged Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA. He said Jordan has been invited to play a key role in the discussions surrounding both the Temple Mount and Jerusalem while it will be the PA, with some Jordanian assistance, that would ultimately receive control of some of those areas.
WND was first to report in 2007 that Jordan had been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem hoping to gain more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials. Meanwhile, regarding the rest of Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. That formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem. WND previously reported the Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, resulting in Arab majorities in some neighborhoods.
For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley, according to the leaked plan. When it comes to the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Israel’s main population centers, Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory, as outlined in Kerry’s plan.
Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south. The PA negotiator further said Israel rejected a Palestinian request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree not to place the final peace plan up for referendum in the Knesset.
Indeed, Netanyahu announced today any plan must receive final approval in a national poll. “I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result, if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting. “Negotiations with the Palestinians will not be easy, but we are entering them with integrity, honesty and hope,” Netanyahu added. The PA negotiator, meanwhile, said Netanyahu agreed that as a gesture to restart talks, Israel will enact a temporary freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank outside the main settlement blocs. According to Israeli sources, such a freeze has largely already been in place for several months now anyway. The negotiator warned that one of the toughest issues centers on control of water, with Kerry already reaching out to Turkey about the prospect of selling water at a cheaper rate to a future Palestinian state.
The EU Declares Israel an Illegal Occupier
July 23….(The Balfour Post) For more than thirty years the European Union (EU) has issued statements critical of Israel, and has been supportive of the Palestinian cause. The EU Venice Declaration of 1980, the first statement it issued on foreign policy, supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; asserted the unacceptability of any unilateral initiative to alter the status of Jerusalem; proclaimed the need for Israel to end its territorial occupation since 1967; and declared that Israeli settlements were an obstacle to peace.
Since the 1990s the EU has been a major aid contributor to Palestinians, though its monetary assistance did not substantially improve the Palestinian economy. This economy suffered from corruption, lack of a satisfactory legal framework and competent administration, absence of democratic practices, and the incompetence of Yasser Arafat, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority leader who instigated the disastrous second Intifada in 2000.
The EU has been critical of many of the activities of Israel, including the alleged treatment of the Arab minority and of the Bedouins, but particularly and unrelentingly about Israeli settlements. On December 10, 2012 the EU issued a statement, “all agreements between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The EU discouraged companies from trading with and investing in settlements and suggested banning imports of settlement products. At the same time Catherine Ashton, the head of EU foreign policy, pressed Israel to cancel the building of 3,000 new settler homes that, in accordance with EU policy, she considered “an obstacle to peace.” That EU policy had been made clear even before the European Commission poll taken in 2003 that the “country posing the greatest threat to world peace was Israel.” It was unclear whether the particular homes to which Ashton was referring are an obstacle to peace in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, or Iraq, issues with which she seems somewhat unconcerned.
Whatever the answer, this did not prevent the EU decision to implement the December 10 statement by issuing a directive approved on June 28, 2013 and made known on July 16, 2013. This was a decision by the EU to ban all funding, collaboration, scholarships, research grants, and awards to “Israeli entities” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All future EU agreements with Israel must have a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel.
By its declaration the EU was unilaterally deciding that the borders of Israel did not embrace East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, or the Golan Heights. It was making a distinction between the State of Israel and the “occupied territories” to which the ban on relations on factors such as economics, science, culture, sports, and academia will apply. The EU argument is belied by the reality that facts and the history of the area prove the opposite; Israeli settlement has never constituted an obstacle to peace. Nevertheless, Ashton persists in saying that, “settlement activity is detrimental to current peace efforts.”
It serves no useful purpose to insist that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main security problem in the Middle East. It is one thing to propose two states as the only feasible solution to the conflict, even if there is disagreement on the issue. It is another to attempt to resolve the conflict by putting direct economic and political pressure on Israel. The EU has done a great disservice to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and indeed has been counterproductive by making it less likely to come into effect.
Muslim Imam on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Calling for Caliphate and Destruction of the US
July 23….(The Blaze) Last week during prayer services at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on the first Friday of Ramadan, worshipers marched with posters showing support for ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and raised a huge banner celebrating his leadership. Now, video has emerged of the events on the Temple Mount where the mosque is situated where it appears a Muslim religious leader also took the opportunity to virulently slam the US, Europe and Israel.
The Clarion Project translated a video taken at the July 12 gathering atop the holiest site in Judaism in which an imam from the group Hizb ut-Tahrir reportedly "incited a crowd of hundreds of Muslims calling for the destruction of America, France, Britain and Rome." Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic organization that supports merging Muslim countries into a united Sharia-ruled Islamic caliphate. According to the Clarion Project translation of the rally Imam Ismat Al-Hammouri led the crowd in chanting these slogans: "Allah is Greater! [Allahu Akbar] Let America be destroyed!" "We warn you America, leave Muslims alone. Leave Muslims alone because you messed around a lot in Syria and before that in Afghanistan and Iraq and now in Egypt," the imam said. "America, what do you think we are? We are the Umma of Islam, a strong nation, a great nation, a nation from the farthest East to the farthest West that will soon teach you a lesson in politics and in war, Allah-willing," he said. "Allah is greater and the outcome belongs to the devout. Listen, Obama, the Caliphate will return, the Caliphate is the answer," he said.
After the prayers, during a demonstration in support of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi, thousands of Muslims began shouting slogans against the US, Britain, France and Israel. Allahu Akbar, destroy the US, Britain and France!" the demonstrators chanted in scenes that appeared as if they were taking place in a remote Taliban-controlled village in Afghanistan. But the protest did not take place in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It took place at the Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Israel allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem for Friday prayers.
Abu Toameh writes, "Why did the Muslim worshipers chant slogans against the US, Britain and France? Because they believe that these countries are the enemies of Islam and were involved in the 'conspiracy' to remove the Muslim Brotherhood from power in Egypt." "But of course such demonstrations cannot occur without also shouting threats and slogans against Jews. Why Jews? Because the declared goal of these extremists is to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic Caliphate," Abu Toameh adds. He also points out that it is concerning that some of those who participated in the protest are Arab citizens of Israel who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement in Israel, a group that demonstrated in northern Israel last week in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. "The anti-Jewish demonstration in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque is a sign of the growing power of Muslim extremists in the city [Jerusalem] and the West Bank," Abu Toameh writes and adds that the Islamists pose a threat not only to Israel and the US but also to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
ACLU Threatens Kentucky Schools Over Bible-Distribution
July 22….(WND) The ACLU has threatened to sue Kentucky’s 174 school districts if they refuse to ban the distribution of Gideon Bibles, but the warning lacks teeth, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which contends it is based on outdated law. “Most of the decisions cited in the ACLU’s letter are no longer good law as they were issued before the Supreme Court decided Good News Club in 2001,” ADF told school officials in a letter sent to correct an ACLU missive. ADF jumped into action when it became aware of the threat from the ACLU. “Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “That’s why the schools frequently allow a wide array of groups to distribute literature of various sorts to students. Singling out the Gideons while allowing other groups to distribute literature would be clearly unconstitutional.” The issue arose when the ACLU dispatched a letter to every school superintendent in the state, threatening lawsuits if they would not submit to ACLU demands and ban distribution of Bibles by members of the Gideon’s organization.
The Destruction of Damascus Drawing Nigh?
(US General, 'We Are Preparing for Military Action in Syria')
July 22….(WEB) The destruction most definitely draws nigh (Isaiah 17:1). We have documented all of the preparations being taken by world powers. The war games in Jordan, Israel's testing of a nuclear missile, while Russia conducts the biggest war games in post Soviet times. Historically, there is a financial collapse before war, we witnessed that in WWI and WWII. Before anything major breaks out I would expect that. It is very possible the Syrian invasion starts pre-collapse and that collapse is imminent as well.
President Barack Obama is considering using military force in Syria, and the Pentagon has prepared various scenarios for possible United States intervention. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Obama administration is deliberating whether or not it should use the brute of the US military in Syria during a Thursday morning Senate hearing. Gen. Dempsey said the administration was considering using “kinetic strikes” in Syria and said "issue is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government,” the Associated Press reported from Washington. Dempsey, 61, is the highest ranking officer in the US military and has been nominated by Pres. Obama to serve a second term in that role. The Senate Armed Services Committee questioned him Thursday morning as part of the nominating process when Dempsey briefly discussed the situation in Syria.
Last month, the Obama administration concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons during the ongoing battles. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said, “The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete.” Pres. Obama said previously that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and likely trigger American intervention. When the White House concluded Assad had relied on chemical warfare, Rhodes said, “both the political and the military opposition is and will be receiving US assistance."
That claim was met with skepticism, though. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called Obama’s claims a “caravan of lies.” Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, later presented to the UN evidence supplied to his government that suggested the Syrian opposition fighters used chemical weapons. With regards to foreign intervention, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, “Providing arms to either side would not address this current situation.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and his father, former congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) have also cautioned the White House against aiding Syrian rebels. “You will be funding today the allies of al Qaeda” by aiding Syrian rebels, Sen. Paul said in May.
On his part, the retired lawmaker from Texas insisted that the administration’s lead up to possible intervention is “identical to the massive deception campaign that led us into the Iraq War.” That isn’t to say the GOP is entirely opposed to taking any action. Although directly using the American military, either through boots-on-the-ground or unmanned aircraft, has been rarely discussed in public, Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), two long-time leaders within the Republican party, have been relentless with efforts to equip opposition fighters. "I don't care what it takes," Graham told Foreign Policy’s The Cable earlier this year. "If the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem."
Other US officials have previously said Washington is considering implementing a no-fly zone above Syria, and last month the Pentagon left a fleet of F-16 fighter planes and its Patriot anti-missile system on the border of neighboring Jordan following a routine military drill.
