More Wrangling Between Trump and Israel Over Transfer of US Embassy

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sporting a big smile, told reporters that the US Embassy would be moving to Jerusalem "much faster than people think, within a year from today."

A day later, US President Donald Trump seemed taken off guard by Netanyahu's remark, and said there was no way the embassy could be relocated so quickly.

"By the end of the year?" Trump responded when told by reporters what Netanyahu had said. "We’re talking about different scenarios — I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no."

After Trump publicly recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital back on December 6, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quick to pour a bit of cold water on the development by noting that it would take three years, at least, to build a new embassy in Holy City.

But now, two of America's biggest and most respected newspaper – The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – are citing government officials who say the US Embassy will be officially located in Jerusalem by the end of 2019.

This will reportedly be accomplished by renovating an existing US consulate facility in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, rather than constructing a new mission.

The complex in Arnona is relatively new, but would need to be re-outfitted to accommodate the US ambassador and the various classified operations that take place at an embassy.

Doing so will save the US a lot of money, and allow US Ambassador David Friedman to begin working out of the Jerusalem facility by next year.

Whether or not the most recent reports are accurate remains to be seen. But Trump will surely weigh in once again very soon.

PHOTO: Netanyahu meeting with US Ambassador David Friedman in Jerusalem last year. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

 

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Trump Rebuffs Netanyahu, Says Embassy Won't Move This Year

US President Donald Trump poured cold water on his friend and ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday by rejecting the notion that America's embassy could move to Jerusalem by the end of 2018.

A day earlier, Netanyahu had gleefully told reporters during his ongoing visit to India that the relocation of the US Embassy to Israel's capital would happen "much faster than people think, within a year from today."

When reporters in Washington asked Trump about Netanyahu's remark, the president didn't sound impressed, stating:

"By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios — I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no."

In his December 6 declaration officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump announced that the US would move its embassy to the Holy City, but that the process would take time.

PHOTO: Many Palestinian remain violently opposed to America's recognition of Israel's claims to Jerusalem, and many Israelis fear that threat of violence is preventing Trump from following through on his promise. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

 

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Netanyahu Says US Embassy Will Move to Jerusalem Sooner Than Expected

When US President Donald Trump publicly recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, both he and his administration said it would take several years to actually move the American embassy there.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects that move to happen much sooner.

Speaking to reporters during his current visit to India, Netanyahu suggested that the US Embassy could move to Jerusalem within the year.

All that would be needed for that to happen would be for the US to change the status of its large consulate facility in Jerusalem to that of a full embassy.

However, it has been argued that the current American consulate on the edge of Jerusalem's Arnonah neighborhood would not be suitable.

 

Abbas Threatens War if Trump Doesn't Rescind Jerusalem Declaration

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday continued his exaggerated response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by threatening regional war.

Speaking in Cairo, Abbas stated:

"Jerusalem is the key to peace if it is our capital, and if it is not - it is the key to war. Trump will need to chose.

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian who will give up even one millimeter of Jerusalem."

There were two key problems with Abbas' remarks.

First, it has by now become clear that Trump's declaration regarding Jerusalem was not really all that interesting to the rest of the Arab world.

As we've reported previously, the Egyptian government has quietly been encouraging its people to accept that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and that the Palestinians should be able to reasonably establish their capital in Ramallah.

Before that, a top Saudi expert explained to the Arab world why Trump was right to accept Israel's claims to the Holy City.

In other words, contrary to Abbas' assertions, the Arab world is actually distancing itself from hard-line Palestinian positions vis-a-vis Jerusalem.

The second problem with what Abbas had to say in Cairo is that it once again highlights the fact that the true end-goal of the Palestinian cause is to eradicate all Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the city.

Abbas spoke of not surrendering even "one millimeter" of Jerusalem, meaning he will never truly accept Israeli control even over the western side of the city.

 

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Palestinian Movie Banned From Film Festival for Inciting Violence

Israel's been complaining about ongoing Palestinian incitement to violence (in violation of the so-called "Oslo Accords") for years. Now, it seems some in the international community are finally catching on to the problem.

The Asian city-state of Singapore this month banned the screening of a Palestinian film that it deemed too "inflammatory."

The film, "Radiance of Resistance," celebrates the actions of two young Palestinian girls who routinely provoke Israeli soldiers. It was scheduled to be screened at the annual Singapore Palestinian Film Festival.

In rejecting the film, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority stated:

"In holding up the girls as role models to be emulated in an ongoing conflict, the film incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors. The skewed narrative of the film is inflammatory and has the potential to cause disharmony amongst the different races and religions in Singapore."

 

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Israeli Singer Who Insulted Obama Denied Visa to Visit America

Popular Israeli singer Amir Benayoun has been denied a visa to travel to the United States where he was scheduled to perform at the United Nations on January 27 to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The US Embassy in Israel stated that it was unconvinced that Benayoun intended to return to the Jewish state following his performance.

But two other Israeli singers slated to perform at the somber event–Miri Mesika and David D'Or–obtained visas without incident.

What makes Benayoun different?


Well, for one, he's a very outspoken right-winger. But with Trump now in the White House, no one expected that to be a problem.

Israeli newspapers believe the real problem is a song Benayoun wrote and performed in 2015 about a "corrupt, cruel" pet crow that he named Obama.

At the end of the song, Benayoun wishes the crow a swift death.

No doubt, there remain US State Department officials, including many at the embassy in Tel Aviv, who hold a grudge against Benayoun for insulting the former president.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempting to straighten out the mess and get a visa for Benayoun, but has so far been unsuccessful.

PHOTO: Amir Benayoun (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

 

Palestinian Leader Abbas is Furious

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas convened the PLO to go on a wild rant about how US President Donald Trump is helping Israel "steal" Jerusalem from its "rightful" Muslim owners.

In between taking jabs at Trump, Abbas reiterated his position that the Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem or the land in general.

Many feel the tirade will only serve as further evidence to the Trump Administration that the current Palestinian leadership is no partner for peace with Israel.

PHOTO: Mahmoud Abbas yesterday in Ramallah (Flash90)

 

COMMENTARY: Sword, or the Lord?

With all the threats Israel is now facing, it is perfectly understandable that they should be sharpening their swords as they prepare for the worst the enemy can throw at them.

A strong defence force is certainly necessary. But an even more serious danger is that they should rely on the power of their weapons, or indeed on their own strength of will and character, along with their growing expertise in military innovations.

It is dangerous because it demonstrates that they are relying on what the Bible refers to as “horses and chariots” rather than on the Lord who called them, as his chosen people, to be a light to the Gentiles.

For it is only when we trust the Lord with all our hearts and not our own understanding that God will give us the guidance we need in order to tread the path for which he has destined us. (See Proverbs 3.5f)

As one who loves Israel, I am not blind to the fact that many of its citizens lead a sinful lifestyle. This is no reason to withdraw support for the beleaguered nation, but they do need to repent of their waywardness and godlessness.

As they have done so many times in their long history, they have absorbed the ways of the world around them – and so we witness political correctness here as elsewhere, most starkly seen in a defiance of sexual morality.

But they are the people of the Book, who gave the world the Bible, the Ten Commandments and Jesus himself. God is saying: do not wait until you are overrun by enemies before you turn back to the Lord, who called you out of slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand. He urges you to trust him now!

That said, thousands of Jews gathered to pray for rain at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on December 28 in response to the call of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel – and God has clearly answered with an abundant outpouring, coming with such force that it has caused flooding in places.

I very much hope that we are seeing the beginnings of a turning to God in Israel, and the fact that a Government minister has initiated a call to prayer is quite amazing, and hugely encouraging.

I can’t recall why, but my wife and I were discussing Israel’s sin, and whether God’s judgment was inevitable, before turning to our daily reading which is our habit every morning. We use the Every Day With Jesus notes of the late Selwyn Hughes which focuses on a theme over a two-month period drawn together by a variety of different Scripture passages. So we opened the little book and found that the text for the day was Hosea 14.1-3: “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall.” (v1) It goes on: “Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses…” (v3) For Assyria, perhaps we should read America.

The Lord was clearly in on our discussion and had a ready answer! Bear in mind that the prophet was concluding his book which pictures Israel as an adulterous wife who repeatedly runs after other men, breaking the first commandment that we should have no other gods in our lives.

Self-reliance is thus the worst of sins because we put ourselves in God’s place and we are saying we can live without him; that he is redundant. This is gross idolatry, and we must repent of it.

Notice, however, that in spite of their serial adultery, God has not forsaken Israel; he has not divorced the one he loves. He loves her with an everlasting love (Jer 31.3). He has entered into a covenant relationship which cannot be broken. But we should not abuse his great faithfulness.

