The Weekend Web
Charles Krauthammer’s column on Friday commemorates the “miracle” of Israel’s establishment as a nation. Unlike every other article we have read about the same subject, Krauthammer correctly identifies the two tribes of Israel that returned to establish the state of Israel 60 years ago—Judah and Benjamin.
To introduce his piece, Krauthammer writes about a meeting between Meriwether Lewis and Dr. Benjamin Rush that took place shortly before Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis off on his famous expedition out west. Rush wanted Lewis to observe the religious practices of the Indians to see if there were any similarities with the Jewish religion. “Jefferson and Lewis,” Krauthammer wrote, “like many of their day and ours, were fascinated by the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and thought they might be out there on the Great Plains.”
He’s right. A quick search through the New York Times archives reveals how much speculation there was during the 1800s about where the lost tribes migrated after their Assyrian captivity in the 8th century b.c. One headline from 1885 reads: “Afghans and Their Home—Are They Descendents of Israel’s Lost Tribes?” The Times wrote, “A very ingenious attempt to connect the Afghans with the 10 lost tribes of Israel was made by Sir G.H. Rose, in a pamphlet issued 30 odd years ago. The Old Testament was abundantly drawn upon to show that the tribes disappeared toward the east …” (April 19, 1885).
During the same time period, when several articles were written about the whereabouts of the lost 10 tribes, the New York Times also printed numerous articles in favor of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Clearly, more people back then understood that the lost 10 tribes were not Jewish.
Today, most people carelessly assume that all Israelites are Jews. So kudos to Charles Krauthammer for pointing out that the people identified as Jews today come from only two of the original 12 tribes. The only problem with his interpretation of Israel’s history is his explanation of where the lost 10 tribes went. He wrote, “Their disappearance into the mists of history since their exile from Israel in 722 b.c. is no mystery. It is the norm, the rule for every ancient people defeated, destroyed, scattered and exiled.”
Seven hundred and fifty years after their “disappearance,” however, Jesus sent His 12 apostles on a mission with this clear set of instructions: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel“ (Matthew 10:5-6). Israel had been lost, Jesus acknowledged, but only from world view—they did not disappear.
Jesus Christ told His original apostles to go beyond the Gentile or Samaritan cities—territories the Apostle Paul was placed in charge of—to the lost sheep of Israel. This is why, after Acts 11, we read mostly about the Apostle Paul’s ministry to the Gentile peoples on the eastern and northern shores of the Mediterranean. The original 12 apostles went far beyond these territories, as Jesus commanded them to, delivering the gospel message to Israelites who had settled, after their captivity in Assyria, into Northwestern Europe.
Krauthammer is right when he says that many, even to this day, are still fascinated with the subject of ancient Israel’s modern identity. What he didn’t say is that most of this fascination can be attributed to a book written by Herbert W. Armstrong—The United States and Britain in Prophecy—requested by more than 6 million people during the 20th century!
We offer this book, free of charge, to all who request it.
Wanted: A Better Government
The catastrophic cyclone that hit Myanmar on May 2 turned out to be the second-worst disaster that nation has faced this month. The worst has been the handling of the crisis by the military-led government.
The jaw-dropping number of those killed by the initial wall of water—perhaps dozens of thousands—has been dwarfed by the 2 million suffering from disease and hunger left in its wake. But international aid efforts have hit an obstacle even more difficult than the tough-to-reach terrain of the Burmese delta: the ruling regime’s refusal of outside help. Though these leaders did relent somewhat this past week, their stubbornness is still preventing a vast majority of the afflicted people from receiving aid. Time reports,
Thousands of children in Burma will starve to death in two to three weeks unless food is rushed to them, an aid agency warned Sunday as an increasingly angry international community pleaded for approval to mount an all-out effort to help cyclone survivors.
The United Nations said Burma’s isolationist ruling generals were even forbidding the import of communications equipment, hampering already difficult contact among relief agencies.
The Economist’s discussion of the blockages obstructing the international community’s aid efforts is truly exasperating:
So what can be done? Legally, probably nothing. China and Russia would veto any resolution in the Security Council. Politically, too, any action that defied the generals would be controversial. Myanmar’s neighbours are too morally insensible even to rebuke it in the councils of the Association of South-East Asian Nations. So the main task would probably fall to America, France and Britain, the only powers with ships nearby and able to act quickly in defiance of the generals.
