Tag Archives: UK

GERMANY UPS FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM

HALLE, Germany (AP) — A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack Wednesday that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet passed new measures Wednesday aimed at helping fight far-right extremism and anti-Semitism following an attack on a synagogue earlier this month.

The proposals include tightening gun laws, stepping up prosecution of online hate, and boosting financial support for projects fighting anti-Semitism and far-right extremism.

“The horrible attack on the Jewish community in Halle showed again what the unleashing of hatred online can lead to,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said at a news conference in Berlin when she introduced the bundle of measures alongside Germany’s interior and family ministers.

“We will fight far-right terrorism and anti-Semitism with all the power of the law,” Lambrecht added.

Germany is still reeling from the attempted attack on a synagogue by a 27-year-old German in the eastern city of Halle on Oct. 9, who later killed two passers-by before being arrested.   The man posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack and broadcast the shooting live on a popular video game streaming site.   (Kirsten Grieshaber, US News & World Report, 10/30)

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The Far Right Is Taking On Cultural Institutions

Theaters, museums, and other venues in Germany are facing pressure from the AfD, raising questions about the extent of artistic freedoms.

ELIZA APPERLY, OCT 28, 2019, The Atlantic

BERLIN – Protests against public artworks in Dresden and Kassel.    A ban on political discussions at the city theater in Freiberg.            And a criminal investigation against a performance art collective.

Germany’s far right is fighting a culture war—and at the forefront is the country’s largest opposition party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).   Founded only six years ago, the group has transitioned from a platform of opposing the euro to far-right nationalism.   Fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric has helped the group gain sizable sway in regional parliaments, with significant victories in three regional elections this fall.

Yet beyond its focus on immigration, the issue for which it is best known, the AfD has another important target – culture.   At both the federal and the regional level, the party devotes significant attention to cultural matters:   Its main manifesto includes more pages on culture, language, and identity than on employment, national security and justice, and foreign policy.   In Dresden, the AfD municipal program extends to suggested background music for a specific tram line.

“Culture is integral to the AfD’s strategy and ideology,” Julian Göpffarth, a researcher on the far right at the London School of Economics, told me.   “The party is using its powers to curb cultural productions and spaces that ‘undermine national pride,’ and to impose instead a dominant German culture that celebrates, rather than critically engages with, German identity.”          (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/10/germany-far-right-culture-war/598978/)

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FAR RIGHT AFD BEATS MERKEL IN GERMAN ELECTION

Voters in the eastern German state of Thuringia boosted the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in regional elections on Sunday, according to preliminary results, but the Left party will remain the dominant political force in the state.

With all districts reporting, results showed the Left party winning 31% of votes in the state that was once part of the communist former East Germany.   (DW, 10/28)

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GERMAN INTERVENTION IN LIBYA

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is intervening in Libya, calling for an “end to foreign intervention.”   On the occasion of his trip to Turkey and North Africa he arrived last Sunday for a brief visit in the country, to prepare an international conference on Libya, which the German government intends to convene soon.   With this conference the German government seeks to possibly pacify the country and distinguish itself as a “regulatory force” in North Africa. Maas then traveled on to Egypt, which also is involved in the Libyan war.   While the German minister is declaring that the Egyptians should be able “to breathe the air of liberty,” Cairo is continuing its brutal repression.   Since the military coup in July 2013, more than 1,500 people have disappeared from state custody.   While seeking to pacify Libya, Berlin is increasing its “regulatory” activities in an “arch of crisis” extending from North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia.   However, until now, without success.   (German Foreign Policy, 10/30)

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VISEGRAD COUNTRIES GROWING

“Fifteen years after they joined the EU, the four “Visegrad” states of central Europe (the V4) can be prouder of their economic achievements than of their patchy record on political reform.   The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have increased their levels of GDP per head dramatically, and are converging with their mighty neighbor Germany.   The Czechs are the richest, with a GDP per head that is 73% of Germany’s, followed by Slovakia with 63% and Hungary and Poland with around 57% each – and the gap continues to close, as their growth outpaces that of the behemoth.” (The Economist, 10/26)

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UK BECOMING MORE EUROPEAN

“Before the referendum in 2016 European Union flags were as rare as golden eagles in Britain.   Today they are as common as sparrows.   Parliament Square is permanently festooned with them.   Activist Remainers flaunt flag-themed berets and T-shirts.   On October 19th a million-strong army of People’s Vote supporters marched on Westminster beneath a sea of gold and blue standards . . .

“This is part of a bigger paradox:   the more Britain struggles to leave the EU, the more it embraces European style politics.   Since the dawn of the democratic era Britain has practiced two or two and a bit party politics compared with the continent’s multiparty system.   That is changing, accelerated by Brexit.

The Scottish National Party controls Scotland.   The ruling Conservative Party is 45 MPs short of a majority.   The European Research Group of hard-line Brexiteers acts as a party within the Tory party.   The Liberal Democrats could make big gains in the forthcoming general election, especially if Brexit seems reversible.” (The Economist, 10/26)

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CATHOLIC SYNOD IN ROME RECOGNIZES DIVIDED CHURCH

“The synod represents the biggest step yet towards recognizing something many Catholics in the West, especially church leaders, have been reluctant to acknowledge:   Just as economic and Diplomatic power in the secular world is sleeping away from the North Atlantic region, a similar process is taking place in Catholicism.   In the secular world, the shift is to Asia.   Within the Catholic church it is towards not only Asia, but Africa and Latin America, too.   That is forcing the church to consider how far it is willing to adapt to the practices and beliefs of cultures with their own spiritual traditions.   The synod has added to fears of a new schism within the church.”   (The Economist, 10/26)