The recent archaeological find near Tel Aviv, suggesting human activity in the area half-a-million years ago, did not exactly excite me. Far more edifying was the August 2015 find in Gath, a city once occupied by Philistines who plotted against the Israelites, their sworn enemies, and the home of the infamous Goliath!

The huge gates uncovered by archaeologists were thought to be indestructible. But in an extraordinary battle in the Valley of Elah, a young man who trusted in the Lord brought down their giant leader with a single stone, proving indeed that the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1.25).

Goliath defied the armies of Israel, but David responded: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17.26) And he taunted the giant: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Sam 17.45)

Like other nations, Israel needs to seek forgiveness from God for succumbing to the ways of the world as well as for their outright disobedience to his commandments. We need to move from independence – the great sin of the age – to reliance upon God.

Isn’t it time we heard Israel’s leaders say, with great clarity and in defiance of political correctness, that we do not trust in sword or spear or javelin, nor even on our allies, but in the name of the Lord Almighty?

PHOTO: Tel Aviv - a soaring tribute to Israeli hi-tech innovation, but does God get the glory?


Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com

 

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A Messianic Jew Opens Up About Homosexuality

We spoke to Tzachi about his personal history, which focuses on a topic most believers do their best to avoid.

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Egypt Tells Palestinians to Accept Trump's Jerusalem Decision

In a hushed, roundabout way, Egyptian authorities are pressing the Palestinians to accept US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as the new reality.

A senior intelligence officer speaking on behalf of Egypt's defense establishment was taped phoning a number of popular local television talk show hosts to encourage them to deliver that message to their viewers.

The officer, identified as Captain Ashraf al-Kholi, went so far as to tell one celebrity host, Azmi Megahed, that if the Palestinians truly want an independent state, they should accept Ramallah as their capital and give up their insistence on controlling eastern Jerusalem.

"How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" asked Kholi, hinting at what many other Muslims in the region have been acknowledging of late - that Jerusalem doesn't really hold much religious significance for Islam.

"Exactly that," agreed Megahed, who later confirmed the authenticity of the recording to the New York Times.

Kholi noted that publicly, Egypt must denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but behind the scenes it wants to move the wider Arab public away from the Palestinian position that Jerusalem is a "red line" for peace.

 

Beloved Rabbi and Father of Six Gunned Down by Terrorists

Rabbi Raziel Shevach was laid to rest on Wednesday after being gunned down by Palestinian terrorists a day earlier.

Shevach, 35, was driving home to the Jewish settler outpost of Havat Gilad in central Samaria late Tuesday evening when shots rang out from a passing vehicle.

Shevach, a volunteer medic as well as a spiritual leader, was hit in the neck. He managed to phone his wife, who called emergency responders, but it was too late.

In addition to his grieving wife, Shevah leaves behind six young children.

At his funeral, the frustration over incessant Palestinian violence targeting local Jewish residents was palpable.

Following the funeral, that Israeli army had to respond to several incidents of young local Jews attacking nearby Palestinian villages with stones.

As for the killers, the military has set up a series of checkpoints around the Palestinian city of Nablus (biblical Shechem), where the terrorists are believed to have found shelter.

PHOTO: Rabbi Raziel Shevach's wife children attend his funeral in the West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad. Shevach was murdered in a drive-by shooting. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

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American Jewish Leaders Urge Israel Not to Deport Illegal Immigrants

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the North American Jewish community's most prominent leaders urged the Israeli leader to backtrack on his plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants.

The letter reads, in part:

"The government of Israel recently announced its plans to imprison or potentially deport tens of thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers unless they leave voluntarily before April.

"The ultimatum follows a mounting campaign of escalation on the part of the Israeli government to pressure the roughly 38,000 African asylum seekers remaining in Israel to self-deport. While Israeli authorities contend that the population in question – most of whom entered Israel between 2007 and 2012 – are economic migrants, HIAS and other rights groups argue that they are asylum seekers and refugees deserving of protection."

The letter suggested that American Jewry could assist Israel in finding a more compassionate solution to the situation, but did not go into details.

But the situation is a bit more tricky for Israel than those living abroad may realize.

Israel finds itself in a conundrum–how can it turn away or deport those in need considering the Jews' own history? At the same time, how can the tiny nation of Israel absorb such numbers without taking a serious hit to its economy?

And time's running out to find a solution.

According to Oved Hugi, a social activist from southern Tel Aviv, the "infiltrators' birthrate stands at 10,000 per year. That means 50,000 children in five years, and that should cause the Prime Minister to lose sleep. South Tel Aviv is a ticking time bomb."

 

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Israel Told It Will Have to "Share" Jerusalem

When US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month, he was very careful to not use the words "united" or "undivided," as Israel insists the city must remain.

Now, Israel is being told by another global power that it will ultimately have to "share" Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority, which claims the eastern half of the Holy City as its capital.

While the current British government is generally in step with Trump, it vocally disagreed with his Jerusalem declaration, fearing it would be exploited to predetermine the outcome of peace negotiations.

On Monday, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson reiterated "the UK’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian people and the two-state solution, the urgent need for renewed peace negotiations, and the UK’s clear and longstanding position on the status of Jerusalem. It should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians..."

Of course, Trump himself said as much in his speech a month earlier, but saw no reason to not, in the meantime, recognize the obvious - that at least the western half of Jerusalem is and has long been the capital of Israel.

Johnson then went on to do precisely what he and the rest of the international community accused Trump of doing - predetermine the final outcome of that "negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

"Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states," said Britain's top diplomat.

What those insisting on such a compromise outcome fail to take into account is that the vast majority of Israelis reject the notion of ever again dividing Jerusalem, and that most Palestinians deny that the Jewish people have any history in, and therefore claim to, the city.

Not to mention that Jerusalem was divided between 1948-1967, and the situation was a nightmare for its residents.

PHOTO: Palestinian youth holding signs reading: "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine." (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

 

COMMENTARY: Armageddon Ahead!

In the wake of the worldwide denunciation of President Trump’s earth-shaking decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, nations are now queueing up to follow his lead.

And yet even while archaeological finds further confirm Jewish connection to the city over thousands of years, the UK and other major European powers stubbornly refuse to face reality.

In joining the predictable chorus of disapproval at the UN, the British people are in ever-increasing danger of being numbered among the goats of Judgment Day referred to by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew (25.31-46).

This passage is widely interpreted to relate to how the peoples of the world have treated God’s chosen race – the “brothers and sisters” (in the flesh) of our Saviour, who was born the King of Israel (Matthew 2.2) and is coming back as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5.5).

Isaiah writes: “For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.” (60.12; see also Micah 5.15)

On my latest tour of Israel, I learnt a fascinating lesson that I believe relates to this important passage (Matthew 25) – that sheep keep the grass neatly cut with their grazing while goats pull it out by the roots. In the same way, true disciples of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, should follow him closely and feed on the rich pasture he has provided that is nourished by the Law of Moses along with the patriarchs and prophets of Judaism. The goats, on the other hand, cut themselves off from the roots of their faith, as a result of which their pasture withers and dies. (See Romans 11.17f)

Actually, the US Congress voted to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 22 years ago, but successive Presidents have simply put off implementing the decision until now. And Czech President Milos Zeman has accused EU states opposing this stance as “cowards”.

Even Arab commentators are encouraging their people to accept reality. A Saudi academic, for example, has called on Arabs to recognise Jerusalem’s sanctity to Jews. Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda, told US-based Alhurra Television that Trump’s move constitutes a “positive shock” to the peace process, adding: “We must recognise and realise that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews and sacred to them, as Mecca and Medina is to Muslims.”

And in an article last year he stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia faced a common Nazi-like threat in Iran, which has reportedly pledged every assistance to terror group Hamas in “the battle for the defence of Jerusalem”.

With its efforts to make good on a long-promised boast to wipe Israel off the map, Iran continues to be a serious threat (despite encouraging protests from within the rogue regime), establishing a military base in Syria while at the same time supplying terror group Hezbollah with a huge stash of weapons on Israel’s northern border.

So with the nations as a whole setting their face against Israel, and denying their right both to the land and their capital, the stage is being set for the battle of the ages. According to the Bible, it will take place at Armageddon (or the plain of Jezreel) in northern Israel (Revelation 16.16), but the trigger will be Jerusalem.

Although physical in nature, it will in reality be more of a spiritual conflict determining who is ultimately in charge of the ways of men and the world. Elijah of old was engaged in a great battle with 400 false prophets in this same region, and he won hands down with only God on his side – which is all he needed, of course. (See 1 Kings 18) Frustrated at the idolatry of his people, the prophet famously laid down the rules for the contest: The God who answered by fire would be the victor. And sure enough, the fire of the Lord burnt up the sacrifice and the people changed their mind about their allegiance.

