by Epiphany Bible Students

          The following items on Israel are reports that one would not ordinarily get from the American Press and TV.

       “CONTEXT MISSING IN MEDIA REPORTS ON MIDDLE EAST:  Imagine for a moment that all reporting about the U.S. war on terrorism was presented without reference to September 11.  American attacks from the air using B-52s and F-16s against fighters armed with smaller weapons would seem quite disproportionate.  Our stated intention to kill as many members of al-Qaida as possible might be condemned, by our own Department of State, as ‘excessive’ and ‘contributing to the cycle of violence.’

       “But U.S. actions are never presented that way, because everyone acknowledges that we have the perfect right to defend ourselves against those who have done us grave harm.  Nor are we asked to sit by and wait for our enemies to do us even more catastrophic damage if they get the chance.

       “Daily threats:  But when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the context is removed.  Bleeding Israel is daily exhorted to stop contributing to the cycle of violence.  Her teen-agers are blown to bits at discotheques.

       “Her babies are approached outside a synagogue by a suicide bomber who waits until he is next to the strollers before blowing himself apart.

       “Her adolescent boys who wander off in the desert and get lost are torn to pieces.  And all of this is applauded and celebrated by Yasser Arafat and most of the Arab governments in the region.

       “Some Arabs (those among the minority who acknowledge that Arabs are responsible) condemned the bombing of the World Trade Center.  But not a single Islamic scholar or cleric has condemned the systemic policy of blowing up Israeli civilians.

       “Nearly every dispatch from the Middle East lacks basic context.  Here are some of the facts to keep in mind when reading these flawed reports.

  •  “The PLO was not formed in order to secure a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.  It was created in 1964, when both territories were under Arab sovereignty.  Jordan and Egypt did not create a state for the Palestinians because they preferred to keep the refugees angry and homeless.
  • “It is not ‘Palestinian land.  There has never been an independent Palestinian state on the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.  The area - which always contained Arabs and Jews - was under Ottoman control for several hundred years until World War I, then British control under the League of Nations Mandate and finally under United Nations control. The United Nations approved a partition plan in 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab.  The Jews accepted this arrangement.  The Arabs refused.  Five Arab armies invaded the new state of Israel.  In the ensuing war, thousands of refugees fled.  Jews fled Arab nations for Israel, and Arabs fled Israel for Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.  The Jewish refugees became full citizens of Israel.  The Palestinian refugees became pawns.  Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza only because she was attacked again by five Arab armies in 1967.
  • “If the Palestinians are fighting for a state on the West Bank and Gaza, why do their maps show Palestine as filling the entire territory that is now Israel?  Why do they marinate their people in Hitlerian anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism?  Further, why - when Ehud Barak offered just such a state, or 95% of it - did Arafat walk away and start this latest round of violence?  Palestinian spokesmen say it wasn’t everything they wanted.  But if they truly want a separate state on so-called ‘occupied territory,’ why did Barak’s offer not form the basis for further talks?
  • “The Palestinians are said to be chafing under the ‘occupation.’  But in obedience to the Oslo process, Israel has given administrative authority over 98% of the Palestinians in the disputed territories to Arafat.  Israel has further permitted the Palestinian Authority to arm 40,000 ‘police.’
  • “Why is it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to give Israel what Sharon has demanded - just three days of respite from terror attacks?”

(By Mona Charen, a columnist with the Creators Syndicate, Fresno Bee, March 15, 2002)



       “Gambling away the peace process on an insane war.  On July 1, 1994, Yasser Arafat entered Gaza to establish the Palestinian Autonomous Region - betwixt-and-between creation of the Oslo peace process that was supposed to become, under the guiding light of the Oslo peace process, the physical base of another ambivalent notion, the Palestinian National Authority.  I went as a reporter to Gaza a few hours before Mr. Arafat arrived, and I stayed there for about five weeks, observing the early days of life and governance under the Palestinian Authority.

