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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Toulouse Massacre: Let's Call a Spade a Spade!!!

     Over a week ago, I woke up to the news of the killing of a Rabbi and three other children at the Jewish school Ozar Ha Torah in Toulouse, France. Additionally, the gunman appeared to have been the same who also killed several french paratroopers days before. France was in shock, so was I.
     But in an effort to be accurate and err on the side of safety, I felt that before we pigeonholed the killer into a specific category, we should wait an allow the French authorities to do their job. Great was the temptation to immediately cry "anti-Semitism killed again" and greater was the temptation to label the gunman as an Islamist on a mission to kill Jews. Yet, he was also responsible for the death of a man from the Carribbean and two other men, a Muslim and a Catholic. Was he a Neo-Nazi or was he simply insane?
     The French media outlets excelled at their attempt to whitewash the crime. Their agenda was hiding in plain sight as they made every effort to divert public opinion of Merah from a radical Muslim terrorist to an extreme-right terrorist or even worse an insane individual. Insanity exonerates responsibility, how convenient!
     It only took a couple of days for the French police to locate Mohammed Merah less than 3 miles from the Jewish school where he massacred the 4 people. After an intense raid on his apartment that lasted over 30 hours, the police shot him as he tried to jump through a window.
     All doubts about his motives were quickly removed when it was proven that he was ideologically linked to Al-Qaeda. MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) documents Merah's affiliation to Al-Qaeda through the French group Fursan Al-'Izza (The Knights of Pride). Merah had been under surveillance by French authorities since at least 2005. He had travelled several times to the Middle East and Afghanistan, including Israel in 2010. He was arrested in Afghanistan in 2010 an immediately put on a no-fly list by the United-States while France decided to simply put him under surveillance.
     While Merah might have acted under the leadership of Al-Qaeda, it is more likely that he acted alone, simply led by his ideological convictions. And frankly, that makes him and others like him more dangerously impulsive.
     In the end, Merah's ties to Al-Qaeda being real or simply ideological makes no difference, especially to the victims' families. He murdered 7 people in a coldblooded act that he also saw fit to put on video. The man was evil NOT insane. Insanity exonerates responsibility, evil does not!
     There should be no room in our minds for doubt about Merah's motives. There should be no excuses for his hatred, and there should be no justification for his actions. Yet, on March 23rd, a teacher in Rouen, Normandy asked her 12th grade class to observe "a minute of silence for the victim" referring to Merah. Half of her class walked out and she was immediately suspended with possible further sanctions. The teacher had also said that Merah's ties to Al-Qaeda were invented by the media and by President Sarkozy. The teacher later claimed that she was not well and that she needed time off. Insanity exonerates responsibility!
     Liberalism and political correctness are becoming the accomplices of Radical Islam in the global takeover of Western civilization. Liberals are facilitating the work of radical  Muslim extremists as they join forces aiming at a common enemy: Israel and the Jewish people.
     Do not be fooled though, if Radical Islam is using Liberals to further their agenda of demonization and destruction of the Jewish people, guess who becomes the next enemy when Israel is no longer a threat?
     Of course, God will never forsake Israel as the Bible promises in no uncertain terms in the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:35-37):

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the  fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: If  this fixed order departs  From before Me,”declares the LORD,“Then the offspring of Israel also shall  cease From being a nation before Me  forever.” Thus says the LORD, “ If the heavens above can be measured,  And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD. 

      Unfortunately, many people are suffering from the current state of affairs because very few feel that they can or should do something. In a sense, they feel that it is not their responsibility. But wait, if they feel exonerated from their responsibility to stand up and fight for the truth, does that make them insane as well? In the words of Rabbi and philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel:

               "Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a    
           people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible." 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

France's Worst Hate Crime in Three Decades!