Sec. John Kerry Announces New Mid-East Peace Talks
July 21….(Times of Israel) Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday evening that Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resume peace talks without preconditions, after a three-year breakdown in negotiations. “We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming negotiations. This is a significant and welcome step forward,” said Kerry at a press conference in Amman. “We know that challenges lay ahead. Both sides understand that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling. They have courageously recognized that in order to live side by side, they must begin by sitting together in direct talks,” said Kerry. “I look forward to seeing my friends from this region in Washington next week” or shortly after, he added.
Kerry specified that top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho would come to the US to resume the negotiations. Kerry was back in Amman Friday evening after meeting earlier with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, where he was a guest at the Islamic Iftar meal with the Palestinian leader. “Mr. President, you should look happy,” a cheerful-looking Kerry said to Abbas in front of reporters as they sat before the closed-door talks began.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it would not immediately comment on Kerry’s announcement. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended Kerry’s efforts and the decision by the parties to return to the negotiating table, pledged UN support, and called on both sides “to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to sustain this effort towards achieving the two-state vision,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton welcomed the announcement saying Netanyahu and Abbas “demonstrated courage in reaching this point.” “Of course there are difficult negotiations ahead and difficult decisions to take. The European Union will make every effort to ensure that negotiations succeed,” Ashton said.
A Palestinian official said Kerry has proposed holding talks for six to nine months focusing on the key issues of borders and security arrangements. He claimed Kerry would endorse the pre-1967 lines as the starting point of negotiations. The Palestinians have demanded a guarantee that negotiations on borders between a Palestinian state and Israel would be based on the ceasefire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Hoping to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks, President Barack Obama asked Netanyahu to work with Kerry “to resume negotiations with Palestinians as soon as possible,” according to a statement released by the White House late Thursday.
Previous Israeli governments twice negotiated on the basis of the 1967 lines, but no peace accord was reached. Besides disagreeing over how much land to trade and where, the two sides hit logjams on other key issues, including dividing Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Netanyahu has given lukewarm endorsement to the idea of a Palestinian state but has not delineated his vision of boundaries, while demanding that the Palestinian recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Palestinians reject that, concerned that it would undermine their claims that millions of refugees and their descendants have the right to return to their original homes, lost in the 1948-49 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Israel has rejected that claim outright.
After their late-night meeting Thursday, the Palestinians did not bring up their often-repeated demand that Israel stop building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem before talks could resume. One official said that if Israel accepts the 1967 lines as a basis, that would make most of the settlements illegitimate. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that has run the Gaza Strip since it ousted Abbas’s Fatah party after the 2006 elections, rejected Kerry’s announcement, saying it “considers the Palestinian Authority’s return to negotiations with the occupation to be at odds with the national consensus.” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that Abbas had no right to negotiate on the Palestinian people’s behalf.
WEEK OF JULY 14 THROUGH JULY 20
Obama Confronting Israel With Blackmail Choice: Reduce Borders or Face Nuclear-Armed Iran
July 18….(DEBKA) It doesn’t take a political genius to see how US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Amman Tuesday, July 16, for his sixth bid to bring Israelis and the Palestinians to the table, ties in with the new EU anti-Israel funding guidelines published on the same day. To avoid a head-on clash with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the US president has loosed the Europeans in full cry against Jerusalem and its policies. European Union foreign affairs executive Catherine Ashton chairs the international negotiating forum with Iran. And so, the EU has given Tehran a broad wink that it is worth its while to come to a fresh round of nuclear diplomacy while Israel is kept on the run in the settlements-cum-borders dispute.
Israel is further weakened by its own internal political difficulties. The third Netanyahu cabinet is painfully shorthanded of ministers for dealing with foreign diplomacy and national security affairs. In the absence of a foreign minister, shackled with a new cabinet which took office in February, and beset with a reshuffle of his close aides, the prime minister is obliged to carry himself most of the burden for key decisions on the essential business of state. Netanyahu is taxed currently with keeping tabs on the conflict close to Israel’s borders in Egyptian Sinai, the threatened spillover of the Syrian war, only part of which reaches the public, and the approach of a nuclear Iran, which he admits is dangerously close to consummation. Every few weeks, he is put on the spot for fast decisions by US Secretary of State Kerry’s peace drive.
The last choice Netanyahu faces is the new European Commission’s new guideline for the alliance to distinguish between the state of Israel and territories outside the 1967 Green Line for the purpose of co-funding projects and grants. This guideline is grounded in the EU’s fixed determination that East Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan were illegally occupied by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israel war. The “settlements” housing more than a half a million Jews are likewise deemed illegal. Therefore, from Jan. 1, 2014, any Israeli entity seeking European project funding or grants will be obliged to declare it has no connection, direct or indirect, with a “settlement.” There is nothing new about this determination. The European Union has for years boycotted goods manufactured in settlements and demanded that Israel exporters label their products with the source of manufacture. Ever since 1967, the UK has withheld pensions and allowances from British expatriates living outside the Green Line until they relocate to addresses London deems kosher.
However, the new guidelines have exacerbated the rift between Brussels and Jerusalem and signal a further deterioration. If in future every Israeli firm is required before every financial or business transaction with Europe to disassociate from EU-proscribed Jewish communities. Israel’s prime minister responded fast and hard to the new EU guidelines with a bitter broadside for what he sees as outside interference in the definition of Israel’s borders, in a manner which compromises direct Israel negotiations with the Palestinians. Direct negotiations are the only way to define those borders, he stressed, and the EU measure had the effect of tilting them in the Palestinians’ favor.
Netanyahu was particularly incensed by the EU dropping its bombshell on the day John Kerry arrived in Amman to pick up his mission for reviving the peace track, which he interrupted empty-handed earlier this month. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon greeted Kerry’s arrival by eulogizing his mission, accusing the Palestinians of burying it by sheer obstructionism.
Israeli policy-makers understand that Washington is dodging a showdown with Netanyahu by using the Europeans to clobber his policies at a moment of internal weakness in Jerusalem. Now they realize they must brace urgently for the next chapter in the Obama campaign: Ashton will build on the EU steps to get a fresh round of world power-Iranian nuclear negotiations underway by persuading Tehran that Brussels, with Washington’s backing, is in full flight of a diplomatic campaign for cutting Israel down to size. By pulling the wires behind the European campaign, the Obama administration is after three goals:
1. Persuading Tehran to return to international diplomacy on its nuclear program by diminishing Israel’s leverage.
2. Confronting Israel with diplomatic isolation on an issue of prime importance to its security, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, unless the Netanyahu government agrees to concessions to the Palestinians on final borders.
3. Warning Netanyahu that his failure to toe the Obama line on the Syrian conflict and the Egyptian army coup will cost Israel dear. Instead of lining up with what is seen in the region as an ineffectual Washington, Israel struck out on its own to play ball with regional forces on the move, the Arab rulers of the Gulf and the Egyptian army. The US president has used the European Union to make sure Jerusalem understands that he too will pursue his own game, and it will be at the expense of Israel’s interests.
Netanyahu Lashes out at EU, Rejects ‘Foreign Dictates About Borders’
(European directive barring funding of activities over Green Line could cost Israel billions. Top minister: EU won’t force us to hand Jerusalem to our enemies)
July 18….(Times of Israel) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out on Tuesday against a new European Union directive that bars its 28 member states from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Netanyahu said Israel wouldn’t accept dictates about its borders from any outside forces. “As prime minister, I won’t allow hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and in Jerusalem, our united capital, to be harmed,” he said. “I expect those who really want peace and regional stability to deal with this matter [of West Bank settlements] after they solve more pressing problems in the region like the Syrian civil war and Iran’s race to get a nuclear weapon.” “We will not accept any foreign dictates about our borders. This matter will only be determined through direct negotiation between the two sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he stated. Netanyahu made the statements following an afternoon meeting in which he conferred with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
Later Tuesday, a bitter Bennett declared on Channel 2 that, “Catherine Ashton [the EU foreign policy chief] will not force us to hand over Jerusalem to our enemies.”
Bennett called the decision a “financial terror attack,” but downplayed its importance. “For 65 years, we have experienced embargoes and sanctions, and yet trade with Europe, China and the US has never been better,” he said.
Bennett added that the European move would likely mean a smaller role for Europe in the Israel-Palestinian peace process. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t ask to be involved in the process and at the same time take one-sided action.”
The EU directive, sent out on June 30 and set to take effect on Friday, extends to “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. It also requires that any contracts between EU member countries and Israel henceforth include a clause stating that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the state of Israel. The move was widely reported in the Hebrew media as marking an “EU boycott” and signifying an EU bid to force Israel back to its pre-1967 lines. Bennett rejected the “boycott” designation, however, as did other Israeli officials. The new directive, initiated in December by the EU foreign ministers, is “in conformity with the EU’s long-standing position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law,” the EU said in a statement. Europe has long opposed much of Israel’s policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
Who Attacked Latakia, Syria, If Not Israel, Then Who?
FOJ Note: Speculation is rampant about who may have perpetrated an attack on a weapons depot in Syria. The US blames Israel. Syria says it wasn’t Israel. Israel isn’t saying. Who then? Hezbollah, Al Qaeda? It is a messy situation!
July 17….(Times of Israel) In the wake of Israeli media reports about “anger” in Jerusalem over American leaks to CNN and The New York Times regarding an alleged Israeli attack in Syria this month, official sources clarified to The Times of Israel Monday that “there is no anger toward the administration.” Still, according to the sources, Israel is trying to understand how and why it happened: why twice in the past two months American media ran reports, based on tips from US officials, that could get Israel caught up in a military conflict with Syria. According to the same sources, there is also disappointment among decision-makers regarding the conduct of the American media. Syrian President Bashar Assad has threatened a military response to any future Israeli strike on targets in Syria. However, since Assad has his hands full with the civil war in his country, it is widely assumed that he wouldn’t risk a head-on conflict with Israel unless he felt he had no choice. Reports of Israeli strikes increase the pressure on Assad to respond or risk losing his credibility. According to the reports in CNN and The New York Times, Israeli warplanes targeted a Syrian naval base in Latakia earlier this month and destroyed a warehouse full of Russian-made anti-ship missiles that may have been bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
There are two, conflicting assessments in Jerusalem as to the source of the leaks. One suggests that they come from groups interested in deeper US involvement in the fighting in Syria. Through such leaks, those groups are trying to show that, just as Israel has managed to avoid getting sucked into the fighting in Syria, the American military can do the same while still achieving meaningful intervention. This despite assessments in the Pentagon that military involvement, to impose a no-fly zone, for instance, would require hundreds of aerial sorties and even boots on the ground..
