Christian Coalition

One of the most memorable moments of any tour to Israel is standing on the Mount of Olives and looking across the valley at the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount. One can’t help but imagine the magnificent Temple of King Herod standing there, or Jesus walking through the Eastern Gate as He most assuredly did and, according to scripture, will most likely do again.

But, any casual observer will notice that the Eastern Gate has been sealed shut! Almost 500 years ago, when the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent, he commanded that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project he decided to put an end to Jewish Messianic hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.

This biblical, historical, and future significance of the Temple Mount makes it the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the entire world. An example of the extreme sensitivity over ownership of the site is that Jews and Christians are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount which is under strict Muslim control. Jewish prayer is held below the Temple Mount facing the remains of the western retaining wall.

Jesus had this same breathtaking view when, during His triumphal entry, as he rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives, He wept over Jerusalem. Despite the crowds shouting Hosanna and hailing Him as King, His heart was in agony for Jerusalem.

He understood the significance of Jerusalem, and what awaited Him there. He also knew of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and prophesied that no stone would be left that was not thrown down. Archeological excavations of the southern area around the Temple Mount have exposed stones that were thrown from the walls of the Temple just as Jesus had predicted. They have also uncovered the southern steps that ascended to the Temple Mount; stairs Jesus most likely walked on.

After his triumphal entry to Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the Temple, reasoned with the religious leaders, and later retreated back over the Mount of Olives to Bethany, where He remained for two days until Passover. It was in a large upper room in an affluent part of Jerusalem that Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples and predicted His impending death. Tour groups can visit an upstairs room in the probable vicinity of the real upper room which is a nice place to visualize the Passover story.

From the upper room, the biblical account tells us that Jesus retreated back to the Mount of Olives which was His custom. The Mount of Olives was named as such because it was covered by a large olive grove, and Gethsemane, the place where Jesus went to pray, meant “olive press.” In today’s garden of Gethsemane, housing the Church of all Nations, one can see olive trees that are almost 1,000 years old and may in fact have roots from the time of Jesus.

Jesus prayed in Gethsemane three times under increasing pressure, reminiscent of the incremental weight of an olive press extracting oil from olives. It was also there He was betrayed by Judas, arrested, and taken to the High Priest.

The story continues in the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, which was back in that same affluent neighborhood in Jerusalem. Today, tourists can view in that vicinity archeological remains of a very nice home with cisterns dug underneath indicating the affluence of its owner. It also has a prison cell dug into the bedrock below. Whether this is the place where Jesus was held overnight is not known but the visitor is able to see how He may have spent that night in a pitch black cavern.

The next morning Jesus was taken to Pontius Pilate and we have the story of His conviction, scourging and His agonizing walk to Golgotha where He was crucified. The most likely site of Golgotha is today under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is a crusader building encompassing several older chapels built over a different sites, such as Golgotha and the tomb of Jesus. Because the original sites are many feet below ground level, and all the visitor is able to see is an ornate Orthodox or Catholic altar with perhaps a small view of stone below ground, it is not a popular site for Protestants.

The other site preferred by most Protestant groups is a lovely garden, conducive to prayer and worship, at the foot of a stone hill physically resembling a skull, just as the gospel writers described Golgotha. In the side of that hill is a hewn tomb like the one Jesus would have been buried in. The door to the tomb carries the good news that “He is Risen!”

To relive the final days of Jesus on a visit to Jerusalem makes the story come alive! Most importantly, we find that the tomb is empty. We do not go to Jerusalem to find Jesus, because He is wherever hearts have welcomed Him. But, a trip to Jerusalem does help us appreciate His final days and the authenticity of the biblical account.

Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and leads tours to Israel www.icejusa.org/tours. This article is the third in a series to introduce Israel and various biblical sites of interest to the Christian reader.

 

"He is risen!"

Matthew 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The whole of the Christian church is comprised of many denominations and the Bible teaches that we are to be united in one body in order reflect the love of Christ to the world.  While we do not have to be on the same page concerning methods and traditions of worships, we are to be united on at least the fundamentals of our faith but sadly we are quite divided.  Many in mainstream churches have been deceived by teachers who have crept in unawares spreading false doctrine.  The Bible warns that in ‘later times some will fall away from the faith paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Today this doctrine of demons is manifesting in the form of Replacement Theology and BDS against Israel.

