A nation dwelling alone


By Jan Willem van der Hoeven

"How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him; there! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations. …

"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.

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By Jan Willem van der Hoeven

“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him; there! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations. …

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. …

“For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’ Look, a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion; it shall not lie down until it devours the prey.” …

“Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.”
(Numbers 23:8-9, 19-20, 23-27; 24:9b)

If I did not firmly believe God, His Word and His promise, I would say Israel is lost.

Surrounded as it is by opposition: the hatred of the Muslim world; the dangerous conniving of the fox-like Putin and his re-established Russian empire (see appendix article from the British paper The Independent); the utter failure and weakness of Europe to stand up for the tiny Jewish state; America’s increasing reluctance to stand up to the Islamic-inspired Middle Eastern terror: All this makes Balaam’s oracle ring true in our day.

So Putin sells over one billion dollars worth of some of his most sophisticated weaponry to Israel’s worst foes – Syrian and Iran. Lebanon’s Hizbollah is supplied with ever new and more dangerous weapons from Iran. And so too Hamas – now in control not just in Gaza, but in the driving seat of what is called the new Palestinian Unity Cabinet – takes delivery via an ever-willing and cooperative Egypt of tens of tons of lethal weapons and explosives, turning Gaza into another terrorist base like southern Lebanon was. And all the while Syria ominously prepares to rain down its Scud missiles with their VX-nerve gas warheads all over Israel.

Iran, under the leadership of the Hitler-like Ahmadinejad, races to obtain its much-desired nuclear bomb with which to finish off the Jewish State.

Europe wimps, afraid and too feeble to stand up for anything but what is expedient and helpful to its own economy and well being; some Europeans adding their own arrows as they impose economic boycotts against Israel.

Who in the world, then, would believe that Israel has a chance to survive and overcome this lineup of nations and weapons arrayed against her? Who indeed, but those who in spite of all this believe that God, for His own Name, will arise, shake the earth, perform His miracles of delivery for His people, and confound the nations of the world.

This is what He says:

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.

Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.”  (Ezekiel 36:22-36)

“I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.”  (Ezekiel 39:21-22)

As a brother just perceptively wrote:

“I can feel it in the spirit with expectation something great is about to happen. Something that nobody is expecting, that will surprise the world.”

Soon, very soon, we will see the Mighty Hand of the Lord scattering His enemies and astounding the whole world, even His own people Israel! I pray for that day to come.

Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center

 

The 20 journalists who have lost their lives in Putin’s Russia

Ivan Safronov’s ‘suicide’ marks a grim milestone in the deaths of media workers. By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

Published: The Independent, March 11, 2007

Ivan Safronov did not die immediately, despite falling four floors from a window in his Moscow apartment block. Witnesses say he tried to get to his feet after hitting the ground, but then collapsed for the final time.

The police say the death of the well-respected journalist, who worked for the daily Kommersant newspaper, has all the hallmarks of suicide – though they are willing to consider the possibility that he was “driven” to kill himself. But his friends insist he was not the sort to take his own life. Why should he?

They say he was happily married with children, loved his work and was awash in job offers. On his way home he had bought a bag of tangerines, which lay scattered in the stairwell from which he jumped – or was pushed.

Far from being an individual tragedy, the death of Ivan Safronov will be seen by many as part of a grim trend. The Kommersant reporter is at least the 20th Russian journalist to die in suspicious circumstances since 2000, when Vladimir Putin assumed the Russian presidency. Shot, stabbed or poisoned, the journalists have two things in common: no one has been convicted, or in most cases even arrested, after their deaths. And all of them had angered powerful vested interests which appear to suffer little restraint in dealing with their enemies.

“In Russia,” said Oleg Panfilov, president of the Moscow-based Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), “whenever you are investigating something that could destroy someone else’s business, it always generates a reaction – often it is murder.”

A specialist in military matters, Ivan Safronov revealed embarrassing failings in the Russian defense program. Shortly before his death, he was reported to be working on an exposé of Moscow’s secret arms deals with Iran and Syria, something that, if true, would have caused further scandal. “He covered themes that could provoke a reaction,” said Mr Panfilov.   (emphasis added)

Political opponents of the Kremlin can end up in jail, such as the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or in exile, such as the equally rich Boris Berezovsky, or simply vilified and ignored by a media industry whose independence is being squeezed. But if you offend the less scrupulous elements in Russian society, you could be risking your life. You may not be safe even if you flee abroad, as Britain discovered when the renegade security agent Alexander Litvinenko died from Polonium-210 poisoning in a London hospital.

Journalists, however, are particularly at risk. According to a new report from the International News Safety Institute, only Iraq has claimed more journalists’ lives than Russia in the past decade. Though nobody is suggesting that Mr Putin had anything to do with the deaths, media organizations around the world have expressed concern at what they call “a climate of impunity”. At the very least, he is accused of presiding over a country where it appears that the murder of journalists goes unpunished.

Few of the killings are as overtly political as the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down last October at the entrance to her apartment block. In that case it seemed clear that her death was sanctioned by someone powerful, who wanted her silenced. Most cases are much murkier, however; they can be seen as a brutal form of punishment for reporters who delve too deeply into Russia’s sinister intersection of business, organized crime and the state’s legal and security apparatus.