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TO THE POINT

  • Warren not a socialist:  “Some Republicans and Wall Street critics claim that Ms. Warren is a socialist. She is not.   She does not support the public ownership of firms or political control of the flow of credit.   Instead she favors regulations that force the private sector to pass her test of what it is to be fair.”   (“A plan for American capitalism,” The Economist, 10/26)
  • Russia in Africa “… over the past decade, and especially after America and the EU imposed sanctions on Russia related to its annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin has viewed Africa as an increasingly important arena.   Since 2015 a dozen African leaders have visited Russia.   From 2006 to 2018 Russia’s total trade with sub-Saharan Africa increased by 336%.   It is the largest arms exporter to the continent, accounting for 39% of deliveries in 2013-17 (many from Russia to Algeria”. (The Economist, 10/26)
  • Farage’s gamble  — EU ministers are taking a breather from Brexit as the action moves firmly back to London, where MPs are preparing for a general election. In a possible game-changer for Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is considering whether to pull out of hundreds of seats.   This would be a major boost to the UK prime minister, given the risks that the Brexit party could split the vote among leavers. (FT)   As James Blitz writes, the prime minister is taking a massive gamble by engineering the vote before the UK is out of the EU.   Farage’s Brexit party poses one possible risk.   Another is that Labour will hammer home the message that a victorious Tory party would use Brexit as an opportunity to pursue a hard-right social and economic agenda.    (Financial Times 10/31)
  • Refreshing view on Israel:   Egyptian Coptic patriarch Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria said in an October 14, 2019 interview on France 24 Arabic TV that he encourages Copts to visit Jerusalem because getting closer to others increases mutual understanding.   He said that Israel is a country like any other country and expressed support for an agreement that would make Jerusalem an international capital, though he said that this is not possible given the current reality.   Pope Tawadros II expressed concern for Christian holy places in Jerusalem and said that many parties are collectively responsible for the complexity of the current realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   He praised efforts to resolve the conflict.   (MEMRI, 10/30)
  • The worst patients in the world:   “Americans are hypochondriacs, yet we skip our checkups.   We demand drugs we don’t need, and fail to take the ones we do.   No wonder the US leads the world in health spending.”   (David H. Freedman, The Atlantic, July 2019).

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASES

The Fulani jihadists, who have become a greater threat to Nigerian Christians than the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, stormed the villages of Inkirimi, Dogonnoma, and Ungwan Gora in the Kajuru Local Government Area last March destroying 143 homes, killing 52 people, and wounding dozens more.  (THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D., Breitbart,

The persecution of Christians around the world has reached alarming proportions.  No help is given by any nation.  Some countries are now boasting of being Christian free.  Western nations are often discriminating when it comes to allowing refugees into their countries, giving preference to non-Christians.  This special issue is devoted to this subject.   Please remember to pray for them.

In two unrelated cases, the United Kingdom denied asylum to persecuted Christians by bizarrely citing the Bible and Jesus.  Both Christians, a man and a woman, are former Muslims who were separately seeking asylum from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the ninth-worst persecutor of Christians — particularly of those who were Muslims and converted to Christianity.

UK asylum worker Nathan Stevens recently shared their stories.  In his rejection letter from the UK’s Home Office, which is in charge of immigration, the Iranian man was told that biblical passages were “inconsistent” with his claim to have converted to Christianity after discovering it was a “peaceful” faith.   The letter cited several biblical excerpts, including from Exodus, Leviticus, and Matthew, presumably to show that the Bible is violent; it said Revelation was “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.”

The governmental letter then concluded:   “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”

In response, Nathan Stevens, the asylum seeker’s caseworker, tweeted:

“… I’ve seen a lot over the years, but even I was genuinely shocked to read this unbelievably offensive diatribe being used to justify a refusal of asylum.   Stevens added:

“Whatever your views on faith, how can a government official arbitrarily pick bits out of a holy book and then use them to trash someone’s heartfelt reason for coming to a personal decision to follow another faith?   There seemed no awareness that, despite occasional verses of violence in the Bible, its main message, in both the Old and New Testaments, is to be found in Leviticus 19:18: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In rejecting the claim for asylum of this man who converted from Islam to Christianity, and presumably compelling his return to Iran, the British government is effectively sentencing him to death.”  (UK: Radical Muslims welcome, Persecuted Christians need not apply,” Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone, 3/31/19)

CHRISTIANS MASSACRED, MEDIA LOOKS THE OTHER WAY

“In the same week as the awful attack on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand . . . more than two hundred Christians were killed in Nigeria.  There was hardly any mention of the latter in the news.  There were no marches for martyred Christians, no tolling of church bells ordered by governments, no ‘Je suis Charlie’ t-shirts . . . no public outrage at all.” — Fr. Benedict Kiely, Crisis Magazine, September 4, 2019

(Guilio Meotti, Gatestone, 9/8)

“I don’t believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights.  But in Western countries, there are animal rights.  In Australia they take care of frogs . . . Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.

“Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them.  We are the original people in this land.  We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don’t wake up.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus.

“Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.   (“The Extinction of Christians in the Middle East”.

Guilio Meotti, Gatestone, 8/18)

AFRICA:   ALARMING RISE IN CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.” — The Independent Review of FCO support for Persecuted Christians.

“The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused.   They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones.   Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead.” — World Watch Monitor, May 2, 2019.

As the British report demonstrates, persecution against Christians and other non-Muslims is not about the ethnicity, race or skin color of either the perpetrators or the victims – it is about their religion.

If these crimes are not stopped, it is highly likely that the fate of the African Continent will be like that of the Middle East:   Once it was a majority-Christian region; now, Christians are a tiny, dying, defenseless minority.

(Uzay Bulut, Gatestone, 6/26)

CHRISTIANS IN AFRICA

“Christianity originated in the Middle East.   Thus, the displacement or evacuation of Christians from the Middle East is very dangerous for the safety of the region . . . also in the Mediterranean Sea region. Europe is affected by this.” — Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, in Germany, where he was inaugurating a new Coptic church for his exiled community.

