It’s time to rebuild ties with Egypt. Here are six reasons why the U.S. & West should work closely with President el-Sisi. He’s making progress, and he needs help.

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Feb 262017
 

egypt-sisi

As the Trump-Pence administration develops its plan to confront Iran, destroy ISIS and strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, it is critical that they also work hard to rebuild America’s ties with key Sunni Arab allies.

I’ve written a great deal about Jordan. But we also need to focus on Egypt.

President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi was routinely ignored and disrespected during the Obama years. This as a serious mistake, and should be promptly corrected.

The Secretaries of State and Defense should visit el-Sisi in Cairo immediately. The White House should also invite the Egyptian leader to visit the President in Washington soon.

El-Sisi came to power amidst the most catastrophic meltdown of Egypt’s social, economic and political order in living memory. He has made mistakes. But he’s making progress, and he needs help.

Here are six big things the Egyptian leader is doing right.

  1. He’s clearly signaling he wants a dramatically improved relationship with the United States. During his September visit to the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, El-Sisi made a point to meet with both candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, positioning himself for improved relations regardless of who won. After the election, he immediately called President-elect Trump to congratulate him. They have continued to speak since then. “Egypt hopes Trump’s presidency will breathe a new spirit into US-Egyptian relations,” declared a statement from el-Sisi’s office soon after the elections.
  2. He has called for a “religious revolution” in Islam — in effect, a Muslim Reformation — to reject radicalism and create a more peaceful, stable and tolerant Islamic world. El-Sisi delivered a major speech in Cairo on January 1, 2015 challenging Muslim leaders to reform Islam and rescue it from the Radicals. “Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is seven billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!” el-Sisi told scholars at Al-Azhar University, the Harvard of Sunni Islam. “We are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting for your next move….I am saying these words here at Al-Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema (learned men). Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.” This continues to stand as one of the most dramatic and impressive speeches by a Muslim leader in recent memory.
  3. He is working around the clock to defeat the Radical Islamist jihadist threat to Egypt and her neighbors. In the summer of 2013, after 22 million Egyptians signed a petition to remove the Brotherhood from power, el-Sisi and the Egyptian military brought down the Brotherhood regime that was strangling Egypt and was trying to impose Sharia law. They specifically removed Mohammed Morsi from power. Remember that Morsi, the Brotherhood leader who briefly rose to the presidency in Egypt, is the man who famously said during a speech, “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.” Many other Brotherhood leaders were arrested. El-Sisi and his colleagues were absolutely right to remove Morsi and the Brotherhood from power, despite widespread condemnations from President Obama and many world leaders. Since then, the former general has directed his military to crush the jihadists operating in the Sinai.
  4. He’s not only maintaining Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, he’s developing a close working relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Under Morsi, there was a real risk that Egypt was going to abrogate the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. But relations between the two countries have warmed considerably under el-Sisi. In fact, at least three separate Members of Congress told me of meetings they each had with President el-Sisi in Cairo during the Obama years in which the Egyptian leader shared candidly that he had a better working relationship with Netanyahu than with Obama. Netanyahu has publicly praised the Egyptian leader. Security ties are growing ever closer between the two countries, especially in terms of dealing with jihadists in the Sinai. In June 2015, El-Sisi appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the first time Egypt has had an envoy to the Jewish State since 2012. The ambassador arrived in Tel Aviv in January 2016. As the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted: “Essentially, Cairo believes that relations with Israel are strategically and diplomatically beneficial for the Sisi government and the country’s regional standing. This trend toward greater rapprochement is likely to continue; there are even hints that Egypt will extend an invitation to Netanyahu to come to Cairo for a historic visit, much like that of Sadat to Jerusalem in 1977.”
  5. He’s actively building closer ties with the Christian community. The Egyptian leader has very noticeably been working to reach out to Christians both in Egypt and around the world, and this is to be commended. This was certainly not something Morsi had done. Nor had Mubarak done much of it either. In 2014, el-Sisi visited Pope Francis in Rome. In 2015, for the first time that anyone can remember, Egypt’s president publicly celebrated Christmas with Coptic Christian leaders, and then did so again in 2016. Also in 2016, he vowed to restore dozens of Coptic churches damaged or destroyed by terrorists in recent years. In recent months, the Egyptian parliament approved legal measures to make it easier for churches to be built and renovated in Egypt. Overall, what I’m hearing from Christian leaders in Egypt is that they feel the president and the government is sincerely working to protect and assist Christians. That said, much more progress must be made. We need to keep praying for Christians in Egypt. It is still a very challenging environment, especially with Radical Islamist terrorists occasionally attacking Christians and even blowing up churches (such as the bombing of a key Christian church in Cairo in December 2016 that killed 29 and wounded dozens more). It’s now time for delegations of Evangelical Christian leaders to reach out to el-Sisi, get to know him and understand his vision for Egypt’s future.
  6. He’s making history by building close and warm ties with the Jewish community. Barely noticed is that fact that the Egyptian leader has been engaged in a truly extraordinary effort to build warm and close ties to the American Jewish community, and for this he deserves enormous credit. In early 2016, el-Sisi welcomed a delegation of 36 American Jewish leaders to Cairo. Indeed, he personally met with representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations for more than two hours, discussing his view of the region and answering their questions. In September 2016, the Egyptian leader met privately with Jewish leaders in New York while attending the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. In December 2016, el-Sisi met with yet another Jewish delegation to Cairo, this time from the American Jewish Congress. Then, just last week, el-Sisi met with another delegation of Jewish leaders in Cairo. During the hour and a half long meeting, the president discussed his efforts to fight terrorism, improve Egypt’s economy, and advance peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. El-Sisi  said the peace process was a top priority for him. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, has been the key interlocutor between Jewish leaders and el-Sisi. He told the Jerusalem Post said “they spoke extensively with Sisi about his country’s relationship with Israel and of hope for a resolution to some outstanding issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which could ‘pave the way for even greater exchanges.'”