As I pen this article the Christ at the Checkpoint conference is gathering steam and many C.I.N.Os (Christians in Name Only) are coming together in the very land where Jesus was born – where He was born to Jewish parents in a town called Bethlehem which is located in the land deeded to the Jews by God Himself but which is now occupied by Palestinians. Many of those gathering for this heretical conference have been duped into believing that God no longer considers the Jews His chosen people or Israel His special land.  My Bible teaches that God made an eternal covenant with the Jewish people and eternal means forever. Those who embrace Replacement Theology have motives which are antithetical to the Word of God.  The Bible describes these people as ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ who have taken great liberty in rewriting and wrongly interpreting the Bible to fit their anti-Semitic agendas.  Why else would the organizers of this conference be holding it in the Palestinian occupied town of Bethlehem and actively promoting support for BDS campaigns against Israel? Those currently making news by joining their forces with those who have lined up against Israel are the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church (with some exceptions), the Mennonite Church USA, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA and others.

Now I know that the Bible teaches that Christians are not to judge however it does give us great liberty to be ‘fruit inspectors.’  Even Jesus said in the Book of Matthew that we would know His people by their fruits. He goes on to warn in the very next sentence that, “Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter in to the kingdom of Heaven.” Clearly Jesus is talking about C.I.N.Os (Christians in Name Only).     

The organizers of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference have apparently not read the unedited version of The Holy Bible which has been unified in accuracy since the time Jesus was crucified by the Romans. The Christ at the Checkpoint conference is farcical of the first order. It is being falsely promoted as a conference for evangelical Christians by people with a political agenda who will answer to God Almighty for their misleading teachings. The Bible talks repeatedly about ‘the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom.’  The people organizing and attending this gathering are clearly off base, the educated ignorant who have no fear of the Lord. Not only are they ‘touching the apple of God’s eye’ but they are working hard attempting to poke it out.    

Genuine Evangelical Christians are on guard against false teaching because we read the Bible for ourselves and believe it to be the inspired Word of God - absolutely true from cover to cover.  If just one sentence is wrong then the whole book should be thrown away.  If God cannot accurately record exactly what He meant then clearly He is not capable of being the Creator of the Universe and the Author and Giver of Life. Genuine Evangelical Christians are led by the Holy Spirit of God and not by the ideas of man. Replacement Theology is an anti-Semitic attitude born of jealousy and hatred which states that wherever God talks about Israel and the Jews He is really talking about Christians and the church.  There is absolutely no place in the touchstone of Christianity, the Holy Bible, asserting the doctrinal position of the church replacing Israel. Being a doctrine, a belief with no factual basis, means that it was made-up. Something made-up is as malleable as one wants to make it in order to support a contrary position.  

As long as there are those willing to ascribe to an agenda not based on fact, why not start a ‘Peter Pan the Palestinian’ at the Checkpoint conference? It will give the believers something to do and maybe shed a tear or two because the young Palestinian boy named Peter has to go through a checkpoint brought about by terrorism, brutality and murder instigated and perpetuated by a clearly defined segment of a hostile population.

 

 

The upcoming election for president of the United States is important on many levels but especially because of our poor standing on the international stage.  Our allies no longer trust us and our enemies do not fear us and Iran is proof positive.

With all of its faults and unknowns, the Iran Nuclear Deal is over and done.  Israel has moved on but is making plans and provisions for the known and the unknown.  Israel has a front row seat watching the powers and governments in the Middle East change and rearrange on almost daily basis.

As part of the gift package to Iran, President Obama lifted the sanctions on Iran giving them a financial boon to use as it wills and what it wills is to destroy America and Israel.  Iran has wasted no time in enhancing its proxy wars by supporting the terrorist organizations Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north of Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  With an influx of capital, rocket and missile armaments used by these two terrorist entities will be bolstered and advanced projectiles systems with greater accuracy will be acquired.  All of this is quite unnerving for Israel which remains America’s only friend and ally in the Middle East despite the fact that the current administration in Washington D.C. has practically thrown this tiny nation under the bus.

Is Israel justified in being concerned now that Iran has been smiled upon by the United States?  Absolutely!  Hezbollah has acknowledged having thousands of missiles and rockets aimed and ready to pound Israel.  Hamas is continuing to build tunnels through which to smuggle weapons and infiltrate Israel to perpetrate acts of terror on innocent Israelis.  Israel is rightly justified in moving forward with a real sense of urgency to enhance its defensive and strategic capacities.