The second Israeli assessment holds that those who oppose American involvement in the fighting in Syria are trying to send the message that such a campaign is unnecessary, since for the time being Israel is striking critical targets; and that an attempt to topple the government in Syria could bring to power a government even more extreme than the one in Damascus today.
The Israeli officials pointed out that despite the leaks, there’s a noticeable effort by the Syrian regime to emphasize that the incident in Latakia wasn’t an Israeli attack. The Syrians underscored in reports published over the past few days that “No foreign army was involved in the explosions, and there was no action from the air or from the sea,” as some Western and Arab media outlets claimed. President Assad is apparently trying desperately to avoid being forced into standing by his promise from two months ago that he would respond militarily against Israel if it attacks Syria again.
Syria Has Become Ground Zero For Many Dark Powers
July 17….(Washington Post) On Syria’s front lines, Al-Qaida fighters and more mainstream Syrian rebels have turned against each other in a power struggle that has undermined the effort to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. After violent clashes and the assassination of two rival commanders, one of whom was beheaded, more moderate factions are publicly accusing the extremists of trying to seize control of the rebellion. The rivalries, along with the efforts by extremist foreign fighters to impose their strict interpretation of Islam in areas they control, are chipping away at the movement’s popularity in Syria at a time when the regime is making significant advances on the ground. “The rebels’ focus has shifted from toppling the regime to governing and power struggles,” said a 29-year-old woman from the contested city of Homs. “I feel that the lack of true leadership is and has always been their biggest problem.” She spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from the fighters and the regime. The infighting, which exploded into the open in the country’s rebel-held north in recent days, is contributing to a sense across many parts of Syria that the revolution has faltered. It threatens to fracture an opposition movement that has been plagued by divisions from the start.
The moderates once valued the expertise and resources that their uneasy allies brought to the battlefield, but now question whether such military assets are worth the trouble, not to mention the added difficulty in persuading the West to arm them. “We don’t want foreign fighters. We have enough men and we want them out of Syria,” said Brig. Gen. Salim Idris, head of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella group for dozens of brigades. In strikingly blunt comments in an interview with Al-Arabiya on Monday, Idris, a secular-minded army defector who has the backing of foreign powers, accused members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of being regime agents and “criminals.” That group, formed in April and made up of al-Qaida’s branches in Iraq and Syria, has taken on an increasingly dominant role in the Syrian civil war. Many of its fighters are north Africans, Iraqis, Afghans and Europeans who have flocked to Syria to join the overwhelmingly Sunni uprising against Assad. Gunmen from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were behind the killings of the two rebel commanders, the highest-profile casualties of the growing tensions between jihadi fighters and Western-supported rebels.
Activists also say extremists have recently been sweeping into villages previously controlled by the FSA, taking over crucial resources such as bakeries, oil wells and water pumps to secure people’s loyalties. In several cases, the militants were said to seize weapons from army bases and keep them from other rebels. But what alienates the general population is the brutality. The extremists have carried out summary executions, public floggings and mass arrests, fueling the backlash against them. In one prominent case in Aleppo last month, al-Qaida-linked militants executed a 15-year-old boy, Mohammad Qattaa, accusing him of being an “infidel” for mentioning Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in vain. Gunmen shot the boy dead in front of his parents near a stand where he sold coffee in a killing that sparked rare local protests against them.
Syria’s uprising started in March 2011 as an Arab Spring-inspired revolt against the decades-long Assad family rule. It eventually transformed into an insurgency and civil war in response to a brutal government crackdown against the protests. The rebels are a disparate mix of ordinary citizens who took up weapons, army defectors, moderates and hard-liners, and increasingly, jihadists who have trekked to Syria from all over the world. The disputes are not restricted to Islamic militants versus moderates. In the north, there has also been deadly infighting between Kurdish and Arab groups over control of captured territory along the border with Turkey. “This infighting is very dangerous and is undermining our revolution,” said Mohammed Kanaan, an activist based in the northern province of Idlib. Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the al-Qaida militants are working to entrench themselves and secure a place in a post-Assad Syria.
A Messianic Perspective on Tisha B'Av, Temple Mount
July 17….(Israel Today) On the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, 5773, the most tragic day on the Jewish calendar, thousands of religious Jews approached Jerusalem’s Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest site for Jews and Christians, to commemorate the destruction of the holy temples, Jerusalem and the Jewish commonwealth. This year marks 1943 years since the Second Temple’s destruction in the year 70AD.
Tisha B’Av is the lowest point of a three week period of mourning. During this time all celebratory occasions are forbidden. It is a time of solemn reflection and mourning for Israel and the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. Traditions associated with this day include sitting on the floor reciting prayers, walking without leather shoes, refraining from washing and fasting for 25 hours. Many Jews spend the night next to the Kotel, the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple, and pray for its rebuilding and reestablishment. Today the Temple Mount is in Islamic hands, with mosques now occupying the place where once stood the Holy of Holies.
Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) see him as the true Temple of God that dwelt among us. The Tabernacle was a temporary dwelling place, as was the physical Temple, for, as it is written (2 Chronicles 6:18), God could never be contained in a house made of stone, cedar and gold. Furthermore, Yeshua told the Pharisees that he was greater than the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 12:6). Yeshua himself is the divine presence of God, which tabernacles among us (Colossians 2:9).
To those, however, who still mourn the destruction of the Temple, Yeshua remains ‘the stone that causes them to stumble.’ They stumble because they do not believe that Yeshua is the sanctuary for His people. While the Temple stood it signified that the way into God’s holy presence had not yet been disclosed (Hebrew 9:8). It presented an obstacle to those who would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) and a barrier to the Gentiles coming to faith in the one true God.
Yeshua himself was not only the Holy of Holies, but also the Lamb of God, the one and only perfect sin offering. When his flesh was destroyed the curtain in the Temple was also destroyed, thus releasing His presence to all who would approach and draw near to Him in faith. But what of the promises regarding the Temple in Jerusalem? God’s promises that one day the Temple will be restored and the children of Israel will be re-gathered from the nations are far from null and void. It is evident today that the promise of return is rapidly being fulfilled. And, interestingly, the day of mourning for the Temple is already, even before it has been rebuilt, starting to become a time of renewed hope, faith and restoration.
A new short film by the Temple Institute is just one example of how Tisha B’Av is gradually reframing itself and rising up from the sackcloth and ashes. Titled “The Children are Ready II,” the video depicts an emotional journey starting in the synagogue where the traditional lamentations are read. But, the focus is not on the adult’s recitation; rather, it is on the children in the next room playing with their building blocks. It is the children whom are awakened to the fact that the time of mourning has ended. The film ends with the children leading the adults out of the door of the synagogue into a bright white light with the words: ‘The children are ready’. This image of the next generation pioneering change by replacing mourning with building and strengthening the destiny that lies ahead for Israel and her people is insightful; for while it focuses on the promised physical rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, it is also very much representative of the promises spiritual awakening of Israel that will lead them to their Messiah.
Tisha B’Av must become for us a time to rejoice that the Temple’s foretold destruction signifies that the way into God’s presence has been opened through Yeshua, and we must earnestly pray that the people’s hearts continue to be softened so that they see in Him their hope and the embodiment of the Temple they so yearn to see reestablished.
On Monday, the eve of Tisha B'Av, a few hundred Jewish worshipers did ascend the Temple Mount, only to be confronted by a hostile mob of Muslims. Witnesses said the Muslims appeared ready to break out in a violent riot before the Jews were evacuated by police. Under threat of Muslim violence, Jews (and Christians) were barred from entering Jerusalem's Temple Mount as part of the ceremonies, a situation many said proves the Tisha B'Av tragedies have not come to an end despite the rebirth of Israel as a nation state.
Sudan Tracking Down Converts From Islam in Purge of Christianity
July 16….(Religion Today) A Sudanese Christian has fled the country after authorities in Khartoum threatened to kill him for refusing to divulge names of converts from Islam, sources said. The Christian, a native of Sudan’s Juba Mountains area, left the country last month after officials from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) forced him to report to their offices nearly every day since raiding his home on Feb. 23. “His life was at great risk, especially as NISS threatened to kill him if he did not cooperate with them and reveal names of Muslim converts who became Christians in Sudan,” a source told Morning Star News. “He is in hiding in another country.” They told me I must cooperate with them in giving them the names of Muslims who have changed their religion, and they asked me about the whereabouts of my friend, a guy who was a Muslim and became Christian,” he told Morning Star News before fleeing the country.
Freedom of religion is a key provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a signatory. But “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, is punishable by death in Sudan under Article 126 of its 1991 Criminal Act, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.
South Sudan’s secession has served as a pretext for Bashir’s regime to bulldoze church buildings once owned by South Sudanese and to deport Christians based on their ethnicity, sources said. In a report issued in April, Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians since December 2012.
Obama Administration Upset With Israel, Egyptian Army
July 16….(DEBKA) The Obama administration is signifying its strong disapproval of Israel and Egypt taking matters in their own hands in the last two weeks, Debkafile’s military and Washington sources report: Israel was accused of independent military action against Syria, and the Egyptian army of persecuting the Muslim Brotherhood after deposing President Mohamed Morsi. Washington is also highly displeased with the campaign the Egyptian army launched after the coup, with Israel’s active support, to root out the Islamist terror blighting the Sinai Peninsula. US warships and marines are now parked off Egypt’s Red sea coast as a deterrent to the generals in Cairo.
