July 19/14


Bible Quotation for today/Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

John 3,31-36/"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath."

Question: "What are some modern forms of idolatry?"


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 9/14

New Islamic Caliphate Declares Jihad on … Muslims/By: Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine/July 9/14

Iran’s fear of ISIS drowns it in regional quagmire/By: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/July 19/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 19/14
Lebanese Related News

Lebanese-French Citizen Identified as 2012 Burgas Bombing Attacker

Bulgaria: Burgas bomber Lebanese-French man

Hariri Proposes Roadmap to 'Protect Lebanon': Electing New President a National Priority and We Reject Parliamentary Term Extension

Hariri’s road map to safeguard Lebanon

Two Lebanese Killed in Malaysia Airline Crash in Ukraine
Hizbullah Warns of Gaza War Impact on Region's Stability in Talks with U.N.'s Plumbly
Heavy Fighting in Arsal between Hizbullah and Militants

STL to Rule on Khayat's Contempt Case Jurisdiction on July 24

Israeli Force Fails to Kidnap Shepherd, Seizes Goat Flock Instead

Syrian Worker Dies after Wall Crumbles at Construction Site

AMAL, Mustaqbal Meet to Resolve Thorny Issues

Qabbani countersues Miskawi as rift widens

Lebanese railway restoration still a long way off
Common newscast supporting Gaza in Lebanon

Freedom still eludes Tripoli militia chiefs

Lebanese couple were on board downed jet

Future MPs bicker with Khalil over spending

Khalil: No salaries without authorization

Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 19/14

Iran, six powers agree to 4-month extension of nuclear talks: envoys
UN Security Council discusses Israeli offensive in Gaza

Israel launched its Gaza ground operation cautiously in the South. Hamas runs to shelter in crowded towns

Israeli Army Aims for Gaza's 'Highly Developed' Tunnels
Obama Calls Netanyahu as EU Says 'Very Concerned' over Gaza

IDF sends ground troops into Gaza Strip

: Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

At least five killed in IDF shelling in Gaza
Heavy barrage of rockets at Tel Aviv area

International community urges restraint in Gaza

Lieberman: No ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza

Suspects indicted in brutal murder of Arab teen

IDF unearths 22 Gaza tunnels, kills 40 terrorists as ground offensive enters second day

Peres to Pope Francis: Extremists are the cause of suffering in Gaza 

Lebanese-French Citizen Identified as 2012 Burgas Bombing Attacker
Naharnet /Bulgaria has identified on Friday Lebanese-French Mohammed Hassan al-Husseini as the bomber who blew up an airport bus in 2012, killing five Israeli tourists.
A joint report for the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security (DANS) and the prosecutor's office said in a statement that “the identity of the suicide bomber that carried out an attack at the Burgas Airport on the Black Sea coast was identified after DNA tests were run.”The report said that the bomber “used a fake driving license under the name of Jacques Philippe Martin.”
Mohammed Hassan al-Husseini, 25, who holds the Lebanese and French citizenship is the real bomber. "Friends and relatives of Husseini also posted messages of praise on social media for his martyr's death," the statement noted. Two pictures of the suspect were published on the DANS's website on Friday and showed a serious-looking young man with fair skin, short dark hair and freckles.
He still has two accomplices of Lebanese origin, who are still at large. Israel and Bulgaria have already accused Hizbullah of being behind the attack at Burgas airport on the Black Sea, the deadliest on Israelis abroad since 2004. Bulgaria had previously identified as alleged accomplices two Lebanese men with links to Hizbullah -- identified as 32-year-old Meliad Farah of Australia, also known as Hussein Hussein, and 25-year-old Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian citizen. According to investigators, Hassan was the one who remotely detonated the bomb that was carried onto the airport bus by Husseini. Farah was believed to have assembled the explosive device. But despite recovering fingerprints and DNA from the bomber, Bulgaria long struggled to identify the culprits.
Burgas prosecutor Kalina Chapkanova told national radio Friday that the investigation into the attack was ongoing and that several judicial requests had been made to different countries, although she did not say which ones. Bulgaria has made so-far unanswered extradition requests to Lebanon. The bomber died in the attack -- although it remains unclear if he intended to die -- and investigators had been unable to identify him despite having DNA from the severed head and limbs found at the site of the bombing.

Two Lebanese Killed in Malaysia Airline Crash in Ukraine
Naharnet/Two Lebanese nationals, holding the Australian citizenship, were among the 298 people on board the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over Ukraine. According to Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5), Albert and Mary Rizk are among the victims who died along with dozens of others in the tragedy on Thursday. They live in Melbourne, Australia. Dutch authorities said 27 Australians were among the dead. At a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines updated its nationality count of passengers, saying the plane carried 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysian – including the crew-, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, 9 British, 4 German, 5 Belgian, 3 Filipino and one person each from Canada and New Zealand. Passengers on the plane included a large contingent of world-renowned AIDS researchers and activists headed to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia. News of their deaths sparked an outpouring of grief across the global scientific community.

