The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Archive for October, 2008


Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Published: October 29, 2008

KHIRBET QEIYAFA, Israel — Overlooking the verdant Valley of Elah, where the Bible says David toppled Goliath, archaeologists are unearthing a 3,000-year-old fortified city that could reshape views of the period when David ruled over the Israelites. Five lines on pottery uncovered here appear to be the oldest Hebrew text ever found and are likely to have a major impact on knowledge about the history of literacy and alphabet development.

The five-acre site, with its fortifications, dwellings and multi-chambered entry gate, will also be a weapon in the contentious and often politicized debate over whether David and his capital, Jerusalem, were an important kingdom or a minor tribe, an issue that divides not only scholars but those seeking to support or delegitimize Zionism.

Only a tiny portion of the site has been excavated, and none of the findings have yet been published or fully scrutinized. But the dig, led by Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is already causing a stir among his colleagues as well as excitement from those who seek to use the Bible as a guide to history and confirmation of their faith.

“This is a new type of site that suddenly opens a window on an area where we have had almost nothing and requires us to rethink what was going on at that period,” said Aren M. Maeir, professor of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University and the director of a major Philistine dig not far from here. “This is not a run-of-the-mill find.”

The 10th century B.C. is the most controversial period in biblical archaeology because it is then, according to the Old Testament, that David united the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, setting the stage for his son Solomon to build his great temple and rule over a vast area from the Nile to the Euphrates Rivers.

For many Jews and Christians, even those who do not take Scripture literally, the Bible is a vital historical source. And for the state of Israel, which considers itself to be a reclamation of the state begun by David, evidence of the biblical account has huge symbolic value. The Foreign Ministry’s Web site, for example, presents the kingdom of David and Solomon along with a map of it as a matter of fact.

But the archaeological record of that kingdom is exceedingly sparse — in fact almost nonexistent — and a number of scholars today argue that the kingdom was largely a myth created some centuries later. A great power, they note, would have left traces of cities and activity, and been mentioned by those around it. Yet in this area nothing like that has turned up — at least until now.

Mr. Garfinkel says he has something here that generations have been seeking. He has made two informal presentations in the past month to fellow archaeologists. On Thursday he will give his first formal lecture at a conference in Jerusalem.

What he has found so far has impressed many. Two burned olive pits found at the site have been tested for carbon-14 at Oxford University and were found to date from between 1050 and 970 B.C., exactly when most chronologies place David as king. Two more pits are still to be tested.

A specialist in ancient Semitic languages at Hebrew University, Haggai Misgav, says the writing, on pottery using charcoal and animal fat for ink, is in so-called proto-Canaanite script and appears to be a letter or document in Hebrew, suggesting that literacy may have been more widespread than is generally assumed. That could play a role in the larger dispute over the Bible, since if more writing turns up it suggests a means by which events could have been recorded and passed down several centuries before the Bible was likely to have been written.

Another reason this site holds such promise is that it was in use for only a short period, perhaps 20 years, and then destroyed — Mr. Garfinkel speculates in a battle with the Philistines — and abandoned for centuries, sealing the finds in Pompeii-like uniformity. Most sites are made up of layers of periods and, inevitably, there is blending, making it hard to date remains accurately.

For example, several years ago the archaeologist Eilat Mazar uncovered in East Jerusalem a major public building from around the 10th century B.C. that she attributes to David’s time and was perhaps even, she believes, his palace. While she found pottery, it was in a fill, not sealed, making it hard to know how to relate the pottery to the structure.

Still, how this new site relates to King David and the Israelites is far from clear. Mr. Garfinkel suggests that the Hebrew writing and location — a fortified settlement a two-day walk from Jerusalem — add weight to the idea that his capital was sufficiently important to require such a forward position, especially because it was between the huge Philistine city of Gath and Jerusalem.


“The fortification required 200,000 tons of stone and probably 10 years to build,” he said as he walked around the site one recent morning. “There were 500 people inside. This was the main road to Jerusalem, the key strategic site to protect the kingdom of Jerusalem. If they built a fortification here, it was a real kingdom, pointing to urban cities and a centralized authority in Judah in the 10th century B.C.”

