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BREAKING: Trump to unveil peace plan next week. Invites Netanyahu, Gantz to White House. Pence issues invitation while in Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders livid. High risk strategy. Here’s what we know so far.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Stunning most Mideast analysts and pundits, President Trump says he will unveil his “Deal of the Century” peace plan next week. And he will also host a high profile, high stakes meeting with two senior Israeli leaders at the White House on Tuesday.

“It’s a great plan,” the President said aboard Air Force One, heading to Florida. “It’s a plan that really would work.”

Here’s what we know at this hour:

  • Pence issued invitations to Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz while he was in Jerusalem on Thursday. (note: more details in the Pence visit tomorrow.)
  • Pence said Gantz was invited at the recommendation of Netanyahu.
  • Pence made the announcement while on his first visit to the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.
  • Pence is now the highest ranking American official to visit the new Embassy.
  • White House goal by including Gantz: to create the widest possible acceptance of the plan from across the Israeli political spectrum.
  • Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz — two of the architects of the plan — were supposed to be in Israel this week for the World Holocaust Forum that drew top leaders from 50 countries.
  • Both canceled their trip at the last moment. Media speculation suggested the cancellation meant the plan’s release wasn’t imminent. But just the opposite was true.
  • Leaks throughout the Israeli media purport to have bombshell details contained in the plan — but for the moment it’s all speculation and rumor.
  • Palestinian leaders are seething — one said, “No Palestinian can accept this dangerous conspiracy.”
  • A livid Mahmoud Abbas said: “We warn Israel and the U.S. administration not to cross any red lines.”
  • Very few of the 50 world leaders who came to Israel this week visited Abbas.
  • In a sad and likely self-defeating move they may come to regret, Palestinian leaders have for more than a year shut down all contact with the White House and have done nothing to negotiate with the Trump administration and try to improve how the deal may affect them.
  • Nevertheless, Trump says of his deal, “it’s actually very positive for them (the Palestinian people).

Three big questions emerging:

  • First, will the vast majority of the Israeli people embrace the plan, or will it create new social and political divisions?
  • Second, even though Abbas and his advisors will reject and denounce the plan, will any segment of the Palestinian people embrace it, or at least say that it is a reasonable starting point to begin negotiations?
  • Third, how will the Gulf Arab states react? Egypt? Jordan? I’m watching these matters most closely of all.

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“Some supporters of the U.S. administration’s broader Middle East policy are hesitant regarding the option of publishing it before the election,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Wednesday, before this news broke late Thursday night.

“Joel Rosenberg, a Jerusalem-based author and analyst who has made headlines in recent years for organizing high-profile meetings between U.S. evangelical leaders and Arab heads of state, tells Haaretz he thinks it would be wiser to publish the plan after the election.”

“Is there an upside to releasing the peace plan before the Israeli election in March? Perhaps, but I don’t see it,” Rosenberg says. He adds that, in his opinion, it would be better “to put the plan out immediately after the March 2 vote, but before anyone puts together a coalition. That way, the White House can’t be accused of interfering in the election, but it can still lay on the table core principles and key proposals that a new Israeli prime minister will absolutely need to take into account.”

That said, having decided to plow ahead and release the plan now, I will say it was a shrewd move by Trump and Pence to invite Gantz to the White House for the rollout. That will help blunt (though by no means eliminate) accusations that the White House is trying to boost Bibi’s re-election efforts.

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Next week promises to be fascinating, controversial and historic. I’ll provide updates and analysis from here in Jerusalem on this blog. For up-to-minute-updates, please follow me on Twitter.

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BREAKING: Senior Saudi Muslim leader set for “groundbreaking” visit to Auschwitz Thursday. Historic moment in faith diplomacy. (Honored to be quoted in a must-read Times of Israel article.)

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — In an historic moment in what I call “faith diplomacy,” the top Muslim religious leader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland for the first time on Thursday.

He will also participate a delegation of Muslim and Jewish leaders commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago this week.

The cleric’s name is Sheikh Mohammad Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League in Riyadh.

I have met the Sheikh several times during my past two visits to the Kingdom and have spent many hours in dialogue with him. My Evangelical Delegation colleagues and I consider him a true friend who is genuinely interested in respectful inter-faith relations and advancing moderate Islam.

The Times of Israel has just published an excellent article previewing the Sheikh’s visit and quoting several experts on why it is significant.