     I remember the day when the French media announced that the Jewish Deli Jo Goldenberg in the Paris Jewish quarters had been bombed, it was August 9, 1982. Two men entered the restaurant, threw a grenade and then emptied their machine guns randomly onto the patrons. Six people died and 22 were wounded in what was soon recognized as the worst Jewish death toll in France since World War Two.
     Then, two days ago, on March 19, the news came that an unidentified gunman had just shot 4 people at a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse in Southwestern France. A Rabbi from the school, his two sons and another girl were shot to their death by a man who came and went on a scooter. The civilized world is mourning the lives of these innocent people and I personally grieve for Rabbi's Jonathan Sandler family.
     France is currently on high alert. This level of heightened security hasn't occurred since post 9/11. A manhunt of national proportions is underway while French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that everything will be done to find the killer and bring him to justice. What a test for leadership within 90 days of the next presidential elections!
      “This is a national tragedy,” Sarkozy said at the Ozar Hatorah school. “Everything will be done to find who is responsible and to make him pay for his crimes. Hatred must not win.”
     In the meantime, many around the world and especially within the Jewish community are speculating as to the motives and/or agenda that drove the gunman to such a heartless, coldblooded massacre. Antisemitism is obviously the first thing that comes to mind when one recalls the horror that took place at the Jewish school. But we must resist the temptation to jump to conclusion out of a desire to show our compassion to our Jewish friends. A crime? Yes. A hate crime? Most certainly! beyond this we must be patient and let the authorities do their work.
     It would be very easy for someone like me to quickly draw the same conclusion of blatant anti-Semitism based on my years of research on the subject, yet, the French police, the French anti-terrorist units and the rest of the world do not have enough evidence to clearly paint that picture. And yet, there is more!
     It is now becoming pretty certain that the same killer was also responsible for deaths of two paratroopers in Montauban (30 miles away) on Thursday and one more in Toulouse a week prior. The shooting rampage was done by a man on a black scooter and the same weapon was identified in all the crimes.
     I am still reluctant to label this carnage solely as an antisemitic crime because the other victims were from the Northwest African region known as the Maghreb and from the Caribbean. Was the killer racist? no question in my mind! Was he deranged? I think he was, considering that he had strapped a recording device on his chest and possibly recorded the whole event! Was it an act of antisemitism? Time will tell and hopefully we won't have to wait too long to be able to determine if this act was from a radical Islam agenda, a right-wing Neo nazi agenda or simply a mad man on a serial killing rampage.
     No matter what we find out, the tragedy remains the same, and those left behind have a duty to fight and expose such hatred. This tragedy, if it proves to have been driven by pure hatred of the Jewish people will only confirm a sad reality that I already have known too well for over a decade now: France is no longer a safe for Jewish people!
     In the meantime, God, who never changes, is waiting for us to go to Him in prayer.
     My prayer is that the families of the victims (both the paratroopers and the Jewish family) would be comforted by God's shalom at such a difficult time.
     It is hard for me to grasp such cruelty, but then again,
      The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 
                                                                                                                      (Jeremiah 17:9)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Dejudaization of Jerusalem! Really?

     The new catchphrase within anti-Zionist circles is the "Dejudaization of Jerusalem". Historically, it is as ludicrous to attempt to dejudaize Jerusalem as it is to claim that the Eiffel Tower must be "returned" to China!
     Jerusalem might be at the crossroads of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but historically and biblically, it is the Jewish capital. For instance, Jerusalem is mentioned by name over 800 times in the Bible ( about 75% of them in the Tenach and 25% in the New Testament) while it is possibly only mentioned once in the Qur'an and not even by name but simply as the place of the "farthest mosque" in conjunction with Muhammad's "night journey in Sura Bani Isra-il 17.1, and even then, there are no mention of the word Jerusalem at all. It is also referred to in Sura Bani Isra-il 17.7 when mention is made of the "Temple", and that is it for the entire Qur'an!
      So why is it that Muslims are insisting for the acquisition of Jerusalem as one of the most holy sites under Islam? Could it be simply because Jerusalem is the holiest Jewish site and by virtue of that claim both historically and biblically, Muslims must take it upon themselves to "reclaim" Jerusalem? But reclaiming requires a prior ownership and the Bible is clear as to whom Jerusalem belongs to. Every occurrence of the word "Jerusalem" in the Bible has within its context a connection to the Jewish people, the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And all of this of course, happened centuries before the 622 AD birth of Islam. The Jewish prophet Daniel prayed daily towards Jerusalem while in captivity (Daniel 6:10).    
      Additionally, a great future awaits Jerusalem and the Jewish people as we can read in Zechariah 8:1-23

     “Thus says the LORD of hosts,‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the 
     land of the west; and I will bring them back, and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem, and they will be  My      
     people and I will be their God in  truth and righteousness.’ Zechariah 8:7-8