Hariri Proposes Roadmap to 'Protect Lebanon': Electing New President a National Priority and We Reject Parliamentary Term Extension
Naharnet/Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday called for “immediately” electing a new president and holding parliamentary polls, as part of a roadmap that aims at “protecting Lebanon.”
Hariri also blasted Hizbullah, slamming “any group that sends its youth into perish as a terrorist group.”
"For years, we said Lebanon is in the heart of the storm and that all officials and leaders must take national stances. Today we are living what is happening in the Arab world and we are witnessing a dangerous chapter of divisions, sectarian conflicts, and the fall of political regimes that were fertile for the growth of terrorism, sedition and civil wars,” Hariri said in a speech he gave at the annual Iftar of al-Mustaqbal Movement. “Objectivity and honesty require acknowledging that it would be difficult to isolate Lebanon completely from these dangers,” he noted.
But national duty requires us not to give up to this reality and consider that falling into the abyss is a destiny, Hariri stressed, adding that the “Lebanese need a roadmap which prioritizes national interest and stability.” The first step in the former PM's roadmap includes electing a new president and ending the vacuum at the country's top post.
“This is a national priority,” Hariri considered.
“Secondly, (the roadmap includes) forming a new cabinet that is similar to the current one. The cabinet, alongside the new president, will rule in the coming phase and hold the parliamentary elections,” he added. “Thirdly, Hizbullah's withdrawal from the Syrian war. And fourthly, setting up a national comprehensive plan to confront terrorism in all its forms. This is a national duty that is the responsibility of the state, not of any sect or party.”
Hariri also called for agreeing on an emergency plan to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis “to prevent dragging Lebanon into the Syrian crisis whether on the security, social or economic levels.”
As well, he urged preventing the extension of the parliament's term, but remarked that parliamentary polls should come after electing a new president.
“The entryway to parliamentary elections is electing a president today before tomorrow because polls without a president means a resigned cabinet and the prevention of forming a new council of ministers. Who will sign decrees and hold consultations then?”
“To get accustomed to the absence of a president is a danger that threatens the presidency. The (Lebanese) president is the only Christian leader in the Islamic world and vacuum is against the formula that the Lebanese have agreed on,” he explained. Hariri indirectly rejected Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun's proposal of electing a president by the people.
“Any attempt to override national consensus and the Taif Agreement is a step into the unknown that would further complicate things and cause more divisions and contribute to vacuum,” the al-Mustaqbal Movement's head said. He assured that his party does “not have a veto against anyone (for taking office).”
He elaborated: “We will provide quorum regardless of the elections' results. We (al-Mustaqbal bloc) contribute to the election of a president but we don't decide on it. Christian consensus is the decisive factor in this regard and we agree on their nominee without any reservation.”
“We cannot stand idly by regarding the obstruction of the presidential election because there is no consensus and we will kick off dialogue with our March 14 allies and other parties to end the vacuum as soon as possible.”Waiting for regional developments to decide on the presidency harms equal power sharing that was established in the Taif Agreement, Hariri warned.
“And we will not find a substitute for the Agreement no matter how circumstances changed,” he pointed out.
In a separate matter, Hariri reiterated calls for Hizbullah's withdrawal from the Syrian war and highlighted again the official bodies' role in safeguarding the country's security and stability.
“We consider any group that involves the youth in perish and in explosions to be a terrorist group and the enemy of Lebanon,” he stated.
And the state is the party responsible for protecting citizens and for prosecuting terrorists, Hariri said, adding that confronting terrorism with tools other than the state's is a “foolish confrontation that involves two groups; terrorists and Hizbullah.”He also assured that the Sunnis of Lebanon are concerned, like the rest of the Lebanese, with fighting terrorism, preventing its expansion, and rejecting its slogans.
“Any talk about the presence of an environment that encourages the growth of terrorist cells among Sunnis is rejected and aims at justifying the participation in the Syrian war,” he noted.
Hariri had started his Friday speech by holding the international community “morally and humanly responsible for covering up for Israel's massacres in the Gaza Strip,” renewing calls “for immediately stopping the aggression and find a way to enable the Palestinian people to have an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

