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November 17 , 2007

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November 17, 2007

Christian Charitable Support of Israel
Connecting the Dots on Seemingly Far Flung Current Events

by Donna Diorio
November 18, 2007


During the recent federal trial in Dallas against a Texas-based Islamic “charity” accused by the U.S. government of material aid of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, one particular piece of evidence was especially intriguing to me.  Rarely has stronger “smoking gun” evidence been brought to light in the United States concerning the schemes of radical Islamic entities to operate under cover on U.S. soil than the transcript of the 1993 Philadelphia Meeting.

The particular quote from the transcript that grabbed my attention demonstrated how Christian charity had been a deterrent to terrorist influence on the Palestinian street.  The quote also demonstrated how charity is indeed a tool of great value with the power to influence the politics of the Palestinian people towards the terrorist agenda of Hamas.

Not only did Christian charity help impoverished Palestinians in the early 1990’s, but it also decreased the influence Hamas could gain over Palestinians.  There have been some important changes in the territories since then, namely a mighty exodus of Palestinian Christians to western nations. 

Yet two recent news items beg Israel-supporting Christians to heed the clear Macedonian call of Christian Arabs in Palestinian territories to, “Come…and help us.” 

Wherever indigenous Christian ministries are operating in the Middle East in that very place is a restraining presence of the Lord against the influence of the Islamic terrorist agenda.  One way to fight terror is to support the indigenous Christian ministries of the Middle East.  Where the Christian presence has been removed, there is where terrorists have gained full influence and control over the people of that land. And, if we do not involve ourselves in the plight of indigenous ministries then we are throwing persecuted believers to the wolves….and the wolves are counting that.

While we are called to respond to Palestinian Christians at the same time we are forewarned that the Middle East is no place to enter with naďve presumption.  To “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” in Christian support in Israel requires more than just a willingness to go or to fund. 

It is far better and safer for all concerned to give into to the indigenous ministries already operating on the ground than it is to attempt to go in and set up your own independent ministry operation.  Those non-citizen ministries that do not submit first to the local ministries are in fact endangering the local ministries.  Some of the local ministries end up paying with their lives for the unwillingness of foreign ministries to submit to the local believing spiritual authorities.

Christians cannot just come into the Middle East doling out benefits in the name of the Lord and expect no spiritual repercussions.  This is one of the facts from the recent news story about threats against Palestinian Pastor Isa Bajalia that has not yet gotten enough notice in Christian reports.  

In our desire to do a good thing in the name of the Lord, we should heed the counsel of those who live and minister every day in the region.  We must let the indigenous ministries set the agenda and not usurp their spiritual authority in the locality. There is no better way to say this than: “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.”  Our naďve arrogance has been very costly to the citizen believers in Israel and the Palestinian territories.  We must stop jeopardizing their safety by not following their lead in local ministry efforts.

The West Bank and Gaza are particularly high danger areas for ministers of the gospel.  We recently witnessed that fact in the murder of Christian Arab Rami Ayyad who ran the only Christian book store in Gaza. 

Israeli ministries had been sending out prayer requests for many months for their Palestinian Christian brothers who were under great threat in the Gaza and the West Bank.  Rami Ayyad was especially mentioned many times as threats against him grew following the bombing of his Palestinian Bible Society book store.  For the six months afterwards, Rami and his employees lived almost daily with threats until the threats were finally made good in his kidnap and murder. 

Pastor Isa Bajalia on the West Bank also faces daily death threats and knows he could end up just as dead as Rami Ayyad. When things like this don’t create a strong international Christian outcry, persecutors are emboldened to continue and even increase. 

Pastor Isa and other Christian Arabs have committed to hold their place in a hostile neighborhood to minister the gospel to their neighbors. Rami paid with his life.  These believers, along with their Jewish believer counterparts in Israel who also suffer religious persecution, are truly fulfilling the Revelation 12:11 prescription for overcoming the enemy:  “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  They stay to minister the gospel to their people. 