Others say it is too early to draw such conclusions. “This is an important site, one of the very few cases from the 10th century where you can see a settlement fortified in a style that is typical of later Israelite and Judean cities,” said Amihai Mazar, a professor of archaeology at Hebrew University. “The question is who fortified it, who lived in it, why it was abandoned and how it all relates to the reign of David and Solomon.”

The Philistines had a huge city, Gath, some seven miles away, but pottery found there looks distinct from what Mr. Garfinkel has found here. He says the David and Goliath story could be an allegory about a battle between the two. Seymour Gitin, an archaeologist and a director of the Albright Institute in Jerusalem, a private American institution, who has seen the finds, said: “The real value is that there was an urban center in the 10th century. You can extrapolate and say this helps support a kingdom, a united monarchy under David and Solomon. People will rightly use this material to support that.”

That is happening. Financing for the dig is now being raised by an organization called Foundation Stone, run by a Los Angeles-born Israeli named David Willner, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat and said the point of his group was “to strengthen the tie of the Jewish people to the land.” The group’s Web site says that it is “redrawing the map in Jewish education,” and that its activities are “anchoring traditional texts to the artifacts, maps and locations that form the context for Jewish identity.”

This is an approach to unearthing the land’s past that disturbs Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University and a prominent skeptic toward a Bible-based historical chronology.

“Some of us look at things in a very ethnocentric way — everything is Israelite or Judahite,” he said. “History is not like that. There were other entities playing a big role in the southern part of the country. And even if it belongs to Jerusalem, fine. So there is a late 10th-century fortified structure there. I don’t believe that any archaeologist can revolutionize our entire understanding of Judah and Jerusalem by a single site. It doesn’t work that way. This is a cumulative discipline.”

It is also a divided one. Mr. Finkelstein is among the most prominent advocates of what is called the “low chronology,” meaning those who date David and Solomon’s rule to closer to 900 B.C. than 1000 B.C. They argue that the kingdom was a minor affair that a later generation of Israelites in the seventh century B.C. mythologized for its own nationalistic purposes.

Ilan Sharon, a radiocarbon expert at Hebrew University, said another problem was that “we are working very close to the limits of measurement accuracy” when dealing with 3,000-year-old objects like olive pits.

He added in an e-mail message: “A measurement is expected to be within about 50 years of the correct date two-thirds of the time and within a century 95 percent of the time.” Given how hard it is to be sure that objects found near the tested items were from the same time, “you can see that this is a statistician’s nightmare.”

Put another way, basing an understanding of history on two olive pits — or even four — is risky. What is needed, he added, are scores or even hundreds of samples. Mr. Garfinkel is not arguing about that. He says with some 96 percent of this site still to be unearthed, a process likely to take 10 years, he hopes that more writing, more olive pits and more pottery will be uncovered, and add depth to what he believes is a revolutionary find.


Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Each year Christians are faced with the social pressure of this event we call “Halloween.” Our children are exposed to it at school and through commercial advertising, displays, and items to be sold, and they find it hard to resist being a part of all the festivities. Many Christians find it harmless “fun” and see no reason to oppose it. Other churches and believers attempt to “compete” with it by having special “harvest festivals” (or similar such events) at the church facilities so that families can have an alternative for their children. For information’s sake, here are a few facts:

Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons–all part of the dark and dread.

Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted them to Christianity, the Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. As religious leaders, ritual specialists, and bearers of learning, the Druids were not unlike the very missionaries and monks who were to Christianize their people and brand them evil devil worshippers.

As a result of their efforts to wipe out “pagan” holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.
In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John’s Day was set on the summer solstice.

Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. As representatives of the rival religion, Druids were considered evil worshippers of devilish or demonic gods and spirits. The Celtic underworld inevitably became identified with the Christian Hell. The effects of this policy were to diminish but not totally eradicate the beliefs in the traditional gods. Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted, while the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious. Followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches.

The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st. The day honored every Christian saint, especially those that did not otherwise have a special day devoted to them. This feast day was meant to substitute for Samhain, to draw the devotion of the Celtic peoples, and, finally, to replace it forever. That did not happen, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status, becoming fairies or leprechauns of more recent traditions.
The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche, to be satisfied with the new, more abstract Catholic feast honoring saints. Recognizing that something that would subsume the original energy of Samhain was necessary, the church tried again to supplant it with a Christian feast day in the 9th century. This time it established November 2nd as All Souls Day–a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. But, once again, the practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises.