       “Mr. Arafat’s entry into Gaza was an object lesson:  a purposely uncaring display of brute power.  He arrived from the Sinai in a long caravan of Chevy Blazers and Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, 70 or 80 cars packed to the rooflines with men with guns.  The caravan roared up the thronged roads and down the mobbed street, with the overfed, leather-jacketed, sunglassed thugs of Mr. Arafat’s bodyguard detail all the time screaming and shooting off their Kalashnikovs to make their beloved people scurry out of their beloved leader’s way.

       “This was the whole of the Palestinian Authority from the beginning, an ugly little cartoon of Middle East despotism, a tinpot’s tinpot of a regime.  There never was any pretense of democracy, of rule of law, of a free press, of a working system of taxes or courts or hospitals.  There never was any real government.  No one ever bothered to build an economy or create jobs or even pick up the trash or pave the streets.  There were only security forces - many, many of these - and villas by the sea for Mr. Arafat’s cronies, and millions of dollars in foreign aid that seemed to always turn up missing, and prisons and propaganda.  And in the middle of it all:  ‘President’ Arafat sitting in a room - surrounded by waiting sycophants and toadies and respectful ladies and gentlemen of the press - and complaining.

       “That summer, I saw only three serious efforts at establishing functioning government:  the imprisoning of free-speakers and potential democrats, which began immediately; the likewise prompt establishment of daily anti-Israel broadcasts, and a British-run program to train handpicked members of Mr. Arafat’s Fatah group in riot control.

       “Of course, there never was any real peace, Mr. Arafat had promised to disarm Hamas, Hezbollah and his own Fatah gunmen.  There is no evidence he ever seriously tried.  The terrorists resumed lethal operations against Israel within a month of Mr. Arafat’s arrival.  Between the day Mr. Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the deal that was to buy peace for Israel, and the day Mr. Arafat and Mr. Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize for that accord, Palestinian terrorists killed 90 Israelis.  In five years after Oslo, Palestinians killed more Israelis than in 15 years preceding the accord.

       “Meanwhile, Mr. Arafat’s government has exploited Israel’s permission to establish a police force to instead build a guerrilla army.  Several months ago, some of Mr. Arafat’s most senior lieutenants were identified as the architects of an attempt to import an entire shipload of rockets, arms and high explosives into Gaza.  In occupying Palestinian Authority offices this week in Ramallah, Israel plausibly claims to have discovered two container-loads of prohibited SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles and more than 200 LAW anti-tank missiles.

       “There is much that can be conceded in the issue of Israel and the Palestinians:  the Palestinians have, in their lost land, a great and real grievance; as a moral and practical matter, Israel should admit this, and should be willing to trade land for peace.

       “But this is the point:  Israel did concede these questions.  It has been nearly two years since Israel offered the Palestinians nearly all of the territories occupied in 1967.

       “Mr. Arafat’s response has redundantly proved his harshest critics right.  There never was any honest intent on the Palestinian part for peaceful coexistence with Israel; any more than there ever was any honest intent to establish a government in Gaza that would function toward that end and toward the creation of a decent life for the Palestinian people.  What the Palestinians seek - what Mr. Arafat has encouraged them to seek - is, as is now beyond dispute, the defeat and surrender of Israel.

       “Mr. Arafat and the Palestinians decided to gamble the peace process on a bet for bigger gains through war.  They bet - are betting still - that Israel, pushed beyond endurance by an unprecedented level of civilian deaths, would surrender to, in essence, the destruction of the Israeli state.  This is an insane bet.  It will end in the destruction of the experiment that Mr. Arafat subverted from the very first day.”

(By Michael Kelly, editor of National Journal, April 4, 2002)

       “Operation Defense Wall, as the Israeli army calls it, generated in its first days large-scale arrests of terror suspects as well as arms, munitions, and explosives.  In one location some 40 explosive belts of the sort used by suicide bombers were found.  In another place 600 rifles were seized in one building.

       “By last weekend the army had confiscated more than 1,200 weapons and a number of anti-tank rockets, mortars, and heavy machine guns.

       “The army estimated that 70 Palestinians were killed in the operation’s first five days and 150 wounded.  The army has arrested 1,250 suspects, 70 of them wanted for terror attacks against Israelis.