That bloody contest – all the false prophets were subsequently slaughtered – took place on Mt Carmel which, as it happens, overlooks Armageddon where the final great battle will be enacted, quite possibly in the very near future especially since, as the prophets have foretold, it will be over the status of Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 12.2f)

It may come as a surprise to some that Jerusalem is God’s very own city – he effectively owns it; it bears his name. (See Daniel 9.18f & Nehemiah 1.9) But false deities, with the connivance of numerous world powers, refuse to acknowledge this. They are setting a trap into which they will fall!

Jesus lamented over Jerusalem because of their rejection of him, but at the same time prophesied their ultimate acceptance of his rule (Matthew 23.39). He has not finished with Jerusalem; he will come back just as he left (Acts 1.11).

Further confirmation of Israel’s claim to the land has come from recent archaeological finds. A replica of a first-century coin, dated 67 AD and containing the inscription ‘Jerusalem the Holy’, was held up at a session of the United Nations Security Council by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. And a seal owned by Jerusalem’s governor some 2,700 years ago has been unearthed near the Western Wall. It contains an inscription in ancient Hebrew and supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor in the city at the time.

Speaking of the find, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals in the world, continually populated by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years.”

Another recent find – 1,300-year-old coins from the Islamic Umayyad Dynasty imprinted with an image of the menorah from the Jewish Temple – shows that early Muslims acknowledged the city’s Jewish identity. According to Assaf Avraham of Bar-Ilan University, they adopted the Jewish narrative and symbols for their own.

At the end of the day, Jews from all over the world are returning to their roots in fulfilment of many ancient Scriptures. The much-acclaimed film Lion tells the moving story of a five-year-old Indian boy, Saroo (‘Lion’), who got lost after becoming separated from his older brother, and was eventually adopted and brought up by loving ‘parents’ in Australia. But it didn’t stop the grown-up Saroo going to extraordinary lengths to trace his roots and find his beloved mother.

Yet despite all the evidence supporting Israel’s claim, Palestinian leaders simply refuse to accept the truth. In the year 2000, Yasser Arafat turned down the chance of a comprehensive peace deal because he refused to recognise Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. “The Jews never had a Temple at the site,” he said at the time. The entire Palestinian narrative is based on a lie that would be recognised by children at kindergarten. And yet world leaders don’t get it!

But they must get used to the idea. The God of Israel is the history-maker and has chosen the Jews to inherit the land he has promised them. That there would be an almighty battle over the territory was always part of the script. The prophets warned that this would happen, but that Elohim (God) would be the ultimate victor, “watching over his word to perform it”. (Jeremiah 1.12)

The Messiah is waiting for that day – and I pray it will come soon – when his ancient people greet him once more with gladness, saying: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23.39, Psalm 118.26)

PHOTO: A stunning scene of the plain of Jezreel, otherwise known as Armageddon, from the traditional site of Elijah’s battle with the false prophets on Mt Carmel. (Linda Gardner)


Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com

 

Egyptian Scholar Scolds Israeli Arab Students for Hostility Toward Jewish State

Last week, an Egyptian academic and expert was invited to speak at Tel Aviv University on Israel-Egypt relations and current political situations in the Middle East.

As has happened in other similar cases, some of the Arab students attending the university verbally assaulted the visitor, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, for "betraying" his own and the Palestinian people by "normalizing" with Israel.

Ibraham was relentlessly taunted by the Arab students to the point that he could hardly get a word in, as seen in the first short portion of the above video.

Fellow Egyptian academic Rami Aziz, a leading researcher and political analyst, decided to respond to those students with the above video message.

What's notable is that Aziz not only defends Ibrahim and his visit to Tel Aviv University, but goes on to praise the Jewish state itself as a safe haven for all, both Jews and Arabs.

First, Aziz turns the table by taunting the raucous Arab students, asking, "Why do you study there? Aren't you traitors, too? Why not go study in the Gaza Strip, or the West Bank, or any other Arab country?"

Of course, the answer is as clear to Aziz as it is to those very students: "Tel Aviv University [is] the number one university in the Middle East."

For Aziz and many like him, the double standards and hypocrisy of the more hostile among Israeli Arabs and Palestinians is becoming tiring.

"Stop accusing people of treason and lacking in patriotism" for "normalizing" with Israel, he said. "This era has ended. Such slogans have no place in our day."

But most poignant was the end, when Aziz called those jeering students "liars and hypocrites...who live in Israel, enjoying its nationality and the benefits that is offers, while at the same time holding hostility toward it."

Aziz sought to remind those Israeli Arab students that "millions of young Arabs in your neighboring countries" would gladly switch places with them. "Thank God that you enjoy what you have in the State of Israel," he concluded.

 

VIDEO: It's Time to Free Iran

 

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Trump Follows Through on Threat, Slashes Aid to Palestinians

One thing is becoming certain - you dismiss US President Donald Trump's threats at your own peril.

For decades, Middle East despots and warlords were conditioned to shrug off American pressure, knowing full well that the White House didn't have the guts to follow through.

Some might argue that it's not about guts, that presidents like George W. Bush and Barack Obama were being diplomatic by necessity. But then, why apply pressure or issue warnings in the first place, as both former presidents often did? Making threats when everyone knows you have no intention of following through is the opposite of effective.

Well, those days are done under Trump, and the Palestinians just learned that lesson the hard way.

Last Thursday, Trump tweeted that he was questioning the usefulness of massive American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority when it continues to incite against Israel and won't come to the negotiating table.

Just days later, it was revealed that Trump had significantly slashed US contributions to UNRWA, the special UN body set up to cater solely to so-called Palestinian "refugees."

Until now, the US covered a full one-fourth of UNRWA's operating costs.

Three Western diplomats confirmed to Israel's Channel 10 News over the weekend that Trump had frozen $125 million in annual aid to UNRWA, about one-third of the annual US contribution.

The sources added that Trump could increase the cut to $180 million if the Palestinian Authority fails to get the message and rejoin the peace process.

UNRWA has long been criticized for allowing itself to be exploited by radical elements within the Palestinian power structure. In Gaza, the organization's schools are routinely used as cover and storage facilities for Hamas forces, and the textbooks by which it teaches Palestinian children are laced with anti-Israel vitriol.

Successive American presidents have been aware of these problems, but have taken no concrete action for fear of upsetting the Arab "street."

PHOTO: A Palestinian child hits his shoes on a picture of US President Donald Trump, painted by Palestinian art activists in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, January 04, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

 

The Lavan River Is Flowing!

Oren knows that when the Lavan runs wild, he calls me and we usually hurry down into the desert. Flooding in the usually dry riverbeds is always an incredible sight. The Lavan - translated means "white" - flows directly next to our vineyard and future olive grove. A wonder in the middle of the dry sandy desert. The last time that the Lavan river flowed was about three years ago.

Many years ago at dusk, after a four-day desert trip, we reached the full water reservoir situated between Kadesh Barnea and Beer Milka and swam in it! A surreal moment that neither my wife Anat nor any of my children will ever forget. Until about 10 years ago the desert runoff was collected in an artificial water reservoir for agricultural use in the Nizanna area.

This artificial reservoir was broken after a flood and since then the rainwater - when the Lavan flows - continues on into Egypt. The rainfall is urgently needed for agriculture and to fill the subterranean aquifer, which is important for agriculture, including our vineyard and olive grove. The desert is more exciting and alive than you can imagine.

In honor of Israel's 70th anniversary you can plant an olive tree for only $70 instead of $95. You can also sponsor a family planting of eight trees for the price of seven with us planting the eighth free.

 

Israel's Future - Bloom, or Gloom?

Israelis today are fiercely divided over whether or not their nation will survive in the modern world.

The full article appears in the January 2018 issue of Israel Today Magazine.


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Death Penalty for Terrorists Sparks Fierce Debate in Israel

Israel's Knesset on Wednesday voted 52-49 in favor of a bill that would enable both military and state courts to sentence convicted terrorists to death.

Technically, Israeli courts can already sentence convicts to death, but only via the unanimous decision of multiple judges. Such a sentence has not been handed down since Israel executed Nazi Holocaust frontman Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

The new bill would enable courts to hand down the death penalty with just a simple majority decision.

The bill must still pass several more readings before it becomes law.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) is urging members of Knesset to vote against the law, warning that use of the death penalty could encourage a new wave of kidnappings of Israeli and foreign Jews by Palestinian terrorists.

Israel's security chiefs fear that convicting a terrorists to death would spark concerted efforts to abduct Jews either here or abroad to force the convicted terrorist's release before his execution.

Similar warnings from the Shin Bet have resulted in past death penalty proposals being defeated in the Knesset.