(Deutsche Welle, May 14, 2019).

Regrettably, the tragedy of these Christian massacres is directly proportional to the neglect with which they are reported in the West.

“‘Islamophobia’ looms large; talk of ‘Christophobia’ is almost nonexistent.” —

(Ross Douthat, “Are Christians Privileged or Persecuted?,” The New York Times, April 23,2019)

Algeria — the country of origin of some of the Christian fathers such as Augustine of Hippo — has become a country . . . where officially there are “no native Christians.”   How many other countries will meet the same fate?   And will the West ever come to the help of their Christian brethren?

(Meotti, Gatestone, 6/30)

PERSECUTION OF PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS

“Fatah regularly exerts heavy pressure on Christians not to report the acts of violence and vandalism from which they frequently suffer, as such publicity could damage the PA’s image as an actor capable of protecting the lives and property of the Christian minority under its rule . . .   That image could have negative repercussions for the massive international, and particularly European, aid the PA receives.” — Dr. Edy Cohen, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

(Ibrahim, Gatestone, 6/13)

PERSECUTION IN EUROPE

In 2018 alone, 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) were registered in France.   (Ibrahim,

Gatestone, 6/2)

END OF THE UK?

Fourteen years ago I gave a sermon in England on Bible prophecy as it relates to the United Kingdom.   I speculated that eventually the United Kingdom would be whittled down to England, just England.

My reasoning was simple.   As the “multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19) was a blessing, and the strength of Ephraim was to be that multitude of nations, so, in accordance with Deuteronomy 28, as the people turned away from God, they would lose the multitude of nations, until they were down to what England was during the time of Elizabeth I, just England.

It all tied In with the Protestant Reformation.   The zeal for independence from Rome and the need for trade sent England around the world in search of markets.   These trading posts were the origin of the British Empire, the empire “upon which the sun never set.”

It was not just mercantile considerations.   After the legalization of the Bible in 1537 (it had been banned under the Church of Rome), there was an enthusiasm for God’s Word that encouraged believers to take it around the world.   King Henry VIII was on the throne at the time the Bible became available.   In 1546 he admonished the people on their enthusiasm, thinking it improper for people to read it in the pubs.

Almost five centuries later, the reading of it anywhere would be beneficial.   The  fact is that the more people sin, the more the nation will suffer.   This applies to all nations, but especially to the descendants of ancient Israel.   And few people in England today know what sin is.

CONTRASTING TWO FUNERALS

In “The Abolition of Britain,” Peter Hitchens writes about this.   He shows how much England changed between the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill on 30th January 1965; and the funeral of Princess Diana on 6th September, 1997.

“The final days of imperial Britain are bracketed – appropriately enough – by the funerals of an old man and of a beautiful young woman.   The first, of Sir Winston Churchill, reached into a past of grandeur and certainty, while the second, of Diana, Princess of Wales, foreshadowed a future of doubt and decline.   The two events were different in every possible way, except that both were unmistakably British.   The dead warrior was almost ninety, full of years and ready to die.   He represented the virtues of courage, fortitude and endurance, was picturesque rather than glamorous, and his death was expected.   The lost princess was snatched from life in the midst of youth, beauty and glamour.   Her disputed virtues were founded on suffering (real or imagined) and appealed more to the outcasts and the wounded than to the dutiful plain heart of England.”   (“The Abolition of Britain,” by Peter Hitchens, 1999, pages 1 & 2).

Churchill’s funeral was the last hurrah of Imperial Britain.   The hundreds of thousands who lined the streets were deferential, tipping their hats when the cortege went by.   They were a generation of God-fearing people who believed that the British Empire had been the greatest empire in history, that the Queen was chosen by God, that their system of government was the best in the world.   They respected the royal family.   They even respected their politicians, even though they did not agree with them.   In a world of turmoil, there was civil order, something to be proud of.   They were a confident people, self-assured and independent.

Over the next 32 years, it all changed.

Now, they lead the world in the number of websites devoted to atheism.   They are a nation of emotional basket cases rather like Diana herself.   They are sexually immoral, a people with no moral compass and no backbone, either.   Today, in parliament, there’s hardly a real man amongst them.   They cower before the European Union, afraid to make any decision.   Afraid to leave, afraid to stay – leaderless.   They have forgotten their friends, family, really, the Old Dominions, turning their backs on them in pursuit of a European chimera.

Worst of all, they do not realize any of this.

In that 32-year period the country changed.   Quite literally, in fact, as many of the people who live there now are not even of British descent.

“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned.   Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it, yes gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it, And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this.”   (Hosea 7:8-10)

This describes Britain today.

UK TO BREAK UP?

The challenges continue to mount.   The official name of the country is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”   But divided Ireland presents a real problem for the UK in its negotiations with the EU.   Nobody wants a “hard” border with customs and passport controls.   But this cannot be avoided when the UK leaves the EU. The EU is not cooperating with Britain over this, giving the UK a real headache.   A hard border could mean a return to all the fighting of previous decades.   A soft border is only possible if Ireland unites, which means Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom.   The majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.   It would also mean the fall of the Conservative government as they rely on the votes of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party).

Northern Ireland dropping out of the UK means the United Kingdom would have to change its name to Great Britain, the name given to the country when Scotland and England merged.

In Scotland, as well, the majority voted to remain in the United Kingdom.   If Northern Ireland leaves the UK, the Scots are more likely to follow.   So then it will just be England.

It’s logical.   Seventy years ago, the British still had the biggest empire in history.   Gradually, they gave it all away.   Would anybody now be shocked if the United Kingdom ceased to exist?   If Ireland and Scotland were given away?