“Joel Rosenberg, an Evangelical Christian and an American-Israeli author who has met with Issa twice in Saudi Arabia, said that he believed the Saudi religious leader has the backing of the Riyadh’s leadership to make the trip to Auschwitz,” the Times reported.

“He definitely would not be making this visit if the crown prince did not want him to do so,” Rosenberg said in a phone call, referring to Issa as in the “close orbit” of Prince Mohammed.

I commend the full story to your attention.

Let’s pray this trip helps 1.6 billion Muslims around the world learn more about the Holocaust, Jewish history and the importance of a sovereign and strong State of Israel. Let’s pray, too, that the Sheikh and his colleagues will one day be able to accept my invitation to come visit the Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy places here in Jerusalem and throughout the Land of Israel.

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In 1944, the greatest escape in history took place — from Auschwitz. Four heroes need to be remembered. How about a major motion picture to tell the story?

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — As leaders from 46 countries arrive here to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Jerusalem Post published a new column of mine on four of the most important — yet all-but-forgotten — heroes of the Holocaust.

Their stories urgently need to be told. Their names must be remembered. I say it’s high time to make a major motion picture or television series about such extraordinary heroism in the face of such barbaric evil.

To read the full column, please click here. For now, allow me to share a few key excerpts:

  • “[On] April 7, 1944, the greatest escape in human history took place. That was the day that two Slovak Jews – Rudolf Vrba, only 19 at the time, and Fred Wetzler, barely 25 – managed to break free from the worst of the Nazi death camps….
  • “The following month – on May 27, 1944 – two more Jewish men were miraculously able to slip out of Auschwitz in the dead of night. Arnost Rosin, then 30 years old, was also from Slovakia. Czeslaw Mordowicz, 23, was from Poland.
  • “The four not only planned their escapes together, they eventually linked up in Czechoslovakia. There they wrote a first-hand, detailed, eyewitness report of the mass murder underway inside the death camp.
  • “The report, known as ‘The Auschwitz Protocol,’ was translated into numerous languages and smuggled throughout Europe. Copies were sent to Hungary to warn the Jewish community of what the Nazis were really up to. Copies were also sent to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Washington and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in London, urging both men to take decisive action to liberate Auschwitz or at least bomb it out of existence….”
  • “Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian, has noted that their ‘Auschwitz Protocol’ was responsible for ‘the largest single greatest rescue of Jews in the Second World War.’ True, some Hungarian 300,000 had already been gassed by the time the report came to light. Still, the four men are credited with ultimately helping save 120,000 Jews in Hungary….”

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In 2014, with the critical and wonderful assistance of the foremost Holocaust scholars at Yad Vashem, I wrote The Auschwitz Escape, a novel inspired by these remarkable men, hoping to draw more attention to them.

Yet, as I note in the Post, “more books and articles and essays need to be written about them. Conferences need to be held about them. Better yet, documentary films and dramatic, narrative TV programs and movies need to bring their story to the world.”

Note: What follows are the covers of the memoirs written by Vrba and Wetzler. Also pictured are some of my meetings with scholars at Yad Vashem — including with Dr. Yehuda Bauer, Dr. Robert Rozett and Dr. Susanna Kokkonen — back in 2013 and 2014, including viewing an actual copy of The Auschwitz Protocol preserved in the research vaults under Yad Vashem.

I Escaped From Auschwitz by Rudolf Vrba

Escape From Hell: The True Story of the Auschwitz Protocol by Alfred Wetzler 

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BREAKING: Palestinian columnist calls for assassination as 46 world leaders arrive in Israel. Eerily evocative of plot of my forthcoming novel, “The Jerusalem Assassin.” Here’s the latest as thousands of Israeli police and soldiers deploy.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — God forbid that life should imitate art.

“As over 40 world leaders gather in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the event Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism, the Palestinian Authority wants to disrupt the ceremony,” reports the Palestinian Media Watch. “The official P.A. daily published an op-ed yesterday literally calling for murder in order to ruin the ceremony.”

“One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one dead body will cancel the ceremony,” argued Palestinian columnist Yahya Rabah. To read the full quote, please click here

Such a threat — especially one published in an official daily paper — is unconscionable. It should be widely and firmly denounced by the Palestinian leadership and all who seek peace. Yet it underscores the urgency of getting Palestinians and Israelis back into direct peace talks, something the White House insists it is determined to do.

In the meantime, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz says the 5th Annual World Holocaust Forum will be  “the biggest event since the establishment of the state.” With it comes the biggest security and logistical operation here since 1948.

With Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Crown Prince Charles and 43 other world leaders arriving in the next 48 hours, thousands of Israeli police officers, border guards, soldiers, intelligence officers and counter-terrorism commandos will be deployed this week. Their mission: to secure Ben Gurion International Airport, all roads into Jerusalem, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial site where the main events will be held, all the hotels where the delegations will be staying and all the venues that will host side events and prevent any possible terror plots. 

Most Israelis are thrilled to see our capital the epicenter of global attention this week. Some, however, are chafing at all the road blocks, road closures and security checkpoints that will disrupt daily life for hundreds of thousands of people. But it’s all necessary. The last thing Israel can afford is a security breach at a moment like this.

That said, the newly published threat is eerily evocative of my forthcoming political thriller, The Jerusalem Assassin. In it, the American President calls for a peace summit in Jerusalem. Leaders converge on the Holy City. Israeli forces are deployed to protect them. A shadowy and previously unknown terror group is planning for the unthinkable. And Special Agent Marcus Ryker and his team have just 48 hours to hunt down and stop the terrorists before events spin out of control. The novel releases on March 17th. More details as we get closer.  

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In the meantime, please join me in praying for the “peace of Jerusalem” — let’s especially pray that this week will be quiet and everyone who comes and goes will be safe. Thanks.

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From Pence to Putin, 40-plus leaders to arrive in Jerusalem this week to mark 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. How will you and your family remember the Holocaust this week? Here are a few suggested resources. #NeverForget #NeverAgain

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Evil, unchecked, is a prelude to genocide.

With attacks against Jewish people spiking in the U.S., Europe and around the world, more than 40 presidents, prime ministers and other global leaders are coming to Israel this week to take a stand against anti-Semitism and to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

May I encourage you to take time this week to remember and discuss the horrors of the Holocaust with your children and grandchildren, neighbors and co-workers?

As a new decade begins, let this be a time to reflect on the horrific history of Nazi Germany and to discuss the importance of taking a stand against Jew-hatred — and all hatred — in our world.

If you need some resources, here are several that I’ve developed over the years:

  • Watch this brief video report I made when I had the honor of visiting Auschwitz with several Evangelical pastors and their wives. 
  • Read The Auschwitz Escape, or listen to the audio book. “As the Nazi war machine rolls across Europe, young Jacob Weisz is forced to flee his beloved Germany and join an underground resistance group in Belgium. But when a rescue operation goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself trapped in a crowded cattle car headed to southern Poland. Sentenced to hard labor in the Auschwitz labor camp, Jacob forms an unlikely alliance with Jean-Luc Leclerc, a former assistant pastor who was imprisoned for helping Jews. They’ve been chosen for one of the most daring and dangerous feats imaginable―escape from Auschwitz. With no regard for their own safety, they must make it to the West and alert the Allies to the awful truth of what is happening in Poland before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.”
  • Read a column I wrote — “Remembering Four Heroes of the Holocaust” — that shares some of the true stories that inspired my novel, The Auschwitz Escape.  
  • Watch this speech I gave to 10,000 Christian students at Liberty University — “Author Joel Rosenberg warns students to sharpen faith to fight evil.” 

Hope those are helpful. Now, here’s more on this week’s events here in Israel.

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“At the invitation of the President of the State of Israel, over forty royals, presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary leaders from Europe, North America and Australia, will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, entitled Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” notes a press release from Yad Vashem. 

“The World Holocaust Forum organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation in cooperation with Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will take place on 23 January 2020 at the Warsaw Ghetto Square in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem,” the released stated. “The World Holocaust Forum will be broadcast live via satellite feed worldwide and via Yad Vashem’s website and Facebook page.

Confirmed Leaders of Nations and Heads of Delegations

(As of 16 January 2020)

