We are not surprised by reports of anti- Semitism in places such as Europe or the Middle East. In Europe the rising trend of anti-Semitic behaviour and violence can in part be accounted for by growing Muslim populations in many European countries. But Hitler and the Nazis did not need any Muslim theology to justify their hatred of Jewry, and European anti-Semitism has long antecedents and seems to be ever present, just below the surface.

It is somewhat surprising though to see this behaviour emerge in, of all places, Venezuela. Prior to the Chavez government, there were approximately 30,000 Jews in that country. Estimates now are that the number is down to 15,000 and possibly much less than that. In just one example of harassment, in December 2007, police raided a Jewish community centre in Caracas, purportedly seeking weapons and evidence of subversive activity. And according to Jewish World Review, publications by the government’s Ministry of Culture have featured titles such as “The Jewish Question” with the cover showing a Star of David over a swastika.

The sad irony is that a significant source of the Jewish community in Venezuela were European Jews who had fled there to escape the Nazis. Now they face persecution again and many are leaving the country amid suggestions that Hamas and Hezbollah are now operating freely in Venezuela.

Long standing Jewish populations are likewise diminishing rapidly throughout the Islamic world. A recent article in the conservative American Jewish Magazine commentary suggested there was only one remaining Jew in Afghanistan. Deuteronomy declared: “And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (28:65–66). Even here in Australia, Jewish schools and public facilities must have high walls, barred gates and alert guards. Those who terrorise God’s people will ultimately understand the force of Genesis 12:3, “And I will… curse him that curseth thee” ,but meanwhile Jewish life worldwide becomes increasingly precarious.

Winston who?

The London Daily Mail in early February, reported the results of yet another survey. Apparently one in four Britons do not believe that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill actually existed. Similarly characters such as Florence Nightingale, Sir Walter Raleigh, Mahatma Ghandi and Cleopatra are seen as fictional characters of film or literature. Sherlock Holmes on the other hand is thought by many to have been an actual historical character. Reports of such widespread ignorance probably make us smile, when perhaps they should make us weep. The knowledge of many in Western society seems to be gained primarily from the media, with little ability and no educational background to enable fact to be separated from fiction.

One commentator, referring to this report, headed his article on the subject, “Thus ends Western Civilisation.” But this is just one indicator of the parlous state of our world, or at least the modern western society that most of us inhabit. In Britain there are now more CCTV cameras than anywhere in the world. It is impossible to walk or travel through any major British city without being perpetually on camera. Why is this necessary? Because of the inevitability of crime and delinquency, and the understanding by the authorities that prevention is no longer an option, so all they can do is set up a vast surveillance regime to try to catch the guilty after the event.

Senior police officers in both New South Wales and Victoria were recently quoted despairing of the upsurge in mass anti-social behaviour by the young and declaring themselves at a loss to understand what has brought this about. But the apostle Paul declared: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” A world that sows contempt for religion, denial of God, a 50% divorce rate, children “raised” with no standards and no discipline will reap accordingly and we see the fruits all around us every day.

Egyptian security wall breached

Debkafile has reported concerning the Palestinian breakout into Egyptian territory in northern Sinai, “that far from being chaotic, it was minutely planned by the fundamentalist Hamas group.” According to their sources, “each of the estimated half a million Gazans in flight, one-third of the total population, received a $300 grant, which accounts for the shopping spree they could suddenly afford. Hamas was therefore willing to spend $150 million on a manoeuvre for seizing control of an enclave in northern Sinai.” Hamas has taken the opportunity of creating this breach, to send their terrorists to the border of Israel, as well as Egypt. In addition, according to reports by Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, “the Palestinians exploited the chaos on the Gaza-Sinai border to smuggle in quantities of longrange rockets, anti-tank and anti-air rockets and high explosives for missiles…The number of armed terrorists at large in Sinai is estimated in the region of a thousand.” These are deploying along the 220km Israeli-Egyptian border. The Israeli military has long requested that this border be fenced, but the weak Olmert Government has not done so

These developments add to the pressure on Israel. Shin Bet’s recent annual report pointed out that Hamas and its allies fired more than 1,300 Qassam missiles and about 1,700 mortar shells from Gaza into southern Israel, a daily average of over eight projectiles. Hamas operatives are also reported to be active in the West Bank, from which Israel’s central coast, including Tel Aviv, would be in range of the terrorists’ rockets.

As well as Hamas terrorists heading out of the Gaza strip to the less defended Egyptian border with Israel, the Weekend Australian for 9–10 February 2008 reports that “up to 2,000 global jihadi militants” took the opportunity of the security breach to flood into Gaza. “Security sources in the West Bank say the men, many of whom battled coalition forces in Iraq, brought with them weapons and explosives to add to an already formidable arsenal controlled by Hamas.”

For Israel, these events highlight the truth of Deuteronomy 31:29: “evil will befall you in the latter days.” For us they highlight the reality of a restored Israel, surrounded by enemies, the focus of world attention and frustration, and the herald of our coming King.

Vladimir Putin – “a new arms race”

In a speech highlighting the achievements of his period as Russian President, Vladimir Putin criticised the expansion of NATO and declared that Moscow would respond by modernizing its military and weapons systems. Putin’s speech was forceful and aggressive, and was clearly meant to signal that his policies would continue under his anointed successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev has already indicated that if, as seems likely, he becomes President, he will then appoint Putin as his Prime Minister.

Russia has continued to supply nuclear materials and air defence systems to the Iranians. They have resumed long range patrols for their bombers. They have recently sent a naval task force into the Mediterranean led by aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. This task force is scheduled to call at a number of Mediterranean ports including mooted new Russian bases at Tartus and Latakia on the Syrian coast. These developments indicate Russia’s determination to be taken seriously as a world power and to project its influence into Europe and the Middle East. The single-minded leadership of Putin, together with the vast economic benefits of its oil and gas reserves have been the drivers of this new Russian stance. Its growing influence in Europe and its relationship with Iran, ancient Persia, and the Arab world are firmly in line with our prophetic understanding, encouraging us to remain alert watchmen of the world scene, lest the advent of our Lord take us unawares.