Another point of concern is that the same death penalty law could be used against Jewish terrorists.

In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a member of the party pushing the death penalty bill (Yisrael Beiteinu) said it most certainly would apply in the rare case of Jewish terrorism.

Trying to trap Netanyahu, who is supporting the bill, firebrand Arab MK Ahmad Tibi asked if the death penalty would be doled out to those like the Jewish extremist who firebombed a Palestinian home in 2015, killing a baby and his parents.

Netanyahu responded: "Yes."

Yisrael Beiteinu MK Robert Ilatov was similarly asked if the Jewish extremist who brutally murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014 deserved the death penalty.

Ilatov stated unequivocally: "A terrorists is a terrorist."

 

Poll: Most Israeli Jews Think Trump is Helping Israel

There has been wild speculation that US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will damage the peace process and ultimately hurt the Jewish state.

It's a scaremongering tactic that has long been used to coerce Israel into abandoning its historical claims and red lines.

But Israelis are no longer buying it.

The monthly Peace Index survey released this week revealed that a firm majority of Israeli Jews believe Trump truly understands Israel's concerns and is helping the Jewish state, despite hysterical reactions to the contrary.

According to the poll, 65 percent of Israeli Jews believe Trump's Jerusalem declaration was in Israel's best interests. Roughly the same percentage of Israeli Arabs said the opposite.

A strong 59 percent majority of Israeli Jews said that in general, Trump understands Israel's interests and is acting to their benefit.

 

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Trump Tells Palestinians to Kiss American Money Goodbye

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned that if the Palestinian Authority does not become more conciliatory in its approach to Israel, then it will no longer receive American financial aid.

The Palestinian leadership has painted Trump's recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a major obstacle to peace, going so far as to reject any further American role in the peace process.

Trump's White House has responded that the Palestinian Authority was itself an obstacle to peace long before he ever came to the White House. Trump himself said that was evidenced by the Palestinian regime's latest refusal to even come to the negotiating table.

The president tweeted that "with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

Nor was Trump's threat a mere Twitter rant.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters that cutting funding of the Palestinian Authority has been a very real topic of discussion.

"The president has said that he does not want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiating table," Haley said at a press conference on Tuesday. "The Palestinians now have to show their will that they want to come to the table. As of now they’re not coming to the table but they ask for aid. We’re not giving the aid. We’re going to make sure that they come to the table. And we want to move forward with the peace process."

Israel Communications Minister Ayoub Kara hailed this new approach by Washington, tweeting that Trump had finally ripped of the "Palestinian mask of hypocrisy."

Palestinian leaders were less impressed, insisting they would not be "blackmailed" by Trump.

Keeping to the Palestinian Authority tradition of ignoring even the most recent past, Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi presented the situation in a vacuum, suggesting that Trump's Jerusalem declaration was the sole reason the peace process had stalled.

"President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!" Ashrawi screeched.

 

VIDEO: You've Never Seen Israel Like This Before

 

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Knesset Passes Bill Making It Nearly Impossible to Ever Divide Jerusalem

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, following a succession of impassioned speeches both for and against, Israel's Knesset finally voted on and passed the "United Jerusalem Bill."

The bill is an amendment to the Jerusalem Law passed in 1980, when Israel officially declared the entirety of Jerusalem to be its undivided capital.

This new legislation requires a two-thirds majority which is 80 members of Knesset to ever alter the status of Jerusalem or surrender portions of the Holy City as part of a future peace agreement.

Corralling a two-thirds majority for anything in the Israel Knesset is next to impossible, as evidenced by the vote on this very bill.

Sixty-four MKs voted in favor of the bill, 51 voted against and one abstained, despite the fact that the vast majority of Israeli Jews (including members of Knesset) insist that Jerusalem must never again be divided.

The bill's author, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) was perfectly aware of what he had done.

"Just now we ensured that Jerusalem will be united forever. We initiated the law that guards Jerusalem so that it cannot be divided without a huge majority of 80 MKs," Bennett wrote on Facebook.

"The Mount of Olives, the Old City, the Temple Mount and the City of David will remain in our hands forever. There will be no more political maneuvers that will allow to tear our capital apart. This is also Israel's response to the shameful United Nations vote against Jerusalem. A holiday for Israel!" he continued.

Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) echoed the sentiment on Twitter:

"I congratulate the Knesset on the approval by a large majority of the amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem, which strengthens the defensive wall against those on the left who may try to harm Israeli sovereignty in united Jerusalem in the future."

 

Netanyahu Urges Iranians to Overthrow Ayatollahs, Befriend Israel Again

 

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Israeli TV Speaks to Iranian Protesters Who Say Regime Will Fall

The Iranian regime is doing its best to both suppress at home and disregard on the international stage the widespread protests rocking the Islamic Republic.

On Monday, Iranians across the country took to the streets for the fifth straight day, demanding and end to the theocratic rule of the ayatollahs.

Israel's Channel 10 News spoke to one protester who told the Jewish state that the protests in Iran will continue and will grow until the country's religious overlords are brought down.

Given the pseudonym "Muhsan" for his own protection, he told the Israeli audience that the impact of the regime's corruption on daily life had simply become unbearable, and that Iranians were no longer willing to tolerate it.

"They know there’s a reason for the rising cost of living. Iran is a very wealthy nation. If they [the leadership] claim that sanctions today affect the economy, that’s a lie. Everything stems from the theft of the public’s funds. That’s the real reason for poverty in Iran."

Muhsan also took a jab at those in the international community who point to Iran's soft-spoken President Hassan Rouhani as evidence that the country is moderating.

"He's like a puppet; he's just a symbol so that they can say there's democracy in Iran."

The Iranian regime has tried to claim that the unrest is the result of American and Israeli subversion, but Muhsan indicated that most Iranians aren't buying it. He ended the interview by wishing well to all the Israeli viewers.

The fall of the Iranian regime would be enormous for a great many (mostly obvious) reasons.

For Israel, one of those reasons would be that Iran and the Jewish state were close allies prior to the Islamic Revolution, and could be so again.

PHOTO: Channel 10 screenshot of the interview with Iranian protester "Muhsan," his face blurred for security reasons.

 

VIDEO: The Stunning Ramon Crater

 

Saudi Columnist Says Trump Right to Recognize Israel's Claims to Jerusalem

While much of the Arab world predictably reacted with outrage to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a number of leading Arab intellectuals took a very different position.

Among them was Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

While Riyadh publicly decried Trump's announcement, the Saudi regime did not engage in long-winded rants against Israeli control over Jerusalem, prompting many to wonder where the oil-rich kingdom really stood on the issue.

In an interview on the US-based al-Hurra Arabic-language TV channel, Hakeem tried to clarify why Trump's decision actually met with muted acceptance, even some degree of appreciation, in Saudi Arabia:

"The decision will prompt a positive shock towards moving the stagnant water surrounding negotiations. We, as Arabs, have to come an understanding with the other side and know what its demands are so that we can succeed in peace negotiation efforts."

Hakeem even went so far as to recognize the historical and religious connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem:

"We have to admit and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol for the Jews that is just as holy for them as Mecca and Medina are for Muslims.

"Arab mentality must free itself from the heritage of Gamal Abdel Nasser and political Islam of both the Sunni and Shia sects, which has instilled for purely political interests the culture of hating Jews and denying their historic right in the region."

The positions held by Hakeem and other Saudi intellectuals like him is one of the reasons Israelis are increasingly open to Saudi Arabia taking a leading role in the Middle East peace process.

PHOTO: Palestinians burn photos of the "Zionist" Trump after he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

 

VIDEO: Netanyahu Slams Iran For Wishing Christians a 'Merry Christmas'

 

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Attention Desert.... Here We Come!

We inspected the sandy soil where we are planning to establish our olive grove within the next few months. Oren explained that during the last rainy season they received very little rain and even the seasonal Lavan river didn't flow.

In recent years, winters in Israel, especially in the south, have become increasingly drier. This is what has challenged me to green the deserts there, where it's not easy. After we succeeded with the vineyard we would like to repeat with an olive grove. After about three years, in the fall of 2021, we with God's help, are expecting to harvest the first olives and produce olive oil. But until then much will have to change in this desert patch. We humorously say that it is situated "at the end of the world, left!" More about this later.

We have long considered the preparations for the cultivation including a new irrigation system, fences, etc. We will probably start in about a month and have opted to plant the Cortina and Barnea olive varieties which produce excellent high quality olive oil. Planting an olive grove in sand is a challenge that needs to be well thought out and planned and we have to order the seedlings timeously. We will keep you up-to-date regarding the progress.

Oren, his family and us in Jerusalem are looking forward to this project and would like to thank everyone that has participated in helping bring this project to fruition (pun intended)!

