Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Did We Get Here?

Please bear with me for a couple more posts on Israel. The world is ganging up on Israel and even Christians are either complacent or they've turned their back on Israel as well (In a future post, we'll look at the error of "Replacement Theology" which has caused many believers to harden their hearts towards Israel).

There is so much misinformation out there regarding the Mideast Crisis. You hear news analysts say that it's so complicated. The fact is that it's not all that complicated as this video illustrates. Please set aside 6:30 minutes to view this brief little video: "Israel's History in a Nutshell." It's a crash course in understanding what's going on in the Middle East.

And, if you can spare four more minutes, watch the History of Israel. 4000 yrs in 4 minutes. This is a funny, clever, animated video that gives you an overview of what's been going on with Israel since God created the earth. It's apparent this video was created by a Jewish non-believer with one glaring omission: The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, don't let that keep you from appreciating this video. Like the book of Esther where God isn't mentioned once yet His invisible hand is evidenced throughout Esther. So also Jesus is the Lord of history, the Holy One of Israel and this video is all about Him and His faithfulness to keep His covenants and His people.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No Apartheid in Israel

Note: From time to time, I'll be sharing posts from other bloggers who have greater credibility or authority than I have on the subject they are addressing.  This post was originally written by journalist, Stan Goodenough on Wednesday, March 9, 2011. Stan and his family live in Jerusalem, Israel.

This post originally appeared at his blog, Jerusalem Watchman "No Apartheid Here" 

Stan, who is from South Africa, has a unique understanding of what we call "apartheid." Here is Stan's edited post. ( I have posted a link at the bottom if you want to read it in its entirety.)

Anti-Israel groups and individuals in about 14 countries are currently caught up in claiming that Israel engages is apartheid against the Palestinians who live there. 

The goal of these outraged organizers, their purpose is to force Israel to convert to a one-man-one-vote democracy. They hope to achieve in Israel what they did with South Africa.

Luminaries who promote the idea that Israel perpetrates the same sins South Africa once did are former US President Jimmy Carter and Liberation Theology “Christian” Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Together with United Nations investigators and human rights groups, they have all rallied around this “sexy” lie: Israel is an apartheid state.

Is there any justification for this? Any at all?

What was apartheid?

In 1948, the year Israel declared independence, South Africa’s white government began enacting laws to enforce the segregation of different races.

Known as the “Apartheid Laws,” they would apply to people who, until that time, had all been South African citizens; they would solidify the power and dominance of the whites.

Like carefully placed bricks in a wall, the legislation established an enduring edifice of institutionalized racial discrimination. It would persist for 46 years and wreck tens of millions of lives with massive injustice and suffering. The minority whites, for our part, directly benefitted from the system, enjoying one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Dismantled in the early 1990s – largely due to intensified international pressure – its painful legacy wracks that nation until today – a woe for which there is no anticipated cure.

I am a South African who was born into, and lived through nearly half of, the apartheid era. During my childhood and teenage years my family relocated repeatedly, living in every corner of that country. I changed schools 13 times, and in three years as a member of the South African Defense Forces I was stationed in five different military bases across the land. I know South Africa well.  I know apartheid well. I know Israel well.

And believe me, no factual or accurate comparisons can be drawn between that South Africa and this Israel.
None whatsoever.

Let me tell you what Israel would have to do to qualify as an apartheid state. But first, a couple of clarifications:

The charge is that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is similar to White South Africa’s treatment of South African black citizens (which included full-blood “Africans,” mixed-race “coloreds” and the descendants of immigrant Asian laborers).

The whole argument collapses right there, because the Palestinian Arabs have never been Israeli citizens. Nor did/do they have any national history as “Palestinians” – neither in Israel nor anywhere else. They are Arabs – their country of origin is Arabia.

For starters, then, it is fallacious to compare Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Arabs in any area to the apartheid governments’ relationships with their black South African citizens.

Let us then turn to the Israel’s Arab citizens. Most are also Palestinian Arabs, but unlike the majority of their people – who remain stateless – they were willing to take citizenship and be integrated into the country of Israel.

Israeli Arabs comprise a little over 1.5 million of Israel’s 7.7 million citizens – approximately 20 percent of the population. They are, therefore, a minority. They live in 15 towns and cities, mostly in and around the Galilee. They have full voting rights. Five Arab political parties are represented in the Knesset; there are 14 Arab members of Knesset, one has attained to a ministerial portfolio, one is a former and another is a current deputy Knesset Speaker.

Israeli Arabs enjoy complete freedom in their country. They can live, study, work and travel where they please. They have national health coverage and enjoy the same benefits as their fellow, Jewish, citizens.