  1. President of Albania H.E. Mr. Ilir Meta
  2. President of Armenia H.E. Mr. Armen Sarkissian
  3. Governor-General of Australia The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd)
  4. Federal President of Austria H.E. Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen
  5. Chairman of the House of Representatives of Belarus H.E. Mr. Vladimir Andreichenko
  6. King of Belgium His Majesty King Phillipe
  7. Chairman of Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Mr. Željko Komšić
  8. President of Bulgaria H.E. Mr. Rumen Radev
  9. Governor-General of Canada the Right Honourable Ms. Julie Payette
  10. President of Croatia H.E. Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
  11. President of Cyprus H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades
  12. Prime Minister of the Czech Republic H.E. Mr. Andrej Babiš
  13. Prime Minister of Denmark H.E. Ms. Mette Frederiksen
  14. President of European Council H.E. Mr. Charles Michel
  15. President of the European Commission H.E. Ms. Ursula von der Leyen
  16. President of the European Parliament H.E. Mr. David Sassoli
  17. President of Finland H.E. Mr. Sauli Niinistö
  18. President of France H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron
  19. President of Georgia H.E. Ms. Salome Zourabichvili
  20. President of Germany H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier
  21. President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos
  22. Representative of the Holy See His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch
  23. President of Hungary H.E. Mr. János Áder
  24. President of Iceland H.E. Mr. Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson
  25. President of Italy H.E. Mr. Sergio Mattarella
  26. Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia H.E. Ms. Ināra Mūrniece
  27. President of Lithuania H.E. Mr. Gitanas Nauseda
  28. Grand Duke of Luxembourg HRH Henri
  29. President of Moldova H.E. Mr. Igor Dodon
  30. Minister of State of Monaco H.E. Mr. Serge Telle
  31. President of Montenegro H.E. Mr. Milo Đjukanović
  32. King of the Netherlands His Royal Majesty Willem-Alexander
  33. President of North Macedonia H.E. Prof. Dr. Stevo Pendarovski
  34. Crown Prince of Norway HRH Crown Prince Haakon
  35. President of Portugal H.E. Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
  36. President of Romania H.E. Mr. Klaus Iohannis
  37. President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin
  38. President of Serbia H.E. Mr. Aleksandar Vučić
  39. President of Slovakia H.E. Ms. Zuzana Čaputová
  40. President of Slovenia H.E. Mr. Borut Pahor
  41. King of Spain His Majesty King Felipe VI
  42. Prime Minister of Sweden H.E. Mr. Stefan Löfven
  43. President of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy
  44. The Prince of Wales HRH Prince Charles, United Kingdom
  45. Vice President of the United States of America H.E. Mr. Michael R. Pence*
  46. Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi*

*Awaiting official confirmation

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Is Trump about to roll out Mideast peace plan? Rumor mill among Israeli officials & reporters is on overdrive. They believe release is imminent. Plus, VP Pence is coming to Jerusalem next week. The stakes are high. Here’s what we know.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — The rumor mill is on overdrive.

In the last 72 hours, I’ve seen a surge in speculation here in the Israeli capital that the White House will soon roll out its long-awaited, much anticipated, highly controversial Mideast peace plan.

Elected Israeli officials and their aides, reporters, and other diplomatic and security officials I’ve spoken with just since Saturday are suddenly all but convinced that President Trump will unveil the plan imminently — before Israel’s March 2nd elections.

  • Last week, Avi Berkowitz, the President’s new 31-year old point-man for the peace process (he replaced Jason Greenblatt who retired from the administration last Fall) was in Israel. Berkowitz met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz. 
  • Next week, Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Israel — news of the visit hasn’t been officially announced yet, but preparations for his arrival are underway.
  • Officially, the reason Pence is coming is to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp — the VP will attend ceremonies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, along with leaders from 30 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
  • Unofficially, the VP’s trip could give the administration the opportunity to further lay the groundwork for an announcement by the President soon thereafter.
  • Pence was last here exactly two years ago — just a month after Trump announced he was moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the VP addressed the Knesset in a high-profile and very positive visit.
  • Unknown so far is whether the VP will visit other countries in the region, though that is likely — last time, Pence visited leaders in Egypt and Jordan in addition to his time in Israel.

The Big Question: Given that the Palestinian leadership has already rejected the plan (though they have not seen the details), and given that the third Israeli national election in one year is fully underway, why would the White House want to release the plan now?

The risks are enormous.

  • If Israelis hate the plan, the Democratic presidential contenders will surely use that against Trump.
  • If Israelis hate the plan, then millions of Evangelicals who love Israel will likely hate it, too — this could potentially dampen enthusiasm for Trump’s reelection efforts.
  • However, if Israelis and Evangelicals like the plan, Arab leaders throughout the region may hate the plan — if they say so publicly, Democrats will try to use this against Trump, as well.

The stakes may be highest for Jordan’s King Abdullah II. He’s a good man — a man of peace — and he’s worked hard over his two decades in power to maintain calm, civil relations with Israel, with which the Kingdom has a formal peace treaty.

