Halal, Massive Cash!

unknown2.3 trillion USD! Not a bad sum? The Malaysian Ministry of Trade and Industry estimated that was the value of the international Halal market in March 2015.

As I set out to find recent professional and sound comments on this topic, I found the cupboard is bare. Thankfully the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) published an informative brochure. “Islam is not a religion, it is a way of life with protocols, rules and manners governing every facet of life,’ ICV said, and they estimate there are more than 400,000 Muslims in Australia. “Halal is a term designating any object to use or engage in according to Islamic law,” the brochure further explains. What is halal, they ask? “Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted in reference to food. It is the dietary standard as prescribed in the Qur’an, the Muslim scripture” is the ICV answer.

There are two primary forms of religious based certification in Australia. ‘Kosher’ meaning ‘fit for use’ is for the Jewish population. Halal is for Muslims. An Australian Government report December, 2015 declared: “AUSTRAC has no information that indicates halal certification is linked to terrorism” and “AUSTRAC will continue to monitor reported financial transactions and analyse data related to halal certification to identify information that may be relevant to investigating agencies.” (AUSTRAC – Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre)

Marketing

Economically Halal certification means opening export doors to Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a not insignificant list. The Australian red meat export sector was worth $1.4 billion in 2012-14. Next year, 2018, the anticipated Australian global halal food market is forecast to top 1.6 trillion dollars.

The Q society, an openly anti-Islam group is locked in a court-case which has been in progress for more than a year. Their legal battle is with Halal Certification Authority chief Mohammed El-Mouelhy. He claims, he was defamed by three members of Q Society, in two videos. One in this dispute is Kirralie Smith, founder of the Halal Choices website. During a 2015 Four Corners stroll through a supermarket Smith identified Weetbix, Vegemite, Cadbury chocolate, Bega Cheese and Kellogg’s cereals as Halal certified. Four Corners observed ‘most bread, milk, cereals and at least 80 percent of the chicken process here, are also halal certified.

imagesThere are mega-dollars connected to the Halal question. Last September, the Australasian Muslim Times headlined their report: “Halal Markets are worth $2 Trillions.” The story started: “Muslims have a whopping $11.5 trillion of wealth to their names.’ They quoted statistics from a Bloomberg report calling the cash ‘this massive pool of capital.’

“Australia in the forefront of Halal meat industry’ was another report by the Australasian Muslim Times. From the article by Dr Abdus Sami Sufi ‘the total Halal market is valued around $2.1 trillion Australian dollars.’

Last February contributor Gulhan Eryegit Yoldas wrote “Boycotting Halal – Bad for Australian Business.”

Expand

Economically certainly the Halal argument adds up. Look at this paragraph: “Now consider that we have a population here of just over 23 million. Your maximum potential for that product is to sell it to those 23 million people. Geographically some of our closest neighbours, who we have the easiest trading terms with, happen to have an enormous population of Muslims. Indonesia has 203 million Muslims, Malaysia has 30 million for instance. Just those two countries combined offer 10 times the opportunity for sales than in all of Australia.”

The Muslim market is carefully targeted and all-systems go for the participants. I noticed the Malaysian report carries economic analysis for food and beverages, palm oil derivatives, cosmetic and personal care, industrial chemical and pharmaceutical. That report also offered assistance for Halal Business Transformation. Here they offered training for the workforce, access to financing and business networking. Their online and physical contacts came from 120 countries, probably some through the Halal Iphone app on offer.

Where this ‘massive pool of capital’ ends up provokes me. In August last year, the Financial Times reported: “French Muslims outline halal levy plan to fund mosques.”

There is serious tension in France. In the FT article Adam Thomson wrote: “There is growing concern in France that some mosques are being financed by extremists — often based overseas — with the intention of radicalising worshippers.”

Thomson also observed: “Bernard Cazeneuve, interior minister, said that the government had closed 20 Muslim places of worship in recent months because of their radical teachings.”