 

Israel-Haters Turn Ahed Tamimi Into a Symbol, But They're Missing the Point

The international mainstream media and Israel-haters everywhere are doing their best to turn Ahed Tamimi, the teenage Palestinian girl filmed repeatedly slapping an Israeli soldier last week, into a new symbol of "resistance."

But, in order to do so, they're ignoring the very reason Tamimi (and other Palestinians) engaged in this and previous assaults on Israeli soldiers.

Tamimi wasn't trying to "resist" or drive the soldiers back. She was trying to provoke them into violently responding to the tantrums of a little girl. That's why a camera was trained on her during the encounter.

Had the soldiers responded with physical force and caused bodily harm, Tamimi would instantly have been held aloft around the world as a heroine of the Palestinian cause.

Instead, she's only being celebrated by Israel's most venomous antagonists, who will latch on to any excuse to smear the Jewish state. And, in trying to push Tamimi as a new symbol of resistance, they must brush aside the fact that the Israelis didn't take the bait.

They must sidestep the very clear, documented evidence that, contrary to the popular narrative, Israelis soldiers are not child-killers. If they were, Tamimi and her cameraman would be corpses, and the video would never have gotten out in the first place.

To be sure, the situation puts Israel itself in a conundrum. Israelis are furious that our soldiers can be treated in such a shabby manner with near-impunity (Tamimi was eventually arrested for this latest assault, but faced no punitive action for earlier similar provocations). At the same time, the effective "surrender" of these particular soldiers absolutely demolished many of the blood-libels circulating on social media.

PHOTO: Ahed Tamimi (left) appears in Israeli court after assaulting an IDF soldier on camera. (Flash90)

 

Palestinians Hurl Firebombs on Jewish Worshippers at Joshua's Tomb

Now, imagine Israeli Jews had hurled stones and firebombs at Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the tomb of some famous sheikh.

What do you reckon would be the response? Without question there'd be heavy international media coverage and commentary. Perhaps even an emergency session of the UN Security Council?

And yet, when the roles are reversed, when Muslims on Thursday attacked Jewish worshippers at the tomb Yehoshua Ben Nun (the biblical Joshua), we get...crickets. Not a peep from the international community.

That's because despite the fact that these particular Jews were praying at the tomb of a recognized JEWISH hero from the Bible, the international community rejects the notion that today's Jews have any connection to the place or right to be there.

It takes a baffling amount of mental gymnastics to reach such a conclusion. But, there you have it. That's the topsy-turvy world we live in.

By the way, there were no injuries to the 1,000 Jewish worshippers or the IDF soldiers accompanying them to the tomb, which is situated in an Arab village long ago built overtop of the ancient Jewish holy site.

PHOTO: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men entered the Palestinian village of Kif al-Harat, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, to pray at the tombs of Yehoshua Ben Nun and Kalev Ben Yefune. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

 

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Israel Announces "Donald Trump Train Station" in Jerusalem

Israel Railways has decided to name the final stop on its soon-to-open high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line after US President Donald Trump, reported Yediot Ahronot.

The much-anticipated rail line was originally supposed to terminate at a new station being built adjacent to Jerusalem's Central Bus Station and the International Convention Center (known locally as Binyanei Haumah).

But an underground extension was added taking the train to the entrance of the Old City of Jerusalem. About a year ago, Transportation Minister Israel Katz proposed another extension, taking the train (again, underground) all the way to the Western Wall.

That final station near the Western Wall is the one Israel Railways intends to name "Donald John Trump Train Station."

That honor is being bestowed in recognition of Trump's decision to finally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as a matter of official US foreign policy.

 

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Israel Must Again Remind Palestinian Leaders That Jesus Was Jewish

Yesterday was Christmas, which means that local Christians were once again treated to a rant by Palestinian leaders trying to appropriate Jesus as part of their cause against Israel.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas published a Christmas greeting that referred to Jesus as "a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world."

Abbas' predecessor and mentor, Yasser Arafat, began this shameful Christmas tradition decades ago.

As in other years, Israel's Foreign Ministry responded with scorn.

"He should have read the Gospel before uttering such offensive nonsense, but we will forgive him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Times of Israel, as he echoed Jesus example of forgiving those who wrong you.

Abbas spent the rest of the letter blaming all of the Palestinians' ills on Israel and the so-called "occupation."

Palmor noted that despite being a "Christmas" greeting, the letter didn't at all fit the spirit of the season. "Maybe he needs a hug from Santa?" the Israeli asked facetiously.

One part of the letter that many Israelis did take particular offense over was Abbas' assertion that the bulk of the Palestinian Christian population had fled Bethlehem and its environs because of Israel.

As several officials noted, Christians lived quietly and prosperously in the region right up until Bethlehem was handed over to the Palestinian Authority. It was only then that they started emigrating en masse.

 

10 More Countries Reportedly Consider Moving Embassies to Jerusalem

Israel was thrilled at the weekend over news that Guatemala had decided to follow in America's footsteps by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and beginning the process of moving its embassy here.

After profusely thanking Guatemala for taking such a courageous stand, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the Central America nation wouldn't be the last to do so.

"I told you recently there would be other countries that will recognize Jerusalem and move their embassies," Netanyahu said. "I repeat: There will be more, this is just the beginning."

Shortly after, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel Radio that Netanyahu's words were already coming true, as at least 10 more countries were in talks to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Hotovely did not go into details about which countries were considering the move, but most expect Honduras to be the next to make such an announcement.

Like Guatemala, neighboring Honduras has grown very close to Israel in recent years, and its president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, spent time in the Jewish state and is a graduate of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Both Guatemala and Honduras were among the nine nations that voted "no" last week when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution effectively condemning US President Donald Trump over his Jerusalem decision.

PHOTO: Netanyahu meets with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in Jerusalem on October 29, 2015. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

 

Israel's Got a New Best Friend - Guatemala!

Israel's list of "best friends" seems to be growing thanks to the United States finally following through in deed on its long-standing claim to be the Jewish state's closest ally.

For many a year, America said that Israel had no better friend in the world. And yet, the White House refused to officially accept the thing most important to Israelis and Jews everywhere - their ancient connection to Jerusalem.

Now that President Trump has righted that wrong, a number of other nations that seem to have just been waiting to follow America's lead are also recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowing to move their embassies there.

The second nation after the United States to do so is Guatemala.

On Sunday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales informed his people in a Facebook post that their embassy would soon be moved to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon responded on Twitter:

As did Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren:

Guatemala was one of only nine nations last week to vote against a UN resolution condemning Trump's Jerusalem declaration. Neighboring Central America nation Honduras was another, and many Israelis hope it will be the next to openly and officially recognize Jerusalem's status as the capital of the Jewish state.

The Czech Republic was the second nation after the US to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but did not make a commitment to move its embassy to the Holy City.

 

God's Perfect Timing

Whatever you may think as harassed shoppers or parents, Christmas does not come too soon. It’s an example of God’s perfect timing, though I appreciate that the Messiah’s actual birthday was more likely to have been during the Feast of Tabernacles.

There was precise timing in the divine coming nevertheless. Naturally speaking, the Christ child should have been born in Nazareth. But because Caesar intervened and ordered a census, the holy family were forced to travel some 80 miles to Bethlehem (the town of David, from which their lineage was traced), thus fulfilling the prophecy of Micah: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5.2) 

The stars lined up with such precision, and in such brilliance, that the Wise Men were able to follow the light all the way to the little town near Jerusalem, where the flawless sheep were traditionally prepared for Passover. And the shepherds on the surrounding hills were perfectly placed to respond to the angelic call to come and worship the new-born King, also to become the Good Shepherd leading his flock to fresh pasture.

Among the precious gifts the Wise Men brought was myrrh, a prophetic statement of the Messiah’s sacrificial death to come as the ultimate Passover Lamb, when he would die on the cross for the sins of the world – myrrh was used for embalming the deceased for burial.

Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’ and indeed Jesus was to describe himself as the “bread of life” (John 6.35) whose body (symbolised by the bread of communion) would be given for us, his death bringing us life. Jesus adds: “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

So the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem and the Wise Men led to the infant King through a once-in-a-blue-moon lining up of the stars were all part of God’s perfect timing. Everything in God’s perfect plan was in the right place at the right time.

The Apostle Paul, referring to the Messiah’s sacrifice, writes: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5.6)

The gift of frankincense, also brought by the Wise Men, represents the fragrance of God’s presence and speaks of Immanuel, God with us, which is also the central thought of the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating the time when God made his presence known to the wandering Israelites in the wilderness – providing food, water and shelter in the parched desert environment.

Now, through the one born to be King (hence the gift of gold), God has actually taken on flesh to tabernacle (or live) among us. And at the end of his earthly ministry, the risen Lord promises to be ‘with us’ (his followers) forever, until the end of the age (Matthew 28.20).