These incidents should motivate us to increase our active support of the Christian Arab ministries in both the West Bank and Gaza, as well as throughout the Middle East, and among Messianic Jewish Israeli ministries who also suffer threatening religious persecution.  Our support should be expressed in monetary support as well as in prayer.  When threats are being leveled against the indigenous ministries, we should be politically active in expressing our concerns to the powers that be. 

Christians who support Israel are really missing the boat if persecution of believers—whether Jewish or Arab—is not even on our radar!  Real “national suicide” is by spiritual definition any nation that allows the faith in Jesus to be fully extinguished.  If we love Israel, we will take notice of what is happening to believers in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank and come to their aid in every way possible.  Surely God will be more pleased with this than with our mere political activism for Israel.

Many Messianic Jewish ministries in Israel have relationships with the Christian Arab Palestinians ministries who, out of necessity for their safety, are not well known outside of Israel.  Anyone serious about supporting these ministries can write me and I will put you into contact with ministries that act as conduits to effective Palestinian ministries.  Write  and please provide me with your full name, address, phone number and the name of your pastor and church. 

A few years ago, some Israeli government leaders were actually encouraging Christian ministries to share the gospel with Palestinians (‘Just don’t share with Jews,’ they carefully qualified).  They did so because they recognized that Christianity was effective against Islamic radicalism.  The faith of Jesus transformed Palestinians so that Israeli government leaders desired more Christian sharing of the gospel among Palestinians.  They saw that where Jesus reigned, peace reigned.

Christian charities and support of the indigenous Palestinian Christian ministries has never been more important than today when the numbers of Christian Arabs in the territories has decreased.  Those who have stayed to declare the gospel to their people deserve our help by way of our prayers, political activism on their behalf and also by material support and funding. 

Christian charity among the Palestinian people could fill the vacuum that has been left by the corrupt secular leadership and the violent religious leadership that has so let down the common Palestinian.   Isn’t that what we’ve been saying? Jesus is the answer.

How the terrorists use charities

Back to the evidence from the terrorism trial conducted in Dallas this past summer:
  The quote in a transcript that caught my attention came from an FBI secretly taped strategy meeting of radical Islamic representatives operating under cover in the United States.   The 1993 Philadelphia Meeting was a ‘road map’ for how radical Islam could forward its agenda without being detected and identified in the United States.  Among the topics on the agenda was the network of charities that would facilitate the Islamic agenda to disrupt any advances in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict following the signing of the Oslo Accords earlier that year.

One of the reports by these Islamists on “zakat” or ‘charities’ operating in the Gaza and West Bank on the behalf of Hamas interests, brought forth interesting insight into how Hamas used charities to influence political favor on the Palestinian street. This is important because Hamas represents the Islamist religious position that no peace deal can be struck with Israel.  Since the days of Yassar Arafat there has been a secular Palestinian position that negotiations with Israel are legitimate and the religious Islamist position that no negotiation with Israel is legitimate.  There is no right to exist for the Jewish State of Israel in the Islamist view. 

Even though the secular Palestinian Authority which Arafat presided over and the Fatah party which endorsed the rule of Mahmoud Abbas, are both weak on acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, they have kept a door open to negotiations with Israel.  Whether as simply a ploy by Palestinian leadership used against international diplomatic efforts to negotiate a solution to the conflict, surely there are those on the Palestinians streets that would welcome an end to the conflict that keeps them in a pit of poverty—the choice of their leaders much more than the fault of Israel.

The 1993 Philadelphia meeting transcript also demonstrated what role Christian charities in Palestinian areas had been able to play to decrease the influence of the public toward the Hamas terrorist group.  

I was amazed when on at least four separate days during the trial both prosecutors and the defense read from the following section of the transcript dealing with Hamas charities [page 4 of Government Exhibit]:  

“This is one of the problems which are not solved; the affiliation of the organization with exposed people [exposed as Hamas operatives], so, when a problem happens with the man, a problem happens with the organization. 

