No peace on the horizon for Israel
The prospect of an extended and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the West’s all-consuming yet fruitless obsession in geopolitical wrangling. News of peace talks leads to hope anew as Israeli and Palestinian leaders are brought together. Each U.S. president, dreaming of leaving behind this ultimate legacy, leads a new process toward what seems like inevitable failure. Soon U.S. President Donald Trump may spearhead a new round of talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Before they have even begun, however, it looks as though the talks are bound to fail. “Diplomatic sources affirm that the plan itself is much closer to Israel’s positions than to the Palestinian positions. A two-state solution would be proposed in a way that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu could accept . . .
“A senior PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] official close to [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas told Al-Monitor that Abbas has lost any confidence in Trump as an honest broker, and he will galvanize his Arab partners for a rejection of the plan . . . Bearing the reactions of both sides and the current situation on the ground, there seems to be very little light at the end of the tunnel” (Uri Savir, “Palestinians Set to Reject US Peace Plan,” Al-Monitor, March 25, 2018).
Palestinian rejection of peace talks, even those that, like the upcoming round, feature a two-state solution to the problem and introduce Palestinian sovereignty, is not a new phenomenon. Peace talks have fallen apart numerous times since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, often because Palestinian authorities refuse to acknowledge a legitimate Jewish presence in the land.
The truth is that humanity cut off from God cannot know peace (Romans 3:17), and the cycle of continued failed peace talks in the Middle East is proof.
To better understand the roots of this conflict see “Who Are the Palestinians?” and our free study guide The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. (Source:Al-Monitor.)
Foretaste of a prophesied conspiracy of nations?
In Psalm 83 we read about an event we haven’t seen fully happen yet in history. We are told of a broad grouping of Middle Eastern nations coming together in a confederacy to destroy the nation of Israel. The psalmist Asaph lists these nations in verses 6-8. (For more on this prophecy, see our mini-study “Focus on the Middle East”).
Recently, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translates articles and broadcasts from different languages in the region, reported on a similar call for combining military forces against the modern state of Israel.
According to the summary of translations of a recent article in a Turkish paper, it was reported that “the article called on the 57 member states of the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] to form a joint ‘Army of Islam’ to besiege and attack the state of Israel. It notes that such a joint army will greatly exceed the Israeli army in manpower, equipment and budget, and presents statistics to prove this.
“It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army’s ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has ‘a special status’ among the OIC countries” (“Turkish Newspaper Close to President Erdogan Calls to Form Joint Islamic Army to Fight Israel,” March 7, 2018).
The suggestion for this army of 5 million, which would be the world’s largest military force and nearly as large as the Israeli population, was “undoubtedly approved with at least a wink and a nod by [Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan” (“‘Army of Islam’ Would Be World’s Biggest Military,” WND.com, March 18, 2018).
This isn’t the actual forming of a confederation of nations, but it does show that the desire is there among some to bring the resources of all these nations together to rid the world of Israel.
Be comforted when you become aware of news like this. Jesus addressed this topic specifically when he said: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass” (Matthew 24:6, emphasis added). Don’t fear, because our God is in charge of history and the events that take place before the return of Christ as King and Savior. (Sources: MEMRI, WND.)
Yemeni civil war could lead to much wider Mideast conflict
One of the most geopolitically important regional conflicts in the world continues to heat up. The civil war in Yemen is drawing outside attention and intervention, with potentially huge consequences for the entire Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s conflict with the Houthi separatists in northern Yemen is only intensifying, as Houthis continue to fire missiles over the border into Saudi territory, in addition to fighting the Yemeni government within the country.
“The Houthi movement that controls northern Yemen vowed on Monday [March 26] to fire more missiles into Saudi Arabia unless it stops bombing the country, after one of its missiles caused casualties in the Saudi capital for the first time” (Marwa Rashad, Sarah Dadouch and Abdulrahman al-Ansi, “Barrage of Missiles on Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Yemen War,” Reuters, March 26, 2018).
Crucial to remember in the Yemeni civil war is that it’s serving as a proxy war for Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslim Iran, as the Houthis are notably backed by Iran’s theocratic regime led by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis accused them of using Iranian-made missiles. Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the coalition reserved the right to respond to Iran ‘at the appropriate time and manner,’ under international law and within the framework of the United Nations, to protect Saudi Arabia. The incident threatens to sharply escalate a war that has already unleashed what the United Nations considers the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis” (ibid.).