The reality of God being with us came home very strongly to my wife Linda and I during our recent extended stay in Israel caused by visa problems. Not only did we base ourselves at a guesthouse called Beit Immanuel (Beit = house) but we also learnt perhaps as never before that He really is ‘with you’ when you trust him absolutely.

After all, we weren’t even sure if our bank account could stand up to the pressure, but in the midst of the storm, when the wind and tide is against you, Jesus comes into your boat and says: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Mark 6.50)

When you cast all your cares on him, he does indeed care for you. (1 Peter 5.7) He is in control – even over immigration officials and government departments.

And so we were able to enjoy the extra rest, relaxation and beachside restaurants the Lord had graciously provided for us. And documents we needed to board our re-booked flight home arrived in the nick of time – God isn’t in a hurry, but he is punctual. He came at just the right time for you and I to receive him and make him Lord of our lives.

The Apostle John records: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1.11-14)

The new-born King of 2,000 years ago desires to make his presence known this Christmas with many new-born believers!

Why not turn the words of this carol into a personal prayer? “Oh holy child of Bethlehem, descend to me I pray; cast out my sin and enter in, be born in me today.”

A Christmas market in Jesus' hometown of Nazareth. (Sebi Berens/FLASH90)


Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com

 

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Israeli Papers See Victory in Seeming Defeat at UN General Assembly

As anyone could have predicted, the UN General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution effectively condemning the United States for daring to recognize the obvious - that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel.

Nevertheless, Israeli officials and newspapers were able to find more than a silver lining.

As former Israel Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor explained in an op-ed for the daily Israel Hayom, it wasn't about actually defeating the General Assembly motion:

"There are those who might see the vote tally yesterday and conclude it was a loss for Israel and the US, but that would be a mistake.

"The automatic majority against Israel passes 22 resolutions a year by a wide margin and will continue to do so. The fight in the General Assembly isn’t over whether a resolution will pass or not. That’s a lost battle. The fight is over how much it will be by and on the quality of the side standing with truth, morality and justice, and yesterday, that side was significant."

Indeed, Thursday's vote was much less of an "overwhelming" condemnation of a pro-Israel move that similar votes in the past.

Nine nations, including Israel and the US, obviously opposed the resolution. Most of the other friendly votes came from Pacific island nations.

What marked a major shift were the 35 nations that chose to abstain, whether because their views are shifting, or because US President Donald Trump threatened to cut their financial aid if they didn't.

Either way, it is something of a victory for Israel.

If these nations are changing their tune regarding Jerusalem, that's a clear win for the Jewish state and its historical claims.

But even if the abstentions were primarily out of fear of Trump, that's still a very positive outcome for Israel.

All the belly-aching over Trump and his brashness aside, the simple reality is that there can never be a true final status agreement to this conflict unless the world's sole superpower, the United States, supports it, if not sponsors it.

And that superpower has now signaled loud and clear that it won't back any agreement that fails to fully take into account Israel's claims and concerns.

That was the conclusion reached by columnist Noah Kliger in Israel's best-selling daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot:

"Victory pronouncements won’t help the non-state of Palestine or its leader — even Mahmoud Abbas understands that he absorbed a harsh blow yesterday, and if he ever wants a sovereign Palestinian state, he will have no choice but to accept Israel’s conditions."

 

Nikki Haley: America is Moving Embassy to Jerusalem. Period.

 

"Fond Grandpa" Extra Virgin Olive Oil At 25% Discount

With blue-white "Made in Israel" stamp: Cold pressed and high quality selected olives from the Galilee region. With the quality seal for Israeli olive oil.

The "Saba Habib" company (Fond Grandpa) has been producing quality Galilee products since 1913. Their flagship product is their Olive Oil. The recipe has been passed down through the generations for more than 100 years.

 

Jewish Youths Arrested for Praying on Temple Mount. But Was It Illegal?

It's not entirely uncommon for Jewish activists to ascend Jerusalem's Temple Mount, pray there and then be arrested for their troubles.

But it's also not legal. The arrests, that is.

Israel Police officers get around the fact that there's no law forbidding Jews from praying anywhere they please by claiming those doing so atop the Temple Mount are "disturbing public order" by potentially provoking a violent Muslim response.

For most people, the debate should end right there. "Public order" is supposed to include freedom of worship. Those responding to that freedom with outbursts of violence should be the ones held accountable for disturbing public order.

But we digress.

On Wednesday, three Israeli Jewish youths went up to the Temple Mount and recited the "Shema Israel" prayer taken from Deuteronomy 6:4.

They were immediately arrested and taken in for hours of questioning. The youths were later released, but ordered to attend an administrative hearing where they are expected to be forbidden from future visits to Judaism's holiest site.

The boys' lawyer, Nati Rom of the Honenu legal aid group, firmly decried this state of affairs in remarks to Israel National News:

"Unfortunately, Israel Police arrests young boys, when their only crime was that they expressed their faith and prayed in a holy place. This type of arrest must never happen, especially since there is no law forbidding Jews from praying on the Temple Mount."

 

Arab Leader Wonders Why Everyone's Bickering Over Jerusalem, Anyway

The Foreign Minister of Bahrain on Wednesday suggested that who controls Jerusalem is little more than a "side issue" that shouldn't be derailing the international community, and especially the Arab world, from focusing on more pertinent issues.

If US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem declaration was a major win for Israel, then getting the bulk of the international community to publicly oppose that move has been a comparable victory for the Palestinians.

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday was set to vote on a resolution effectively condemning Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa wondered why everyone was going through such trouble over what a growing number of Arabs and Muslims are admitting isn't really such an important topic for them.

Especially when doing so is only going to anger Trump and risk American commitment to combatting real threats in the Middle East.

"It’s not helpful to pick a fight with the USA over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of The Theo-Fascist Islamic republic," tweeted Al-Khalifa.

Proponents of the Palestinian cause have long tried to inflate the position of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in Islam, and thereby paint Israel's sovereignty in this city as an affront to their religion.

But, a couple years ago, renowned Egyptian scholar and novelist Youssef Ziedan acknowledged in a series of television interviews that Jerusalem holds no religious significance for Muslims.

Today, it is common to hear that Jerusalem is Islam's third holiest city, being the location of the "Al Aqsa Mosque" referred to the in the Koran.

Ziedan said the whole thing is nonsense:

"The Al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] did not exist back then, and the city was not called Al-Quds. It was called Aelia, and it had no mosques."

He is far from being alone in that position.

 

"Zionism Live"

Greening the desert is not just a gesture, but primarily a sign of connection to land and soil. Many people see an opportunity to personally participate in the fulfillment of biblical promises by planting olive trees. "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus" (Isaiah 35:1)

Our olive grove will be planted sometime between the Jewish New Year for Trees (end of January 2018) and Passover (end of March 2018) in cooperation with our agriculturist Oren Shalom. We are currently preparing the entire infrastructure and irrigation systems for this purpose. The exact date on which the olive trees will be planted planted will be announce in due time, so that those who would like to personally participate in the tree planting can fly to Israel and plant their own olive tree in the sandy soil. This is an idea that several Israeli friends have suggested.

This weekend we will drive south to Nitzana and discuss technicalities and strategy with Oren to make this project succeed. We love projects like this because that's "Zionism Live". Believe me, seeing a green patch in the desert, is something unique. This happened ten years ago when we established our vineyard and now once again with the olive grove - thanks to your efforts. The desert is alive and blooming! We will keep you up to date and informed.

Shabbat Shalom!

In honor of Israel's upcoming 70th anniversary year, to sponsor a tree will cost only $70 instead of $95. You could make it a family effort by sponsoring seven trees as a family and we will plant an eighth tree free! Your personal planting certificate in your name will be sent to you by mail as soon as possible.

 

Trump Admin Threatens Repercussions for Nations That Oppose Jerusalem Decision

After the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the nations of the world vowed to take the matter to the broader General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.

The Trump Admin warned that these nations would do better to keep their mouths shut.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (pictured praying at the Western Wall) said that when the General Assembly votes on the resolution on Thursday, Washington "will be taking names" of those countries that vote in favor.

Haley expounded on her threat in a letter sent to several fellow UN ambassadors, which read:

"The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue."

After exercising America's veto power in the Security Council, Trump's fiery envoy berated the international community for putting forward such a resolution in the first place, calling it an "insult" that "won't be forgotten."

The resolution doesn't call out the United States by name, but rather laments recent changes to an international status quo that has long denied Jewish historical and religious claims to Jerusalem.

The upcoming vote in the General Assembly does not carry the same legal weight as that in the Security Council, but it also can't be vetoed.