STL to Rule on Khayat's Contempt Case Jurisdiction on July 24
Naharnet/A hearing for the issuance of a decision on jurisdiction in the contempt case against New TV S.A.L and al-Jadeed TV journalist Karma al-Khayat has been scheduled for Thursday, July 24, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said on Friday. “In this hearing (Contempt) Judge Nicola Lettieri will issue a decision on the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to hear cases of contempt with respect to legal persons,” the STL added. It noted that the Defense's motion challenging such jurisdiction was filed on June 16, 2014. “By the same date, 18 amicus briefs related to jurisdiction were submitted by individuals and organizations in Lebanon and elsewhere,” the STL said. In the scheduling order, Lettieri stressed that the legal issues raised are “important for the Tribunal and the Lebanese public.”
An initial hearing for Lebanese journalists and their media organizations on charges of contempt was held on May 13 at the STL's headquarters in The Hague, amid the absence of al-Akhbar's editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin who later appeared before the court via video conference. Al-Jadeed TV Director General Dimitry Khodr and Karma al-Khayat, the deputy head of news at the station, entered pleas of not guilty during that hearing. “I came here to defend my rights under your laws,” Karma told the court.
She said her only crime was the “respect” for her profession and the “highlighting of the court's mistakes.” Khayat and al-Amin and their media organizations New TV S.A.L. and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. had been charged with contempt by the tribunal after they disclosed details of alleged STL witnesses. British national Karim Khan is the counsel for New TV S.A.L and Khayat, who are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses” and “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to remove from al-Jadeed TV’s website and al-Jadeed TV’s YouTube channel information on purported confidential witnesses.”Khan indicated on May 13 that al-Jadeed's Defense will challenge the jurisdiction with respect to the charges against the corporation. The STL has indicted five Hizbullah members for involvement in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's Feb. 2005 assassination.
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah dismissed the court as a U.S.-Israeli scheme against his group and vowed that the accused will never be found.

Hizbullah Warns of Gaza War Impact on Region's Stability in Talks with U.N.'s Plumbly
Naharnet/Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Ali Fayyad on Friday discussed with United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and its repercussions on the region's stability. "Fayyad expressed concern over the repercussions of the Israeli massacres and violence in Gaza,” the state-run National News Agency reported. The Hizbullah MP also underscored the war's influence on stability in the region, said the NNA. The same source noted that the discussion tackled as well the situation in Lebanon. The talks were held in Fayyad's office at the parliament.
More than 270 people have been killed so far in 11 days of Israeli violence on the Gaza Strip. The war has affected security in southern Lebanon in the past days as several rocket attacks were fired from a region near the city of Tyre towards northern Israel. Three men were arrested in the light of these events, one of them turned out to be affiliated with the Jamaa Islamiyya, while the two others were identified as Palestinian nationals. Accordingly, the Lebanese army has ruled out Hizbullah involvement in the firing of rockets.

Heavy Fighting in Arsal between Hizbullah and Militants
Naharnet /Security sources raised fears on Friday that the Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa border town of Arsal are possibly transformed into bases that incubate militants. The fears went in parallel with heavy gunfights that erupted Thursday between the said militants and Hizbullah fighters. Since Sunday, the Eastern Mountain Range (on the Lebanese-Syrian border) has been witnessing heavy fighting between Hizbullah and al-Nusra Front militants as Syrian warplanes have also raided the outskirts of Arsal, Wadi Nahle, Younine, Falita and Kara. Unnamed security sources confirmed to As-Safir daily that Hizbullah fighters were able to seize control of a number of strategic hilltops in the region. “The battle aims to protect the resistance in the Bekaa area,” the sources said, “reaching to the final closure of the Qalamoun front that could possibly safeguard Lebanon from the danger of booby-trapped cars, suicidal bombers and rockets” they added. They stated fears that the Syrian refugee camps in the area could turn into camps that harbor militants, or a springboard to head to Syrian or Lebanese territories for violent acts. The fighting killed more than 100 people including Omar al-Yakzan an aide to Sirajeddine Zouraikat spokesman for the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, in addition to hundreds who were wounded and 17 captured insurgents. Arsal, a predominantly Sunni area, backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. The town lies 12 kilometers from the border with Syria and has been used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict. The town has seen a massive influx of refugees as a result of the heavy fighting in Qalamoun.

Syrian Worker Dies after Wall Crumbles at Construction Site
Naharnet /A Syrian was killed and three others injured after a wall tumbled on them in Kfar Zebian in Kesrouan, the state-run National news Agency. According to NNA, the Syrian laborers were working on Thursday night at a construction site when the wall crumbled. Ambulances rushed to the scene and transferred them to nearby hospitals.

