Israel at War Update with Josh Reinstein
When terrorists killed and wounded thousands on October 7, the world stood behind Israel. But it wasn’t long before anti-Zionists turned the tide of public opinion against the Jewish state. To make sense of this response, Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and President of the Israel Allies Foundation, joins our show with a helpful perspective on Israel’s current challenges.
Josh shares his highly informative take on Israel’s response to Hamas, the world’s reaction to the war, Turkey’s foreboding involvement, and the prospect of a ceasefire in the Holy Land. His valuable firsthand analysis of Israel’s precarious position offers new insight into the war and shows you how you can pray for Israel in these dark times.
To learn more about the Israel Allies Foundation and get involved, please visit israelallies.org.
If you feel called to help Israel find hope in these dark times, you can help save lives with a gift by visiting foi.org/standwithisrael. Thank you for your faithful support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Once again, we are focusing on the war in Israel on today's program.
Chris Katulka: Yes, Steve. We actually have Josh Reinstein, the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which is one of the largest lobbies in Israel. He's also the president of the Israel Allies Foundation, which coordinates the activity of 36 Israel allies caucuses in governments all around the world. Josh really believes in the power of faith-based diplomacy. He'll actually be calling in from Jerusalem. Josh is also the producer and founder of the hit TV show, Israel Now News. Israel Now News is the half-hour weekly news magazine that is broadcast to 35 million viewers in 191 countries around the world.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, Russians in Dagestan broke through barriers at the local airport in an attempt to target the Jewish people set to arrive on a Red Wings flight from Tel Aviv in late October. In one of the videos that circulated on social media, a rioter can be heard saying, "We are here for the Jews. We came to kill them with knives and shoot at them."
Chris Katulka: Well, Steve, here's my take. This is all very reminiscent of Nazi Germany, who were specifically targeting Jewish people. The spirit of antisemitism, remember, that word means the hatred of the Jewish people, that spirit of antisemitism is not just evident in the hearts of these predominantly Russian Muslims, but it's also seen in Congress, parliaments, the United Nations, and university and college campuses. That's why as Christians, we need to continue to pray for the safety and protection of the Jewish people as antisemitism is on the rise.
Chris Katulka: Josh Reinstein, welcome to the program. Thank you for joining us from Israel. Josh, over the past few weeks, we've been dedicating our program to unpacking the Hamas massacre that happened on October 7th and Israel's response. But we want to hear from you, Josh, in Israeli. Can you give us your take on October 7th and your thoughts on Israel's response?
Josh Reinstein: Well, October 7th was no less than a genocide. It was the biggest murder of Jews since the time of the Holocaust. I've been going down to Kibbutz Be’eri and Kfar Aza with delegations of ambassadors and members of our parliament, members of Knesset, to see the atrocities, and it's just stunning. The stories coming out of there will haunt the world for generations to come. They put live babies in ovens. They were beheading babies. They were killing pregnant women, cutting their stomachs open, taking out the babies, shooting them, then shooting the mothers. They were raping people and live-streaming it to their family members. They were taking three generations of families, tying them together and just lighting them on fire. Those types of things are hard to even imagine actually occurring, but so many and so fast. 1400 people lost their lives that day. And the response so far I think has been very measured. I think that any other country would've just turned Gaza into a parking lot and been done with it. But we are now going in on a ground campaign, trying to weed out the terrorists. Our goal is very clear. It's to take Hamas out completely, from the leaders to the members, and make sure that something like this can't happen again.
Chris Katulka: Josh, can you really quickly just explain? We hear a lot from especially politicians and others that there's a lot of innocent Palestinians in Gaza right now, and I know that's a big issue for Israel. But are all of them innocent? I know that back in 2006 or so, 56% of Palestinians voted for Hamas to be their leaders. They asked for this in many ways. I'm not saying that there's ... like you said, most countries would completely level Gaza. But I think that there's this idea out there that there's just a few bad guys and a lot of innocent Palestinians. Can you measure that for us a little bit and give us a better detail of what's going on in Gaza right now?
