- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2006

Joel Rosenberg attracted world attention when the events described in three of his fiction books began to occur in real life.

Mr. Rosenberg has now drawn on his Christian faith, Orthodox Jewish heritage and experience as an aide to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his newest book, “Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future.” The following are excerpts from telephone interview with the author:

Q. Three of your fiction books have seemed almost prophetic. For instance, “The Last Jihad” contained a story of hijackers using a jet in a kamikaze attack on an American city, which leads to a war with Saddam Hussein over weapons of mass destruction — and you wrote it before September 11. Did you mean for these stories to be predictions?

A. I didn’t particularly think that these novels were going to predict the future, per se. I had based the series on events I thought might happen. … I was basing them on a series of Bible prophecies, but when [the novels] started to come true … that has been striking for all of us, myself included.

Q. Which Bible prophecies are you referring to?

A. Ezekiel Chapter 38 and 39 describes what Bible scholars call the war of Gog and Magog. Russia and Iran form a military alliance with Lebanon, Syria and a group of other Middle East countries to destroy Israel in what Ezekiel described as the last days. … This list of countries that’s going to destroy Israel doesn’t include … Iraq. …

I thought, “Well, if this were to happen in my lifetime, and Saddam Hussein were still in power, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Iraq would not be involved.” …

I thought the most likely scenario for Saddam leaving is either a coup, an assassination, natural causes of him dying or an invasion of some kind. … The only country that would be likely to invade Iraq would be the United States, but why would we? … What if there was a kamikaze terrorist attack against the United States that caused an American president to think that he needs to wage a war against radical Islam and, ultimately, against Saddam Hussein?

Q. Do you think the rest of this is going to come true — that this alliance with Russia and Iran is going to be the manifestation of these biblical prophecies?

A. Russia is clearly building a military alliance with Iran today. In December of last year, Russia signed a $1 billion arms deal with Iran. Russia is building Iran’s nuclear facilities. Russia has trained over a thousand Iranian nuclear scientists, and Russia is running political interference for Iran at the United Nations to prevent the U.S. and Europe from slapping sanctions on Iran. …

Q. Exactly how do we know that this prophecy in Ezekiel is referring to Russia and Iran?

A. Identifying Iran in Ezekiel 38 is the easiest. … The country mentioned is Persia, and until 1935, the official name of Iran was Persia.

Where we get Russian from is that a dictator emerges in a land called Magog, according to Ezekiel 38:2. … When you do the detective work … you find out this is the people group that settled north of the Black Sea in what we now call Russia. …

Q. What makes you believe the predictions or warnings in your current book — that Iran is really trying to destroy Israel and the U.S. to bring about the end of days?

A. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said, “We’re going to wipe Israel off the map.” … I based that element of this Russian-Iranian desire to destroy Israel on the prophecy. …

Now this new book, “Epicenter,” is the nonfiction version of these prophecies, explaining what do the prophecies mean and what’s really going on in the world that suggests that we may be closer to the fulfillment of those prophecies than most people realize. … A lot of people are starting to wonder, given this Russian-Iranian alliance that is forming. …

Ahmadinejad sees Israel as the little Satan. He sees the United States as the great Satan. We’re his ultimate objective.

Q. Why is that?

A. In his radical Islamic, Shi’ite theology, Jews and Christians are the infidels and need to either be forced to convert to Islam or killed. … Israel obviously represents the Jewish people. … We are perceived as the epicenter of Christendom to the Muslim world.

Q. You’ve said the Iranian president believes the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah is to launch a global jihad to destroy Israel and the U.S. Does he still think that? Would he admit that to an international audience, do you think, today?

A. I completely believe that that is his objective. I don’t think he intends to have that conversation with the American people. … That’s why my book “Epicenter” quotes him from sources in Iran. …

Ahmadinejad wrote an 18-page letter to President Bush laying out a lot of his theology and questioning President Bush’s commitment to following the words of Jesus Christ. I never thought I would see the day when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would ask the president of the United States, “What would Jesus do?” but that’s what happened, and he essentially asked President Bush to convert to Islam or face judgment in hell. …

Q. Why aren’t we hearing about this in the United States?

A. I don’t know why, but the media seemed mesmerized by Ahmadinejad, rather than asking some important questions about his beliefs.

At the U.N. speech, Ahmadinejad closed with a prayer that Allah would send this Islamic messiah soon. Imagine if President Bush had closed his speech at the United Nations by praying, “Dear Lord, I pray that Jesus Christ would return to earth soon.” …

I think that’s a general bias in the media against Christians on the one level and just a lack of understanding of what a central role theology plays in the foreign policy of Ahmadinejad, and that’s why I wrote “Epicenter.” …

Q. You have asked, “Will we stop [Iran] in time?” If this is possibly according to biblical prophecy, can we stop them, and should we?

A. The key is we don’t know at this moment whether the alliance that’s emerging between Russia and Iran and these other Middle Eastern countries is in fact a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 and 39. Therefore, we can’t base American foreign policy on the supernatural intervention by the God of Israel to protect Israel. We need to take action to protect ourselves. …

I believe that 2007 is going to be the year of decision for President Bush. Either he’s going to take some form of action to stop Iran from going nuclear, or the moment may be lost. 2008 is a presidential election year. [The year] 2009 is the beginning of a new administration, and by then it may be too late. Iran could have nuclear weapons by then. …

If Iran goes nuclear on President Bush’s watch, it will erase all of the gains that we’ve made thus far in the war against radical Islam. … I believe an apocalyptic war is coming in the Middle East in the next few years. Either Iran is going to launch it at us and Israel, or we’re going to take action to stop them.

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