Monthly Report: March 2011
Adar A - Adar B 5771
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by Shira Sorko-Ram
A week before the uprising in Egypt, one of our friends, an Israeli Messianic congregational leader, visited Egypt with his son. Looking at the country through spiritual eyes, he could see things that the mass of journalists reporting in Egypt observe but do not understand.
Anyone can see the poverty, the filth, the nauseating smells of human waste which permeate the nation. Two million pitiable wretches live among the graves in Cairo.
An Israeli cabdriver visiting Cairo described what he saw: “I was in Egypt a few times, and you see poverty that’s unimaginable – a whole neighborhood of people bringing containers to get water from the one single pipe that serves everybody.
People working full-time jobs for the equivalent of $50-$60 a month.”
He continued: “The police are completely corrupt – you have to bribe them to get across the border from Israel. Egypt makes a tremendous amount of money from tourism, from its natural resources, but the people don’t see any of it. It goes to the people with connections.”
Egyptians need jobs, jobs, jobs. Because of the utter corruption no one can transact business or anything else without paying bribes.
Police, first responders, utilities services – all come with a heavy price that few can pay.
It takes two years to open up a business in Egypt. Brain-dead bureaucrats assure that human initiative goes nowhere – unless you have connections. And money.
Indeed, although oil-rich Arab autocrats spend their lives in a Disney Land world, there are few Muslim societies that flaunt their riches like the proud descendants of the Pharaohs.
While 50% of Egypt’s downtrodden hordes attempt to feed their large families with one to two dollars a day, it is rumored that the former president, Hosni Mubarak, has stashed away some $70 billion in foreign accounts – although Switzerland has frozen his Swiss accounts.
Where did he get his money? From the American taxpayer ($1.3 billion a year for military alone) and kickbacks (bribes) from American and other companies that supply military equipment to his army.
Even the lowly Trade and Industry Minister who has suddenly fled the country is said to have stashed away $250 million.
Egyptians spend 50% of their money on food, Israelis and Westerners 15%. The common people are hungry, angry and fed up with corruption and nepotism.
Yet with all the unemployment in Egypt, there are some 1.5 million child laborers between ages 6-17, many working seven days a week, 10-11 hours a day.
This hell is beyond a westerner’s imagination. Who could have witnessed Egypt’s cry for deliverance and not have felt compassion for the masses?
But now for the part that most journalists (except Israelis) don’t absorb.
Egypt may have a secular government, but Egypt is not a secular nation. Islam is engrained and intertwined into every aspect of Egyptian culture.
If you are traveling in Egypt, most likely your local taxi driver will not be listening to pop western music, but to a non-ending series of Egyptian Islamic preachers and religious music on his radio.
The seller at the local kiosk will have his television on listening to messages from the Koran.
And as you walk down the streets of Cairo, you will hear the Imams preaching to the faithful inside the mosques, with loud speakers on the outside.
Before you are out of range of one mosque, you will come into the sounds of the next mosque. The country is inundated with Islamist theology – anti-western, anti-Zionist, anti-Christian rhetoric.
Ninety percent of Egyptians are Muslims and they are pious Muslims. They cannot imagine another way of life.
Take a look at Egyptian mentality according to a Zogby poll in July 2010:
Asked what two nations are the greatest threat to Egypt, 90% said Israel and 92% said the U.S. Stunning.
However, 86% believe Iran has a right to pursue its nuclear program.
Here are more statistics:
According to a Pew opinion poll in June 2010, 59% of all Egyptians said they would back Islamists, while 27% opted for modernizers. Moreover, 95% of them would welcome Islamic influence over their politics!
As for punishing the wicked:
Pure and unadulterated Sharia law.
STUDENTS AND DEMOCRACY
The exception would be a portion of university students – who have internet, facebook, youtube and the movies to whet their appetites for freedom.
Their numbers are not small, as 30% of Egyptians go to college. Half of them graduate. And many will tell you that religion is not their goal.
Actually, they really dream of freedom (which they have never known) and finding jobs with a real opportunity to get ahead.
Indeed, there are 500,000 hapless Egyptian young people who have somehow made it through college, gotten a degree, but can find no work – not even cleaning jobs. They certainly want and deserve a regime change.
