Obama and the Abdication of Reason

Obama and the Abdication of Reason

Reuters

What the spectacular success of Barak Obama reveals about the American psyche.

What can we deduce about the state of mind of those who rally, sometimes with remarkable fervor, behind a man they know nothing about?

Abdication of reason.

In the Emory Wheel, the student newspaper of Emory College, Josh Prywes reported, “Pollster Frank Luntz asked college students at a recent focus group to name the candidate they were going to vote for. All of them said Obama, but when Luntz followed up by asking them to name a single accomplishment of the senator, they couldn’t name one. Nobody could name a single accomplishment that Senator Obama has achieved” (emphasis mine throughout).

Can you?

Barack Obama is an unrivaled political sensation, a political phenomenon on pace to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

Senator Obama’s success is spectacular not just for its scale, but for the means by which it has come about. The strategy employed by the Obama campaign, as commentators—including some on the liberal bench—have observed lately, has been one of substituting rhetoric for reason, and style for substance, in an effort to win the hearts of supporters with a syrupy message of change, hope and inspiration. It’s the same style as that adopted by many a Pentecostal preacher, and it seems to be having the same spellbinding results.

But though the senator’s message of “change” may be enthralling—especially when delivered Obama-style, with a big toothy smile, vibrant body language and the perpetual use of emotionally inclusive language—there is no particular agenda offered for that change, no goal mentioned to hope for, no laid-out strategy. Obama’s message is geared to obtaining one climactic, emotionally inspired action from his enraptured audiences: vote for Obama!

It’s a campaign founded on the abdication of reason in exchange for the embodiment of emotion.

So far, it has worked. In his column last Friday, Charles Krauthammer assembled a disturbing montage of the feverish support behind Senator Obama. Despite the stark contrast “between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda,” saidNewsweek columnist Robert Samuelson, “the press corps—preoccupied with the political ‘horse race’—has treated his invocation of ‘change’ as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation’s problems when, so far, he isn’t.”

Campaign Obama is beginning to undergo some scrutiny. But what about the millions of supporters who have allowed themselves to be deluded into following this esoteric dream? The future of America is at stake in this election. Candidates are not campaigning to become president of the pta, or coach of the Little League team. They are campaigning to become the next president of the United States, the most powerful nation on the planet; the one who will have the unique responsibility of guiding that nation through a time of unprecedented global disorder.

That’s a weighty responsibility, and the decision as to who—among the limited choice of candidates—will play this role falls, for the most part, on the shoulders of the American electorate. It’s a responsibility that demands from the electorate a keen sense of reason, intelligent choice, a willingness to judge character, and the ability to make decisions based on reality rather than on emotion.

What then, does the spectacular success of Barack Obama, an untested, inexperienced freshman senator whose campaign is more style than substance, reveal about the American psyche?

British commentator Melanie Phillips likened the feverish euphoria for Obama sweeping America to the irrational euphoria, which she coined Diana Derangement Syndrome (dds), that swept Britain after the death of Princess Diana:

The main characteristics of dds are the replacement of reason, intelligence, stoicism, self-restraint and responsibility by credulousness, emotional incontinence, sentimentality, irresponsibility and self-obsession. Political icons to which this disorder gives rise achieve instantaneous and unshakeable mass followings of adoring acolytes because they grant permission to the public to suspend the faculty of judgment and avoid making any hard choices, indulging instead in fantasies of turning swords into plowshares ….

That millions of Americans have abdicated intelligent reason for a feel-good message as empty as it is vague—“change”—exposes critical deficiencies in the psyche of the average post-baby-boom, post-hippie, post-Cold War, post-subprime-meltdown American of today.

First, that Obama supporters are willing to marginalize reason in an effort to subscribe to the emotional but vague message of hope and inspiration reveals a wanton failure to face up to reality among many Americans.

