Fight, Don’t Negotiate with, Palestinians

Fight, Don’t Negotiate with, Palestinians

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release

Irvine, CA–Israeli and Palestinian leaders recently sat down to discuss a peace deal–but the U.S.-brokered talks were fruitless. Many voices, such as the “New York Times,” acknowledge that “the biggest single obstacle to peace” is the refusal of Hamas, a member of the Palestinian “unity government,” to recognize Israel and renounce violence. But, we are told, if Israel would only make more generous concessions to the Palestinians and bolster their “moderate” leaders, then negotiations can yield peace.

“But we must reject the underlying premise of such talks,” said Elan Journo, junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “It is absurd to debate which combination of concessions Israel should offer and to which faction of Palestinians–because the very notion of diplomatically engaging the Palestinians is illegitimate. If there’s to be peace, the Israelis must end the threat of Palestinian terrorism by military force.

“Israel’s goal of peace is impossible to achieve diplomatically, because a legitimate negotiation presupposes that both sides share the goal of peace. But the Palestinians–both the self-righteously militant Hamas and the supposedly moderate Fatah–seek to destroy Israel. There is no way to negotiate with enemies who want to kill you. To engage them in talks is to concede their right to kill you; after that, all that’s left to debate is the size of the rewards the murderers will collect and in what installments.

“The Palestinian war must end eventually–and either they will triumph and wipe Israel from the map, or else Israel will protect the lives of its citizens and defeat the Palestinians. Instead of pressuring Israel to appease the Palestinians–and thus encouraging their aggression–the United States should endorse and champion Israel’s moral right to defeat them. If Palestinians learn that their war against Israel is futile, if their aggression is punished–they will give up their cause. That is a necessary first step on the road to peace.”

Top Dems Support Ahmadinejad’s Nuclear Fantasies

Top Dems Support Ahmadinejad’s Nuclear Fantasies

By Andrew L. Jaffee, netwmd.com

I had thought last November’s elections might send a message of moderation to both Republicans and Democrats, but the Pelosi/Murtha/Reid axis of inanity believed the vote was an endorsement of their extremist, left-wing agenda. Good thing they were wrong. Too bad I was wrong — about the Democrats.

The Democratic “leadership” was all ready to sell the security of the U.S., Europe, and Israel down the river today. They really want to believe (X-Files) in placating Iran’s Islamist dictators, who’ve promised to “wipe Israel off the map,” and who chant mantras like “all of us should mobilize to kill.” Ahmadinejad has threatened the U.S. with “harm and pain” and is obsessed with ushering in the end of times. Iran’s rockets already threaten most of Europe, not to mention all of the Middle East. Imagine Tehran’s behavior if its WMD delivery media were tipped with nukes. All the more reason to placate Islamism? Uh, huh.

Pelosi et al were ready to surrender to Iran and flush the Constitution — the president’s war powers — down the plug hole, but were stopped thank goodness to the U.S. Congress’s rank and file, both Democrats and Republicans. These “little guys” haven’t lost touch with their constituents in Middle America:

Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush’s authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy. …

The Iran-related proposal stemmed from a desire to make sure Bush did not launch an attack without going to Congress for approval, but drew opposition from numerous members of the rank and file in a series of closed-door sessions last week.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev., said in an interview there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.

Mainstream Americans don’t want to surrender to Iran nor do they want to see the Jewish state annihilated, but top Democrats don’t understand what the people want. One would think that these issues are common sense, but not for these dangerous demagogues. I can’t wait to hear the Daily Kos crowd with their shrill screams of, “there goes the Congress, caving in again to Zionist interests.” They’re just as out of touch with reality as their “leaders” but, unfortunately, fear is still the ultimate motivator, especially when you are hiding from life under your bed.

Cross-posted at netwmd.com and IsraPundit

Al Qaeda-Gaza declares war on both Hamas and Fatah

Al Qaeda-Gaza declares war on both Hamas and Fatah

DEBKAfile Exclusive

Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman Zawahri issued a declaration of war on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in a videotape aired by the Arabic TV Al Jazeera.

An hour later, the Islamic Brotherhood of Justice (another name for al Qaeda’s operational branch in the Gaza Strip) announced the launching of its Operation White Land, targeting the political and military leaders of Fatah and Hamas.

DEBKAfile’s military sources also reveal that a rebellion has sprung up against the top Hamas leadership.