       “The army also said it found a crate of its own uniforms in Palestinian Preventative Security headquarters in Beitunya, northeast of Jerusalem not far from Yasser Arafat’s besieged headquarters, along with a cache of weapons, a few of which have been recovered so far.

       “At the end of a week’s ferocious fighting the Israeli army was in control of Ramallah, Kalkilya, Tulkarm, Behtlehem, Jenin, most of Nablus, and other towns.  By then, the diplomatic machinery was hard at work in an effort to bring Israel’s drive to a halt.”

(Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2002) 



       “James McDonald, the first U.S. ambassador to Israel, once said Israeli policy-makers tend to rely on a certain percentage of miracles in their planning.

       “That same tendency has overtaken Israelis across the political spectrum.  Reeling from a seemingly unending spate of suicide bombers and series of incidents in which the Palestinians have bested the Israeli army, and seeing no way out of another 50 years of violence, they grasp at any and every straw.  On the same day, a majority of the public is capable of declaring its support for a return to the ’67 borders, if peace will be achieved, and the transfer of all Arabs across the Jordan.

       “I have heard both suggestions advanced by people of superb intelligence.  Yet both depend on miracles on the scale of those God did for our ancestors in Egypt.

       “The problem with returning to the 1967 borders for peace is that the return to those borders would of necessity precede peace, and would be irreversible whether or not peace followed.  The world would not recognize any form of terrorism against Israel as a causas belli.  Each incident would be attributed to Hamas or Hizbullah, and Israel would be told that the official Palestinian state must not be held responsible for rogue groups.

       “Palestinian demands do not and will not end at the 1967 border.  Arafat has repeatedly reaffirmed his strategy of conquest in stages, and as Camp David made clear, he has never prepared his people to live in peace with Israel within any borders.  Another generation of Palestinians has been indoctrinated in the belief that all of Israel is theirs, and that nothing could be more glorious than to die reclaiming it.  The last 19 months of war have only intensified Palestinian hatred for the Jewish state and upped the stakes for them.

       “Those who promised quiet on the northern border after Israeli flight from Lebanon have now been thoroughly exposed by the murder of six Israeli motorists by Hizbullah operatives last week.  And if the claim that Hizbullah would become a pussycat when it had ‘no more reason to fight’ was implausible, it is doubly so with respect to the Palestinians who have never renounced their claim to Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

       “Palestinians have continually cited Hizbullah’s successful guerrilla warfare against Israel as the noble precedent for their own current war, and another Israeli retreat within Israel itself would only confirm their conviction that Israel is weak and further whet their appetites.

       “The Karine A affare and the ongoing arms smuggling into the PA reveal that the promise of a demilitarized Palestinians state would not be worth the paper it was written on.  Perhaps in recognition of that, some Leftists now argue that no restrictions on armaments should be placed on the Palestinian state.

       “So war it will be, with Israel fighting from what Abba Eban called its pre-1967 ‘Auschwitz borders,’ against well-armed and determined foes.

       “Some ‘realists’ among those advocating withdrawal to the 1967 borders acknowledge this.  They prefer, however, a war for Israel’s very existence, in which everyone will fight, to a war today, in which as much as 30 percent of the country might not show up for what they would term a ‘War of Occupation.’  This is a rope-a-dope with a vengeance: Israel will make itself as weak and vulnerable as possible to fight with her back to the wall.

       “Those advocating transfer - the other popular nostrum - have to reckon with the fact that Israel doesn’t manufacture F-15s. Any attempt at transfer would place Israel in the same position as the Serbians and result in a complete American arms embargo.  To which transfer advocates respond: We will hint to America that if deprived of the means of defending ourselves, we will have no choice but do open-air testing of our nukes.  Well, that will certainly solve everything.

       “The common element behind these two plans is that they both rely almost entirely on miracles.  If we are relying on miracles anyway, my own more realistic suggestion is to admit that we are in the same position as our ancestors at the Red Sea.  Instead of hiding our faith via ostensibly practical solutions, let us openly proclaim our faith as did our ancestors.