“I mean, the Islamic Sciences & Culture Society used to have a research center which was the nucleus for a huge research center until the person in charge
[of it], Sheik Jamil Hamami, was arrested and this became an obstacle and a hindrance for the development of that project.

“We have a school and a kindergarten and some orphan sponsorships in that region. But, unfortunately, our institutions are very few because they have over 100 Christian institutions in the Bethlehem region alone.

The active presence of Christian institutions in the Bethlehem region actually kept Hamas from gaining a stronger following among the people. 

Much has changed since 1993 when this meeting to discuss how to most effectively proceed in America. The transcript provides the minutes of the brainstorming that took place to set up an extensive infrastructure in support of their homeland causes and to increase Islamic support in the U.S. 

One of the major changes is the decrease of Christian Arabs from Palestinian-controlled territories.  Throughout the late 1990’s Christian Arabs were flooding out of the country in a mass exodus as a result of increased persecution of Christian Arabs that continues to this day.  Today there are far fewer Christian institutions operating in the region.   We have to ask ourselves why there is not greater outcry among Christians with a strong focus on Israel.  There is a definite ripple effect detrimental to Israel when the light of the gospel grows dimmer in the Palestinian territories.

During the Intifada of the late 1990’s, Christian Arab residences became the favorite choice of Hamas snipers from which to pick off Israeli citizens.  It literally killed two birds with one stone: Hamas snipers could pick off a mother and her baby on a nearby Jewish residence balcony, then when the IDF returned fire, the home of an innocent Christian Arab family bore the brunt of Israel retaliation.   These terrorist home invasions of Christian Arabs were common in that time frame and Hamas got out mileage every which way, including lots of bad press turned against Israel for returning fire on the home of Christian Arabs. 

This same disregard for human life—even of their fellow Palestinians—is seen continually as Islamic terror groups routinely choose sites to fire from that will demand tough choices from Israelis to return fire, such as upon a civilian home or even a school for small children.  This is a common practice of Middle Eastern terror groups.  It is what our troops are up against from Al Qaeda in Iraq, or the Israelis were up against in their retaliation attack of Hizballah in Lebanon.  It is the current tactic Palestinian terror groups in Gaza utilize when firing on the civilian community of Sderot, Israel.  See the latest proof in a video online at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which shows a terrorist cell launching mortar shells from an elementary school for boys in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. This twisting of circumstances and disregard for all human life in a powerful factor in radical Islam. 

Christian charities are also a powerful factor in the deterrence of the radical Islamic agenda, so I was amazed that the HLF jury heard the quote above read to them many times.  I was surprised because it testified to the fact that Hamas used charities to gain influence among the people and  where Christian charity and presence was most active, the Hamas influence was most restrained!  I thought for sure the jury would catch that, but since they didn’t we need to!

Christian charity organizations operating in Palestinian-controlled areas can actually REDUCE the influence of Hamas charities over the Palestinian people.  It is a no brainer: people who are desperate for help will feel a lot more kindly toward those that help them materially than towards those who don’t. 

Hamas gives charity in order to keep their agenda alive which is to keep all peace negotiations with Israel dead in the water.  That is why the IDF is currently ramping up for wave of terror attempts surrounding the Annapolis meetings.  Whenever a run at negotiating peace is initiated, the Islamist terror groups attempt to quash it with deadly terrorism against innocent civilians.

Christian charities, on the other hand, seek to bring the Prince of Peace into the hearts and lives of individuals, rescuing them from demoralized and destructive lives.  It should be simple enough for us to discern the difference in the motives of charities for darkness and charities for light.   Those who love the truth will not be fooled by the motives of terrorist-praising and terrorist-connected charities. 

But there are many undiscerning donors so charity is exactly what got Hamas, the terrorist group, elected in their first democratic elections in Palestinian areas. It takes more than an election to transform a terrorist group into a political party though and the proof is easy enough to see in the out of control violence that has almost swallowed Gaza whole.