All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows (hallowed means sanctified or holy), continued the ancient Celtic traditions. The evening prior to the day was the time of the most intense activity, both human and supernatural. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. The folk continued to propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) by setting out gifts of food and drink. Subsequently, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe’en–an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year’s Day in contemporary dress.
Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead.

Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history, or at least a story behind it. The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises. Halloween also retains some features that harken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associated with the day.

Today Halloween is becoming once again an adult holiday or masquerade, like Mardi Gras. Men and women in every disguise imaginable are taking to the streets of big American cities and parading past grinningly carved, candlelit jack o’lanterns, re- enacting customs with a lengthy pedigree. Their masked antics challenge, mock, tease, and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the otherworld that becomes our world on this night of reversible possibilities, inverted roles, and transcendency. In so doing, they are reaffirming death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a holy and magic evening.
(The above article was written by Jack Santino and comes from the Library of Congress.)

OUR CONCLUSION: Believers ought not to have anything to do with the celebration of Halloween – it is pagan and its emphasis and glorification of Satan, demons, and death, is a far cry from what true believers should celebrate!


Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

We have had many people ask about the “Dual Covenant” belief that has been promoted quite heavily in various Jewish ministries. The following article speaks truth about it and was written by Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries – THANK YOU, JAN!

by Jan Markell

If you hadn’t guessed, Olive Tree Ministries is pro-Israel. In fact, we would be labeled a “Christian Zionist” organization, which certain radio ministries have derided in a most non-Christian manner. We love the Jewish people and I have or had many Jewish family members who were believers. Others went to their graves ignoring the Messiah and His message.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to various “Nights to Honor Israel” being held around the country. A local mega-church in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area has had some in recent years. I attended in 2007 and was so bitterly disappointed — in fact, sickened –that I chose not to go back last week. Forgive me if this takes on a twinge of being harsh. That is not my purpose. I am just passionate that all come to a knowledge of the Savior while there is time. I would also like to know when was the commandment to take the Gospel to the Jew abrogated? (Romans 1:16)

Both this year and last year the pastor of the Word of Faith mega-church ended the program by telling both Jews and non-Jews in the audience that the Jews do not need to be either evangelized or “saved.” They automatically are. Pray tell, where does the Bible say that?? The pastor said that “all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26) Yes, they will be saved when they see Him whom they pierced. (Zechariah 12:10) But a remnant must be reached before that. What is to be made of the Jewish revival (or Messianic revival) of the last 35 years?

This pathetic position is borne out of “Dual Covenant Theology.” If you understand no other heresy today (and most of us are busy putting out heresy fires as there are so many), pay attention to this one. It could lay the groundwork for saying all sorts of people do not have to be saved to enter Heaven, which is just blatant Universalism.

“Dual Covenant Theology” teaches that Jews can be saved without believing in the Messiah Jesus. God supposedly has a separate plan for the Jews and thus faith in the Messiah is not necessary. Romans 3:23 is also tossed out, which says that, “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto ALL and upon ALL them that believe: FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.” John 14:6 quotes Jesus Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but my Me.” How much clearer can it get??

The sad fact is that there are those who “love the Jews to death” — literally. In their zeal to be popular with the Jewish community and in not wanting to “offend” Jews, they do not want to tell them the truth about eternal life. A small band of these people are “Christian Zionists”; however, most in that movement, including this ministry, profoundly reject the “Dual Covenant Theology.” We love the Jews enough to witness and risk “offending them” so that we might love them into Heaven.

Years ago a Jewish believer dared to “risk” and “offend” my Orthodox Jewish dad. Had this man not done so, as of my father’s death in 2001 he would now be in the flames of hell. But as he neared death that year, he did not die in fear as he gasped for breath in his closing minutes.

With that in mind in 2007 when I attended the “Night to Honor Israel” at this same church, I was seated in an all-Jewish section simply because seating was scarce. As I sat down, a Jewish man — a total stranger to me — turned and said to me, “We Jews are safe here. We know no one will try to evangelize us at this church. We know it does not believe in witnessing to Jews.” He was right. This mega-church would rather please the Jewish community and “love them into eternal damnation.” So this “Night to Honor Israel” was really a “Night to Curse the Jews.”

