Israeli Town Cancels 'Baptism' by Jehovah's Witnesses

Israeli Town Cancels 'Baptism' by Jehovah's Witnesses

The central Israel town of Raanana last week canceled a planned Jehovah’s Witnesses event after ultra-Orthodox activists insisted the gathering was to include a “mass baptism” of Jews.

The official schedule for the event, which was to be held last Saturday at the MetroWest Sports Center, included only seminars and made no mention of a baptism.

But that didn’t stop the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim from issuing an urgent warning that “buses all over the country would bring innocent Jews to be baptized on the Sabbath at the Raanana municipal sports center.”

Pressure from the group and Orthodox members of the Raanana City Council eventually resulted in the municipal government requesting that the Jehovah’s Witnesses move their event. When the Jehovah's Witnesses declined, city hall canceled the event.

Raanana city officials later insisted that the cancellation had been ordered out of concern for public safety, noting that ultra-Orthodox groups had planned to protest - perhaps violently - outside the arena.

But representatives for the Jehovah’s Witnesses accused the city of impinging on their freedom of religion. There was some concern by other groups that Yad L’Achim could use this victory to shut down Christian “missionary” events in other parts of the country.

 

It's the Identity, Stupid!

It's the Identity, Stupid!

The last elections shined a spotlight on what Israelis consider to be the main issue facing their society today - left-wing media bias.

Leftist bias in the local mainstream media was previously not considered a major problem. Sure, people talked about it, but that talk never went beyond the usual and familiar Israeli ranting. 

Programs intended to monitor and critique the media's journalistic professionalism became a farce when colleagues began interviewing only one another and closing ranks to protect "the guild." The idea of media bias, they sneered, was nothing more than a myth propagated by losers.

For their part, politicians and public figures kept out of the debate either because the media bias served them, or because they were afraid of journalistic backlash.

The first to seriously challenge the media's leftist bias was head of Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett, whose "I do not apologize" campaign proved to be extremely effective, if not at the polling station than certainly as an inspiration to many who had never learned to voice opposing convictions unapologetically. 

Bennett's interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour was an example of the way he conducted himself time and again on Israeli TV and radio. But however bold Bennett was, he only opened a hatch compared to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's targeting of Yediot Acharonot publisher Arnon (Noni) Moses was like a shell cutting right through the city gate.

The following weeks were characterized by fervent social media discussions that showed just how effective was Bennett's and Netanyahu's open criticism of politicized journalism. The effect was also seen in the coming forward of prominent Israeli journalists who not only joined the general criticism of media bias, but dared to call out those of their colleagues who would stop at nothing to defame their political rivals. 

A case in point was Channel 2 reporter Amit Segal, who tweeted something about Tel Aviv restaurants breaking the law that prohibits selling leaven during the week of Passover. The vicious journalistic attack that followed this insignificant tweet prompted Dror Ider from the daily Israel Hayom to write: "What's happening in the last 24 hours (of April 9th) is a leftist attempt to take out a journalist who defies the Bolshevik tribal codes."

Kalman Libeskind didn't hold back either. Writing for Arutz Sheva he said: "For a long time we haven't seen so much venom and poison. It is enough to see the collection of journalists who signaled with 'Like' [on Facebook] the filth that flies all over the Internet to understand that we are dealing with something which is much wider and deeper."

Journalists like Segal, Ider and Libeskind are marking what could turn out to be a dramatic change in an Israeli media whose mono-colored worldview has for too long served to erode the Zionist vision of the Jewish state. 

In what now seems to be a losing battle, the old socialist vanguard is wasting its remaining paper grenades in attempts to draw people back behind the imagined tribal barracks. They try to confine the battle to worn-out defense lines that supposedly demonstrate the "backwardness" of the East in the face of their "Western light."

But the battle is no longer about a superior Ashkenazi culture against an inferior Sephardi one. It is not even about Left and Right. Though these issues continue to haunt our society, the real battle is actually over identity. 

Today, the two opposing forces are placed on the Right and Left ends of the field for anachronistic reasons. In actuality, those who voted for the Right did so primarily because they believe the Jewish identity of Israel must not be compromised. Many of those who voted for the Left did so primarily because they think a Jewish state is an archaic and harmful notion. 

The last elections and the media skirmishes that followed demonstrated that most Israeli Jews do not view Zionists as modern day Crusaders. Most of them think that Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land is a historic right that must be protected at all costs.

 

Saving Democracy from Itself

Saving Democracy from Itself

Every democracy must defend itself against those who exploit its liberties to destroy it from within. The West must realize that naïvely open societies are the meals of plotting wolves, and totalitarian ideologies will exploit every freedom and benefit of the doubt that they are given. The documentary film “The Grand Deception,” by terrorism expert Steven Emerson, demonstrates in frightening detail just how much the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated U.S. society – from the media, to university campuses, to local and federal government. Apologists for Islamists will reflexively label the expose as “islamophobic” but the film is based on well documented cases pursued by the Department of Justice.

Unfortunately, one of the dangers underscored in the film has already materialized: Islamists and their sympathizers increasingly dominate college campuses, and the trend threatens those who want to remain free of sharia law, those who openly support Israel, and those who care about free speech and academic freedom. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are increasingly active on campuses across North America, even though they advocate for Israel’s destruction, admire terrorists, and are making Jewish students feel unsafe.

The toxic environment produced by such organizations is unmistakable. Just a few days ago, a student coalition at Stanford University grilled a student council candidate about her Jewish identity and positions on Israel. Last month, UCLA students, debated whether a student was fit to serve on the student council because of her Jewish background. Last February, at the University of California at Davis, an even more hateful climate produced swastikas on a Jewish fraternity house, a student government vote to divest from companies doing business with Israel, and a proclamation by Student Senator Azka Fayyaz that “Hamas & Sharia law have taken over UC Davis…Israel will fall. insha’Allah.” (This is the same Hamas that opts to rearm for the next war with Israel rather than rehabilitate Gaza from the last one.)

Aggressively disruptive tactics are used by anti-Israel activists to try to silence dissenting views, as happened when Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was repeatedly heckled at UC Irvine in 2010. And campus speech codes are increasingly used to silence those who dare to defend Israel against the constant and disproportionate vitriol directed at it.

Connecticut College professor Andrew Pessin is the latest casualty of hate groups exploiting the values of free speech and inclusiveness to defeat those very principles on campus. When he dared to exercise his free speech rights to defend the only Mideast state that has such rights, an SJP leader began a smear campaign to label Pessin’s defense of Israel a hate crime. In the skewed moral universe at Connecticut College, Professor Pessin, who actually endorses a two-state solution recognizing the rights of both Jews and Palestinians, is called a racist, while the student campaigning against him – who scoffs at anti-Semitism and supports the genocidal terrorist group Hamas – is embraced as a moral hero. The administration’s handling of this fiasco has been so inept and unfair that everyone who cares about academic freedom, free speech, and/or Israel’s right to defend itself from the murderous attacks of Hamas should sign this petition supporting Professor Pessin, who was forced to take a medical leave of absence because of this ordeal involving personal threats, reputational damage, and other costs.

While university administrators often fail to protect those who defend Israel, the only Mideast democracy and a close ally, they are all too tolerant of hateful Islamist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who are sworn enemies of the U.S. and its values. Astonishingly, a Cornell University dean suggested that members of ISIS could be welcomed onto the Ivy League campus to conduct talks and even training programs. It is precisely such clueless naiveté about Islamist intentions that ultimately endangers the United States, where it has infected the highest levels of power.

Indeed, when freedom of speech was literally murdered in the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo publication, Obama skipped the solidarity march and described the four Jewish victims of the subsequent Parisian kosher market attack as “folks in a deli” even though the Islamist murderer himself admitted to targeting Jews (rather than just random deli “folks”). Obama consistently denies any religious element to Islamic terrorism by generically labeling it “violent extremism.” Following the same policy on an exponentially more perilous scale, Obama now whitewashes Iran’s support for Islamic terrorism and hides illegal North Korean shipments of missile components to Iran in his desperate effort to close a deal that he admits will give Iran nukes in about a decade (despite Obama’s many prior assurances that he wouldn’t let this happen).

Ironically, the leader of Egypt, a country that is about 90% Muslim, has shown far more courage and honesty in confronting the Islamist threat than Obama has – perhaps because Egypt’s very survival depends on strategic clarity. But distance from the epicenter of the Islamist threat (in the Middle East) doesn’t guarantee security from it, as Europe’s experience teaches.

North Americans who cherish their freedoms must oppose the dangerous trend on campuses today: university administrations that tolerate intolerance while hate groups try to silence those who defend the only democracy in the Middle East. The harassment is still mostly a nonviolent attempt to chill free speech, but how far are we from Charlie Hebdo-style massacres? When students openly welcome Hamas and sharia law on campus and university administrators respond to encroaching Islamist influences with naiveté or indifference, the stage is set for far more aggressive and potentially violent forms of Islamist activism.

This week, Holocaust Remembrance Day should remind everyone how a hateful movement that starts by targeting Jews rarely ends with them. While Islamists may have initially focused their attacks on Israel, today they wage an ongoing genocide against Mideast Christians and Yazidis, and attack the West with greater frequency and lethality. An analysis by the Investigative Project on Terrorism found that over “80 percent of all convictions tied to international terrorist groups and homegrown terrorism since 9/11 involve defendants driven by a radical Islamist agenda.” Just last February, a Florida University professor was deported over ties to the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

If universities are increasingly dominated by an Islamist agenda, and they are where our democracy’s future is trained, what sort of future awaits us?

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

 

Whitewashing Muslim Animosity

Whitewashing Muslim Animosity

Critics say the Oslo 'peace ring' is an example of how the media works to protect Muslims by building up a story of a handful of moderates into a massive crowd.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Rap Video Urges Jews to Leave Europe

Rap Video Urges Jews to Leave Europe

There’s no question that anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise, and in a big way. And there are no shortage of those warning that today’s anti-Semitism is comparable to the atmosphere in the run-up to the Nazi Holocaust.

Will the Jews of Europe heed the warning signs? Unlike their grandparents and great-grandparents, Jews today have a homeland to which to escape, a safe haven with a strong Jewish army.

Even so, the bulk of Europe’s Jews seem content to remain in the Diaspora, and even many Israelis have taken up residence in Germany, France, England and elsewhere on the continent.

