Tag Archives: Gaza

ROYAL WEDDING EUPHORIA HIDES GRIM REALITY

Prince Harry’s wedding to actress Meghan Markle, was a great success, watched by approximately one billion people around the world.   Everything to do with the wedding went smoothly, as we have come to expect from royal events in Britain.

Various estimates were given as to the cost of the wedding. Fox News said it was $34 million.   A British source said 32 million pounds (one pound = $1.34).   The cost was higher than seven years ago, when Prince William got married.   According to Fox, security alone was more than $30 million, considerably higher than at William’s.   Harry had a greater need for security, a sign of the times, together with terrorist threats made against him for his military role in Afghanistan.

The Queen paid for the wedding; the tax-payer covers security.   When President Trump visits London in a few weeks, security will also be expensive.     At least with the royal wedding, the financial outlay will be more than covered by increased tourism, television rights, sales of merchandise made for the occasion, and all those celebratory drinks and meals.

The cost of the monarchy is covered by entrance fees to the royal palaces.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Economist’s first editor, Walter Bagehot (pronounced “Badge It”), wrote a classic book on the English Constitution, in which he explained the function of the two branches of government.   The monarchy, he said, represented the “dignified” branch of government; while parliament was the “efficient” branch.

The Economist has a weekly column on British politics, called “Bagehot,” in memory of its founder, who edited the publication from 1860-77.    “A royal wedding is as good a time as any to conduct an audit of the British constitution,” is the opening line of this week’s offering.

In the past, the weekly newsmagazine has called for the abolition of the monarchy.   “An Idea whose time has gone,” was one such cover story about twenty years ago.

But this week’s publication points out that the monarchy and parliament have changed roles – “The efficient branch is in its worst state since the 1970s.   The two main parties have been captured by their extremes.   The prime minister lacks authority.   Westminster has been rocked by scandals about sexual harassment and bullying. The Home Office is in turmoil.   The government is preparing for Brexit, its most complicated task since the second world war, without a majority in the Commons or a consensus in its own ranks.” (“Something old, something new”, Economist, 5/19).

Most Members of Parliament do not support Brexit, but the people did in a referendum two years ago.   “The efficient branch now has an agonizing choice: implement a policy that it believes to be foolish, or frustrate the “will of the people.”

“The dignified branch (the Crown), by contrast, is thriving.   The Queen represents stability in an unstable world, as well as unity in a polarized one.   She has spent 66 of her 92 years on the throne and has survived twelve prime ministers and innumerable political crises.”   Last week’s wedding has boosted the popularity of the monarchy around the world; Prince Charles was chosen last month as the new Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth, to succeed his mother; Prince Harry was appointed as an Ambassador to Commonwealth youth; Zimbabwe has asked to return to the organization after leaving fifteen years ago over human rights abuses and failure to uphold the rule of law and democratic norms.

It remains the case, however, that twenty years ago, the monarchy wasn’t doing so well; a reality that could return at any time.

This is the age of populism and no politician is more popular than Queen Elizabeth II, whose approval rating in Britain is always above 70%, more than double the highest rated politician.   Even in her overseas dominions, her popularity surpasses the politicians, so much so that many of them would like to say goodbye to her and the institution of constitutional monarchy. It is the ordinary people who feel differently and from whom she gets her greatest support.

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GERMANY TO REPLACE US AS HONEST BROKER IN MIDEAST Handelsblatt Global, 18 May 2018

“Iran, Gaza, Jerusalem: If ever the time was right for EU countries to unite in their foreign policy as in their trade policy, it is now . . .    May 2018 could one day enter history books as the moment when the EU countries including Germany at last embarked on a common foreign policy.   The catalyst, as long expected, will have been an external power.   Not, however, a common foe, but an ostensible ally: America’s Donald Trump.

“. . . the US and Europe can no longer pretend to be aligned.   The US has forfeited its role of honest broker [in the Middle East] . . .   If there is today an honest broker, it may ironically be Germany…

“Angela Merkel and her EU peers have certainly grasped the urgency of the moment . . .   For Germany to play a diplomatic role . . .   it would need to boost military spending far beyond its paltry 1.2% of GDP…”

(Handelsblatt is an influential German business paper; the German equivalent of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.)

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EUROPEAN NEWS

Macron to Silicon Valley: Embrace Europe’s Regulations:   French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up tensions with U.S. tech giants Thursday calling on them to embrace Europe’s regulation of topics ranging from taxation to privacy to artificial intelligence, because Washington is failing to do so.