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Footnote:   Somebody has written and asked if I think the election of Donald Trump will delay the prophesied end time events?   Quite the contrary.   The election of Donald Trump has turned the world upside down, with alliances broken and trading systems overturned.   The growing separation between Europe and America alone speeds up prophetic events.

AUTISM ENTERS POLITICS . . . and other news

Pauline Hanson delivering her comments on autism in schools. (http://www.2gb.com/podcast/pauline-hanson-comments-on-autism/)

Pauline Hanson is an Australian Member of Parliament.  She has her own political party, “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party,” and often speaks out on immigration and related issues.

This week she spoke out on autism.   Specifically, she is calling for autistic children to be separated from other children, so that the others are not held back in their education.

Our eldest grandson, Aubren, who is five, is autistic.   I drive him to school most days and collect him from school seven hours later.    Because of this, I interact with his teachers a great deal.

All are aware of his autism.  Their approach is very different to Ms. Hanson’s.

About half of the pupils in his pre-kindergarten class do not have special needs.  Those who do have special needs participate in everything.  In addition, they have private sessions with speech therapists and others to help them keep up with the other children.  From what I have seen, this works very well.

There could be a case for separating autistic children if it is found that they will benefit.   What Ms. Hanson is suggesting is that autistic children be educated separately as their presence in the classroom is having a negative effect on non-autistic children.   Again, I’ve not seen any evidence for this.  And with so many children with autism, normal children need exposure to this to understand it, handle it, and see these children as potential friends, not objects of scorn and derision.

Nobody knows for sure what causes autism.  There are plenty of theories.  Some of these are put forward quite volubly by their adherents, but it remains the case that nobody knows for sure what causes the problem.  What is known is that the number of autistic children is increasing.  It is now one in 68.

The correct name for autism is Autism Spectral Disorder.  There is a wide spectrum when it comes to autism.  Many autistic children function well in different areas; but there are others, at the other end of the spectrum, who find it difficult to carry on a conversation, or indeed, speak at all.    Communication is a major challenge for autistic children.   So are emotions and affection.   In addition, many autistic people need “sameness” – they do not adjust well to a different environment or any change to their routine.  We are anxious about Aubren’s first day at kindergarten in August – new school, new teacher, new environment; he may bolt, trying to escape from it as it could be overwhelming for him.  His teacher, Miss Sue, from the last school year has volunteered to regularly take him to his new school and new playground to familiarize him with his future environment.  The right teachers make all the difference!

Aubren is a delightful boy.   Everybody loves him.   He plays well with other children.  He’s affectionate and loving.  I for one am very much against the idea that autistic children should be separated from other children of the same age.   After all, when they finish school at 18, they are going to have to mix with others in the working world.   Why not start now?

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BRITISH COMPROMISE

The news from England can be quite discouraging, with terrorism and Brexit dominating everything.  Britain’s position on just about everything reminds me of a verse in the Old Testament about Ephraim.   In Hosea 7:8 we read:   “Ephraim compromises with the nations; he’s a half-baked cake.” (International Standard Version.)   A half-baked cake is of no use to anybody.

Julius Caesar put it somewhat differently, when he described Britain as “perfidious Albion.”   England is no longer ruled by those ancient Britons, having been taken over by Angles and Saxons shortly after the Romans left the country.   Perhaps it’s the weather, which is very unpredictable.

Whatever the reason, Mrs. May is perfecting “compromise.”   It’s been the British way all my lifetime.

Consider the following:

After a “terror” attack outside of a leading London mosque, she had the opportunity to boldly speak some badly needed truths.  The attack was by a “lone wolf,” a man from Cardiff in Wales who was obviously upset about recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. He drove his car into a crowd outside of the mosque.   Nothing can excuse this, but it provided Mrs. May with an opportunity to say that people are understandably scared after the recent terror attacks. Instead, she condemned “Islamophobia” and said the government was going to stamp it out. Islamophobia is a natural and reasonable response to Islamic terror – the only way to defeat Islamophobia is by Muslims themselves doing something about terrorism.

Also, was the driver of the car really a terrorist?   He had no links to any terror organization, domestic or foreign.  Describing him as a “terrorist” puts his act on a par with the real terror attacks that have taken place, when they are very different.   His was motivated by a fear of Muslims.

Thirdly, Mrs. May is promising more security for mosques.   There is no such protection for churches.  What the prime minister is doing is inadvertently giving Islam a special status.

Today, there was yet more compromise, this time with the European Union, as Britain negotiates itself out of the 27-member organization.

Mrs. May announced this morning that 3 million people from other EU countries can remain in Britain after Brexit.   Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, responded with: “It’s not sufficient.”  Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, was equally dismissive.   Neither man was elected by the people.  They are professional bureaucrats — with all the arrogance that comes with it.

The UK is going to find that compromise doesn’t work with the EU – or with Islam!   Britain will keep on compromising with both, until another Winston Churchill arises – if there is one.

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ROYAL DEPRESSION

It’s surely a depressing time for the Queen.   The multicultural dream she has spent decades developing seems to be crumbling.   It’s not just Islamic terrorism.   Even the fire at the 24-storey apartment block in London brought it out. Most of the residents were from other cultures with no understanding of the way Britain works. After an incident like this, there’s usually a government inquiry and then changes are made based on recommendations received.

On this occasion, residents were quick to protest and even riot, storming the local county offices who are responsible for building safety.   Mrs. May had to quickly promise new accommodation in a luxury apartment block.   The taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

It turned out the fire was started by a faulty fridge.   It spread quickly because of the insulation used.

In view of all these problems, it’s not surprising that nobody in the royal family wants to be king, according to Prince Harry in an interview this week.

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MEDIA BEWILDERED BY VOTE

I don’t know if the Queen has ever been to Georgia, a colony (now a state) named after her ancestor, George II, who reigned from 1727-1760.