Olmert and Abbas nonetheless continue to act out a Pan-Arab diplomatic process at Washington’s behest (see separate item on this page), which has as much chance of getting off the ground in Gaza as Fatah’s Abbas’ assurance that the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilead Shalit, would be freed very soon.

The Zuwahri statement assailed the legitimacy Saudi Arabia extended to moves for a Palestinian unity government at the Mecca peace conference as recently as Feb. 8. Negotiations between the two factions are bogged down anyway.

“The leadership of Hamas government has committed an aggression against the rights of the Islamic nation by respecting international agreements,” thundered Ayman Zawahri Sunday. “I am sorry to have to offer the Islamic nation my condolences for the Hamas leadership as it has fallen into the quagmire of surrender.”

The Gaza al Qaeda cell then defined the four missions of Operation White Land:

    1. Targeting the most senior figures of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders.

    2. Focusing on group abductions rather than individuals, especially symbols of political corruption.

    3. Beheading is ordained for members of these groups. Their executions and confessions will be videotaped and aired as they are in Iraq.

    4. Blowing up Internet cafes and businesses selling alcohol; putting prostitutes to death to cleanse the streets of Gaza of prostitution.

Announcing these missions have won the sanction of Palestinian religious scholars, the communiqué ends with the words: “Operation White Land has begun.”

As for the revolt in Hamas, its Executive Force chief Jemal Jarah and his deputy, Yusouf a-Zahar (brother of Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud a-Zahar), accuse prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of being too soft with Abbas and Fatah and failing to follow through to victory on the battles they fought for weeks against Fatah. Determined to finish the job, Hamas rebels were back on the streets of Gaza this week, shooting and abducting their rivals, the Mecca Reconciliation Accords already a dead letter.

DEBKAfile adds: Shalit, who was abducted in June 2006 has become a counter in internecine Palestinian rivalries. He is guarded by two of the groups which kidnapped him, including members of al Qaeda. With the control of affairs in the Gaza Strip slipping out of the hands of prime minister Haniyeh, it is hard to see how any progress can be achieved towards gaining his freedom.

Evangelical Christians plead for Israel

Evangelical Christians plead for Israel

By Richard Allen Greene
BBC News, Washington

A week into one of the most severe crises the Middle East has seen in years, Israel is getting an influx of support from an unusual source. More than 3,400 evangelical Christians have arrived in Washington to lobby lawmakers as part of the first annual summit of Christians United for Israel.

Delegates have come from all 50 states and have 280 meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Pastor John Hagee said.

Pastor Hagee, the main organiser, said the event was the first of its kind.

“For the first time in the history of Christianity in America, Christians will go to the Hill to support Israel as Christians,” he said.

The event was planned months ago, and is not a direct response to the ongoing violence in the region.

They see God’s word being played out on their television sets
Timothy Shah, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

But the military conflict “certainly makes our meeting more significant,” Pastor Hagee said.

The thousands of Christians in Washington – who came and are staying at their own expense – will be urging the US government “not to restrain Israel in any way in the pursuit of Hamas and Hezbollah”, he said.

“We want our Congress to make sure that not one dime of American money goes to support Hamas and Hezbollah or the enemies of Israel.”

Gift from God

John Hagee is the pastor of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and a long-time fervent supporter of Israel.

In common with many American evangelicals, he believes that God gave the land to the Jewish people and that Christians have a Biblical duty to support it and the Jews.

His latest book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, interprets the Bible to predict that Russian and Arab armies will invade Israel and be destroyed by God.

This will set up a confrontation over Israel between China and the West, led by the anti-Christ, who will be the head of the European Union, Pastor Hagee writes.

That final battle between East and West – at Armageddon, as the actual Israeli location of Meggido is known in English – will precipitate the second coming of Christ, he concludes.

It is not clear how many evangelicals believe literally in those type of prophecies.

Research by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last year found that evangelical Christians were more likely to support Israel than any other religious group in America besides Jews.

And there are far more evangelicals in America than Jews – estimates suggest that they represent about a quarter of the US population. (Jews make up about 2%.)

Two in three evangelicals believe that the establishment of the state of Israel fulfils Biblical prophecy, the survey found.

And what they see in the news only reinforces their faith, according to Timothy Shah, a scholar at the Pew Forum.

“When they see what’s going on in the Middle East, a whole range of enemies arrayed against God’s people, they see God’s word being played out on their television sets,” he said.

“They see Israel triumphing over its enemies as proof that God’s promises remain.”

‘Huge influence’

Evangelical Christian support for Israel is “not a new phenomenon”, Mr Shah said, pointing out that there were Christian Zionists lobbying for a homeland for the Jews in Ottoman Palestine in the 19th Century.