The following video produced by Messianic Jews and Christian Zionists hopes bring greater awareness to the warning signs of what is to come, and to demonstrate that like Noah’s Ark, God has prepared a safe place for the Jewish nation to ride out the coming storm.

 

The Marketing Pro: Selling Israel

The Marketing Pro: Selling Israel

The most important marketing person of all times had to beMoses, the man of God who led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Messianic Initiative Helps Bring Holocaust Healing

Messianic Initiative Helps Bring Holocaust Healing

“When I stood before the actual baby clothing, little dresses and tiny shoes that had been stripped off the infants being thrown into the gas chambers, I just couldn’t take it,” said Tehilah, one of the young Jewish girls who came to Auschwitz with a Messianic initiative called Yad B’yad, which means "Hand in Hand" in Hebrew.

“Standing there paralyzed, holding hands with my German partner, we both broke down crying and could not stop weeping as we held each other and walked through that horrible place,” she recalled. “Something very deep was healed in both of us.”

Every year since 2005, Messianic Jewish leaders in Israel together with their German partners have taken hundreds of Jewish and German youth aged 16-18 to walk through Auschwitz in the Yad B’yad program.

This bold Messianic initiative’s vision is clear: “The pain and the shame of the Holocaust have left deep scars on both Jew and German. They need help to walk together from memory – through friendship – to a shared future."

More than half of all Israeli high schools have since the 1980s sent tens of thousands of Jewish youth to Poland and to Auschwitz to learn the history of the Holocaust. “Many of our children coming back from these trips suffer from nightmares, anxiety and even some cases of depression,” said Batya Herpas, a local city chairperson with the Department of Education. “There are many problems and unresolved issues with the current high school trips to Poland.”

Members of Herpas’ city counsel noticed that the Yad B’yad participants didn’t seem to have the same problems, and that the program could help bring healing and resolution, rather than more pain and anger to their high school teens.

When Roi Keshet, a history teacher in a local Israeli high school, heard about the Messianic Yad B’yad initiative he said that it had been his dream to see Jewish and German teens walking together through Auschwitz. Quoting from Ezekiel 17, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’ he admitted that, “We have a problem with a victim mentality in this country and it is time to bring healing for both German and Jewish youth.”

Many German government officers and education officials have also shown interest in the Yad B’yad journey for their communities. The mayor of Berlin recently hosted a public event in the city square for Yad B’yad kids to tell their stories of how they were helping one another overcome the past and create hope for the future.

“When I saw all the barracks and the destroyed gas chambers,” said Annika, one of the German participants, “I realized for the first time how guilty my nation was and is! I understood what my country did! This was when I understood how important it is to ask for forgiveness… I separated from the group and I asked Julia (her Jewish partner) in the name of my family and in the name of my nation Germany for forgiveness and she forgave me in the name of her family and her nation.”

A Jewish participant named Esther recalled: “At the entrance to Birkenau there are train tracks. We walked in pairs (Jew and German) for about ten minutes holding hands… then each pair sat and prayed together. At first my partner and I were silent, then we began sharing our hearts with each other about what we had just seen. We were both in tears… Then my partner began to pray for me in German and even though I couldn't understand her, it was like God's grace touching my heart."

While in Auschwitz, the young ones light candles as a reminder that even through the darkest hours of human history our people have not been destroyed. It is a small light to remind all of us that hope is our strength, not anger. It is a light, however small, of hope for a future where they and their children’s children will find a way out of the darkness towards a day when we can all say together, “Never Again.”

 

From Anti-Zionist to IDF Soldier

From Anti-Zionist to IDF Soldier

"What began as an innocent visit with friends to Israel—the state we had been taught not to love—has become a never-ending love story..."

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

What Time is It?

What Time is It?

We should put aside all of our futile estimations as to the exact time of the Rapture, the coming of the Messiah and the return of Jesus, for the Lord Himself says: “It is not for you to know times or epochs.”

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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'Israel Must Do More to Reach Arab Christians'

'Israel Must Do More to Reach Arab Christians'

A Palestinian Christian source suggested that if Israel would do more to reach out to and protect his community, the Jewish state would find something of a natural ally amidst a sea of Muslim hostility. He also noted that this was far more true of Orthodox and Catholic Christians than of Evangelicals, many of whom have joined the global BDS movement against Israel.

Indeed, the fact that Middle East Christians are natural allies of the Jews has gained growing awareness in Israel of late thanks to the work of Father Gabriel Naddaf, the Christian Empowerment Council and the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum. Last year, Israel reciprocated by officially recognizing local Christians as an independent Aramean minority.

A Christian leader who spoke to Arutz Sheva on condition of anonymity said the same relationship is possible with the Christians of Bethlehem and other Palestinian Authority-ruled towns.

“Most Christians in the Palestinian Authority (PA) love Israel and would like to see Israel back there,” he said.

But the years of PA rule, accompanied by a systematic anti-Israel brainwashing, have taken a toll. While most older Palestinian Christians maintain an affinity for Israel, those generations that are too young to remember Israeli rule and can only go by what the PA tells them have become antagonistic.

What might be even more surprising is the source’s revelation that Orthodox Christians and Catholics are far more likely to hold positive views of Israel than their Protestant and Evangelical counterparts.

As demonstrated by the bi-annual Christ at the Checkpoint conference hosted by Bethlehem Bible College, a great many Palestinian Evangelicals have whole-heartedly embraced the global Evangelical boycott campaign against the Jewish state. Many are also prominent in the teaching of “Palestinian Liberation Theology” that tries to equate current Palestinian suffering with the mistreatment of Jesus, both at the hands of the Jews.

 

Israelis Respond to Hillary Clinton's Candidacy

Israelis Respond to Hillary Clinton's Candidacy

A number of openly pro-Israel Republican candidates have already thrown their hats into the ring of the upcoming US presidential election. But they are largely unknown in the Jewish state. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is well known and widely admired, so her announcement elicited a much stronger Israeli response.

Most reflecting the mainstream media response was Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper, which ran a cover story on Hillary, complete with a two-page photographic look at her life and rise to power. Similarly congratulatory articles appeared on the Walla! news portal, the website of Channel 2 News, and other outlets.

“When Hillary Clinton decided to run [for president], she took yet another step toward” realizing the feminist agenda, gushed Israeli lawmaker Merav Michaeli (Labor) in an op-ed published by the left-leaning Ha’aretz.

Michaeli urged readers to hold fast to the “hope that no one will arise to stop Hillary Clinton… [who] is not just any female candidate, but the first woman to bring global attention to the notion that ‘women’s rights are human rights.’”

At the same time, the right-wing nature of the Israeli public was apparent in the comments to many of these articles, with most respondents fearful that Clinton would be even worse for Israel than President Barack Obama.

The ultra-Orthodox news portal Behadrey Haredim noted that Clinton’s campaign management had already leaked that she intends to embrace, rather than distance herself from Obama and his policies. If that extends to Obama’s policies vis-a-vis Israel, Iran and the rest of the Middle East, Clinton might soon earn a new, more negative reputation in this region.

 

Arab Christian Reconciliation and the Problem for Messianic Jews

Arab Christian Reconciliation and the Problem for Messianic Jews

Israel Today spoke to Messianic leaders about the growing rift between Arab Christians who oppose the State of Israel, and Arabic-speaking Christians who love and fight for it.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Egypt, Netanyahu, Israeli Opposition - All Against Iran Deal

Egypt, Netanyahu, Israeli Opposition - All Against Iran Deal

The Iran nuclear deal that US President Barack Obama keeps defending seems to be gaining opponents by the day here in the Middle East.

It’s no secret that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is no fan of the framework agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this month.

On Sunday, Netanyahu again explained why deal was doomed to failure, and pointing out that in the few short days since it was announced, Iran has already contradicted the “historic achievements” lauded by the Obama Administration.

“Iran insists on maintaining its formidable nuclear capabilities with which it could produce nuclear bombs. Iran insists on removing all sanctions immediately. And Iran refuses to allow effective inspections of all its suspect facilities,” said the Israeli leader. “At the same time, Iran continues its unbridled aggression in the region and its terrorism throughout the world.”

Netanyahu received unexpected backing from popular Egyptian television host Tawfik Okasha, who insisted on his top-rated program “Egypt Today” that Israel should “trust in God and bomb [Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor]. We are with you. And if you need fuel for the jets we will give it to you.”

Perhaps even more surprising was the Sunday publication of a position paper by Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (pictured) demanding that Washington give a green light to any military action Israel deems necessary in facing the Iranian threat.

Herzog and Livni have been outspoken critics of Netanyahu’s approach to Obama and to the American president’s handing of the Iran nuclear crisis.

Even so, Herzog and Livni themselves suggested fundamental dissatisfaction with Obama’s nuclear deal by demanding that the US “give legitimization ahead of time to any action Israel will need to take to protect its safety.”

 

Is There Another Solution to Iran Nukes?

Is There Another Solution to Iran Nukes?

A frustrated US President Barack Obama over the weekend questioned how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would address the Iranian nuclear problem, since he was clearly dissatisfied with the American approach.

An Israeli expert had already answered that question, noting that the only remaining viable solution was to intervene militarily.

Speaking at a press conference in Panama City, Obama said that he was well aware of Israel’s concerns regarding the nuclear framework agreement he and other Western powers had reached with Iran a week earlier.

“I have repeatedly asked – what is the alternative that you present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon?” said Obama, insisting that he had “yet to obtain a good answer on that.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel, said the question was irrelevant.

In an op-ed published last Thursday, Inbar explained that for all of Obama’s efforts to defend the deal, it was “ the perceptions of Middle East actors” that carried the most weight.

And Israel wasn’t the only one worried.

“For example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have deplored the fact that the US is bestowing international legitimacy on Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state,” noted Inbar. “They probably believe the interpretations of the deal offered by Tehran more than those professed in Washington.”

As a result, the Middle East stood on the brink of a dangerous nuclear arms race.

But Inbar did concede that the only alternatives to Obama’s less-than-appealing deal were to accept a nuclear Iran or bomb its nuclear infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the expert concluded, the American leader didn’t have what it takes to choose the latter option, and Iran knew it.

Israel, however, continued to mull a preemptive strike.

“If we have no choice we have no choice… the military option is on the table,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio earlier this month, noting that Israel had not sought American approval before bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981.

Days earlier, Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a senior figure in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, reaffirmed that Israel remained his nation’s primary target.

“Erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable,” Gen. Naqdi was reported to have said, even as Obama’s team was preparing to sign a deal with the Islamic Republic.

 

ISIS, Israel and Belly Dancers

ISIS, Israel and Belly Dancers

"We told them we would come to Japan despite the problems with North Korea..."

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Why Pray?

Why Pray?

True prayer is what I wish for the people of Israel, who in recent times have been increasingly abandoned by the world—and even by Christians.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Desire for Peace, Fear of Retribution

Desire for Peace, Fear of Retribution

Talking on a balcony overlooking Israel’s coastal metropolis, Amina told Israel Today that she had gone through a transformation, her life now divided into "before-Tel Aviv" and "after-Tel Aviv."

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Where's the Outrage Over Palestinians Dying in Syria?

Where's the Outrage Over Palestinians Dying in Syria?

The jihadists hordes of the Islamic State (ISIS) have captured most of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, driving out thousands of Palestinian residents and brutally slaughtering many.

According to both Israeli and Palestinian media, fewer than 16,000 Palestinians now remain in the once bustling suburb. Those who remain have pleaded in vain for help from an international community that seems so engaged with the Palestinians, at least when Israel can be painted as the aggressor.

“Today I ventured out into the bombed-out streets searching for food for my children,” a 30-year-old Palestinian named Mahmoud told Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily newspaper via telephone. “Yesterday, my neighbor was shot by snipers. Today we buried him. We are living in hell. The whole camp is surrounded and we have nothing to eat.”

Mahmoud went so far as to beseech Israel for aid. “Israel is more merciful than the Arabs,” he said.

Another Palestinian living in Yarmouk said in a telephone conversation with the Israeli news portal NRG that local residents are left praying hopelessly for salvation while trapped between invading jihadist militias and the forces of the Syrian regime. “ISIS has begun beheading Palestinians,” he said.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and his representative in Syria, Anwar Abed al-Hadi, have repeatedly stressed that they can do little to help the Palestinians suffering near Damascus. Still, some have wondered why the Palestinian leadership has not taken the case of Yarmouk before the International Criminal Court, the UN or the EU, as it did concerning Gaza after last summer’s war.

It is believed that the Palestinian leadership is fearful of directly confronting the Sunni jihadist groups, which could retaliate against additional Palestinian populations. As such, Abbas and al-Hadi have gone only so far as to ask ISIS and the Syrian regime to spare Palestinian lives.

“If Israel was acting toward the Palestinians as jihadists are now, they would have dragged Israel before the international community long ago,” a Palestinian journalist from Nablus told Israel Today. “In fact, you would have been charged even for things unworthy of indictment.”

While the journalist was speaking cynically, what he told us is a tragic fact.

 

IDF Soldiers Stabbed in Samaria

IDF Soldiers Stabbed in Samaria

Two IDF soldiers were stabbed and wounded, one seriously, by a knife-wielding Palestinian assailant in Samaria on Wednesday.

The attack occurred near the Jewish community of Shiloh, which in biblical times served for a period as the capital of Israel and resting place of the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant.

The attacker was shot and killed by other soldiers in the area.

Overnight Tuesday, three Israelis were wounded in two separate Palestinian stone-throwing attacks.

Just north of Jerusalem, a public bus was pelted with stones, shattering the windshield and injuring the driver and one passenger.

South of the capital, Palestinian assailants ambushed a private Israeli vehicle, lightly wounding the driver, who managed to flee the scene.

 

Zero Tolerance for Incitement

Zero Tolerance for Incitement

Israel Today speaks to the director of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention on why anti-Israel incitement is the root of the conflict.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

The Iran Nuke Deal Israel Wanted to See

The Iran Nuke Deal Israel Wanted to See

Israel on Monday responded to US President Barack Obama’s assertion that the agreement he reached with Iran is the “best available” solution to the regional nuclear crisis. In a briefing with foreign journalists, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz (pictured) insisted Obama’s position was simply “wrong,” and laid out what Israel viewed as a more viable alternative approach.

Steinitz stressed that, like America, Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis and would work toward improving the terms of the US proposal. But he also stated that military action against Iran must remain “on the table.”

Israel has been highly critical of the framework agreement hammered out between Iran and the Obama Administration, which the Jewish state is adamant would enable Tehran to continue its drive toward becoming a nuclear military power.

Iran and the Western powers have until June 30 to reach a final deal, and Steinitz said Israel believes that if the time is used properly, a “more reasonable” agreement could be reached by then. Toward that end, Steinitz listed a number of requirements Israel would like to see presented at the negotiating table, requirements that would close the “holes” in the current American proposals.

The Israeli list of demands includes:

  • The cessation of all research and development of advanced centrifuges by Iran;
  • A significant reduction in the number of centrifuges so as to prevent Iran from changing its mind and suddenly building a nuclear bomb;
  • Closing of the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow;
  • Full disclosure of all military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program;
  • A firm commitment to send all enriched uranium outside Iran; and
  • Permitting international inspectors to examine sites in Iran “anywhere, anytime.”

Steinitz said that these “alternative” requirements were not meant “to declare war on Iran. It is to increase pressure on Iran and stand firm and make Iran make serious concessions and have a much better deal.”

During his presentation, the Israeli ministry also noted that Iran had escalated its research and development of long-range ballistic missiles, and wondered why the Obama Administration had failed to tackle this aspect of the overall Iranian threat. He also asked, given the violations of the previous framework agreement, how Washington intended to ensure Iranian compliance this time around.

These were far from the only questions troubling Israel.

  • What message did making concessions now send to Iran, which for years had ignored UN Security Council decisions regarding its nuclear program?
  • Wasn’t the West concerned that the Lausanne agreement would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, rather than curtail the spread of atomic weapons?
  • In light of the failure to prevent North Korea from going nuclear, how would the Iran case be handled differently?

Considering all these points, Steinitz said Israel would in the coming weeks work hard to convince the Obama Administration, the US Congress, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and other world powers “not to sign this bad deal, or at least to dramatically change or fix it.”

Steinitz concluded by emphasizing that Israel appreciated President Obama’s reassurances this week that America would always stand with Israel against any Iranian aggression. However, a nuclear-armed Iran would be “an existential threat to Israel. Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to completely resist or to neutralize such a threat.”

 

Israel Braces for 'Electronic Holocaust'

Israel Braces for 'Electronic Holocaust'

The following is a press release from Israel's Institute for National Security Studies:

For the past several years, on April 7, groups of extremist hackers have targeted Israeli government domains and companies. This year, in Operation-Israel 2015, they are threatening Israeli banks and military websites promising to carry out an “electronic Holocaust.”

The largest hacker group, AnonGhost, which is affiliated with the global hacker group Anonymous, is set to attack Israel for the third straight year. The group ostensibly conducts these cyber-attacks in order to avenge Israeli actions in Gaza.

“These groups call themselves anonymous, but in reality the Op-Israel hackers responsible for the actions are mostly from the Middle East, with connections to our local conflict, according to Daniel Cohen, a research associate at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Cyber Warfare program. “The hackers are mostly Muslims from Gaza, Syria, Morocco and other countries in our region. As a group they generally oppose the establishment and are influenced by various radical Islamist and terrorist movements, who also drive them towards attacking Israel.”

The hackers usually upload Arabic songs and communicate directly to pro-Israeli visitors.

According to Col. Gabi Siboni, head of the INSS Cyber Security Program, “The terror challenges facing Israel and the West are not only physical, but cyber as well. Israel is confronting these threats from Shiite Hezbollah and from Sunni Hamas on a daily basis. They are sophisticated and becoming more so. There is no question that in due course, the United States and other Western countries will face the same threats as Israel from these groups as well as from ISIS, if they are not already. ISIS is particularly adept at using the world-wide web to further its goals. But it is not only terrorist groups that perpetuate cyber attacks, nations do so as well and the need for cyber-security responses are growing exponentially."

These types of issues and others will be discussed at the US-Israel Defensive Cyberspace Operations & Intelligence (DCOI) conference to be held April 27 – 28 in Washington, DC. The conference is an Israeli - American partnership which seeks to promote informed public debate on cyber-net security and international collaborations in the technological, intelligence and policy-making domains.

On April 7, Israel could expect to see attacks on Israeli government websites and various private sites. The attackers may release Israeli credit card details online, although the information will likely be probably be previously stolen and not on the day of the attack. Hackers may also try to attack users through e-mail messages or text messages to private cellular phones. According to Daniel Cohen, about a hundred hackers participated in the previous attacks.

The who support Op-Israel 2015 are capable of penetrating web applications like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress but there are some, albeit small in number within the Operation Israel hacking teams who are capable of performing advanced attacks on specific targets and inflicting real damage, financial and otherwise, said Cohen.

The INSS Cyber program experts suggest that organizations upgrade their servers, perform backups, never open emails from unfamiliar sources and monitor activities on their website. Private citizens should consider changing simple passwords to more complex ones and never open unidentified e-mails.

 

Belief in Miracles in Judaism

Belief in Miracles in Judaism

Since the rabbis regard the Torah as the supreme revelation of God, Orthodox Jews are more likely to avoid miracles than to pursue them.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israelis Pray God's Blessing Over Their Nation

Israelis Pray God's Blessing Over Their Nation

Thousands of Israeli Jews flocked to Jerusalem’s Western Wall in the shadow of the Temple Mount on Monday to pray God’s blessing over their nation.

The Priestly Blessing occurs three times a year, during Passover, Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and on Shavuot (Pentecost). These are the three pilgrimage festivals during which the Bible commands Israeli men to ascend to Jerusalem and worship Him.

The event is led by hundreds of Cohanim, those Jews who can trace their lineage to the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother and Israel’s first high priest.

The following words are recited by the priestly Israelis over the congregation:

“May the LORD bless you and keep you; May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace.”

They are the same words that Numbers 6:23–27 tells us Aaron and his sons recited over the assembly of Israel during their sojourn through the desert.

 

'The West Can Still Win the War on Terror'

'The West Can Still Win the War on Terror'

Israel Today speaks to Israeli expert on Arab affairs, Dr. Michael Widlanski, about Western mistakes in the war on terror, and what can be done to remedy them.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israel Rejects US-Iran Nuclear Deal

Israel Rejects US-Iran Nuclear Deal

The Israeli Cabinet over the weekend unanimously rejected the nuclear framework deal that Iran celebrated as a “victory” and the Obama Administration held aloft as a “historic” achievement, though neither of those two signatories seemed able to agree on its details.