Israeli Force Fails to Kidnap Shepherd, Seizes Goat Flock Instead
Naharnet/An Israeli forced failed on Friday to kidnap a Lebanese shepherd who hails from the border town of Shebaa, but managed to take the flock of goats instead. "An Israeli infantry force comprising 20 members crossed the border line near Borkat al-Naqqar and marched 50 meters (inside Lebanese territory) in an attempt to kidnap shepherd Asaad Hamdan,” LBCI television reported. But Hamdan managed to escape while around 120 goats remained in the captivity of the Israeli troops, according to the same source. Consequently, the Lebanese army contacted the UNIFIL to retrieve the seized flock. Kidnapping incidents of Lebanese residents by the Israeli forces are frequent near the border area. They are usually interrogated before their eventual release. On April 7, an Israeli patrol abducted two shepherds and three women near the Blue Line at the Bastra Farm near Shebaa. They were soon released however.

AMAL, Mustaqbal Meet to Resolve Thorny Issues
Naharnet/Consultations are ongoing between the AMAL and al-Mustaqbal movements in an attempt to reach consensus over several controversial crises impeding parliament and cabinet sessions.
According to An Nahar newspaper published on Friday, a meeting was held between Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, who is Speaker Nabih Berri's adviser, and the head of former premier Saad Hariri's office, Nader Hariri, on Thursday evening. The meeting was reportedly held in presence of Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, who is the aide of Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat, at the finance ministry headquarters. The daily said that the three officials discussed ways to resolve the ongoing rift over several controversial issues, including a spending decree that is threatening to delay the salaries of public employees. Minister Khalil expressed fear recently that civil servants would not be paid their salaries at the end of the month because of the paralysis of parliament. However, al-Mustaqbal movement, which is affiliated in the March 14 alliance, is insisting that the only solution to the spending row is for Khalil to submit the state's 2014 budget draft-law to the parliament. Parliament should pass draft-laws allowing the government to approve treasury loans. But lawmakers have been boycotting legislative sessions over the vacuum at the presidency.

Obama Calls Netanyahu as EU Says 'Very Concerned' over Gaza
Naharnet/U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to voice concerns about the crisis in Gaza amid an Israeli ground offensive.
Obama said that while the U.S. supports Israel's right to defend itself, "the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life."
Israeli troops launched an offensive on the Gaza periphery aimed at destroying Hamas' network of cross-border tunnels on the 11th day of an assault in which 274 Palestinians, including many children, have been killed. "Although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels," Obama told reporters. The U.S. commander-in-chief added that Washington was "hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties." At least 1,920 Palestinians have also been wounded since the launch of the assault. Since the Israeli operation began, more than 1,207 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel, and another 333 have been shot down by the country's Iron Dome air defense system, Israeli army figures show. "All of us are working hard to return to the ceasefire that was reached in November of 2012," Obama said. He added that Secretary of State John Kerry "is working to support Egypt's initiative to pursue that outcome. I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that John is prepared to travel to the region following additional consultations." Later on Friday, the European Union said it was "very concerned" over the escalation and reiterated a call for an immediate ceasefire. "We are very concerned about the escalation in the Gaza Strip including the resumption of rocket fire into Israel and the Israeli ground operation," said a testaments issued on behalf of the 28-nation bloc. Welcoming the humanitarian pause agreed on Thursday, EU nations regretted it was not followed by a lasting ceasefire, and said: "We call on all parties to immediately agree to a ceasefire. We underline the obligation to allow full and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance." Deploring the many civilians deaths, including numerous children, the EU nations said that "we strongly deplore such incidents and we call for them to be investigated swiftly." The statement condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel but said that while "Israel has the right to protect its population... it must act proportionately."
"We reiterate our call on both sides to de-escalate the situation, to end the violence and to end the suffering of the civilian populations."Agence France Presse