With the advent of the Iran Nuclear Deal and America’s unwillingness to play any significant role in the shifting affairs of the Middle East, Iran has been emboldened to capitalize on the winds of political change.  There is nothing to hold them in check and no real mechanism in place to verify their compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal therefore Iran has been empowered to follow its rogue ambitions against Israel.  At a recent press conference in Beirut, Iran’s ambassador publicly declared that Iran will pay $7,000.00 to any Palestinian who dies while committing the murder of an Israeli.  To a Palestinian, this is quite a sum of money it very tempting for Palestinians to become paid assassins.  Iran’s ambassador went on to declare that any Palestinian family who has their home destroyed by the IDF because it was found to be harboring terrorists or supporting terrorists’ activities will be paid $30,000.00.  This sum is akin to a person in the United States winning the lottery.

Where is the public outrage?  Has the world settled on a ‘new normal’ whereby it’s acceptable to threaten Israel and the Jewish people with death and destruction without fear of consequence?  There are laws against hate speech but it seems Israel is not protected by them.  Once again, this is another double standard.

In spite of these dark storm clouds, there is a somewhat silver lining.  In the Middle East, new defensive alliances are being made between countries that never would have been made prior to the Iran Nuclear Deal.  Intelligence is being shared on a larger scale and business and economic pursuits are being discussed.  New channels of communication between Israel and her Arab neighbors are being opened because all are unhappy with Iran’s emerging power and boldness in the region.

Known for its patience, Iran now has the freedom and the time to engage in deceptive practices while it builds its nuclear capabilities in secret and Israel is well aware of Iran’s method of operation.  While Israel is certainly capable of holding her own against Iranian aggression, Iran is sending a psychological message to the world that they are strong and capable and will do whatever they want to do and they will do it their way.  Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to be the only leader of the free world who recognizes the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’.  Iran fully intends to have a deliverable nuclear bomb at its earliest convenience.  Left unchecked, this is certain to happen sooner rather than later and it would be no surprise if they were somehow aided by North Korea.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Israel in the changing Middle East, however I trust the God of Israel to give His divine wisdom to Israel’s leaders.  Perhaps He will send a miracle or two just as He did in 1967 and 1973.

 

Those who participate in singling out and attempting to hurt Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns are anti-Israel and not pro-Palestinian as they often claim.  The purpose of BDS is purely anti-Semitic meant only to inflict harm on Israeli businesses and the Israeli economy and not to help the Palestinians or any others for that matter.  If this were not so, those who support BDS would recognize that many Palestinians and Arabs freely and happily work for Israeli companies on both sides of the imaginary “Green Line.”  When Israeli industries and factories suffer, Palestinian and Arab workers suffer too. 

The BDS crowd either has no conscience or has forgotten the lessons of history.  If the church and others who know, or should know, right from wrong fail to stand up against any and all efforts and campaigns which single out Israel and the Jews as somehow deserving of being held to a different and higher standard, then they are failing to recognize the evil at the heart of BDS and anti-Semitism.  Such moral failure paved the way for six million innocent people to be murdered for no other reason than Jewish blood coursed through their veins and it must never happen again.  Sadly, though, as the Holocaust becomes a distant and fading memory, far too many are loosing any sense of shame at harboring anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments. It’s almost become fashionable to hate Israel and this is especially egregious when talking about Christians and church leaders who are either indifferent to Israel or who are members of those denominations which have spearheaded BDS campaigns.  After all, BDS is purely a campaign against Israel which is antithetical to the Word of G-d.

The Bible talks about a time when evil will be called as good and good will be called as evil.  Being a Zionist means believing that Jews should have their own, sovereign nation yet liberal professors and the media speak about Zionism as though it were an evil concept instead of something that is just, right and moral.  Some who support BDS think they are somehow helping the Palestinians. These naïve people have bought into the distortions perpetrated by the media and the images staged by the Palestinians themselves show suffering and poverty which they blame on Israeli policies.   The Palestinian people are neglected and suffering thanks only to their own government. Their poverty has nothing to do with Israel or Israeli policies. Israel and other countries around the world pump hundreds of millions of dollars each year into the Palestinian economy which only serves to shore up the corrupt Palestinian government.  This sad fact was revealed during Operation Protective Edge. Instead of using the humanitarian aid they received to build roads, hospitals, schools, parks, housing and so on, the Palestinian government redirected this funding in to the construction of tunnels of terror to invade Israel’s territory.  The world was deceived and betrayed and their generosity was used for evil. In other words, the dog bit the hand feeding it.