“It is a bad framework which will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement,” Israeli officials told the media, stressing that a final nuclear deal has yet to be reached. “The framework gives international legitimacy to Iran’s nuclear program, the only aim of which is to produce a nuclear bomb.”

“This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting with his cabinet. “It would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.”

Netanyahu further noted that all the Obama Administration had achieved was to advance a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Reuters reported that the Iranian ex-pat community in the US shared Israel’s skepticism regarding the deal, and believed the proposed lifting of sanctions would do nothing but bolster the oppressive regime of the ayatollahs.

Tellingly, Obama’s “historic” achievement was supported by none other than Lebanon’s Hezbollah. “The Lausanne nuclear understanding is the triumph of right, stability and will of free nations as well as the axis of resistance under the leadership of the Islamic Iran,” boasted Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem.

 

Christians, Messianics Unite Against Anti-Semitism

Christians, Messianics Unite Against Anti-Semitism

Israel Today speaks to the founders of a new umbrella group aimed at uniting Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews against growing anti-Semitism masquerading as criticism of Israel.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

The Temple Mount in the Eyes of Jews, Christians and Muslims

The Temple Mount in the Eyes of Jews, Christians and Muslims

Though no one today disputes the significance of the Temple Mount for Muslims, it would have remained an obscure hilltop had Israel not sanctified it some 3,000 years ago.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Jewish Professionals Say 'I Met Messiah'

Jewish Professionals Say 'I Met Messiah'

It is today no longer so uncommon to find Jewish people who believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah of Israel, and within a Jewish context. Still, these people are often disregarded by mainstream Judaism as confused or disillusioned.

The Israeli Messianic online ministry One For Israel has set out to demonstrate that Jewish people of the highest standing, and most certainly in their right minds, are indeed coming to a realization that Yeshua is Messiah.

“For the past 2,000 years, it would have been shocking - scandalous even - to claim that Jews can believe in Jesus!” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “We are proud to announce our new project I MET MESSIAH. Dynamic video testimonies of Jewish professionals who met their Messiah!”

Over a period of 10 weeks, the One For Israel team, in partnership with Chosen People Ministries, interviewed no fewer than 35 Jewish professionals who are today believers in Yeshua. Their video testimonies are now available online at imetmessiah.com.

 

PHOTOS: Passover - Festival of Freedom

PHOTOS: Passover - Festival of Freedom

Just as God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, so He is performing another great miracle in our time: the Ingathering of the Exiles (Isaiah 11:12).

The full photo spread appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to see it all

 

'What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover'

'What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover'

That is the title of a new book (available on Amazon) by Reform Rabbi Evan Moffic, who demonstrates a deep appreciation for the central place of Jesus in the Jewish Passover. In his book, which came out in February just in time for the holiday, Moffic hopes to help Christians understand the intimate connection between Judaism and Christianity in the Passover, the principal festival for both Jews and Christians. 

“Exploring the Passover helps us learn more about the context of Jesus’ own religious and spiritual life, and it sheds light on Easter, the resurrection of Jesus and the meaning of redemption,” he explains.

Written in a popular style for a wide audience, the rabbi’s book should appeal to Christians wanting an inside, intimate look at a traditional Jewish Passover. “Jesus experienced a traditional Passover Seder guided by the blessings and rituals Jews have practiced for three thousand years,” writes Moffic. “The stories and interpretations he heard are ones still taught at Jewish Passover Seders today. In this book you are invited to experience the real thing.” 

In a chapter titled, “Celebrating the Passover Seder Yourself: A Haggadah for Home Use by Christians and Jews,” Moffic offers a Passover celebration with annotations for those wanting to commemorate Jesus as the Passover Lamb of God. By including ancient Hebrew prayers and even recommendations for traditional holiday recipes, he provides Christians interested in the Hebrew roots of their faith with an authentic Passover experience. 

For example, the rabbi notes that “the shank bone symbolizes the lamb offered as a sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. The lamb symbolizes God’s mercy in redeeming the Israelites from slavery to Egypt. In Christian tradition, the lamb symbolizes Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice frees believers from the sins of the world.”

Moffic makes it clear throughout the book that the Passover celebration should never be a boring religious tradition, but rather a life-giving experience setting us free from our painful past and giving us hope for a better future. “What meaning do we make out of tragedy and loss? God commanded them to observe a holiday in which they were to make some sort of sense, some sort of meaning, from their loss. The Passover celebration is the medium through which Jews, over the centuries, have remembered and made meaning from the trauma of slavery. They do not define themselves as victim. They do not seek revenge. Rather they hold the first sacred Passover meal telling their story of God’s redemption.” 

Moffic offers some unconventional interpretations of the Passover ceremony, many of which are already used in Messianic Seders that seek to join faith in Jesus with the Jewish festival. “In Christian tradition, the three pieces of matzos [unleavened bread] represent God’s presence as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” he writes. “Some Christians interpret the perforations of the matzo as symbolic of the piercings of Jesus on the cross. Jesus is the Bread of Life afflicted in sacrifice yet nourishing the world.”

In a moment of unrestrained candor, Moffic confesses that he has “found great inspiration in the description of love from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. My own prayer life has been transformed by what I learned from pastors and Christian writers. Quite often I learn more about my own faith.” Conversely, the rabbi reminds us of the ways in which “Jewish wisdom can bring Christians closer to their faith.” 

This is not the first time Rabbi Moffic of the Solel Congregation in Chicago writes openly about Jesus. It was with great fascination that I reviewed his previous essay, 5 Rabbis Explain Jesus, which demonstrated that for the better part of the past century, and especially in more recent years, Judaism has been looking to reclaim Jesus (see Israel Today, April 2014).

 

Apocalyptic Betrayals

Apocalyptic Betrayals

President Obama’s far-reaching efforts to facilitate Iran’s march to nukes amount to nothing less than apocalyptic betrayals of U.S. voters and allies – betrayals that will make the world exponentially more dangerous.

Obama has ignored the countless reasons to doubt that the ayatollahs will make and keep a nuclear accord that prevents them from acquiring nuclear weapons. Here are just some of those reasons: 

1) Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani boasted about his own role in exploiting diplomatic talks to advance Iran’s nuclear program

2) Iran hid its nuclear facility in Qom until it was exposed in 2009 and continues to cover up its nuclear work in Parchin), 

3) Iran recently tried – in a single transaction – to buy know-how for nukes and impunity for one of its biggest terrorist attacks. 

4) Iran is actively developing more advanced, long-range cruise missiles

5) thanks to Iranian involvement in the recent Houthi-rebel takeover of Yemen, Iran’s ever-expanding hegemony now reaches four Arab countries, and 

6) Iran continues to stonewall IAEA inquiries into potential military dimensions of its nuclear program, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929).  

The Saudis have warned that the current deal will spark a Mideast nuclear arms race. It could also hasten the era of nuclear terrorism. There are already reports that ISIS has resorted to attacks with chemical weapons (hardly surprising after Obama’s “red lines” on Syria’s chemical weapons use turned white). Iran could provide nuclear material – in addition to a nuclear umbrella – to its proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah. For these and other grave concerns, Netanyahu risked his political career on a speech before Congress that explained why the deal is so bad. 

Yet rather than address legitimate reservations about the emerging Iranian nuclear deal, Obama prefers to hold Bibi to his Israeli election slogans about a Palestinian state as if Obama hadn’t himself broken countless campaign promises, including his own oft-repeated commitment (to voters and allies alike) that he would prevent Iran from going nuclear. Breaching his promise to everyone, Obama has embraced a process that makes Iran a threshold nuclear state. 

Instead of questioning the intentions of the same theocratic regime that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, the Obama administration has whitewashed Iran’s terrorist activities/record, and accepted Rouhani as a "moderate" even though human rights in Iran have actually worsened under his rule

Despite Obama’s attempts to influence the outcome of Israel’s free elections, no Israeli government, regardless of the political parties that comprise it, can live with the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran. And world powers are closer than ever to forcing an Israeli military response to that danger because they have buckled rather than created sufficient diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Iran to dismantle its nuclear program.  

Iran has made steady progress on its nukes despite decades of sanctions, UN Security Council resolutions, IAEA inspections, and negotiations. The most successful strategy for stopping Iran’s nuclear march was the very real threat of force in 2003. After the U.S. military quickly trounced Iraq, neighboring Iran was deterred from continuing its nuclear activities, until it concluded that the U.S. military threat had dissipated.  

Under Obama, the weakest U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, there is no credible military threat, as his actions in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere have shown.

That reality will force Israel to take military action against Iran’s nukes – either in the absence of a nuclear deal or despite the bad one under consideration (which paves Iran’s path to the bomb with legitimacy while isolating Israel). Some think that Israel will refrain from attacking because a military strike would, at best, set back Iranian nukes by a few years. But that is a specious argument for two reasons: 

1) Like “mowing the grass” with Hamas’ military buildups in Gaza, Israel may simply have to take military action every few years, 

2) the Iranians may eventually stop trying to develop nukes, after realizing that it’s a huge waste of resources to build nuclear facilities that Israel will eventually destroy. 

Despite all of the risks of attacking Iran’s nuclear program, doing nothing will be riskier to Israel’s survival because the world’s most dangerous regime then acquires the world’s most dangerous weapons. 

The Jewish nation knows all too well the dangers of ignoring genocidal threats, and Iran, the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel. By making Iran a nuclear threshold state, the proposed deal leaves the ayatollahs with the ability to carry out that threat and therefore compels an Israeli attack. However, because Israel’s capabilities are far more limited than those of the U.S. military, Israel won’t be able to prevent Iranian retribution when destroying Iran’s nukes. 

What follows is a nuclear World War III. Iran will retaliate with an overwhelming barrage of potent, long-range ballistic missiles on Israel’s population centers, and will likely also target the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona (which action could itself produce massive casualties). Hezbollah, which has about 100,000 long-range missiles supplied by Iran, will add to the unstoppable downpour of missiles. For all of their impressive successes, Israeli missile defense systems simply cannot handle such a huge number of incoming missiles, and so there will be thousands of dead. 

The world, as usual, will do nothing but excoriate Israel and call for restraint, leaving Israel with countless casualties. Adjusted for population differences, ten thousand dead in tiny Israel is like about 400,000 killed in the USA. At that point (if not much sooner), Israel will feel that it’s very survival requires nuking Tehran and a few other major cities, which would destroy the regime along with maybe a million people. 