While Iran and Saudi Arabia are using the fighting in Yemen as a proxy for their ongoing tensions with each other building to hostilities, the possibility of a more direct conflict between the two countries is growing. This could trigger a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict that could engulf and spill beyond the confines of the Middle East. (Source: Reuters.)
Facebook and privacy
Recently reports have come out that Facebook user data was a strategic part of the recent presidential election in the United States. “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has confirmed it’s investigating Facebook’s privacy practices in light of the data misuse scandal currently engulfing the company” (Natasha Lomas, “FTC Confirms Probe Into Facebook Data Misuse Scandal,” TechCrunch, March 26, 2018).
Many people may not realize that Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, uses personal data for revenue, while many others are only vaguely aware of this. Millions of users have become comfortable with the fact that personal data has been used for generating targeted advertising. But possible sales of this info for targeted political campaigning probably comes as a surprise to most of us. This news as it relates to the recent election sheds light on the depth to which the data can be used.
We should take note of several things in light of this news. Not everything we see on social media represents the whole truth. We can be targeted in what advertisements come up, but also what news we see. We should consciously seek out all sides of stories from many different sources, not just what we see on Facebook.
Realize also that what you post or respond to can be used against you. When we freely give up information or take those online surveys to see which Disney character we are most like, we are giving up personal information that can be used by advertisers or other information gatherers.
CNBC reports: “This is the problem: We download apps and allow services to collect information about us without a second thought. The good to come out of this Facebook episode is that people get smarter about their online footprint” (Arjun Kharpal, “Facebook’s Data Scandal Should Be a Wake-up Call About Our Online Footprint,” March 27, 2018).
This is a new age of information, and we should be wise about what information we share online. These companies have their interests, not yours, at heart. (Sources: TechCrunch, CNBC.)
A new age of tyranny dawns
After Adolph Hitler’s defeat during World War II, the Western nations ostensibly began a crusade against tyranny of all stripes the world over. They fought wars against totalitarian communist regimes in East Asia, kept the Soviet Union in check for nearly half a century, and put various Middle Eastern and Latin American tyrants in crosshairs. Compared to previous centuries, we have lived in something of a golden age of global liberty.
The tide, however, seems to be shifting. Vladimir Putin was recently reelected as Russia’s president, China’s Xi Jinping has been ensconced as president-for-life, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has exerted an increasingly strong grip on his nation every year of his reign, to the dismay of his political opponents and many of the Turkish people.
Why the resurgence of tyranny? One commentator astutely found the answer in the universal human condition: “Another reason tyranny is resurgent has to do with human nature, which we in the West idealize. Not everyone sees freedom as their top priority, preferring security (a lesson we should have learned in Iraq) . . .
“Tyrants may oppress you. They may lead you into disastrous wars. But they don’t demand that you take personal responsibility, that great burden of democracy. And every tyrant worth his salt provides scapegoats for his people’s failures: It’s never your fault, it’s them. It’s a message demagogues promote even [in America]” (Ralph Peters, “The World Is Descending Into Tyranny,” New York Post, March 20, 2018).
Tyranny exists in part because humanity puts its trust in “great” people, and this has been true throughout our history. In ancient Babylon a man named Nebuchadnezzar ruled with an iron fist. He and his empire were a “beast” in the Bible’s terminology. There have been many such “beasts” since, and we haven’t seen the end of tyranny yet. Jesus will supplant every one, however, and offer a true freedom and liberty humanity hasn’t yet known (Revelation 11:15). (Source: New York Post.)
Europe becoming less Christian all the time
Europeans are, by and large, no longer religious. Recent polls show most young people in Europe are “non-religious,” with Czechs being the least religious and Poles the most.
Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University in London said: “Religion was ‘moribund’ [at the point of death or in terminal decline] . . . ‘With some notable exceptions, young adults increasingly are not identifying with or practising religion . . . Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good—or at least for the next 100 years’” (“‘Christianity as Default Is Gone’: The Rise of a Non-Christian Europe,” The Guardian, March 20, 2018).
It’s not a surprise. The last few decades of slowly emptying churches in Europe are a witness to this trend. Throughout the region, cathedrals have become a spot for tourism rather than worship.
In the book of 2 Timothy, Paul wrote to the young minister warning about the end days and saying that people will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:4-5).
On the other hand, we also read in the Bible about a time when there will be a short-lived revival of religion in Europe. It will be led by a false religious system that will capture the hearts of the citizens there once more. To know more about this great end-time deception that is coming soon, download or request our free study guide The Final Superpower. (Source: The Guardian.)