A Four Corners programme two years ago looked at the impact of Halal certification in Australia. A Smart Company summary said: “While the investigation found nothing to suggest links between halal certification fees and Islamic fundamentalists, it did reveal some money from certified products was being used to fund Australian Islamic schools and mosques. A mosque complex in Indonesia is also being partly funded by donations from the Islamic Coordinating Council of Victoria raised from halal certification.” (Madura Tea owner reveals why he dumped halal certification – September 8, 2015 – smartcompany.com.au)

I confess I am a swift laser-like in and out shopper. I used to pause just to check for sugar content. Nowadays I am much more observant.

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Sabina Citron, My Jerusalem Encounter.

imagesSome years ago, I was invited to meet Holocaust survivor Sabina Citron. She had just authored her book ‘The Indictment’ and her publisher arranged for us to meet at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre. The location itself was worth the visit but Citron was a national Jewish hero and I looked forward to our interview.

The breath-taking view from the Centre overlooked the Jerusalem skyline. Ms Citron arrived and arranged for us to enjoy lunch on the balcony with that breathtaking panorama.

I had previously ‘googled’ Sabina Citron to gather background for our chat and was shocked to find that more entries referred to her being a ‘nazi-hunter’ than an author or holocaust survivor. During our lunch, there were more shocks to come.

Auschwitz

She was an Auschwitz survivor, and I had visited that concentration camp many times. It’s a gut-wrenching experience just to walk around. I could only imagine the horrors but often survivors were our guides and they portrayed the evil from personal experience. More than once I had to hang back from our tour group to shed a tear, gather myself and of course to pray.

On one visit I met an elderly man who was so grateful Christians had made it possible for him to live in Israel. He had been a small boy in Auschwitz where the evil Dr Josef Mengele had performed painful experiments on him.

Although I have lived and worked overseas, I have not known the terrible hunger, violence, pain and persecution others experienced in the Holocaust and in various locations around the world today. Christians are being persecuted for their faith in more than forty nations. The Christian Post reports more than 8 million children under the age of 5 die every year from causes stemming from extreme poverty. I baulk at the extravagance of Christmas and even the expense of the fireworks at New Year when I think of the massive need of innocent victims.

Sabina described it so well. “The survivors of the Holocaust know all there is to know about indifference! We were persecuted, humiliated beyond description and eventually put to death while the world remained indifferent. Most of us still find it impossible to understand how a civilized world could close its eyes and ears, and pretend not to see or hear the voices of the doomed.” She said this to me in 2009.

I wonder what the persecuted of this generation will say about our ‘civilised’ response to their crisis in years to come. How will our apathy and do-nothingness be described by the Sabina Citron’s of tomorrow?

2401683“We were taken to Auschwitz. We were given striped clothing like criminals and some wooden shoes, and then taken to the showers. We were told to strip naked and leave all our belongings behind.” Her words prompt deep sorrow and concern. But even as I reflect on them now, she may well be speaking to so many persecuted innocents suffering today.

 Anti-Semitism

She was extremely critical of Christian anti-semitism prevalent before World War II. Sabina described replacement theology or supersessionism as a contributing factor to the Holocaust evil.

“The Church’s continued accusation of Jewish guilt in Jesus’ death at the cross fuelled the flames of hatred, which only seemed to grow with time. That Jesus was crucified by the Romans, as were other ‘rebellious’ Jews, was apparently never acknowledged,” she wrote in The Indictment.

Earlier she wrote about the Lord. “Jesus was a kind man who preached love and understanding, a man who was seen as a Messiah by some,” she observed. “Jesus as a Jew, was flogged by the Romans as he proceeded to his crucifixion, a punishment regularly used by the Romans,” Sabine wrote.

Sabina left Europe and lived in Canada. She founded the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association. In latter years she returned to live in Israel.

My visit with her was a joy. She shared her heart with me. The memory of that encounter brings the persecuted vividly to mind. I pray we will not to continue to ignore their plight in the midst of celebrating the joys of Christmas. After all a famous carol begins, ‘Joy to the world…” I believe we have a Kingdom responsibility to play our very active part.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html

I Wish We’d All Been Ready

UnknownHarold Camping (pictured) first predicted the world would end October 21, 2011. That was not his first forecast. In 1992 he published a book called 1994 and in it declared Christ would return mid-September, that same year. “I’m like the boy who cried wolf again and again,” he said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “This doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” he said.