       “The Talmud’s proposed solution to our current plight - If all Israel observes two Sabbaths in a row, the redeemer will come - is both easier and safer than all the alternatives being bandied about.  If we do that, maybe this Hebrew month of Nissan will again be the month of redemption.”

(In Good Faith, by Jonathan Rosenblum, The International Jerusalem Post, February 29, 2002)



       “No more hot and cold with the Palestinians.  ‘If you start to take Vienna - take Vienna.’ - Napoleon  Yes, military tentativeness is ruinous.  But what, for Ariel Sharon, is Vienna? 

       “Today’s war began 18 months ago when Yasser Arafat - a Goebbels echoed by gullible news media - said the violence he orchestrated was a spontaneous conflagration about Mr. Sharon visiting Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.  Now, the war may have become the first half of the only currently feasible formula for Israel’s self-defense - a short war, followed by a high wall.

       “Israel made the worst diplomatic miscalculation since Munich when it resurrected Mr. Arafat’s political life by bringing him back to Palestine from Tunisia a decade ago.  The culture of death that he assiduously has cultivated has produced a Palestinian population intoxicated with a pogrom mentality, and convinced that the results of 1948, not just 1967, can be reversed.

       “Israel’s policy of isolating Mr. Arafat in a room, clustered with a few henchmen around fluttering candles, is reasonable because it underscores his dependence on ‘world opinion,’ and especially Europe’s appeasement reflex, which is still strong 64 years after Munich.  But it is unreasonable to allow electricity into his compound.  Enabled to recharge his mobile phone, he continues to use the international media as his megaphone.

       “And when a gaggle of leftist European supporters of terrorists walks past Israeli tanks and into the compound, can Jesse Jackson be far behind?  Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s once and perhaps future prime minister, can say of Mr. Sharon, as Teddy Roosevelt said of his successor, William Howard Taft, that he ‘means well, but he means well feebly.’

       “The United States, too, has a record of resisting the logic of its judgments.  ‘I think the PLO has proven that it is a terrorist organization,’ said President-elect Ronald Reagan.  But after his inauguration, he allowed the PLO to maintain its office a few blocks from the White House.

       “Less than two years ago, candidate Bush said:  ‘A few years ago on a trip to Israel, General Sharon took me on a helicopter flight over the West Bank.  And what a trip that was.  What struck me…is the tiny distance between enemy lines and Israel’s population centers.  The general said that before the Six-Day War, Israel was only 9 miles wide at its narrowest point.  In Texas, some of our driveways are longer than that.’

       “Note the words enemy lines.  Mr. Bush knows that no Israeli leader can accept restoration of those 1967 borders, which were accidents of war.  Consider some history.

       “It has been 84 years since Britain’s General Allenby defeated the Turks at Armageddon, dooming the Ottoman Empire and opening Palestine to Jewish immigration.  It has been 46 years since the Suez fiasco ended European attempts to fill the vacuum created by the Ottoman collapse.  The vacuum hasn’t been filled by the barely legitimate regimes of Arab nations, many of which are well-described as ‘tribes with flags.’

       “There is no basis in international law or historic practice for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s assertion that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is ‘illegal.’  Israel’s 1967 borders are armistice lines from 1948, when the Arab nations, rather than accept Palestinian statehood provided by U.N. resolutions and accepted by Israel, tried to destroy Israel.

       “The occupied territory on the West Bank is an unallocated portion of the Palestinian Mandate, to be allocated by negotiations.  Jordan was the military occupier from 1948 to 1967.  In 1951, Jordan tried to annex the West Bank, but no Arab nation recognized the annexation.  Israel took the West Bank when repelling aggression from there in 1967.  Under settled international practice, Israel is entitled to hold the land until made secure by negotiated arrangements.