Yet some 70% of Jordanians are Palestinian. Public opinion inside Jordan is increasingly hostile towards Israel and towards the Trump administration. The King walks a fine line between showing true sympathy and support to his own people and towards the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, and keeping good relations with Washington, from whom he receives billions of dollars in much needed military and economic aid. What will the King do if his people are enraged by the Trump plan?

That said, it is by no means certain that Gulf Arab leaders will, in fact, hate the Trump plan. Indeed, while they may not love all the details, depending on the fine print contained in the draft they may be able to say, “We have some concerns, some reservations, with some of the details, but we do think it’s a credible plan and it can certainly serve as the basis for immediate negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.” That would be a big win for Trump and his team. 

As all this is going on, I’m writing a new Middle East political thriller.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing to release THE JERUSALEM ASSASSIN on March 17th. What’s it about? An American President preparing to release his Middle East peace plan when suddenly things in the region go….boom

More on that soon.

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“Iran tensions could fulfill prophecies about the end of the world,” reports the Washington Post. Is that true? Does the Bible even speak of the future of Iran? Here’s what I told the Post.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — A Washington Post reporter called me last week and asked if I thought the current tensions with Iran suggested Biblical “end times” prophecies were coming to pass. I confess, it’s not every day I get a call like that.

Here’s the short version of what I told her:

  • no, as fascinating and dramatic as they have been, it’s unlikely that the events last few weeks in and around Iran have immediate prophetic significance.
  • sadly, far too many so-called “prophecy experts” leap at chance to sensationalize every headline and shoe-horn events into their view of the “last days.”
  • that said, yes, there are actually two important biblical prophecies about the future judgment of Iran. One is found in Jeremiah chapter 49. The other is found in Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39 (a prophecy known as the War of Gog & Magog”).
  • and yes, when even the Washington Post starts asking, it’s certainly worth making the people aware of those passages of Scripture and helping both believers and unbelievers understand what these passages say and what they mean.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of prophecy nuts,” I told the Post. “These are people who have websites [where every sentence is] in capital letters, [followed by] 90 exclamation marks, and it’s like: ‘Have some decaf, it’s going to be okay.’”

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While I very much hope you’ll avoid the teaching of the nuts, I do hope you’ll take some time to study these two critical Bible passages.

I also hope you’ll join me in praying daily for the enslaved people of Iran to be set free once and for all, and for the Church in Iran to grow bolder and stronger every day. 

[In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the full Washington Post article.]

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Did Iran just call for the assassination of President Trump, amidst rumors the White House peace plan will soon be released? This week’s headlines seem ripped from my forthcoming thriller, #TheJerusalemAssassin. Here’s the latest.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — As tensions with Iran spike, and the White House prepares to roll out its long-awaited Middle East peace plan, the Secret Service is forced to deal with growing concerns that radical jihadists are plotting to assassinate the American President.

Such is the premise of my forthcoming political thriller, The Jerusalem Assassin, which releases on March 17th. Yet oddly it also seems to be the stuff of this week’s headlines.

Here’s the latest….

SPIKING TENSIONS

WHITE HOUSE PEACE PLAN

ASSASSINATION THREAT?

The Jerusalem Assassin follows former U.S. Secret Service agent Marcus Ryker as he and his team are deployed to the Middle East to hunt down and neutralize those threatening to kill the President and sink the White House peace plan.

It’s the third, so far, in a series of novels that began with The Kremlin Conspiracy and The Persian Gamble.

It’s pure fiction, recent headlines notwithstanding. Let’s just pray none of it comes true.

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BREAKING: President Trump just addressed the nation on Iran. Here’s the 7 most important things he said.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — At 11:20am eastern time on Wednesday, President Trump addressed the nation on the latest crisis with Iran.

Here are 7 key takeaways:

  1. The President said that“no American or Iraqi lives were lost.”
  2. Iraq fired 15 missiles (not 22, as originally reported) at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces — 4 of the missiles (nearly 1/3) failed to detonate.
  3. After this lame counter-attack, Iran “appears to be standing down,” said the President — Tehran does not appear (as of yet) to be trying to escalate.
  4. The U.S. will now impose even more economic sanctions on Iran. “These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior. In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia and shot down two American drones.”
  5. The President did not signal that the U.S. would launch an immediate military retaliation — however, he did say that all “options” are available to him, thus clearly reserving the right to use force if additional events warrant. My sense is that he wants to de-escalate after sending Tehran a powerful signal of American resolve.
  6. The President said the Iranian missiles were built with the billions the Obama administration gave Tehran.
  7. The President criticized past American administrations and other world powers — notably Europe — for not being tough enough against Iranian aggression and made clear that it’s time for a change. “For far too long, all the way back to 1979 to be exact, nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over.”

