Mar 19, 2018

20 Years Ago

It occurred to me the other week that my first trip to Israel was exactly 20 years ago.

So this week I’m reminiscing.

The catalyst for that first trip was my dear friend and late mentor, David Allen Lewis. I loved David and miss him, 11 years after he went home to be with the Lord he loved. An Assemblies of God evangelist, David was truly unique, to use an over-used word.

Based in Springfield, Missouri, David Allen Lewis Ministries sprang from David’s love for the Jewish people. I say that first, before his love for Israel. Because that’s the key. One cannot be genuinely pro Israel without being pro Jew.

Some people try that without the pro Jew ingredient.

Not David. And he also loved Arab people. He was one of the first Christians to broker dialogue between Jews and Arabs. And he began taking tour groups to Israel soon after the Six-Day War.

Anyway, I worked for New Leaf Publishing Group at the time, the publisher of David’s wonderful Bible prophecy books. He was like a force of nature. I was so green when I started as his editor. One day, working with him the first time, I called him for clarification on a few things, including the meaning of a strange term: Eretz Yisrael.

I held the phone out a couple feet as David bellowed, “The LAND of Israel, in the Hebrew!”

Got it.

Quickly, David’s passion for the subject reawakened my interest, which had been dormant since my pro Israel father’s death many years before.

By late 1997, I’d gotten the idea for a new book for David (this would become The Last War). One day, sitting in his living room, I blinked a couple times when he said, “Do you want to go to Israel with me? I need the help in conducting interviews for the book.”

I stammered that of course I would and happily, my boss, Tim Dudley let me go (a lovely guy to this day, a fully independent publisher with a strong moral compass and courage to publish books that need to be published. Tim’s Master Books imprint has carried on the work of the great creationists—such as Henry Morris—now for more than two decades).

By the time my flight departed Chicago, I realized no one had really briefed me on one important thing: how to handle Israeli security at the gate. I was flying the Israeli national airline, El Al, and boy, did I set off some red flags, traveling alone as I was.

After four hours of basically interrogation, they let me on the plane, just ahead of a Jordanian couple that had screamed at each other and threw clothing in the air as their luggage was being examined.

My luggage arrived two days after I did in Tel Aviv.

David and I hit the ground running, along with his driver of decades, Avigdor. We bounced around all over the country, including an afternoon in Bethlehem. I stopped to take a photo of a Yasser Arafat poster and then noticed several PA policeman seated at an outdoor café didn’t take kindly to that, for some reason. They eventually chased me down the street and I literally propelled myself headfirst into the van as David yelled at Avigdor, “Go, go, go!”

I formed many good memories with David on that trip. We ate Beluga caviar at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv while waiting on an Israeli newspaper publisher.

I also learned just how well connected David was, but in a very unusual, clever way. Sure, David knew all the “bigs” (I love the photos of him with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, whom David had famously predicted would become prime minister, when the very thought was comical), but he cultivated friendships with the influential people behind the famous people.

So it was that we spent quality time on that trip with David Bar-Illan, the urbane former concert pianist and newspaper editor (The Jerusalem Post) and was now an advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu. I met Bar-Illan a few times after that, and he remains one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. And hands-down the best op-ed writer I’ve ever read.

We also visited with Gershon Salomon, founder of the Temple Mount Faithful Movement. I learned just how connected Jews in Israel really are when word came that then-Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert would meet with us…because Salomon urged him to do so.

The crown jewel of our two weeks in country though came on the evening of March 5, when Ariel Sharon gave us an hour in his Tel Aviv office. In the outer office, where we waited to meet the legendary Israeli general (then Minister of Infrastructures in Netanyahu’s first government), I saw Mossad chief Danny Yatom get on an elevator. He smiled at me as I gulped.

Sharon was a gracious host, and the moment was surreal for me. Entering his office through a side door, Sharon was shorter than I thought he’d be, but his handshake was crushing. He spoke in Hebrew several times with an aid, but gave us his full attention. He mentioned that he remembered David from 15 years before, during the Lebanon War, because the IDF heard of an American preacher running back and forth across the border, broadcasting over the radio!

That was David, larger than life.

Sharon gave me a map of the West Bank that night, which I still have. He invited us to dinner at his farm in the Negev, and I regret to this day that we could not stay in Israel that long—had to get home.

All in all, we conducted many interviews. David was a warhorse, his body already by that time failing him. But on he soldiered, doing it all for Israel. His books, conferences, tapes, and newsletters contributed greatly to American evangelicals’ understanding of the exotic country on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. I treasure those two weeks with David, and know that he is enjoying his rest now.

We will see each other again soon.



Mar 12, 2018

Paying Murderers

Just one of the many indications that Palestinian leadership is evil AND stupid comes in the form of payments to terrorists’ families.

It was revealed this week that President-for-Life Mahmoud Abbas had approved the 2018 PA budget, stating that a full seven percent of that budget must go to the families of dead terrorists.

Of course, the Holocaust denier isn’t touched by such fiscal idiocy, since he lives in a plush villa, literally overlooking his poverty stricken subjects. The PA has increased these payments by $56 million, now to over a staggering $400 million.

One has to wonder about the sanity of foreign governments—including our own—that fund these maniacs. A report in the Jerusalem Post reveals the use of this blood money.

“’Murderers like the ones who killed the Fogel family’ – two Palestinians killed five out of eight members of the family in Itamar, including a three-month-old, in 2011 – ‘are heroes to the PA. This is not a whim. It’s in the PA’s constitution,’ [Avi] Dichter added.

“The PA paid terrorists and their families more than $347million in 2017. Terrorists who have been sentenced to three to five years in Israeli prisons receive the average income of a Palestinian, about $580 per month. The families of those who committed more severe crimes and were involved in killing Israelis receive five times that each month for the rest of their lives.

“Terrorists receive more from the PA if they are married, for each child they have, if they live in Jerusalem or if they’re an Israeli citizen.”

A bill is up for vote in the Knesset that would require the Israeli government to deduct the amount the PA is paying terrorists from taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of the PA.

At least the Israelis have a moral pulse. What would be even better is if the foreign aid lavished on the Palestinians was cut off altogether. For 25 years, the Western world has paid billions to the PA, itself a terrorist organization.

And if you visit “east Jerusalem,” where so many Arabs live, including and especially the Old City markets, you’ll find plenty of posters and other propaganda lionizing these terrorist murderers. I’ve watched European tourists lap-up cheap souvenirs (including “Free Palestine” t-shirts, which depict all of Israel), chatting-up Palestinian merchants, while the faces of “shaheeds” (martyrs) stare from posters.

Hamas is celebrated in these venues.

This sick culture has been pacified and even nurtured for years by people like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who do not care about people. They certainly don’t care about the Jews who are murdered by the PA.

I don’t believe regular working Americans have the time or energy to demand regularly that our government cut off funding to this evil entity.

But I wish they did.