       “But Arab nations have nurtured conditions inimical to regional stability, partly by the novel invention of four-generatic ‘refugee’ families.  In 1945, there were many millions more refugees in Europe than there were in the Middle East in 1948.  By 1950 Europe’s problem had ceased festering.  But 54 years after the founding of Israel, Palestinian ‘refugee camps’ - cities, actually - exist because Arab nations have been unwilling to absorb Palestinians and want cities that are hothouses for irredentist fanaticism.

       “Mr. Sharon reportedly wants to exile Mr. Arafat, the chief formentor of such fanaticism.  If so, why the tentativeness?  Mr. Sharon should ship Mr. Arafat to Europe, where there is much official sympathy for him.  Mr. Arafat would like today’s France, where he could place his phone calls by the light burning synagogues.”

(By George Will, who is a columnist for The Washington Post, April 4, 2002)



       ”The Rev. Patrick Sookhdeo, an expert on Islamic history and politics, directs the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity in London and the Barnabas Fund, a charity.  Of Pakistani descent he grew up as a Muslim in Guyana, then converted to Christianity, eventually becoming an Anglican priest.  In November 2001, he was awarded the Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation.

       “I think we have a greater problem in Islam than we realize.  Much as I understand why politicians in the U.S. and UK have made the kinds of affirmatory statements they have made, I think time will show they have made a mistake.

       “In dealing with Islam, you have to tell the truth.  And you have to meet it head on.  It understands power and only power.  And so you have to know how to exercise power.

       “I believe we face a much greater threat from Muslim communities within our own countries than we realize.  What we are dealing with is the increasing radicalization of groups within our societies that would have their own agenda.

       “The Muslim world sees itself as under threat.  Far from being unified, it is heavily fragmented.  But there are certain challenges they will face [together].  And that is Western globalization, which they blame for everything.  Western neocolonialism arising out of old colonialism - that too, they blame for everything.  Their massive corruption of their own leadership structures, their autocratic leadership rules that exist - all of this has tended to create new forces within the Islamic world.

       “And the church opted for interreligious dialogue.  They desperately wanted a relationship with the Muslims.  So it meant the Christian minorities had to be sacrificed on the altar of community relations.

       “With the advent of Islam in the West, the Western countries have to come to terms with a minority and they didn’t know how to do it because of civil liberties.  We have got societies that are strong liberal democracies. Our own legal framework stops us from dealing with extremist religion.

       “Historically, Islam has never learned to live as a minority because its basis exists in power.  Therefore, how does it reconstruct itself in Western societies?

       “As for the church in the West, I see a real dilemma in that it works on the basis of pluralism.  Difficulties arise in three areas.  The first is the uniqueness of the Christian faith.  Can we hold onto uniqueness in the contest of pluralism in society?  And what if government and church leaders say, just for the sake of peace in our society, Christianity must sacrifice its unique role?  That is an issue already in Britain.

       “Secondly, there is the question of evangelism.  Will we have the right to evangelize Muslims?  The Samuel Zwemer Institute [an American missions organization] just said that since September 11, more than 34,000 North Americans have converted to Islam.  In Britain, phenomenal numbers are moving towards Islam.  It seems strange that a religion whose followers could propound such heinous crime has actually come out on top.  That is unanswerable.  Why is it that the church is losing ground and not Islam?

       “The third great question is conversion.  Islam sees conversion as a fundamental attack against their religion.  So will we have to deny that?  Overall, I think we are going into very difficult waters.  The question is what policies Western governments take vis-à-vis toward Islam?  I think we must drive Islam to have a reformation, which is what Salman Rushdie is saying, that Islam unreformed will be brutal and barbaric.  Its only future is in having a Martin Luther.  But the question is:  Who is going to be that leader?  And will he be allowed to survive?

       “If all the West does is support conservative Islam, then they are actually simply putting off the evil day.  The policy of the British government, the monarchy and the church has been to sell Islam.  In fact, the most conservative, rightwing paper, the Daily Telegraph, did a 16-page supplement on how wonderful Islam is.  And everyone accepted the article.  No one was allowed to criticize.  I was one of the few that did…I was simply massacred.  The only line permitted is that Islam is peaceful, it is tolerant, it is a wonderful religion.