No, Israel is definitely not responsible for Palestinian suffering.  This rests squarely on the shoulders of their unstable government and their own uncivilized attitudes and behavior.  Remember back during the 2005 Gaza Disengagement when Israel unilaterally withdrew and forcibly removed many of its citizens from their homes in Gaza in order to give the land to the Palestinians?  Many do not know that under Israeli stewardship, Gaza was a beautiful beachfront community with thriving greenhouses, a lush agricultural industry and a solid community infrastructure.   When the Palestinians were given the deed to the Gaza, among their very first acts as new “property owners” was to demolish the greenhouses, plunder the fields, burn the crops and tear down the synagogues.  The greenhouses and the fields were income producing and the synagogues could have been renovated and utilized for schools, housing or other honorable purposes instead of destroyed and reduced to waste and rubble. 

Prejudice against Israel which is manifesting in BDS campaigns is the same bigotry which was at work during the rise of Nazism which ushered in a time of unspeakable atrocities.  With some exceptions BDS is, indeed, damaging to the Israeli economy but also to the Palestinian economy.  While Israel has learned to operate in a global marketplace with many of its products, inventions and technologies being integral parts of the products the world has come to depend on and enjoy, the same is not true for the Palestinians.  Israel produces quality products at competitive prices which serves to support a sizeable contingent of Palestinian and Arab workers.

The movement by the European Union demanding the labeling of products made in Judea and Samaria be marked as such and not be labeled as “Made in Israel” is all part of the global BDS campaign to discredit Israel.  The United States has now jumped on the bandwagon with President Obama ordering the same damaging labeling changes. All this is an attempt to delegitimize Israel even if Palestinian lives and livelihoods are hurt or ruined in the process.

But the BDS movement does not stop with products.  The press has been reporting on academic boycotts as well as a movement by a group of British medical doctors who have called for the exclusion of Israeli physicians from the World Medical Association. This would have been a huge mistake.  Thank G-d that the World Medical Association did not support the call from those British doctors to boycott Israeli physicians. Israel is so far advanced in the fields of science, technology and medicine that any boycott to exclude Israeli doctors from any association would have been a set back for the global medical community as a whole and not just for Israel.

So whether you’re in the market for the best and latest technology in solar shield protection for windows, the most sophisticated computer software or anti-spyware programs or seeking treatment of a complicated medical condition, be sure to buy Israeli products and services.  You’ll not only be helping Israel but you’ll be keeping many, many Palestinian and Arab workers employed. A boycott against Israel is a boycott against humanity and this is a moral failure.

The city of Jerusalem is the highlight of any pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is not just a city that has some 4,000 years of history, making it one of the oldest cities on earth, but it is mentioned 806 times in the Bible with names as beautiful as “City of God,” “Joyful City,” and “Desired One.” Jerusalem in Hebrew is Yerushalayim and is often translated as “City of Peace.”

It is situated on the southern Judean plateau which at its highest point is 2,500 feet above sea-level.  Just 37 miles west of Jerusalem is the Mediterranean Sea, and 22 miles to its east is the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea. This explains why in John 5:1 Jesus “went up to Jerusalem,” and in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the poor man that fell among thieves was going “down from Jerusalem” (Luke 10:30). This idea of ascending to Jerusalem does not merely refer to geography though; Jerusalem was the site of the temple of God, therefore a place of spiritual ascent. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” asks the Psalmist, “or who shall stand in his holy place?” (Psalm 24:3). 

Psalms of Ascent

In fact, 15 of the biblical Psalms (120-134) bear the label “song of ascent.” They’ve also been called “songs of steps” and “pilgrim songs.” Many scholars believe that these psalms were sung by worshippers walking up the road to Jerusalem at the time of the three great pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Tabernacles and Pentecost. The notion of “ascending” to Jerusalem persists today. For example, Jews who immigrate to Israel are said to be making “aliyah,” or “ascent.”

Many Christian tours recite the Psalms of Ascent as their buses climb the road to Jerusalem.  What a fitting way to prepare one’s heart for the special experience of visiting the city that God chose for Himself (Psalm 132:13-14).  The Psalms of Ascent end with verse 3 of Psalm 134 which is the pilgrim’s prayer that they would be blessed by God while in Zion.

Jerusalem in the Bible

Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible as early as Genesis 14:18, where it is referred to as Shalem, the city ruled by Melchizedek. Later it is called Jebus, which was captured from the Jebusites by King David and made the capital of Israel.  David also bought a certain threshing floor there from its owner and kept it as the site of the future Temple. That site is also referred to as Mt. Moriah in 2 Chron. 3:1, which indicates that King Solomon built the Temple on the same mountain where Abraham had earlier bound Isaac.

Zion was another name given to the hill where the Jebusite fortress stood, and was later applied to the Temple Mount, or Mt. Moriah, just to the north of the fortress. Zion has also come to be used as a synonym for the city of Jerusalem as a whole.