Georgia was the center of attention this week due to a by-election in the 6th Congressional district.

As the election got nearer, TV news people were ecstatic at the prospect of a Democratic victory.   It had to happen as Donald Trump is so unpopular!  The election was even described as “a referendum on Trump.”

The party that represents the wealthy elite, the Democrats, spent more than eight times as much money contesting this seat, as the Republicans, now the party of the working man.   In spite of this massive outlay of cash, the Democrats lost.   If this truly was a referendum on Trump, he must be doing ok.

The BBC was totally discombobulated.   Commentators kept repeating that the president has less than a 40% approval rating, so how could this possibly be the result?   It won’t happen again when the mid-term elections take place in November next year, they assured viewers.

Haven’t they learned yet that polls are not reliable?

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ISRAEL’S TICKING TIME BOMB

“The southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv have been overrun in recent years.   The number of African asylum-seekers and economic migrants now living there is approaching 100,000.

Some have been repatriated.   But most remain in the country illegally.

Israel finds itself in a conundrum – how can it turn away or deport those in need considering the Jews’ own history?   At the same time, how can the tiny nation of Israel absorb such numbers without taking a serious hit to its economy?

And time’s running out to find a solution.

According to Oved Hugi, a social activist from southern Tel Aviv, the “infiltrators’ birthrate stands at 10,000 per year.   That means 50,000 children in five years, and that should cause the Prime Minister to lose sleep.   South Tel Aviv is a ticking time bomb.”   (Israel Today)

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SAUDIS BETRAY REAL FEELINGS

On June 8, 2017, the Saudi national football team met the Australian national team for a match in Adelaide as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The match began with a minute of silence for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, among whom were two Australians.   However, while the members of the Australian team observed the minute of silence, the Saudi players appeared to ignore it and continued moving around the pitch. (MEMRI 6-21)

Why are people surprised, when Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi Arabia? Wahhabis support violence against infidels (non-believers) and believe violence is justified to spread Islam.

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Canadian sniper makes record kill shot                                                                    A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces has shot and killed an Isis fighter in Iraq from a distance of 2.1 miles, shattering the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot previously held by a British sniper.  The shot took 10 seconds to reach its target and the sniper would have had to consider distance, wind and the curvature of the earth when taking aim.  (Globe and Mail) 

Refugees in Germany to be jobless for years                                                       Up to three-quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to Aydan Özoğuz, the country’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration. The stark admission of the challenges Germany faces in integrating its huge migrant population comes as Angela Merkel seeks a fourth term as chancellor in elections in September. (FT)

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON RECENT EVENTS

24-storey apartment building in London on fire

I stayed up late a week ago to watch the British election results, broadcast live on BBC World’s television channel.   It soon became clear that Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives were not doing well. Mrs. May had called an early election to strengthen her position prior to the start of Brexit talks with the European Union.   Her gamble failed – she now finds herself leading a party that does not control over 50% of parliament.   To stay in office, she has had to enter a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-British faction from Northern Ireland.

This is already being misinterpreted by Sinn Fein, the anti-British, pro-republican faction from Northern Ireland; it could easily lead to further violence in the province.

There’s another threat to the coalition. Mrs. May also relies on the Scottish Conservatives, who did extremely well in the election, increasing their parliamentary representation from one to thirteen seats.  Their leader, Ruth Davidson, who is married to her female partner, is a fervent supporter of same-sex marriage; while the Northern Irish conservatives are socially very traditional.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works out.

At the very least, it has weakened the government at a crucial time, as negotiations begin on Monday, with the most efficient and uncompromising bureaucracy on the face of the earth – the European Union.

An additional threat comes from the opposition Labour Party.   A prominent voice in the party is calling for one million people to take to the streets to bring down Mrs. May.   Sound familiar?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25.)

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EUROPEAN LEADERS CHILDLESS

Talking of Europe, note the following, sent by a friend in New Zealand:

• Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected French president, has no             children.
•  German chancellor Angela Merkel has no children.
•  British prime minister Theresa May has no children.
•  Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children.
•  Holland’s Mark Rutte, has no children.
•  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven, has no children.
•  Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, has no children.
•  Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has no children.
•  Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has        no children.

So a grossly disproportionate number of the people making decisions about Europe’s future have no direct personal stake in that future.

Additionally, in the last few days, the Irish Republic has a new prime minister.   He also has no children.  The press has been full of the fact that he is the youngest prime minister ever.   He is also half-Indian and gay, neither of which is an issue.   (Serbia’s new prime minister is also gay, as is Luxembourg’s PM.)

At the very least, all the above are thinking short-term, wanting to win the next election.   When Europe was dominated by kings, at the very least the leaders wanted to preserve their thrones for their descendants;  this also meant ensuring the continuation of the nation-state.   Both of these factors no longer apply.

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THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

Talking of kings, King Henry II got a mention in the US Congress a week ago.   Henry died long before the United States ever existed as a nation – even before America was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus.   He reigned from 1154-1189.

Note the following from Vanity Fair:

“The James Comey hearing has officially gone medieval.   A little less than two hours into the former FBI director’s highly watched testimony, Comey dropped a reference to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed at the casual request of King Henry II in the year 1170.   The reference popped up when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, asking him about Donald Trump’s seemingly casual but firm request to have Comey drop the FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation.  Though Trump did not demand outright that Comey drop the investigation, even his slightest requests come with an air of seriousness, King suggested.

“Do you take that as a directive?” King asked Comey of Trump’s question.

