BREAKING: 18-year old Israeli Jewish student stabbed to death by terrorist. Massive manhunt for killer underway. Here’s the latest. Please pray.

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Aug 082019
 

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Yesterday, Lynn and I spent an hour meeting with Oded Revivi, the Mayor of the Israeli city of Efrat, located next to Bethlehem, and two of his advisors.

Afterwards, we spent about 90 minutes with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin — the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and one of the community’s founders — and David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding. (The city is mentioned in the Book of Micah chapter 5 as “Bethlehem Ephratah.”)

We were deeply grateful to Mayor, Rabbi and the others for their hospitality and outreach to Evangelicals.

33016642-83AE-4182-A56F-3F017A9BFD2BJust a few hours after Lynn and I left Efrat, however, a terrible tragedy happened right near Efrat, in an area known as Gush Etzion.

“The body of a yeshiva student who had been stabbed to death was discovered outside a settlement in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, prompting a massive manhunt for the killer,” reported the Times of Israel.

“The victim, who was later identified Dvir Sore….was studying at the Machanayim religious seminary in (a nearby) settlement, and had joined the military while continuing his studies, in a program known in Hebrew as hesder. Though formally a soldier, he was unarmed and not in uniform at the time of the attack, nor had he undergone military training.” He will be buried at 8pm tonight, Israel time.

I ask Christians all over the world to pray for the family and friends of this young man and for all the people of Efrat and the neighboring communities — that the Lord would comfort all who are grieving. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble,” we are promised in Psalm 9:9.

Please also pray for peace between Jewish and Arab villages south of Jerusalem and throughout the Land, and wisdom for Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This is just the kind of incident that could rapidly escalate into worsening violence in the heat of summer and as we head into national elections in Israel in September 17. Please share this with others and encourage them to pray, as well. Thank you.

The Saudis announce important new reforms to empower women — not enough, but noteworthy. Here’s the latest.

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Aug 082019
 

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Important news out of Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom last week announced a series of sweeping reforms aimed at empowering women.

It’s not nearly enough, but these are noteworthy and important moves after a toxic and painful year in Saudi Arabia.

Some thoughts.

In 2017 and 2018, at the direction of His Majesty King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS), the Saudis embarked on a series of high-profile and quite positive social and economic reforms that richly captured global attention and praise.

Unfortunately, the effect of these reforms was seriously marred by the Kingdom’s crackdown on dissent and political activity.

Then, all reform in the Kingdom came to a screeching halt after the heinous and unconscionable murder of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018. The Royal Palace became consumed by the international firestorm over the murder and could focus on little else.

MBS has denied ordering the murder. Still, 11 Saudi officials were arrested, indicted and charged in Riyadh with murdering Khashoggi. Five Saudi officials currently face the death penalty. The U.S. also rightly imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their alleged involvement in the horrific plot.

Many questions remain over who ordered the murder and why. The Kingdom’s reputation in Washington and many world capitals has taken a catastrophic hit. And many commentators have openly speculated that MBS might be removed from the line of succession and his Vision 2030 blueprint for reform might be scrapped altogether.

That said, last week provided significant evidence that MBS still has his father’s confidence and that the Vision 2030 reforms are once again moving forward.

The following are excerpts from a message sent to me by a senior Saudi source:

“You may have seen the reports about the Kingdom’s decision to remove the obstacles on women’s mobility. I wanted to make sure that you saw (the details)….This decision affirms the Kingdom’s commitment to its vision in realizing the full potential of Saudi women, and their full integration into our society. This is driven by our leadership’s belief that the empowerment of women is a central pillar of Vision 2030, that we cannot move forward if half of the population does not enjoy equal rights before the law, and that our development goals are unattainable without gender equality.”

“This decision, significant as it may be, is only one part of the long line of decisions that demonstrate our leadership’s commitment to the empowerment of women under Vision 2030 and improving the quality of life for all people in the country,” the source added. “These reforms so far have included sweeping reforms to empower Saudi women, (such as)….”

‏• Independence. At age 22, women (and men) are free to work and travel without approval of a guardian.

• Equality. Women are guaranteed equal protection and equal pay in the workplace.

• Status. Women can finally be considered “head of the household” according to the law.

• Empowerment. Women can now fully and independently manage legal and business affairs.

Reuters provided more details on the extent of the reforms:

  • “Saudi Arabia has allowed adult women to travel without permission and granted them more control over family matters, further eroding a heavily criticized male guardianship system at a time of heightened scrutiny over its human rights record.
  • “A series of royal decrees published by the official gazette on Friday stipulated that a Saudi passport should be issued to any citizen who applies for it and that any person above the age of 21 does not need permission to travel.
  • “The amendments to regulations also grant women for the first time the right to register child birth, marriage or divorce and to be issued official family documents and be eligible as a guardian to children who are minors….
  • “Riyadh has long endured international censure over the status of women, who rights groups say are often treated as second-class citizens under rules requiring them to get the consent of a male guardian for important decisions throughout their entire lives, regardless of age. Muna AbuSulayman, a prominent Saudi influencer and a former talk show host, took to Twitter along with thousands of Saudi women to celebrate what many described as a new era. ‘A generation growing up completely free and equal to their brothers,’ she said, referring to the freedom to travel…..”

I have been deeply grieved by the events of the past year in Riyadh. We may live in an imperfect world and have to make imperfect choices, but we must always urge our friends and allies to do better.

Justice must be done in the Khashoggi affair.

Innocent Saudis who have been unfairly and unnecessarily imprisoned should be released promptly. Why undermine smart reforms with repressive moves impossible to explain to the very governments, CEOs and investors needed to help the Kingdom advance?

Reforms to dramatically improve social, economic and religious freedom for all Saudis should be accelerated, consistent with Vision 2030 objectives. True reform is the only way forward.

And given the growing Iran threat, and the importance of fighting terrorism and making regional peace, the U.S.-Saudi alliance should be strengthened. This will be easier to accomplish if Washington sees Riyadh making much more progress on the reform front in the last half of 2019.

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UPCOMING EVENTS:

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Next week, I’ll speak in Denver on the growing Iran threat, “The Persian Gamble” & the future of Israel and the Arab world. Please register and join us.

 Bible Prophecy, Christian World View, Israel  Comments Off on Next week, I’ll speak in Denver on the growing Iran threat, “The Persian Gamble” & the future of Israel and the Arab world. Please register and join us.
Aug 062019
 

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On Thursday evening, August 15th, I’ll be speaking in the Denver area on the rising prospect of a war with Iran, and my thriller, The Persian Gamble.

The occasion will be the annual fundraising event for Ministry Architecture, Inc. This is the ministry that my parents — Len and Mary Rosenberg — started some two decades ago. They provide architectural services for Evangelical Christian ministries operating in developing countries who need orphanages, training centers, medical missionary hospitals, and other facilities to show the love of Jesus.

Before I speak, my folks will share about the exciting work God is doing through this ministry. Then I will discuss the latest developments in Iran, Israel and the broader Middle East, and answer your questions — always my favorite part of the evening. I’ll be signing copies of my most recent novel, as well.

The event will take place at Calvary Chapel South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from 7:00pm to 9:15pm. Doors will open at 6:15pm. Suggested minimum contribution is $30 per person and goes to support Ministry Architecture. This amount is 100% tax deductible. Registration  for the event is required, and you can register at www.ministryarchitecture.com.

Please register today by clicking here — I hope to see you there!

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