Although Obama feigns moderacy, and his supporters buy it, he is in practice a hard-left liberal. Here’s a summary of the senator’s record from the National Journal:

Overall in NJ’s 2007 ratings, Obama voted the liberal position on 65 of the 66 key votes on which he voted; Clinton voted the liberal position 77 of 82 times. Obama garnered perfect liberal scores in both the economic and social categories. His score in the foreign-policy category was nearly perfect, pulled down a notch by the only conservative vote that he cast in the ratings, on a Republican-sponsored resolution expressing the sense of Congress that funding should not be cut off for U.S. troops in harm’s way.

Of course, it’s not as if political campaigns are fountains of cold, hard, honest reality. Campaign promises are known to be overstated, empty, ethereal and, more than anything, just plain out-and-out lies. But campaign Obama has taken this to a new vague, bizarre level. And a vast proportion of the American public are swallowing the bait, hook, line and sinker!

Obama’s success also reveals a widespread ignorance of what comprises effective leadership, let alone true statesmanship. It reveals an electorate unwilling to take the time to investigate, think, analyze and judge based on reality and not on emotion. On Saturday, the National Postquoted one woman at a rally saying, “Are you kidding me? I’d walk over hot coals to vote for this man. I mean, oh, he’s just … he’s a man that can change not our country, but the world.” This is but a reflection of a shallow mind that prefers vague generalities and promises of change over real facts and that is unable, even unwilling, to think, analyze and judge based on cold, hard reality.

How many Obama supporters have thoroughly investigated their candidate’s foreign-policy objectives? How many have analyzed his team of advisors, those who could soon be guiding the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world?

An educated electorate that values reality, the proven facts of any issue, over smiling platitudes is the hallmark of a successful democracy.

In some circles, Barack Obama has been hailed as an American messiah. Some have, unbelievably, even paralleled the junior senator with Jesus Christ.

What an unbelievably inane comparison! Jesus Christ was an icon of real, tangible, proven hope in a real, tangible future of unbelievable proportions—literally out of this world. After all, He was the literal Son of Almighty God!

Jesus Christ didn’t just preach a visionary, hope-filled message to His followers; He lived it, and He backed rhetoric with substance. He performed spectacular miracles: He healed the sick, He cast out demons, He turned water into wine, He multiplied a handful of bread and fishes to feed thousands, and the list goes on. The gospel message, as taught by Christ, was practical—it took into account reality and gave people real-life solutions, promising them the chance to fulfill their incredible human potential.

Jesus Christ’s message was about government. It pointed positively toward the future, but it was based on immutable, concrete law and towering accomplishments of eternal proportions. That is how His “campaign” injected people with real hope and true vision.

In Matthew 7, Christ instructs His followers to evaluate others based on their fruits, or actions (verses 15-20). During His ministry Christ condemned the religion of the Pharisees, which was all appearance and no substance, rhetoric but no works (Matthew 12:33).

There is a lesson here for not only all Americans, but for all who would place their hope in men to deliver a just and peaceful society. There is nothing inherently wrong with rallying behind a message of hope and inspiration. But when supporting such a message demands the abdication of reason for a short-lived emotional sensation, then it’s time to start asking some hard questions.

To learn how you can avoid being duped by the pseudo-hope-filled rhetoric of political candidates, and instead find real hope and direct your support to the only true and lasting vision of an eternally inspiring future, read Mystery of the Ages.

Young Egyptians Embrace Islam

Young Egyptians Embrace Islam

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Islam is on the rise in Egypt.

Egyptian youth are rapidly embracing Islamic fundamentalism. This is a major trend in the region, where 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25. According to a report in the New York Times:

While there are few statistics tracking religious observance among the young, there is near-universal agreement that young people are propelling an Islamic revival, one that has been years in the making but is intensifying as the youth bulge in the population is peaking.In Egypt, where the people have always been religious and conservative, young people are now far more observant and strict in their interpretation of their faith. A generation ago, for example, few young women covered their heads, and few Egyptian men made it a practice to go to the mosque for the five daily prayers. Now the hijab, a scarf that covers the hair and neck, is nearly universal, and mosques are filled throughout the day with young men, and often their fathers.In 1986, there was one mosque for every 6,031 Egyptians, according to government statistics. By 2005, there was one mosque for every 745 people—and the population has nearly doubled. …”The whole country is taken by an extreme conservative attitude,” said Mohamed Sayed Said, deputy director of the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “The government cannot escape it and cannot loosen it.”