     According to Canadian Lawyer and author Jacques Gauthier, It has also been proven that by international law that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Gauthier's 1300 page dissertation on the topic documents the series of treatises (including the critical San Remo treaty in Italy) that established Jerusalem's Jewish ownership beyond the shadow of a doubt.
     I think that the dejudaization of Jerusalem is simply the next step on the anti-Zionist agenda to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people. If it can be proven to the world that Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital and as such, must be reclaimed, then the enemies of Israel from the liberal Left to Radical Islam will have justified the eradication of the Jewish people. For centuries, the Jewish people were "A people without a country", then they were historically and prophetically granted Israel back as a modern nation in 1948. From that moment on, Antisemites and anti-Zionists around the world have worked overtime and with increasing creativity to delegitimize the Jewish people and their right to the land and to Jerusalem. The final goal being: "A country without a people"! The Jewish people that is!
     Multiple attempts have been made and have attracted the world's attention via a myriad of media outlets. The Gaza flotillas, the Durban I, II and III anti-Zionist conferences in the name of "anti-racism", Mahmoud Abbas' attempt at a unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations in September 2011, UNESCO acceptance of Palestine as its newest member,  Christ at the Checkpoint "Evangelical" Conference (see my previous blog entry on that topic) towards "reconciliation" between Israelis and Palestinians and the lists goes on!
     And now the world appears to be uniting as 20 countries are joining hands and marching towards Israel under the banner of the "Global march to Jerusalem" to "unoccupy" Jerusalem on March 30, 2012 as they all converge on the capital. A million people is expected to invade Israel's borders. The long list of international organizations and personalities bears witness of the agenda being furthered here. Bishop Desmond Tutu and Pastor N.T Wright (President Obama's pastor of two decades) are amongst the many endorsers.
     The promotional video is a mixed collage of world cities appearing to support the cause along with international personalities giving their two-thumbs up. The colors and shape of the Palestinian flag are almost on very frame, not to mention the one-sided message of a Palestinian flag (at 1:24 min.) layering the entire map of Israel. No two-state solution here! You can watch their promo video here.
     The actual "peaceful invasion" has yet to take place and it might be thwarted but regardless of the outcome, Israel will be painted further in the corner of the oppressor/invader of Palestine... guaranteed!
     There is a great danger here for Israel as the world community is being recruited under the false premise of a peaceful march. One is to wonder what kind of real agenda is being driven when the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is included and Iran is endorsing the event. The potential for confusion and a plethora of opportunities for the pro-Palestinian media will be limitless. Israel is about to be demonized by an international delegation of misinformed militants at best or antisemitic enemies at worst. In both cases, we are getting closer and closer to the day when in accordance with God's word, the whole world will turn against Israel (even though He will never allow for her complete destruction). We shouldn't be surprised!
     Behold, a  day is coming for the LORD when  the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will       
     gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the  houses plundered, the women 
     ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Zechariah 14:1-2     
     (see also Zechariah 12:3)
     The March to Jerusalem is one more milestone being added to the destructive agenda of hatred promoted by the enemies of those God calls "the apple of my eye" in Zechariah 2:8.
     May God have mercy on them as we pray for Israel's safety and as we also pray for Israel's enemies and their salvation. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Truth, Half-Truths and Lies: "Christ at the Checkpoint" anti-Israel Conference