For whipping Israeli into line, the administration used another method, Pentagon leaks naming Israeli air strikes as responsible for the explosions at the Syrian weapons depot outside the port town of Latakia on July 5, which demolished a fresh stock of Russian Yakhont (NATO codenamed SS-N-26) shore-to-ship missiles along with their advanced radar. Although CNN ran this leak Friday, July 7, sourcing it to three separate unnamed US officials, the New York Times repeated the story Saturday and it was picked up by more US media for the third day running on Sunday. Israel declined to comment on the report.
This over-exposure of alleged Israeli culpability certainly risked prodding Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad into retaliating for the Latakia bombardment. Our sources find a second US motive behind this tactic, this one relating to the standoff between Washington and Moscow over Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for three weeks in a hotel in the transit area of Moscow international airport tin defiance of US demands for his extradition to face trial for espionage. Putin has steadily refused to hand him over to America. The idea in Washington was to put the Russian president’s credibility on the line and embarrass him by showing Moscow as having "lost" a large consignment of Russian missiles for Syria.
When Putin appeared inclined to offer the young American political asylum, Washington seems have decided to use the Latakia incident to apply the screws and, at the same time, teach him a lesson: If the Russians want Washington to keep the Israeli military on a leash, they must stop disregarding US views on the Syrian question and start playing ball with Obama.
For teaching the Egyptian generals a lesson, the administration resorted to tangible military steps: two amphibious assault ships carrying 2,600 Marines were moved to the southern Egyptian Red Sea coast. Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, reported Thursday that the huge USS Kearsarge (1,800 Marines) and the USS San Antonio (with 800 Marines) had “moved up into the Red Sea and parked off Egypt,” a couple of nights ago, “because we don’t know what’s going to happen.” Debkafile’s military sources report that the two vessels also carry a fleet of helicopters for ferrying the Marines to distant ground arenas. The US has placed additional Marine units at Signonella base in southern Italy and Moron in Spain on the alert with orders to be ready to move at 60 minutes’ notice.
To calm the tension, the US Embassy in Egypt said on its website Saturday: "We deny false claims in the Egyptian press that US naval ships are in the vicinity of the Arabian Peninsula and the Suez Canal to militarily invade Egypt." According to our sources, the US flotilla was brought in to warn Egyptian strongman Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his generals that if they took their persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood too far, American Marines stood ready to step in. They are also on hand for two additional contingencies:
1. Should shipping through one of the world’s major world arteries, the Suez Canal, be imperiled, as in case of sabotage by the Muslim Brotherhood or the armed Salafists of Sinai, a menace raised repeatedly by debkafile, the US military would be there to take charge of securing international shipping in the waterway.
2. The US maintains 1,000 army personnel in Sinai, most members of the 1st Cavalry Division, as part of the multinational force which monitors the 1979 Egyptian-Israel peace treaty provisions. The Obama administration is keeping a close eye on the mounting Islamist violence in the peninsula and the Egyptian military campaign which was mounted, in close intelligence cooperation with Israel and the IDF, against two terrorist elements, the armed Salafist Bedouin associated with al Qaeda and the Palestinian Hamas of Gaza, whose operations have spilled out into Sinai.
US strategists see the fighting in Sinai escalating and spreading and allow that American military intervention may be called for, especially if US MFO service personnel are in harm’s way.
WEEK OF JULY 7 THROUGH JULY 13
Temple Mount: Oldest Ever Artifact Discovered in Jerusalem
July 11….(Arutz) Working near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar has unearthed the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in the city. The inscription is engraved on a large pithos, a neckless ceramic jar found with six others at the Ophel excavation site. According to Dr. Mazar, the inscription, in the Canaanite language, is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and an important addition to the city’s history.
Dated to the tenth century BC, the artifact predates by two hundred and fifty years the earliest known Hebrew inscription from Jerusalem, which is from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the eighth century BC.
A third-generation archaeologist working at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Mazar directs archaeological excavations on the summit of the City of David and at the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The discovery will be announced in a paper by Dr. Mazar, Prof. Shmuel Ahituv of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Dr. David Ben-Shlomo of the Hebrew University, following their extensive research on the artifact. Prof. Ahituv studied the inscription and Dr. Ben-Shlomo studied the composition of the ceramic materials. The press release issued Wednesday did not specify what the inscription actually says.
Archaeological finds in Jerusalem, and specifically in the Temple Mount region, are also of political significance. Some of the finds, like the recent discovery of evidence corroborating contemporary accounts of the Roman seige of the Second Temple, or the possible site of the Tabernacle at Shilo, fly in the face of Muslim Arab attempts to deny that the Jewish Temple ever existed. While the anti-Israeli propaganda machine is sophisticated and heavily funded, the Israeli counter-effort has been relatively ineffective. However, every few weeks or months, it appears that the Jews' ancestors, along with modern archaeologists, are there to lend a hand in the campaign to prove that Zion was indeed the historical homeland of the Jews, long before Mohammed was born in Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Finances Egypt’s New Government
July 11….(AP) Egypt's military-backed interim leader named a new prime minister and won $8 billion in promises of aid from wealthy Arab allies in the Gulf on Tuesday in moves aimed at stabilizing a political transition less than a week after the army deposed the Islamist president. The armed forces warned political factions that "maneuvering" must not hold up its ambitious fast-track timetable for new elections next year. The sharp message underlined how strongly the military is shepherding the process, even as liberal reform movements that backed its removal of Mohammed Morsi complained that now they are not being consulted in decision-making. The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the transition plan, vowing to continue its street protests until ousted Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, is returned to power.
The appointment of economist Hazem el-Beblawi as prime minister, along with the setting of the accelerated timetable, underlined the military's determination to push ahead in the face of Islamist opposition and outrage over the killing of more than 50 Morsi supporters on Monday. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided a welcome boost for the new leadership. The two countries, both opponents of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, celebrated his ouster by showering the cash-strapped Egyptian government with promises of $8 billion in grants, loans and badly needed gas and oil.
In doing so, they are effectively stepping in for Morsi's Gulf patron, Qatar, a close ally of the Brotherhood that gave his government several billion in aid. During Morsi's year in office as Egypt's first freely elected president, he and his officials toured multiple countries seeking cash to prop up rapidly draining foreign currency reserves and plug mounting deficits, at times getting a cold shoulder. The developments underlined the pressures on the new leadership even with the country still in turmoil after what Morsi's supporters have called a coup against democracy. The military faces calls, from the US and Western allies in particular, to show that civilians are in charge and Egypt is on a path toward a democratically based leadership.
Islamists in Egypt Abused their Way to Power
July 11….(Israel Today) Once again, the American administration finds itself in the situation where it doesn’t really know exactly how to deal with an enigmatic Middle East. This time, it’s Egypt that is teaching Americans how complex this turbulent region is. From the standpoint of Washington, something good must have happened in Egypt in the last two years. After decades of dictatorship, it seemed that democracy had eventually prevailed. The many Egyptians who took to Tahrir Square in January 2011 chanting, “Enough is enough,” finally got, in the eternal words of President Lincoln, “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But did they really? The Muslim Brotherhood movement, which for eight decades has prepared itself for taking over the government in Egypt, managed to snatch the revolution from the hands of the people who had generated it. Gaining power by using free elections, an instrument of democracy in which they have never believed, the Muslim Brothers quickly drafted a constitution that was meant to turn Egypt into a country ruled entirely by the laws of Islam.
This step was not only an abuse of the will of many Egyptians, but it also failed in every other aspect. Egypt, already suffering from chronic socio-economic malaise, found itself in a much more serious situation, which deteriorated last week into a popular revolt. The army, being the only functioning organ in the Egyptian executive branch, felt it was its duty in such a crisis to step in, and while twisting the democratic rules of the game, restore public order and thus serve the best interests of the nation.
Saudi Arabia Targeting Iran, Israel with Ballistic Missiles
July 11….(YNET) Satellite images indicate that Saudi Arabia has deployed ballistic missiles that are pointed towards Israel and Iran, the Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday evening. According to the report, images analyzed by experts at IHS Jane's Intelligence Review have revealed an undisclosed surface-to-surface missile base deep in the Saudi desert, with capabilities for hitting both countries. The British daily said analysts who examined the photos spotted two launch pads with markings pointing north-west towards Tel Aviv and north-east towards Tehran. They are designed for Saudi Arabia's arsenal of lorry-launched DF 3 missiles, which have a range of 1,500-2,500 miles and can carry a two-ton payload, the experts said.
The report said the base believed to have been built within the last five years, gives an insight into Saudi strategic thinking at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf. The newspaper mentioned that while Saudi Arabia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, it has long maintained discreet back channel communications as part of attempts to promote stability in the region. "The two countries also have a mutual enemy in Iran, though, which has long seen Saudi Arabia as a rival power in the Gulf. Experts fear that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would seek to follow suit," the report said.
According to The Telegraph, analysts at IHS Jane's believe that the kingdom is currently in the process of upgrading its missiles, although even the DF3, which dates back to the 1980s, is itself potentially big enough to carry a nuclear device. The report said the missile base, which is at al-Watah, around 125 miles south-west of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, was discovered during a project by IHS Jane's to update their assessment of Saudi Arabia's military capabilities. David Butter, an associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, the London-based foreign affairs think-tank, said there was "little surprise" that the Saudis had the missiles in place. "It would seem that they are looking towards some sort of deterrent capability, which is an obvious thing for them to be doing, given that Iran too is developing its own ballistic missiles," he said.
Arab Pastor: Our Future Lies With Israel
July 10….(Israel Today) Father Gabriel Nadaf, an Arab Christian priest from the area of Nazareth, told Israeli media a week ago that the future of Arab Christians is in becoming one with the Jewish state. Israel Today has several times in recent months reported on the activities of Father Nadaf and a growing movement in Nazareth to encourage young Arab Christians to join the Israeli army and fully integrate into Israeli society.