Poverty and frustration are driving many to Islam. Unemployment and rising costs of living, for example, mean that marriage is now prohibitively expensive. A groom and his father from the poorest segment of society would have to save all their income eight years before the groom could get married and begin a home of his own. The government is concerned about the social unrest the inability to marry could cause.

The New York Times article continued:

Depression and despair tormented dozens of men and women in their 20s interviewed across Egypt, from urban men like Mr. Sayyid to frustrated village residents like Walid Faragallah, who once hoped education would guarantee him social mobility. Their stifled dreams stoke anger toward the government.”Nobody cares about the people,” Mr. Sayyid said, slapping his hands against the air, echoing sentiment repeated in many interviews with young people across Egypt. “Nobody cares. What is holding me back is the system. Find a general with children and he will have an apartment for each of them. My government is only close to those close to the government.”Mr. Sayyid, like an increasing number of Egyptians, would like Islam to play a greater role in political life. He and many others said that the very government that claimed to elevate and emphasize their faith was insincere and hypocritical.”Yes, I do think that Islam is the solution,” Mr. Sayyid said, quoting from the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned but tolerated organization in Egypt that calls for imposing sharia, or Islamic law, and wants a religious committee to oversee all matters of state. “These people, the Islamists, they would be better than the fake curtain, the illusion, in front of us now.”

Egypt’s youth are becoming increasingly religious and anti-government. The Egyptian government under President Hosni Mubarak is becoming more Islamic to accommodate them. State television now contains a larger number of preachers, and Mubarak himself now makes more references to Islam.

Egyptian foreign policy has also taken on a more religious flavor. Though Egypt is Israel’s key ally in the region, it is increasingly distancing itself from both the Jews and the United States. At the same time, Egypt is strengthening ties with Iran.

And, of course, waiting in the wings is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is an Islamist organization that seeks to install Islamic law as the foundation of Egyptian society and government. Although the political group is illegal, Brotherhood members, under the guise of independents, control nearly a quarter of the seats in the Egyptian parliament. An increasingly Islamic, radical and anti-government youth populace only increases their power. If the people have their way, it will not be long before Egypt is another radical Islamic state.

In his booklet The King of the South, first published in 1996, Gerald Flurry predicted a “far-reaching change in Egyptian politics,” based on a scripture that indicates Egypt will be allied with the king of the south, or Iran, in the end time. Conditions in Egypt are building toward this change in Egyptian politics. Watch for Egypt to follow its youth—toward radical Islam.

The Man Who Couldn’t Afford to Tithe

The Man Who Couldn’t Afford to Tithe

PT

Are the tithing laws—if in effect at all—only for the converted Christian?

The Great Depression had struck! It was late in 1933, and work was hard to come by.

Herbert W. Armstrong was conducting Sabbath services in a one-room country schoolhouse just west of Eugene, Oregon. Ed Smith, who attended services with his wife, Emma, but made no vocation of Christianity at that point, was finding work hard to come by. Ed was a well-driller by trade, yet due to financial crisis, nobody could afford to drill wells.

Although Ed was not a Church member, at this point he managed to find the time to travel the local countryside participating in biblical discussions with his professing Christian neighbors.

“‘You’ve got to pay tithes and obey God,’ he insisted. ‘The Bible says so. It’s plain!’ One of his neighbors became irritated. ‘Look here, Ed,’ the neighbor exploded, ‘why do you come around here trying to talk me into these things, when you don’t obey the Bible or pay tithes yourself?’ ‘Because,’ came Ed’s quick and ready answer, ‘I don’t profess to be a Christian, and you do. Besides,’ he added, ‘I can’t afford to tithe, anyway’” (Plain Truth, April 1973).