       “If your president, your church - in our case the monarchy - if everyone sings in tune for the media, what is the average person in the street going to say?  We have sold a lie and people have bought it.

       “[British] Muslims realized at a very early stage [after September 11] they would capitalize on this.  They sent out a Koran, and Muslim holy books to every member of the House of Lords, to every member of the House of Commons… They swamped the country and they succeeded.  They then sent out their speakers.  Muslims have approached all churches and said, ‘Why don’t we instruct you on Islam?’  Now our government is considering creating a booklet on Islam for all institutes and structures to study.

       “Here I am highly critical of church leaders.  I think they failed their own country because they did not have the courage to break with what was going on and they did not have the insight to see what needs to be done.  The Muslims found a very vulnerable people who were open to their ideas.       Meanwhile, Christianity was painted in a particular light.  Melanie Phillips, writing in Britain’s Sunday Times, said that Christianity is the only religion that has extended itself through mission, colonialism and the Crusades.  In other words, Christianity was conceived as a white man’s religion - brutal, barbarous and evil - whereas Islam is a noble religion based on peace.

       “If I say the history of the West has been infinitely superior to [that of] the Muslim world; that freedom, democracy, human rights and religious liberty have come out of Christianity and the West; that we have something to offer the Muslim world - that is viewed critically.  How are we now going to educate the average person out there that there is something very good about the West and Christianity?”

(By The Rev. Patrick Sookhdeo, The Jerusalem Connection, March 2002)


       “MATTHEW 21:43 AND THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL:  While giving several parables in Jerusalem, Jesus said, ‘Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit of it.’ (Matt. 21:43)

       “Matthew 21:33-46 is part of Jesus’ indictment of the religious establishment in Jerusalem, whose franchise to lead Israel would be forfeited to Matthew’s Christian Jewish community.  The ‘nation’ in verse 43 speaks of the Matthean community as an eschatological messianic remnant, whose leaders will replace the current Jerusalem religious establishment and lead Israel in bearing the fruit of righteousness to God.  Thus the parable of the recalcitrant farmers is about ethics, not ethnicity, and a Jewish remnant, not a Gentile replacement.  This remnant is pictured as a repentant son (v. 30), as responsible farmers (v. 41), and as responsive guests (22:9-10).  None of these parabolic details need be interpreted as speaking in ethnic terms.

       “Matthew 21:33-46 is a parabolic presentation of Israel’s rejection of the prophets, which is the reason for Jesus’ final pronouncement of woe on the scribes and Pharisees in 23:29-36 (cf. 5:12).  It should be noted that Jesus’ woes in Matthew 23 were pronounced on the fruitless religious leaders only after He had spoken to His disciples about a proper model for fruitful servant leadership in 23:1-12.  Surprisingly He acknowledged the authoritative office held by the leaders (vv. 2-3), but denied their role as proper models for ethical behavior.  A new group of leaders who would exemplify humble service to their brothers and sisters in God’s family was needed (cf. 20:20-28).  The new ‘nation’ of 21:43 would include these leaders.

       “The parable of the recalcitrant farmers should not be interpreted as a transferal of God’s redemptive program from the nation of Israel to the church.  To read this passage as Israel’s rejection and replacement by the Gentile church is to read into it a later theology of supersession.  Such a view is dubious exegetically and has contributed, perhaps unwittingly in some cases, to anti-Semitism.  The theology of supersession may not lead inexorable to the practice of anti-Semitism, but the connections are there in all too many cases in the history of the church.  A dubious view that also supports a theology that is often complicit in anti-Semitism should be rejected.

       “Matthew 21:33-46 should be interpreted as referring to a transfer of leadership in the kingdom from the fruitless Jerusalem religious establishment to the fruitful Matthean Christian Jewish community, led by Jesus’ apostles.  This community will be the eschatological remnant of Israel, which will continue its mission to Israel while expanding its horizons to all nations.  Although the church will eventually expand primarily by winning Gentiles to Jesus, its roots in the promises of God to the seed of Abraham must not be forgotten.  Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman - ‘Salvation is of the Jews’ - warrant repeating (John 4:22; cf 10:16; Acts 24:14, 28:20; Rom. 11:16-24; 15:7-13; Eph. 2:11-22; Rev. 21:12).”