Predictably, that effort has not been popular with Arab Muslims and more antagonistic Arab Christians, and Father Nadaf has received many death threats. The priest has also been forbidden by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem from speaking further to the Israeli media. But just days before that ban was imposed, Father Nadaf managed to explain to the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom why he and other Arab Christians are engaged in such a risky endeavor. "We want young Christians to be completely integrated into Israeli society, and this means also carrying an equal share of the burden," said the fearless priest. "Our future as a Christian minority is wrapped up in the future of the State of Israel."
Contrary to the claims of loud-mouthed Arab members of the Israeli Knesset, Father Nadaf insisted that Arab Christians "feel secure in Israel," and enjoy equal rights, and therefore should shoulder equal obligations. The battle for the hearts and minds of young Arab Christians in Israel is heating up, and at present far too few are coming to Father Nadaf's aid, whether out of fear or apathy. While additional Christian support would no doubt be very welcome, what Father Nadaf really wants to see if the State of Israel itself openly and publicly support Arab Christians who buck the anti-Israel trend. "If our youth see that Israel is supporting their integration into Israeli society, the word will spread," he said. "But, if the state turns its back on us, those who incite [against Israel] will win."
A number of Israeli politicians have come out in support of Nadaf, including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Unfortunately, too many still do not see this as a simple black-and-white situation. The bulk of the Arab world, with which Israel is trying to make peace, strongly opposes the kind of integration Father Nadaf is seeking, and so many Israeli leaders feel they must tread lightly. Meanwhile, a growing number of young Arab Christians are joining Israel's army and boldly speaking out on behalf of the Jewish state. Some are even going so far as to take a Christian Zionist position, noting that Jesus was a Jew, and so their allegiance must lie with the Jewish state. Hopefully the increased Israeli media coverage of this phenomenon will result in the kind of backing Father Nadaf and others need to keep them in this important fight.
Israel to Obama: Stop being so Naive on Egypt
July 10….(Israel Today) A senior Israeli government official on Tuesday said US President Barack Obama must stop being so naive on Egypt, and should avoid the same kind of failed policies Washington implemented during the last Egyptian revolution. Like most Egyptians today, Israel largely blames Obama for facilitating the hijacking of the 2011 revolution by the Muslim Brotherhood.
It was Obama's "naivete" that led him to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was being ousted, the Israeli official told Israel Radio. And it was that American engagement that provided the Muslim Brotherhood with the legitimacy it needed to seize power.
The current situation in Egypt is likely to be protracted, as the Muslim Brotherhood is not expected to give up power without a fight. If the military is to maintain order and prevent a relapse to Islamist rule, it will need international support, and a continuation of American financial aid. Israel is lobbying Washington to maintain aid to the Egyptian army, even though American law mandates freezing the transfer of funds if it is determined that a military coup has occurred.
Absence of Clear American Leadership in WH Hurting US
(Ambassador John Bolton: Obama's Egypt policy is '1 mistake after another')
July 10….(WND) The Obama administration has botched its Egypt policy for years and its handling of the recent coup is more of the same, warns former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. The administration made very few public statements up to and during the coup. In his main remarks following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, President Obama chided Morsi for not responding to the demands of the people but also scolded the military for removing a duly elected leader. He also told Americans and the world that the United States cannot dictate the course of events in Egypt. Bolton told WND the president was unimpressive in response to the crisis, but he claims that’s nothing new. “I think he’s handled it badly in the last few days, but I think he’s handled it badly for the last two-and-a-half years. It’s been one mistake after another,” Bolton said. “By the time you get to evaluating how we have done in the past week, you’d have to view it against a long, long period of mishandling before that.”
Bolton said there is some truth in Obama’s comments about the extent of US influence, but the ambassador added that the president is underestimating what clout we do have. “It is true. We do not have unlimited influence in Egypt. We can’t snap our fingers and have it turn out the way we want. But saying we don’t have unlimited influence is not saying the same thing as saying we have no influence. There, I think, the absence of clear American leadership has cost us a great deal,” Bolton said. “Not only have we not had public statements by the president or the secretary of state, we haven’t had much behind-the-scenes activity, either. That leaves people very uncertain about what is to come next, and it gives some support to the Muslim Brotherhood and the idea that if they just tough it out long enough, they might yet end up back in power.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that the Obama administration will take plenty of time before determining whether the Egyptian military’s removal of Morsi constitutes a coup. The review is due largely to US law forbidding additional foreign aid to any nation where a democratically elected leader is forced from power. Bolton said the administration’s semantics exercise is ridiculous. “Of course it was a coup. I don’t think any of us gain anything by trying to obscure what actually happened,” Bolton said. “I think the way you deal with the prohibition on foreign assistance in the statute is to go to Congress directly and say we need to fix this. We need to make it absolutely clear that it’s in America’s national interest that we find a way to support the interim government and the military. “Yet, the Obama administration takes what appears to be its preferred route of twisting the meaning of a statute all out of proportion to what the words of the statute actually say. That doesn’t benefit the United States government, and it doesn’t benefit, frankly, trust and credibility of the president,” he said. But for all his criticism of the Obama policy on Egypt, Bolton sees the developments in Egypt as positive and a potential catalyst for change in the region. “I think it will have a ripple effect. I think the struggle between the radical Islamists, who are often allied with terrorists, and other forces that want a secular democratic government in many Middle Eastern countries. They’re going to watch what happens in Egypt very carefully,” Bolton said. “This is much more important than Syria.
Egypt has a population of 70-80 million people, far and away the largest Arab country. So what happens there makes a huge difference, and so too does the role of the United States have a ripple effect around the region as well. “So it’s troubling the United States is absent, not just because of it’s impact in Egypt, but because of it’s impact across the region,” he said. The ambassador said America has several major national security interests in Egypt, so getting this policy right is important. “We do have an interest in a stable Egyptian government that can uphold the Camp David Peace Accords with Israel, keep the Suez Canal open and ensure some measure of order in Egypt so that religious minorities like the Coptic Christians are not trampled and to get the Egyptian economy back on its feet obviously requires order as well,” he said.
Bolton isn’t sure whether the clashes between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood will escalate into something more more serious since he believes Morsi supporters are deeply divided on whether to force a confrontation with the military. He is confident that the Muslim Brotherhood instigated violence with the military in recent days to claim martyrs for their cause. He also favors a lengthy stretch before new elections in Egypt. Bolton said a short schedule is how the Muslim Brotherhood successfully gained power in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s fall from the presidency in 2011. In the final analysis, Bolton said the Egyptian military did the right thing and really had limited choices. “The military did not have much of an option,” he said. “We saw in the days before it issued the ultimatum, millions of Egyptians demonstrating in the streets demonstrating against the Muslim Brotherhood, with every prospect that the pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the anti-Muslim Brotherhood advocates would end up fighting in the streets. I think the military, which prizes order and stability, didn’t want to let that happen.”
Middle East is Brother Against Brother, Neighbor Against Neighbor
July 10….(The Balfour Post) Some thirty years ago at a conference in Princeton, Tahseen Bashir, the witty and urbane Egyptian diplomat and presidential spokesman, commented on Arab Middle East politics in a pithy sentence. “Egypt” he said “is the only nation-state in the Arab world: the rest are just tribes with flags.” Bashir died more than ten years ago but his witticism continues to apply to the state of Arab societies and politics today. The weakness and artificiality of the Arab states is apparent in the continuing turmoil in Syria. Except for Egypt, all these states, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria were created by decisions made by Britain and France in 1916 and after World War I. They were carved out of the old Ottoman Empire.
Political rule in these states has been invariably authoritarian in the demands by ruling authorities and groups for obedience, but not necessarily autocratic because the continuing power of tribal and religious organizations has limited central rule. The continuing war in Syria has illustrated the inability of regimes to control the tribal organizations that have or want some form of political authority. The persistence of the clan structure in the Middle East today, and the contemporary and historical societies organized around kinship groups, extended family or lineage groups that are largely autonomous from central government control. Loyalty and obedience to the clan or tribe may often override support for or loyalty to the political regime. The Arab Human Development Report of 2005 speaks of the solidarity of family, clan, tribe, in Arab societies. This solidarity, it concludes, “implants submission, parasitic dependence, and compliance” in the Arab world. It is therefore not surprising that tribes that have existed for centuries are often more meaningful for their members than the artificial states created by Britain and France. The Syrian tribes moved north from the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century but their links and contacts with kinship of the same tribe in other states has remained in spite of the artificial borders created by the Franco-British Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. These borders may remain but they are porous. Members of powerful tribes are divided among the various countries and may owe little loyalty to their country of residence. The Shammar confederation has about five million members divided among Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Syria. Other tribes are divided in the same way among Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf countries: they include the Jabour tribe, the Aniza Bedouin tribe, ancestors of the royal Saudi family, the N’eim, and the Baggara tribes.
Relations in Syria between the tribes and political and religious authorities, the Assad regime, the Islamist rebels or the various religious groups, have fluctuated. Alliances are often temporary, based on current interests. The problem in Syria is that the Assad regime has now lost the support of many of the tribes, some of whom are more cordial towards the rebel Islamists (probably to avoid any retaliation in the future).
Two striking examples illustrate the dilemma for the Assad regime. One is the defection of Manaf Tlass, a general in the official Alawite-controlled Republican Guard. The Tiass family, whose patriarch Mustafga, a former minister of defense, also defected and left for France in 2012, had been a close ally of President Assad who relied on the family to guarantee the loyalty of the Sunnis in central Syria. In return for this loyalty and political support, the family and the home town of the clan, Rastan, received favors and patronage from the government. The second case is that of Nawaf al-Fares, former Syrian ambassador in Iraq and long-time supporter of the regime. Fares, a Sunni, is a major figure in a clan, Al Jarrah, which is part of the Egaidat tribal confederation. The Egaidat claims a membership of 1.5 million across Syria, and has links with tribes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. At first al-Fares lent the support of his tribe to the regime in its fight against the rebels, but then changed his mind as result of government attacks that killed 350 people in the area of his tribe. His loyalty to his tribe was greater than loyalty to the regime.