Many today, like Ed Smith, reason in their own minds that they can’t afford to tithe, even though they realize the Bible clearly commands it.

Mr. Armstrong later preached a sermon answering the question of whether the unconverted should obey the Ten Commandments and pay tithes or, as Ed Smith reasoned, that observance was only for the converted Christian. Mr. Armstrong proved that the law of God was set in motion for the good of mankind. Peace, prosperity, happiness and abundant joy in this life emanate from obeying God’s law, as well as eternal life through Jesus Christ for those begotten of God. Mr. Armstrong showed the small Oregon congregation that the law of tithing pays off and is the only real rational path for an abundant, successful life—completely apart from the issue of salvation.

God Prospers Tithe Payers

God promises to prosper tithe payers. Malachi quotes God saying, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Tithing is a definite law that God has set in motion for us to obey for the benefit of humanity—whether those converted or unconverted.

Ed Smith began obeying the Bible. At the very next service, Mrs. Smith smilingly handed Mr. Armstrong a one-dollar bill.

“‘That’s Ed’s first tithe,’ she said triumphantly. ‘We are now down to $10, and Ed decided to start tithing with what we have on hand.’ The very next service she came to me with another happy smile. ‘Here’s a five-dollar bill,’ she said. ‘The very next day after Ed gave God’s work a tenth of all he had, a customer who had owed him $50 for a year came and paid up. So here’s the tithe of that $50. After paying the total of $6 tithe, we now have $54 on hand instead of the $10 we had the other day.’ It was beginning to pay—but only beginning. By the next service, as I remember it, Ed had received his first order in one or two years to drill a new well, for which he received cash payment. Before he finished that job, another one was contracted. Soon he had three or four jobs coming in at once and was forced to begin employing men to work for him. Ed Smith was only one of many I have known who learned by experience that one cannot afford not to pay God the tithe that belongs to Him!” (ibid).

Why Did God Ordain Tithing?

God’s law tells us that we should tithe the “increase” we receive (Deuteronomy 14:22). “Increase” means the gross income that comes to us as a result of our own productive efforts. In other words, it is income that we earn ourselves.

It isn’t that God really needs our first tenth. He could have established a different system of funding His work. To have done so, however, would have robbed us of the blessing that flows back to us if we are faithful in our tithes and offerings.

A tithe payer prospers. That doesn’t mean he will be wealthy. But his needs are always supplied. Those who tithe are not often in want (Psalm 37:25). The greater rewards for submission to the tithing law are eternal! “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Philippians 4:17). God promises that His people will always have something to give to His work (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). It is only when we withhold and misappropriate tithes and offerings that God fails to prosper us. He doesn’t want us to suffer; He wants us to be happy, joyful people, blessed and prosperous (3 John 2).

“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). Financial blessings!

Are you behind financially? In debt? Struggling to make ends meet? Unfaithfulness in your tithing could well be the reason! If you are withholding what is due to God, you are in sin! “[B]ehold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). We cannot run from God’s binding law. In Galatians 6:7, the Apostle Paul reminds us that God is not mocked, and that which we sow we shall surely reap.

Tithing While in Debt

Mr. Armstrong declared, “[S]o many say: ‘I don’t think it would be right for me to tithe while I’m in debt.’ Yes, it is right, and the other way is wrong” (ibid). “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

Concerning our material and financial needs, and even our debts, God admonishes us; “[S]eek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Your tithe is the debt that you owe God. This payment is first in order of bills to pay! We need to be sure we are paying our debt to God, making Him our financial partner, and then we’ll receive the assured blessings of prosperity. Doing so will enable us to pay our debts, secure a job and have our needs met.