These groups have much more influence that Aipac or the so-called Israel lobby
Michelle Goldberg,
Author of Kingdom Coming

What has changed is the movement’s level of political involvement, said Nancy Roman, the director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Washington programme.

“Part of what is happening is that the evangelical community in the US is becoming more engaged in the political process,” she said.

“Whereas the church used to counsel people not to engage in politics, many churches are now counselling the opposite.

“It’s important and it will have a huge influence on foreign policy over time,” she added.

Backing irredentists

Michelle Goldberg is deeply concerned about that influence.

She is the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, which argues that a significant strain of conservative Christianity is working to undermine fundamental American rights and freedoms.

She said the movement was just as dangerous in foreign policy.

“Christian Zionism is responsible for American support for some of the most irredentist Israeli positions,” she said, such as support for settlement-building.

She said evangelical Christians had substantial influence on US Middle East policy – more so than some better-known names such as Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“The influence of Hagee is to make the American public support the government’s completely one-sided, hawkishly pro-Israel stance. These groups have much more influence than Aipac or the so-called Israel lobby.”

Pastor Hagee himself said his group potentially had more clout than Jewish pro-Israel groups.

“When a congressman sees someone from Aipac coming through the door, he knows he represents six million people. We represent 40 million people.”

One of those people is Rosa Highwater of Biloxi, Mississippi, who heard about the Washington summit through a local pastor.

She had no money to attend, she said, but added: “You have to believe and trust in the Lord when he tells you he’s going to do something.”

And in the end, friends paid for her journey to Washington and put her up in nearby Virginia.

She said she was not sure which congressman she would be meeting on Wednesday, but she knew her mission was important.

“Israel is God’s first love,” she said. “The Lord told me to come and be an intercessor. I said, ‘I got to go. I got to do this.'”

Hardline Pastor Gets Prime AIPAC Spot

Hardline Pastor Gets Prime AIPAC Spot
James D. Besser – Washington Correspondent
 Growing ties between pro-Israel forces and a controversial, hardline “Christian Zionist” movement will move into the national spotlight at next week’s policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby.

One keynoter at the event, which annually draws hundreds of lawmakers, administration officials, diplomats and political hopefuls, will be Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), author of several books about biblical prophecy and an opponent of new territorial concessions to the Palestinians on biblical grounds.

Rev. Hagee, who will speak at a Sunday plenary, was also a leading backer of a controversial Christian broadcast venture in Israel that critics charge sought to convert Jews.

And a time when pro-Israel forces are being accused of beating the drums for war with Iran, Rev. Hagee seems to believe such a conflict is both inevitable and necessary. In his apocalypse-oriented book “Jerusalem Countdown,” he predicted a nuclear showdown with Iran and said, “The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching … rejoice and be exceedingly glad, the best is yet to be,” according to a Wall Street Journal report posted on the CUFI Web site.

Last year, Rev. Hagee told the Jerusalem Post that “I would hope the United States would join Israel in a military pre-emptive strike to take out the nuclear capability of Iran for the salvation of Western civilization.”

Israeli historian Michael Oren will also speak at Sunday’s plenary.

Giving Rev. Hagee such prominence at the premier pro-Israel gathering of the year — he attended last year’s conference — troubles some AIPAC supporters.

Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth El in San Antonio—the home of the John Hagee Ministries and to his 18,000-member Cornerstone Church—said he hopes the minister’s presence will be balanced by “Christians who support Israel but who do not share the ‘end of days’ theology and extremist anti-Palestinian positions and anti-Muslim prejudice so often spewed by Pastor Hagee.”

Rabbi Block, who said he is an “AIPAC supporter” and participates in local activities of the lobby, added that “there are those I love and respect in my community who believe we should work with Pastor Hagee on the important concern we share—the welfare of the state of Israel. However, despite what may be good intentions, I don’t think Pastor Hagee’s activism is good for Israel.”

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, cofounder of a We site that opposes Christian right church-state policies, said that Hagee’s AIPAC appearance will mark a “decisive point when the costs of a relationship with Hagee couldn’t be clearer. AIPAC has to know that Hagee’s push for an attack on Iran is not based on a logically constructed policy but on cherry-picked biblical verses. And it is only the first step to the end-times scenario that Hagee enthusiastically predicts will engulf Israel in a devastating war.”

A former AIPAC official said giving Rev. Hagee a key speaking slot represents one more step toward an AIPAC embrace of the Evangelicals that began more than two decades ago, and warned that it has political risks.

