Current Events

War in the Middle East

In this week’s Update, we are mainly reporting on the situation in the Middle East, and worldwide reactions to this crisis. All of these events ARE clearly in line with biblical prophecy.

While the war in Gaza continues, the overwhelming worldwide reaction has become one of CONDEMNATION of Israel. Demands for a cease fire get louder, but the warring parties don’t show any signs of listening. A report last week by the New York Times, stating that Israel was allegedly willing to attack IRAN directly last year, but did not get the green light from the USA, has raised concerns as to what Israel was and is willing to do. This is even more true specially in light of most recent news reports that Israel is preparing a strike against Iran within a few DAYS!!!

On the other hand, Iran is clearly involved in the present conflict between Israel and Hamas, and its destructive ambitions towards Israel must not be underestimated.

The Bible tells us that Israel will be hated by all nations. In addition, more and more voices are being heard now demanding a European intervention in the Middle East–again underscoring biblical prophecy announcing in advance that Europe will send TROOPS to the Middle East just prior to the return of Jesus Christ.

In light of all these worldwide crises, the EU is becoming more and more serious about the appointment of an EU President with REAL powers. And it is being considered that he should be selected from one of the BIGGER EU states! The Bible prophesies that such a powerful European leader being, of German descent, WILL ultimately manifest himself on the world scene. (See our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”)

We conclude this section with articles on the terrible financial situation in the USA. And this, too, is in line with biblical prophecies which predict that the USA will lose its status as a world superpower. (See our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”)

We are observing how prophecy is being fulfilled. It is exciting and at the same time sobering how quickly these events are shaping up… and God’s Church has a duty, of course, to report these developments in no uncertain terms. Not everyone will agree with what we write–but we are not in a popularity contest. Rather, we are conscious of the commission which God has given His end-time Church to carry out.

Israel Losing Public Relations War

The Financial Times reported on January 10:

“As Israel’s offensive in Gaza enters its third week, the Jewish state appears to be rapidly losing the public relations war abroad as criticism from United Nations officials and humanitarian agencies has mounted amid the constant stream of pictures of dead and wounded women and children.

“Israeli strikes on UN convoys and schools sheltering hundreds of Palestinians who fled their homes, as well allegations that Israeli troops prevented medical workers from retrieving dead and injured Palestinians, have increasingly called into question Israel’s conduct of the war.

“A UN agency added to the increasing negative news flow with a report that cited witness testimony alleging that Israeli troops evacuated Palestinian civilians to a house in Gaza City and then repeatedly shelled the building 24 hours later, killing some 30 people inside.

“And from the outset, Israel has been under fire for preventing foreign journalists from entering the strip – restrictions that were in place weeks before the bombardment started.

“‘… all [of this has] been hugely detrimental to the Israeli cause,’ said Charlie Beckett, a media specialist at the London School of Economics. ‘The fact that the Israelis seem to be trying to blockade the media only hurts their argument that they are somehow more democratic, more open and not terrorists.’

“Israel officials have insisted they regret civilian deaths and have accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields. They have also sought to highlight the threat posed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants into southern Israel – which have killed three Israelis since the offensive started – saying some 950,000 Israelis are vulnerable to attacks. But analysts say the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza overwhelms the impact.

“Anthony Cordesman, at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says Israel has failed to talk to the world ‘in ways that the outside world finds relevant. We are now two weeks into the war and nobody has a clear idea what the Israelis are attempting to accomplish,’ he says…

“Still, an Israeli newspaper poll on Friday showed that 91 per cent of Israeli Jews were still in favour of the war… But for Israel losing the propaganda war could be costly.”

U.N. and France Condemn Israel

The Associated Press reported on January 15:

“Israel shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, engulfing the compound and a warehouse in fire and destroying thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinian refugees.”

It added in a related article:

“U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel’s devastating offensive against the territory’s Hamas rulers. Ban expressed ‘outrage’ over the bombing. He said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told him there had been a ‘grave mistake’ and promised to pay extra attention to protecting U.N. installations…”

Press TV reported on January 15:

“The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued strong condemnation of Tel Aviv over its targeting of several hospitals, a UN compound and a media building in the Gaza Strip… The comments come on the 20th day of the Tel Aviv offensive into the coastal sliver. So far at least 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and around 4,700 others have been wounded, according to medics.”