Yes, there are human rights violations in Egypt, serious economic challenges and numerous other issues that el-Sisi needs to address.

One analyst of the Egyptian political scene notes that “the Egyptian government’s theme is ‘safe before perfect,’ meaning it will try to improve on human rights but the top priority is ensuring day-to-day safety on the streets and freedom from terrorism.”

The U.S. government — along with the Christian and Jewish communities — should continue to press Egypt’s leaders to do the right thing, sooner rather than later.

At the same time, we should also be thanking el-Sisi for what he has done right, and encouraging him to move further in the right direction.

The West needs a safe and stable Egypt as a friend and an ally — now more than ever.

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Matthew 22:37-39

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Feb 242017
 

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

69 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers since January 1. Jewish cemeteries vandalized. Anti-Semitic attacks spiking. President and top leaders speak out, call for action to protect Jewish people.

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Feb 212017
 

time-antisemitism

A vicious wave of anti-Semitism is hitting the United States

  • Just since the first of the year, nearly 70 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) have received bomb threats.
  • Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized around the country — in St. Louis alone in recent days, more than 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery were destroyed.
  • Anti-Semitic attacks on American college campuses have nearly doubled, according to ADL.

Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders are speaking out, as they should. So are the President, senior administration officials and Members of Congress, denouncing these attacks and calling for action to protect the Jewish people.

Over the weekend, in a show of solidarity with the suffering of the Jewish people, Vice President Mike Pence — a devout Evangelical Christian — took his family and advisors to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

“Today, 11 Jewish community centers received phoned-in bomb threats,” reported the JCC Association of North America.

“This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January (Jan. 9, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31), resulting in, through today, 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province in total,” the JCCANA reported.

“All bomb threats in both January and today have proven to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations.” Thank God.

President Trump — whose son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish, and whose daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism to marry him — has been criticized for not speaking out faster or more forcefully.

But today he responded strongly, calling anti-Semitism is “horrible” and “painful” and said “we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all its very ugly forms.”

“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” the President said, according to the New York Times.

Such hate-driven attacks against Jewish people (or Muslims, or Christians, or atheists or anyone else) are ugly and despicable. Let’s be faithful in praying for them to stop, but let’s also look for ways to take a stand against such hatred, and stand with — and care for — those who are suffering right now.

[I’ll provide updates in the days and weeks ahead.]

[NOTE: the image is the cover of Time magazine from the summer of 2002.]

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Romans 13:9-10

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Feb 202017
 
“The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Here’s the new trailer for WITHOUT WARNING & a link to the first chapter. (Pre-order your copy today.)

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Feb 202017
 

withoutwarning-trailerToday, we’ve posted the trailer for Without Warning, my new political thriller which will be released on March 14th.

We’ve also posted a link so you can read the first chapter.

Soon, we’ll announce details regarding the book tour.

Pre-order your copy today in hardcover, e-book or audio today through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, or any of your favorite retail or on-line retailer — please click here.

Book description: “As he prepares to deliver the State of the Union address, the president of the United States is convinced the Islamic State is on the run, about to be crushed by American forces once and for all. But New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins tells the president he’s dead wrong. With the Middle East on fire, the Israeli prime minister dead, and Amman in ruins, Collins fears a catastrophic attack inside the American homeland is imminent. He argues that only an all-out manhunt to capture or kill Abu Kahlif—the leader of ISIS—can stop the attack and save American lives. But will the president listen and take decisive action before it’s too late?”


Romans 8:38-39

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Feb 172017
 
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”