What they do not have to do, is serve in the IDF (although some Druze and some Bedouin choose to do so and have served with distinction; even laying down their lives.)

The majority of Israel’s Arabs identify their nationality as “Palestinian.” Many, including some of the parliamentarians, openly support the PLO goal to destroy Jewish Israel and replace it with a Muslim Palestine.

To suggest that Arabs in Israel live in any way comparable to the miserable existence endured by black South Africans is to do a terrible injustice both to Israel and to apartheid’s victims.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why Stand with Israel?

We are living in a sobering moment in history that calls all Christians to take a stand with Israel, the most important piece of real estate on this planet. 

Many today denounce the Jews as "occupiers" of the land formerly known as Palestine. But this land belongs to God Almighty and He has given it to His people, the Jews.

In today's post and subsequent posts, I will explore current issues being raised regarding Israel's existence as a nation: 
  • Whether the Palestinians have a right to statehood,
  • The claim that the Jews are engaging in an mid-east version of apartheid by their treatment of the Palestinian people. 
  • Israel's right to exist as a nation. 
  • Whether-or-not Israel is a holy nation or a nation of unbelievers who are no more special than any other people or land. 
Here are my 5 reasons for standing with Israel:

  1. Every believer is charged to make the Jews a priority in their value system because God has.

  • The Lord has selected a people—and He began by selecting a man named Abraham. In Gen. 12:3, the Lord says in the covenant that He makes with Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
  • The Lord chose the Jews for His purposes—and He made covenants with them: The Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, and the New Covenant.
  • The Scripture speaks to us very clearly that we’re dealing with the roots of everything that has to do with the revelation of God to humankind. The proof of this is in the very existence of the Jews as a people, and the fact that they have been recovered as a nation. Today the struggle is over Jerusalem, over Israel, and over the presence of the Jews and their right to have a land. There are few nations willing to make an abiding commitment to stand by the Jews and Israel, but the Bible says God will honor those who do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ten Documentaries To See Before You Die...

When I watch a documentary, I am looking to be entertained as well as enlightened. A good documentary should draw the viewer in and broaden your horizons, engage you, and challenge you. I want the documentary to confront my thinking and help me become a more understanding, thoughtful person. I mean, how can you watch a documentary series like Ken Burns' "The War" or "WWII in HD"and not be a more grateful, thankful American for the sacrifice many young men made on our behalf? We live in such comfort and ease while those before us fought our battles and in many cases lost their lives, never to experience the joys of marriage or family, or growing old.

I have assembled ten documentaries which you MUST see before you die. I try to make a case for why you should go to the trouble of seeing each of these films which will make you cry, laugh, smile, and maybe even angry. Here they are...and you can find them at Netflix, iTunes, as well as at your public library.

The Long Way Round

A sort of Motorcycle Diaries for the Hollywood set, this documentary miniseries chronicles the cross-continental adventures of actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they set out on their BMW bikes to travel round the world. Embarking from London and arriving 115 exhausting days later in New York, the duo tackles 20,000 miles of tough terrain, explores offbeat destinations and takes in colorful local culture. They traveled through Western and Central Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and through the U.S. for a cumulative distance of 18,887 miles.

You don't need to own or ride a motorcycle to enjoy this documentary. This is a film about discovering the world we live in and how wonderful and special people are whether in Europe or in the barren wasteland of Outer Mongolia. Ewan McGregor is very personable, engaging and funny. He invites you to join him on this amazing journey which you get to enjoy vicariously at his expense. Warning: If you are bothered by the use of the four-letter word "F_ _ _", then don't watch this film. The language used in this film is what one would typically hear at work or in the military.

The Long Way Down

Together again, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman make another outrageous excursion in this Fox Reality Channel follow-up to the actors' first trip, which was documented in the series "Long Way Round." Kicking off their travels in the Scottish village of John o' Groats, the pair eventually make their way to Cape Town, South Africa, journeying through Europe and Africa to reach their final destination.

Once again, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman team up for the trip of a lifetime from Scotland down through Europe and down to Capetown, Africa, and they take us along for the ride. Loved this documentary and you will too!

The Trials of Ted Haggard

In this telling documentary directed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Alexandra, former evangelical preacher Ted Haggard discusses his fall from grace in a highly publicized 2006 scandal involving crystal meth and a male prostitute. Among other things, the film reveals that Haggard remains committed to his wife and children despite a "personal struggle" with homosexuality he's long kept secret -- until now.