Yet they are completely unorganized with no leadership.
Former President Hosni Mubarak crushed any and every attempt by the intelligencia and seculars to form political parties – through torture and jail.
And here is yet another caveat: Dr. Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs, claims that “in sharp contrast to reformers in other Arab countries, many Egyptian “democrats” are themselves quite radical, especially in terms of anti-American and anti-Israel thinking. The Egyptian public is extremely radical even in comparison to Jordan’s or Lebanon’s population.”
Gradually, Rubin warns, Islamists in Egypt have taken over major professional unions, including the lawyers’ syndicate, once the country’s most secular professional association.
Sharia law is increasingly being used in courts to prosecute secular intellectuals, writers, professors, artists and journalists for crimes such as blasphemy and apostasy.
They have taken over the Teachers Training College, producing educators who disseminate radical Islamic ideas in the classrooms.
Even though the Brotherhood was officially banned from political activity, in the last election, 20% of Egyptians voted for them anyway (as independents).
Westerners must understand!
The impoverished Egyptian people have never had a democratic state. They have no idea what a democratic state is. For a nation of devout Muslims, an Islamic state would be seen as an ideal democratic system!
In fact, a WorldPublicOpinion.org poll reveals that 69% of Egyptians believe that the Muslim Brotherhood favors democracy!
The Egyptian army, a formidable force in anyone’s book, is highly respected in Egypt.
Being secular, it has acted as a stabilizing force, making sure Islamics didn’t take over while President Mubarak ruled.
The Egyptian military consists of about 500,000 soldiers (and another 500,000 reservists) in more than a dozen mobilized divisions – twice the size of Israel’s.
It has more than 500 aircraft, including close to 250 F-16s, and 3,000 tanks. It has another 1,000 tanks in dry storage.
It has 3,000 or so artillery batteries and the same number of anti-aircraft stations plus a significant number of Scud-B ballistic missiles.
Its navy is the largest in the region.
Its air defense force constitutes a massive threat to the Israel Air Force.
And of course, the ballistic missiles and chemical weapons it has purchased from the likes of North Korea and China give it a significant stand-off/massdestruction capability.
Israel’s question, says the Jerusalem Post, has always been: Who is threatening Egypt that it needs such a powerful military?“
A simple glance at the map shows that none of its neighbors, such as Sudan and Libya come close to its military capabilities, except of course for Israel, which serves as the imaginary enemy in many of its land exercises.”
By the way, where did all the money come from to finance such a fine army? You guessed it. The faithful American taxpayer at $1.3 billion a year.
It would have been far better for Mubarak – and the U.S. – and Israel – if much of that money had been used to build up the economy in Egypt.
EGYPTIANS AND ISRAEL
President Mubarak did keep the peace with Israel after Anwar Sadat, who signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1978, was assassinated – by the Muslim Brotherhood.
It has been an icy peace; nevertheless there has been no Egyptian-Israeli war for 30 years.
But the average Egyptian does not at all support the peace accord.
Because of their devout Islamic roots, Egyptians hate Israel. They have been fertile ground over the last decade to the drumbeat of Arab TV network Al Jazeera – whose message is “infidels are anathema.” Jews first, Christians second.
Gershon Baskin, founder of an Israeli/Palestinian think tank, states: “The masses in Egypt hate Israel and identify strongly with its enemies. In the minds of the common Egyptian, Israel is a great enemy which continues to deny their Palestinian brothers and sisters their dignity and freedom, threatens the Aksa Mosque, passes racist legislation and, together with the United States, controls the wealth of the world.”
Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based network, has a budget of half a billion dollars a year. It is not a network to give informative and objective news, but is cohesive and agenda-driven, aimed at harming other Arab regimes and undermining their stability.
The motive? Qatar uses the network as a political bargaining tool.
A tiny country, it has created a powerful tool to frighten and influence the rest of the Arab world.
As far as criticizing Qatar itself... Dictator Sheikh Hamad makes absolutely sure that none of Al-Jazeera’s critical reporting relates to his own kingdom.