“Yes, yes,” Comey replied.   “It rings in my ears as kind of ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’”

Henry II was a very significant monarch.   James Comey learned a lesson from his reign.   Today’s British people, who have experienced three terrorist attacks in less than three months, could learn something else.   Note the following:

“Henry II, who is considered the father of the common law, promulgated the Assize of Arms in 1181. This required all (male) British citizens between 15 and 40 to purchase and keep arms.   The type of arms required varied with wealth; the wealthiest had to provide themselves with full armor, sword, dagger, and war horse, while even the poorest citizens, “the whole community of freemen,” must have leather armor, helmet and a lance.   Twice a year all citizens were to be inspected by the king’s officials to insure that they possessed the necessary arms.   Conversely, the English made it quite clear that the king was to be expected to depend exclusively upon his armed freemen.   When rebellious barons forced John I to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, they inserted in its prohibitions a requirement that he “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants, and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.” (Historical Basis of the Right to keep and bear arms, by David P. Hardy, 1982)

During the recent terror attacks in England, on each occasion, one armed citizen could have made a significant difference and saved lives.  Medieval monarchs were very concerned that the people should be able to defend themselves against the French; today, the threat is Islamic extremists, but the principle remains the same.

Also note, in the quote above, that Henry’s second son, John, one of the worst monarchs in English history, was required by the people to “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.”

No prizes for guessing who should be expelled today!

It should be noted that King Henry did not introduce the right to bear arms; he simply restored an ancient right that went back to at least the reign of Alfred the Great, in the 9th century.  The Vikings were one of the problems at that time.  The threat changes, but a threat is always there.

With this in mind, I found the following interesting while studying this morning:   “The story of David and Goliath is helpful since “five smooth stones” and a “sling” are the closest equivalent to a handgun we can find in the Bible.   David seems to have been armed with his sling at all times.   There was no way he could run home to get his sling when a lion or a bear was about to attack his flock.   (1 Sam. 17:31-37, 41-54)

It’s possible that Jesus had the Old Testament case law in mind when He offered this injunction to His disciples:   “But be sure of this, if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”   (Matt 24:43) (“Jesus, Guns and Self-defence – what does the Bible say?”)

Christians should, of course, strive to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)   Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9)   He also told us to “turn the other cheek.”  (vs. 38-39)

With terrorism, we are dealing with a totally different mind-set from Jesus Christ, a religious belief system that encourages and celebrates killing en masse.   People have to be able to defend themselves. King Henry understood this.   Today’s leaders in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada need to address the issue, enabling people to defend themselves from acts of barbarism.   In contrast, Australia has just announced an amnesty calling on citizens to hand over illegal weapons.

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THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON, 2017

The tragic apartment block fire in London dominated the news on Wednesday.   30 deaths have been confirmed, but scores of people are still missing.   There were also over sixty injured.   What started the fire is not known at this time, but a material used in construction appears to have helped the fire to quickly spread.   The Daily Express said Thursday that EU environmental directives could be the cause.

Most of the people in the apartment block seemed to have been from other countries in Africa and Asia.   Looking at the high-rise (24-storey) block of flats, as they are called in England, I wondered why people would leave their own countries to live in such an awful place.

My wife and I have spent many happy days in African villages.   I can truthfully say that I would rather live in one of those than in a high-rise apartment block in London, or any other major city.   Isaiah 5:8 warns against living too close to each other.   “Woe unto them that join house to house.”

What attracts people to move to the West varies for each individual. One of the established reasons in the UK is the generous welfare benefits.   Perhaps some of that money could be diverted to African villages to bring water and electricity to communities to improve their quality of life.   Together with the abolition of welfare for new arrivals, this would go some way to help solve the immigration crisis.

On BBC World this morning, interviews with survivors of the fire revealed a lot of understandable anger.   It’s also clear that many have an “entitlement mentality,” demanding that the government re-house them immediately, claiming that hotels are not good enough; they also dismissed Theresa May’s call for an independent inquiry – they want those responsible punished NOW.

Since writing the above, some residents and neighbors have stormed the local town hall, chanting their demands, blaming the fire on the Conservative government.   There was no logic – just a mob mentality. Scary and a sign of things to come. 


 

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS

  • At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high.   People known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of Britain and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities.   It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.
  • Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?
  • To see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point.   The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality.   Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit.   The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews and Christians.   It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century.

(“No tolerance for extremism, “ by Denis McMacEion, Gatestone Institute, 6/16).

 

BRITISH EMPIRE WAS A BLESSING

It has been suggested that citizens of the sixteen Commonwealth Realms be given their own “fast lane” at UK Points of Entry.   This will be good news for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the smaller realms.   If the idea is approved, it will be a first step toward restoring closer Commonwealth ties that ended when Britain joined the EU.

While Britain has been a member of the European Union, EU citizens were able to go through the fast lane, while the rest of us waited for up to two hours, slowly inching forward in the “Aliens” line.

Post-Brexit, it will certainly be in Britain’s best interests to enter into closer trade and defense ties with the countries that share Britain’s parliamentary system and all have the same Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II.   Other Commonwealth countries have opted for a republican form of government, recognizing the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth but not retaining her services as their own sovereign.

It will also mean that, for the first time, the United Kingdom is reversing five decades of history and turning its attention again to its former Empire.

The word “Empire” has been a pejorative for two generations.   Before World War One, there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the British Empire around the world in territories that constituted the “empire upon which the sun never set.”   Over a quarter of the world’s people lived under the British flag.   Imperialism was in vogue and inspired millions of people to help develop other nations.

Today, people forget what a blessing the Empire was.  Let’s take a look at a few of those blessings.

1.  The Bible and religious freedom.

The fourteenth century philosopher and theologian, John Wycliffe, was the first man to translate all the scriptures into English.   His favorite verse was Philippians 2:12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   He struck the first blow for religious freedom and democracy by encouraging people to study for themselves and make up their own minds.