We must remember that all we have comes from God. It is His gift to us. “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deuteronomy 10:14). We simply hold the responsibility of custodian, handling that which belongs to someone else—God. How seriously do we take this responsibility? It should be paramount in our lives—a top priority.

The first tenth, in addition to offerings, is His portion. The remainder He gives freely to us. However, if we take to ourselves that which is God’s, we are stealing and robbing God (Malachi 3:8). Ask yourself this question: Would you pay your personal debts with money another man has entrusted to you? If a banker does that, he’s labeled an embezzler! Rebellion in tithing leads to suffering and loss of prosperity.

The only sure way to know you have God as a partner and that He is taking care of your interests is to obey Him in tithing. When God receives His portion of all your income, He becomes your financial partner, sharing the profits. God causes those in financial partnership with Him to prosper. If you are in debt, take God into partnership first and watch as He prospers you, until finally you’re out of debt! Tithing correctly is the solution to ending your financial worries. Remember the debt you owe God comes first. God wants to know how committed you are to Him and His work.

Our Glorious Opportunity

God blesses us in accordance with how we are submitting to Him. We, in our individual lives, must walk in the light of God (John 12:35).

Make God your financial partner. If you are tithing incorrectly, revive proper tithing in your life starting today!

Remember the example of Ed Smith, who learned by personal experience that he couldn’t afford not to pay God the tithe that belongs to Him. Draw near to God by paying Him what is due, and He’ll draw near to you and prosper you, supplying all of your needs.

Israel Turning to Germany for Help

Israel Turning to Germany for Help

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In the face of a multitude of threats and a dearth of allies, Israel is turning to a dangerous friend from the north.

Recent signs indicate that Israel is increasingly looking to Germany as a much-needed ally as threats to the tiny nation continue to mount.

Early last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid a visit to Berlin. He did so in spite of criticism inside Israel’s parliament questioning why he would travel overseas while Palestinian terrorists in Gaza continued to fire rockets into Sderot and other Israeli towns.

While in Berlin, Olmert met with Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the increased rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip as well as the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Merkel indicated Germany would support an Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza in view of the incessant rocket fire, saying that Hamas stopping the rocket attacks was the only solution to the situation in Gaza and that Israel has every right to defend itself.

The hearty support is welcome news for Olmert, who has been trying to rally backing for a wider-scale operation in Gaza to halt the rocket attacks, but has seen Europe back away from supporting its policy in Gaza, thanks to a movement by the Palestinians and some in the United Nations and European Union to paint the situation as a mounting humanitarian crisis.

Germany is Israel’s second-largest supporter in terms of economic and defense ties, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency says. The Associated Press reports: “Germany is one of Israel’s staunchest allies in Europe. Merkel has stressed its commitment to the security of the Jewish state considering Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric.” Merkel plans to visit Israel on March 17 and the German cabinet plans to hold a session in Jerusalem to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary as a state.

However, in light of the fact that Germany is also one of the single largest contributors of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, the question is: Is Germany trying to play it both ways?

As the United States, Israel’s most important ally, continues to waver in its support for the Jews, look for Israel to increasingly reach out to Germany. The Trumpet has continually warned, based on biblical prophecy, that this will result in a cataclysmic double-cross. For more on this subject, read Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany and the February 2008 issue of the Trumpet.

Trusting in Foreigners

Trusting in Foreigners

Artville

Israel considers a desperation move in dealing with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM—How to solve the problem of Hamas in the Gaza Strip? As the Israeli town of Sderot continues to suffer a rain of Kassams, Israel’s leaders may be considering a desperation move.

It’s a move that didn’t work so well for them the first time they tried it—at the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War.

The Second Lebanon War was, in fact, devastating for Israel. As the Winograd Commission’s final report recently confirmed, Israel entered it with uncertain and hence unattainable goals, quickly got stuck, and then fell back on the international community to bail it out.

But it’s that last part that, on Sunday, an Israeli defense official suggested Israeli leaders might be discussing using a second time—this time in Gaza.