The more secular-oriented Fatah cronies who rose to power after Arafat’s death were still tied to the abuses of international funding that has poured into the Palestinian Authority and never used to help the Palestinian people as intended.  PA leadership pocketed the riches and left the Palestinian streets in continuing impoverishment.  The international community never stopped the funding process even with reams of evidence as to what abuses were taking place.  There was never accountability brought to bear on the Palestinian Authority and the reason is the international community did not want to close the door on the only Palestinian party who could be a negotiation partner for peace with the Israelis. To acknowledge that there was no partner was to call it irresolvable.  No one wants to deal with the hell that call would unleash. 

So the abuses continued until the Palestinian people were totally fed up with no one looking out for their interests.  The Palestinian Authority was never held accountable by the international community for its abuse of international funds or its broken agreements with Israel.  This is why Hamas saw the opportunity to gain greater influence than the Palestinian Authority by infiltrating existing, and opening new, charities within the West Bank and Gaza with funds raised in the U.S., U.K. and Europe through donations.   They rightly saw that the key to the hearts of the Palestinians was to improve their lot in life.

The charities, especially the most important ones, were set up often by those with blood ties to the top leaders of Hamas, as is the case of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.  Yet, the relatives who ran these charities were as careful as possible not to be directly linked to Hamas.  To operate on the soil of free democratic nations, these organizations need plausible deniability about raising funds for Hamas. They could not afford to be “exposed” as working on behalf of Hamas, or any of the other Islamist terror organizations. Together, in the year the Oslo Accords were signed, they put together a strategic framework in Philadelphia for ensuring the true nature of their work was kept undercover.  Political correctness in many of the bureaucracies of the U.S. government and within the media has kept this Islamist U.S. network under cover.

The 1993 Philadelphia meeting transcripts are proof positive that U.S. based Islamist groups developed a plan to exploit the freedoms of the United States for the goals of Hamas and other Islamic terror groups.  This strategy session to develop an undercover network in the United States predates the designation of Hamas by the United States as a terrorist organization, which contrary to the faulty and dangerous reasoning of some, is no indication that they were not terrorists before being designated as such by the U.S. government.

The 1993 Philadelphia meeting transcripts may be “old evidence” but that certainly does not negate the fact that terrorist groups planned a U.S. network and brainstormed ways they could avoid detection and exposure.  The plan was to disguise their activities through the use of charity fronts within the United States to further the goal of terrorist groups sworn to overthrow every attempt at peaceful negotiation between Palestinians and Israel.  Only a fool would ignore the clear evidence that there was a plan forged in 1993 that it is still being worked today on our soil.  This not only imperils Israel, but it also imperils U.S. citizens because as the saying goes, If you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised when you get up covered in fleas.

Most of the media did not attend the HLF trial in Dallas and has not reviewed the evidence presented in the trial.  All they have done is assemble a few quotes from few experts and pieced together a nice summary report that reinforces what they already believed was the case.   Don’t confuse them with the evidence. 

Now I am not so optimistic that the average Israel-supporting Christian will be any more inclined to read through the entire transcript of the 1993 Philadelphia meetings or review the government evidence against the HLF defendants, but I do believe that many will see that there is a valid correlation between Hamas charities increasing Hamas influence among Palestinians. 

The Arab Christian community in Palestinian-controlled areas is in a fight for their lives.  They live under threat for their witness of the gospel.  Christians can help, and in helping, the influence of Hamas can be lessened. 

Now that Hamas as been elected and has caused ever spiraling violence and chaos to threaten the entire population of Gaza, many on the Palestinian streets realize they made a mistake in electing a terrorist group to represent them in government.  This is a horrible time for Palestinians, but an incredibly opportune time for Christian investment into indigenous Palestinian ministries.  Let’s not miss this kairos time to be involved.