Josh Reinstein: Well, this is another example of the world's double standard when it comes to Israel. The people of Gaza are not innocent. As you mentioned, they voted for Hamas. 89% of the people overwhelmingly supported the atrocities on October 7th. A lot of their citizens came in and started kidnapping our citizens, women, children, Holocaust survivors, bringing them back. Our children were paraded through the streets while people spit and beat on them. There is no innocence in this war, and the reason they try to make this false comparison is because they want to try to handcuff Israel from doing what needs to be done. It would be like in World War II if they said, "You can't bomb Nazi Germany because of all of the innocents." Two million civilians lost their lives in World War II in Germany, but you don't hear people crying over them, and you can't win wars that way. And so the reason they talk about the innocents and use the numbers of Hamas, of how many have been killed, which is also an outlandish fabrication, is because they're trying to get Israel to stop with this offensive, which is sorely needed.
Chris Katulka: I was even listening recently to a recording that came out from the IDF of a terrorist who had gotten into one of the kibbutzes or villages on the border of Gaza and Israel on October 7th, and he called his parents to let them know that he had killed 10 Israelis and they were proud of him. And so again, there's that mentality of it's not as clean-cut as I think most people think about what's going on in Gaza. They raise their children to hate Jewish people and to hate Israel. And so again, I always try to remind people, I do believe there's a lot of innocent people in Gaza, but I also believe there's a lot more guilty people than the media and the Western world likes to share.
Josh Reinstein: Yes, it's an incredible amount of collaborators on that side, and even the people who would want to leave that area, we've given them a corridor to the south and provided incredible humanitarian aid for anyone who wants to leave. The ones who are staying are supporting Hamas, and the ones who want to leave who can't leave are being held by Hamas. So the deaths of innocent civilians there, and there are, is on the hands of Hamas. They're the ones using them as human shields. They're the ones prohibiting them from leaving the war zone. They put their command centers at the bottom of schools and hospitals, and it's well-documented. They're trying to get the civilian population, the death toll up all the time, and 10% of their rockets that they fire on Israel just fall on their own population, and they count those in the dead as well.
So there's a lot of misinformation coming out of Gaza, but the truth is that we can't worry more about their citizens than we do about our own. We need to go in there and we need to get the job done. And anyone calling to stop the fighting in Gaza is really just trying to support Hamas.
Chris Katulka: I'm glad that you brought it back to the Israelis. What's the sentiment of Israelis right now after October 7th and with the response that's taken place, the military response? Tell us the feeling, the sentiments of Israelis all throughout the land.
Josh Reinstein: Well, initially there was a tremendous shock and sadness, but the Israeli people are resilient people, we're a stiff-necked people, as we've been described, and we've come together in incredible unity. I think if you look from religious to secular, left to right, there's an incredible sentiment that we need to go in and get the job done. If the people were running this fight, I think there'd be even more destruction in Gaza, just because they're so committed and convicted in the idea that we need Hamas to be taken out of control of Gaza so something like this can't happen again. So we're seeing incredible unity and we're seeing the people come together like never before. If you just look at the numbers, it's shocking. 250,000 people were called up for reserve duty. 350,000 actually showed up. We have more Jews in Israel today than at any time in our history, because 267,000 Israelis and Jews came from abroad during this time to volunteer for the Army, to get involved and to help. So we actually have an inflow of Jewish people coming into Israel at this time. It's really amazing to see the unity of Israel, and I think that our enemy has very much underestimated. They thought that would cause panic and that we'd scatter, but it's the exact opposite that's happened. We're more resolved than ever before.