Two centuries later, the English Queen Elizabeth I, secured the Protestant Reformation by bravely sending her smaller fleet against the Spanish Armada.   England defeated the Spaniards, thereby thwarting an attempt by the pope to force the country back into the Catholic Church.

In the nineteenth century, the British and Foreign Bible Society, took the Bible into dozens of different countries.   The Wycliffe Bible Translation Society still exists, sending volunteers into poor and backward countries to develop a written language and then translate the Bible so that all may read it.

The most famous British missionary, David Livingstone, took the Bible with him into central Africa, to “bring light into darkness.”  He was also motivated by a desire to see the end of slavery, perpetrated by Arab slave traders, who were seizing black Africans as slaves.

2.  Britain was the first major country to abolish slavery.

Slavery was universal and had not been questioned until the eighteenth century.   It wasn’t just Africans who were taken as slaves.   One million white people were being held by Muslim slave traders at this time.   (“White Gold”, Giles Milton, 2004.)

In 1772, the Somerset decision by an English court, ruled that British people could not hold slaves, that all people in Britain were free. It took another 35 years before the slave trade was abolished and a further 27 years before slavery itself was ended throughout the British Empire.  (Denmark banned the slave trade in its territories a few years before Britain.)

One year after the abolition of the slave trade, the British government authorized the Royal Navy to stop ships on the high seas and free all the slaves.   Wikipedia has this to say about the West Africa Squadron:

“The Royal Navy established the West Africa Squadron (or Preventative Squadron) at substantial expense in 1808 after Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807.   The squadron’s task was to suppress the Atlantic slave trade by patrolling the coast of West Africa.   With a home base at Portsmouth, it began with two small ships, the 32-gun fifth-rate frigate HMS Solebay and the Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Derwent. At the height of its operations, the squadron employed a sixth of the Royal Navy fleet and marines.

“Between 1808 and 1860 the West Africa Squadron captured 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans.[“1]

Because of its role in fighting slavery, Britain was seen as a Liberator around the world.  Many tribes in Africa asked to be annexed into the British Empire, seeking protection from slave traders.  At one point, so many African tribes were asking to join the Empire that the British were overwhelmed. “The Dualla chiefs of the Cameroon repeatedly asked to be annexed, but the British either declined or took no notice at all.”  (Pax Britannica, James Morris, 1968, page 43)

In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Victorians were caught up in an enthusiastic desire to see slavery ended in Africa, and the Bible, Protestant Christianity, democracy and the rule of law introduced (“Africa and the Victorians,” Robinson and Gallagher, 1961)

Sadly, in the sixty years since the end of the British Empire, slavery is back in every single African country, according to UNESCO.   The former Ghanaian President, John Kufour, condemned slavery in Ghana a few years ago on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire; he also apologized for the role Ghana’s own chiefs had played in promoting slavery by selling their own people and members of other tribes.

3.  British capital developed many nations.

The definitive books on British investment around the world are the two volume “British Imperialism” by Cain and Hopkins.  The books highlight “London’s role as the chief provider of economic services during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries” (back cover, volume one).   London remains the world’s number one financial center (New York has the world’s biggest stock exchange).   Not only did British capital develop every country in the Empire, it was also responsible for developing the United States, Argentina, Brazil,Chile, the Ottoman Empire and China.

Interestingly, one reason that members of the European Union are upset over Brexit, is that Britain has been a net contributor to the EU, helping to finance development in other member nations.  When the UK leaves, where is the money going to come from?

4.   Another blessing of British rule was its governmental system and the administration of its various colonies.

Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its constitutional monarchy is the most stable political system in the world.   It was successfully exported to all its colonies and dominions.  Sixteen of those countries have retained the same system since independence, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of majority black countries in the Caribbean.  Queen Elizabeth remains as Head of State in all of these countries.

38 other countries, former colonies of Great Britain, did not retain the Queen as Head of State but still look to her as the Head of the Commonwealth.  Many of these nations have suffered through coups and counter-coups and periods of military rule.  In many, corruption is rife and the people are worse off than they were when colonies.

Interestingly, it was recently suggested that the United States join the Commonwealth, as an Associate member.  The Royal Commonwealth Society is opening a branch in New York City.

5.   The free world’s first line of defense.

For two centuries Great Britain was the “policeman of the world.”  The country brought down Napoleon, after which she was the undisputed leader of the world.  A century later, with her dominions and colonies, she brought down the Kaiser.  In World War Two, the British Empire was the only power that was in the war from beginning to end.   With later help from the Soviet Union and the United States, the Empire defeated Hitler and his monstrous Third Reich that was the most racist regime in modern history.  The Empire’s forces also kept the peace on the North-West frontier of India, in what are now Pakistan and Afghanistan and in other trouble spots around the world.

America’s pre-eminent historian, James Truslow Adams, wrote his history of “The British Empire 1784-1939” in the year that World War Two started, 1939.   This is the final paragraph in his book:   “In this world crisis, we in America have a great stake.  We know that stability is impossible without respect for law and order, for the honesty of the written and spoken word.  Without liberty of thought, speech and press, progress is impossible.  What these things mean to the world of today and tomorrow has been amply demonstrated by the negation of them in certain great nations during the past few years.   Different peoples may have different ideals of government but for those who have been accustomed to freedom of person and of spirit, the possible overthrow of the British Empire would be a catastrophe scarcely thinkable.  Not only would it leave a vacuum over a quarter of the globe into which all the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression could rush, but the strongest bulwark outside ourselves for our own safety and freedom would have been destroyed.”  (page 358)

The Empire has indeed been replaced by “the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression.”