Israeli Army Aims for Gaza's 'Highly Developed' Tunnels

Naharnet/The Israeli army's ground offensive in Gaza is purportedly aimed at destroying a network of sophisticated cross-border tunnels, which Hamas and other militants have dug to infiltrate Israeli lines.
In 2006 Israel imposed a blockade on the impoverished coastal enclave after Gaza militants captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid.
This pushed Hamas and other militants to dig tunnels under the border with Egypt to spirit into the densely populated Gaza Strip food, fuel, a variety of consumer goods as well as weapons.
In March, Egypt's military said it has destroyed 1,370 smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip, months after it ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi who was a Hamas ally.
Israel is now after dozens of so-called "terror tunnels" in Gaza and the army says it has already found eight access points. "Dozens of terror tunnels are spread throughout the Gaza Strip, the majority of them constructed and utilized by Hamas," an army spokesman said in a statement Friday.
"The Hamas tunnel network is highly developed and continuously preserved interconnecting launch sites, rocket maintenance and command and control positions," the statement said.
On Thursday morning, 13 heavily-armed militants managed to infiltrate southern Israel before being spotted by troops, with one killed in an air strike and the rest fleeing back underground. Haaretz newspaper reported Friday that five cross-border tunnels have been found in Israel over the past two years. "A tour of some of the tunnels during the past year reveals that the digging is quite elaborate: The tunnels are connected to electricity and sometimes to a phone line too, and usually include a number of branches inside Israeli territory," said Haaretz.
The report said the tunnels are dug at various depths and that "Israeli intelligence believes the tunnels designed for attacks inside Israel are dug by special Hamas crews with expertise in this kind of job."
"Hamas is largely inspired by the techniques used by Hizbullah, notably its underground infrastructure, which gives it the capacity to hold out for weeks," political commentator Daniel Nisman told AFP.
In its statement the army said the "offensive tunnels are complex and advanced" and that they "are intended to carry out attacks such as abductions of Israeli citizens and soldiers."In June 2006 fighters from Hamas and other militant groups tunneled into Israel and attacked a border post, snatching a 19-year-old corporal, Gilad Shalit.
His abduction transfixed Israel, which imposed a punitive blockade on Gaza. Shalit was freed five years later in return for the release of hundreds of prisoners jailed in Israel. Thursday's foiled infiltration by Palestinian militants into Israel has hiked fears that tunnels will be used to attack Israel. Haaretz reported that Israelis living near the Gaza border "sometimes hear the sound of drilling at night" associated with tunnel digging. It quoted a resident saying that patrols are organized because people "are afraid that someone will suddenly emerge from some opening in the ground."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in announcing the ground operation that was launched late Thursday said the aim was "to hit the terror tunnels crossing from Gaza into Israel's territory."
"It is not possible to deal with tunnels only from the air, so our soldiers are also doing that on the ground," said Netanyahu, admitting however that there was "no guarantee of 100 percent success."
Agence France Presse

Question: "What are some modern forms of idolatry?" All the various forms of modern idolatry have one thing at their core: self. We no longer bow down to idols and images. Instead we worship at the altar of the god of self. This brand of modern idolatry takes various forms.
First, we worship at the altar of materialism which feeds our need to build our egos through the acquisition of more “stuff.” Our homes are filled with all manner of possessions. We build bigger and bigger houses with more closets and storage space in order to house all the things we buy, much of which we haven’t even paid for yet. Most of our stuff has “planned obsolescence” built into it, making it useless in no time, and so we consign it to the garage or other storage space. Then we rush out to buy the newest item, garment or gadget and the whole process starts over. This insatiable desire for more, better, and newer stuff is nothing more than covetousness. The tenth commandment tells us not to fall victim to coveting: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17). God doesn’t just want to rain on our buying sprees. He knows we will never be happy indulging our materialistic desires because it is Satan’s trap to keep our focus on ourselves and not on Him.
Second, we worship at the altar of our own pride and ego. This often takes the form of obsession with careers and jobs. Millions of men—and increasingly more women—spend 60-80 hours a week working. Even on the weekends and during vacations, our laptops are humming and our minds are whirling with thoughts of how to make our businesses more successful, how to get that promotion, how to get the next raise, how to close the next deal. In the meantime, our children are starving for attention and love. We fool ourselves into thinking we are doing it for them, to give them a better life. But the truth is we are doing it for ourselves, to increase our self-esteem by appearing more successful in the eyes of the world. This is folly. All our labors and accomplishments will be of no use to us after we die, nor will the admiration of the world, because these things have no eternal value. As King Solomon put it, “For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23).
Third, we idolize mankind—and by extension ourselves—through naturalism and the power of science. This gives us the illusion that we are lords of our world and builds our self-esteem to godlike proportions. We reject God’s Word and His description of how He created the heavens and the earth, and we accept the nonsense of evolution and naturalism. We embrace the goddess of environmentalism and fool ourselves into thinking we can preserve the earth indefinitely when God has declared the earth has a limited lifespan and will last only until the end of the age. At that time, He will destroy all that He has made and create a new heaven and new earth. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13). As this passage so clearly states, our focus should not be on worshipping the environment, but on living holy lives as we wait eagerly for the return of our Lord and Savior, who alone deserves worship.
Finally, and perhaps most destructively, we worship at the altar of self-aggrandizement or the fulfillment of the self to the exclusion of all others and their needs and desires. This manifests itself in self-indulgence through alcohol, drugs, and food. Those in affluent countries have unlimited access to alcohol, drugs (prescription drug use is at an all-time high, even among children), and food. Obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed, and childhood diabetes brought on by overeating is epidemic. The self-control we so desperately need is spurned in our insatiable desire to eat, drink, and medicate more and more. We resist any effort to get us to curb our appetites, and we are determined to make ourselves the god of our lives. This has its origin in the Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Eve to eat of the tree with the words “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). This has been man’s desire ever since—to be god and, as we have seen, the worship of self is the basis of all modern idolatry.
All idolatry of self has at its core the three lusts found in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” If we are to escape modern idolatry, we have to admit that it is rampant and reject it in all its forms. It is not of God, but of Satan, and in it we will never find fulfillment. This is the great lie and the same one Satan has been telling since he first lied to Adam and Eve. Sadly, we are still falling for it. Even more sadly, many churches are propagating it in the preaching of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel built on the idol of self-esteem. But we will never find happiness focusing on ourselves. Our hearts and minds must be centered on God and on others. This is why when asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). When we love the Lord and others with everything that is in us, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry.
Recommended Resources: No Gods But God: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idolatry by Dennis Newkirk and Logos Bible Software.


