Hamas Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary—and Rising International Clout

Hamas Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary—and Rising International Clout

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Has the world forgotten its long track record of genocidal terrorism?

On December 7 in Gaza, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied together to celebrate 25 years since Hamas’s inception. As a part of the celebration, Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and formerly exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal entered center stage by walking out of a large model rocket.

Highlights of their speeches that day included such phrases as “not giving up any inch of Palestine” and “We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.” Despite these and other deplorable actions, there has been little-to-no international outcry. Instead, much of the international community has become sympathetic toward the 25-year-old organization. This jubilant celebration and growing international acceptance illustrates a dangerous new perspective the world has on Hamas.

If people were to delve into the last 25 years of Hamas’s history, that perspective might be different.

For instance, on March 4, 2001, a Hamas suicide bomb went off in Netanya. Three people were killed, and at least 60 were wounded. On Aug. 9, 2001, at a pizzeria in Jerusalem, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 15 and wounded 130. Then you have June 1, 2001, when a Hamas suicide bomb in Tel Aviv killed 21 teenagers and wounded 132 other people. The history goes on.

On Dec. 1, 2001, two Hamas suicide bombs on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem killed 11, and 188 were wounded. The next day, Hamas suicide bombs went off in Haifa: 15 were killed, 40 wounded.

That was in the course of one year.

But there is more: On March 9, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb in a café in Jerusalem killed 11, and 51 were wounded. Next, on March 27, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb was detonated during Passover Seder: 30 were killed and 140 wounded. March 31, 2002: A Hamas suicide bomb claims the lives of 16 people, at least 40 were wounded. May 8, 2002: Another suicide bomb, and another 16 people were murdered, and 55 wounded. On June 18, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb went off on a bus: 19 people were killed, 74 wounded. July 31, 2002: A Hamas operative placed a bomb in the crowded Hebrew University cafeteria in Jerusalem. Nine were killed, and 100 wounded. Sept. 19, 2002: Six killed and 70 were wounded in yet another bus bombing. Then, on Nov. 21, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb on a bus in Jerusalem killed 11 people and wounded 50.

That was a brief look at two years out of 25.

In addition to using suicide bombers to conduct random attacks on Israeli civilians, Hamas has continually bombarded the Israeli cities closest to the Gaza border with rockets.

Hamas became the de facto ruling body in the Gaza Strip when Hamas gunmen forcibly ousted the Fatah party in mid 2007. In late 2008 and early 2009, it grew in popularity after Israeli Operation Cast Lead.

Last month Israel mounted another offensive against Hamas in an attempt to end the rocket barrage that has been falling on Israeli towns and cities since 2001.

This year alone, 1,697 rockets have fallen on Israel so far—a significant escalation from last year’s count of 627. In the eight days of fighting that ensued after Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, six Israeli civilians were killed and the death toll in Gaza reached over 100 people. While Gaza also incurred some civilian casualties, Israel maintains that a majority of deaths in Gaza were carefully calculated strikes on terrorist targets. Recent reports have proven that Hamas is guilty of faking deaths and injury counts in an attempt to prop up its public image, as well as intentionally placing civilians in the line of fire.

Yet, Hamas has lived in the light of positive public opinion and has been viewed as the underdog in the conflict. People today have taken the effect—Israel’s retaliation for hundreds of rockets fired every year—and made it the cause. The world condemns Israel for its attacks on Gaza, yet forgets the years of terrorizing that Israel has endured since the establishment of Hamas during the first intifada in 1987.

Since that time, Israel has been desperately trying to stop the terrorism that is emanating from the Gaza Strip. Yet as you can see from the attacks listed above, it has not been successful in stopping Hamas.

In fact, Israel’s continued failed attempts to appease its violent neighbors have become a seeping wound for the nation of Israel. And as with all injuries, without proper treatment such wounds will only get worse and worse. The latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas following Pillar of Defense may yet prove to be merely a small bandage on the gaping wound that is Israel’s failed “peace” process.

For further proof on why the latest ceasefire will not solve the problem, watch “Judah’s Wound.”

Under His Vine and Under His Fig Tree

Under His Vine and Under His Fig Tree

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Few comprehend the vast changes that society and the environment will shortly undergo to permit every man to sit under his own vine and fig tree.