PHOTO: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley prays reverently at the Western Wall during her visit to Jerusalem in June of this year. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

 

Where People Close Doors To Us, God Opens Gates!

We will be celebrating Israel's 70th Independence Day with our group and will not miss this moment for anything.

At the same time we, as a news agency, are planning a jubilee edition in the spring of 2018, with which we would like to address as many people as possible. Bringing Israel to the world is not easy and is becoming more difficult in Christian circles than many think.

Many Christian organizations have rejected cooperation with Israel today in recent years? And the reason? Israel Today is much too direct in its message on the topic of Israel and is too controversial compared with the Christian message. Why? It does not have to be that way!

Where people close doors to us, God opens gates, we really believe this. Together, we can increase the distribution of Israel Today's Jubilee edition in the spring and bring new people into contact with Israel.

 

Palestinian Girl Arrested For Repeatedly Slapping Israeli Soldier

Israelis were furious when a video clip showing two young Palestinians girls physically abusing an IDF soldier went viral over the weekend.

On Monday night, the army balanced the scales by arresting the girl who had instigated the troubling encounter.

Many Israelis have long complained that restrictive rules of engagement permit Palestinian Arabs to molest IDF soldiers with impunity. The goal of these provocateurs, of course, is to elicit a violent response from the soldiers, which can then be used to further smear the Jewish state on the international stage.

More often than not, those directly confronting the soldiers are Palestinian children, and the Israelis' standard refusal to take the bait negates the common narrative of the IDF being "child-killers," which is why such incidents rarely receive media coverage.

Such was the case last Friday. The video shows the two Israeli soldiers maintaining their composure while taking multiple blows, before slowly slinking away from the scene.

The primary instigator has been identified as 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who has in recent years made a name for herself in multiple videotaped provocations of Israeli soldiers.

Tamimi was arrested and taken in for questioning.


 

Trump Uses First UNSC Veto to Defend Jerusalem Decision

The Trump Administration on Monday exercised its very first veto in the UN Security Council, and it was done to defend Israel's claim to Jerusalem.

The Security Council had gathered to vote on a resolution effectively condemning the United States for publicly recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The document expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem," a clear reference to US President Donald Trump's declaration earlier this month that Washington now officially considers the Holy City to be the capital of the Jewish state.

The 14 other members of the Security Council all voted in favor of the resolution. US Ambassador Nikki Haley's "no" vote then sent it to the trash bin.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately published a video message thanking Trump and Haley for taking such a bold stand.

Haley told the council that Trump's America will continue to defend Israel "without reluctance." She also put the world body on notice, stating that "will not be told, by any country, where we will put our embassy. ...What happened today at the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten."

 

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Exploiting Freedom of the Press to Kill Jews

Despite the fact that freedom of the press in Israel is lightyears ahead of that in any neighboring country, including the Palestinian Authority, antagonists still find excuses to criticize the Jewish state in this regard.

The truth is that Israel often finds itself in need of rethinking absolute freedom of the press given how often it's exploited to do harm to the nation.

That was literally the case last Friday when a Palestinian terrorist pretended to be a journalist in order to get close enough to Israeli police officers to stab one nearly to death.

The terrorist huddled up with a group of foreign and local reporters at a junction outside the city of Ramallah and waited for his prey to stroll close enough.

An Israel Police spokesperson stated: "The terrorist used the media as a cover to prepare for the attack and ran toward the officers from where the press was gathered."

Once officers were within range, 29-year-old Mohammed Aqal pounced, stabbing one Israeli twice in the upper body.

Aqal was also wearing a phony bomb vest, though it remains unclear why, since he then tried to flee the scene, only to have additional officers fearful that he'd detonate what they thought to be a real bomb shoot and kill him.

Israel said it had no intention of putting restrictions on press access in response to this serious incident, but did warn that the terrorists were as much a threat to actual journalists as they are to Israeli soldiers.

"The Israel Police and Border Police will continue to operate in all areas and at the same time will continue to let the foreign media cover events, despite the threat caused by Palestinian terrorists."

PHOTO: A Palestinian terrorist (circled) hides amongst a group of journalists. (Israel Police)

 

Peace Amidst the Chaos

Predictable fury has erupted in the wake of President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Days of rage, incited by Palestinian leaders, have been accompanied by a chorus of condemnation from European and other political chiefs – with the honourable exception of the Czech Republic and some African countries.

And it’s all about simply acknowledging a fact of history – that Jerusalem has links with Israel going back at least 3,000 years and has long been regarded by Jews everywhere as their capital. But this is disputed by much of the Arab world and beyond.

So, tragically, violence once more spoils the precious scene of Christ’s nativity – he was born in Bethlehem, just five miles from the disputed city – just when billions of believers are about to celebrate his birth there some 2,000 years ago.

Although he was, and is, the Prince of Peace prophesied by Isaiah 700 years earlier, Jesus did also say that even members of the same family would be divided over him (Luke 12.49-53), and it was prophesied over the new-born king that he would be a sign spoken against (Luke 2.34). The peace is felt by those who choose his rule over their lives.

The Bible asks: “Why do the nations rage (or conspire) and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles’.” (Psalm 2.1-3)

But the One enthroned in heaven is not impressed, declaring: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” (verse 6)

These ancient words of Scripture perfectly mirror the rebellious, murderous reaction to God’s purposes today. The psalmist adds: “Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.” (verses 10 & 11)

Notice the phrase, “let us throw off their shackles,” which speaks of the rebellion against God’s rule through much of what was formerly known as Western civilization, built up as such on the foundations of the Christian gospel.

Discipleship of the One born in a “cattle shed” in David’s “royal city” comes down to faith in God and the courage of our convictions.

Like him or loathe him, President Trump has chosen to surround himself with advisors who have this kind of faith and know the importance of doing the right thing, even if unpopular and liable to cause outrage in the short term.

I have a wonderful friend from Morecambe in Lancashire called Mollie who has a very feisty, practical faith. When she got burgled recently, and the police called round to take a statement and give her a “crime number”, she was told not to expect to get anything back as her case would be filed in a drawer and probably forgotten about. This is not a criticism of our hard-pressed police, who are short-staffed and run ragged by a spiralling crime rate.

However, Mollie would not accept that faithless outlook and boldly declared to the man in uniform that God was able to restore her stolen items.

Next day, to her astonishment, her neighbourhood was crawling with police searching for clues and, in no time at all, she was rewarded for her faith with a pile of returned items including her precious coat.

Another inspiring example of faith is that of William Cooke who, as a 15-year-old lad from Yorkshire, went on a short-term mission to Mexico, and while staying at a children’s home there, told his youth leader that God had spoken to him and that he would return to Mexico as a missionary one day. It happened just as he said and today, after nearly 20 years of serving in that country – currently running a home for abandoned children, he and his wife Katie have won state recognition with a $12,000 award for outstanding service to social care.

Jesus said that we could “move mountains” through faith in God (Mark 11.22-25).

In fact, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11.6)

It’s important to note that the Hebrews 11 focus of the long list of our spiritual forebears who exemplified great faith was not on the things of this world, but on the heavenly glory to come.

Israel was built on the faith of Abraham and his seed while punishment in the form of repeated exile followed rebellion against God’s ways.

Peace on earth – especially in the Middle East – will certainly not be built on the secular/humanist philosophies of Western or any other leaders who seem unable even to settle sharp differences within their own political parties. It will come only by recognising the One who is meant to be what Christmas is all about – “the reason for the season”, the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ.

You can know his peace within your heart today, and you can look forward to the peace he will bring to earth when he returns to reign from Jerusalem! (Zechariah 14.4-9, Isaiah 11.6-9) There will be no dispute about who rules the city then.

Happy Christmas!


Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com

 

Israel Threatens to Return Lebanon to the 'Stone Age'

In a rare interview with Saudi Arabian media, a top Israeli government minister last week threatened to return neighboring Lebanon "to the Stone Age."

Israel Intelligence Affairs Minister Yisrael Katz was speaking to the Saudi online newspaper Elaph when he was asked about the threat of increased Iranian arms supplies to Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist militia.

"The more accurate that Hezbollah's missiles get, the stronger and wider Israel's strike will be," Katz warned. "What happened in 2006 will be a picnic compared to what we can do. I remember a Saudi minister saying they will send Hezbollah back to their caves in south Lebanon. I am telling you that we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age."

Israel has expressed growing concern that Iran is exploiting Syria's ongoing civil war to bolster its own military presence in both that country and neighboring Lebanon, all with the purpose of eventually making good on its promise to wipe Israel off the map.

Saudi Arabia, too, does not look kindly on Iranian expansionism, and the topic has led to increased cooperation between the oil-rich Arab kingdom and the Jewish state.