Al Jazeera has made it its mission to prevent an Israeli/Palestinian peace and worked tirelessly to bring President Mubarak down because he has kept the peace with Israel and has joined Israel in the blockade against Gaza’s Hamas leadership. (Complicated isn’t it?)
According to journalist Zvi Bar’el of Haaretz, “There are people in Egypt who attribute to Al Jazeera direct responsibility for the Egyptian peoples’ sympathy for the people of Gaza, the increased hatred towards Israel.
ENTER: THE BROTHERHOOD
In Islamic states, transformation comes in three steps. First the revolution, when the people of the nation explode, turning out the dictator and demanding freedom.
Second, a weak figure takes over because dictators do not allow alternative leadership to develop under their watch.
The weak leader cannot live up to the expectations of the newly freed citizens, cannot instantly solve the problems of poverty and jobs, and the people begin to crave a strong man.
Third, Islamists who are organized and often operate a vast network of community services, run for elections. They are voted in and will make sure that it will be the last free election for that nation.
Islamists, too, cannot instantly feed the people, create new jobs and bring financial success, therefore they seek an enemy to blame (i.e., the Zionists) for the nation’s troubles.
This process can take place in a short time – as happened within weeks in Iran. Or within months as it did in Gaza. Or it can take a few years, as happened in Lebanon. But with free elections in a Muslim state, Islamists take over. That means:
The only reason that this order of events has not happened in Iraq is because thousands of American and Allied soldiers beat down the Islamic insurrection with their blood. Even so, it is anything but sure that Iraq will develop into a real democracy.
An editorial in the Jerusalem Post noted: “If Hamas’ victory in 2006’s Palestinian elections did not illustrate the danger of a reckless rush toward hoped-for democratic representation without first carefully and systematically building the necessary democratic institutions – a free press; a legislature with a healthy opposition standing a real chance of coming to power; an honest judicial system not dictated by religious or ideological prejudices and strict, effective and fair law enforcement – there is the much fresher example of Hezbollah in Lebanon."
Some point to Turkey, an Islamic state that was able to sustain 80 years of democratic practices – as an example of Islamic democracy.
The reason for its success has been the strong secular military which acted to counter-balance an Islamic takeover.
However, slowly but surely, the present Prime Minister Erdogan – who is steadily turning more
When it comes to Islam and westerntype freedom and democracy, only one can prevail.
If and when the Islamic Brotherhood succeeds in taking over Egypt and its military, this will embolden Islamists to go after other secular Arab dictators.
With Lebanon ruled by Hezbollah, the Gaza strip by Hamas, Turkey turning towards Islamic rule, and Iran and Syria... don’t forget Afghanistan and Pakistan... the Brotherhood believes that the dream of a Muslim Empire – a Caliphate – is not that far away.
The results of an Islamic takeover in Egypt would mean a completely new military structure for Israel.
Even without an official cancellation of the peace treaty (which the Brotherhood says they plan to do) the Islamists would likely open up the border between its sister jihadists in Gaza, allowing Hamas to bring in unlimited weapons.
That would probably mean war.
A chaotic jihadist upheaval could ultimately close the Suez Canal to Israeli and even U.S. shipping – bringing the worldwide price of oil as high as the sky.
An Islamic government could stop the flow of natural gas they sell to Israel.
Yes, it would rob Egypt contracts worth $10 billion. But jihadists often do not operate according to reason.
This could lead to war.
An Egyptian army turning hostile to Israel would free up the Bedouin in the Sinai Desert to mount terrorist attacks.
This could also mean war.
Strategically speaking, Mubarak’s downfall and the possibility of an Islamic takeover of Egypt should be viewed in this larger regional context. Ultimately, the main victor will be Iran which is replacing the U.S. as the real power broker in the region.
Whether the Muslim Brotherhood wins enough votes in the election next September to take over the Egyptian government - or at a later election, at this stage, short of a miracle, Egypt will become a nation that is far more hostile to Israel, the U.S. and the West.
One thing I can absolutely assure you. At this moment the Muslim Brotherhood is plotting day and night for their next step – how to become Egypt’s rulers.