William Miller preceded Camping by more than a century. He preached about the pending return of Christ through the 1840’s. He warned the earth would be engulfed with fire sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. The Millerites sold their belongings between 1840 and 1844 and fled to the mountain to wait for the end. When time passed with no result Miller changed the date to October 22. His supporters went on to form the Seventh Day Adventist movement.

The Bible warns no one knows the day or the hour, nevertheless, the end times is a popular topic and world events often lead to speculation. “Is it now?” “Are we living in the Day?”

Daesh

Unknown-1Christians are not alone with such thoughts. Even for terrorists, end-times is irresistible. Sebastien Gorka is a renowned counter-terrorism expert. He says Islamic State is trying to usher in the end of the world with one ‘final jihad’ (jihad – holy war).

Gorka spoke at the first annual The Bridge conference for the persecuted church hosted by International Christian Concern. He explained that Islamic State is referred in various places by the names IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

Gorka explained the self-description comes from ‘the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’, from that they take the Arabic acronym DAESH. In that name al-Sham takes on a ‘deeper’ theological meaning. “Like every religion, Islam has an eschatology. It has a story of the End Times. Just as in Christian eschatology, the talks of a final period of tribulation or judgment day and a series of battles between the believers and non-believers, Islam has the same,” Gorka declared. “Everybody will be resurrected and judged by Allah at the End Times. But prior to that judgment, there will be a series of battles in al-Sham. The pivotal jihad, the last jihad will occur in this territory.”

“It is crucial to understand how powerful that message is because when ISIS gets up on the internet or Twitter, Facebook and Telegram and say ‘We are the Islamic State of al-Sham,’ what message are they sending to that Pakistani immigrant in San Bernardino, to that man with Afghan descent in Orlando or those people in Istanbul and Brussels?” Gorka asked.

“They are sending a simple message: ‘Have you ever wanted to be a jihadi? Have you toyed with the idea of salvation? Guess what? Look where we are — on the site of the final jihad. If you don’t come now, you are going to miss guaranteed salvation.'”

He then claimed over 86,000 terrorists have been recruited to jihad from Iraq and Syria, and an estimated 36,000 are from outside Iraq and Syria including westerners.

Thahir Saheb Jamel, 27, was an Islamic State ‘soldier’. In a jailhouse interview conducted by Foxnews he told how he eventually became disillusioned by the dark vision of his associates. “At the beginning, ISIS told us we would all go to heaven,” Jamel said. “But now that I am in prison it means I am going to the fire. I am going to hell.”

Haunted

He was opposed to the Shia-led authorities in Baghdad and joined with Sunni young men. “We have to have a world based on sharia,” he was taught. “And to build the Caliphate we must control the economy, take over every oil field.” He lost count of the slaughter, the prisoners and the public beheadings.

“It haunts me that I am responsible for killing many people, we killed them for nothing,” he said.

Biblically speaking it may be true. we may be living in the end times. The return of Jesus may be soon. It seems a healthy way to assess the situation.

For many generations predictions have been made using bible texts and world indicators to point to this or that date. William Branham was a Pentecostal preacher. February 23, 1963 he climbed Sunset Mountain. He claimed he met with seven angels who revealed to him the meaning of the seven veils described in the Book of Revelation. This experience led him to predict Jesus would return in 1977. Sadly he did not live to see that year. A drunken driver smashed into his car and Branham was killed Christmas Eve, 1965. For him the end came suddenly and despite his message, it was without warning.

“About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition,” a statement attributed to Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727. Newton predicted that the end of the world will occur in 2060.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows,” – Jesus Christ (Mark chapter 13, verse 32)

Some like ISIS, seek to hasten the day. Others will display their ‘anointing’ by naming the day, despite what Jesus said.

In 1969, my friend Larry Norman sang, “I wish we’d all been ready.” As I type these words, I stopped and posted Larry and the song to my Facebook page. There is not a better end-times challenge for any of us.

 

 

Lessons of a Broken Heart.

