Watching Over Zion - 19th November 2015
The Word: How long, Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? Or cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ but You do not save? Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore Torah is not followed; justice never prevails… Lord, are You not from everlasting? …Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do You tolerate the treacherous? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1: 2-4, 12, 13)
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel [questioning my authority and wisdom] by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” (Job 38:1-3)
Pointers for prayer: This week’s report is a tough one to write. Please seek the Lord for wisdom in knowing how to pray regarding these issues, and as always, do pray in line with the Word of God.
There are many books on prayer, but I have been pondering one by Phillip Yancey called ‘Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?’ In this book, he talks about how we should pray openly about all things. It even says that we should tell God when we are frustrated with God Himself. After all, God wants to be part of our lives, God already knows what we're going through and if we reach out to Him, He may answer our prayers or comfort us to reaffirm that He is our God. But when difficult times hit, we do need to be careful with our words (Job 38:1-3). I’m sure you will have all been praying regarding the horrific attacks last weekend in Paris, but let us also pray that God would open people’s eyes regarding the constant attacks of terrorism that Israel suffer. As I’m putting this report together, the app on my phone (tzeva adom – red alert) has just sounded, telling me of yet another terrorist attack in Israel. By the way, if you want to know what this sounds like, I have uploaded a very short sound-bite here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JfCfm1YIEA
How long Lord?
Reading the above Scripture from Habakkuk could almost sound as if it was written today. “Why”, Habakkuk says, does he have to cry “Violence!” and hear no answer? Here is the great problem of unanswered prayer. Here is a man who is disturbed about his nation. He sees everything going wrong. There is unrest, violence, injustice and oppression throughout the land. So Habakkuk is greatly troubled. Here is a man of God who knows what he must do with the problem – that he must take it to God. Yet he has been doing that. He has been praying about his problem. But God doesn’t seem to be listening. So his perplexed heart in bewilderment cries out, “Lord, how long do I have to keep this up, crying out to you like this? You do nothing about it. I have been watching for a change, watching for something to happen, yet nothing happens. How long must I continue?" How many of us can understand Habakkuk’s heart here?
I’m sure many of you must feel this way when crying out to God regarding the problems Israel faces most days. I’m also sure most of you have been watching the latest events that took place last weekend on late Friday night in Paris. I spent many hours on Friday evening writing updates on my blog and other social media sites as the horrific news was breaking and the death toll was mounting in Paris. By Saturday, the reports were very bleak as the media stated that 129 people had died in Paris in this wave of coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks, prompting the French president, François Hollande, to declare a state of emergency and tighten controls on the country’s borders.
Tightening the country’s borders after this latest terrorist attack which followed the January ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attacks could of course be seen as closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. At the time of the attacks last Friday, I wondered whether these Islamic terrorists had been in France for many years, or could they have been ISIS trained terrorists that came in the last few months hidden in the flood of Islamic refugees? Needless to say, they were certainly ISIS trained.
In the deadliest terrorist attack on Europe since the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, six venues across Paris were targeted. We have since learned that Islamic gunmen opened fire at a rock concert and on patrons in restaurants; and a series of bombs were detonated near the Stade de France, where the French national side played Germany in an international friendly football match. Following this, eight attackers had been killed - seven of them in suicide bombings, but witnesses to one shooting said police told them at least one attacker was still at large. This has since been confirmed and at the time of writing this was still on the run, causing panic throughout Paris.
Then of course, the French President, Francois Hollande, declared that the deadly attacks in Paris that killed 129 people were “an act of war” organized from abroad by Islamic State with internal help. He said he would address parliament on the Monday in an extraordinary meeting and the country would observe three days of official mourning. In that meeting the following Monday, Hollande said, “France is committed to destroying the so-called Islamic State group after Friday's deadly attacks.” He said that France's military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria will also intensify and he would table a bill to extend the state of emergency declared after the attacks for three months and would suggest changes to the constitution.
ISIS have of course gone on record to state that they were behind this horrific attack, however, could this now also be problematic, in as much as ISIS becoming an easy option for Politicians along with the Western press to then blame ISIS for all terrorist attacks; or by making it sound as if they are the only group who carries out these evil attacks, and equally by doing so, diluting other Islamic groups who are equally evil in what they carry out? After all, it is easy to point a finger at what is seen as a very extreme Islamic group. By default is the ‘West’ then being blind to the acts of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, etc. etc.?
The reason I state this is because of what has been taught in Palestinian Authority mosques regarding the killing of Jews in Israel, as Arab Palestinian youth knife Israelis after being whipped up to attack by PA leaders. After all, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has supported the uprising against Israeli’s, yet at the same time condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris. Abbas stated, “We condemn the terrorist #ParisAttacks and we extend our sympathy and solidarity with the French people and government.” This was posted on a tweet from the PLO's Twitter account. Really? How can a terrorist who has the blood of innocent Jews on his hands be so hypercritical? This statement from him is purely for political purposes alone and should be condemned for what it is.
However what is worse – or equally as bad – is the fact that Russia has stated Hezbollah and Hamas are not terrorist groups. The Russian deputy foreign minister says the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah is a ‘legitimate socio-political’ force in Mideast. The comment came as the Kremlin sought to secure international consensus on which forces in the Syrian civil war ought to be branded terrorist groups as part of political negotiations aimed at ending the nearly five-year-long conflict. “Some say Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” Russian deputy foreign minister Bogdanov was quoted as saying. “We maintain contacts and relations with them because we do not consider them a terrorist organization.” Bogdanov also said Russia does not consider Gaza-based Hamas as a terrorist group.
Yet while the whole world has been outraged by the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, did you know that since Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) Israel has been hit by more than 778 terrorist attacks. Yes... that is 778 (plus) terrorist attacks striking Israel in 8 weeks (This picture is more than two weeks old). Actually... we can add quite a few more terrorist attacks on top of that figure with this quote being more than two weeks old already.