New Islamic Caliphate Declares Jihad on … Muslims
by Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine
July 18, 2014
Seventh-century jihad against "apostates and hypocrites"
The new "caliphate" of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—the Islamic State, formerly "ISIS"—recently made clear that it means to follow in the footsteps of the original caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Sadiq (632-634), specifically by directing its jihad against fellow Muslims, in Islamic parlance, the "hypocrites" and "apostates," or in Western terminology, "moderates."
This came out in the context of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, with some Muslims asking the newly formed "caliphate" when it would launch a jihad on the Jewish state.
The Islamic State's response? "Allah in the noble Koran does not command us to fight Israel or the Jews until we fight the apostates and hypocrites."
On one of the Islamic State's question-and-answer websites, some asked why it was "not fighting Israel but instead shedding the blood of the sons of Iraq and Syria." The new caliphate responded:
The greater answer is in the noble Koran, when Allah Almighty speaks about the near enemy. In the majority of verses in the noble Koran, these are the hypocrites, for they pose a greater danger than the original infidels [born non-Muslims, e.g., Jews and Christians]. And the answer is found in Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, when he preferred fighting apostates over the conquest of Jerusalem [fath al-Quds], which was conquered by his successor, Omar al-Khattab.
Twenty-first century jihad against "apostates and hypocrites"
There's much to be said about this response, rife as it is with historical allusions.
First, it is true. After the prophet of Islam died, a great number of Arabian tribes that had submitted to his rule by becoming Muslims—the word muslim simply means "one who submits"—thought they could now renege, and so they apostatized in droves. This sparked the first Ridda, or "apostasy wars," waged by Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, who became the first caliph on Muhammad's death in 632. For nearly two years, till his own death in 634, his caliphate's entire energy was focused on waging jihad on all the recalcitrant Arab tribes, forcing them by the edge of the sword to return to the fold of Islam.
Tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified in the process, according to Islamic history, especially by the "Sword of Allah." It was only afterwards, under the reign of the second caliph, Omar al-Khattab (634-644), that the great Islamic conquests against the "original infidels"—those non-Arab peoples who had never converted to Islam, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc.—took place. Islam's war on the apostate, so little known in the West, figures prominently in Islamic history. Indeed, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential Islamic clerics today, while once discussing the importance of killing any Muslim who apostatizes from Islam on Al Jazeera, correctly stated that "If the [death] penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet." In short, and as the Islamic State is now arguing, the first and greatest enemy of Islam—the "nearest" enemy—is the "apostate" and "hypocrite," for they are the most capable of subverting Islam from within.
This phenomenon of "pious" Muslims fighting and killing "lukewarm" Muslims, or Shia and Sunnis fighting one another—while the original infidel stands by or gets away—has many precedents throughout history. For example, in its response, the Islamic State further justifies not fighting Israel by saying:
The answer is found in Salah ad-Din al-Ayubi [Saladin] and Nur ad-Din Zanki when they fought the Shia in Egypt and Syria before [addressing] Jerusalem. Salah ad-Din fought more than 50 battles before he reached Jerusalem. And it was said to Salah ad-Din al-Ayubi: "You fight the Shia and the Fatimids in Egypt and allow the Latin Crusaders to occupy Jerusalem?" And he responded: "I will not fight the Crusaders while my back is exposed to the Shia." All of this history quoted by the Islamic State is meant to exonerate the new caliphate's main assertion: "Jerusalem will not be liberated until we are done with all these tyrants, families, and pawns of colonialism that control the fate of the Islamic world."
Some observations:
•Although the Islamic State is trying to suggest that only autocrats like Syria's Bashar al-Assad are "apostates" and "hypocrites," and that most average Muslims are eager for Sharia, the fact is, a great many of the world's Muslims fit under this rubric. The largest revolution in history, Egypt's June 2013 anti-Brotherhood revolution, attests to this. Thus the new caliphate's jihad is not just against "tyrants," but many average Muslims as well, as the organization's carnage in Iraq and Syria attests. •The Islamic State's declaration justifying non-confrontation with Israel is not winning it much popular support in the Arab world and is naturally portrayed as a copout. It further validates the popular Arab narrative that the United States is siding with the Islamists to create havoc in the region; to have the various sects (Sunni vs Shia, Moderate vs. Islamist) fight each other in order to divide and weaken the region. Thus Dr. Ahmed Karima, a leading professor of Islamic jurisprudence in Al Azhar, said that the Islamic State's position concerning Israel proves that "it is a creation of U.S. and Israeli intelligence" and that the new caliphate "is the biggest of all hypocrites." •Alternatively, others, especially Islamists, appreciate that the Islamic State is patterning itself after the first caliphate of Abu Bakr—hence why its first caliph chose that name—because it finds itself operating in the same circumstances. Nascent and without much support, it first mission, like Abu Bakr, is to re-subjugate Muslims to Islam. Only then can it focus on the "original infidels." •While this approach may be temporarily good for Israel (and all infidel states), in the long run, a fully functioning and unified caliphate with "reformed" Muslims next door is not a pretty picture. After all, the Islamic State is not exonerating the infidel, but rather saying his turn will come once the caliphate is capable of an all-out assault. At best, it's a temporary reprieve