There’s a deeply thought-provoking prophecy in your Bible that foreshadows a time of great social and environmental revolution.

It speaks of a complete transition from our bloated city-centered society—driven by its excesses of urban development which have created a hugely imbalanced physical environment and a rat-race social mentality—to a calm, peaceful, largely rural habitat given to man’s concentration on creation and Creator.

We read of the global outcome of this coming revolutionary change in the prophecy of Micah: “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah 4:4).

Perhaps the closest we have ever come to this is the society based on old rural England.

In their enlightening book Rural England—Our Countryside at the Crossroads, Derrik Mercer and David Putnam paint a picture of Southeast England which is sadly fast diminishing in scope as each decade goes by: “It is a cosy countryside where village greens echo each summer to the sound of cricket and polite applause. Overlooking the green will usually be the village church, still a place of architectural and spiritual homage in this more secular age. Church and inn, manor house and cottages, together they reflect a story of man’s impact on the land which frequently goes back a thousand years or more.”

Occasionally, during our five-year period of residence in Britain back in the 1990s, my wife and I would stay at an inn set in just such an idyllic, traditional English village. It made for interesting reflection on a way of life in the old country that, as the above-mentioned authors stated, “goes back a thousand years or more.”

The Industrial Revolution commenced a change to that millennia-old way of life, a change that was to bring massive progress in man’s technical capacities but begin to denigrate his long-held comfortable attachment to the land and its seasonal rhythms.

Some sad results of that disruption to society have been the dramatic escalation in stress-related diseases, the rapid spread of mental illness and the concomitant evolution of a rampant drug culture. These are all signs of a distressed society in the throes of a self-inflicted demise. Ample evidence exists through many a worthy study to prove this point.

Jesus Christ, the greatest prophet of all, forecast that the way of man would bring humankind to the brink of extinction (Matthew 24).

America is just about due to fall off the fiscal cliff. The plain fact is that the U.S. administration has run out of ideas and viable options to save the national economy from the train wreck toward which it is hurtling.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the fall of Anglo-Saxon society at large. Wherever legislators turn, they are today faced with a basket of unfixable economic and social woes within the English-speaking nations.

What the Industrial Revolution started back in the early 19th century has now run full course. Years ago, greed priced our labor out of the market resulting in our industrial capacity being shipped overseas to even former enemy nations. This does not bode well for our future.

Already certain key components of our military machine—the sole means of our defensive security—are being manufactured by former and potential enemy nations, a position that the U.S. vowed would never occur again after its armaments supplies were put at risk during the Revolutionary War due to reliance on foreign production.

Added to these woes is the fact that the United States became a net importer of food last decade. Reliance on foreign supply of staples removes another traditional leg from the once strongly independent platform on which the U.S. economy thrived to the end of the 20th century.

America is increasingly dependent on the largesse of foreign nations for its daily existence. This is the road to the decline and fall of American society, the once famous American way of life after which the whole world once seemed to lust.

In the process of all this emerging chaos, America is fast losing its peace of mind. More Americans daily are subjected to the phenomenon of personal terror. Not just the prospect of another attack by Islamist extremists, but the rising terror that one feels when the next morning brings with it no job or income prospects, the potential loss of home, the prospect of family break up. All this was prophesied to befall the American people and their English-speaking fellows thousands of years ago by the God who predicted the results of their rebellion against Him and His laws (Leviticus 26:16).

The American way of life is barely two centuries old and already it is rapidly falling into decay.

Yet for over a thousand years, a traditional way of life existed in rural England, the last vestiges of which can be still experienced today.

What’s the explanation of the two phenomena?

To a major extent it is bound up in that prophecy of Micah, which speaks of a planetary future where “they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”

Note that there are two elements to this vision of the future—a rural-based economy promoting the economic independence of man, and its conformity with the will of God!

The English discovered the value of the organized rural economy and built a society around it during the first millennia a.d. To a certain extent, history demonstrates that the seasonal rural principles they followed conformed by and large to biblical tenets, till broken at the Industrial Revolution by chemical farming methods, with the inevitable destructive result.

Developing much later on the scene—post-Industrial Revolution—the U.S. has broken both these key elements to a stable society, which guarantee an equitable distribution of national wealth to all, from almost its beginning as a nation. The other Anglo-Saxon nations are hell-bent on the same course and in time will reap the same outcome.