The Sunni countries threatened by Shiite Iran’s hegemonic aggression in the region may have already entered the fray at that point, or would do so soon after, and the centuries-old Sunni-Shia conflict would explode throughout the region even more than it already has. It’s not clear how the war eventually ends, but there will be even more chaos as failed states and radical extremism spread across the Middle East. The price of oil will skyrocket to unseen levels, and none of this will be good for U.S. interests. 

Absurdly enough, the U.S. could probably prevent such a doomsday scenario by simply asserting an ultimatum backed by very credible military force. If Iran does not, within a week after the expiration of the current talks, allow inspectors unfettered access to all of its nuclear facilities and then cooperate in their destruction (with compensation and a set of economic and political rewards for that cooperation), then the U.S. military will, with overwhelming military force, destroy the entire Iranian military infrastructure (including its nuclear program) and work towards the downfall of the regime. 

If the U.S. can make such a threat credibly, then Iran will acquiesce, no actual force will be needed, and the decades-long Iranian nuclear threat will finally end.

But, unlike apocalyptic betrayals, such a bold show of force is unthinkable for Obama, and so we could be looking at a nuclear World War III in the not-too-distant future. 

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

 

Did Biden Tell America's Jews to Leave?

Did Biden Tell America's Jews to Leave?

Was it another of US Vice President Joe Biden’s now infamous verbal gaffes when he told American Jews last fall that they will ultimately be safe only in Israel?

At a time when Western nations are trying to convince their Jewish populations to stay amid rising anti-Semitism, it seems incredible that America’s #2 would essentially warn his nation’s Jews to flee.

But that’s precisely what Biden did while hosting a Rosh Hashanah party attended by senior American Jewish leaders last September.

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic wrote that Biden began by recounting his first meeting with legendary former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who told the young US senator that the Jews’ secret weapon in their war for Israel’s survival was that they had no place else to go.

Biden apparently agreed wholeheartedly, going so far as to suggest that even America was no safe haven for Jews.

“You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States…there is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel,” Biden said to the astonishment of many.

Of course, it can and has been argued that Biden’s point of view is correct, and that ultimately even the Jews of America will have no choice but to flee to the relative safety of Israel.

Much has been made of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, but the same is true of the United States of late. The annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents published by the Anti-Defamation League revealed a 21 percent increase in anti-Semitism incidents in the US in 2014.

Biden’s remarks last fall might be seen as an embarrassing and offensive lapse of judgment, especially given overwhelming Jewish support for his Democratic Party, but they might also be a very prescient warning of things to come.

 

'America's Mideast Policies Will Backfire'

'America's Mideast Policies Will Backfire'

"Anti-American sentiment is rising in the Arab world," the general tells us. "Those militants Washington is now aiding will end up carrying out attacks on American soil."

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israel Baffled by US Nuclear Offer to Iran

Israel Baffled by US Nuclear Offer to Iran

Israeli officials this week were increasingly perplexed by the terms of an emerging nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers led by America. The self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement is tomorrow, March 31.

That talks are coming down to the wire likely suits Iran, which knows that the Obama Administration, at least, is desperate for a diplomatic achievement and might be willing to sign off even on what Israel would consider a “bad deal.”

“This agreement confirms all our fears and exceeds them,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday.

The currently known terms of the agreement would leave Iran with at least 6,000 centrifuges capable of producing enriched uranium, and would largely trust Iran to keep its word that the uranium would be shipped to Russia.

“You don’t need to be an intelligence officer to see Iran is lying barefacedly, and is today the greatest danger to the stability of the Middle East,” added Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon pointed out that even as America and the West are negotiating this misguided deal, Iran is busy extending its dangerous influence around the Middle East.

Last week, an Iranian-backed militia seized control of Yemen, much to the chagrin of neighboring states like Saudi Arabia, which has since launched a military offensive against the rebels.

“Iran’s proxies in Yemen are conquering large swaths of land in an effort to overtake the Bab al-Mandab straits, so that they can change the balance of power in shipping oil,” warned Netanyahu.

Should the Western powers sign the nuclear agreement in its current form, Israeli Interior Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that the Jewish state would “need to reassess the whole resulting security situation.”

A senior Israeli security official who spoke to the Walla news portal said the deal would affirm that Israel cannot trust Washington when it comes to security and stability in the region. “We know that the United States will ignore the topic of Iran’s (nuclear) development proliferation and distribution of weapons, and its involvement in terrorism in the Middle East,” he said.

 

Collision Course with Washington

Collision Course with Washington

Obama sees ISIS as enough of a threat to bomb it 6,000 miles from the East Coast. Yet he has no problem with dictating a terror state in Israel’s backyard.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israel Sees Another War With Hezbollah Soon

Israel Sees Another War With Hezbollah Soon

Israel’s next war is likely to be fought against Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist militia, according to Israeli military sources who spoke to the Walla news portal.

The sources cited Hezbollah’s increasing boldness of late, pointing in particular to the fact that armed terrorists now openly patrol and monitor the border region. Hezbollah gunmen also walk the streets of southern Lebanon, unconcerned by the presence of the Lebanese Army or UN peacekeepers.

In addition to using its large arsenal of medium and long-range missiles, the sources believe the next war with Hezbollah will see small teams of terrorists infiltrate northern Israel and briefly occupy border towns, possibly with horrific loss of life.

The terms of the UN resolution that ended the last Lebanon war in 2006 demanded the disarming of Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon. Those terms were never met, and in fact Hezbollah is stronger today than it was at that time.

 

Temple Mount: House of Prayer for All Nations

Temple Mount: House of Prayer for All Nations

Israel Today speaks to Yehudah Glick regarding his vision for Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a vision that made him a target for assassination.

The full interview appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Neither Israel Nor the Palestinians See Hope for Peace

Neither Israel Nor the Palestinians See Hope for Peace

Just prior to last week’s elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was no longer willing to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state, which in its current form would pose a severe threat to Israel.

US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders were frustrated by Netanyahu’s surprise announcement. But the fact he was so firmly reelected signified that his position reflects that of most Israelis, that the two-state solution no longer holds any hope of peace and security.

It was widely claimed that the election results signaled a shift to the Right in Israel, but that is simply not true. A strong majority among Jewish Israelis has always tended toward the right. Over the past 20 years of failed negotiations, Israelis have largely lost confidence in finding a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians are likewise skeptical that what remains of the peace process will result in their demands being met. A 71 percent majority said there is little or no chance of a Palestinian state being established in the next five years, according to a survey by a Ramallah-based polling company.

“Even though I wish I had peace with the Jews in this country, I know it won’t be possible,” said Jamal (43) from the Arab village of Zurif near Hebron. “Politics and religion will never allow us to live in peace. There are far too many people determined to do more harm than good.”

For many Palestinians, that means returning to war. The same survey found that 48 percent of Palestinian Arabs would like to see a new terrorist uprising against Israel, while 68 percent support fresh rocket attacks on Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Both sides realize that the peace process today exists only on paper. On both sides there is deep distrust of the other.

 

Hawkish Hippies Refuse to Leave Golan

Hawkish Hippies Refuse to Leave Golan

Despite their alternative lifestyle, the group concludes that there is no room for pacifists on the Golan Heights.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Netanyahu Named Prime Minister, Coalition Talks Begin

Netanyahu Named Prime Minister, Coalition Talks Begin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night received the final results of last week’s elections and promptly tasked Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the next government, effectively naming the latter Israel’s next prime minister.

Netanyahu on Thursday began the first official coalition negotiations, and troubles surfaced almost immediately.

Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu Party won 10 seats, suddenly canceled his scheduled meeting with Netanyahu after learning that the ultra-Orthodox parties would be offered key economic positions in the Knesset.

Kahlon ran on a platform of further reforming the Israeli economy, an in particular tackling skyrocketing housing prices. He argues that giving the ultra-Orthodox control over Israel’s purse strings would prevent any meaningful progress.

Naftali Bennett, whose Jewish Home brings 8 seats to the coalition, kept his meeting with Netanyahu, but was adamant he would head to the opposition if not given either the Foreign Affairs or Defense ministries.

Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Beiteinu won just 5 seats, has also demanded the Defense Ministry, and has likewise stated his willingness to sit in the opposition should that condition not be met.

Inside Netanyahu’s Likud, senior party members have attacked the smaller potential coalition partners for not being more modest in their demands. The higher ranked of Likud’s 30 Knesset members also insist on being rewarded with ministerial posts.

 

'Anti-Missionary' Bill Pushed in Israel's Coalition Wrangling

'Anti-Missionary' Bill Pushed in Israel's Coalition Wrangling

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties didn’t make a particularly good showing in last week’s elections, but they did well enough to make firm demands as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to cobble together his next ruling coalition.

The anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim hopes one of those demands will be to advance new legislation targeting Messianic Jewish and Christian activity in Israel.

Israel does have an anti-missionary law, but it is limited to prohibiting the solicitation of minors and offering financial benefits for conversion. Most ultra-Orthodox sects completely ignore these prohibitions in their own missionary activity.

The legislation Yad L’Achim is pressing the Shas and United Torah Judaism factions to put before Netanyahu would much more specifically and substantially target the activities of those who believe in Yeshua (Jesus).

This legislation was tabled during Netanyahu’s last government, but was ultimately scuttled by officials who apparently had no taste for Yad L’Achim’s campaign of discrimination and fear-mongering.

A number of recent stories in Israel Today Magazine have shown that a growing majority of Israeli Jews no longer have a problem with Messianic believers in their midst, and are even increasingly open to exploring the person of Yeshua, if not faith in him as Messiah.

“We cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is to demand legislation against missionary activity in Israel,” read a frantic letter from Yad L’Achim to members of Shas and United Torah Judaism, which concluded by noting that “in the past 19 years, more Jews have converted to Christianity [sic] than in the 1,900 years before that.”

Local believers have expressed concern over the possibility of this legislation being passed, but have also noted that if Yad L’Achim is growing increasingly agitated, then perhaps they are doing something right.

 

The Racism Canard

The Racism Canard

In a hyper-sensitive world conditioned to unquestionably accept every accusation of racism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legitimate concern that Arab turnout could tip the vote against him in last week’s elections is now cynically used by his adversaries to label him a racist.