Chris Katulka: Josh, I want to move to what's happening as a result globally from the Hamas attack and Israel's response. Only a few days after the event that took place, the massacre, the floodgates of anti-Zionists, those are people who hate Israel, made their presence known. Pro-Palestinian rallies have increased globally, university presidents have remained silent about what Hamas did on October 7th, and we know that antisemitism has risen dramatically. But it seems like Israel's response to Hamas has shined a light on where the world stands when it comes to good versus evil. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Josh Reinstein: Absolutely, Chris. I think that that's one of the positive effects of what happened. The atrocities were so horrific, rape, murder, killing of babies, kidnapping of Holocaust survivors, that if you're still supporting Hamas now, then you're on the side of evil and there's been a real line that's been drawn in the sand. And so people now are looking at these people who traditionally always said, "Death to the Jews and free Palestine," and they're understanding that these people are not just political advocates. These are evil people who want the death of Jews. “Free Palestine” is just a polite way of saying, "We want to kill the Jews." And in fact, if you look at these protests all across the world, from Australia to the United States to Europe, they're literally saying, "Gas the Jews." That's what they're saying. And so the fact that this is allowed to happen on university campuses in America is shocking. I don't know, if you take any other minority and you said anything close to what they're saying about Jewish people on campuses, there'd be an immediate expulsion, an immediate call to take out the leadership of these universities. But for some reason, when it comes to the Jews, it's acceptable. But it's getting less acceptable. We're seeing incredible bipartisanship as well in the Congressional Israelis Caucus, in the Senate. People are saying, "Enough is enough, and we need to stand against this evil."
Chris Katulka: Josh, we only have a few moments remaining in this segment. I want to get your take on Israel, and people are asking and begging, it seems like, Israel to embrace a ceasefire with Hamas. Is that a good idea or a bad idea?
Josh Reinstein: It's a terrible idea, and it's still the idea of appeasement. The idea of a ceasefire just means to allow Hamas to regroup and re-arm and re-attack. What they should be calling on is, first of all, the release of the hostages. They should be putting pressure on the Iranian leadership who's been funding and training Hamas and Hezbollah in the north. And instead they're using this idea of ceasefire to put pressure on Israel not to defend itself. And it's morally repugnant to see people call for a ceasefire after this atrocity. After the painstaking measures we go to to protect their civilians, the fact that we're letting humanitarian aid in, they're still calling for ceasefire. They're calling for a ceasefire to stop us from fighting Hamas, which is, by any Western measure, worse than ISIS.
Chris Katulka: Listen, we're speaking with the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, Josh Reinstein. He's in Israel right now, and we're going to pick up with him after the break, and we're going to talk more about what's going on in Israel, what's going on in the Middle East. There's a lot of things that have been taking place, so you'll want to stick around to hear more from Josh.
Steve Conover: During this troubling time, with Israel at war, we know people are eager to help. But what they may not know is that there are a variety of ways to support the friends of Israel without impacting their personal budget.
Chris Katulka: Giving gifts of stock, cryptocurrency and IRA distributions can help reduce your taxes and would actually allow you to claim a charitable contribution. If you have a donor-advised fund, you can use the funds that have already been set aside for ministry purposes to support the Friends of Israel.
Steve Conover: To learn more or to take part in this, we have a helpful new website, partner.foi.org. Look for the Tax-Smart Gifts tab in the menu bar to make your donation.
Chris Katulka: I really hope everyone will visit partner.foi.org to learn how to both show their unwavering support for Israel, and also make an end of the year gift from their stock, crypto, IRA or donor-advised fund to the Friends of Israel before 2023 ends. Again, you could do that by partnering with us at partner.foi.org.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back. We're speaking with Josh Reinstein. Josh, let's talk about Turkey. Over the weekend, Turkey's President Erdogan seemed to indicate that he was actually willing to send troops to Israel. Did Israeli leadership see this coming, and what are their thoughts? Hundreds of thousands, it seemed like, turned out in response to his message, and they seemed to approve of what he had to say. Any thoughts?
Josh Reinstein: Well, we're seeing an alliance of evil actors around the world. The president of Turkey is an Islamist. He's always been. He's always been very critical of Israel. His calls and his moral clarity, as they would say it, with Hamas being a freedom fighter group rather than terrorists, even though they mutilate children and rape women, is just indicative of what we're seeing of all bad dictators and tyrants around the world. We're seeing the same statements come out of Iran, we're seeing the same statements coming out of Qatar where they're hosting and housing the leadership of Hamas. But what's interesting this time around is in some of the moderate countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, we're seeing more moderation of what they're saying. I think that they understand that Hamas is a real evil that's a threat to them as well.
And so what's happening is that countries are aligning either on the side of evil and Hamas, we see North Korea and China, Russia to some extent aligning with Hamas, whereas we see Western countries and more moderate countries like America and Europe standing on the side of Israel. And so what's happening is there's a real realignment of good versus evil in the world, and we're seeing who's on which side.
