A child of a brotherhood member holds a copy of the Koran during a demonstration by the Muslim Brotherhood against the Israeli attacks in Gaza, outside the journalists syndicate in Cairo January 21, 2009. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh (EGYPT)
Once again we found ourselves glued to the TV as Egyptians rose up against their Pharaoh, crying out for freedom and… JOBS!
Who could resist feeling compassion for these citizens who wanted a chance to pursue a better life? To find an exit from virtual serfdom and destitution?
Out of this emotional and wrenching upheaval, Western politicians and the media began to hope and pray for a miracle, a western-type “instant democracy.”
Western columnists happily pointed out that few—very few—protesters were burning U.S. and Israeli flags. Indeed, most of the demonstrators were peaceful. All these were hopeful signs.
However, the plain truth is, to implement real reforms in Egypt would mean that the values found in the Islamic religion and its society would have to change.
Instead, Israeli strategists fear that Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood will blend into the state’s political system, gain international legitimacy through the corrupt agencies of the U.N., harness the state’s mechanisms to win hearts and minds and eventually take over—exactly what happened in Iran.
ARAB PERCEPTION OF DEMOCRACY
Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz interviewed the renowned British-American scholar of Islamic studies, Bernard Lewis, about Muslims’ perception of freedom and democracy. His insight is fascinating.
He asserts that democracy is a political concept that has no history, no record whatsoever in the Arab, Islamic world.
In the West, he says, “we tend to get excessively concerned with elections, regarding the holding of elections as the purest expression of democracy, as the climax of the process of democratization.”
However, he warns, “consider, for example, that democracy was fairly new in Germany after World War I, and Hitler came to power in a free and fair election.”
Lewis believes that immediate elections in Egypt will lead to disaster.
“The religious parties have an immediate advantage. First, they have a network of communication through the preacher and the mosque” which no other political group can hope to equal.
“Secondly, they use familiar language. The language of Western democracy is for the most part newly translated and not intelligible to the great masses.”
A much better course, says Lewis, “would be a gradual development of democracy, not through general elections, but rather through local self-governing institutions. For that, there is a real tradition in Arab culture.”
IF THE BROTHERHOOD TAKES OVER
As for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Lewis warns, “I don’t think it is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequence would be disastrous for Egypt.”
“If that happens,” Lewis states, “they would gradually sink back into medieval squalor. Remember that according to their own statistics, the total exports of the entire Arab world other than fossil fuels amount to less than those of Finland, one small European country. Sooner or later the oil age will come to an end… In that case it’s easy to imagine a situation in which Africa north of the Sahara becomes not unlike Africa south of the Sahara.”
Boaz Ganor, head of an Israeli think tank, agrees that “Egypt is not an inch nearer to a liberal democratic government than it was before the riots began.”
Without education of democratic values, without liberal reform, the emancipation of women and the observing of human rights, including religious rights, the pseudodemocratic processes Egypt is currently experiencing will ultimately promote the interests of Islamist elements.
THE BROTHERHOOD SPEAKS
Meanwhile the Egyptian Brotherhood is faithfully following its well-known strategy as planned.
Its leaders have sized up the current situation thus: Egyptians are not happy with Israel, but they are not ready for a war. They are more interested in stability. So for now, sit tight.
Decades ago, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to avoid the path of instant Jihad for the purpose of removing Arab regimes from power, choosing instead to patiently invest in charities, schools and hospitals in poor areas and to spread its Islamist ideology quietly, waiting for an opportunity to leverage its support base.
A spokesman for the Egyptian Brotherhood was even allowed to speak to an Israeli journalist. He was reassuring:
“We are not going to declare war on anybody. Egypt has many internal problems that need to be solved before we can look to project our power abroad. We need to judge those that punished our society,” he said, referring to ministers in former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s cabinet.
“Our position on the [Israeli-Egyptian] peace treaty is well known, but we have other priorities.”
On the other hand, Al-Qaida’s strategy is to move quickly and violently into countries in chaos, such as what Libya is experiencing.
Dislodging the regimes of Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia and others and replacing them by force with an Islamic super state—a caliphate—has most definitely been the preliminary objective of al-Qaida for more than two decades.
However, unlike al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood views democracy as a front gate to power. It stands a far better chance of profiting from recent events than the militant al-Qaida radicals.
The Brotherhood has always had patience. They are absolutely convinced that time is on their side, and they will ultimately win.