The Threat to Palestinian Christians
Not Limited to Hamas-run Gaza but also Fatah-run West Bank


Palestinian Pastor Vows to Continue, Despite Ongoing Threats
His efforts to help his people have led to numerous death threats. Because another Palestinian pastor was recently murdered, he takes the threats seriously.
By Mark Ellis Journal Chretien November 17, 2007

 “I have to take the threats seriously,” says Pastor Isa Bajalia, an American-born Palestinian who founded a ministry in Ramallah known as Middle East Missions. “Rami Ayyad once sat in my place and thought they probably won’t do anything,” he notes.  Rami Ayyad, the manager of Gaza City’s only Christian bookstore, was abducted and killed in early October. The attack came six months after his Palestinian Bible Society bookshop was bombed, and nearly daily threats of violence. No arrests have been made in his killing.

Threats triggered by Christian medical team not grasping the threat:  “The group was very bold in the way they prayed and witnessed, and somehow the word got back to the Palestinian Authority,” says Pastor Isa.  “We have to use wisdom in ministering to people of other faiths – and not be offensive,” he says. “At the same time we have a sovereign mandate in Mark 16 – The Great Commission.” 


Pastor: I was threatened in Ramallah
Initially, Bajalia said he was treated with respect, but some suspicion, by the locals, and viewed as an outsider coming in with a foreign concept. The pastor said the threats began about two months ago after a group of church workers were seen praying on behalf of Palestinians.

"We will do to you what Hamas did to Fatah in Gaza," Bajalia said the Palestinian security official warned him. Bajalia, who has a vision problem, said he was also told that in addition to his eye problems he would not be able to walk anymore.


Heading for Annapolis while looking toward Teheran
By Calev Ben-David Analyze This column for the Jerusalem Post November 8, 2007

There's the increased tension on the Palestinian side among members of their negotiating team, and the attempts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to maintain some kind of relationship with a Hamas that absolutely rejects the goals of Annapolis.  And there's the disclosure that a recent joint report by Military Intelligence, the Mossad and the Shin Bet Security Agency predicts that "even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chance of implementing them in the field is almost zero," because Abbas and the PA are too weak to do so even in the West Bank, let alone in a Hamas-controlled Gaza.

…."Why is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spending her remaining time in office banging her head against the Israeli-Palestinian problem?"  …. It's about building the so-called "coalition of the moderates" against Teheran, and doing it around an event focused on an issue they supposedly all agree about, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Billionaire setting up political movement to challenge Fatah, Hamas
Hundreds of Palestinian business people and professionals, led by an influential billionaire, launched a new political movement Thursday, reflecting growing disillusionment with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. .…Billionaire businessman Munib al-Masri, 73, inaugurated his "Palestine Forum" …. Supporters said he would convert the new group into a political party and field candidates in the next Palestinian election. …Recent polls have shown that about a third of the people have no faith in either party. Al-Masri said he plans to step into that breech, emphasizing the economy, education and welfare programs for the needy as well as reuniting the West Bank and Gaza.


Infighting dragging Hamas down
For the first time since its forces took full control of the Gaza Strip five months ago, Hamas appears to be facing a major crisis that is likely to undermine its credibility and status among Palestinians. … The infighting among the top brass of Hamas is taking place as the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, prompting many Palestinians to question the Islamist movement's ability to change the situation for the better.

Israel Prayer News Briefs:
Be informed and pray accordingly.

We seek to deal in the facts, not the propaganda and
to spit out as much rhetoric, bias and prejudice as possible;
to shine a light on the under-reported aspects; and to
then position ourselves before God to pray as He leads.
Praying in the Spirit with understanding of the times.
This will produce much more effective
Issachar prayer warriors for Israel.

–Donna Diorio

These collections of news stories
are not just for the sake of information,
opinion or commentary but rather are meant
to help Christians and Messianic Jews
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on behalf of the Body of Messiah in Israel.

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