Europe Seeks Russia’s Help on Saving Iran Deal, Despite Chill:  U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran has added fresh impetus to a European outreach to Russia—although European officials say existing tensions make it far from a thaw.

Britain Takes Stab at Wrangling Dirty Money:   The publication this week of a U.K. parliamentary report calling for tougher action to stop the flow of dirty Russian money into Britain is a landmark moment for the City of London, writes Simon Nixon.

ECB Warns Against Trade Spats, Urges Patience in Easing:   European Central Bank officials warned at their April rate-setting meeting that international trade conflicts could hurt the eurozone economy and called for patience in phasing out the bank’s easy-money policies.                                                                                                        (Brexit and Beyond, WSJ, 5/23

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IN FACE OF A GLOBAL TRADE WAR

The EU announced its first defensive measures against US plans to penalize European companies’ business engagements with Iran, by reactivating the 1996 “Blocking Statute.” That law prohibits companies from terminating their business engagements with Iran, to avoid severe penalties in the United States.   Some companies from Germany and other EU countries have already announced that they will cancel their contracts with Tehran to avoid endangering their business ventures in the US. German companies, involved in profitable ventures with Russia, could be facing a similar situation.   Washington threatens to demand that businesses from Germany and the EU comply also with the April 6 sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump, against some Russian oligarchs and their companies.   According to government advisors, German Russia-oriented businesses are “virtually panicking” because of the escalation of a global trade war.
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7612/)

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Newsletter – How to Become a World Power

Berlin is seeking to use Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal to increase its pressure on Tehran. In their joint statement published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom declared their continued commitment to the agreement, while demanding that the Iranian government limit its ballistic missile program and its efforts to obtain influence in the region.   The reintroduction of US sanctions offers Berlin a chance to disguise its continued pressure on Tehran as a war preventive measure.   At the same time, US sanctions against Iran continue to fuel the power struggle between the EU and the USA.   The Airbus Company alone could lose €16 billion in commercial deals due to the sanctions imposed by the US government.   Commentators recommend resistance:   “You don’t become a world power in a conference room.”   At the same time, Israel is exacerbating the escalating tensions with its aggressions against Syria.

more…
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7606/)

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Der Spiegel comment on EU / US relations

“With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety — and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the
trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged.”

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Zimbabwe Formally Applies to Re-Join Commonwealth

To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.   The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries.   Zimbabwe has also invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July.

Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 for breaching the Harare Declaration.  In 2003, when the Commonwealth refused to lift the suspension, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth.   Since then, the Commonwealth has played a major part in trying to end the political impasse and return Zimbabwe to a state of normality.(http://allafrica.com/stories/201805210678.html)

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ISLAM INCOMPATIBLE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) itself has become a prime motivator and enforcer of the rejection of human rights.
  • The other charters of human rights are to be found exclusively in the Muslim world.   Anything that falls within Islamic shari’a law is a human right; anything that does not fall within shari’a is not a human right.
  • “For us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nothing but a collection of mumbo-jumbo by disciples of Satan”. — ‘Ali Khamene’i, Iran’s current Supreme Leader.
  • “The underlying thesis in all the Islamic human rights schemes is that the rights afforded in international law are too generous and only become acceptable when they are subjected to Islamic restrictions.” — Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics.
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#8

The body of a Palestinian baby who died of tear gas inhalation during protests, according to Gaza’s health ministry, is held by her mother at a Gaza City morgue on May 15, 2018 (AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS)

Last week, I posted an article showing how decisions made by the Trump Administration are inadvertently leading to the fulfillment of prophesied events.   I listed seven areas where this is happening, including the growing rift between Europe and the US; pressure on Germany to rearm; recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; tearing up the Iran nuclear deal; and the imposition of tariffs that will harm global trade.   Additionally, attacking Syria adds to the growing Shia-Sunni conflict and pulling out of the climate change treaty is separating the US from the rest of the world.

Since I wrote, there have been two other developments.

Number 8 took place on Monday, with the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.  Sixty residents of Gaza were killed that day by Israeli troops.   The responsibility for their deaths cannot be blamed on Israel, which is what the world’s press is doing.  The blame goes to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs Gaza. They stirred up the mob and sent people, including young people, to their deaths.