Most Germans Blame Israel at Least in Part for the War in Gaza

Deutsche Welle reported on January 14:

“Germany is split over its feelings towards Israel, according to a new survey. Of those questioned, 60 per cent thought the country no longer had a special duty towards the Jewish state… The figures… showed less engagement amongst young people, of whom 70 percent felt no special responsibility towards Israel…

“Questioned about the Gaza conflict, 30 percent held Hamas responsible for the current military offensive. Some 13 percent blamed Israel, while 35 percent said the causes lie on both sides in equal measure…

“More generally, 49 percent considered Israel to be an aggressive country. A further 10 percent said Israel was acting without regard for other countries. Only 30 percent of those surveyed thought Israel was respecting human rights.”

Israel Angers Bush Administration

The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 14:

“Ehud Olmert’s aides on Wednesday said that the prime minister stood by his claim that his intervention made the US abstain from last Thursday’s UN Security Council resolution vote on a Gaza cease-fire… Olmert had claimed that US President George W. Bush broke off a speech he was giving in Philadelphia to take his call, and that the abstention embarrassed Rice…

“Israel and the US engaged in a rare and uncharacteristic public spat Tuesday over events leading up to the UN vote… State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Olmert’s story of what happened in his conversation with Bush was ‘just 100 percent, totally, completely not true’…

“McCormack said that Rice had decided as early as Wednesday that she would not veto a resolution, after Arab ministers rejected an initial effort by the US to push for a weaker presidential statement from the Security Council. That left her with the option of either voting for the final text or abstaining…

“Middle East expert Steven Spiegel described the episode as ‘the worst faux pas by an Israeli prime minister in history.’

“‘You really do wonder what the prime minister was thinking – if it’s true, you’d really want to keep it as quiet as possible, and if it’s not true, why would you want to make up a story that would embarrass both the Bush administration and the Israeli government and draw criticism from those who are antagonistic to Israel?’ asked Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA. ‘No matter how you play it, exaggeration, falsehood, whole truth, the whole thing makes them all look bad,’ Spiegel told The Jerusalem Post.”

European Anti-Israel Demonstrations

The EUObserver wrote on January 12:

“Hundreds of thousands marched in cities across the [European] continent to protest Israel’s war on Gaza over the weekend in the biggest pan-European demonstrations the continent has seen since those against the launch of the Iraq war in 2003…

“Massive protests… took place in London, Brussels and throughout France. Sizeable demonstrations also took place in German and Italian cities, as well as Athens, Thessaloniki, Budapest, Bregenz, Oslo and Stockholm. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, the first European leader to take part in such rallies, addressed a protest in Ourense…

“In the UK, 100,000 filled Hyde Park in London… Around 123,000 people took part in protests throughout France… Germany, home to some of Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe, was not immune, with 40,000 taking part in protests across the country, despite temperatures below zero, although most German politicians and trade union leaders were noticeable by their absence…

“The weekend also saw a handful of rallies supporting the Jewish state’s assault on Gaza, with 3,000 in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, 4,000 in Marseille, some 800 in Antwerp and a sizeable crowd of 200 in Prague.

“Two large pro-Israel rallies also took place in London and Manchester on Sunday. The estimated between 4,000 and 15,000 in Trafalgar Square raised a sea of Israeli and British flags and was addressed by Labour MPs. Another 2,000 showed their solidarity with Israel outside Manchester’s town hall.”

Articles like these show the growing anti-Israeli position around the world, a “handful” of some pro-Israeli voices notwithstanding–except, interestingly enough, for a larger pro-Israeli demo in Britain. But we also read in the Bible that Ephraim–Great Britain–will finally be taking a stance against Judah–the state of Israel.

The above-quoted article said that Germany was the “home to some of Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe.” This might be the official position of some governmental leaders and the politically accurate representations within the German main-stream press, but this is NOT the position of most German PEOPLE.

Holy See Advocates International Intervention in the Middle East

Zenit wrote on January 12:

“The warring parties in the Middle East cannot get out of the circle of violence on their own, and so they need international help, says the Holy See [adding that]… the international community… should therefore fulfill its responsibilities [and] intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance, and end all forms of confrontation.”