Chris Katulka: Josh, you had brought up some of the other countries in the Middle East; the UAE, you brought up Iran, you brought up Saudi Arabia. I'm interested in your thoughts on the Abraham Accords and Israel's relationship with these countries. Did the Abraham Accords play any role in helping to, like you said, make that distinction as certain Middle East countries are siding with what Hamas did and others are more silent about it?
Josh Reinstein: Well, it was the idea of the peace agreement that was about to materialize with Saudi Arabia that started this all. Iran was very much against the agreement with Saudi Arabia. They fund and supply weapons and training to Hamas. They are the ones who make the call. Hamas is a proxy army of Iran. And because they wanted to destabilize the region and stop the peace accords, that's why I believe they decided that the timing was right now for this horrific attack. But we're seeing that in some of these countries, like UAE and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, even though they're not standing with Israel, there's a softening of their tone on Israel because they understand that for them, the future of their country, they need to have peace with Israel, that they need to stop the barbarians at the gate as well. And it's really an issue of education. They're trying to educate their people that what Hamas is doing is wrong at the same time that some of their people are radicalized and they worry about destabilizing their own country. So they're trying to walk this tightrope right now, but we're definitely seeing that some of the moderate countries are coming closer to Israel, whereas the ones who are more Islamist and radicalized are cheering on Hamas and Hezbollah in the north.
Chris Katulka: I think Egypt is always a good measure for exactly how a Muslim country embraces the Palestinians, and especially Hamas, that they have a border with Gaza, the Rafah border crossing, and yet they keep it closed, preventing Palestinians from coming into the Sinai. And so again, you have this interesting dichotomy of sometimes Egypt will speak out against Israel, but then they're also not going to open their gates to let the Palestinians through at the same time. So it's this interesting back and forth that they seem to have. Any thoughts about that?
Josh Reinstein: Well, I think there should be an international campaign to pressure Egypt to open the Rafah border. If they're really concerned about the citizens of Gaza, that'd be a great way for them to escape into the Sinai while we mop up the floor with Hamas. Unfortunately, we're not seeing that. A cynical reason behind that is that they don't really care about the citizens of Gaza. They just want to try to handicap Israel in this fight against Hamas. But if they wanted to do something productive, they would open the border and allow people to go through. Look, Egypt has a problem with Hamas too. They don't want them to destabilize their government. And they formerly had a Muslim brotherhood government that was very bad for Egypt. So I understand them not wanting the citizens of Gaza to go in because the citizens themselves are very radicalized as well.
Chris Katulka: Josh, recently Netanyahu spoke to your country, to Israel, and said, "This is our second War of Independence." Unpack that statement for us, will you?
Josh Reinstein: Well, I think that's a clue to what's to come. The region now is in a very delicate state. We have the war with Gaza, we have attacks from the north, from Hezbollah. They have 150,000 guided missiles. A way bigger threat than Hamas to us would be Hezbollah in the north. And then we have Iran that's coordinating all these activities and it's feverishly trying to get a nuclear weapon. So I believe that this started with Gaza, but there's a real fear that this will open up on several fronts, and our prime minister is preparing the people for that occurrence. This is a war of our independence. If we want to be here in this neighborhood, we can't just sit back and allow our neighbors to arm and attack and arm and attack. We have to go in and we have to uproot the evil.
Chris Katulka: Can you speak to this as well? I know a lot of times our energy is invested in Gaza when we're reading the news, our energy is invested in the northern border between Lebanon and Israel, with Hezbollah up in Lebanon there. But people don't often think about the fact that there's terrorist activity happening right in Judea-Samaria with the West Bank. Can you speak a little bit about that? Because there's also a front there for Israel as well.
Josh Reinstein: Absolutely. There's this false narrative that Hamas doesn't represent the Palestinian people, and that Abbas is the answer, Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority to have maybe even them come in and control Gaza. But they're almost as radicalized as Hamas. The PA is paying every month now $2.9 million to the perpetrators of these atrocities on October 7th. It's called Pay to Slay. Anyone who kills a Jew gets money from the Palestinian Authority, which is funded by the US and European countries. They're also trying to radicalize their people to attack. We had an attack today in Jerusalem, a stabbing. We had other skirmishes abroad around Judea and Samaria, and Israel has already arrested 700 people in Judea and Samaria who have been involved in trying to attack Israel. They stopped a mega attack by going under a mosque near Jenin that had dozens of rockets in it. So yeah, this is another front we have to worry about, the front from Judea and Samaria.