Undoubtedly there are groups within the Brotherhood that disagree on the preferred means to achieve their goal, but they do not disagree about the objective.
The ultimate goal for Egyptian revolution is the formation of an Islamic nation ruled by Sharia law.And their worldwide goal—exactly the same as al-Qaida’s—has been, is and will be to usher in a global Islamic caliphate.
The Brotherhood is pleased to let the “seculars” secure the beachhead first.
For example, a secular activist, Ayman Nour, who spent time in jail under Mubarak, and actually ran for president in 2005, is calling for an annulment of the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, and the closing down of the gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel.
Why should the Brotherhood do anything but continue preaching from the mosques and developing their community organizing?
THE IRANIAN LESSON
The greatest nightmare for every democratic nation is a duplicate of the Iranian revolution. How in the world did such a disaster happen?
First of all, a secular, reform-minded prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, was installed after the Shah fled. Bakhtiar had spent six years in jail under the Shah.
In the first month as premier of Iran, Bakhtiar ordered all political inmates to be freed, lifted censorship of newspapers, relaxed martial law, ordered the dissolving of SAVAK (the former regime’s secret police) and requested that the opposition give him three months to hold elections for a constituent assembly that would decide the fate of the monarchy and determine the future form of government for Iran.
His fatal mistake was to invite the Ayatollah Khomeini to return home from his banishment in Paris.
The prime minister then lasted a total of 36 days before he was dumped and the Ayatollah installed himself by popular acclamation.
Islamic extremists, if given the chance, win.
ISRAEL’S WAKE-UP CALL
In many ways, Mubarak’s overthrow is a waving red flag for Israel.
Egyptian natural gas, pumped through a pipeline, produces 20% of Israel’s electricity. A takeover by Islamists will sooner or later end the supply of natural gas from Egypt.
Providentially, I believe, immense gas fields have lately been discovered off the coast of Israel.
However, Israel’s government will have to offer more incentives to lure foreign investment from the U.S. and Europe for the billions of dollars needed to develop the potential fields.
What seems almost certain is that the next Egyptian government will be less pro-American.
That in itself will directly endanger the security of the U.S. due to the important intelligence gathering and operational role Mubarak had been leading against global Jihad.
Mubarak fell, not only because of his corrupt government, but because he was perceived as being pro-American.
Obviously the next Egyptian president will also be less pro-Israeli.
The new Egyptian opposition leaders are currently demanding the opening up of their border with Gaza—meaning a massive flow of weapons into Gaza. Already ten Hamas terrorist leaders escaped Egyptian jails during the riots and are now back in Gaza.
Undoubtedly, a destabilized Egypt could mean Israel’s southwestern border could become the scene for renewed military conflict.
Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor and prominent advocate for Israel’s right to exist, told the Jerusalem Post that “Israel must prepare for a worst-case scenario, because neither Israel nor the U.S. has much influence over unfolding events.”
Israel will have to create a much larger and stronger Israeli army. It will have to invest far more money and the defense budget will go up dramatically. The result is that we cannot develop our economy and society the way we had expected, but must invest much more in defense.”
The one strongest restraint on Egypt would be the loss of $1.5 billion in foreign aid from the U.S. if they break the peace treaty with Israel.
FALL ELECTIONS FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT
The Brotherhood has stated that they do not plan to present their own candidate for Egypt’s upcoming elections.
Nevertheless, both of the two names being tossed around for the next president are known for their anti-American, anti-Israel stances, and are considered a good fit for the Brotherhood.
One is Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog who clearly protected Iran from the Western countries by continually understating the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.
The second, Amr Moussa, often a scathing critic of Israel and the West as head of the 22-member Arab bloc in the U.N. for ten years, enjoys even wider popularity in Egypt and would certainly continue to be hostile to the U.S and Israel.
But the U.S. administration is still locked into the mentality that Islam is a religion of peace.
Isi Leibler, an international Jewish leader from Australia, says that to apply such a blithely generalized descriptive term to Islam as practiced in the 21st century is really like saying that pigs can fly.
Western democratic leaders must come to their senses and recognize that the ongoing appeasement of our “engagement” with radical Islamic forces poses a real threat to the future of Western civilization.
Here’s what the indomitable Israeli strategic analyst Barry Rubin has to say to President Obama and the West.
You want a foreign policy that backs freedom? Stop supporting upheavals in the relatively moderate Muslim states friendly to the West. Help the rebels in the radical states hostile to the West.