Sites to See

In biblical times, Jerusalem covered territory similar to what is known today as the Old City, a 35 square mile walled area divided into four sections carried over from Ottoman rule: The Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. The Old City has been surrounded by walls for its defense since ancient times, but the walls that are visible today date back to the 16th century. The Old City was the entire city of Jerusalem until the mid-nineteenth century when building began outside of the city walls.

While an exhaustive list of important sites in Jerusalem is not possible for this article, everyone must see the Western Wall, the only remnant of the Temple walls; the Temple Mount on which is built the Muslim Dome of the Rock; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the likely site where Jesus was crucified and buried; the Garden Tomb, a rock-cut tomb in a skull shaped hill considered an alternative site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial; and the Mt. of Olives.

The Capital of Israel

As you can imagine, Jerusalem today is a very diverse and fascinating modern city inhabited by over 800,000 people. It is a sprawling city with beautiful vistas from hill-top housing developments. In addition to being Israel's spiritual, political, and administrative capital, Jerusalem is also a leader in education and health care, and its religious, historical, and cultural attractions make it the country's premier tourist destination. 

 It was some 3,000 years ago that King David captured Jerusalem and made it the capital of Israel. Since then, the city has been destroyed, besieged, attacked and rebuilt many times.  But it always remained in the hearts of the Jewish people who longed to one day return and re-establish sovereignty there.

The Zionist movement, while a modern political movement, is in many ways a continuation of this ancient attachment of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. The current refusal of the nations to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an attempt to rob the Jewish people of their spiritual and scriptural heart. This is why the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem recognizes Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel.

Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and leads tours to Israel  www.icejusa.org/tours. This article is the second in a series to introduce Israel and various biblical sites of interest to the Christian reader. Read first article here.

Following last year’s passage of bipartisan highway and education bills, the United States Senate is taking up another broad piece of legislation – this time on energy – in a further sign that Republicans and Democrats can work together, even in an election year.

Congress hasn’t passed broad-based energy legislation since 2007. America’s energy situation has drastically changed since then, but partisan politics and election-year roadblocks have sidelined past attempts to adjust US energy policy to a more diverse and lower-cost power landscape.

This year may well be different, in large part because of the efforts of the bipartisan bill’s managers, energy committee chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.

These are two women who, above all else, want to get things done, say those who know them. It’s a picture of how bipartisanship works – through their reliance on close communication, regular meetings, and a willingness to compromise.

When asked about the bipartisan nature of a bill on a subject that can be fraught with tension (think fossil fuels, climate change), committee member Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia points to Senators Murkowski and Cantwell. “Look at the leaders of the bill. Very reasonable, very good people, practical people that aren’t playing hyper-politics.”

A Republican counterpart on the committee echoes his sentiments. “It was pretty clear in committee that Lisa and Maria wanted to get something bipartisan,” says Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, also of West Virginia. She says the bill’s broad support among committee members is due to the inclusiveness of its provisions.

The last time America saw this team in action on the Senate floor was a year ago, when they carried the highly controversial Keystone pipeline bill over the finish line. They didn’t agree on its contents and President Obama eventually vetoed it, but that didn’t stop them from working together in a respectful, cooperative, and open manner.

That experience prepared them for the tough work on this bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which they do agree on. The measure could well encounter problems this week in the form of “poison pill” amendments. But from the Keystone bill, they learned “keep going, and keep talking, and no surprises,” Murkowksi told reporters as she headed into the chamber last week.

The two senators practice what they preach. As with a well-maintained pipeline, communication flows between them. On most Wednesdays, they met for breakfast in their offices. Instead of flying back to their home states, they stayed in town during the recent “Snowzilla” weekend, keeping in touch with each other as they prepared the bill for the start of floor debate last week.

Their staffs, too, have put in long hours and logged many miles together, holding joint “listening sessions” with stakeholders around the country, preparing for committee hearings in Washington, and negotiating the details of the bill.

The process allowed wide input, including many amendments from both sides, and resulted in a strong 18-to-4 approval of the bill in committee last July. Even the dissents were bipartisan – two from each side.

“Sometimes we can be cynical about this place and what we can get done. Then, all of a sudden, we have a great opportunity to move something forward.... This is a milestone for the Senate,” Cantwell said of the bill on the floor last week.

Since the last energy bill was signed into law under President George W. Bush, the US has become the globe’s leading producer of oil and gas. The costs of producing solar and wind energy have dropped, and Mr. Obama has pushed aggressively against carbon-producing energy such as coal. But US energy policy – and the nation’s energy infrastructure – have not kept up with these changes.