But what happened makes it next to impossible for the US to broker a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis, as Washington is clearly not even-handed.

The peace process started over forty  years ago.   Since 2003, all efforts toward a “deal” have been based on the “two-state solution.” The American goal has been the eventual establishment of two nations, side by side, living in peace.

This almost happened in 1993 when leaders of Israel and the Palestinians talked peace in Oslo.   The Israelis offered generous terms to the Palestinians, but the process stalled, as it always does, when it became clear that the Palestinians would not recognize Israel, as a political entity.   They want to take over Israel, giving third generation Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the “right to return” to the lands they occupied prior to the establishment of the nation of Israel.   The “Right of Return” has been a constant stumbling block.

Now that the US cannot be an honest broker in trying to resolve these issues, somebody else will have to do it – and fairly quickly as the situation is deteriorating.

Enter Europe.

Bible students are aware that there is to be a final revival of the Roman Empire, prior to Christ’s Second Coming.   This may sound incredible, but it’s important to understand that a revival of the Roman Empire has been a constant theme throughout European history.   Rome fell in 476.   Less than a century later, Justinian, the Emperor in the East, tried to restore the Empire. In 800, the Emperor Charlemagne established the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted over a thousand years.   It was Napoleon who abolished the H.R.E., but then he himself wanted to revive the Empire, crowning himself a new Caesar and naming his son “King of Rome.”

More recently, Italy’s leader, Benito Mussolini, proclaimed the restoration of the Roman Empire in 1922, while Hitler, a little over a decade later, declared that his Third Reich would last a thousand years, just like the First Reich of the Holy Roman Empire.

Even after these violent attempts to restore the Roman Empire, the dream never died.   Twelve years after the collapse of the Third Reich, the Treaty of Rome brought six European nations together to form what is now the 28-member European Union.   A final union of European nations is prophesied to come together, perhaps out of the rubble of the present EU.   It’s also possible there could be a peaceful transformation from the present conglomeration to something else.

Bible prophecy shows this union will get involved in the Middle East peace process.  This is prophesied in Daniel 9:27, at the end of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy, a prophecy about the future of the Jewish people, written by the prophet Daniel in the sixth century B.C.   The last few verses deal with the coming of the Messiah.   It is a remarkably accurate prophecy about His first coming, even down to the year His ministry would begin and the day on which He would be put to death.   As many Bible commentaries explain, “seventy weeks” equals 490 years (70 x 7 days in a week; each day representing one year).   This period of time began with Persian King Artaxerxes’ decree, authorizing the Jews to rebuild the Temple.

  • The fourth decree was also by Artaxerxes Longimanus, issued on March 5, 444 b.c. (Neh. 2:1-8).   On that occasion Artaxerxes granted the Jews specific authorization to rebuild Jerusalem’s city walls.   This decree is the one referred to in Daniel 9:25. (Old Testament prophecy, Royal decree).

“After the sixty-nine weeks (the 63 + 7), the Messiah would be “killed” (Dan 9:26), an apparent reference to his crucifixion, and “the city and the Temple” of Jerusalem would be destroyed.   The “armies” (9:26) were the Roman people, who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. There is evidence of a gap between the 69th and 70th week, for what is predicted in 9:27 has not yet taken place.  The “ruler” (9:26) is the Antichrist, who will rise out of what may possibly be a revived type of the Roman Empire (7:8, 24-26)”.   (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Daniel 9:27, page 319.   Published in 1990.)

Note the following from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 1389 (1994):

“If it was a ruler of the Roman people who was to destroy Jerusalem (in AD 70), then it would be a ruler of the Roman Empire – in its final phase, i.e. the ten-toes phase of chapter 2 and the ten-horned beast phase of ch. 7 – who will conclude this covenant.” “ . . . the latter day ruler over the “Roman” people will “confirm” a “covenant” with the believing Jews for a stipulated period of seven years, permitting them to carry on their religious practices.” (page 1390)

The next paragraph adds:   “After about three and one-half years, the world dictator will break his agreement with the Jews.   Possibly he will feel secure enough in his autocratic position to carry out his original, secret plan to impose an absolute dictatorship on all the peoples of his empire, especially the Jews.   All pretense of religious toleration will be dropped as he aspires to display himself as the incarnation of all divine authority on earth.”   (II Thess 2:4)

Tyndale adds:   “ In the middle of the “one set of seven” (9:27), or “week,” he will take control of the Jewish temple and put a stop to worship, demanding that he be worshipped (cf. Matt 24:15;  II Thess 2:4).   But he will be destroyed at Christ’s second coming.”  (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Daniel 9:27, page 319, 1990).