They have time. They can wait even years. But through free elections, Jihadi Islamists have a history of successfully taking over nations. Like they did in Gaza. Like they did in Lebanon. Like Iran. They will pounce when their opportunity comes. The implications are global.
THE POLICE AND THE SECRET POLICE
When the massive protests broke out in Egypt, the police reacted instinctively as they have been doing for decades – sending gangs, thugs and plain-clothes police to violently subdue the protesters.
At least 300 have been killed and 1000 injured.
The Egyptian people have been brutalized for decades. Living under “emergency law,” Mubarak’s government arrested at will, beat and tortured at will and let folks rot in jail.
Egyptians have talked politics in whispers for as long as they can remember – until now.
Watching how the secret police beat up and jailed prominent foreign journalists during the uprising (about as ill-advised as anything they could possibly have done) simply reveals their natural reflexes at work.
With no accountability needed, a tyrant and his accomplices almost always degenerate into hardened savages.
We cannot imagine how the Egyptian nation has suffered under Mubarak’s dictatorship.
However, a hungry people, denied their basic human rights, will always, under the right circumstances, rise up against corrupt leaders, says columnist Gershon Baskin.
THE REAL EGYPT
When I was a teenager, my family and I were flying to Egypt.
The pilots invited me up to the cockpit to see Egypt on the wide screen (those were the good ole days).
As we flew towards Cairo, to my amazement, I saw with my own eyes that Egypt is a complete unadulterated desert with a tiny green ribbon of vegetation on each side of the Nile river, running the length of the country.
Except for the Delta near the Mediterranean Sea where the Nile spreads out to many streams, Egypt is a green strip – averaging around eight miles wide that runs about 800 kilometers.
As the Nile flows north, it spreads into a Delta where there are 4,000 people per square mile.
It is here, along the Nile that 99% of the 83,000,000 Egyptians live.
In the next 20 years, the population is expected to reach 110 million. As housing spreads over the east and west banks, ever encroaching on the tiny amount of arable land, the Nile can no longer serve her people.
Salinity from the Mediterranean is seeping into the Nile’s territory. This new conquest, say the experts, is a catastrophe on its way.
THE WORD OF THE LORD FOR EGYPT
I have often wondered why God repeated so many times in the Bible that He would save Israel, rescue her from her enemies, bring her back to her inheritance, and see his people resettle their God-given land of which He actually specified its borders.
I no longer wonder. It is clear as crystal!
Israel doesn’t stand a chance to continue her existence in the Holy Land. Not a chance – without God. But Abraham’s seed will never disappear from this land. The prophet Amos wrote down God’s promise:
“I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them, Says the Lord your God.” Amos 9:15
The day will come when His greatest promise will be fulfilled: “I will be their God and they shall be My people.” That’s the promise. That’s why we pray, “Oh God, save your people Israel from their sins! Bring them back to You.”
But there are also incredible promises to Egypt from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 19. (It is really worth reading through.)
Isaiah lets Egypt know that great trouble will come upon her. Cruel men will rule over her people. The Egyptians will fight among themselves – brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city.
Isaiah even prophesies, “Neither will there be work for Egypt.”That correctly describes the situation as it is for millions of Egyptians right now.
Nevertheless, in God’s great mercy, “He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.”
As God delivers, there will be mass conversions from Islam to the True God and the True Son of God. What a day that will be! “Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day.”Isaiah has told us beforehand – for a purpose – that God is going to “strike Egypt.” Then as they turn to him He will “heal them!”
In that day, the construction crews will be building a highway from Egypt to Assyria (the northern Arab nations) as they too will have revival and come into Eternal Life! Can you believe it?
Instead of a curse, God will bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
Now we know! So let’s pray!
There are already thounsands of Egyptian Christian crying out to God for Egypt’s salvation.
“Lord, bring revival to Egypt! Send your angels to protect the growing army of Egyptians who have chosen to follow you and to love Israel at the risk of their lives. Raise up strong men and women of God in Egypt to preach your message of Life! Your will be done on earth, in Egypt, as it is in heaven!"
Israelis Also Want Freedom!
Israeli Attorney Calev Myers addresses the protest at Dizengoff
Square in downtown Tel Aviv. He declared the inalienable right
to marriage - whether the rabbinical authorities approve or not.