The new legislation aims to do this by making it easier to export liquefied natural gas, and by removing old mandates, indefinitely renewing the main federal conservation fund, and preparing the electric grid for renewable energy, as well as additional cybersecurity.

The bill also supports greater energy efficiency in the federal and private sectors and promotes alternative fuels including hydro and geothermal energy. Domestic minerals, used in everything from smartphones to windmills, get a boost, too.

As the two senators point out, neither side got all it wanted. Murkowski, from a state rich in fossil fuels, would have welcomed opening some areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration.

In her ideal world, Cantwell, a champion of renewable energy, wanted far more robust measures to promote clean energy and reduce greenhouse gases, though individual provisions in the bill support both causes.

Instead, the senators led their members to focus on common ground – just as they have over years of working together on issues.

Outside groups on both sides have criticized aspects of the bill, and the White House has expressed some concerns but no veto threat – to which Murkowski let out a happy “whooo!” when she heard that last week.

Senate leaders from both parties back the bill, which, if it passes, would have to be reconciled with a more partisan House bill that the president opposes.

It may not all be smooth sailing in the Senate this week. Certain amendments, be they efforts to counter the Obama’s coal policies or help the residents of Flint, Mich., with their drinking water, could cause turbulence or potentially sink the legislation.

Still, observers remain hopeful. “I’m optimistic,” says Laura Hall, of the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank in Washington. Murkowski and Cantwell “are working pretty openly to make sure everyone gets in the process.” Bottom line: “They want to get things done.”

While I’ve never heard former U. S. President George W. Bush described as a prophet, those who are able to recall his "State of the Union" address back on January 29, 2002, may believe that he did have a crystal ball at least for that one brief moment. In that address Bush declared three countries as being evil. In fact, he called them the “Axis of Evil.” Here we are fourteen years later and Bush’s words are appearing as the proverbial “handwriting on the wall.” The three countries he named have not been quiescent but rather are thriving hot beds of terrorist activities and networks. 

What were the three countries he named? They were Iraq, Iran and North Korea. This “Axis of Evil” is collectively and individually a destabilizing force in the world today and a serious threat to the safety and well-being of the people of Israel and other peace-loving people living in the Middle East (although aside from Israel I'm not sure they really exist). All that’s missing for the “Axis of Evil” to fulfill its proclaimed goals of eliminating Israel followed by the United States is for them to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and this seems just a matter of time. But instead of the United States and other members of the P5+1 breaking the links in this chain of terror and tyranny, Iran was instead handed the golden keys to unlock the first set of doors leading to the acquisition of nuclear weapons. The threat posed by this “Axis of Evil” is right in Israel’s backyard. The rest of the world is telling Israel not to worry because there are checks and balances in place to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but the truth of the matter is that the “mechanisms” in place to enforce these so-called “checks and balances” are weak and faulty. In fact, it’s more like the fox in charge of guarding the hen house. If you have an unstable neighbor who continually threatens your life, wisdom and prudence say you should take your neighbor seriously and plan accordingly. Will Israel be forced to act unilaterally? Perhaps. Will the United States stand with her? L-rd G-d, I pray so. 

Bush declared Iran, Iraq and North Korea as a reference line “arming to threaten the peace of the world” and as active supporters of terror. Iran openly and unashamedly supports Hezbollah in Lebanon who in turn supports Hamas in Gaza. The world should be taking corrective actions against these countries instead of rewarding their renegade behavior with the lifting of sanctions and other goodies from the storehouses of hard-working taxpayers and those who have been victims of terror. Yes, Bush’s warnings have become reality. The nuclear deal with Iran and weak world leadership have empowered the "Axis of Evil" to rear and shake its ugly head in outright defiance of any terms and conditions, checks or balances, which are enforceable only on paper. 

Hindsight is always 20/20. There are situations in which you win and there are situations from which you learn. Hopefully, the world learned from the invasion of Iraq which was based on faulty “intelligence” indicating WMDs would be found but were not. Precious lives were lost and valuable, irreplaceable property was destroyed. Because the United States and the world failed to plan for either occupation or exit, we therefore planned to fail … miserably. But what did we learn? For one thing we learned that Hussein’s bravado was nothing but bluster, but we wouldn’t have known this without the invasion. Also, we would not have known that Iraq was not a threat in and of itself. Unfortunately, our failure to plan paved the way for the evils of ISIL (or ISIS). However, the same is not true for Iran or North Korea. Both are serious threats to world peace and to the annihilation of Israel and her people. Do we need another attack like the World Trade Center to remind us that we are at war? We are engaged in the “War on Terror” and no country is more aware of this than Israel. The likelihood of Iran building a nuclear weapon is very high and needs to be contained. Yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, sanctions on Iran have been lifted. Why? Why? Why?