Working for a nationally known outlet such as Kommersant might be seen as some protection, though that did not save Ms Politkovskaya or two other journalists who worked for Novaya Gazeta, a fortnightly newspaper. She wrote that it received “visitors every day … who have nowhere else to bring their troubles, because the Kremlin finds their stories off-message, so that the only place they can be aired is in our newspaper”.

Pursuing corruption in the provinces, however, can be lonelier and even more dangerous. Two editors of a local newspaper in Togliatti, a city on the Volga east of Moscow, were murdered in succession. So was the director of the local TV station.

Death is not the only occupational hazard for reporters who show too much investigative zeal. Around 50 court cases are pursued against journalists every year in an attempt to muzzle them, while some 150 are seriously assaulted each year.

Mr Panfilov makes a direct link between such intimidation and the presidency. “The problem is with Putin himself,” he said. “He showed his true colours with Politkovskaya’s death.” In the eyes of many, he appeared dismissive and slow to react. “Putin takes pleasure in launching verbal attacks on journalists,” Mr Panfilov went on. “It is he who defines the atmosphere in which we work.”

And after a journalist is killed, the truth is rarely if ever exposed. The investigation into how and why Ivan Safronov died, like those that have gone before, is likely to be quietly closed and an open verdict declared.

Ivan Safronov

Military affairs specialist for daily national newspaper ‘Kommersant’. Was investigating a Kremlin arms deal with the Middle East. Found dead on 2 March after ‘falling’ from a window in his Moscow home in suspicious circumstances.

Anna Politkovskaya

Crusading investigative reporter specialising in Chechnya, attached to fortnightly national newspaper ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Shot dead in a contract killing outside her apartment block in Moscow on 7 October 2006.

Vyacheslav Plotnikov

Reporter for a local TV channel in Voronezh. His body was found in a forest on 15 September 2006, dressed in someone else’s clothes. No signs of a violent death, but his colleagues are convinced that he was murdered.

Yevgeny Gerasimenko

Investigative reporter on regional newspaper ‘Saratovsky Rasklad’ who had been looking into shady local business dealings. Found dead on 25 July 2006 in his flat, where he had been tortured and suffocated with a plastic bag.

Alexander Pitersky

Presenter on the St Petersburg radio station Baltika, who sometimes covered criminal investigations. His body was found in his flat, where he had been stabbed to death, on 30 August 2005.

Magomedzagid Varisov

A press commentator in his native Dagestan, where he also ran a think-tank, Varisov had criticised local politicians. Killed in a machine gun attack in Mahachkala, the capital of Dagestan, on 28 June 2005.

Pavel Makeev

Cameraman for Puls, a local TV station in southern Russia. Died on 21 May 2005 while covering illegal street racing in the town of Azov. His car was rammed by an unknown vehicle and his camera and tapes taken.

Paul Klebnikov

US citizen of Russian extraction. As editor of the Russian edition of ‘Forbes’ magazine, he put together the country’s first rich list and specialized in corruption investigations. Shot dead in a contract killing in Moscow on 9 July 2004.

Aleksei Sidorov

The second editor of local newspaper ‘The Togliatti Overview’ to be murdered in as many years. He was stabbed in the chest with an ice pick or similar sharp object outside his apartment block on 9 October 2003.

Yuri Shchekochikhin

Investigative journalist, liberal MP and deputy editor of ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Specialised in investigating corruption in the general prosecutor’s office. Died on 3 July 2003 after an unexplained allergic reaction. His colleagues believe he was poisoned.

Dmitry Shvets

A senior executive at a local Murmansk TV station, TV-21 Northwestern Broadcasting. Had been highly critical of local officialdom. Shot dead outside the station’s offices on 18 April 2003.

Valery Ivanov

Editor of ‘The Togliatti Overview’ and managing editor of the independent channel Lada-TV, specializing in crime and corruption in the local car industry. Shot dead in his car on 29 April 2002.

Natalya Skryl

Business reporter on ‘Our Time’, a local newspaper based in Rostov-on-Don, investigating controversial dealings in a local metals plant. Died on her way home after being beaten with a heavy object on 8 March 2002.

Eduard Markevich

Editor of ‘Novy Reft’, a local newspaper in the town of Reftinsky, Sverdlovsk region, who was critical of regional authorities. After a series of threatening phone calls, he was shot dead in the back on 19 September 2001.

Adam Tepsurgayev

TV cameraman for Reuters who filmed exclusive footage of the conflict in Chechnya. Shot dead in the village of Alkhan-Kala on 23 November 2000 by masked gunmen who burst into his home.

Sergey Ivanov

Director of the Lada-TV station in Togliatti. Showed an interest in the area’s notoriously corrupt car manufacturing business. Shot five times outside his apartment building on 3 October 2000.

Iskandar Khatloni

Journalist investigating human rights abuses in Chechnya for the Tajik- language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Killed by an axe-wielding attacker in Moscow on 21 September 2000.

Sergey Novikov

Senior executive at the Vesna radio station in Smolensk. Claimed to be able to prove corruption among high-ranking local officials. Shot dead on 26 July 2000, in the lobby of his apartment building.

Igor Domnikov

Investigative reporter on ‘Novaya Gazeta’. Died on 16 July 2000 after being attacked with a hammer in the lobby of his Moscow apartment block. His newspaper believes his murder was a case of mistaken identity.

Artyom Borovik

Senior executive at investigative magazine ‘Completely Secret’ that exposed the misdeeds of the rich and powerful. Died on 3 March 2000 in a plane crash that the authorities believe may not have been accidental.

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