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An interview with Joel C. Rosenberg

Issue: "Fact & Fiction," Dec. 21, 2002

WORLD: What kind of response did you get to your evangelistic work in high school in upstate New York?

Joel C. Rosenberg: In my senior year six friends and I held Bible studies and at Christmas handed out gospel tracts that we'd written. Most students were intrigued and asked us lots of questions. Atheistic teachers gave us a hard time. The school lawyers went nuts, fearful we were breaching the separation of church and state.

WORLD: Did you have any adventures in college?

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JCR: I went on a one-month mission trip to Soviet Central Asia in 1986, smuggling Bibles and sharing the gospel with college students we met along the way.

WORLD: Would any of the politicians you've worked for or interviewed be good models for fictional heroes or villains?

JCR: No comment on the villains-are you trying to get me in trouble here? Natan Sharansky is a hero. Suffered as a Jew in a KGB prison. Released after pressure on the Evil Empire by President Reagan. Emigrated to Israel. Now the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel during a military showdown with Iraq, a former Soviet client state. How cool is that?

WORLD: Do some things that now happen in Washington seem too strange to be true?

JCR: Truth is stranger than fiction in Washington these days. Radical Islamic terrorism. Kamikaze attacks. Anthrax. Snipers. Tom Daschle attacking Rush Limbaugh as the greatest threat to the Republic. Bizarre.

WORLD: Are our airport security measures working?

JCR: You can get on a private plane without going through ANY security. I was on a Learjet earlier this year with Sean Hannity flying over Manhattan at 1:00 in the morning. No one had checked our IDs. No one had put us through metal detectors. No one had checked our shoes. We need some basic minimal security checks before people fly over major American cities.

WORLD: What do Mossad agents (Israel's) say about our airport inspections of little old ladies?

JCR: They cringe.

WORLD: Does the United States have good intelligence on what's going on in the Middle East?

JCR: We've absolutely got to hire more CIA and FBI agents who speak Arabic, Farsi, and other Middle Eastern languages and get them undercover in the region.

WORLD: Which is harder, writing fiction or writing about politics?

JCR: People thought I was writing fiction when I worked for Rush. Now I really am. But I loved writing a first novel and love writing for WORLD because I get to communicate biblical truths to a great and wide audience.

WORLD: It's clear that your lead character, Jon Bennett, is starting a spiritual journey.

JCR: He's not a believer, but during the novel he begins to realize how dangerous it is to live in the 21st century without knowing where he'll be when he dies.

WORLD: We won't give away the striking ending, but do you think such a disaster might actually happen?

JCR: I pray the last chapter of The Last Jihad never happens.


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