Saturday, November 15, 2014

Former Campus Crusade for Christ benefactor Nelson Bunker Hunt dies at 88

Nelson Bunker "Bunky" Hunt, who famously said, "A billion dollars isn't what it used to be," died on October 21, 2014 at the age of 88 (see The New York Times obituary here). The former billionaire was one of Campus Crusade for Christ's heftiest supporters, financial and otherwise; for more on his involvement with CCC's efforts to fulfill the Great Commission worldwide by 1980, see my previous post.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

10 years ago: Good riddance to Yasser Arafat

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: Ezekiel 33:11a

On November 11, 2004, Yasser Arafat, 1st President of the Palestinian National Authority, died at the age of 75. Mr. Arafat, whose birth name is too long to repeat here, was a career terrorist who was best known for his leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1969 until just before his death. In 1993 he signed the first Oslo Accord with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, under which Israel recognized the PLO and agreed to gradual removal of Israeli settlements in portions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with implementation of Palestinian self-government over a five-year period. Mr. Arafat, Mr. Rabin, and Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. Mr. Arafat made it clear that the Oslo Accords were just another step towards his goal of a Palestinian state. After being effectively confined by the Israeli army in his compound in Ramallah, Mr. Arafat was allowed to travel to France in late October 2004 for emergency medical treatment.

Officially Mr. Arafat died of a stroke, but no autopsy was permitted, and the actual cause of his death is still disputed. Mr. Arafat was actually buried twice, because his first burial was apparently not in accord with Islamic law. His current resting place is in Ramallah in Palestinian territory, as his admirers await an Arab recapture of East Jerusalem, where they intend to bury Mr. Arafat for good. They'll be waiting an eternity for that. Whatever the method of his burial, the direction should have been face down, so he could see where he was going. While I take no pleasure in the death of Mr. Arafat, neither do I miss him.

I'm not going to mention the accusations that Mr. Arafat was a voracious sodomite with an appetite for teenage boys; that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had tapes of Mr. Arafat's sexual activities; or that the actual cause of Mr. Arafat's death was AIDS.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reassures Jordan's King Abdullah about Temple Mount

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Zechariah 12:2-3

As reported by Karin Laub of Associated Press, November 6, 2014:

JERUSALEM – In an attempt at diplomatic damage control, Israel’s prime minister reassured Jordan’s king Thursday that he won’t yield to increasing demands by some members of his centre-right coalition to allow Jews to pray at a Muslim-run holy site in Jerusalem.

The phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II came a day after riot police clashed with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third- holiest shrine. Jordan, which is the custodian of the site, recalled its ambassador in protest.

Israeli-Palestinian confrontations have been escalating in Jerusalem, including near-daily clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli riot police. Some of the attacks have turned deadly in recent weeks.

Underlying the tensions is long-running frustration among the city’s 300,000 Palestinians with what many of them view as oppressive Israeli practices, such as restrictions on building, and a separation wall that cuts through Arab neighbourhoods.

The unrest was triggered by Muslim fears of Jewish encroachment at the sacred site, a hilltop plateau known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount. The complex houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock. Jews also revere it as the location of their biblical temples and the most important site in Judaism.

Since Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Jewish worshippers have been allowed to visit — but not pray — at the site. The area is run by Muslim authorities under Jordanian custody.

In recent months, however, several senior members of Netanyahu’s coalition, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Deputy Parliament Speaker Moshe Feiglin, have called for a greater Jewish presence and the right to prayer on the mount. At the same time, the number of Jewish visitors to the site has increased over the years, raising fears among Muslims that this is part of a gradual takeover.

Such visits have heightened tensions at the site, including stone-throwing clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police who have fired tear gas and stun grenades in the plaza around the mosques.

Confrontations, in turn, often lead to access restrictions for Muslims. Police routinely prevent younger Muslim men from praying at Al-Aqsa during such periods, especially on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, further heightening resentment.

On Friday, men under the age of 35 are to be barred, and police expect to deploy large numbers of additional forces around the shrine, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. In the past, age restrictions were more severe, barring those younger than 50.

Jordan has expressed alarm over the developments at the mosque compound and suggested the tensions could hurt ties with Israel. The two countries have had a peace agreement for 20 years.

In the phone conversation with Jordan’s king, Netanyahu “reiterated Israel’s commitment to preserve the status quo,” his office said. “Both leaders called for an immediate end to all acts of violence and incitement.”

Earlier, his office said anyone calling for changes in the longstanding arrangement at the holy site “is expressing a personal opinion and not the views of the government.”

In Amman, the palace confirmed that Netanyahu had called. “King Abdullah stressed during the phone call Jordan’s rejection for any measures harming the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its sanctity,” a statement said.

Netanyahu’s outreach reflected the value Israel places on its relations with Jordan — one of two Arab countries at peace with Israel. It also reflected concerns that unrest in east Jerusalem could explode into wider violence.

Jordan recalled its ambassador after a clash Wednesday morning at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinians had barricaded themselves inside the mosque ahead of a scheduled visit by a Jewish group.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said both sides can do more “to make clear that these events are unacceptable, that there’s a desire to reduce tensions.” She added that Secretary of State John Kerry has been holding high-level conversations encouraging such actions.

Azzam Khatib, a senior Muslim official at the site, said Muslim leaders had urged Israel not to allow non-Muslims to visit because of the tense situation. Instead, he said about 300 Israeli police entered the area early in the morning, sparking the clashes.

Video showed helmeted police with shields tearing down a makeshift barricade at the entrance to the mosque while rocks and firecrackers were thrown at them.

Khatib said troops entered the mosque and threw stun grenades, burning some holes in the carpet.

“What happened was unprecedented,” he said, adding that Israeli police “went deep inside (the mosque) wearing their shoes and almost reached the altar inside.”

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri denied that security forces fired stun grenades or that the mosque carpet was damaged. She said police dismantled the barricade and retreated.

Shortly after the clash, a Palestinian motorist rammed his van into a crowd waiting for a train in Jerusalem, killing the policeman and wounding more than a dozen others. It was the second such attack in two weeks. The attacker was shot and killed by police.

The wife of the attacker said he had been angered by the confrontation at the holy site earlier in the day.

Later Wednesday, a Palestinian motorist drove into a group of soldiers in the West Bank, wounding three. The motorist turned himself in to Israeli security forces Thursday, the army said. The driver’s claim that he didn’t intend to hit the soldiers is being checked, according to media reports

Last month, a Palestinian rammed his vehicle into a crowded train stop in east Jerusalem, killing a 3-month-old Israeli-American girl and a 22-year-old Ecuadorean woman. Days later, police shot and killed the suspected gunman behind a separate drive-by attack on Yehuda Glick, a rabbi and activist who has pushed for greater Jewish access to the sacred hilltop compound. Glick remains hospitalized.