For as long as I can remember, the Middle East has been in turmoil. Arabs and Jews appear to have been at each other’s throats since the day Israel was reborn as a modern nation in may of 1948 (that very day also being known as “al-Nakba” or “the Catastrophe” in the Islamic culture).
Being a Jew born and raised in Paris and as a child of Holocaust survivors, I grew-up in a culture that instilled in me the reality of anti-Semitism as well as the existing hatred between Arabs and Jews. While my own family never taught me to retaliate evil for evil, there was always an underlying uneasiness about “those Arabs who hate us!” as I often heard growing up.
Then I met my Messiah in the summer of 1981. While my growth in Yeshua (Jesus) was slow at first, it was steady and I grew increasingly aware of God’s love for ALL people, Jews, Arabs and anyone else. As difficult as it was for this Jew to really accept that concept, as a follower of the Messiah, I had no other choice but to accept that God not only loves all, but that He also requires us to love all, including our enemies: “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).
This is why I am deeply saddened AND concerned by the recent conference known as “Christ at the Checkpoint” (CatC) that took place March 5-9, 2012 at Bethlehem Bible College. This was the second of its kind after the one that took place in 2010.
The subtitle of the conference was “hope in the midst of conflict”. The theme was advertised as being “peace and reconciliation”. In and of themselves, both the title and theme are commendable efforts to be recognized by anyone, assuming they are an accurate and ethical description of the events that took place. As it turned out, following in the footsteps of the 2010 conference, the 2012 event did not have reconciliation at heart, unless of course reconciliation was the result of a unilateral admission of Israel’s faults in the Middle East crisis. This would of course require recognizing Israel as a guilty occupier and perpetrator of crimes against humanity, hardly a fact!
Advertised on their own website as a huge “evangelical breakthrough” , CatC claims that over 600 local and international Christians gathered (including several Messianic Jews). Many evangelical figures spoke during the conference, bringing their support and endorsements to the cause. It was also stated that:
Conference organizers challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of “end times” prophecy and instead rallied them to join in following Jesus in the prophetic pursuance of justice, peace and reconciliation.
This prompted a unified response from several Messianic Jewish organizations (a small miracle considering that when you put two Jews in a room, you get three opinions). A response that rightfully so, showed great concern for the direction the Conference was taking
Additionally, CatC organizers including blatant anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic Stephen Sizer, also published a manifesto that was agreed upon and signed by all organizers.
While that manifesto contains some truth, it is ambiguous and misleading at best, but also rather libelous in some cases. A closer look at it in light of God’s Word is necessary. Following in bold is the exact text of the manifesto along with Scripture to either validate its truth or rebuke its error.            
The Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto

The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
DISAGREED: Kingdom Now Theology also known as a variance of Dominion Theology claims among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His first coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in the yet to come Millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:10)

Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.
AGREED: God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24).

Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
DISAGREED: The benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant as multi-faceted as they are promised to both the Jewish people and the nations through Abraham, yet the physical land is ONLY promised to the Jewish people, ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4; 35:9-15

The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.
AGREED: Yeshua’s last command to His disciples was to make disciples of ALL NATIONS (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47)

Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
DISAGREED: It must be understood first and foremost that the Land of Israel belongs to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23). God chose to make a covenant with Abraham that would include that piece of land as an eternal AND unconditional part of that covenant. Additionally, God’s gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.  
AGREED: Yeshua always taught against violence for believers, as a matter of fact, He taught the exact opposite between His followers as well as between His followers and unbelievers, making Christianity a most unique faith were disciples of Messiah must EVEN love their enemies (Matthew 5:39-48; Luke 6:27-35, Romans 12:17-21)

Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.
AGREED: In any conflict, ALL parties must be willing to recognize fault and prepared to adjust accordingly. (Proverbs 18:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:1-17)

There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution  must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.
 PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While mutual respect of human beings as being made in God’s image is at the core of peace and reconciliation, what is meant by “injustices in the Palestinian territories” remains to be defined. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24)

For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.
 PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While nobody enjoys living in a land that they feel is theirs and is occupied by a foreign people group, it remains to be proven biblically that Jewish people are the occupiers. All previous Scriptures cited about the Land lead to an opposite view (See verses under points 3 and 5).

Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.
AGREED: While it is possible to disagree with Israeli policies, much of what has  been labeled as anti-Israelism or even anti-Zionism has really been anti-Semitism   in disguise. Genuine Christian love is at the core of any reconciliation and is irrespective of color or race. (2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 3:14).

Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: Respectful dialogue means that both sides must be heard and both sides must listen. Agreeing on the Gospel of Yeshua doesn’t negate God’s covenants with the Jewish people (Romans 1:16; 9-11)

Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.
AGREED: While again I find the statement misleading as it could be taken to mean that there is a justification for radical Islam’s violence, I agree that Christian love is always to be the foundation of any lasting peace and reconciliation (See verses under points 6).

     I recognize that the breaking down of the manifesto into sections to be either supported or refuted by God’s Word is non exhaustive at best. Nevertheless, it provides a bit more of a biblical foundation on which to rest for a more balanced approach to the Middle East conflict.
     While CatC appears to seek justice and to be interested in hearing both sides (thus the few messianic pro-Zionists on the list of speakers), it is still obvious to me that the scale was heavily tipped by anti-Semitism at worst, and anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism at best. Unfortunately, the very fact that some evangelicals participated in the conference and that many more will endorse its false agenda of “peace and reconciliation” is proof to me that the Body of Messiah has lost its sense of discernment, an issue that we have been warned about regarding the last days.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Messiah Yeshua, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5).