Mr. Obama, here’s a start for you. Down with Ahmadinejad! Down with Bashar al-Assad! (Syria) Down with Hezbollah, Iran-Syrian puppet regime in Lebanon! Down with the Islamist government in Turkey! Down with the repressive, terrorist Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip!
Rubin adds, “That should be enough to keep Western policy busy for a while!”
THE BROTHERHOOD IN AMERICA
Their strategic documents are published only in Arabic.
At the trial of the United States vs. The Holy Land Foundation, a handbook presented as U.S. prosecutors’ evidence was translated from Arabic.
It outlined the strategy of the Brotherhoods’ goal of converting the U.S. into an Islamic nation through sabotage and subterfuge.
“The Ikhwan [Brotherhood member] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
A GLIMPSE INTO THE EGYPTIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD [AL-IKHWAN]
– Created in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, to promote Islamic Sharia law in opposition to social injustice.
– Al-Banna’s credo: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.
– Widely distributes Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arab translations, deepening the already existing hostile views of Jews.
– After WWII, it spread throughout the Arab nations, incorporating thousands of Nazi experts into the Egyptian and Syrian armies and governments.
– Assassinated Egypt’s Prime Minister in 1948.
– Attempted assassination of president Gamal al-Nasser in 1954. Nasser then executed its leaders and imprisoned thousands of its members.
– Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel and began releasing imprisoned members of Brotherhood. Was assassinated in 1981 by a jihadist—an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
– In 1980, attempted to assassinate the President of Syria, who then wiped out the Syrian branch. Survivors fled to other countries.
– Currently a serious danger to the moderate King of Jordan—the second Arab country that made peace with Israel, seeking every opportunity to gain ground, while the Jordanian king works to keep a lid on their growing power. Of special significance to Israel, because Jordan has the longest border with the Jewish state of any other nation.
– Exists as a strong force in every Arab nation.
– In Egypt it dominates the professional and student associations, and is famous for its network of social services in neighborhoods and villages.
– Is the only organized opposition to former president Mubarak’s government.
– Has branches in 70 countries. Exists as a militant clandestine group, and claims to have taken part in most pro-Islamic conflicts. Organizes school students, university students, operates inside mosques and the workplace.
– Unites with leftists and unions until strong enough to expel them.
– Since 2005 has become a significant movement online.
– Uses Internet, CDs, booklets, camps for youth and university students, and, of course, sermons live and on radio and TV.
I love my job. As the video producer for Maoz Israel Ministries, I get to travel all over the country filming the beautiful faces and testimonies of Israelis coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah.
From teenagers singing and dancing for the glory of God, to preachers and teachers. From food giveaways to political rallies, boat rides on the Sea of Galilee and holiday celebrations.
I love getting to be the one who records and shares with the world how prophecy is being fulfilled and the eyes of God’s chosen people are being opened to the reality of their Savior!
But this past month’s assignments were not so pleasant. In fact they challenged me to my very core.
They were frightening, confusing, and just downright sad. They involved encounters not with believers in Yeshua, but with the haters of Yeshua.
I realize they too have a role to play in the fulfillment of prophecy, but theirs is not one I ever enjoyed dwelling on too often.
FACING A CONFESSED MURDERER
On February 3rd I attended a hearing for confessed ultra-Orthodox Jewish terrorist, Jack Teitel.
Teitel has confessed to multiple murders and bombings, including a bombing at the home of a Messianic Jewish family, the Ortiz’s.
I have interviewed the Ortiz’s many times. I have been to their home, I have heard the horrific stories and seen the gruesome photos of their young son Ami who opened Teitel’s bomb and suffered near life-ending injuries.
But I had never met Teitel himself, not until that day in court.
My cameraman and I went to the hearing that day, thinking there would finally be a ruling as to whether Teitel is mentally fit to stand trial.
His lawyers have been arguing for months that he is insane and should therefore be sent to a mental hospital, rather than to prison.
We arrived at the courthouse in Jerusalem and waited for Teitel to be brought in. The Ortiz family was also there, including Ami who continues to astound everyone with his miraculous recovery.
A few minutes later, in came Teitel.
For some reason, that I’m still not 100% sure of, I began to tremble when he walked through the door, or rather shuffled through the door as he had chains around his ankles and wrists and was being escorted by guards on either side.
Why couldn’t I stop looking in his direction, studying the paleness of his hands, the length of his beard, the complete disregard that he showed for the judges when they entered (he refused to stand) and even the translator sitting next to him, explaining the proceedings. (Teitel, who is an immigrant from America, does not speak Hebrew well.)
What caused me to react this way? Could it have been a clash of spirits? Could such a demon-possessed man give off such a negative spirit that it radiated throughout the room?
During the first break in the proceedings, I spoke with the Ortiz family, who I’m proud to say have become dear friends since we met during my first interview with them for Maoz.
AMI FACES HIS ATTACKER
They informed me that this was the first time Ami had seen Teitel in person.
I was stunned to hear this news. Little did I know that Ami was laying eyes for the first time on the man who forever altered his life. Strangers, but yet forever linked, because of the cruel act of a hate-filled man.
Later that day, during another break in the hearing, I was interviewing David and Leah Ortiz in the hallway outside the court.
Just as I was asking them their thoughts on the day and just as they were answering in their usual loving, forgiving, graceful way… the doors to the courtroom opened and Teitel was led out by his guards.
Here we were in a terribly narrow hallway. Teitel, shackled, his guards escorting him, David and Leah Ortiz, the real intended targets of Teitel’s hate, and me, the observer of it all.
As Teitel passed us, something came over me, that even I can’t explain. I suddenly found myself asking him: “What was it like seeing Ami Ortiz today in court?”
Something inside of me just had to know. Something inside of me just had to plant that thought in Teitel’s brain, to take back with him to his solitary confinement.
Ami Ortiz is a real person! Today you saw him with your own eyes! The Ortiz’s are a real family, as are all the other families of your numerous victims.
Something inside of me just had to try to wake him out of his stupor, to realize that these weren’t just “causes” he was going after (Messianic Judaism, Arabs, liberal political thinkers). These were real human beings!
And I believe I got his attention. Teitel looked up, turned and stared me right in the eye, then made some sort of smirking facial expression and kept right on walking.
That look he gave me stayed with me for days. It still stays with me, but for two nights as I tried to sleep it was an image I couldn’t get out of my mind.
During the endless hours of testimony that day in court, Teitel’s lawyer tried to prove that Teitel was mentally incapable of helping his lawyers form his defense. That he just didn’t have the capacity for that kind of human interaction.
The district psychiatrist refuted that argument by talking about the very real relationships Teitel was perfectly capable of maintaining. He was married, he had children and he even volunteered with the organization known as Yad L’Achim.
In fact during his testimony, the psychiatrist talked repeatedly about Teitel’s involvement with Yad L’Achim, even suggesting it was the only “real work” Teitel ever did after moving to Israel.
THE JEWISH BROTHERHOOD
So what is Yad L’Achim?
Literally translated it means “Hand to the Brotherhood.” It is a group comprised of ultra-Orthodox Jews who see it as their job to rescue Jews who have either become believers in Yeshua or married a non-Jew… and to stop anyone from promoting such ideas.
It should be stated that Yad L’Achim is a registered non-profit organization in the United States and receives taxfree donations which then fund its activities in Israel.
Their website states: “Over the years, its (Yad L’Achim’s) attention has turned to more complex problems, including how to counter the missionary threat. Israel has attracted some 100 missionary congregations and cults… Fighting the missionaries… has long been one of Yad L’Achim’s top priorities.”
It continues, “The Jewish soul is a precious, all-too-rare resource, and we are not prepared to give up on even a single one. That’s why we fight with such intensity…”
While the term “missionary” may be a positive one to Gentile believers in Yeshua, here in Israel it’s a contemptible word.
In the minds of ultra-Orthodox, and in fact the majority of Israelis, “missionary” means a person who wants to destroy the Jewish people by converting them to Christianity.
The nation of Israel, in their minds, would disappear because, according to them, they believe there is no such entity as a Jew who believes in Yeshua.
Thus Yad L’Achim labels all believers in Yeshua as “missionaries.”
Over the years Yad L’Achim has built a unique network of volunteers.
When anyone spots any activity by believers in Yeshua, whether it is witnessing in the streets or an outreach event like a concert… a Yad L’Achim volunteer gets on his cell phone, calls the office and soon dozens if not hundreds of other volunteers arrive to disrupt whatever is taking place.
Messianic congregations and places of businesses are targeted by Yad L’Achim.
It is alleged that the phone network was established by the Chief Rabbi of Beersheva.
Twice Yad L’Achim has staged violent demonstrations at a Messianic Jewish congregation in Beersheva during their Shabbat services (although they were exonerated in court, as the judge ruled they were only trying to save Jewish souls.)