“It’s odd, isn’t it? People die every day and the world goes on like nothing happened. But when it’s a person you love, you think every one should stop and take notice. That they ought to cry and light candles and tell you that you’re not alone.” (Kristina McMorris, Letters from Home)

Thirteen year old American-Israeli Hallel Ariel was brutally murdered by a 17 year old terrorist in Israel. Heartbreaking! That murder reminded me of another American-Israeli, 13 year old Koby Mandell murdered May 8, 2001. His friend 14 years old Yosef Ishran died at the hands of the same terrorists.

In Jerusalem I met with Sherri Mandell (pictured) Koby’s mother. She shared about the great depths of grief she experienced. In her book “The Blessings of a Broken Heart,” she wrote about life after Koby. “We have to walk about five blocks to get to Burger King. We’re hungry, tired and cranky so when we pass a vegetarian restaurant – we decide to stop there to eat. I think we are all relieved not to have to feel the sadness of eating hamburgers without Koby.

Unknown“My kids go to pick up the drinks at the counter of the restaurant, and I close my eyes and hold a napkin against my eyes as I cry and I wonder: how am I going to go on? How am I going to stand up? How am I going to get the strength to leave this restaurant and take my children home on the bus?”

Grief overwhelmed her until her surviving childrn lovingly said, “Mother, we know how deeply you feel the loss of Koby, but please understand we feel that loss too. But we have suffered two severe tragedies. We lost Koby but since he died, we lost our mother too.” Sherri knew they were right. She told me they had a meaningful time as a family and considered how they could remember Koby appropriately. The Koby Mandell Foundation was launched. They knew the deep impact of grief terror inflicted on their own family and they knew others shared that sorrow with their own traumatic experiences.

Camp Koby

They launched Camp Koby for teens and youth, where counseling and encouragement were prioritized. Jewish and Arab victims of terror are brought together.

Sherrie explained they are wary of each other on the first day. By day two they hear heart-wrenching testimonies. The barriers recede. By midweek the teens laugh and cry with each other. She said they draw to each other through their common need and one teen with a tragic infirmity relates to another with the same predicament. Their nationalistic differences are forgotten, at least for the moment. By the end of the week, Sherrie told me, they share email addresses so they can maintain contact. (Online visit The Koby Mandell Foundation – kobymandell.org -to see the scope of their vision).

imagesOn the website the Mandells have posted comments written by Koby. One is called: ‘What makes a Good Parent.’ He wrote: “If I were my parents I would always stick up for my kid because if you don’t, your kid begins to feel bad and thinks that you don’t care about him. Anyway, your kid always needs somebody to stick up for him.

“I would also let my kid wear whatever he wants and make his own decisions, because kids need freedom as much as parents do, if not more. I’m not saying you can let your kid do whatever he wants, but don’t confine him, and let him make his own decisions.” (Read the rest at the website)

Koby liked to quote – “Taking the Bully by the Horns” by Kathy Noll. “I was once bullied by a jerk who wanted to show off in front of his friends . He took a chair from me during school when I was sitting down and I fell on the floor. I said to my friends that guy’s an idiot and he heard me. He started to hit and kick me and then walked away. I didn’t hit him back because he was bigger and older than me. A week later my father found out and we ran into him at the pizza place. My father went up to him and threatened to break his nose off if he touched me again. Since then he has not bothered me. I felt good because he was punished and embarrassed. (More at the website.’

Koby had quite a sense of humour and some of his favorite jokes are published on the website: “As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it just seems that way.”

“Millionaire is dying, he calls his 3 closest friends to his bedside. “I know they say you can’t take it with you when you go, but I want to try.” He said, “I’m going to give you $1 Million apiece, if you will place it in my coffin at my funeral.” They agreed, and at his funeral, they all placed envelopes in the casket. 2 Months pass, and they meet for lunch. One friend says “I have a confession, I only put $200,000 in the envelope”. Another friend says “Yeah, I only put in $300,000.” The third says “I’m SO disappointed! He was our friend! How could you do this? … My envelope contained a check for $1,000,000”.”

These murdered terror victims are more than statistics. They were vibrant living, loved and valued. Not to be forgotten. I am reminded author Latoya Alston wrote “Loss is only temporary when you believe in God!”

 

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html