And so that's why, back to the last question, we're talking about a war of our independence. We have Hamas in Gaza, we have Hezbollah in the north, we have the PA in Judea and Samaria. We have Iran coordinating and funding all of this. It's a real coordinated attack against Israel, and that's why Israel has to be very solid on their response and try to clean up a lot of this mess right now, while we have the opportunity,
Chris Katulka: Josh, we only have two minutes left, but I want to get your take on two things. Number one, how can our listeners get involved with what you're doing to connect with the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the Israel Allies Caucus? Can you share ways that our listeners can get involved to support what you're doing?
Josh Reinstein: Well, we're running a massive diplomatic campaign. War has many fronts. It's the fighting front, the media front, the diplomatic front, and the Israel Allies Foundation is in charge of the diplomatic front because we have 53 Israel allies caucuses in 53 countries, made up of 1500 legislators around the world. So I would ask everyone to go to israelallies.org and see how they can get involved with faith-based diplomacy. It's when Christians take their biblical support and turn it into real political action, and that's what's needed now. We need a bold voice from the Christian community to stand up and say that they're going to stand on the side of good, that they're not going to just be on the sidelines, but they're actually going to take part in fighting for our shared Judeo-Christian values.
Chris Katulka: The last thing I want to ask is, as an Israeli, can you tell our Christian brothers and sisters, how can they be praying for Israel during this time?
Josh Reinstein: Well, I think the first thing they need to do is pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That's not my suggestion, that's God's suggestion. And the reason God asks people to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to keep your eye on Jerusalem, teach your children about Jerusalem, keep focused on Jerusalem. That's where everything is happening. That's the focal point.
Second, I would pray for our leaders to have the wisdom to get the job done, to have the resolve to get the job done. Pray for the hostages. Pray for them to come home safely to their families. Pray for the victims' families of this terrible atrocity. Pray for our soldiers as they go in bravely to fight against our enemies. But also I think the listeners should not just pray, they should praise. Praise God for his mercy, and praise God for the fact that he's in control and that he's fulfilled his prophecies in this land. Praise God for what he's about to do to our enemies so that people will see that the God of Israel doesn't slumber or sleep and he's in control.
Chris Katulka: Josh, thank you so much for being with us. We'll be sure to have you back on soon, and always appreciate your insights on what's going on in Israel and your friendship with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry as well.
Josh Reinstein: Oh, absolutely, Chris. It's great to be together and hope to be together soon in Jerusalem.
Chris Katulka: Amen.
Steve Conover: Thanks for joining us for today's episode of The Friends of Israel Today. We're so grateful for those of you that have reached out to us at this time to pray for us and stand with us as we stand with Israel. Plan to be with us again next week. We'll have more information on what's happening in the land.
Chris Katulka: And there is still a lot going on in Israel. So for our listeners, if you're wondering, "Well, what can I do beyond praying?" Well, number one, praying is incredibly important, but if you'd like to tangibly help Israel during this time, we encourage you to go to foi.org/standwithisrael. When you go to that website and you donate, your finances will be used to not only help the Jewish people during this difficult time in Israel, you'll be able to plant bomb shelters in sensitive locations along the Gaza border and Lebanon. You'll also be helping a blood bank called Magen David Adom, which helps during times of emergency. When you support The Friends of Israel through our Stand With Israel Fund, you'll be able to support Israel both in prayer and tangibly as well. Again, be sure to go to foi.org/standwithisrael.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Did you know that there are a variety of ways to support The Friends of Israel without impacting your personal budget?
Giving gifts of stock, cryptocurrency and IRA distributions can help reduce your taxes and allows you to claim a charitable contribution. If you have a donor-advised fund, you can use the funds that have already been set aside for ministry purposes to support The Friends of Israel.
Partner With Us Today!
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us to continue proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.