Israel launched its Gaza ground operation cautiously in the South. Hamas runs to shelter in crowded towns
DEBKAfile Special Report July 18, 2014/The first hours of Israel’s Operation Defensive Edge ground phase against Hamas were marked by heavy artillery and air pounding to soften up the terrain as the ground forces went in Thursday night, July 17. The troops advanced in two heads – one north to Jebalya and Beit Lahiya and the other south, where it went into action initially against Khan Younes and Rafah. The IDF took its first casualty before dawn Friday: Sgt. Eytan Barak, 20, from Herzliya, who served in the Nahal Division
In its current phase, the IDF ground operation is focusing on southern Gaza, with the potential for expanding into further areas, as and when the government decides, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told the special cabinet session Friday.
The densely populated Gaza City has not been broached as yet.
debkafile’s military experts maintain that the first 48 hours of a war are often critical for determining its outcome. If a tactical gain is not achieved early on and a psychological blow not inflicted on the enemy, the operation tends to start losing traction by the third and fourth days.
That is why it is so important to hit the teeming Gaza City without delay, because Hamas has buried its core infrastructure under the crowded town center: Housed in a fortified bunker complex are its command and control, its communications systems and its longest-range weapons, which are held ready to strike after an Israeli invasion.
Bringing a small special operations force close enough to the Hamas stronghold would be useful for making the enemy feel threatened. But most importantly, it could gather the kind of intelligence which spy satellites and the air force were unable to reach. A small ground force trained in surveillance could pull this data from a point 200-300 meters away from target.
So the IDF has not yet applied the full weight of its might against Hamas. The troop movements in the early hours of the ground operation appeared designed more as a signal to Hamas that the incursion would stop right there, if it accepted a ceasefire on Egyptian and Israeli terms.
This sort of tactic, which was evidently dictated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, has never worked with Hamas. It has been useful to Israel diplomatically for heading off international and domestic critics, who routinely accuse Israel of the reckless use of its military might.
But for a military offensive, this careful pace will cost the IDF the gains for shortening the war and allow the initiative to slip into the hands of Hamas, which has displayed surprising capabilities.
Both of its commando operations by sea and tunnel went awry. Israel soldiers were waiting and cut them down. The drones they sent were downed by the Israeli Air Force. The hundreds of rockets they fired, as far east as the Jordan Valley and north up Haifa and Nahariya, missed inflicting on Israel major damage or fatalities.
At the same time, the IDF in the first 10 days of Operation Defensive Edge, cannot be said to have pulled off any significant feats or snatched the initiative by means of its air strikes.
Hamas leaders, whom Israel expected to be deterred from continuing their offensive by the sight of the colossal damage caused to the towns of Gaza, misread them. Hamas couldn’t care less about damage to buildings. A check of $25 m from Iran or Qatar would be enough to restore all those buildings in less than a year.
For the Islamists, devastation, fatalities and the ruined lives of so many Palestinians are a cheap price to pay for the satisfaction of showing they can stand up to Israel’s armed forces, day after day, like the Lebanese Hizballah in the second Lebanon War of 2006.
The same misreading applies to Israeli tacticians’ hopes that a slow-moving military campaign will give Hamas time to come to its senses and grasp that its aggression has achieved no more than to bring the IDF down on its head on its own soil, and that intransigence will bring full Israeli might into the heart of Gaza City.
Hamas also misread Israel, when it calculated that the IDF would never send troops into the Gaza Strip. Now, too, the leaders of this radical Palestinian group are counting on Israeli forces not venturing into the densely-populated urban center of Gaza City to beard them in their bunkers and destroy their military machine. If they have got it right, they will have won.