(By David L. Turner, Bibliotheca Sacra 159, January-March 2002)


Dear Emily and all other Brethren,

       We want to send our greetings to all of you from a beautiful green and flower spangled Galilee.  This has indeed been one of the longest and most beautiful springs we can remember in years.  This is due to the good rains we have had in January/February, then again over the Passover/Easter week, and even some wonderful latter rains last week.  It has kept the Galilee so green and you see the difference water makes for the land.  All has helped the Sea of Galilee as well although it is still lower than normal to start the dry season.

       How is your winter been there in Florida?  We hear from many areas of the U.S. that they are in drought conditions due to the dry and mild winter.  It seems Israel experiences things first and then it goes to the nations like our drought conditions and now in the States.  Also the terrorism has been with Israel a long time and now goes out to the nations.

       We do hope this finds you well, Emily, as well as all those there in your area.  Lev did not go down to the Dead Sea this spring for treatment for his skin, as it was a difficult time here.  So it was nice for me that he has been here this year.  However we have not been too busy with the Bed/Breakfast rooms except the week of Passover.  Not only are there very few tourists, but even local people are not traveling too much these days.

       March was a very difficult month here with over 125 killed in the suicide bombing attacks.  It got to the point that you did not want to hear the news as it was about attacks or more funerals.  In a small country like this it seems these touch everyone’s lives.  We were no exception as the bomber that blew himself up in Haifa on March 31st was at the restaurant run by the cousin of our cook at the YMCA.  We know all of this extended family well having worked with various ones of the family, visited in their homes in the village of Juran (between here and Nazareth), and shared many wedding celebrations with them.  So five from this Arab Moslem family were hurt in the blast, and the nephew of our cook was killed.  He was a young man of 30 years old leaving his wife eight months pregnant and a four year old boy.  So we went to the village during the mourning period (for Moslems this is for three days), and it was very sad.  They were very angry that these suicide bombers, as they just want to kill as many people as possible - Jews or Arabs.

       So with all these terrible attacks, and many deaths on a daily basis, Israel had to do something.  They declared war on the terrorists and went in to clear out the nests of terror activity that Arafat promised to do over and over.  There were so many weapons, bomb factories, etc, etc that they found.  It was indeed a set-up for war on the Israeli people, and still is.  How all the money spent on these weapons could have helped the Palestinian people!!

       Even though Israel was so careful to avoid civilian deaths, the world has jumped on the hate bandwagon of massacres.  Anything Israel does is bad, but the terrorists can go on and on killing with no U.N. resolutions passed against them.  We are seeing how fast the world can turn against Israel, and that the old spectre of anti-Semitism rises out of the dust with such shocking force in Europe once again!  The Israelis have been stunned by the events in so many nations of Europe not only against Israel, but also all Jews!!  They do feel alone again!

       Sadly the U.S. policy has been swinging back and forth with Bush’s statements of late.  I doubt he would pull out of Afghanistan now when he wants to “achieve his objective against the terrorists”!  Why is Israel not allowed the possibility to capture their enemies?

       Well, needless to say these are heavy times for all Israelis, but they do stay behind the Sharon government in their decisions to do something about the terrorists.

       Where are the Catholic Church and all the Christians now that the terrorists have taken over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem?  Not only have they taken hostages, stolen the holy things there and desecrated the church, but no one cares.  The blame comes on Israel for trying to prevent this.  A sick world!!

       That is why in these days we need to look up and be thankful for the hope of God’s plans and purposes.  Events are moving so fast now, and what a time to be living in to see God’s hand moving the affairs of Israel and all men!  So we indeed feel it is a time to be here to “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people!”  This they need and we can do with God’s Word!

       Thank you for your long and informative letter of January.  We are amazed that God gives you strength to continue on in His service!  Greetings to all there!

Love, Lev and Hava Bausch       (ISRAEL)