Although Israel is a democratic nation, it does not have a constitution because of the opposition of the ultra-Orthodox Jews who demand that Israel’s national lifestyle be based on rabbinical law.
There is always tension between Israel’s secular population that seeks freedom to believe according to one’s conscience versus the ultra-Orthodox demands to command control over the lives of the whole nation.
Currently the ultra-Orthodox dictate many important aspects of Israeli life.
If the rabbinical judges do not approve of a couples’ family pedigree, or of their beliefs, they refuse to allow Israelis to marry in Israel!
Ari’s sign reads “Civil marriage
unites the nation.”
Three hundred and fifty thousand Israelis – among them Messianic Jews – who wish to marry are denied that right and must travel abroad to marry!
Attorney Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, together with a number of Israeli civil rights groups, organized a protest for the right in Israel of any citizen to marry whoever he or she wishes.
Many hundreds attended and signed a petition that will be sent to the Knesset.
Calev Myers stresses that his fight is for the marriage of one man with one woman – regardless of religious beliefs, race or citizenship.
The present laws originated in this land under the pre-1920’s Ottoman rule, and would not be tolerated in any other Western democracy.
Attorney Myers has presented a petition to Israel’s High Court to allow civil marriages to all citizens of Israel.
We agree and attended the protest.
This was a great way to celebrate our own 34th wedding anniversary – which happened to be on the day of the marriage protest – February 11.
Picture: After hours of protesting in the sun, we stopped by a kiosk in the local mall and had our own wedding celebration with a great coffee and something we don’t usually allow ourselves – a high-caloried croissant!
The Struggle Against Religious Bigotry in Israel
For seven years, the ultra-Orthodox yeshiva (rabbinical schools) students in Arad have had a special mission after their daily studies – harassing the Messianic Jews living in this city in southern Israel.
Most ultra-Orthodox Jews do not work or serve in the army, but are supported by the Israeli taxpayer. Therefore they have a surplus of time to spend fighting the followers of Yeshua the Messiah.
Actually, a few of them do hold down a job. In fact, there is a group of students who are paid to make the rounds to yell and scream abuses and blasphemy at believers outside their homes.
They “demonstrate” at many different homes two to three times a week.
But on March 1, the ultra-Orthodox have a special yearly tradition of busing Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) in from other cities as well – to make a grand demonstration of hundreds in front of one home where they first began seven years ago their protest against believers.
It is the home of Polly Sigulim – who raised three wonderful boys of her own after becoming widowed, and then opened her home to many foster children.
What is the police’s advice to Polly?
They have recommended that on March 1 at 7:00 p.m. Polly and her family not be at home – in order not to antagonize the Haredim even more!
That’s right—Polly should leave her own home so the harassers will not get out of control!
This issue of daily harassment of Messianic Jews has gone before the Supreme Court.
Question #1: Does a person have a right to practice his religion in his own home?
Question #2: Do the Haredim have the right to stand in front of a private home and demonstrate because of someone’s religious practices?
So far, the Haredim in Arad continue to harass Messianic believers to their hearts’ content.
They also stalk believers, screaming curses at them and their children when they leave their homes for work, school, or shopping.
But Polly sees the good that has come from the harassment!
Seven years ago, she says, there were about 20 born-again believers in Arad. Today there are some 200!
Seven years ago, hardly anyone in southern Israel had ever heard of Messianic Jews. Now, Polly notes, no matter what one thinks of our belief, people in general are aware that we exist.
Polly is asking for prayer support for all the Messianic believers in Arad this month – as the Haredim conduct their intensified campaigns during March to hassle and intimidate the believers of that city.
Meanwhile, Arad’s municipality has found a technical reason to revoke the rights of the Arad Messianic congregation to use the building they have been meeting in for eight years.
When the pastor went to the city officials to find out where they could meet, they were told that they would probably not get permission to meet anywhere.
So much for religious freedom in Arad.
At the present, the Body of Messiah is meeting in a park. To the surprise of the believers, new people are coming to hear the Good News who would not have come to a building.