Netanyahu’s now infamous Facebook warning, written four hours after polls opened, that "Arabs are flocking in droves to the polling stations" was quickly seized upon in a new smear campaign.

Among the first to flash the racist card was comedian Jon Stewart (pictured), who said a day after the elections that Netanyahu had exploited “racist fears of minority turnout for short-term political gain.”

Suggesting that those heeding this call were racially motivated is to label as racist not only Netanyahu, but all right-wing Israeli voters. Or, put another way, if Israelis elected a racist man to be their prime minister, the logical conclusion is that Israel is a racist state.

This is exactly what the BDS and other anti-Israel movements have been asserting since 2000. And now it seems this deceitful propaganda is infecting government officials from Israel, the United States and Europe.

As an Israeli, I deeply resent this baseless accusation.

If Israelis heeded at all Netanyahu's warning - and so far no one has provided evidence that they did - right-wing voters flocked to the polling stations because, unlike gullible Jon Stewart, they know that the United Arab List is anti-Zionist to the core. If they drove in hordes to the polls, they did it because they feared those attempting to hurt the Jewish state, be they anti-Zionist Arabs or Jews. Race had nothing to do with the victory of the Likud Party.

When Ultra-Orthodox Jews from the town of Beit Shemesh warned their constituency during the 2013 municipal elections that "seculars are flocking in droves to the polling stations" no one suggested racial motivation.

Likewise, no one suggested that head of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, is racist after he stated at the ballot box that "we are here to fight for the State of Israel … it is possible that instead of good government that will bring hope … we will end up with Buji (Labor leader Isaac Herzog) and the Orthodox."

Most telling is that no one has suggested that head of the United Arab List, Ayman Odeh, is a racist even after he expressed racist views on Israeli radio by stating that every Arab voter choosing a Jewish party is contaminated.

As such, Netanyahu’s alert was, at worst, done in bad taste. And for this he apologized. But this apology was rejected by the same Odeh who more than anyone else in Israeli politics could be labeled as racist.

Knowing full well the effectiveness of the racism canard, Odeh now plays this car aggressively: "The regret of Netanyahu is an empty gesture aimed at justifying the racist regime of Netanyahu and his people," said he who fears "Jewish contamination."

This new accusation should not be brushed aside as some unfortunate anecdotal episode. In the epic battle for minds now raging, adding racism to occupation can turn out to be extremely dangerous for Israel. As has been shown, even the Obama Administration is using this card in a new effort to strong-arm Israel into a two-state solution that if implemented would certainly blow up in our faces.

 

Switzerland to Bankroll Hamas, Report Suggests

Switzerland to Bankroll Hamas, Report Suggests

Switzerland has put together a generous financial package to prop up the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after billions in promised foreign donations following last summer’s Gaza war failed to materialize.

That according to Palestinian officials who spoke to Israel’s NRG news portal, which reported that as part of the deal, the Swiss government would pay the salaries of thousands of Hamas members - many of whom are known terrorists - thereby propping up Hamas rule.

If true, the move would directly undermine Israel’s efforts to bring Hamas to its knees and affect the eventual downfall of a terrorist regime that has for the better part of a decade held the Gaza population hostage to its violent policies toward the Jewish state.

It would also make for an awkward situation back home since the European Union, of which Switzerland is not a member, has fought to retain Hamas on its list of recognized terrorist organizations, despite an EU General Court ruling last year that the group be removed from that list.

Being on that list means that all Hamas assets in Europe are frozen and it is illegal to do business with the Palestinian group. Switzerland’s reported decision to take the opposite approach to Hamas could result in some hard discussions with its neighbors.

 

Obama Using Netanyahu Spat to Divert Attention From Iran Talks?

Obama Using Netanyahu Spat to Divert Attention From Iran Talks?

The over-the-top nature of US President Barack Obama’s negative response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection has taken many by surprise, even after years of tense relations.

An ex-Israeli ambassador to the US accused Obama of acting “childish,” and a senior US senator said the president needed to get over his “temper tantrum.”

But far from being a spontaneous juvenile backlash, Obama’s behavior just might be a very calculated effort to divert attention from the details of Iranian nuclear talks that very few outside of the White House find acceptable.

Or so suggested a number of Israeli media outlets this week.

In response, Member of Knesset Yuval Steinitz, who served as minister of strategic affairs in the previous government, announced on Facebook that he and a team of Israeli officials had departed for Europe “to influence the details of the Iranian nuclear agreement being formulated” by the American government.

 

France, Saudi Arabia Also Still Oppose Iran Nuke Deal

France, Saudi Arabia Also Still Oppose Iran Nuke Deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent controversial appearance before the US Congress has made it easy for the Obama Administration to portray Israel as the sole obstacle to a negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear crisis.

But that simply isn’t the case.

Both France and Saudi Arabia this week reiterated that they, too, are displeased with the direction in which Washington has steered negotiations with Iran, and fear the resulting agreement would be more harmful than helpful.

“Do not give Iran deals it does not deserve,” warned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Monday. Reminding everyone of the broad nature of the threat, the prince said that Iran was “interfering in the countries of the region and [seeking to] acquire a nuclear weapon that threatens regional and international security.”

Days earlier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted “there won’t be an accord if the Iranians don’t back down.” He agreed with Israel that “we have to protect ourselves from the eventuality of an Iranian atomic bomb.”

Sensing a weak link in the Obama Administration’s push to conclude a deal seemingly at any cost, an Israeli delegation headed by Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz urgently headed to Paris this week to consult with the French.

“We don’t have a plan B, we only have a plan A and this is to try to prevent a bad deal with Iran or at least to try to make it more reasonable and to close some of the gaps and loopholes that made it even worse,” Steinitz said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Israel says the details of the agreement proposed by Washington would enable Iran to continue secretly working toward a nuclear bomb, perhaps even on an accelerated timetable.

But in a separate interview with Reuters, the Israelis indicated they had little hope of ultimately dissuading an American government that has taken a decidedly hostile stance toward Netanyahu. “We think it’s going to be a bad, insufficient deal,” said Steinitz.

 

World's Cyber Security Elite Converge on Israel

World's Cyber Security Elite Converge on Israel

Israel this week is receiving major support from the international community as cyber security officials from large corporations and government agencies around the world arrive to take part in the annual Cybertech Security Conference.

The event is taking place starting Tuesday at the Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center in Tel Aviv.

The conference is a showcase for the Israeli cyber defense industry, and has this year attracted delegations from China, Japan, the United States, Mexico, Singapore, Italy, France, Finland, England and others.

Participants of note include the vice president of payment processing giant Alipay, the head of IBM’s Security Services Division (Kristin Lovejoy), Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Lab, as well as the directors of cyber security for the UN, Coca-Cola, Boeing, AT&T, Sears and more.

Among the honored guests from foreign governments is Dr. Douglas Maughan (pictured), director of the Cyber Security Division of America’s Department of Homeland Security. Maughan and his division are responsible for handling cyber threats not only against the US government, but also those targeting the public sector.

Prior to his current appointment, Maughan was a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a senior computer scientist for the National Security Agency.

He was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on the need for greater cooperation between nations in the field cyber security.

Commenting on the event and its “star-studded” guest list, the head of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, Dr. Eviatar Matania, said: “Israel is a world leader in cyber innovation, and provides a breeding ground for breakthrough, world-class cyber security solutions.”

 

Media Chose Left, the People Chose Netanyahu

Media Chose Left, the People Chose Netanyahu

Check out our thorough analysis of Netanyahu's stunning electoral victory, his difficult road ahead, and what it all means for the future of Israel.

The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

'UN Condemned Israel, Forgot About Real Rights Violators'

'UN Condemned Israel, Forgot About Real Rights Violators'

Out of 193 member nations, Israel alone was condemned for violating the rights of women when the Commission on the Status of Women convened at UN Headquarters in New York last week. The commission did not deem it necessary to similarly condemn known women’s rights violators like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan or Syria.

The gathering was the climax of a global campaign that saw thousands of people attend hundreds of conferences around the world. And its single official decision was to blame Israel for the situation of Palestinian women.

The anti-Israel motion was submitted by developing nations on behalf of the Palestinians. It was opposed only by Israel and the US. The nations of the European Union abstained.

According to the decision, “the Israeli occupation continues to be the main obstacle to Palestinian women in relation to their advancement, independence and integration in the development of their society.”

In calling for greater international intervention in preventing this phenomenon, the resolution also condemned last summer’s Gaza war, “which killed and injured thousands of civilians, including hundreds of Palestinian women and children.” It made no mention of Hamas starting the war with its reckless rocket attacks on Israel, or of the terrorists’ use of the civilian populations as a shield.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, responded to the resolution thus:

“If anyone has ever doubted that the UN is biased against Israel, today we got further proof. Of the 193 member states in this institution, dozens slaughter innocent civilians and impose discriminatory laws that marginalize women and yet they all get a free pass. The Commission on the Status of Women itself includes some of the worst violators of human rights, such as Iran and Sudan.”

Prosor further added that the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society are easily identified as the primary violators of women’s rights in the region.

“Honor killings in the Palestinian Authority are a matter of daily occurrence, and employment of women stands at only 17%,” he pointed out. “It is time for the Palestinians to finally take responsibility for something. Their mistreatment of women is a chance to start taking responsibility. It’s not enough for the Palestinians to cynically exploit this institution; they’ve now made it their mission to turn the Commission on the Status of Women into a politically charged forum.”

Representing Israel at the commission was diplomat Nelly Shiloh (pictured), who was born in Syria. She told the gathering in Arabic:

“Our vote against this resolution is not a vote against the Palestinian woman, but rather for her. This is not the appropriate platform, and this is not the way to improve the status of the Palestinian woman. Real change will come when the Palestinian leadership takes responsibility and works for the future. The Palestinians are exploiting the podium of the UN to demonize Israel, and their behavior will not help the Palestinians in general, or the Palestinian woman in particular.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued the following response to the farcical UN decision:

“We are fighting an all-out war regarding this decision, which is further evidence of the hypocrisy and ugliness that characterizes the behavior of UN member states. Israel has contributed significantly to the advancement of the status of women in the world, in part by providing Israeli expertise to UN bodies dealing with this issue. Israel will continue to advance the status of women through various UN mechanisms, and will continue to fight the Palestinian campaign against [us] at the UN.”