Those promoting the deal which was signed last July touted to the public that Iran would be closely monitored with the assurance of using sanctions as leverage to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. To date, Iran has broken security agreements at least three times with the latest being a video released by the Iranian government showing a new ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) silo that is illegal and full of unused and illegal ICBMs. At the time of this writing, no new sanctions are being considered or put into place.

North Korea detonated underground atomic bombs in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Very recently they detonated a so-called miniaturized hydrogen bomb. This is a very powerful explosive with the additional threat of being able to be fitted to an ICBM thus becoming a direct threat to all it considers as enemies. Whether or not this is actually true, it is a form of terror because of the psychological impact upon the world by threatening our sense of safety, security and well-being. Israel has been living in such a state of terror since its inception in 1948. There has not been one day that Israel’s very existence has not been threatened.

The existential status of all humankind is at risk, especially in the Middle East. Acts of terror are a diabolical strategy for changing the way people live by inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical and psychological harm. G-d made all people with inalienable rights to enjoy the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Any threat to this status quo is evil and should not be tolerated by the so-called civilized world. 

Is there a red line whereby, once crossed, the Western world will come out against threats of evil by terrorist rogue regimes? At the moment it seems that, in the United States, there is not. We just keep rolling over. However, the G-d of Israel has a red line. The Bible tells us that at the end of times Israel will become the “whipping boy” of the entire world. Every nation will turn against her and when they do, all who stand against Israel will be guilty of crossing the "Red Line" and will be annihilated by the G-d of Israel.

The Christian Coalition of America is committed to the peace and security of Israel – and that means we must not allow our leaders to put America in a position of weakening Israel in the face of those who are committed to its destruction.

We believe as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, “The problems of the region are not rooted in Israel.”  That is why the Christian Coalition of Michigan is calling on Americans and our government to “Stand with Israel”.

We will work at the state and national levels to advocate for passage of resolutions of support for Israel that recognize Israel’s right to exist as a state and homeland for the Jewish people, that support its right to defend its borders, and that recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.

We pledge our public support for the peace and security of the nation of Israel, and we oppose any efforts to force Israel to compromise its national security. We call upon the President and our members of Congress to do the same and “Stand with Israel!”

We will work to support government policies and officials who support those principles.

---

In a major foreign policy speech, Barack Obama called for Israel to return to its former borders prior to the 1967 “Six Day War” with Egypt, Syria and Jordan.  In some places, those borders leave Israel less than nine miles wide.

As a result of that war – and in order to better defend itself – Israel expanded and has since defended those borders.  Now Barack Obama calls for the Jewish people to unilaterally give up that land and place themselves at risk again.

This comes while, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, the Palestinians are governed by Hamas, the mid-east terrorist equivalent of Al Qaida.

Christian Coalition has launched a national campaign to call on Americans and our government to “Stand with Israel”.

Click Here and Join our Campaign Today!

We must not allow our leaders to put America in a position of weakening Israel in the face of those who are committed to its destruction.

As Netanyahu stated, “Events in the region are opening people’s eyes to a simple truth: the problems of the region are not rooted in Israel”.

Let our leaders know that you agree – and that America should not be put in the position of compromising the peace and security of Israel.

Click here and add your name to the public commitment to “Stand with Israel” today.

Your voice CAN make a difference.

Sincerely,

Roberta Combs, President & CEO
Christian Coalition of America

 

 

Christian Coalition of America leaders meeting with Congressman John Boehner and Senator Lindsey Graham to voice opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal.



In his celebrated, but tardy, prime time television announcement, President Obama told the world that America is on the right side of history.  Wrong, Mr. President.  We are living in the wake of terror in America and fearful of more to come.  The population is now living in a state of concern when going to a shopping mall, convention center or sports arena – any place where there is a large public gathering.  Welcome to the world in which Israelis have been living for decades. The terror which Israelis confront on a daily basis will soon be mirrored on American streets.  The proverbial handwriting is on the wall. Those who shout “Death to Israel and Death to America” mean exactly what they say.