So you're saying right about now, Dale, are you crazy? Why would I want to see a film about a fallen preacher who disgraced his church as well as himself and his family? He's a hypocrite. Yes, he is. In fact, I had the opportunity to attend his church and hear him preach about 3 years before his downfall, and I came away with the impression that this man was self-absorbed and self-righteous. But this documentary reveals a broken man who has more compassion and empathy for people than he ever had before. God delights in bringing us to the end of ourselves so that He can redeem us for his glory and honor and that's what He has done with Ted Haggard. I would trust Ted Haggard more now as a pastor and minister of the Gospel more than some of the preachers that we have in the pulpit today. This film also reveals his wife as the bedrock of their family. She has chosen to stick with Ted and has suffered greatly because of it, but she has sought to remain true to her marriage vows. She is the "hero" in this story. She is the example of a godly woman who is trusting Jesus and His will for her life & family in spite of pain and trials.

Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, teamed with photographer Tim Hetherington, spent a year embedded with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the hard work, fear, and brotherhood that come with repelling a deadly enemy. Hunkered down with the soldiers in one of the region's most strategic valleys, the filmmakers uncover the dark humor, sleepless surreality and constant anxiety of war in this Oscar-nominated documentary.

Photographer Tim Hetherington was killed this summer during the early days of the Arab uprising in Egypt. This powerful documentary gives insight into our war in Afghanistan and our future effort to win an ill-defined victory at the expense of our military. These young men in this documentary are real heroes and they are real leaders, doing a dirty, thankless job without any complaints.


Documentarians Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg traveled to Israel to interview Palestinian and Israeli kids ages 11 to 13, assembling their views on living in a society afflicted with violence, separatism and religious and political extremism. This 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Feature Documentary culminates in an astonishing day in which two Israeli children meet Palestinian youngsters at a refugee camp.

I love this documentary which gives some insight into the Palestinian mindset in E. Jerusalem. If you love Israel, this film is for you. It shows "enemies" coming together for one day to play and eat together and in some cases, having their hard hearts softened. See this film!!

Mad Hot Ballroom

Ballroom dancing goes from lame to cool for a group of New York City students in this insightful documentary, which follows a group of 11-year-olds as they learn to dance old-school styles including the merengue, rumba, tango, foxtrot and swing. Candid interviews capture the kids' initial reluctance at learning ballroom dance and their transformation into serious competitors determined to win a citywide competition. 

This documentary reveals how the arts can transform rebellious students and give them self-respect and discipline. Even if you can't dance, this is a feel-good film about success among public school students in the inner-city, a rare occurrence, but one to celebrate!.

WWII in HD (10 DVDs)
The History Channel presents this epic documentary that chronicles the deeply personal stories of soldiers, sailors, journalists, nurses and others who served in the front lines of the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. Weaving hours of rare, pristinely restored color footage with diaries, interviews and other first-hand accounts, this series recounts the global sweep of the war as experienced by those who were there.

Powerful series filmed in color in the midst of conflict. At times, it has such a contemporary look that you feel you're watching young men in battle in Vietnam or Iraq. This film will stir your patriotism, and also keep you from having a pity party. No matter how bad things are going in your life right now, it's NOTHING compared to what young men have had to endure on islands like Corregidor, Iwo Jima, Midway, Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge, Bastogne, etc.

The War (Ken Burns)

Documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick bring the harrowing history of World War II to life through the personal accounts of a handful of participants from four "typical" American towns -- proving nothing was typical during this terrible time. Historical footage and photographs combine with realistic sound effects to create visceral scenes of the battles at Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal, Okinawa and more in this seven-part PBS presentation.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Tammy Faye Bakker's journey from traveling evangelist to weepy, scandal-scarred cult icon is chronicled in this tongue-in-cheek documentary from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato that's narrated by RuPaul. The film was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and details Jimmy Bakker's infamous affair -- which, in essence, ended the PTL Ministry -- as well as Tammy's emergence as a hero to alternative-lifestyle communities.

I witnessed, firsthand, PTL's rise from a furniture store studio in Charlotte to the massive Heritage Village. I also saw the lives of people in Burlington, Vermont and elsewhere who came to Jesus and heard the gospel for the first time thanks to PTL. For many Catholics in New England, PTL was the only place where they could receive affirmation , encouragement, teaching and strength after being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jim and Tammy were not charlatans out to rob people. They may have been misguided but they were never deceitful crooks. This documentary reveals the 'heart" of PTL and the love that Jim and Tammy Bakker had for people. More insight can be gained from reading Jim Bakker's autobiography, "I Was Wrong." It's a powerful and poignant read. There's no excusing the fact that they did some wrong-headed, misguided things which God did NOT tell them to do. Sinners, yes. Fallen from God's grace and mercy? No.