“This sends out a message of an endorsement by AIPAC at a time when these Christian groups seem to be losing power in Congress—and when the Democrats, who have long opposed this cozying up to the religious right, are now in power,” this activist said.

But many pro-Israel leaders believe Rev. Hagee and other Christian Zionists, representing a growing political force, are a critical addition to the pro-Israel coalition — especially as “mainline” Protestant churches continue to castigate Israel for its West Bank policies.

But Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a strong critic of many Christian right groups, said he is not alarmed about Hagee’s role in the policy conference.

“I think there is a role for him,” Foxman aid. “He has earned a certain recognition with the community because of his support for Israel.”

Foxman said he expects Hagee will get a good reception. “It’s a friendly platform,” he said. “I’m sure an overwhelming majority may be pleased with what he says.”

That reflects an annual conference expected to strike a hawkish note on a number of issues, starting with the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Other keynote speakers will include Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and—health permitting—Vice President Dick Cheney. The current Israeli government will be represented by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Ambassador Sallai Meridor.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, several sources said, will tell delegates that increased aid to Palestinian moderates is in Israel’s interests—a call that may conflict with a major AIPAC theme.

In a show of both political clout and bipartisanship that has become routine for AIPAC, the conference will feature speeches by all four top congressional leaders.

AIPAC says “more than 6,000 pro-Israel activists, including 1,200 students representing over 390 campuses” will attend. “Lead by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and both House and Senate Republican leaders all speaking under the same tent, this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference underscores the bipartisan nature of American support for Israel,” according to AIPAC spokesman Josh Block. “The conference schedule also underscores the long history, breadth and diversity of America’s centuries of support for the Jewish homeland in Israel.”

Anxiety about Iran will dominate the conference, and it is a major element in the “action agenda” that, at least in theory, sets the group’s goals for next year. Members of the executive committee will debate and vote on the statement on Sunday.

Proposed new language in the policy statement supports using “all means necessary for the United States, Israel and their allies to prevent Iran and other nations from developing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and the vehicles for their delivery.”

Lobbying for tougher sanctions legislation will also be a top priority for AIPAC delegates when they blanket Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Protecting Israel’s big chunk of foreign aid has traditionally been a top AIPAC priority, but this year the group will also emphasize “closely monitoring assistance to countries that are not supporting American objectives in the region.”

At the top of that list: the Palestinian Authority. Congress has frozen an administration request for $86 million in emergency aid to boost Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ forces.

Pro-peace groups say they will not press AIPAC to soften its language about the Palestinians, as they have done in the past. Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), will come to the executive committee meeting loaded with amendments aimed at toughening them.

The AIPAC conference will be the usual display of political clout, but the group also faces some new challenges, including a new Democratic leadership that remains strongly pro-Israel but less in lockstep with AIPAC than their Republican predecessors.

Congressional observers say AIPAC remains a legislative powerhouse, “but more lawmakers will now feel free to ask questions, especially about routine and nonbinding resolutions praising Israel and criticizing the Palestinians,” said a longtime pro-Israel lobbyist.

But AIPAC’s influence on signature issues like Iran and foreign aid to Israel remains intact despite the partisan shift, said Kean University political scientist Gilbert Kahn.

“AIPAC has successfully maneuvered itself through Democratic and Republican administrations, Democratic and Republican Congresses, and there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again,” he said.

Kahn said AIPAC has also strengthened itself by aggressively “pushing the Orthodox community to engage. You have more and more Orthodox rabbis who are touting AIPAC and touting joining AIPAC. AIPAC understands that if you get the rabbis on board, they in turn will press the community to get involved.”

That “dramatic shift,” he said, may make AIPAC “less representative, but it also strengthens the group as voices on Mideast policy become more diverse.

“It’s a source of strength because this is a community that is comfortable with the direction AIPAC has taken in recent years,” he said.

AIPAC also faces a rising challenge from Jewish groups on both the right and the left that take a different tack on Mideast policy, and that are increasingly active on Capitol Hill.

The Zionist Organization of America on the right and both Americans for Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum on the left are expanding their lobbying, targeting areas where they feel AIPAC does not represent them.

None can come close to eclipsing AIPAC, although IPF, Washington sources say, is starting to build a network of campaign contributors who also support the group’s perspective on Mideast affairs—a key element in AIPAC’s strength.

Still, on the verge of the 2007 policy conference, they point to a changed lobbying environment for what remains the pre-eminent group on the pro-Israel scene.

Why Christians struggle to redeem the culture

 

Why Christians struggle to redeem the culture






by Robert E. Meyer

 

Perhaps you are one of those people who often wonder how come there are so many professing Christians in America, yet the culture is deteriorating like a timber foundation infested with termites and dry rot.

My own recent experience is a nut shell illustration of the principle problem.

Last fall, my state was one of several to offer a binding voter referendum defining the parameters of legal marriage. Our local Unitarian Universalist fellowship placed up a large banner under the sign identifying the location of their organization. The banner encouraged passers-by to vote no on the amendment.

While the belief that traditional marriage is a sacred institution in Christianity and other religions, no local house of worship saw fit, or had the fortitude, to place up advocacy for the amendment, or even an endorsement of traditional marriage on their marquees. Furthermore, when I asked a few local Christian pastors if they were addressing the issue of marriage before their congregations, I generally received a lackluster response. On the other hand, clergymen from liberal churches seemed more than willing to either announce or publicly debate their views decrying legislation supporting traditional marriage.

In January I received a similar response regarding the abortion issue.

There seems to be reluctance on the part of many Christian churches, professing an orthodox biblical catechism, to weigh in on cultural issues they deem as overtly political. I don’t know all the reasons for this unfortunate and destructive phenomenon, but I will offer a few lines of thought regarding my suspicions.

First, many newly founded evangelical churches have adopted a model for maximum growth that caters to the senses and common human emotional needs, but neglects strong theological and apologetic instruction.

Secondly, church leaders worry about the legal implications of advocating principles that can be defined in political terms; essentially concerns over separation of church and state. Many religious organizations are chartered as 501(c)3 entities under the IRS code, and fear challenges to tax-exempt status. The best way not to go over some perceived “line in the sand,” is not to venture anywhere near it.

Church leaders sometimes believe that “cultural issues” should not directly be a concern of the Church’s mission. They reason that it may adulterate the Gospel, and that such activism distracts and deviates from the behavioral example set by Christ. Their philosophy can be represented in a statement such as, “Christ told us to be fishers of men, not cleansers of dirty fish bowls.” They perceive the cultural mandate to be a fiat of the “religious right,” or believe it ought to be addressed only in terms of personal piety and conscience. As such, they will profess that they have strong convictions towards issues like abortion, stem-cell research and the family, but won’t emphasize these issues as congregational mandates.

Finally, they see the presentation of these issues as polarizing, and obstacles to church unity. It is far easier to concentrate on less controversial issues of social justice, such as helping the poverty stricken. Unfortunately, even in such areas, leaders don’t delineate the church’s responsibilities for social welfare from the constitutional obligations of the state. As such, they dissolve the “wall” between church and state that they were trying not to breach by avoiding a stand on hot-button issues in their pulpits.

And what are the results of this trend?

You have throngs of people who profess to be Christians, who attend worship regularly, but are ill equipped to be the preserving salt and a light beacon to an increasingly God-neglecting culture. Often these well-meaning people have only the apologetic armor of cliche and platitude which is easily pierced by a clever skeptic. They are either unsure of what they believe or can’t defend the reasons for the positions they hold. Their preparation is not to be “always ready” to give an account for the hope that they profess.

Indeed, we discover that the moral behavior of Christians at large along many categories is scarcely indistinguishable from the same measurements taken out in the secular world of the population in general. A recent Barna survey has also revealed that of those professing to be Christians, few can answer wholly in the affirmative on several basic questions fundamental to the Christian faith. Those results come from an emphasis on the “warm fuzzies” that are the fodder of pop psychology, rather than supplying substance to the interrogative “How should we then live?”

As I was writing this piece, my wife told me that she heard on a radio program that a majority of Christians recently polled were unable to identify more than four of the Ten Commandments. Yesterday we took them out of the public schools–today they are apparently arcane for even the majority of churches.

Among the more liberal churches, you will hear slogans like “Jesus welcomed prostitutes and thieves, so why shouldn’t we?” Fine, as far as it goes. The difference is Jesus added, “go and sin no more,” to complete the package of ministry, whereas many mainline churches want to defend the unrepentant the way Waylon Jennings defined cowboys: “They ain’t wrong, they’re just different.” So in what practical way do these institutions differ from temples of secular humanism with spires protruding from their roof tops?

Until Christian churches of all denominations grasp the urgency of our times, and gain a genuine zeal for emphasizing the cultural mandate, our churches will increasingly become weekend “bless-me” guilds

The Lost Scandal

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