 

Israeli Ambassador: Obama Acting Like a Child

Israeli Ambassador: Obama Acting Like a Child

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon this week said that President Barack Obama’s hostile response to Israel’s reelection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was both harmful and childish.

Obama’s apparent desire for some kind of “revenge” against Netanyahu and a majority of Israel’s voting public began to manifest itself on Monday when the White House decided to skip an annual pro-Palestinian event at the main UN human rights forum.

Until now, the US has always made a point of attending the event in order to defend Israel against unfair and unbalanced condemnation.

“Following the elections, Netanyahu reached out to [Obama] in interviews with American media in which he reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution,” noted Ayalon in an interview with Israel’s NRG online news service.

“But what did Barack Obama do?” he continued. “Instead of acting in a measured way with an understanding that there is mutual interest in maintaining good relations, [Obama] gave Netanyahu a slap in the face. This is inappropriate and unprecedented in international relations.”

In short, Ayalon accused Obama of “behaving childishly, instead of as the leader of a great power. This will harm the US itself, [as well as] further destabilize the Middle East. And all out of a personal desire for revenge against Netanyahu…”

A similar assessment was offered on Sunday by US Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, who told CNN that Obama needs to “get over his temper tantrum” following Netanyahu’s strong electoral victory.

 

Associated Deceit

Associated Deceit

It is estimated that the Associated Press (AP) news content is seen by half the world’s population, according to the wire agency’s website. Yet even this most highly respected of news agencies used staged pictures and omitted information in a reckless attempt to paint Israel as a rogue nation indiscriminately slaughtering women and children during last year’s Gaza war.

For example, to the left is an emotionally stirring photo that provoked the world’s anger against Israel’s military operations against Hamas. It was picked up by more than 280 AP affiliates worldwide, 1,400 daily newspapers in America and thousands of TV and radio broadcast stations.

AP now admits, after an investigation by The Mideast Reporter, that the picture is staged and that they were using children to pose for this and many other photographs they distributed about the war in Gaza.

There are strict rules prohibiting news agencies from staging pictures, especially using children, but the AP had no problem breaking those rules while assuring their subscribers, customers and audience that their photos tell the unbiased truth.

Staged photographs are in direct violation of even AP’s own statement of News Values and Principles: “We don’t stage or re-enact events for the camera or microphone. We do not ask people to pose for photos unless we are making a portrait and then we clearly state that in the caption.”

This photo is certainly not a portrait, but a powerful piece of anti-Israel propaganda designed to stir condemnation of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Nor did the original caption tell anyone that this picture was staged.

What the caption did state was even more deceptive. “The attack killed his father, a Hamas policeman.” The sign in Arabic reads, “House of martyr Mostafa Jamal Malakeh.”

But Malakeh was no “policeman.” He was a well-known Hamas militant. He was the local commander of the “Al-Zeitoun Battalions” of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. This is the same group that had fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel since 2005.

All of this is public information and can be seen on a YouTube video memorializing Malakeh. The AP chose to ignore these well known facts in reporting on Malakeh’s death in order to make it sound as though Israeli soldiers had killed a civilian policeman.


This is but one of many examples of late that have made clear that it is impossible to rely on the mainstream international media for a clear picture of the situation in Israel.

Israel Today is different. We can and do provide the context that others leave out.

We invite you to SUBSCRIBE TODAY to our monthly in-depth, feature-filled magazine to gain the full advantage of a reliable news source that truly understands the land and the conflict.

 

Israel Aids Storm-Ravaged Island Nation

Israel Aids Storm-Ravaged Island Nation

Israeli international aid organization IsraAID has dispatched an emergency team to the Oceanic island nation of Vanuatu after it was ravaged by a tropical cyclone.

More than 90 percent of the population of 250,000 has reportedly been left homeless and destitute by Tropical Cyclone Pam.

IsraAID is joined in providing food and other basic needs by several other international aid agencies, as well as UN and local government bodies.

Additionally, IsraAID will provide medical assistance and psychological programs to help the citizens of Vanuatu deal with the trauma of their ordeal.

Both the government of Vanuatu and local victims expressed great appreciation for IsraAID and Israelis in general for their willingness to provide voluntary aid. Many Israel-loving local residents reportedly followed the IsraAID team around during its first days on the ground in a demonstration of gratitude.

PHOTO: Courtesy of IsraAID.

 

Why is Obama Punishing Israel?

Why is Obama Punishing Israel?

Though it won’t admit as much, the Obama Administration appears poised to punish Israel for daring to re-elect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and by such a large margin.

The White House’s dissatisfaction with last Tuesday’s election results became apparent when it took no fewer than three days for President Barack Obama to call and congratulate Netanyahu on his victory.

American media was less subtle, openly suggesting that Obama was looking to punish Netanyahu, and by extension the majority of Israelis who voted for Likud and other right-wing parties.

The New York Times revealed that the Obama Administration was presently reconsidering its policies vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and might no longer use its veto to prevent unilateral moves by the Palestinian Authority at the UN Security Council.

More than anything, Obama seems upset that Israel so firmly placed Netanyahu back in office even after the latter declared just days before the elections that the creation of a Palestinian state is, at present, a non-starter.

Unless the Palestinians themselves come up with a creative and acceptable new solution, the bilateral peace process is for now dead, and that doesn’t bode well for Obama’s legacy.

Washington has also signaled disapproval of Netanyahu’s fear-mongering during the elections, when he declared that “the Arabs are storming the polls and will overthrow the government.” It is widely believed that tactic spurred a massive turnout of Likud voters, and sealed Netanyahu’s victory.

Following the elections, Netanyahu clarified that he and all of Israel continue to seek a political horizon with the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, but that the current situation under the current Palestinian leadership simply doesn’t lend itself to a positive outcome. For this, Israelis cannot be blamed.

 

What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover

What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover

Passover starts in just a couple weeks. Israel Today reviews a new book by a Jewish rabbi reaching out to Christians seeking to honor and keep this foremost of biblical feasts.

The full article appears in the March 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
SUBSCRIBE NOW to read it all

 

Why the Likud Won

Why the Likud Won

On the morning of Election Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to be interviewed on Israel’s Channel 10, but not before requesting that reporter Ben Caspit leave the studio. "Those defaming me and defaming my family," he told his hosts, "there is nothing obligating me to honor them … they who disguise themselves as journalists."

Caspit is one of too many journalists who use their profession to shape public opinion against Netanyahu.

Mingling among the cheering crowd celebrating the Likud victory, Channel 10 reporter Israel Rosner asked one about his feelings. "Tomorrow, God willing, we are going to shut down Channel 10," the reveler beamed at the stunned reporter. "But I'll be without a job," complained the reporter. "Don't worry," the interviewee responded, "I'll get you a job at the post office."

Channel 10 is not alone. In an unprecedented move Netanyahu told his Facebook followers that the time has come "to put things on the table." Noni Moses, owner of Yediot Acharonot and Ynet, "is using any means possible to overthrow the government of the Likud under my leadership, shut down Israel Hayom and regain monopoly over the written media."

Netanyahu and the Likud activist suggesting Rosner work at the post office are not hyper-sensitive. Rather, they tell the story of a biased Israeli media that failed miserably in its scheme to outline the major currents of Israeli society.

If there was ever any doubt, the outcome of these elections is proof that "many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21).

It is nothing short of amazing that massive support from the Obama Administration, Europe and Israeli and foreign media proved ineffective in ousting Netanyahu. The best propaganda minds, statistical analysts, campaign geniuses and anonymous donors were powerless in their effort to bring the Israeli Left back to power.

These powers have all failed to understand that these last elections were not about hope for better income, health services or affordable housing. As the Obama Administration revealed in its delayed congratulation to Netanyahu and its threat to impose the "two-state solution," these elections were about the identity and the future of Israel.

The Likud won in spite of Netanyahu, rather than because of him. Many Israelis are fully aware of the problematic domestic policies of Netanyahu, and they blame him for failing to defeat Hamas. And yet, they are willing to turn a blind eye because of his resolute stand against those seeking to compromise Israel's security.

The Likud won because the majority of Jews in Israel still prefer a "Jewish" democratic state over just a democratic one. Their healthy senses tell them that the Left's vision for democratic Israel will end up badly for all of us.

The Likud won because the majority of Israeli Jews want to replace the left-wing elite that still controls the Supreme Court, media and academia.

The Likud won because in reality Israel is not as bad as many would have them believe.

Israelis can see with their own eyes the enormous railway and highway projects. They know about the revolutionary desalination plants along Israel's coast, and they are aware of the support pouring now into Israel's south.

The Likud won because many Israelis sense that the leftist "Zionist Camp" has lost its desire to see the fulfillment of Israel' Declaration of Independence. A party that is willing to cooperate with anti-Zionist forces, they reason, will bring despair instead of hope, strife instead of peace.

Likud’s victory is also an Israeli response to disrespectful Obama and hateful Europe. Likud’s victory, therefore, is a vote for Jewish life, pure and simple.

 

No Room in Israel for Leftist Ideology

No Room in Israel for Leftist Ideology

Despite headlines to the contrary, the results of Tuesday’s elections were not really a big surprise. The right-wing bloc has traditionally made a bigger showing at the polls than the leftist camp. But this fact of life is typically overlooked, and all but ignored abroad.

The final results have the Right (including the ultra-Orthodox parties) sitting at 57 out of 120 Knesset seats: Likud 30, Jewish Home 8, Shas 7, Israel Beiteinu 6 and United Torah Judaism 6. Two years ago, in the 2013 elections, these same five parties garnered a combined 61 seats, four more than they won this time around.

Meanwhile, the leftist parties now have a total of 40 mandates: Labor (Zionist Union) 24, Yesh Atid 11 and Meretz 5. These three factions combined won six less seats than in 2013.

Even if one were to count the outside support of the Joint Arab List and its 13 seats, the Left still remains smaller than the right-wing bloc.

The message is clear: a firm majority of Israel’s Jewish population does not accept the agenda or policies of the Left, in particular the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Israelis have had their fill of making fruitless concessions to the Palestinians, and are now focused on their own security.

This is unacceptable to the West and the Palestinian Authority. “Israel has chosen occupation,” declared Palestinian media. Senior Palestinian Authority advisor Jibril Rajoub said the elections had demonstrated that “Israel is a fascist and racist people.”

Many Western leaders seemed to express similar sentiments, though in a far more subtle manner.

The final push for Netanyahu and the Right came in the final week before the elections. It suddenly became clear that without some aggressive campaigning aimed at waking the Right from its slumber, the Left could score a majority.