So just how are the Anglo-Saxons—and ultimately all nations, for that matter—going to extricate themselves from their present catastrophic fall to enjoy the prophesied future forecast in Micah 4:4?

They won’t.

They can’t.

The task is simply beyond them. It is going to take the mighty hand of God to intervene and seize control of the society of humankind to effect such a powerful change. A change from today’s state of global confusion—with too much wealth concentrated in too few hands profiting from systems of mass production—to the simplicity in Christ that is bound up in the prophecy of Micah 4:4 with every man having the potential to capitalize and maintain his own independent farmlet.

Believe it or not, the education toward implementation of that process is happening right now!

Read and prayerfully study our booklet Micah—God’s People Rise Up as His Enemy to find out how. That booklet will also help you understand just how you personally can have a vital part in this coming great solution to mankind’s present ills.

Sharia Will Win in Egypt

Thanks to his 17-day dictatorship, Mohammed Morsi got the sharia-based constitutional draft he wanted.

Over the weekend Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi annulled his November 22 decree that had granted him totalitarian power and sparked a wave of protests across the nation. But was this really an act of conciliation on the part of Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood?

U.S. Formally Recognizes Syrian Rebels

U.S. Formally Recognizes Syrian Rebels

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The United States has now joined Britain, France, Turkey and several Arab states to formally recognize the newly formed coalition of Syrian rebels fighting Bashar Assad.

In an interview on Tuesday with abc News, President Obama said that the Syrian Opposition Coalition “is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”

Diplomatically, this is “a big step” in the international anti-Assad campaign, said Mr. Obama. An Obama administration official said that this shift by the U.S. will see even closer support of the rebels, including the organizing of a post-Assad government in the future.

This formal recognition of the rebels came on the eve of the Friends of Syria meeting in Morocco, in which the U.S. joined 70 other member states in talks to help Syria’s opposition. With this much support and the intensifying fight for Damascus, Syria’s nearly 21-month civil war, as Reuters noted, “may be nearing a tipping point.”

While diplomatic recognition is a potent tool, the rebels need more than just that. The rebels desperately need weaponry more advanced than AK-47 assault rifles and shoulder-fired air defense missiles. Syrian Opposition Coalition member Abdelbasset Sida declared to Reuters, “We are nearing the end. Battles in Damascus are drawing very near to the inner sanctum of the regime and I do not expect Bashar to last for long.” But he also said, “Diplomatic recognition is not enough. We need military support. A transitional phase has started and we need the means to defend the liberated parts of Syria from regime strikes.”

Another member of the opposition, Riad Seif, said, “We are telling the international community that we don’t want their military intervention but we want them to supply us with developed anti-aircraft defense systems” to enforce a no-fly zone in the north. “The Syrian people,” he assured, “can finish off the battle within weeks if we get this support.”

The U.S., however, has explicitly stated that it will not be providing the Syrian opposition with arms, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are. At least not yet. A U.S. government official stated that Mr. Obama had not ruled out the likelihood of providing arms in the future.

America’s recognition of the rebel fighters that are now trying to end the Assad family’s 42-year rule is a big step toward regime change in Syria. It may open the way for the U.S. and/or other Western governments to bankroll the rebels to victory.

As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has been declaring for over a decade, Bible prophecy indicates Syria switching allegiance from Iran to an alliance of “moderate” Arab states and Germany. News headlines have been showing us precisely how this prophesied alliance would coalesce. To understand why Syria matters, read “How the Syrian Crisis Will End” and our booklet The King of the South.

UK Census: Christianity Falling, Islam Rising as Immigrants Flood In

UK Census: Christianity Falling, Islam Rising as Immigrants Flood In

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The number of Christians in England and Wales has fallen by 12.5 percent since 2001, while all other major religious groups are increasing, according to data released December 11 from Britain’s 2011 Census.

By far the fastest growing religion is “none”—the number of “nones” has almost doubled since the previous census in 2001.

In 2001, 72 percent of people in England and Wales considered themselves Christian. Last year, that figure was 59 percent. But Christianity wasn’t entirely alone in its decline—the number of Jedi in Britain fell from 390,000 to 177,000.