The Civil War (Ken Burns)

This documentary masterpiece from Ken Burns depicts the strategies and action of famous Civil War battles, and relates the stories of generals, field soldiers, politicians, heroes and a beleaguered president. The Emmy-winning miniseries begins by looking at the factors that led to the firing on Fort Sumter, and covers specific notable battles, climaxing with Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender and Pres. Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

Friday, August 5, 2011

If I were President, here's what I'd do to create jobs and turn the economy around....

News flash! Our economy is in the tank. Yesterday, August 4, the stock market suffered the worst sell-off since the 2008 financial crisis, down 513 points. 
We are 10 million jobs short of full employment, and the fraction of adults at work full-time is at a 28-yr. low.  Yesterday,  Jake Tapper of ABC News asked Press Secretary, Jay Carney, what the President was doing to help create jobs. Carney's response was telling. He said: "Uh...uh...uh...uh...uh...uh....there is no silver bullet."  He went on to blame our poor economy on the Arab Spring, the Japanese Tsunami, and the European Economic Crisis. At least, they're no longer blaming George Bush (for now).  

We have a President who has publicly stated that the first thing on his mind when he wakes up and the last thing on his mind when he goes to bed is how to create more jobs. That's when he's not on vacation or out golfing, or attending a fund-raising dinner, or hosting a pop concert at the White House. 

Obama repeatedly says he's tried everything and that if you  (or I) have any ideas on how to stimulate this economy and create more jobs, he's open to hearing them. Sorry Mr. President, but once again, you are being disingenuous (look it up) because the ideas I'm proposing, if implemented, would reduce our unemployment to well below 4% while reducing our national debt due to increased revenue from the 10 million new jobs that would be created. However, none of my ideas are new. They've already been offered in writing to Obama by the Republicans, and he has rejected every one of them. He's not really open to any new ideas, only HIS ideas or ideology. 

But, if I were president, here's what I would do to turn our economy around:

1. Kill Obamacare. I'd simply admit that it was a bad idea. Obamacare with all of its uncertainty and hidden mandates, hidden taxes, etc. is keeping companies from hiring or expanding. They have no idea what future costs will be because we still haven't experienced the full impact of Obamacare.

2. Remove Lisa Jackson from her post at the EPA and de-fund the EPA. The Environmental Police Authority is a now a political movement bent on destroying private property rights and capitalism.  EPA's regulations will cost the coal industry 200 billion dollars and cause our electric rates to skyrocket. It's estimated that the EPA's regulations cost 1.4 million jobs and a 12% increase in utility bills.

3. Cut or eliminate most federal regulations. Regulations force oil drilling in deep water when it is safer, cheaper and easier to drill in shallow water. The BP oil spill never would've happened if they had been allowed to drill in shallow waters. Regulations even prevented the Dutch from responding to the BP oil disaster. It could've been contained within the first 2-3 wks. except for our regulation and enslavement to the unions which kept us from accepting help from the Dutch. 

Toilets, showerheads, light bulbs, mattresses, washing machines, dryers, cars, ovens, refrigerators, television sets, and bicycles” all cost much more because of questionable regulations. It is estimated that the cost of regulation is a drag on U.S. businesses to the tune of 1.75 trillion a year, twice the amount of individual taxes collected last year! Thanks to the EPA, they will soon enjoy higher prices for cars, food, appliances and mortgages.

4. Cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. Currently, we have the 2nd highest corporate tax rate of the top 30 most economically developed countries in the world. This tax rate is driving businesses to locate the facilities overseas. And we are the ONLY country in the world that taxes its businesses on what they earn overseas.

5. Finally, Drill Baby Drill. 
When Obama took office, the price for a gallon of gas was $1.84 per gallon. Today, the average price is $3.86 per gallon. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), America’s combined supply of oil, coal, and natural gas is the largest on Earth. Put another way, America’s recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada.

    According to economist Joseph Mason at Louisiana State University, the drilling moratorium in the summer of 2010 eliminated 20,000 jobs in the Gulf of Mexico. Mason also noted that unemployment in Louisiana alone jumped from 6.2% when the moratorium was announced to 8.1% in October when the moratorium was officially enacted. By the way, during the embargo, Pres. Obama told was in Brazil telling the Brazilian people how he just couldn’t wait to help them drill for oil off their shore. 
      The Wall Street Journal estimated that our drilling moratorium both offshore as well as on land in places such as Anwar in Alaska will cost us over 1 million jobs over the next five years.

      These are my ideas for turning our economy around. Do you think they might "work"? While Obama is occupying the White House, we won't be given a chance to find out.