“We are talking about the Second Lebanon War model,” the official told the Jerusalem Post. “To go to war and tell the world that if they want a cease-fire and for us to leave then they will need to send a force to replace us.”

This might sound like rhetoric—but there is reason to believe that serious thinking in Israel will increasingly gravitate toward this kind of solution.

First let’s ask: What happened when they tried this strategy in Lebanon?

On July 13, 2006, in response to Hezbollah’s cross-border raid and rocket attacks, Israel launched an air campaign designed to destroy Hezbollah. But weeks went by with no letup in the barrage of rockets. Finally Israeli leaders took a terribly clumsy, two-pronged strategy: they launched a ground campaign, while simultaneously looking to the international community for a political solution. On August 11, Olmert accepted the draft resolution of a United Nations cease-fire. The next day, Israel launched an all-out ground assault—apparently in order to improve the terms of the cease-fire. It was ugly: Hezbollah was deeply entrenched and well armed. Thirty-three soldiers died. Both international condemnation and internal division within the Israeli government and military grew—and Hezbollah stood its ground. Finally, Israel concluded 34 days of operations seeking protection from an international peacekeeping force, hoping the terrorists would oblige the United Nations and stop firing missiles.

Israel accepted a toothless cease-fire that has allowed Hezbollah to come back stronger than before. Hezbollah has re-grouped and re-armed right under UN forces’ noses, and is in fact in better shape than before the Second Lebanon War. While more 9,500 UN soldiers watched, tunnels and trenches were redug; aid and supplies flowed in; telecommunication lines were restored; weapons and missile stocks were replenished. The mandate under which the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (unifil) operates fails to stipulate that UN troops should use force to stop these activities. Just one year after the war, the UN political affairs director at Israel’s foreign ministry, Ron Adam, admitted: “The fact is that the situation is as it was before the war when it comes to the issue of arms and weapons of Hezbollah.” In addition to using villages and civilian houses to stash weaponry, Hezbollah is stashing weapons in 19 or 20 areas from which unifil is restricted, classified as “nature reserves,” Mr. Adam said.

The Lebanon war is not the only example of how ineffective international forces are in securing Israel’s interests. In fact, Israel’s reliance on international intervention has yet to prove effective. International “observers” tend to do just that: observe terrorists re-arming.

Look at the Gaza-Egypt border. When Israel vacated the Gaza Strip in 2005, it was reluctant to relinquish jurisdiction over the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s only crossing with Egypt. Even when Israel controlled it, Rafah had a history of gun-running, arms dealing and terrorist smuggling. So Israel granted control of the Rafah border crossing to the Palestinians under European supervision. During that period of EU monitoring, of course, Hamas managed to smuggle into Gaza massive amounts of weaponry—enough to empower its coup against Fatah in June. In addition, hundreds of terrorists entered Gaza after receiving training in Iran, not to mention cash, which flowed in unrestricted—to the tune of $68 million in 2006.

Oh, and once Hamas took over, the European observers quickly and conveniently disappeared.

Several months later, Hamas blew open the border. Now—quite audaciously—Europe is pushing to resume its monitoring mission not only in Rafah, but also possibly on Gaza’s border with Israel.

The international observers that monitored the Palestinian elections in January 2006, of course, simply watched as Hamas won the votes to take over the government.

Since Hamas took over Gaza, it has launched almost 2,000 rockets and mortar rounds against Israel. The pressure is increasing on the Israeli government to take more forceful action against it. Earlier this month, two young Israeli brothers were seriously wounded in a rocket attack, increasing the pressure for retaliation even more.

Apart from Prime Minister Olmert’s plan to provide bomb shelters for 8,000 Israeli homes near the border, it appears the Israeli government is getting closer to taking stronger measures. On Sunday, Israel conducted a raid in the Gaza Strip to hit terrorist infrastructure.