Controversially, Netanyahu also raised a red flag over the massive Arab voter turnout just hours before the polls closed, urging right-wing voters to cast their ballots.

“Although many right-wing voters have little love for Netanyahu, they fear much more a left-wing government,” said Yair Ravivo, mayor of the central Israel city of Lod.

In the end, Netanyahu was elected democratically because his policies represent a majority in Israel. His distrust of the Palestinians and their intentions and concerns for Israel’s security have been validated by the majority.

Like it or not, the international community must come to terms with this.

 

Israeli Christians: We'll No Longer Live a Lie

Israeli Christians: We'll No Longer Live a Lie

The National Zionist Congress for Youth convened last week to discuss the phenomenon of emigration from the Land of Israel. On what turned out to be a fascinating panel were Mia Morano, widow of IDF special forces officer Emanuel Moreno who was killed in the Second Lebanon War, Israeli priest Father Gabriel Naddaf and IDF Major Elias Karam, the first Arab Christian to join the naval officers’ school.

Naddaf opened the panel by recalling that he was born in Nazareth when the population was predominantly Christian with a Muslim minority. “Today it is the opposite,” he lamented, noting that Christians should find in Israel a natural home. “Christianity came from Judaism,” Naddaf stated. “Without Judaism, Christianity doesn’t exist.”

But in the rest of the Middle East, the situation is much different.

“During the ‘Arab Spring’ we saw the collapse of governments lead to the Muslim slaughter of Christians. And they still call them ‘brothers,’” said Naddaf. “I can not dress like this in my priestly garments in Iran or Saudi Arabia.”

Father Naddaf went on to address his own son’s recent enlistment in the IDF, which he encouraged: “I sent my son to serve in the Israeli army. The IDF is the most moral army in the world. We don’t arbitrarily kill people.”

As spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum that actively encourages all young Arabic-speaking Christians to join the IDF, Father Naddaf explained that he “understands that it is essential to connect Christian Arabs to Israel and the Jews.”

But the Israeli Arab leadership, he said, “has fooled us into living a lie. They call Israel an apartheid state, but when anyone suggests an exchange of territories, [these leaders] protest because they know life is better in Israel.”

Mia Moreno told the youth about her return to Jewish faith and being raised in the Sinai when it was still under Israeli control. “The Jewish faith does not require everyone to be the same,” she noted. “I sit here beside Father Naddaf, he a Christian priest and me a religious Jewish woman, and we can and must live in peace with one another.”

Major Elias Karam told the youth gathering that as an Arabic-speaking Christian he is proud to wear the uniform of the IDF. “I volunteered for the army. I could have been a doctor or a lawyer, but I chose a different path,” said Maj. Karam. “In doing so, I stayed true to my dream.”

Congress organizer Jacob Haguel of the World Zionist Organization said the event, co-sponsored by the Zionist Council in Israel, sought to “bring together the leaders of the next generation. This congress represents the beautiful mosaic that is Israel including…Druze and Jews, religious and secular, periphery and center.”

PHOTO: From left-to-right - Maj. Elias Karam, Mia Moreno and Father Gabriel Naddaf.

 

What Now for Israel's Government?

What Now for Israel's Government?

A brief, but stormy election campaign has come to an end, and not only is Benjamin Netanyahu still prime minister, he appears poised to establish a far more stable government made up only of right-wing parties.

In the coming days, President Reuven Rivlin will select the candidate best positioned to form the next government. Given Likud’s crushing victory over the left-wing Zionist Union faction, that candidate will be Netanyahu.

Rivlin has expressed his hope for a national unity government, and is expected to ask Netanyahu to consider such an option.

But while a coalition consisting only of Likud, the Zionist Union and one or two other parties would be an interesting prospect, it is far more likely that Netanyahu will capitalize on the results of the elections by building a coalition made up of right-wing and religious parties.

Likud brings 30 seats to the table. It has natural partners in Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home (8 seats) and Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu (6 seats). The new Kulanu faction (10 seats) of Moshe Kahlon, himself a former Likud heavyweight, is also expected to be an easy sell for Netanyahu.

That would already bring Netanyahu’s coalition to 54 out of 120 Knesset seats.

At that point, Netanyahu could again approach Yair Lapid and his centrist Yesh Atid party, but it is unlikely he will want that headache. It was Lapid who essentially brought down the last government over budget disputes.

Netanyahu’s other option is to woo the two ultra-Orthodox parties - Shas (7 seats) and United Torah Judaism (6 seats).

Getting Shas and United Torah Judaism into the government is easy, provided Netanyahu is prepared to offer the Interior Ministry, significant public funding for Orthodox yeshivas and to make compromises on legislation requiring ultra-Orthodox males to do military service like all other Israeli Jews.

If he’s willing to pay that price, Netanyahu can establish a coalition of 67 seats.

This coalition would still have some differences of opinion regarding economic and social issues, but would largely see eye-to-eye on security and diplomatic issues like Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In other words, it would appear Netanyahu has the opportunity to form the coalition he wanted and one that might finally serve a full four-year term.

 

Netanyahu Scores Decisive Victory

Netanyahu Scores Decisive Victory

With 99 percent of the ballots counted by Wednesday morning, it was clear that Benjamin Netanyahu had for the fourth time been elected as Israel’s prime minister.

Netanyahu’s Likud Party ended up winning 30 out of 120 Knesset seats. The opposition “Zionist Union” made a good showing with 24 seats, but it wasn’t enough to propel party leader Isaac “Buji” Herzog to the premiership.

As expected, and to the great concern of some, the newly forged United Arab List became the Knesset’s third largest faction with 14 seats.

While there were few surprises with the smaller parties, the most recent pre-election surveys had shown Herzog unseating Netanyahu. Even preliminary results late Tuesday night had Likud and the Zionist Union neck-and-neck with 27 seats each, making it entirely unclear who would be tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.

But hours later as the final ballots were tallied, there was no question that not only had Netanyahu won, he had effectively laid the groundwork facilitating the formation of a stable right-wing coalition. Gone was the need to rely on the center-left factions that had caused Netanyahu so many headaches in the previous government.

 

Apartheid? Meet the Arab in Charge of Israel’s Elections

Apartheid? Meet the Arab in Charge of Israel’s Elections

For the first time in the country’s history, an Arab judge is chairing the Central Elections Committee presiding over today’s national elections.

Justice Salim Jubran (pictured) is a Christian Arab who grew up in the north of Israel. In 2004, he became the first Israeli Arab to be appointed a permanent seat on the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year, he was given the daunting task of overseeing all those hot-button, contentious and touchy election issues like who gets campaign funding, preventing voter fraud and determining what constitutes fair play in the rock’em sock’em world of Israel’s political propaganda wars.

For example, it was Judge Jubran who decided to halt funding for Sunday night’s right-wing rally in Tel-Aviv.

Now, what kind of democracy gives a minority Christian Arab authority to prevent government support for an all Jewish, settlement-supporting political party? Only in Israel.

As an Apartheid State, Israel Really Stinks

This Judge Jubran chosen to ensure the Jewish state’s democratic process ran smoothly and according to protocol is the same Supreme Court justice who has publicly refused to sing Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem.

In fact, Judge Jubran refrained from singing the anthem at his own swearing-in ceremony for the Supreme Court. He was castigated by many for doing so, but the Arab judge stood his ground and was supported by fellow justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who wrote that non-Jewish citizens should not feel obligated to sing words that do not speak to their hearts.

Eventually, even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised many by stating that he did not expect an Arab-Israeli to sing the national anthem, especially since it includes the words "a Jewish soul yearns."

Unlike Any Other Apartheid Nation

Jubran’s trials (forgive the pun) didn’t end there. In 2012, the Knesset’s Law and Justice Committee demanded he be dismissed. In an effort to oust the Arab Christian justice, committee chairman MK Michael Ben-Ari submitted a bill aimed at barring anyone who had not served in the IDF from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

[This is the same MK Ben-Ari who was caught on camera tearing up and trashing copies of the New Testament that has been sent to all 120 members of Knesset by Messianic Jewish leader Victor Kalisher of the Bible Society of Israel.]

But Israel would have none of Ben-Ari’s antics. The government, media, courts and people on the streets - Jews and Arabs - fought to keep Justice Jubran on the Supreme Court.

Then, in a move which should shake the hell out of Israel-haters everywhere, it is old Justice Jubran, an Arab Christian born in 1947 in Haifa who finished his graduate studies in law at Hebrew University in 1968, who was entrusted with overseeing Israel’s crucial national elections.

Many saw these elections as critical to the future of the Jewish nation, and nevertheless had little problem with putting their proceedings in the hands of an Arab Christian who has never served in the Israeli army, does not fast on Yom Kippur and will not sing our national anthem.

There is no place like Israel. I love this country!

 

Palestinian Views of Israel's Elections

Palestinian Views of Israel's Elections

Today Israel chooses a new leadership, and the Palestinian street has a deeply vested interest in the outcome of the ballot.

However, this time around most Palestinians understood that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was far from the central issue in the vote for the 20th Knesset, and that most Israelis would be casting their ballots based on economic issues plaguing the Jewish state.

From the Palestinian point of view, the situation is less than desirable, as their nationalist struggle is no longer the primary issue motivating Israeli voters. Most Palestinians realize that a majority in Israeli society has totally lost confidence in reaching a viable, lasting peace with the Palestinian leadership.

“It is only natural for us to be interested in the political process of our conquerors,” Mohammed Madani, a senior member of the ruling Palestinian faction Fatah, told Israel’s NRG news agency. “Their policies affect our lives, because Israelis are killing Palestinians daily [sic]. We don’t care who wins in Israel. What’s important for us is who can conclude a peace treaty.”

Taking to social media, many average Palestinians expressed hope for a fresh government in Israel, while others feared Netanyahu would only grow stronger. Many Palestinians were rooting for the United Arab List, which some pre-election polls suggested could possibly become the Knesset’s third largest faction, thus bringing the Palestinian issue back into the spotlight.

From its power base in Gaza, Hamas also closely followed the Israeli elections. “We don’t care who wins the elections in Israel,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “All parties in Israel have only one goal and that is to destroy Palestinian interests and Judaize the country.”

Gaza-based Palestinian analyst Talal Oukal stressed that the overriding agenda of any Israeli government would be to preserve a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule.

 

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