ARK IN THE NEGEV
The weekly protests, however, have not slowed Polly down.
She is in the process of opening up a live-in Learning Center for women in association with Teen Challenge Israel.
She is expecting to help abused women, ex-drug addicts who are in the process of “staying clean” and ex-prostitutes who want to change their lives completely.
She also will welcome Bedouin women and single Arab women who are pregnant, and in danger of losing their lives in “honor killings.”
It will be a “tough love” type of program aimed at helping troubled women change their lives into something better, useful and productive.
They will study the Bible, be discipled and learn trades offered at the center.
The first course will be basic cut and curl hair care and salon management, taught by a licensed hairdresser.
Other courses such as jewelry design, web design, cake decorating and simple seamstressing are also in the planning stages.
To help pay for the program, she plans to have a Bed and Breakfast service for Christian pilgrims who want a place to stay near the Dead Sea.
Polly wrote the following note of thanks to Maoz:
On behalf of ARK IN THE NEGEV and in association with Teen Challenge Israel we thank all of you for the generous contribution of $10,000. This gift from Maoz was the first sizable donation to go towards the establishing of our Women’s Learning Center here in Arad. The deposit of the check was a big boost to the morale of the prayer partners of this ‘project’ which has been in the prayer and planning stages for well over three years.
Again on behalf of the ARK IN THE NEGEV team we thank you for standing with us in our vision for helping hurting women to become whole.
Polly Sigulim and Prayer Partners
If you wish to contact Polly concerning her Ark in the Negev project, or the planned Bed and Breakfast program, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BE A FAITHFUL STEWARD
A last will and testament is one of the most important documents an individual will ever prepare. Yet in many cases, estates have not been distributed according to the wishes of the individual simply because the estate plan was out of date.
Maoz Israel Ministries has a program to help you get a will in place or update your existing will.
You can reap a harvest for years to come.
Did you know 7 out of 10 persons dies without a will? And without a will, did you know that lawyers and even the government will take a large portion of your estate?
Why Have a Will?
In the U.S. and Canada call Jim Morrison at 1-800-856-7060
Dear Maoz Partners,
Who cannot see the dark clouds forming?
Where religious authorities dictate, there is bondage, oppression and repression – no matter what the religion.
But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.
The Egyptian people deserve to hear the truth.
The Israeli people deserve to hear the truth.
Do you know that as the Body of Messiah is growing rapidly in Egypt, there are house groups across that nation praying for the salvation of their people? And praying for the salvation of Israel?
There are contacts between the believers of the two nations that only God could have ordained – but that cannot be revealed.
We in Israel know that the call of God for our people is to be a light to the nations! So said Isaiah. Therefore this is all the more reason we are compelled to give to the Israeli people the great Gift of God that we have received!
We must preach to the lost, disciple and equip the flock of God.
We must help the poor and the struggling among the Jewish and Arab believers of Israel – so they in turn can be God’s light.
We must give an opportunity to whosoever will!
Maoz is an organization which is made up of our staff in Israel, six international branches – and YOU!
And today we still have time! We are free to work as far as our faith and strength enable us.
There are no two ways about it. In this fast-changing world, the Internet has been presented to believers as an unprecedented way to reach the lost in Israel. No religious authority has the power to stop us! It is for whosoever will!
We have the Hebrew New Testament with musical background on CD and that will soon be available on iTunes for downloading. For whosoever will!
And God is raising up in our Congregation Tiferet Yeshua (The Glory of Yeshua) a growing group of young couples and singles who have committed their lives to serve God wholly in ministry – whether in business, commerce, education, the legal system, the arts, and even vocational ministry – they understand that they are ALL ministers of the Good News. For whosoever will!
Since the Bible promises revival in Israel (Romans 11:26) and revival among the nations (Joel 2:28) we can know that our work is not in vain!
We know God is pleased that we are taking part in His plan to save the people of the planet – whosoever will!
Will you be a part of Maoz’ outreach in the Middle East this month? To faithfully be a part of the work of God in Israel this year?
Will you work with us – as long as it is Day?
We welcome you as an integral member o the Maoz family – to do our Father’s Will in Israel. For whosoever will!
Your fellow laborers,