As for the practicality of any action, that too is fraught. Unless, heaven forfend, an attempt were made to take over the administration of Myanmar, which would involve an armed invasion, the action would be confined to air drops. One difficulty is that the aircraft doing the dropping might be fired on unless they had military escorts, and that might lead to more fighting than anyone should want to see in a disaster zone. Another difficulty is that the effort to get food and medicines to people without the generals’ consent might provoke them to halt even the pathetic flow of aid they are letting in.
How bitterly ironic that nations wanting to help dying Burmese may be forced to defy international law and even evade enemy fire to do so. This mad situation vividly illustrates the fact that the human heart is the greatest natural disaster of all.
As Jesus Christ once said, “Thy kingdom come.”
For Sale: An Icon of American Manufacturing
“Is it the end of an era? Or is the era already over?” the Wall Street Journal asked on Friday.
General Electric confirmed this past week that it is leaving the appliance business. The company’s century-old appliances unit is an American icon—and this announcement aptly symbolizes the state of U.S. manufacturing.
For 107 years, through all the ups and downs of the U.S. economy, GE was there. It survived the Great Depression, the inflationary 1970s, Black Monday, and all the other economic slowdowns in between. “There is no other brand name that has been out there as long as GE. GE is the only company that has maintained their own corporate structure throughout decades of appliance manufacturing,” said John Jowers, an expert on both antique and the modern appliance business. “GE today as far as I am concerned has one highest brand recognitions in the appliance industry.”
However, globalization is hitting American industry hard these days. GE’s appliance business has been in turmoil for decades as low-cost foreign brands have been cutting into profitability. GE says the appliance unit relied too heavily on the U.S. market, and consequently, the company has been slowly atrophying. Its appliance headquarters in Louisville, Ky., used to employ 23,000 people all by itself. Today, GE’s worldwide appliance workforce employs only 13,000.
Now, with the U.S. headed for recession, the company is looking to take what profits it can and get out while the getting is good. And guess who the likeliest buyers are. Surprise, surprise: all foreign companies. With the dollar falling, the U.S.-based company will be easy pickings for companies based in countries with a rising currency. MarketWatch lists the possible buyers as including Korea-based LG Electronics, China’s Haier Electronics, and Germany’s Bosch Corp.
But the signs of GE’s disintegration have been apparent for some time. The company has been shedding employees for decades. Last year, it sold its underperforming U.S.-based plastics business to a Saudi Arabian company for $11.6 billion.
GE appliances is just the latest in a string of shutdowns and foreign divestitures that have seen American manufacturing shipped offshore to other countries. The era of U.S. manufacturing dominance was already over—the greater surprise is that GE held on for so long.
“Saudis Rebuff Bush’s Request for More Oil Production”
This May 16 International Herald Tribune article may take the cake for misleading titles. Here is what the first paragraph says (emphasis mine):
With the price of oil hitting record highs, President George W. Bush used a private visit to King Abdullah’s ranch here Friday to make a second attempt to persuade the Saudi government to increase oil production. And while Saudis initially appeared to rebuff the request, the Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, announced later that the kingdom had increased output by 300,000 barrels a day, starting May 10.
Perhaps a better title would have been: “Saudis Began Increasing Oil Production Last Week.” Maybe the president wasn’t such a failure in making this request after all.
That’s not to say, however, that the apparent Saudi concession didn’t come with a price. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
The Administration is … proposing to help the Saudis develop civilian nuclear reactors to provide for their energy needs. That may help the Kingdom export more oil by easing its domestic requirements. But we await the explanation for why the world needs another politically unstable Islamic theocracy in possession of radioactive fuel rods.
President Rejects “Negotiation With Killers” … Right?
In his speech to Israel’s Knesset last Thursday, President Bush harshly criticized the policy of appeasing our enemies:
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
But this declaration calls into question the president’s own policy in Arab-Jew conflict. In an article today, IsraelNationalNews.com spells out the abundant evidence that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which Washington considers partners in the peace process, are themselves terrorist organizations. It includes this quote from Fatah’s website:
A legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel, the outpost of the imperialist powers. Fateh believes that the Zionist movement constitutes the biggest threat against not only the Palestinian national security but also against the security of the Arab world.