As I was speaking to someone on the phone on Tuesday from my office, my app on my phone (tzeva adom – red alert) sounded, telling me of yet another terrorist attack in Israel. The area hit was Moatza Ezorit Sha’ar Hanegev. The Regional Council's territory lies midway between Beersheba and Ashkelon, bounded on the west by the Gaza Strip. The city of Sderot forms an enclave within Sha'ar HaNegev. 778 terrorist attacks –plus - on Israel, and yet the world remains silent whilst the ugly BDS campaigns against Israel grows stronger. I guess we shouldn't expect anything else though; after all, the world remained silent during the Holocaust too.
How can we pray to change the mind-set of these people? And what kind of mind-set behaves in this way? What kind on mind-set chants “Allahu Akbar” as heard in Istanbul on Tuesday night as Turkish fans shamefully booed at the football’s pre-match minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks? The friendly itself against Greece was largely forgettable as the action finished 0-0 at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium. But the game was tarnished before it even started as footage showed the Turkish ‘faithful’ were voicing their dissent towards tributes for the 129 victims who were killed in last Friday's atrocities in Paris. You can witness this here on YouTube. And what kind of mind-set cheers and hands out sweets (candy) and celebrates with fireworks as we have seen on many occasions such as when the Twin Towers were hit by terrorists, or when Israeli Jews are kidnapped or killed – such as we see from the Arab Palestinians in Gaza and the PA controlled areas? And what kind of mind-set encourages its children to play ‘terrorist games’ as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWqCRrDH1f0 ?
That mind-set stems from the origins of Muhammad who founded Islam from the Saudi Arabian moon god. To read two very good articles a former colleague and friend sent me, click here and here.
There was another photo created for the social media over the last weekend that simple read: “Paris 13/11, New York 11/9, Israel 24/7. It sums it up really.
Paris was not alone
What we witnessed in Paris was without doubt horrific, and what I have written above regarding Israel does not trivialise or belittle anything regarding the atrocities carried out by the terrorists in Paris. However, Paris was not alone in these attacks and certainly Beirut, also the site of deadly attacks, felt truly forgotten. The day before Paris was hit by Islamic terrorists, Ali Awad, aged 14; Adel Tormous - tackling a suicide bomber whilst sitting at a coffee shop, and Khodr Alaa Deen, a registered nurse - on his way to work at the teaching hospital of the American University at Beirut in Lebanon all lost their lives in a double suicide attack in Beirut on Thursday, along with 40 others, and much like the scores who died a day later in Paris, they were killed at random, while going about their normal evening business. For some in Beirut, that solidarity was mixed with anguish over the fact that just one of the stricken cities – Paris - received a global outpouring of sympathy akin to the one lavished on the United States after the 9/11 attacks. In many ways, Israel too must have wondered why they had been simply forgotten.
As we have watched on the news channels, monuments around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag – even Israel stood in solidarity with Paris by projecting the French colours on the walls of Jerusalem. Presidential speeches touted the need to defend “shared values;” Facebook offered users a one-click option to overlay their profile pictures with the French tricolor, a service not offered for the Lebanese flag, nor ever offered for the Israeli flag for all the attacks they have suffered. On Friday the social media giant even activated ‘Safety Check’, a feature usually reserved for natural disasters that lets people alert loved ones that they are unhurt. Needless to say, they had not activated it the day before for Beirut. Again, this is not written to criticise or play down the horrific attacks in France, yet these Islamic terror attacks are happening on a huge scale throughout various parts of the world, yet most times the Western Media choose to allow them go unreported – especially if Israel is attacked.
More than 40 people were killed and more than 180 wounded after twin suicide bombings rocked south Beirut. Reports stated that two men on foot set off suicide vests in front of a shopping centre in Burj al-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of the capital. Sources state that there was a lot of blood on the streets, and security forces were trying to cordon off the scene and keep people from gathering. The blast is the first to target Beirut's southern suburbs since June 2014, when a suicide car bomb killed a security officer who had tried to stop the bomber.
In Israel, a Palestinian gunman ambushed an Israeli family on Friday, killing a father and his son. According to reports from the IDF, the Palestinian attacker opened fire as the family was driving near the city of Hebron, killing the father, who was in his 40s, and his 18-year-old son. It was the latest in a two-month wave of violence in which Palestinian assaults on Israeli civilians and soldiers have become an almost daily occurrence. Hebron has been a particular flashpoint in the current round of Islamic Palestinian violence. Several hundred Jews live in Hebron – the City that has had Jewish life the goes right back to Biblical days.
Israeli Prime Minister meets French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem on Wednesday, 18 November 2015. At the start of the event, he met with French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, and said: “In Jerusalem today we stand with the people of Paris. The people of Israel stand with the people of France. Ambassador, this is not a figurative stance, it's not just lip service. First of all, we stand and we do not fall. Even though, our numbers may be occasionally decimated by the barbarians, our countries are strong and we stand. We also stand proud. We're proud of our values, proud of our societies, proud of our freedoms. And we stand shoulder to shoulder, committed to defend our common civilization.”
Netanyahu continued, “It’s difficult for civilized men and women to recognize that our cities, our airways, sometimes our waterways are prowled by beasts that devour the innocent in their way. And the forces of civilization, when they realize the severity of this problem, have no option but to unite very clearly and defeat these beasts. The beasts increasingly have a name – it is radical Islam. That is what is doing the killing, the murder, the rape, the burning, the beheadings. We must stand together and fight together against militant Islam. The people of Israel grieve with you, the people of Israel stand with you - now and always.” The conference began with a moment of silence in memory of those who were murdered in Paris.
David Soakell (CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI