The War in Syria and surrounding developments

The war in Syria turned into a battleground in which nations are drawn to the Middle East theatre like a moth to candlelight. This is very prophetic.

The latest development of Turkish forces entering Syria is extremely significant. President Erdogan of Turkey wants to establish a buffer zone on the Syrian –Turkey border. To be able to do that his military forces needs to push back the Kurdish YPG forces, backed by the United States. The YPG played a crucial role in helping US forces chasing ISIS out of the area.

Meanwhile, Russia silently reneged on its statement in the media during November 2017, to withdraw all its forces from Syria. Instead, President Vladimir Putin decided to build more military bases and bolster his army in Syria with 6,000 more troops. To keep the balance and protect its interests, the US decided to stay in Syria indefinitely.

While Hizbullah strategically withdrew from Syria to set up bases near Israel’s northern border, Iran is pushing the envelope even further by supplying Hizbullah with precision weapons to confront Israel in the next war. Iran is effectively turning Syria and Lebanon  into a potential war zone.

Israel will not allow Iran to supply Hizbullah with strategic and precision weapons posing a major threat to Israel. Only time will tell who will make the first move.

The presence of US, Russian, Turkish and Iranian forces in Syria and Hizbullah militias, a proxy of Iran in Lebanon, is turning the Middle East into a powder keg. Any serious scholar of the Middle East will watch these developments very closely.

The growing threat against Israel

The growing influence of Iran in the Red Sea and Mediterranean is of great concern to both Israel and the United States. An added concern is the presence of ISIS forces in the Sinai, which pose a threat to both Israel and Egypt.

The pressure on ISIS by Western forces in Yemen, Iraq and parts of Syria forced them to move to the rugged terrain of the Sinai where they made use of the numerous caves to hide and launched their attacks on Israel and Egypt. Some of these caves are very difficult to reach by military forces.

Since the Hizbullah forces fighting with the Syrian forces in the Syrian conflict, they became bolder with their threats against Israel presumably due to their years of fighting experience gained in the war theatre in Syria. Another reason for their boldness is the fact that Iran supplied them with advanced weapon systems.

In the latest development, Russia and Iran is considering the deployment of ground forces to Syria, something Western forces are watching very closely.

On the Korean Peninsula, North Korea ignores any warnings against the test of ballistic missiles, to the point that the United States deployed more military hardware in the East Sea and South Korea. China is an ally of North Korea and is not so happy with these deployments.

It is well known that North Korea assist Syria and Iran in the development of weapons which could potentially reach Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.This axis of evil should be watched very closely.

The first consignment of the new F-35 advanced bombers from the US landed in Israel during April 2017. The F-35 will give Israel a strategic edge in the Middle East and came at an appropriate time.

Are we witnessing the early stages of the building up of the Gog of Magog forces as described in Ezekiel 38 and 39?

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334

On 23 December 2016, just days before Christmas, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 declaring settlement activity as a “flagrant violation” of international law and has no “legal validity”. The adoption of this resolution will have far-reaching consequences for Israel. It will most certainly embolden terrorists to act against Israel.

It is significant that four of the five permanent members of the UN with veto powers, and inherently Christian nations, took a stand against Israel just before their Christmas celebrations.

In practical terms Resolution 2334 means that building in Biblical Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and East Jerusalem have to stop, effectively nullify the tenets of UNSC Resolution 242. In the literal interpretation of resolution 242, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Caradon, told the House of Commons on 29 October 1969: “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”

It was the first time that the United States of America as an ally of Israel abstained from a resolution against Israel. Israel’s hope is now on the new US President Donald Trump to reverse the damage caused by resolution 2334.

On Sunday 15 January 2017, a delegation of seventy nations will gather in France to deliberate on the Israel – Palestinian conflict. All these events do not happen in a bubble. The Bible accurately prophesied these developments. Psalm 83 described it so clearly:

“With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish” – Psalm 83:4 (New International Version).

The Complete Jewish Bible put it even more bluntly. “……….craftily conspiring against your people, consulting together against those you treasure” – Psalm 83:4.

It seems that the nations adopted the spirit of Amalek and are on a collision course with God.

Will the War in Syria end in Jerusalem?

The Middle East is heating up and the big powers are heading towards a catastrophic showdown. American, British and Russian warships and submarines are in close proximity to each other in the Mediterranean. The war in Syria drew these forces to the battlefield which could end in an apocalyptic end-game.

Are we witnessing the beginning of the scenario as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39? When looking at the many nations involved, the various forces and factions fighting in Syria, and the stated objective of many radical groups to reach Jerusalem, the following portion of scripture became extremely relevant:

“Son of Man, turn your attention toward Gog, from the land of Magog, the chief noble of Meshech, and Tubal. Prophesy this against him:

‘This is what the Lord GOD says: “Watch out! I’m coming after you, Gog, chief ruler of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.

I’m going to turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and bring you out—you and your whole army—along with your horses and cavalry riders, all of them richly attired, a magnificent company replete with buckler and shield, and all of them wielding battle swords.

Persia, Cush, and Libya will be accompanying them, all of them equipped with shields and helmets.

Gomer with all its troops, and the household of Togarmah from the remotest parts of the north with all its troops—many people will accompany you.

Be prepared. Yes, prepare yourself—you and all of your many battalions that have gathered together around you to protect you.

“Many days from now—in the latter years—you will be summoned to a land that has been restored from violence. You will be gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which formerly had been a continual waste, but which will be populated with people who have been brought back from the nations. All of them will be living there securely.

You’ll arise suddenly, like a tornado, coming like a windstorm to cover the land, you and all your soldiers with you, along with many nations – Ezekiel 38:3-9.

No doubt, the Middle East and Israel in particular are facing difficult times, but we read the good news in Ezekiel 39:

Now as for you, Son of Man, prophesy against Gog and tell him, ‘”This is what the Lord GOD has to say: ‘Watch out, Gog, you leader of the head of Meshech and Tubal!

I’m going to turn you around, drag you along to your destruction, and bring you up from the farthest parts of the north, and carry you to the mountains of Israel.

There I will strike your bow from your left hand and your arrows from your right, causing your fall.

Ezekiel 39:1-3.

The war against ISIS and the conflict in Syria could spread out to Israel and we need to closely watch these developments. It’s a time when we can read the Bible with the newspaper. The newspapers report and the Bible explain.

We certainly live in prophetic times.

Will Sukkot 2016 be like no other?

It seems that the nations are prophetically prompted like never before to attend the biblical feast of Sukkot. This year a new dimension came into play.

An article written by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz under the caption “Hundreds of African Kings, Many Claiming Jewish Ancestry, Will Gather to Praise God at Kotel” caught my attention. It seems to be perfectly in line with Psalms 68:32 (The Israel Bible and Complete Jewish Bible): “Nobles shall come out of Mitzrayim; Ethiopia shall hasten to stretch out her hands unto God.”

Berkowitz wrote: “One of the more remarkable incarnations of the prophesied ingathering of the exiles is the discovery of Jewish roots in African tribes. The king of Togo, a country in West Africa, plans to strengthen that Messianic vision by bringing hundreds of African kings to the Western Wall in Jerusalem this Sukkot (Festival of Booths).

Here is some more background information on the king of Togo to highlight this remarkable story:

King Ayi was crowned in 1994 as king of the Ayigbe people of the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin. The seat of the Kingdom was in Togo, although most historians confirm it started in Accra, Ghana. He presently lives in exile in the US. In 2002, at the second World Conference of the Counsel of Chiefs and Kings of Africa, King Ayi was crowned by his peers as head of the Organization of Kings and Queens of Africa, in the Republic of Benin.

At the following conference in 2005, he announced his desire to bring all 350 African kings to Israel, to recite the `Shema`, the Jewish declaration of faith, at the Kotel (the Western Wall in Jerusalem). His announcement was received with overwhelming enthusiasm.

“At least half of the kings who are coming have a tradition that they are Jewish,” King Ayi said. “Some of the kings, though, are Muslim imams. Even they wanted to come.

It has taken 11 years and many trips back and forth, but King Ayi’s vision is finally coming to fruition. The ceremony will take place in Jerusalem during Sukkot in October (2016) and has been organized in conjunction with the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry, headed by MK David Azulai.

The gathering is auspiciously timed, since the holiday of Sukkot has a strong multi-national element. The Talmud (Sukkah 55b) teaches, Rabbi Eliezer said: “Why are 70 offerings brought on Sukkot? For the (merit of the) 70 nations of the world.” This is based on the prophecy in Zechariah 14:16.

We live in remarkable times.

How Israel blesses the nations

In an historic visit to various African countries, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, received an almost hero’s welcome by the heads of State in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Multiple agreements of cooperation were signed and indications are that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit will usher in a new era in relations between Africa and Israel.

Geographically, Israel is the size of the Kruger National Park in South Africa and 1/400th the size of the United States. It is both astonishing and remarkable that such a small country could be the leader on so many levels. Israel is indeed a blessing to the nations and here are some of the latest developments:

  • Researchers at Israel’s Technion Institute have developed a nanomedicine technology for the targeted treatment of gastric tumors. The platform combines anti-cancer and anti-resistance compounds, packaged orally in beta-casein, a constituent of mother’s milk. Since this platform effectively carries the drug to the stomach and releases it there, the researchers believe that it will be particularly effective in gastric diseases and gastric cancer in particular – one of the most aggressive and deadly types of cancer.
  • Intellectual Ventures, of which Bill Gates is a member, has invested in the new technological incubator XELERATOR for the development of medical devices. It is thought to be Gate’s first-ever investment in Israel. XELERATOR won the Chief Scientist’s tender earlier this year for central Israel.
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) chairman John Chambers signed a Memoranadum of Understanding (MoU) for strategic cooperation, which aims to speed up the digitalization of Israel over the next three years. Chambers said, “All countries, cities, businesses, homes and cars will become digital in the next decade.
  • Israeli startups won three of the four top prizes at the Asia Smartphone Apps Competition in Hong Kong. Tekoia’s universal remote, won the grand prize for the event, and also the advertising and marketing category. Castle Builders won the games and edutainment category, and Bazz, came in second in the creative lifestyle category.
  • The UK’s National Health Service has approved the funding of patients receiving the pioneering melanoma (skin cancer) treatment developed by Israeli Professor Jacob Schachter. The approval was one of the fastest in NHS history.

Israel is called to be a blessing unto the nations. It is therefore tragic that some countries that needed Israeli expertise the most shoot themselves in the foot by choosing to boycott Israel. They should rather follow the example of those leaders of the African countries who decided that their countries and people would benefit from cooperation with Israel.

Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance) 2016

Yom Hazikaron or Day of Remembrance is a special day on the calendar for every Israeli and it should also be for every Jewish person living in the Diaspora. It is a day in which the brave fallen soldiers and people of Israel who lost their lives in terror attacks are remembered. A nation who remembers it’s fallen is a strong nation.

Since the stabbing and ramming attacks started during September 2015, many soldiers and citizens either lost their lives or were seriously injured. As a Christian and staunch supporter of Israel, I also feel duty-bound to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for their country and also to those who just went on with their daily lives as ordinary citizens, but lost it at the hands of terrorists.

On 14 September 2015, Alexander Levlovitz (64) lost control of his vehicle and crashed while on the way home from celebrating Rosh Hashanah with his family. The injuries claimed his life while 2 passengers were seriously injured.

On October 1, 2015, Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama, both in their 30’s were ambushed by Palestinian gunman as they drove with their four children in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The children, all under the age of 10, were only slightly injured. The tragedy is that they will grow up without their mother and father.

On October 3, 2015, a Palestinian man approached a group of Israeli’s in Jerusalem’s old city and began stabbing, killing Nahmia Lavi (23) and Aaron Bennet (24) and injured a women and her baby.

On October 13, 2015, Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky (60), Haim Haviv (78), Alon Govberg (59) and Richard Lakin (76) were killed in a stabbing and shooting attack on a bus in Southern Jerusalem. Fifteen were injured in the same attack.

On October 18, 2015, Omri Levy, a 19 year old IDF soldier were killed by a Palestinian assailant.

On November 4, 2015, Staff Sergeant Benjamin Yaakovovich (19) died four days later of his wounds after a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into him.

On November 13, 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Litman (40) and his son Netanel Litman (18) were shot to death by a Palestinian gunman who opened fire on their vehicle near the Otniel Junction.

On November 19, 2015, Reuven Aviram (51), Rabbi Aharon Yesiab (32), Yaakov Don (51) and Ezra Schwartz (18) were killed by Palestinian terrorists.

On November 23,2015, Hadar Buchris, a 21-year old women were killed in a stabbing attack at a bus stop and a 20-year old Israeli soldier, Ziv Mizrahi stabbed to death at a gas station.

Genadi Kaufman (40) died of his wounds on December 7, 2015 three weeks after a stabbing attack at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

On December 23, 2015, Rabbi Rueven Birmajer (45) was stabbed and killed outside Jaffa gate in Jerusalem.

On January 1, 2016, Alon Bakal (26) and Shimon Ruimi (30) were killed by an Arab-Israeli at a New Year’s celebration.

On January 17, 2016, Dafna Meir (38) was killed in her kitchen by a knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist. This barbaric attack left six children without a mother.

On January 25, 2016, Shlomit Krigman (38) went to the market and was attacked and killed by a terrorist.