Again, it should be noted that this revived Roman system will broker an agreement between the Jews and the Palestinians, solving what has seemed like an insoluble problem.   Of course, it won’t really be resolved, as it only lasts three and a half years.   Clearly, America’s role as honest broker is about to be replaced by active European involvement.

For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.” (I Thess 5:3)

Unger’s Bible Handbook (1966) says this about this time period: “The final week of seven years constitutes the climax of Jewish history prior to the establishment of the messianic kingdom, 27.   It is divided into two half periods (three and a half years each).   During the first half the “prince” (world ruler, “little horn” of 7:8, 24-25) will make a covenant with the Jews, who are restored in Palestine with a resumption of temple worship.   In the middle of the week the covenant is broken, worship for the Jews ceases (II Thess 2:3-4), and the time of Great Tribulation ensues.   The advent of Christ the Messiah consummates this period of desolation, bringing everlasting righteousness for Israel, 24, and judgment upon the “desolator,” the prince, and his hosts (Rev 19:20).”    (page 392)

US recognition of Jerusalem as the “eternal capital of Israel” was the catalyst for this.   Expect more violence, perhaps even threatening the very existence of Israel.   This will then force the Europeans to get involved, leading to “peace” which won’t last.

#9

Another development, on Thursday, may also be a significant development.

EU leaders, meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, agreed that EU based companies will be prosecuted if they go along with the Trump Administration’s sanctions on Iran.   These sanctions follow Mr. Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear treaty that was agreed between the US, EU, Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China in 2015.

The 28-nation European Union is sending a clear signal that it will no longer be dictated to by the United States.

 

 

O JERUSALEM

Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2).   The book is a Millennial prophecy about events now and in the future.

When people are drunk, they don’t think straight.   And we see that happening now, following President Trump’s announced intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state.   It was not the capital under the Ottomans, who ruled over the city for four centuries.   When East Jerusalem was a part of the Kingdom of Jordan, it was not the capital.   The US will be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem, which is the Jewish part of the city, not East Jerusalem, where the Muslim population lives.   One third of the city’s people are Muslim.

It should also be noted that Jerusalem has not been of historic importance to the Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. Only in recent years has it been turned into a political football in the never-ending negotiations known as the “peace process.”

It was Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who claimed that the Muslim prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock.   He also declared the Rock sacred, as the site where Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac).   The intent behind these declarations was to stop the growing Jewish community from taking control of the city.

However, facts will not be allowed to interfere with anything from riots to war.   Any excuse to focus attention on the Palestinians and against Israel, supposedly the occupying power and supporters of apartheid.

“Peace talks” have gotten nowhere.   By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump may be trying to force the Palestinians into real peace talks, which will require compromise on both sides.   Fear of losing Jerusalem may provoke them into concessions, though this is not likely historically. As Abba Eban, former Israeli diplomat and politician, said of Yasser Arafat: “he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”   There’s no sign of this changing.

So, what might be the next step?   War?

Undoubtedly, there will be trouble on the West Bank and in Gaza.   A “day of rage” has been called for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Some are calling for a new intifada, a popular uprising that will go on indefinitely, tying down Israeli troops for months or years to come.

Right now, Israel is faced with war on three fronts.   Once the Syrian conflict is over, Hezbollah in Lebanon can turn its attention to Israel.   The Gaza Strip and the West Bank could be another two fronts, making it very difficult for Israel to cope.

The following verse, Zachariah 12:3 says that Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.”   The marginal note in my NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “  Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.”    Nobody could ever physically move Jerusalem, but its status can theoretically be changed, as President Trump has done.   This verse may be saying that attempts to reverse the decision will only bring hurt to those advocating the change.

Israel Today asked the question this morning:   “Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?”

One thing does seem likely following Mr. Trump’s decision.   It is not likely that the US can continue to orchestrate peace talks now that the country has come out openly in favor of Israel.   The EU may claim to be the new honest broker in the peace process, though the German News channel DW is showing a definite anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian slant in its news coverage of the announcement.   (DW news is shown on many PBS channels across the United States. Times vary.)

The announcement made by President Trump is likely to be the most significant decision made by the new president in his first year in office.