Equally if not more important have been clashes between tribes and Islamic jihadist extremists. Such clashes became violent in 2006 in Anbar Province in west Iraq. More recently, clashes have taken place in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. In March 2013, the Assaf clan fought with and killed leaders of the jihadist group Jabhat al Nusra in a dispute concerning an oil tanker. A further dispute occurred over the punishment of the killers: the jihadists wanted them tried on the basis of sharia law; the clan refused, arguing that doing this would violate tribal rules. Another incident in the same province in December 2012 was the murder of a leader of al Nusra by members of the Egaidat tribe, the main tribe in the Deir Ezzor province, because he had ordered the death of a tribe member on the basis of Islamic law, overriding tribal rule. The Syrian state played no role in these disputes or in the attempts to settle them.
These clashes indicate that in strongly tribal communities, blood kinship and their values are accorded higher priority than the Muslim regulation and sharia law. National political rulers have used this behavior of the tribes to their own advantage. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used tribes to fight against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, Hafez al Assad used tribes against the Brotherhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s, culminating in the massacre in Hama in February 1982 when at least 20,000 of those in the town were killed. His successor Bashar al Assad had relied on some of the tribes to help quell the uprising in Syria against him.
Presently, the tribes differ on support for the Assad regime or for the rebels. The US Administration might be helpful in promoting the idea that the Syrian tribes might help achieve a peaceful transition of power in the country and end the possibility of Islamist control of the country.
One in Three Americans Now Get Government Food Aid
FOJ Note: Whatever happened to the work ethic in America? I remember a time in America when people would refuse to accept anything resembling charity. The Bible praises hard work, and it condemns laziness. (Proverbs 21:25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor.) Remember the holiday “Labor Day” that honors the labors of the American workforce? Perhaps we should celebrate Lazy Day instead! Poverty and enslavement usually overtake a society that refuses to work, and bankruptcy comes to a nation that pacifies a slothful people!
July 9….(CNSNews.com) The number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance from the federal government has risen to 101 million, representing roughly a third of the US population. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that a total of 101,000,000 people currently participate in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal year 2012. That means the number of Americans receiving food assistance has surpassed the number of full-time private sector workers in the US.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 97,180,000 full-time private sector workers in 2012. The population of the US is 316.2 million people, meaning nearly a third of Americans receive food aid from the government. Of the 101 million receiving food benefits, a record 47 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. The USDA describes SNAP as the “largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.” The USDA says the number of Americans on food stamps is a “historically high figure that has risen with the economic downturn.” SNAP has a monthly average of 46.7 million participants, or 22.5 million households. Food stamps alone had a budget of $88.6 billion in FY 2012. The USDA also offers nutrition assistance for pregnant women, school children and seniors.
The National School Lunch program provides 32 million students with low-cost or no-cost meals daily; 10.6 million participate in the School Breakfast Program; and 8.9 million receive benefits from the Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) program each month, the latter designed for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, as well as children younger than 5 years old.
In addition, 3.3 million children at day care centers receive snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. There’s also a Special Milk Program for schools and a Summer Food Service Program, through which 2.3 million children received aid in July 2011 during summer vacation. At farmer’s markets, 864,000 seniors receive benefits to purchase food and 1.9 million women and children use coupons from the program. A “potential for overlap” exists with the many food programs offered by the USDA, allowing participants to have more than their daily food needs subsidized completely by the federal government.
According to a July 3 audit by the Inspector General, the USDA’s Food Nutrition Service (FNS) “may be duplicating its efforts by providing participants total benefits in excess of 100 percent of daily nutritional needs when households and/or individuals participate in more than one FNS program simultaneously.” Food assistance programs are designed to be a “safety net,” the IG said. “With the growing rate of food insecurity among US households and significant pressures on the Federal budget, it is important to understand how food assistance programs complement one another as a safety net, and how services from these 15 individual programs may be inefficient, due to overlap and duplication,” the audit said.
Israel, Syria and Rebels Face Down Each Other
July 9….(YNET) Syrian President Bashar Assad is acting on his threats against Israel, but cautiously so as not to stretch the rope too hard. For the first time in over 30 years, a Syrian president officially authorizes military action against Israel in the Golan and lays the groundwork for such an operation. This does not bode well for the Israeli communities in the Golan. Despite its neutrality and its publically stated policy of non-intervention, Israel has and will continue to have the upper hand in the Golan, and will continue to have its finger on the trigger. Israel's cabinet-approved policy is based on four guiding principles:
1. No military or civilian interference in favor of any one of the sides. Strategically the preference is that Assad's régime will fall, but there is a serious concern that the vacuum left by his ouster will be filled with radical Islamist forces.
2. Israel will not allow Syria's chemical weapons stockpile or its army's advanced military systems falling into the hands of either Hezbollah or radical Sunni organizations.
3. Israel will responds quickly and fiercely to any attack in the Golan or along the Lebanese border, regardless of whether the initial attack originated from Assad's forces or from the rebels'.
4. Israel will grant humanitarian aid as much as it can and as much as is required. The goal: To foster positive relation and preserve them with the population which will remain in the territory after the fighting is over regardless of who comes out victorious.
WEEK OF JUNE 30 THROUGH JULY 6
Egypt: Military Coup Bodes Ill for Future Stability
July 4….(Stratfor) Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced July 3 that the country's president, Mohammed Morsi, had been removed from office in the wake of popular unrest. In a short media statement, al-Sisi, who was flanked by the three armed services chiefs, opposition leaders, the Sheikh of al-Azhar Mosque and the pope of the Coptic Church, announced that Adly Mansour, chief justice of the Constitutional Court, has replaced Morsi as interim president. He also announced that the constitution has been suspended. Mansour's appointment is notable in that one of the key demands of the Tamarod protest movement was that he become president. The provisional government will be holding fresh parliamentary and presidential elections.
The arrangement was made without the involvement of Morsi, whose whereabouts remain unknown, or of anyone representing the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has effectively been thrown out of power, must now figure out how to respond. The group probably will not respond violently, but it will engage in civil unrest that will lead to violence. Though the Brotherhood is unlikely to abandon the path of democratic politics, Morsi's ouster will lead elements from more ultraconservative Salafist groups to abandon mainstream politics in favor of armed conflict.
The overthrow of Egypt's moderate Islamist government undermines the international efforts to bring radical Islamists into the political mainstream in the wider Arab and Muslim world. Ultimately, within the context of Egypt, Morsi's ouster sets a precedent where future presidents can expect to be removed from office by the military in the event of pressure from the masses. In a way, this was set in motion by the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, and it does not bode well for the future stability of Egypt.
Egyptian Military Ousts Morsi
FOJ Note: One serious look at the signs being carried in Cairo should tell Americans something about our own national leadership.
July 4….(AP) Egypt's armed forces overthrew elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday and announced a political transition with the support of a wide range of political, religious and youth leaders. After a day of drama in which tanks and troops deployed near the presidential palace as a military deadline for Mursi to yield to mass protests passed, the top army commander announced on television that the president had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people". Flanked by political and religious leaders and top generals, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the suspension of the Islamist-tinged constitution and a roadmap for a return to democratic rule under a revised rulebook. The president of the supreme constitutional court will act as interim head of state, assisted by an interim council and a technocratic government until new presidential and parliamentary elections are held. "Those in the meeting have agreed on a roadmap for the future that includes initial steps to achieve the building of a strong Egyptian society that is cohesive and does not exclude anyone and ends the state of tension and division," Sisi said in a solemn address broadcast live on state television. After he spoke, hundreds of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters in central Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted into wild cheering, setting off fireworks and waving flags. Cars drove around the capital honking their horns in celebration. But a statement published in Mursi's name on his official Facebook page after Sisi's speech said the measures announced amounted to "a full military coup" and were "totally rejected". The Arab world's most populous nation has been in turmoil since the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak as Arab Spring uprisings took hold in early 2011, arousing concern among allies in the West and in Israel, with which Egypt has a 1979 peace treaty.
The Muslim Brotherhood president, in office for just a year, was at a Republican Guard barracks surrounded by barbed wire, barriers and troops, but it was not clear whether he was under arrest. The state newspaper Al--Ahram said the military had told Mursi at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) that he was no longer head of state.
Arab Christians: Israel Only State in ME Worth Fighting For
July 4….(Israel Today) Arab Christian residents of Nazareth who proudly serve in the Israeli army and encourage their children to do the same are coming under increasing attack, and Israel is starting to take notice and come to their aid. For a number of years now, a group of Nazareth Christians who are officers in the Israeli army have been actively recruiting young local Arabs to follow in their footsteps and serve the Jewish state. Though not an officer himself, one of the main figures in this movement is Greek Orthodox cleric Father Gabriel Nadaf. Late last month, the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem, acting on demands from Muslim Arab members of Israel's Knesset, threated to fire Nadaf. Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Interior Minister Gideon Saar immediately called the priest to convey their support and offer their assistance.
On Wednesday, Israel's Attorney General's Office announced that it had opened an investigation into the activities of the Muslim Knesset members who pushed for Nadaf's dismissal. "It’s unacceptable that Arab MKs should think that they can be Trojan horses in the Knesset and send letters of incitement against a Christian priest who encourages young Christians to enlist in the IDF," said Likud MK Miri Regev during a Knesset Interior Committee hearing on the matter.
Many Arab politicians vehemently oppose Arab participation in Israeli national service for fear it will legitimize the existence of the Jewish state (which pays their paychecks). Meanwhile, the pro-Israel Arab Christians of Nazareth are becoming increasingly bold in their stance, and even dared to hold a public gathering late last month to toast the achievements of their new forum whose goal is convincing more young Arabs to join the army, as reported by Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper. "We chose to hold the conference to demonstrate that nothing will deter us," forum spokesman Moran Khaloul told the newspaper. "We don’t live in Syria, where Christians are not allowed to speak...or in Iraq, where churches are bombed. We live in a Jewish state, which is democratic and free. As Israeli Christians we see ourselves as part of this state and not as part of those who oppose it." Khaloul said that until now, many in the community had been too afraid to speak out, but that was going to change. Many are now even referring to themselves openly as "Israeli Christians." Ali, an organizer for the forum, noted that local Arabs see what is happening across the Middle East and realize that Israel is the only place in the region where Christians can feel safe and belong. "That’s why more and more of us are realizing that there is no other country here that is worth fighting for," he added. Some went even deeper in their reasoning for joining the army of the Jewish state. Henry Zahav, a 12th grader who intends to join the IDF gave this moving answer when asked by Ma'ariv why he made that decision: "Ultimately, from a religious point of view, we are one. Jesus was a Jew, his mother was a Jew, and his 12 disciples were Jews."
America Has Crossed God’s Red Line
July 4….(FOJ) Remember this photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding a visual aid when he spoke at the UN General Assembly last fall. He used this simple graphic to warn the world that a nuclear Iran is a danger to the world, and if Iran was allowed to cross the “red-line” stage of building a nuclear device, then all hell would break loose. Well, I firmly am convinced that America has crossed its own “red-line” with the Creator God. My basis for this conviction is this month’s decision by the US Supreme Court redefining marriage as being constitutional for same sex partners. In Genesis chapter two, God fashioned Woman to be a help-meet for man. That phrase “help-meet” means an aiding counterpart. Anyone knows that a counter to something means it is an opposite. (example: counter-point/opposite argument) So God “carefully fashioned” Eve before he brought her to Adam. Furthermore, God says throughout the Bible that to leave the natural use of the “opposite sex” is counter to God’s design, and will lead to a reprobate status. America has crossed that Red-Line! So, on this July 4th, Happy 237th Birthday America. How many birthdays do we have left?
Muslim Brotherhood & Morsi Refuse to Step Down
July 3….(DEBKA) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Tuesday night rejected Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ‘s demand that he quit to avert a bloodbath. He said he stood by his “constitutional dignity and demanded the army’s withdrawal of its ultimatum. The general acted after Interior Minister Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim offered to place all police, internal security and intelligence forces at the disposal of the army because they no longer defer to the authority of the president or the Muslim Brotherhood government. This virtual “coup” enabled the army to jump the gun by 24 hours on its ultimatum to Morsi. This military's action was not quite a “coup,” but it snatched away the Muslim Brotherhood government’s buttress of organized security forces, leaving only loyal adherents as a last prop. President Morsi and the Muslim Brothers are hardly likely to lie down for this roadmap out of the crisis, because it would mean relinquishing power after just one year, at the end of decades of being pushed to the fringes of Egypt’s political scene. But there is not much they can do. US President Barack Obama and Chief of US General Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey intervened in the Egyptian crisis early Tuesday, July 2, in an attempt to save the besieged President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Obama called the Egyptian president and Gen. Dempsey phoned Chief of staff Gen. Sedki Sobhi, hoping to defuse the three-way crisis between the regime, the army and the protest movement before it gets out of hand.
The crash of Morsi’s presidency would seriously undermine the objectives of the Arab Revolt pursued by the Obama administration as the arch-stone of his Middle East policy. The administration had earlier sought unsuccessfully to persuade the heads of the Egyptian army not to issue its 48-hour ultimatum to Egypt’s rulers “heed the will of the people” by Wednesday afternoon - or else the army would intervene. The Americans proposed instead to leave Morsi in place after stripping him of presidential authority and installing a transitional government to prepare the country for new elections to the presidency and parliament. Debkafile’s Middle East sources report that the army chiefs led by Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rejected the American proposal. Obama promised to back steps taken by President Morsi to show he is “responsive to the opposition’s concerns,” while Gen. Dempsey asked Egyptian generals to moderate their stand against the Muslim Brotherhood. The underlying message was that if they failed to do so, Washington might reconsider its $1.3 billion annual military assistance package which is the main source of income for the armed forces. Heartened by the US president’s vote of support, Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic allies, rejected the army’s ultimatum for resolving the country’s deadly crisis, saying it would sow confusion and ran contrary to the Egyptian constitution. Morsi insisted he would stick to his own plans for national reconciliation.
Was Egypt's Morsi Behind Murder of US Ambassador?
(Intel fingers Muslim Brotherhood in deadly Benghazi attack)
July 3….(WND) Was Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood involved in the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US compound in Benghazi, Libya? Circumstantial evidence possibly links the attack to Morsi’s campaign to free the so-called blind sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in the US for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Rahman’s release has been one of the Morsi’s main foreign policy issues.
Last week, several major Arabic newspapers ran with a story, first reported by the Kuwaiti paper Al Rai, quoting a Libyan intelligence report on the Benghazi attack that mentions an alleged connection to Morsi and other prominent Egyptian figures. The report, prepared by Mahmoud Ibrahim Sharif, director of national security for Libya, is based on purported confessions of some of the jihadists arrested at the scene. The report states that “among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions were: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; preacher Safwat Hegazi; Saudi businessman Mansour Kadasa, owner of the satellite station Al-Nas; Egyptian Sheik Muhammad Hassan; former presidential candidate, Hazim Salih Abu Ismail.”
Originally, the Obama administration claimed there were popular protests outside the US Benghazi mission over an obscure anti-Muhammad film. It would later be determined no such demonstrations took place; instead the attacks were a coordinated jihadist assault.
The White House sought at first to connect the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack to protests that same day in Cairo, Egypt, in which rioters climbed the walls of the US Embassy and tore down the American flag. The Cairo protests were widely reported as acts of defiance against the anti-Muhammad movie. However, the protests were announced days in advance as part of a movement to free Rahman.
In July 2012, Rahman’s son, Abdallah Abdel Rahman, threatened to organize a protest at the US Embassy in Cairo and detain the employees inside. On the day of the Sept. 11, 2012, protests in Cairo, CNN’s Nic Robertson interviewed the son of Rahman, who described the protest as being about freeing his father. No Muhammad film was mentioned. A big banner calling for Rahman’s release can be seen as Robertson walked to the embassy protests. The release of Rahman has been a key issue for Morsi. One week before the attack in Benghazi, Morsi once again called for the US to free Rahman. A jihadist group seeking the release of the blind sheik and calling itself the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades reportedly was previously responsible for a June 6, 2012, bomb attack on the US facility in Benghazi.
Violence Against Christians On the Rise in The Middle East
July 3….(excerpt from The Balfour Post) Violence against Christians has become all too frequent in recent years, with attacks on them in a wide variety of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Repression and intolerance have been displayed against the Christian community in Nigeria; against the Coptic Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, by bombings in a chapel in Sulu, Philippines; by bomb attacks against Assyrian Christians in Iraq; by discrimination against them in the Islamic Republic of Iraq; by prosecution under the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and many other attacks elsewhere. Since the “Arab Spring,” thousands of Christians have fled the countries of the Middle East except Israel. Christian communities have existed for two thousand years in the Middle East, though they are now declining as a result of low birth rates and emigration caused by discrimination and persecution in most of the Arab and Muslim countries in the area.
Abbas: Israel Trying to Rebuild Jewish Temple!
July 2….(Ryan Jones) Once again demonstrating his penchant for theatrics, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last month made an impassioned call to the Arab world to stop the insidious Jewish plot to rebuilt the Jewish Temple in its historic location, Jerusalem's Temple Mount. In an interview with Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan daily newspaper, Abbas was asked to comment on the notion that "Jewish organizations are making frantic efforts, both visible and hidden, to complete the Judaizing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to take control of it, especially following the recurring invasions of Al-Aqsa and the attacks on worshipers." It can only be assumed that the interviewer was referring to incidents of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount committing the hideous crime of saying prayers to anyone other than Allah. But Abbas understood him to also be talking about what he called the "dangerous excavations Israel is conducting" in the vicinity of the Temple Mount, excavations that constantly bring to light further evidence of the city's and the holy site's rich Jewish history. "All these actions indicate an evil and dangerous plot to destroy Al-Aqsa and build the alleged Temple," insisted Abbas. "Unfortunately, these dangers, which are clear for everyone to see, have yet to receive proper Arab, Islamic and international responses."
Palestinian Media Watch, which translated the interview, noted that Abbas' use of the term "alleged Temple" is part of an ongoing and systematic effort by the Palestinian Authority to erase Jewish history, and therefore claims to sovereignty, in Jerusalem. Abbas is held aloft as a "moderate" leader by most in the West. His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was not. In fact, one of the things that most convinced former US President Bill Clinton of Arafat's extremism was his open refusal to accept that the Temple Mount had once been home to the biblical Temple, and was therefore important to Jews. One must wonder why Abbas is treated any differently when he holds the same extreme position?
Muslim Brotherhood Rejects Army's Ultimatum
July 2….(Arutz) A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) rejected on Monday the army’s 48-hour ultimatum for politicians to settle the country's political standoff. "Everyone rejects the statement of the armed forces," Yasser Hamza, a member of the FJP's legal committee, told the Al Jazeera network. He added, "Solutions will be in the framework of the constitution. The age of military coups is over."
Earlier on Monday, Egypt's top general, Abd al-Fatah a-Sisi, warned President Mohammed Morsi that he had 48 hours to resolve the crisis in Egypt. If he did not, the army would “intervene.” The army would expect Morsi to lay out a road map of steps he plans to take to “satisfy the will of the people,” and restore calm; otherwise, he said, the army would take control of the country. Hours later, the army insisted in a second statement that it was not carrying out a coup, and said that it would not be part of the government, according to Al Jazeera. Four ministers from Morsi's government resigned in the wake of the mass protests demanding his resignation. The Muslim Brotherhood announced that it would “defend itself” from anti-government protesters, in the wake of the trashing of its headquarters in Cairo earlier Monday.