That’s where the Second Lebanon War model comes into play. “Israel is considering a large-scale incursion into the Gaza Strip during which it would present an ultimatum to the international community for the deployment of a multinational force as the only condition under which it would withdraw,” according to defense officials (Jerusalem Post,February 18).

The Jerusalem Post reports that a major reason the Israel Defense Forces have so far been reluctant to recommend a major operation in Gaza is the lack of a clear exit strategy.

Israel today is more concerned about an exit strategy than a winning strategy.

Is there any reason to believe, though, that a multinational force in Gaza would be any more effective than the international force currently in southern Lebanon? There, more than just allowing rearmament, the multinational force essentially provides a sanctuary for the terrorist group to do so. It ties Israel’s hands from intervening.

Since when have the Jews been able to rely on the international community to protect them? They have been betrayed and persecuted perhaps more than any other people ever.

The Jews once recognized that reality. That is why they built one of the most powerful militaries in the world. That is why Israel obtained a nuclear deterrent. That is why, in the wars Israel has had to fight for its survival, it has gone the extra mile—achieving signature victories that drove home the lesson to enemy aggressors that it is just not worth attacking Israel.

Clearly, today that deterrent effect is gone. After slowly eroding through 13 years since Oslo, it was shattered with the Second Lebanon War.

Now, in Israel’s present weakness, victory isn’t even the goal anymore.

There is a biblical prophecy about the downfall of the Jewish state that strongly suggests it will occur after the Jews invite foreign peacekeepers to contain an out-of-control melee in the Holy Land. It speaks of a time shortly ahead of us when Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies—not Arab armies, but European armies, most likely there at the behest of Israeli leaders (this sequence of events is thoroughly explained in our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy).

This event is one of the principal signs Jesus Christ gave to His disciples that His return was imminent (Luke 21:20, 31). Christ’s prophecy is absolutely certain to occur, and likely quite soon.

When one hears Israeli leaders talking about building their policies for containing enemies around leaning on the help of international peacekeeping forces, it conjures to mind that chilling prophetic scene.

Housing Woes Hit Hollywood

Housing Woes Hit Hollywood

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Losses are mounting even for the rich.

Just because you are rich and famous doesn’t mean that the housing bust isn’t taking a toll on your fat pocketbook. Hollywood’s elite are hemorrhaging millions on recent home sales in a housing market that is clearly deteriorating rapidly.

In Los Angeles, home sales plummeted a shocking 48 percent in December from a year earlier. And prices fell 11 percent to an average $470,000.

Not just the low-end homes are sitting on the market; the stars too are slashing prices to unload property. According to Sotheby’s International Realty, owners of homes in the $3 million to $6 million range are having the most trouble. At the higher end of the market, a Mulholland Drive estate just dropped from $25 million to $20 million after an offer fell through.

If you don’t feel too sorry for multi-millionaires losing a few hundred thousand—or a couple million—on property, you are probably not alone. However, much of America is sitting in the same leaky property boat.

The number of people unable to sell their homes at a profit or keep up with their mortgage payments is soaring. Across the United States, the number of houses entering some stage of foreclosure was up a whopping 79 percent in 2007 over the previous year.

Over 1 percent of all U.S. households were in some phase of foreclosure last year, up from about half a percent in 2006. And more than 1.8 million additional adjustable-rate mortgages are scheduled to reset to higher interest rates during 2008 and 2009. California is one of the hardest hit regions, with 1.9 percent of households receiving foreclosure filings last year.

Agence France Presse reports that for many people, the “American Dream” has become “a nightmare.” The way the economy is going, the supply of foreclosed homes hitting the market will continue to increase. And, though California is hardest hit, the problem is of national proportions.

One quirky aspect of this is that foreclosed homes are proving a boon for the homeless as former owners flee their debt-ridden properties. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the number of homeless people sleeping outside in downtown Cleveland has more than halved as street people take over vacant homes as squats. This is but an early indicator of how the subprime mortgage problem could easily escalate into presenting significant challenges to city authorities, converting former middle-class suburbs into city slums almost overnight.