The Israel National News article says:
Fatah recommends eliminating the threat through a combination of “the popular armed revolution” and other forms of the “revolution” at the “organizational, military, political, and diplomatic levels. The complementary nature of the different forms of revolution guarantees the continuity of the struggle until victory is achieved.”
It seems fair to say that we have an obligation to call Fatah what it is.
Talks of Bartering Over Jerusalem
Of course, the U.S. president isn’t alone in his willingness to negotiate with Fatah and the PA. Israel is right there with him. And, at least according to Abu Ala, head of the PA’s negotiating team with Israel, it may be prepared to make some shocking concessions. Israel National News wrote:
Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala, told the Al-Quds newspaper in eastern Jerusalem over the weekend that the talks are “difficult,” and include all the issues in dispute. These include: Jerusalem; the future of the “refugees”- those Arabs who left Israel in 1948 and 1967, as well as their millions of descendants; borders; Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria; and security. …
Abu Ala’s revelation is not the first one of its sort. Even Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has admitted that Jerusalem was being discussed. Speaking with foreign diplomats in early February, Livni said that all the core issues, including Jerusalem, were being discussed with the PA ….
Though small bits of Jerusalem could be lost in negotiation, the resistance among Israel’s Jewish population is too great for such moves to proceed without massive resistance. We would expect the present government to fall before any major concessions over Jerusalem could be finalized. Nevertheless, any such talk only emboldens the Arabs—and their Persian benefactors—in their pursuit of this prized real estate. Read “Jerusalem Is About to Be Cut in Half” to see how this explosive issue will be resolved.
Yet Another Olmert Scandal?
At any rate, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may not be around long enough to complete the negotiations. Already he is the subject of one police investigation over suspicions of accepting bribes from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky. Now a journalist has unleashed another claim that Mr. Olmert received an unauthorized $300,000 when he was trade minister.
Elsewhere on the Web
Victor Davis Hanson’s great piece from Friday called “Obama Rules” is worth reading. It points out the risible double standard the media and political pundits are applying to favor this particular presidential candidate.
Today is Herzl Day, the 148th birthday of Theodore Herzl, the visionary of the modern Jewish state. Yet a survey of 500 university students in Israel shows that fully 73 percent of them don’t know what the man stood for. This would be like three in four U.S. students not knowing about Lincoln or Washington.
An interesting article in today’s Sunday Times points to a demographic problem hitting the world. Emblematic is a study in 2003 comparing the population of the Muslim nation of Yemen with that of Russia: 58 years ago, there were 24 Russians for every Yemeni; conservative figures project that within 40 years, Yemen’s population would equal Russia’s. Western nations have declining birthrates, while people in the Middle East, northern Africa and western Asia continue to multiply rapidly. The trend has enormous geopolitical implications.
And Finally …
A Vatican scientist believes there might be devout aliens out there.
The Vatican’s chief astronomer, Jesuit priest Jose Gabriel Funes, announced that nothing in the Bible excludes the “possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe” in an interview titled “The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother.”
More strikingly, he added: “Why can’t we speak of a ‘brother extraterrestrial’? It would still be part of creation.” He even postulated that humans might be the “lost sheep” of the universe while some aliens could be “in full friendship with their creator.”
It has always been a sticking point for evolution-promoting scientists that there is not one molecule of evidence suggesting alien life—intelligent or otherwise. The Vatican’s claims face an even stronger problem: God’s Word.
Contrary to the Jesuit priest’s claim, there are scriptures countering his idea of aliens being in “full friendship” with God. Hebrews 2:8, for example, reads, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet. For in that he [God] put all in subjection under him [man], he [God] left nothing that is not put under him.” The Moffatt translation renders “all things” as “the universe.” In The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert Armstrong explains that, if we are willing to believe God, He “has decreed the entire universe—with all its galaxies, its countless suns and planets—everything—will be put under man’s subjection.” Not under the feet of animals or even angels—and certainly not under the appendages of mythical aliens in full friendship with God.
So why would God create an entire universe filled with stars, planets, black holes, comets and nebulae—and then leave it vacant except for a single planet in the Milky Way? There is a definitive answer. Read editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s February 2004 article “Mars Reveals Your Universe Potential!” to better understand this fundamental question—and how it links to your incredible human potential.