FACING A THOUSAND
On February 21, Yad L’Achim staged another large rally outside a Messianic Jewish congregation, this time in Ashdod, Israel.
I was asked to film this event, but had no idea what I was in for.
I had seen one or two Yad L’Achim volunteers at various times, whether while sharing God’s love on an outreach with Jewish street evangelist Jacob Damkani or at a soup kitchen where I used to volunteer… but I had never seen anything like what occurred in Ashdod.
Police blocked off the entire street where the congregation was located. They set up city barricades around a stage built by Yad L’Achim complete with a podium, microphone and signs. There was a kiosk where you could sign up to join Yad L’Achim and ushers to help you find a good spot.
There was a car with a loud-speaker on its roof circling the area, inviting people to the rally, and then the buses rolled in with black-clothed men and boys from all over Israel.
They numbered at nearly 1,000 and they soon filled the area normally inhabited with the praises of the Messianic believers.
Over the next two hours, various speakers took to the stage to wail and bemoan the growing numbers of Messianic Jews in Israel.
As time passed, the intensity of the speeches grew. When the Chief Rabbi of Ashdod, Yosef Sheinin, took to the stage, he compared Messianic Jews to Hitler and Haman.
Another, Rabbi Shmuel David Gross, compared us to spiritual terrorists “who are every day throwing hundreds of missiles on the city and trying to injure and kill as many Jews as possible.” He then declared: “From here we issue the cry: Leave our city!”
It’s no surprise that as these dangerous and inflammatory decrees were made, the crowd soon became restless and angry.
It’s also no surprise that they soon spotted a cameraman taping their event, who was not dressed like they were.
They slowly and methodically made their way towards me. First trying to block my camera-view and then making a circle around me, taunting me with hisses and calling me ‘missionary’ and asking me “why are you in Israel?”
Similarly to my day in court with Teitel, I knew I was being challenged.
After nearly 20 minutes of the men and even some young boys shouting and cursing trying to push their way closer and closer towards me, I was now unable to film anything occurring on stage.
I was simply an out-numbered target for their bullying.
I motioned for one of the nearby Ashdod police officers (whose presence I’m convinced is the only thing that kept me and my camera from being damaged physically) and asked him to escort me back to my car.
Later a friend encouraged me to pray “forgive them LORD, they know not what they do.”
I asked myself, did these rabbis know what they were doing? It seems to me calling someone ‘Hitler’ to a group of Jews is a very deliberate act.
If any Jew were to see Hitler himself, he would have an obligation to take action against him for the crimes he committed against our people. At the very least, these rabbis were inciting their listeners against the Messianic Jews of Israel.
It should be noted this event took place just a few weeks before the holiday of Purim. It was the exact same time of year that Jack Teitel left his bomb at the Ortiz family home.
In fact the bomb was disguised as a Purim gift basket, and Ami was just hoping to enjoy the candy and gifts he could see wrapped under the cellophane.
Of course he could not see what Teitel had hidden underneath those faux treats. A bomb filled with shrapnel that would pierce every inch of Ami’s body.
Was the timing of this Purim speech in Ashdod just a coincidence?
Perhaps. But what will these 1,000 men and boys do with these decrees from their rabbis who hold such authority in their lives? Will one of them become the next Teitel?
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE ARE ARISING
Although these two events are traumatic for Messianic Jews, they have not in any way deterred me from my passion and my calling.
I have the privilege of being an eyewitness and a voice to the miraculous events occurring in re-born Israel.
I am blessed to see what Abraham and Moses only longed to see—prophecy fulfilled daily before my very eyes.
And I know my God is on our side.
What makes me so convinced, in the midst of all this persecution? The day Ami Ortiz met Teitel in court, was Ami’s 18th birthday. Ami is very much alive as is the body of Messiah in Israel!
We’re here as the prophets foretold: God promised that He would bring us back to the land of Israel in the last days. He promised that He will be our God and ultimately we will truly be His people.
And as for these ultra-Orthodox men and boys—fanatical for rabbinical theology—we take comfort in the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah that one day “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall say that Yeshua is Lord!”
One of the greatest challenges to every pastor everywhere is to help his people learn to live within their means, to stay out of debt and to bless and be blessed by giving into the Kingdom of God.
Our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua, in Tel Aviv hosted one of the conferences which was attended by many young Messianic Jewish business people who are working to raise up businesses to further the Kingdom of God in Israel.