What an end-time trick of the devil! Convince the church that there are some groups — including God’s own Chosen People — that they can be saved without the cross! I have met many people from this Twin Cities’ church. They are wonderful people but are being misled by a Pied Piper of heresy. And there are many others like him supposedly “honoring Israel.”

A prominent promoter of this theology was confronted by a missionary to the Jews in Texas. The missionary is Spencer Parker from “Light of the Messiah Ministries.” He has given me permission to print this. He wrote the following to me: “During the reception (after the ‘Night to Honor Israel’), I went up to him and said, ‘As a Jew, I have been told that if I were to die without accepting Jesus I would be condemned to hell. Is this true?’

“The pastor assured me that if I studied the Torah and lived by its teachings, I have nothing to worry about. Those are his exact words.” This high-profile church also has repeated “Nights to Honor Israel” but withholds the most important message: The gospel of salvation through Messiah Jesus Christ.

The hour is much too late to let this go by. Challenge these false teachers no matter how “prominent” they are. They are not just deceiving Jewish people, they are deceiving and confusing their own loyal followers who deserve better. I believe they are dishonoring God and will have to answer to Him some day. It may not be a pretty scene.

While these churches think they are “honoring the Jews,” they are, in fact, acting out a perverted anti-Semitism of the worst kind. Ushering the Jewish people (or anybody) into hell by withholding the gospel is hardly blessing them or doing them a favor.


Monday, October 27th, 2008

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Israel elections can be held as early as January 27 if the Knesset votes for a bill to dissolve the legislature when it opens its winter session, which would end the shortest session in history. The bill will be submitted by Kadima caucus chairman Knesset Member Yoel Hasson.

Kadima MK Tzachi HaNegbi also may ask outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to declare himself incapable of serving, a move that would enable Livni to assume the position of acting Prime Minister during the campaign.

The Knesset legally can wait 21 days before dissolving after the president decides that none of the party leaders can form a government. In that case, elections would be held in mid-February. However, the Knesset can waive the 21-days waiting period and dissolve immediately, a move that most Knesset Members apparently favor. The law requires at least three months between dissolution of the Knesset and elections.

“There’s no point in waiting three weeks before the election recess,” said Kadima MK Ben Sasson, who also heads the Knesset Law Committee. “Campaign economics will thrive during this time and irresponsible Knesset Members will pass unrestrained budgetary laws,” he explained.

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima) is expected to ask party leaders not to vote on budget issues before elections in order to prevent bills that will be submitted as campaign gimmicks.
The next Knesset will be faced with the task of passing the 2009 budget by March 31, assuming that the current legislature will be dissolved. The Cabinet already has approved the proposed budget, but it did so only by one vote, leaving many parties disgruntled. The worldwide financial crisis and the resulting slowdown in economic growth will make it even harder for the next government to come up with a budget that will satisfy potential coalition partners.

President Shimon Peres will go through the formality of meeting with Knesset party leaders and asking them their views on the current government crisis following Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s failure to form a new coalition government.


Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

A United States court is hearing an appeal by an American family living in Jerusalem that the State Department be required to allow their son’s passport to list Jerusalem as part of Israel. The American government has refused to do so because it argues that the post-1967 areas of the city are disputed under international law.

Lawyers for Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky told the federal court in Washington, D.C. that the a 2003 law signed by American President George W. Bush states that American citizens born in Jerusalem can demand that “Israel” be stamped next to the city’s name. The State Department has maintained that the law is “advisory.”

The family’s son Menachem was born in Jerusalem’s Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital shortly after the law was signed.
The State Department also argues that that the law states that it should not “interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States.”

Attorneys Nat and Aliza Lewin, a father-daughter team, argued that the State Department policy is discriminatory. “This is not about where the capital is, it’s about our legal rights,” Brooklyn-born Zivotofsky told the New York Jewish Week. He and his wife have lived in Israel since 1999 and he is a neuroscience professor at Bar-Ilan University.

A Court of Appeals previously reversed a District Court decision that dismissed the original complaint and sent the case back to it. However, the same judge, Gladys Kessler, again decided in favor of the government.

Zivotofsky said he is pursuing the case because “it’s philosophically important to us that western Jerusalem be treated as any other part of Israel. Their son Menachem was six-years-old when the State Department refused to stamp his passport with Jerusalem as being part of Israel (Israel News).


Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

US intelligence’s amended estimate, that Iran will be ready to build its first bomb just one month after the next US president is sworn in, is disclosed by DEBKAfile’s Washington sources as having been relayed as a guideline to the Middle East teams of both presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

The information prompted the assertion by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden in Seattle Sunday, Oct. 19: “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.”

McCain retorted Tuesday, Oct. 21: “America does not need a president that needs to be tested. I’ve been tested. I was aboard the Enterprise off the coast of Cuba. I’ve been there.”)

DEBKAfile’s military sources cite the new US timeline: By late January, 2009, Iran will have accumulated enough low-grade enriched uranium (up to 5%) for its “break-out” to weapons grade (90%) material within a short time. For this, the Iranians have achieved the necessary technology. In February, they can move on to start building their first nuclear bomb.

US intelligence believes Tehran has the personnel, plans and diagrams for a bomb and has been running experiments to this end for the past two years. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last week asked Tehran to clarify recent complex experiments they conducted in detonating nuclear materials for a weapon, but received no answer.

The same US evaluation adds that the Iranian leadership is holding off its go-ahead to start building the bomb until the last minute so as to ward off international pressure to stop at the red line.

This development together with the galloping global economic crisis will force the incoming US president to go straight into decision-making without pause on Day One in the Oval Office. He will have to determine which urgent measures can serve best for keeping a nuclear bomb out of the Islamic republic’s hands – diplomatic or military – and how to proceed if those measures fail.

His knowledge of the challenge colored Sen. Biden’s additional words in Seattle: “Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Israel’s political and military leaders also face a tough dilemma that can no longer be put off of whether to strike Iran’s nuclear installations militarily in the next three months between US presidencies before the last window closes, or take a chance on coordination with the next president.

Waiting for the “international community” to do the job of stopping Iran, as urged by governments headed by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – and strongly advocated Tzipi Livni, foreign minister and would-be prime minister – has been a washout. Iran stands defiantly on the threshold of a nuclear weapon.


Monday, October 20th, 2008

by Hillel Fendel

In light of reports that outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is trying to reach an agreement with Syria before he leaves office, a party colleague, MK David Tal, says: “Hands off the Golan.”

MK Tal, who heads the Knesset House Committee, is a leader of the campaign demanding a popular referendum to approve or reject any agreement to give away the Golan Heights. These efforts are taking on added urgency in light of reports from Russia and Mahmoud Abbas [see below] that a Golan giveaway may be agreed upon sooner than expected.

Syria has refused any form of direct contacts with Israel unless Israel relinquishes all rights to the Golan. It is thus considered axiomatic that no peace agreement can be reached with Syria unless the Golan Heights are given up – something that most of the Israeli populace has consistently objected to for years.

Now, once again, outgoing PM Olmert is attempting to sign a peace agrement with Syria, and has even succeeded in initiating indirect contacts with Syria. It was widely reported a half-year ago that this was because Olmert had given his full consent to cede the entire Golan.

MK Tal, capitalizing on the grassroots love and support for the Golan, continues to promote his idea of a referendum. “The referendum law has passed its first reading in the Knesset,” Tal said on Monday. “I have agreed to delay its progress in the House Committee [which must prepare it for final-readings presentation in the Knesset], at the request of government representatives so that they can ‘study it.’ I agreed to postpone it for a month, but it would be appropriate for the government to express its official position as soon as possible.”

Tal is apprehensive over Olmert’s latest moves, and warns him not to rush into an agreement: “We have waited 41 years since the Six Day War, so he can wait another few months so that we can hold a referendum. Let the nation decide this critical issue!”

Governmental talk of giving away the Golan in 1996 and 1999-2000 was repressed by widespread popular national campaigns opposing Golan withdrawals. In the mid-90’s, thousands of banners and a million stickers reading “HaAm Im HaGolan” (The Nation is With the Golan) graced porches, billboards and cars throughout the country. In January 2000, some 300,000 people took part in one of the largest demonstrations in Israeli history, calling on then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak not to give away the Golan.

The Maariv newspaper reported on Monday that in his visit to Russia two weeks ago, Olmert asked Russian President Medvedev to act to convince Syria to renew stalled contacts with Israel. Syria reportedly wishes to wait for a new U.S. government to be elected, but Olmert says there is no need to delay and that an Israeli-Syrian agreement can be reached even now.