This being the case we have to ask why, in the name of G-d, is America admitting a large group of people who are known to harbor anti-Semitic and anti-American attitudes and who vehemently oppose our Judeo-Christian values? When refugees or immigrants are admitted to a country, they are expected to assimilate into the culture of that country and not try to change it from within which is the Islamic agenda.  Let it be clear, America embraces Judeo-Christian values. We embrace the G-d of Israel who is the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we recognize and uphold Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.  Yes, America may welcome others to our shores who are searching for a better life but we do not appreciate nor will we tolerate any attempt by others to weaken or “change” the fabric of American society. I speak, of course, from an Evangelical Christian perspective which differs greatly from the position espoused by the current White House administration.

At this time in our history, America is not in the mood to accept a people of another culture and religion that is anathema to the American way of life.  We are for freedom of religion but not freedom to break our laws (or use them against us) thereby creating a clash of cultures.  Islam and Christianity are at opposite ends of the political, religious and cultural spectrums.  Politically, we embrace freedom and democracy, just like Israel.  As far as faith is concerned, Christians and Jews believe in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and despite what the rhetoric out of Washington D.C. would have the world believe, America is a Christian nation and Israel is rightfully a Jewish nation.  President Obama promised “change” and we got it. Who knew that the “change” he promised would be an attempt to dismantle our American society and “change” the values, and the allies, we embrace.   

The headlines may say one thing regarding the current administration in Washington but it does not represent the temperament of the majority of people in America. Thankfully many, especially those in Israel, recognize this and are hopeful that the next president will, indeed, usher in a time of change whereby we will again be respected in the world as a strong and moral country which stands with those who embrace Judeo-Christian values and the concepts of freedom and democracy.

We have to ask then, what possesses officials in Washington to allow Syrian refugees who are predominately Muslim to come in to the United States?  According to poll numbers a third of these migrants are reported to be sympathetic to ISIS and two out of a hundred are ISIS members.

President Obama may see these numbers as small and insignificant but these haters of infidels (and that’s anyone who is not Muslim) will likely radicalize the Muslims who are already in America or even the ones coming in with them.  The danger only escalates as the numbers increase.

Who is the president trying to fool?  What is his motive?  It’s very clear that there is no credible biographical data on the “Syrians” coming in.  There is no information from the Syrian government to provide accountability for the people leaving their country and entering the United States.  Some of our State Department officials have readily acknowledged this yet the doors are swinging open.  In plain English, the immigrants from the Middle East cannot be properly accounted for or vetted.  So our government is working with shades over its eyes – blinders really.  Is this the right side of history?  Prior to this era, while not perfect, our government acted smartly, not blindly, and we stood firmly with Israel, America’s only true friend and ally in the Middle East and the key word here is “true.”

Yes, it is okay to be seen heroically and resolute in our resolve to welcome all people of all races and cultures to our country but not to the detriment of our well-being or that of our allies.  A line must be drawn somewhere.  It must be drawn precisely where our security becomes at risk, our image in the world becomes one of weakness and our allies are left feeling abandoned.  

If there could be any worse news it is this; ISIS, the free world’s enemy, has taken over major cities in Syria that include government buildings that contain blank passports and passport machines.  This is an international criminal’s dream and the free world’s nightmare. There are known to be almost 4,000 illegal, false passports, now in use.  Some have been tracked into Europe.  Most or many of the false passports that Washington officials are aware of have been forged since 2014.

America’s security cannot be wholly secured or even contained.  Let’s admit it.  While it is only right and good that the government is supposedly on top of all this per the president, we have not perfected our own homeland security. For this we need to take lessons from Israel. Despite what the media says, Israelis are a smart, fair and moral people. There are no Israelis shouting “Death to America.” Contrast this with the Facebook pages of Tashfeen Malik, the female San Bernardino terrorist who sympathized with Jihadi ideals in plain sight prior to coming to the United States.  Shouldn’t the internet and all social media be scoured when people from countries with a high percentage of terrorists attempt to enter America?

It seems the president has an apparent agenda to continue allowing thousands of unvetted people to enter the country when we still have a lot of security work to accomplish. As a people, American citizens are not without compassion and neither are the Israelis.  We are in no way saying not to help the people who are trying to get out of harm’s way.  Like Israel, we just need to be smart about it. Instead of opening the door for immigration, Israel sends aid to those who are suffering but no one ever hears about this because the media is largely anti-Semitic.  Perhaps America should do the same for those who cannot be properly vetted – send aid but keep the door closed to those who pose a risk.

The world is changing right before our eyes.  Anti-Semitism is once again on the rise and hatred of Israel has become almost a religion.  Those of us who know the Bible have a mandate to stand with Israel and the Jewish people and I, for one, will not waiver.  This, my friend, is the right side of history.