Iran’s fear of ISIS drowns it in regional quagmire
Friday, 18 July 2014
By: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
Iran is encountering an unprecedented, inextricable and irresolvable challenge. Tehran is in a quagmire, stuck between choosing to spend its economic and military resources on either the Shiite-led government of Iraq or Syria.
As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will soon potentially be on Iran’s border, since Iran is bordered with a civil war-inflicted state the fragmented and fractured government in Iraq. With Tehran still spending its economic and military resources to keep the government of Bashar al-Assad and Nouri al-Maliki in power, these developments are undoubtedly causing tremendous apprehension for the Iranian government and will weaken Iran’s long term regional stance.
Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria has become akin to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq
A close analogy can be made here between Iran and the United States: Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria has become akin to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq where the U.S. government spent trillions of dollars, ultimately contributing to its declining power in the region, its rising economic debt, and popular discontent against U.S. imperialism and interventions.
Being stuck between ISIS and Syria has definitely taken the Iranian government by surprise. The emerging geopolitical issues were not an issue the Islamic Republic was expecting to deal with so abruptly.
Iran, frightened of ISIS
The porous border between the Islamic Republic and Iraq is approximately 1,500 kilometers long and is not totally controlled by Iraqi forces.
According to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Pentagon, a recent classified military assessment conducted by U.S. military assessment teams, revealed that many factions of Iraq’s security forces are infiltrated by extremist groups as well as Shiite figures supported by the Islamic Republic.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria poses a great challenge to the Islamic Republic not only geopolitically and strategically, but also ideologically. Ideologically speaking, ISIS is opposed to the dominance of Shiite theology and Shiite-led governments, including those of Iraq and Iran.
For several years, the Islamic Republic did not view supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad as a huge undertaking. Iranian leaders, including the former head of Iran’s National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, frequently pointed out that the Iranian government would not allow the axis of resistance to be broken by any party. Accordingly, Syria is an “integral part” of this axis.
Iran has been assisting the Assad government financially, sending Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds forces to fight the Sunni rebel groups and to train the Syrian Armed Forces, lending Syria billions of dollars of credits and supplying oil. For Iranian leaders, keeping Assad in power justified geopolitically spending resources and providing manpower to Syria. The Islamic Republic has enough resources to handle Syria— and this is not a significant undertaking or responsibility for Iranian leaders— although Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei showed his frustration several times in recent speeches with Assad’s government not being capable of completely cracking down on rebel groups.
When it comes to Iraq, the Islamic Republic has sent several attack planes, Su-25 aircrafts, to the Shiite-led government of Maliki in order to assist the government’s fight against Sunni extremist rebel and insurgent groups. Iranian leaders have established a special control center at Al-Rashid airfield in Baghdad along with deploying a fleet of Ababil drones to an airfield near Baghdad. In addition, in order to intercept any electronic communications between ISIS fighters and commanders, the Islamic Republic has set up an intelligence unit at the same airfield. Reportedly, several thousands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Quds Forces have been sent to Iraq to assist Maliki’s forces. According to Radio Free Europe, the Iranian government later acknowledged that it had sent Su-25 aircrafts this month, to assist the Shiite Maliki government.
Although Iranian leaders deny that they have sent troops to Iraq to fight with extremists and insurgent groups, several of the troops from the elite branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps who operate overseas, including Alireza Moshajeri or the pilot Colonel Shoja'at Alamdari Mourjani, were reportedly killed fighting extremist groups in Iraq.
Iraq is not only geopolitically, strategically and economically crucial for the Islamic Republic, but Iraq’s Shiite holy sites are tremendous assets for the Iranian leaders’ Shiite constituents, ideological propaganda, and their hold on power.
Iran’s resources are being weathered and eroded
But the issue that Iranian leaders were not expecting was that soon they would have to take on another huge undertaking, facing the ISIS near its border, and be obliged to ensure Shiite dominance of Iraq’s political system with more efforts put in place.
How long is the Islamic Republic willing to spend its resources in Iraq and Syria? The Iraq and Syria crises do not appear to be ending anytime soon. While Iranian leaders seem to be determined to support the Shiite-led government of Maliki and the Alawite-led sate of Assad, these two countries are weathering and eroding Iran’s resources.
Although the Islamic Republic is rich in resources, Iran cannot (for a long time) afford and take on such a huge undertaking, spending unlimited amounts of economic and military resources to keep its strategic and geopolitical allies in power.
In other words, a continued erosion of economic and military resources will undoubtedly weaken Iran’s power in the region in the long term if the crises in Iraq and Syria persist.