In Need–A Real European President

The Financial Times wrote on January 11:

“Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, is re-emerging as a possible choice to be the European Union’s first full-time president after four momentous crises reinforced the argument for having a high-profile international personality in the job… the sheer scale of the challenges facing the EU – from last August’s Russia-Georgia war and the global financial meltdown to the Gaza conflict and the shutdown of Russian gas deliveries to Europe – is redefining the debate.

“Whereas last year Germany and other countries looked favorably on candidates such as Jean-Claude Juncker, the long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg, more policymakers now feel the EU presidency demands an occupant from a much bigger member-state.”

How Iran Directs Its “Spiritual Little Brothers” Hamas and Hezbollah

The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 12:

“Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday… As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched… two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it,’ the Egyptian government official told the Post.

“‘The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon…’

“The Egyptian official accused Iran of ‘encouraging’ Hamas to continue firing rockets at Israel with the hope that this would trigger a war that would divert attention from Iran’s nuclear plans. ‘This conflict serves the interests of the Iranians,’ he said. ‘They are satisfied because the violence in the Gaza Strip has diverted attention from their nuclear ambitions.'”

In addition, The Associated Press reported about Hezbollah’s involvement on January 10:

“Nearly 20,000 people marched through the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh in a protest organized by the militant Hezbollah group, a strong ally of Hamas that fought its own war with Israel in the summer of 2006.”

CAN Israel Win Against Iran’s Proxy Hamas?

This week’s edition of Time Magazine published the following words on its cover: “Why Israel Can’t Win. The siege of Gaza may punish Hamas, but it won’t make Israel safe. Why it is in peril like never before.”

Inside the magazine, an article with this headline was published: “Can Israel Survive Its Assault on Gaza?” In the article, it was stated:

“Israeli politicians and generals know that the total elimination of Hamas’ entrenched military command could take weeks; it might be altogether impossible. The more realistic outcome is an unsatisfactory, brokered truce that leaves Hamas wounded but alive and able to regenerate — and Israel only temporarily safe from attack.

“Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has promised a ‘war to the bitter end.’ But after 60 years of struggle to defend their existence against foreign threats and enemies within, many Israelis may be wondering, Where does that end lie? The threat posed by Hamas is only the most immediate of the many interlocking challenges facing Israel, some of which cast dark shadows over the long-term viability of a democratic Jewish state. The offensive in Gaza may degrade Hamas’ ability to menace southern Israel with rocket fire, but, as with Israel’s 2006 war against Hizballah, the application of force won’t extinguish the militants’ ideological fervor.

“The anti-Israeli anger swelling in the region has made it more difficult for Arab governments to join Israel in its efforts to deal with Iran, the patron of both Hamas and Hizballah and a state whose leaders have sworn to eliminate Israel and appear determined to acquire nuclear weapons…

“But there’s something tragic, too, in Israel’s predicament: in any confrontation with its enemies, it is damned if it does and doomed if it doesn’t. Across Israel’s political spectrum there seems to be a consensus that Hamas’ provocative rocket barrages could not go unanswered — though whether Israel’s response has been proportional to the threat is, at the least, questionable…

“After weeks of global outrage over the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza, any mediator — France, the European Union, Turkey and Egypt are all auditioning for the role — will insist that Israel end its 18-month blockade. What then? Like Hizballah, Hamas will declare itself victorious…”

Israel to Strike Iran Within DAYS??? wrote on January 12:

“Informed sources in Washington tell Newsmax that Israel indeed will launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities soon – possibly in just days as President George W. Bush prepares to leave office. The reason: The time clock has begun to run out. Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear device under the control of its radical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in June that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in as little as six months. That six-month period has passed.

“Reports of Israel’s decision to imminently launch strikes, although unconfirmed, would seem to contradict the Bush stance outlined in a front-page New York Times story last week, which asserted that Bush rejected a plea from Israel last year to help it raid Iran’s main nuclear complex. The Times said Israel was rebuffed after it requested from the U.S. specialized bunker-busting bombs that it needs to attack Iran’s nuclear complex at Natanz. The U.S. also reportedly nixed permission to the Israeli warplanes to fly over Iraqi territory to reach Iran…

“Last year 100 Israeli jets took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean that was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran.  And on Sept. 6 Israel launched an air attack against a site in Syria believed to be a nuclear-related facility containing material delivered by North Korea.

“Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton predicted that Israel would stage a raid against Iran’s nuclear facilities if Barack Obama won the presidential election. Bolton stated that he believed the Israeli attack would take place sometime between the day after Obama’s win and his inauguration on January 20. In an interview with FOX News, Bolton reasoned that Israel wouldn’t be able to hold off a strike on Iran any longer than that given Obama’s more conciliatory approach to Iran…

“William Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, said that Obama would face a major crisis in his first few months in office over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Perry, speaking at a foreign policy conference on Jan. 8, said that Iran is ‘moving inexorably toward becoming a nuclear power’ and ‘it seems clear that Israel will not sit by idle while Iran takes the final steps toward becoming a nuclear power’…

“Iran, even without nuclear weapons, is a regional power. If attacked, they are likely to press proxy terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to launch offensives against Israel and possibly the U.S. Iran has warned in the past that it would launch a ‘missile blitz’ against Gulf states if it is attacked. And last July a senior Iranian official said the Islamic Republic would destroy Israel and 32 U.S. military bases in the Middle East if Iran is attacked over its nuclear program… Even more ominously, Iran has reportedly carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the U.S.”

“U.S. Economy on Brink of Disaster”

Newsmax reported on January 12:

“When ‘IOUSA’ made its documentary film debut last August, it soon earned the sobriquet ‘fiscal wake-up tour.’  Its unrelenting gloom toted up a $9 trillion federal debt, a $738.6 billion trade deficit, and the news that each U.S. citizen now owes $30,000.

“But all the stats are already hopelessly out of date… Fiscal irresponsibility is now a calamitous cycle that poses a bigger threat than al-Qaida and its plans to attack the United States with a weapon of mass destruction…

“Today, counting all those who have dropped off unemployment rolls for part-time work or no work, 21 million Americans are either jobless or underemployed. Average workweeks also are being cut back. Some employers now shorten workweeks as a way to keep some on the payroll. And as the baby boomer generation begins to retire, ‘IOUSA’ asks if there will even be any Social Security benefits left to collect.

“Overextended entitlement programs and debts to foreign countries are becoming impossible to honor… The United States has mortgaged its future to foreigners with promises to its own people it can’t possibly keep. China, with $1.3 trillion in U.S. paper, could decide its strategic interest is no longer compatible with America’s — and quit as America’s banker…

“Overspending still dominates the lives of U.S. citizens. The Chinese save 35 percent of what they earn; Americans save less than 1 percent, the lowest of any developed country… Americans are now shocked to see their 401(k) retirement savings accounts losing their allure, as many employers say they no longer can afford matching funds. The government, for its part, is taking in more than it can pay out.”

More Banks in Trouble and Stocks Take a Dive

Reuters reported on January 15:

“Shares of Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc plummeted Thursday on worries the banks may need more government help to handle soaring credit losses… Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank, is seeking billions of dollars of new aid after realizing that credit losses at Merrill Lynch & Co, which it bought on January 1, were much higher than expected… Citigroup, the No. 3 U.S. bank, is expected on Friday to report a fifth straight multibillion-dollar quarterly loss… Even Wells Fargo & Co, which just bought troubled Wachovia Corp and has long been considered among the best-managed large banks, was hit, falling $3.90, or 16.9 percent, to $19.17.”

The Associated Press wrote on January 15:

“On Wednesday, stocks took a dive reminiscent of the terrifying jumps and drops of last fall, with the Dow Jones industrials falling more than 300 points before closing down 248. It was the Dow’s biggest point drop since Dec. 1 and the first string of six straight down days since early October…

“Holiday sales turned out to have been worse than expected, the jobless rate exceeds 7 percent for the first time in 16 years, the global economy is eroding faster and corporations from Alcoa to Intel to Wal-Mart have disappointed investors. Apple was the latest company out with bad news Wednesday, with CEO Steve Jobs saying he is taking a medical leave of absence.

“‘Right now we just don’t have any evidence to show that that free fall is over,’ said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.”

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