Maariv’s Ben Caspit writes that the reports indicate that Olmert sees no problem with forging ahead with critical agreements that will obligate Israel for decades to come. This, despite the fact that Olmert is essentially a lame-duck leader forced out of office because of criminal investigations against him. Olmert has said privately that his positions in favor of an agreement with Syria have long been public.

Another indication that a Golan giveaway may be near comes from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The successor to Yasser Arafat told reporters in Ramallah on Sunday night that Syria is interested in renewing direct talks with Israel.

Abbas, however, denied Kuwaiti newspaper reports that said he had delivered a hand-written message from U.S. President Bush to Syrian President Assad. The message purportedly said that Bush would ensure that Israel gives over the Golan Heights if Syria breaks ties with Iran. Israeli sources also denied any knowledge of such a message from Bush to Assad.

Between 1946 and 1967, the Golan was a part of Syria, which used it for years to systematically shell and attack Israel’s eastern Galilee towns below. Some 140 Israelis were killed in these attacks, many more were injured, and heavy property damage was also inflicted. In the Six Day War of 1967, Israel succeeded in liberating the area, thus freeing northern Israel of the Syrian threat – and recovering an area rich in Jewish history. Israel officially annexed the Golan in 1981, and over the years, built 33 Jewish communities, including the full-fledged town of Katzrin.


Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

by Gil Ronen

As U.S. President, Democratic candidate Barack Obama would fundamentally change American policy in the Middle East and keep “Zionists” from controlling it, civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson was quoted as saying Tuesday.

The quote appears in an article written in the New York Post by Amir Taheri, who spoke with Jackson in Evian, France, where Jackson participated in the World Policy Forum.

Jackson said that the most important change in the U.S. administration’s policy under Barack Obama would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” – as Jackson is quoted – would end.

“Jackson believes that, although ‘Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades’ remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House,” the Post article continued. It is not clear from the report what part of Jackson’s comments was made before the World Policy Forum and what part was made in a conversation with Taheri.

Jackson said that while he isn’t a confidante or adviser of Obama’s, Obama has been “a neighbor or, better still, a member of the family.” “We helped him start his career,” Jackson said. “And then we were always there to help him move ahead.”

Jackson was critical of President George W. Bush’s approach to the conflict over the Land of Israel. “Bush was so afraid of a snafu and of upsetting Israel that he gave the whole thing a miss,” Jackson said. “Barack will change that,” he added, “because, as long as the Palestinians haven’t seen justice, the Middle East will ‘remain a source of danger to us all.'”

“Barack is determined to repair our relations with the world of Islam and Muslims,” Jackson said. “Thanks to his background and ecumenical approach, he knows how Muslims feel while remaining committed to his own faith.”

The interview with Jackson is being widely quoted in conservative and Jewish weblogs, where some writers are expressing outrage and expecting the interview to erode Jewish support for Obama.

Obama’s campaign responded to Jackson’s statements Tuesday by stressing that “Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama’s views on Israel and foreign policy.”

“As he has made clear throughout his career and throughout this campaign,” Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi stated, “Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship … As president, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in its quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran’s illicit nuclear program. No false charges can change Barack Obama’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”

John McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, also reacted to Jackson’s comments on Tuesday, saying: “Literally, nobody knows what Barack Obama’s policies would be if he were elected president, but it seems clear that people believe he will not be a friend to Israel.”

This is not the first time that an interview with Jackson has caused a stir in the Jewish community. Jackson referred to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymietown” in January 1984, in a conversation with a Washington Post reporter. Jackson at first denied the remarks, then accused Jews of conspiring to defeat his run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party. Finally, Jackson admitted having said those words and apologized.


Sunday, October 12th, 2008


Israeli opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu last week in an interview with London’s Financial Times outlined an alternative peace plan that would shelf the idea of creating an independent Palestinian state in favor of helping the Arabs of Judea and Samaria improve their quality of life.

Netanyahu said the international community has gotten it wrong with the assumption that a peace agreement based on Israel’s surrender of land will bring prosperity.

“It is not so much that peace brings prosperity – it is that prosperity brings peace,” the man who all polls show will win Israel’s next general election told the newspaper.