On February 3, 2016, three terrorists armed with knives, guns, and explosives, attacked a group of IDF soldiers at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, killing Hadar Cohen (19).

On February 18, 2016, an off duty IDF soldier 21-year old Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman, was killed in a stabbing attack.

On Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron) 10 May 2016, we need to reflect and honour the lives of these precious people. It is the least we can do and never stop to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It is now more relevant than ever.

Is it the beginning of Jacob’s trouble?

I certainly do not want to be an alarmist, but it seems that 2016 will be an extremely difficult year for Israel. Since the stabbing and ramming attacks started in October 2015, the situation escalated to shooting attacks. It could no longer be regarded as so-called lone wolf attacks, but clearly coordinated as the attacks before and during Mr Joe Biden’s visit seems to indicate.

On Tuesday, 8 March 2016 Iran launched a ballistic missile test with a range of 2000 km. The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the following about the ballistic test: “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2000 km is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”

On Wednesday, 9 March 2016 the IRGC fired two Qadr missiles from northern Iran, which hit targets in the southeast of the country 1,400 kms away, Iranian agencies said. The nearest point in Iran is around 1,000 km from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

On 2 March 2016 the Internet based intelligence website, Debkafile reported that Israel’s arch-enemy, Hisbullah launched a Chemicals and Dirty Bombs program at the southwestern town of Zabadabi, 30 km from Damascus.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 to fire missiles at the ammonia plant in Haifa, which he claimed would cause an explosion similar to that of a nuclear bomb. He also boasts that Hizbullah has the ability to cover the entire Israel with missiles.

Despite all these developments, those who love and support Israel should not be intimidated to not to visit Israel. In is in times like these that we need to stand with God’s people.

It is in times like these that we need to focus again on the call of the Psalmist to pray for the peace of Jerusalem – Psalm 122:6.

Israel’s innovative spirit

While Israel is confronted with academic, trade and cultural boycotts, the innovative spirit of the Israeli people cannot be extinguished. The irony is that countries on the forefront of these boycott actions, are the ones who also benefit from the entrepreneurial prowess of the Israeli’s.

Although much of the international media focuses on the negative, many positive developments are indeed happening in Israel. It is, as if the media does not want Israel to have a positive image in the world.

Here are some developments the mainstream media choose not to report:

  1. The Israel emergency response organization ZAKA has received official consultative status from the United Nations. ZAKA will now be recognized as an official body in the UN, which will help it to expand its international search, rescue and recovery missions.
  1. Israel will spend 13 billion shekels ($3.3.billion) over the next five years to improve the standard of living of its Arab minority. Investment will be boosted in education, infrastructure, culture, sports and transportation in Arab areas.
  1. Jerusalem’s water company has been rewarded a key role on the 4-year European Union project to improve governance and social awareness of water environmental challenges. It involves setting up a Digital Social Platform to share details of water scarcity, security and water consumption related issues.

And the good news on a prophetic level:

  1. Over 30,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2015, 10% more than in 2014 and the highest number in over a decade. Nearly 8,000 came from France, while around 7,000 came from Ukraine. Tel Aviv received the most immigrants, followed by Netanya, Jerusalem and Haifa. Aliya from the UK in 2015 increased by 25% since the previous year. Aliya from Western Europe hit record levels.

Israel is called to be a light unto the nations and that role is been fulfilled on many levels.

Not a time to be discouraged

Since 1 October 2015, the people of Israel experienced a wave of attacks in the form of knife stabbings, car ramming and drive-by shootings. It was not expected and it caught many people off-guard.

Many people asked the inevitable question if it is still save to go on tour to Israel. My unwavering answer is – despite the incidents in certain areas, it is save to visit Israel. In fact, it is now the time to stand with, and support the Jewish people. The best tangible way to support them is to visit the country and show solidarity with your presence in a seemingly difficult time.

The security establishment is very effective in handling the situation and although it is extremely difficult to predict these kinds of attacks, the security forces are quick to bring incidents under control.

I came to realize that many people do not understand the current situation, either by reading the wrong sources or by a lack of context. It is therefore important to understand how the current situation started.

The relative calm after the Gaza offensive in 2014 was broken by an attitude of incitement by the Palestinian Authority, and in particular by the hostile speech at the United Nations by Pres. Mahmoud Abbas. Lies was spread that the Israeli government wants to change the status quo at the Al Aksa mosque. It stokes the fire even more.

Ordinary Palestinians interpreted the statements of their leaders as a message to protect the Al Aksa mosque by fighting the Jews. To stop this kind of incitement, the United States decided to partially withhold financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel went through much worse times and they will prevail.