Egypt's presidency held a press conference on Sunday night at the presidential palace in Cairo, where spokesman Omar Amer stressed the presidency's respect for the demands of the street but also emphasized the need for dialogue. "We respect the demands of the street and we acknowledge that the political scene in Egypt is continuously changing," said Amer. "But initiatives are being announced every hour and communication is ongoing."
Egyptian Army Demands Morsi Resignation
July 2….(DEBKA) Egypt’s defense minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi issued a statement on behalf of the armed forces Monday, July 1, warning the politicians they had 48 hours to “meet the people’s demands” and agree on an inclusive road map for the way ahead. He did not define “the people” either as the millions who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as president or the masses demanding his resignation. The army chief’s statement acted as a warning to the politicians in both camps that if they failed to agree, the army would step in and assume power once again. The military statement went on to say that the Egyptian army will not get involved in politics but had decided to act in view of the real danger facing national security.
President Barack Obama also voiced his concern about the situation in Egypt and called on President Morsi to respond to opposition demands and work with the protest leaders. The morning after millions of Egyptians demonstrated fairly peacefully Sunday night, June 30, for and against President Mohamed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood rule, a mob Monday stormed and ransacked Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and set it on fire. The building was empty at the time. In the early stage of the opposition uprising, the Brotherhood more or less avoided direct street clashes in the 20 or so Egyptian towns where protests were staged, even though they and their premises were often under assault. There were two reasons for this restraint:
1. The morning after the big event Sunday, which was timed for the first anniversary of Morsi’s presidency, found him shaken but still hanging in there. The first crack came later Monday, July 1, when four members of his cabinet, the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs, handed in their resignations.
2. The protest organizers gave Morsi until Tuesday to step down and call an early election, or else face more demonstrations and a long campaign of civil obedience. Against this ultimatum, the Brothers reckoned they could hold out until next week, when the Muslim month of Ramadan begins. During that month, they hoped the millions of protesters would be too busy breaking their daily fast after nightfall to be available for mass rallies against the government. Muslim Brotherhood tacticians changed their minds after the attack on their Cairo headquarters was found to have been carried out by a “rebel unit.” The MB spokesman then announced that “self-defense units” were being considered to protect the movement. What this means is that Egypt’s ruling Islamists are contemplating activating armed militias, or paramilitary groups, in the face of attacks by “rebel units.” This would take the country another step towards greater violence and a more protracted confrontation. For now, the army is not interfering in the contest. It is feared in ruling circles in Cairo that the protest movement will resort to violent assaults on their institutions, alongside a campaign of civil obedience, to keep the flames of their campaign to topple the Islamist government burning high.
The protest rallies against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi staged across Egypt Sunday June 30, a year after he took power, offered two surprises. Rather than an outpouring of anti-Islamist rage, the tenor of the banners, placards and chants raised over Cairo’s Tahrir Square echoed the slogans of pan-Arab, nationalism, socialism and xenophobia, with which the charismatic Gemal Abdel Nasser caught the Arab world by storm half a century ago. The Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, thrown up by the Arab Revolt, may face the challenge of a neo-Arab nationalistic uprising, a throwback to the Nasserist era. There was also a strong strain of anti-American sentiment.
In Cairo, placards of US Ambassador Anne Patterson, accused of currying favor with the Muslim Brotherhood, were hoisted alongside those of President Morsi, both defaced with large red exes. The second surprise was the less-than expected turnout, hundreds of thousands, at most one million, rather than 3-5 million the organizers hoped to rally in Cairo alone and no more than two-to-two and a half million in all the main city centers combined.
According to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, 17 million demonstrators counting supporters and opponents of the president, were in the streets Sunday night. Our sources say this figure is much inflated. No one is even trying to guess what sort of Egypt will emerge from this new turbulence, or who will rule the country when it subsides. Some facts and figures may offer some clues to where Egypt is heading:
1. The organizers of the “Tamarod” (Rebellion) have laid long-term plans for a civil disobedience campaign to disrupt the government administration until it is forced to quit - although the initial phase was marked with scattered violence: Ten people were killed Sunday night and 700 injured, after seven were left dead in clashes between pro-and anti Morsi supporters in the past week, including an American. The protest leaders claim to have harnessed various anti-government groups, liberals, pro-democracy factions, academics, members of the free professions, secular politicians, students and ordinary people who elected the Muslim Brother for jobs and a better and safer life and are now jobless and unable to feed their families. Among the demonstrators in Tahrir Square Sunday night were police officers and judges.
2. The next stage planned is for a shutdown of public transportation, factories, financial companies and the flow of oil and gas in and out of Egypt. Within days, the country will face electricity and water outages and start the grim descent into complete chaos.
3. The uprising has a leader, the Nassersit Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third place after Morsi in last year’s presidential election. But the trouble for the protest leaders is that he is virtually faceless on the national scene and has never made his mark as a figure able to inspire the masses to rise up against the government. Without a strong figure, the uprising may soon lose traction.
Egypt Protest Leaders to Obama: 'Stay Out of it'
(Reject Obama plan to keep Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi as transition leader)
July 2….(WND) The Egyptian Military Council and the country’s secular opposition have rejected an Obama administration proposal to keep embattled President Mohamed Morsi in power as a transition leader until new elections can be held, according to a senior member of the council speaking to WND. The Military Council member further said there was a feeling of distrust for the White House among the opposition and that the Obama administration was asked by protest leaders to “stay out of it.” “The opposition feeling is the US did enough to put the Muslim Brotherhood in power and then try to keep Morsi there,” said the council member. “The message sent to [US Ambassador to Egypt] Anne Patterson was that this is an internal Egyptian matter and stay out of it.”
The council member said it was Patterson who delivered the Obama administration proposal to keep Morsi in office until new elections are set. Protest leaders, who are calling for more mass demonstrations today, gave Morsi until 5 p.m. local time to step down from office.
The powerful Egyptian armed forces themselves yesterday gave Morsi an ultimatum of 48-hours to resolve the crisis or else they will introduce a plan for the country’s future. “If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces) to announce a road map for the future,” said the statement by General Adbel Fattah al-Sisi, the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
Also yesterday, the Washington Post reported Patterson herself became a target of opposition protesters in Egypt, with some waving signs telling her to “get out” and accusing her and President Obama of secretly aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.
Catholic Priest Beheaded in Syria by Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels
July 1….(The Blaze) Syrian Catholic priest Francois Murad killed last weekend by jihadi fighters was beheaded, according to a report by Catholic Online which is linking to video purportedly showing the brutal murder. As TheBlaze reported last week, Murad, 49, was setting up a monastery in Gassanieh, northern Syria. Last Sunday, on the Christian leader’s Sabbath, extremist militants trying to topple President Bashar Assad breached the monastery and grabbed Murad. While earlier reports suggested Murad may have been shot to death, Catholic Online reported Saturday: “The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.” The Catholic news service quotes local sources who report that the radical Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, or Al-Nusra Front, was behind the savage killing. In video posted by Live Leak purporting to show the execution, dozens of men and boys are seen cheering on as three men are seated on the ground awaiting their grisly fate. The men are methodically beheaded one at a time by men holding what appears to be a simple kitchen knife after which the heads are placed on top of the bodies. A frenzy ensued, with dozens of people drawing out their smart-phones to capture the bloody scene, as a chorus of Allahu Akbar (“Allah is the greatest”) are sung with jihadi rapture. Catholic Online is raising alarm that western nations are providing support to the rebels who have shown a proclivity toward persecuting Christians:
This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.
Vatican Radio reports that Gassanieh, a village with a majority Christian population, had been under attack by Islamist fighters for the past few weeks, forcing most residents to flee for safety. It quotes Custos of the Holy Land, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa who says, “Unfortunately Syria has now become a battleground not only between Syrian forces, but also between Arab countries and the international community. And those paying the price are the poor, the young and the Christians. The world must know that the support of gunmen by the west is helping extremists in killing Syrians. “With such stances, not a single Christian will remain in the East.
Egyptians Protest Against Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood
July 1….(Drudge) Tens of thousands of opponents of Egypt's Islamist president massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in cities around the country Sunday, launching an all-out push to force Mohammed Morsi from office on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Fears of violence were high, with Morsi's Islamist supporters vowing to defend him. There is a sense among opponents and supporters of Morsi that Sunday is a make-or-break day, hiking worries that the two camps will come to blows, even as each side insists it won't start violence. Already at least seven people, including an American, have been killed in clashes the past week, mainly in Nile Delta cities and the coastal city of Alexandria.
The demonstrations are the culmination of polarization and instability that have been building since Morsi's June 30, 2012 inauguration as Egypt's first freely elected leader. The past year has seen multiple political crises, bouts of bloody clashes and a steadily worsening economy, with power outages, fuel shortages, rising prices and persistent lawlessness and crime. n one camp are the president and his Islamist allies, including the Muslim Brotherhood and more hard-line groups. They say street demonstrations cannot be allowed to remove a leader who won a legitimate election, and they accuse Mubarak loyalists of being behind the campaign in a bid to return to power. They have argued that for the past year remnants of the old regime have been sabotaging Morsi's attempts to deal with the nation's woes and bring reforms. Hard-liners among them have also given the confrontation a sharply religious tone, denouncing Morsi's opponents as "enemies of God" and infidels.
On the other side is an array of secular and liberal Egyptians, moderate Muslims, Christians, and what the opposition says is a broad sector of the general public that has turned against the Islamists. They say the Islamists have negated their election mandate by trying to monopolize power, infusing government with their supporters, forcing through a constitution they largely wrote and giving religious extremists a free hand, all while failing to manage the country. The opposition believes that with sheer numbers in the street, it can pressure Morsi to step down, perhaps with the added weight of the powerful military if it signals the president should go. With the long dominant, USfunded military waiting in the wings, and world powers fearing violence may unhinge an already troubled Middle East, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and radical allies pledge to defend what they say is the legitimate order.