So far, the 15-year land-for-peace process has not brought any degree of prosperity to the Palestinians. In fact, it has sharply decreased living standards in Palestinian Arab towns, as increased autonomy has led to an explosion of terrorist violence that has resulted in stifling Israeli restrictions.

Instead of completing the process of granting the Palestinians total sovereignty, which he believes will only result in the formation of a terrorist state like that in Gaza, Netanyahu wants to give the Palestinians partial autonomy coupled with aggressive and dynamic business projects tailored to their strengths and assets.

For instance, Netanyahu noted that the town of Jericho could experience an economic boom by better capitalizing on its Christian tourist attractions, such as the site where Jesus is believed to have been tempted by Satan and the portion of the Jordan River where John the Baptist ministered.

Helping the Palestinians reap the financial rewards of such business projects, and thereby significantly improving living standards in the so-called “West Bank,” will be far more beneficial than creating what will effectively be a welfare state where armed terrorist bullies rule the streets.

Despite Netanyahu’s focus on improving the lives of individual Palestinians, the Financial Times chose to characterize his plan as extremist for not falling in line with the accepted narrative that peace will only be possible when Israel meets demands that Yasser Arafat once admitted are a prelude to the Jewish state’s demise.

Netanyahu hopes to regain the Prime Minister’s chair in time to actually put his plan into practice. Meanwhile, the international community is working to make sure that even the most tentative offers by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are enshrined as the basis for any future peace talks.


Friday, October 10th, 2008

HOPE for TODAY does not take a political position and encourage our listeners and readers to vote for a certain political party. We do believe that all of us should know the facts and be very cautious in believing the “lies” and “propaganda” that is found on many Internet sites. Believers should be concerned about faith and moral values, and we have tried to present the views of the candidates in previous articles. However, there is one issue that continues to trouble both Jewish and Christian listeners and readers of HOPE for TODAY – WAS BARACK OBAMA (DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR US PRESIDENT) A MUSLIM IN HIS PAST RELATIONSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS?

To try to help our listeners on this question which continues to come to us, let’s be clear – Senator Barack Obama has consistently denied that he was ever a practicing Muslim, and states very clearly that he is a “committed Christian (his words).” What is the truth? For one thing, our God knows the truth, and He is in charge of the nations, leaders, events, and circumstances of this world – the “unseen” hand moving His plan toward a final, climatic conclusion, and the promise of an eternal kingdom under the leadership of the Messiah Himself, a kingdom that will NEVER be destroyed!

In searching for answers on this pivotal question which really is asking “DID SENATOR OBAMA LIE ABOUT HIS PAST UPBRINGING?” – here is an extensive article by Daniel Pipes – we leave it with you and ask all believers to be in earnest prayer over this coming presidential election.

Sen. Barack Obama “is lying” when he insists that he has never prayed in a mosque and was never a Muslim, a prominent Middle East expert and journalist says.

Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum think tank, says he fully accepts that Obama is a Christian now. But there is strong evidence that Obama received a Muslim upbringing during his years in Indonesia, Pipes said.

“It’s fine with me that he was a Muslim and a convert to Christianity,” Pipes told Newsmax. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal “is a convert from Hinduism. I have no problem with his conversion. What I have a problem with is that he’s lying” when he says he was never a Muslim.

Newsmax asked whether Pipes is alleging outright that Obama has lied about having a Muslim upbringing. Pipes’ response: “The evidence suggests to me that he is lying, yes.”

Pipes told Newsmax, “It would start with the fact that his father was a Muslim — granted, not a practicing Muslim, but in the Muslim world, if your father is a Muslim, you’re a Muslim. His father named him Hussein, which is a name only given to Muslim babies. He went with his stepfather to a mosque. They celebrated certain Muslim holidays at the mosque together. He had knowledge of the Koran. He had knowledge of Muslim prayers. You put all this together, he was a Muslim.”

Pipes contends that a Nov. 12 post on Obama’s Web site headlined, “Barack Obama Is Not and Has Never Been a Muslim,” stated: “Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.” Today, that post bears the same headline, but does not include an assertion that Obama “never prayed in a mosque” and “has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim.” The page now bears a quote Obama made during the Jan. 15 debate on MSNBC: “In the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. I have been victimized by these lies. Fortunately, the American people are, I think, smarter than folks give them credit for.” The current post, which includes links intended to debunk any Muslim connection, is headlined “Obama Has Never Been A Muslim, And Is a Committed Christian”.