Meanwhile, the percentage with no religion rose from 15 percent to 25 percent. The next-fastest growing religion was Islam, rising from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Census datapublished earlier revealed that England and Wales went through their greatest ever population growth in any 10-year period since 1801—7.1 percent. This set of data revealed why.

Thirteen percent, or 7.5 million, of the population of England and Wales was not born in the UK. Of that number, 3.8 million arrived between 2001 and 2011. Most of the immigrants living in England and Wales today arrived within the past 10 years.

The data also revealed that married couples have, for the first time, slipped into the minority. In 2001, 51 percent of residents over the age of 16 were married. Now that proportion is 47 percent. In the meantime, the proportion of adults who had never married rose from 30 percent to 35 percent.

Each of these data points is worthy of consideration on its own, but overall they paint a clear picture of a changing Britain. The traditional is in decline—be it Britain’s traditional religions or marriage. The secular is growing—again evident in both the religion and marriage statistics.

The numbers suggest this is a bigger story than the increase in immigrants. The number of Christians has dropped off far more quickly than foreign religions have increased.

Much of what Britain’s traditional Christian churches teach does not come from the Bible, but there were still some good principles behind many of Britain’s traditional values—such as the sanctity of marriage. These values were probably preached more often than they were practiced. But there was more good in them than in the new morality that is rising in Britain. The drift away from these old values has played a large part in Britain’s decline—including the lack of discipline in schools, the rampant drug and alcohol problems and Britain’s exploding welfare state.

For a deeper look at the rise in people without religion, read Dennis Leap’s feature article from the January 2013 Trumpet,America’s New Religion: None.”

40 Percent of Babies Born to Single Women

40 Percent of Babies Born to Single Women

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Marriage in America is on the way out. According to one study from the Pew Research Center, “The number of American adults who are married has fallen from 72 percent in 1960 to barely 51 percent, and the number of new marriages fell 5 percent between 2009 and 2010.” And with 95 percent of Americans engaging in premarital sex, it’s no wonder so many babies are born out of wedlock—a whopping 40 percent.

The increase in babies conceived out of wedlock also lead to higher abortion rates: About 85 percent of women who seek an abortion are single.

These distressing statistics are the inevitable result of the total breakdown of the family. “Yes, there is a war raging in households across America and throughout the once-mighty United Kingdom,” Trumpet columnists Joel Hilliker and Stephen Flurry wrote. “After decades of surrendering ground to a violent and fanatical enemy, what once was a solid family structure is now struggling for survival.”

These declining statistics are indicative of the times in which we live, and were actually prophesied to occur in the last days before Christ’s return. The Trumpet article continues,

Everything about our modern-day dysfunctional society is exactly as the Prophet Isaiah said it would be: with women ruling the homes, children oppressing society and behaving arrogantly against their elders, and people parading the most heinous of their sins with pride (Isaiah 3:12, 5, 9). The Apostle Paul prophesied of our epidemic selfishness, preoccupation with material things, disobedient children, loss of natural familial affection (such as is manifest in the appalling abortion rate), and other rampant problems (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Rising divorce rates, falling marriage rates and more children growing up without two parents in the home all fall within this prophesied family breakdown. Too often, however, we don’t see the loss of a complete family unit for the deadly cancer it truly is.

Marriage and family are institutions unique to mankind. They don’t exist anywhere else in creation.

“Human men never did think out, devise or institute the relationship of marriage, with family and home life. Marriage was ordained by God—not by man,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? That is what makes marriage and family so special—and what should make us so determined to preserve them. “There can be no more wonderful physical blessing in this mortal human life than a happy marriage, based on true love, honor, integrity and faithfulness—especially when there are growing children to love, care for, teach and rear in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

God intended marriage and family to be a blessing for mankind, to teach us to love and live in harmony with each other. Even more than that, He patterned the structure of the family unit after the God Family.

That is why the institution of family is so important to God, and why He finds it so reprehensible when it is destroyed. Marriage and family, when they exist as God intended, teach us spiritual lessons about our spiritual family (e.g. Ephesians 5:31-33). They have everything to do with the gospel and are a critical part of God’s plan for mankind. Read our free booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? for a more in-depth explanation of these critically important and endangered institutions.