It’s no wonder that, at the height of the Empire, during Queen Victoria’s reign and the first few years of the twentieth century, many people in Britain and its overseas territories, believed the Empire was a fulfillment of biblical promises made to Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel.  In Genesis, chapter 48, we read of howJoseph’s descendants were to become a great “multitude of nations” and a “great (single) nation,” the British Empire and Commonwealth and the United States.  They were to be a physical blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3).  In the late Victorian period, believers published a weekly newspaper called “The Banner of Israel”  — they enthusiastically tracked the daily growth of the British Empire and the United States at the time.

This belief was widely held in the trenches of World War One.  It’s ironic that those same trenches shattered the religious convictions of many, who witnessed the carnage first-hand.

No empire was perfect.  Britain made mistakes.  Often listed by anti-imperialists is the Amritsar massacre of 1919.  This was not deliberate government policy, but rather the misjudgment of the commanding officer.  The 1943 Bengal famine is also often mentioned; overlooked is the fact that this was in the middle of World War II when other nations also experienced famine. Historical mistakes were made in Ireland, which caused problems to this day.

Imperialism had been in vogue before 1914; after two world wars, there was great disillusionment.   Additionally, the colonial powers had serious financial problems.  Decolonization followed.  It was the end of the European empires.

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RUSSIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

putin

While US media has been focussed on alleged Russian hacking of the US electoral process, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has strengthened its role in the Middle East.

The morning that America suffered a major setback in the Middle East, American news networks led on two deaths – those of actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.   Tragic though these deaths were, developments in the Middle East put America where Great Britain was exactly six decades ago.

Before World War Two, the British Empire was the dominant power in the region.   Britain withdrew from Israel in May of 1948. Immediately, the Jewish nation was invaded by five neighboring Arab nations.   Miraculously, Israel survived. In those early days, it was not helped by the United States.

In 1952, as a direct consequence of defeat against Israel, Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown by the military.   The new leaders soon seized the Anglo-French Suez Canal.   Together with Israel, these countries invaded Egypt but were soon stopped by US President Eisenhower.   This single event led directly to the dismantling of the British Empire.   In 1958 the pro-British King of Iraq was overthrown.   Britain was losing its remaining influence in the area. The country fought a war against rebels in Aden, withdrawing from the protectorate in 1967.

It was a gradual decline, with one setback after another.   Now, the UK does not play any major role in the Middle East.

Since Britain, America has been the dominant power in the region. During the time of the Soviet Union, the US and the USSR were rivals in the area, with Moscow backing Egypt and Syria.   Later, Egypt switched sides and allied itself with the United States, but Moscow retained its influence in Syria.   Iran was in the US sphere of influence until the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

The region has seen never-ending turmoil since the fall of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire after World War One.   That turmoil shows no sign of ending.

The recent war in Iraq has left a big mess in the region.   At its root is the almost 1,400 year sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Until the US invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunni Muslims, even though the majority of people were Shia Muslims (the reverse is the case in Syria).   Following the US backed election in Iraq, the majority Shia now rule the country. This development has altered the religious balance in the region and is causing repercussions everywhere.   ISIS was formed to protect Sunni Muslims from the now dominant Shia.

In Syria, Sunnis have been trying to overthrow the Alawite (Shia) minority regime of President Assad for five years.   Enter Moscow. Russia’s backing of the Syrian president has enabled Assad to win. The US showed a great deal of weakness, refusing to get involved even when the Syrian government crossed the line and used chemical weapons on its own citizens.   Now, after months of fighting in Aleppo, the biggest city of the country, Assad is firmly in power and Russia is sponsoring “peace talks” with the rebel factions in the country.   The US is not invited to the peace talks. Russia now controls Syria.   To accomplish this, the country needs Turkey’s help. The two are pushing for peace in the country. Turkey, the second most powerful military power in NATO, is now working with the Russians to bring peace to the Middle East.

That’s two set-backs for Washington in just a few days.

A third set-back is in Israel.   The outgoing administration in Washington did not veto the latest UN vote against Israel, condemning the country for building new settlements for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.   Friction between the US and the only western style democracy in the region is unsettling, to say the least. This set-back may only be temporary as a new President takes over in the US in just three weeks, but that gives a few days for further negative developments.   Even the British have criticized America’s condemnation of Israel.   The State Department seems set on causing rifts with US allies in the final days of the current Administration.

Keep in mind, too, that Syria borders Israel on the Golan Heights.   What happens in Syria may affect Israel.   Perhaps that’s why Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow in June, the fourth time in a year that he sat down with President Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The tables have been turned once again in the region.   Over sixty years ago, the UK was the dominant power in the region; since then, it’s been the US.   But now Russia is arguably the dominant power in the area.   The Russians are in alliance with the Shi-ite Muslims in Iran and Syria; they are also working with Sunni Turkey, which ruled the whole area prior to 1919.   At the same time, it seems that Israel’s prime minister is more comfortable with Putin than with Obama, with whom he’s had a serious exchange of heated words in recent days.

There’s even a fourth development that puts Russia ahead. Following the hacking scandal, President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US; President Putin made it clear that he will not expel any Americans. This is a triumph for Putin in the propaganda war with America.

What lies ahead?   Remember that the Middle East is the primary focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem at the epicenter.

In the nineteenth century, there was no indication that the Jews were about to become an independent nation again.  Their period of self-rule ended with the Romans before the time of Christ.  Their rebellion against the Romans in the first century AD led to the Diaspora, a dispersion that scattered the Jewish people throughout the Roman Empire and left them scattered until fairly recently.   Bible prophecy showed that the Jewish nation would be restored and that happened in 1948.

Exactly a century ago, British and Australian forces entered Jerusalem in the continuing war with the Ottoman Turks.   At this point in time, a Jewish nation became possible.   The British were given a mandate to administer Palestine by the League of Nations.   This was an impossible task as Palestinians and Jews clashed repeatedly.   Eventually, the League’s successor, the United Nations, divided the territory up between Jews and Palestinians, the latter never accepting their loss of land.