Several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, have reported on Obama’s schooling in Indonesia, where he lived from 1967 to 1971, which included Muslim religious studies.

It is known, for example, that Obama’s designation as a Muslim while attending a Catholic school may have simply reflected the fact that his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was Muslim.

Still, Obama was grouped with Muslim students at the school and engaged in weekly religious studies, including studying the Koran and learning Muslim prayers.

In 1970, Obama’s family moved and he was enrolled in a public school where children such as Obama who were identified as Muslim spent two hours a week studying Islam.

A March 2007 Chicago Tribune article by Kim Barker, which stated several accounts had “distorted the reality” of Obama’s years in Indonesia, reported that he did irregularly attend Muslim prayer services at the local mosque. Obama’s third-grade teacher at the Catholic school, Fermina Katarina Sinaga, told Barker that Obama accompanied his stepfather to pray at the mosque, doing so “rarely.”

Pipes said Barker’s story bolsters his position that Obama was raised as a Muslim while he lived in Indonesia. His accounts of Obama’s upbringing have received a “very severe reaction from the left” and threats from some Muslims, he said.

Pipes sees a whopping double standard in how the mainstream media has reported on Obama’s past.

“It’s been quite fascinating to watch the careful picking over of Sarah Palin’s record, down to her library policies as mayor of Wasilla, and her possible false pregnancies, and so forth, an analysis that involved excruciating details in her case.”

He contrasts that to the “the general pass” the media has given Obama, whether over his career in the Illinois Senate, the Annenberg library papers, or his upbringing in Jakarta. Pipes said his reports have “simply been dismissed as untrue without any facts to counter it.”

The McCain campaign “has been very cautious about looking into Barack Obama at all,” said Pipes, adding that the GOP has demonstrated a general reluctance to raise questions about Obama’s past.

Pipes has posted four articles on his Web site, “”, defending his view that Obama was a Muslim. The articles include the assertion that “for some years (Obama) had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian stepfather.”

As a measure of the interest in Obama’s background, Pipes’ articles have attracted close to half a million hits. One point of contention they raise: When someone is born of a Muslim father, do Muslims automatically consider him a Muslim?

A group of more than 50 scholars recently posted a statement on, a Web site dedicated to fostering an understanding of Islam, that seeks to refute that assertion. The statement maintains that distortions about Obama’s past are “part of an Islamophobic hate campaign that fuels prejudice against Americans who practice their Islamic faith and Muslims worldwide.” Their statement says, “The vast majority of Muslims accept the Qur’anic message that there is no compulsion in Islam. Since Senator Obama was not raised as a Muslim, he cannot be held accountable for the religious status of his father.”

That assertion sounds logical to Western ears, but Pipes’ rejects it flatly. “There is no doubt: It is a fact in Islam that the religion passes on through the father,” he told Newsmax. “And yet it’s denied as a falsehood by people who know better. They know better. It’s Islam 101.”

Supporting Pipes on that point is Shireen K. Burki, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington. Burki, who spent her childhood studying Islam at a school in Islamabad, Pakistan, has first-hand experience as the daughter of a Muslim father and a Christian mother. “According to Islamic jurisprudence,” she wrote in a May article in the Christian Science Monitor, “children of a Muslim father — even an apparently nonpracticing one, such as Obama’s father, and irrespective of the mother’s faith — are automatically Muslims. Most Muslims around the world agree: A child of a Muslim father is a Muslim. Period.”

Given that Obama’s profession of Christianity is essentially uncontested, one might wonder whether it really matters whether Obama once was Muslim. To many of the world’s approximately 1.4 billion Muslims, it apparently would matter a great deal. Experts on Islam generally agree that someone who is born a Muslim (in effect, someone who had a Muslim father), who later renounces Islam, is considered an apostate.

Burki writes, “Should Obama become U.S. Commander-in-Chief, there is a strong likelihood that al-Qaida’s media arm, As-Sahab, will exploit his background to argue that an apostate is leading the global war on terror. This perception would be leveraged to galvanize sympathizers into action.”

She suggests the apostate tag would be a powerful propaganda weapon that al-Qaida could wield to marginalize America’s Middle East allies, causing “enormous difficulties” in the war against terror.

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