So far, the President and his national security team have handled this crisis rather well.

  • Let’s continue praying for the Lord to grant them — and our allies — the wisdom they need to both contain and counter the Iranian threat.
  • Let’s pray for the protection of American and allied civilians and military forces in the region.
  • Let’s pray that the suffering people of Iran will soon be liberated from the ayatollahs reign of terror.
  • And let’s pray for the Church in the region to be strong and bold as witnessess of the Prince of Peace.

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BREAKING: Iran launches missile barrage at US forces. Ayatollah says it’s just the beginning. Is all-out war really coming, or is Tehran all talk? Here’s the latest.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Iranian regime fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed.

The attacks were in direct response to the killing of Qassem Soleimani — the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the most dangerous terrorist in the world — by a U.S. drone strike on January 3.

Fortunately, there were no American casualties in the strikes. But tensions are spiking and big questions remain.

  1. Are the U.S. and Iran heading for all-out war?
  2. Will President Trump order retaliation in response to the missile strikes, or pocket his successful take-down of Iran’s top terrorist leader and de-escalate?
  3. Are Iran’s mounting and furious threats just bluster, or is Tehran serious about unleashing attacks on Americans and Western allies all over the world?

“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the Iranian military declared, according to a report by the New York Times. 

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“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country delivered a ‘slap in the face’ to American forces, but added that the missile attack alone was ‘not enough’ and called for the US to be ‘uprooted’ from the region,” reported the U.K. Daily Mail. 

“This region will not tolerate the U.S. presence — the nations in the region will not accept that and the governments backed by their people will not accept it,” Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, reported the Financial Times.  

Such language suggests much more is coming. The leading Democratic presidential candidates — and numerous pundits and commentators in the U.S. and Europe — are warning that President Trump’s decision to take out Soleimani will lead to “anarchy” and that a full-blown war with Iran is now “inevitable.”

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden warned:  “[T]his is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region. The administration’s statement says that its goal is to deter future attacks by Iran, but this action almost certainly will have the opposite effect. President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”  
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders warned: “When you go around assassinating a government official, you unleash international anarchy and all the rules are gone….I get very nervous about it. Not only for the potential loss of life in endless wars, but right now in this country, we have massive, massive domestic needs.”
  • Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said: the job of the president is to keep America safe and yet Mr. Trump has “taken us in exactly the opposite direction.”

U.S., Israeli and Arab forces throughout the Epicenter are on high alert — and the U.S. is flowing in more troops into the region, including 2,800 members of the 82nd Airborne’s Immediate Response Force — in case Iran’s threats to escalate prove legit.

But the President’s action could cause Iran to actually think twice about embarking on a full-scale war. A major conflict is possible, but it’s not inevitable.

Consider the recent Israeli model:

  • In 2019 alone, Israel launched 54 airstrikes against targets in Syria.
  • Many of these strikes were against Iranian forces and sophisticated Iranian weapons bound for Hezbollah, Tehran’s main terrorist proxy in the region.
  • Yet, Israel’s on-going military actions to defend itself from Iranian aggression has not led to a full-scale war between the Jewish State and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Rather, Israel’s willingness to use force, and use it repeatedly, has actually had a deterrent effect on Iran because Iran’s regime is coming to realize that Israel is both willing and able to use force with devastating consequences if necessary.
  • Indeed, the Ayatollah Khamenei knows that Israel has German-built submarines lurking under the murky waters of the Persian Gulf, right off of Iran’s coast.
  • Khamenei knows that each of those subs is equipped with powerful ballistic missiles that could annihilate Iran’s capital and other bases and cities, if need be.
  • That’s why Khamenei is, so far, reluctant to intensify his conflict with Israel — he knows Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF generals will not hesitate to push the button if they deem there is no other choice.

Right now, Iran’s regime is testing Trump. The mullahs know the U.S. has a massive military arsenal — far larger and far more lethal than Israel’s. What they don’t is whether the American President “all hat and no cattle,” or whether he is truly willing to unleash American force against Iran if he has to. Thus, there is a case that by using firm, decisive force against Iranian aggression in the near-term, the U.S. may actually prevent a larger war in the future.

For now, let us pray for peace, even as we prepare for war.

(Graphic credit: UK Daily Mail)

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