Katz went so far as to suggest Israel would be happy to see Saudi Arabia take a leading role in Middle East peace negotiations. He also publicly invited Saudi Arabia's progressive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Israel.

 

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Living in an Unabashedly Religious Society

This article was first posted in December 2016. As we are again in the midst of celebrating Hanukkah, we thought it would be of relevance to our readers.

I’ve been in Israel a long time now. But it still never ceases to amaze me, having come from the “Christian” West, how unabashedly religious Israeli society can be.

Now, take note that we live in a secular part of town, and all the people around us are “secular” Jews.

And yet, at my 5-year-old’s Hanukkah party today the entire class and all the parents were belting out a popular Israeli rendition of Psalm 147:12–13, which reads:

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you.

My daughter does not attend a private school. This is a public, taxpayer-funded kindergarten. And as a matter of course they teach the children to acknowledge and praise God.

And since it was Hanukkah, I was also again struck by how openly Israel hails its national heroes, in this case the leaders of the Maccabean Revolt that brought about the restoration of the Temple.

I simply can’t imagine this taking place today in my home country of America.

Children can barely mention the word “God” in school, let alone pray. And any teacher who dared to actually instruct his or her students to acknowledge the Most High would be dismissed on the spot.

The attitude toward national heroes is similar. Sure, American students learn about their nation’s historical figures and what they did. But there is no praise and adoration, no deep desire to emulate those actions.

I have never seen an American child praise the exploits of say, Theodor Roosevelt, in the way I see these kids every year lifting aloft the memory of Judah Maccabee.

It simply wouldn’t be politically correct.

 

Pomegranate Liqueur From The Galilee Now at 25% discount

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After Backing Israel, Trump Admin Engages in War of Words With Palestinian Leader

The Palestinian leadership has predictably responded to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital with outrage.

It matters not that Trump explicitly only recognized the reality of Israel's governing institutions being situated on the eastern side of Jerusalem, and very conspicuously refrained from referring to the city as Israel's "undivided" capital.

For the Palestinian leadership, even the acknowledgement of the obvious was a step too far.

Since Trump's declaration, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that the United States is no longer acceptable to his regime as the primary Middle East peace mediator.

Abbas has gone so far as to threaten to void past agreements brokered by Washington, which would be nearly all of those signed under the so-called "Oslo" peace process.

"The United States has chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator … We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process," Abbas told an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul.

"We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today," he continued.

The Trump White House fired back by noting that Abbas volatile rhetoric and his regime's ongoing incitement against Israel is what's really preventing peace.

An unnamed White House official told reporters: "This rhetoric, which has prevented peace for years, is not surprising as we anticipated reactions like this."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was similarly unimpressed by Abbas' blustering.

"Palestinians had better face up to reality and strive for peace rather than escalation," Netanyahu said at an event in Jerusalem this week. "The truth will eventually prevail, and many nations will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move their embassies."

 

Hamas Fires Rockets at Israel, But Ends Up Damaging Only a UN School

Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired four rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday, but all they managed to damage was one of their own UN-run schools.

Two of the rockets were identified as genuine threats and intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.

A third rocket landed in an open field, and the fourth fell short of clearing the Gaza security fence and instead impacted the United Nations-run Ghazi al-Shawa public school in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

Despite the lack of casualties or damage on the Israeli side, the IDF launched a fierce retaliation, striking three Hamas military installations.

Israeli officials insisted that if there would be no quiet for the residents of southern Israel, then there would be no quiet for the residents of Gaza.

 

Let's Not Forget Israel's "Lone Soldiers" This Hanukkah!

We thank you for your generous donations to our "Lone Soldiers" so far, and especially now at Hanukkah, the time of miracles, we urge you to support our soldiers with an aid package!

Your help gives the "Lone Soldiers" a sense of security - if you donate now, the support packages can be handed out at the end of December just in time to celebrate New Year!

Let Israel's "Lone Soldiers" share in a homely, festive atmosphere by sending them one of our support packages. As a special bonus and token of your solidarity we will give you a FREE Tzahal hooded sweatshirt!

 

Jesus Debated in Israel as in the Days of Paul

Transcript from session at Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv reveals shocking debate over faith in Jesus.

The full article appears in the December 2017 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all!

 

Israeli Jew Who Burned Iconic Galilee Church Gets 4 Years in Prison

A Jewish extremist behind the 2015 arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication on the shores of the Sea of Galilee has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The Nazareth District Court also ordered Yinon Reuveni to pay a fine of NIS 50,000 ($14,000).

The State Prosecutor's Office had wanted to hand Reuveni an unprecedented nine-year jail term in order to make an example of him and deter any further attacks on local Christians.

Reuveni's lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir, complained that even the four-year sentence was exaggerated, considering that in recent cases Arab Muslims who torched synagogues were only given two years in prison.

Earlier this year, Israel President Reuven Rivlin helped reopen the fully restored Church of the Multiplication, stating:

"We stand up for religious freedom because, as a people, we know very well what it means to suffer religious persecution. And we stand up for religious freedom because we are a democratic state – who believe in the rights for everyone to worship God according to their belief.

"The last time I was here, we stood together and looked at the burnt walls and the terrible graffiti. Today, I visit here again, and see the renewal of this historic, special, and holy place. I want to thank all the people who worked hard to restore this place, and to say clearly; that hate cannot win."

PHOTO: Yinon Reuveni hears his verdict at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on December 12, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

 

Israel to Deport 40,000 Illegal Immigrants

Israel's Knesset on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill empowering the government to bypass the Supreme Court and deport more than 40,000 illegal immigrants.

The bill, approved by a 71-41 vote, will also close the illegal immigrant detention facility in the central town of Holon.

Over the past decade, some 60,000 illegal immigrants have entered Israel, most of them via the southern border with Egypt.

Most of the migrants come from northeastern African countries like Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. While some are legitimate refugees, most are economic migrants.

In 2012, Israel constructed an advanced border fence along its frontier with Egypt which drastically reduced the number of illegal immigrants entering the country.

Simultaneously, the government tried to reduce the number of illegals in the country by offering them monetary incentives to return home. But many didn't take the offer, and the Supreme Court blocked the government from forcibly deporting them.

The court also ruled that the government could only detain the illegals for up to 12 months, meaning that those who could endure a full year of internment could then remain freely in Israel indefinitely.

 

Tens of Thousands Attend Funeral of Top Israeli Rabbi

Possibly as many as 100,000 people on Tuesday attended the funeral of Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, one of Israel's most respected religious figures.

Since 2012, Steinman served as the governing legal authority of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Jewry in Israel, though he was venerated by most Jewish sects in the country.

While respected, many in the Orthodox community also criticized Steinman for being too "conciliatory" toward secular society and the Israeli government. For instance, Steinman was rumored to have quietly approved of young religious Jews joining the IDF and entering the Israeli workforce.

Following Steinman's passing at the age of 104, Israel President Reuven Rivlin said:

"Our teacher, the brilliant Rabbi Steiman, was a leader who bore the entire weight of the Jewish people’s existence on his shoulders.

"A Torah giant and a teacher who gave thousands and tens of thousands of people direction in their lives in their lives. Despite his firm positions, he knew how to convey his ideas gently, in a pleasant manner, and with a great love of the Jewish people.

"The rabbi was a tremendously dedicated learner, a genius of Torah, kindhearted and generous, rich with the experiences of long life. He was a man whose wisdom was exceeded only by his humility."

 

Who Would Not Appreciate Your Own Olive Tree In Israel?

Vineyards and olive groves belong together in the Promised Land. When the nation of Israel entered the promised land, vineyards and olive groves were exactly what was found (Deut. 6:11). Israel was a land of olive trees (Deuteronomy 8:8). Olive oil was used by priests and prophets for ceremonial use in the temple. Kings were anointed with olive oil and Messiah means the anointed one. Olive trees symbolize the connection between people and land. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul calls Israel the root and the Christians from the nations as the grafted in branches. The fact that an olive branch symbolizes peace is not coincidental.

Archaeological excavations in Israel have revealed ancient olive presses dating back more than 5000 years. Evidence that Israel may have been the cradle of olive husbandry from where the practice spread throughout the Mediterranean countries. There are approx. 35000 hectares of olive groves spread over the country producing 20000 tons of olive oil annually. Olive groves are however rarely seen cultivated in the Negev desert!

For this reason, and in honor of Israel's 70th anniversary, Israel Today wants to create an olive grove. We will be setting aside two hectares for the purpose in the same area that we established our vineyard in Kadesh Barnea ten tears ago. Trusting in God and being led by the Zionist and pioneering spirit of greening the Land of Israel.



 

Netanyahu Meets European Leaders, Sets Them Straight on Jerusalem

Netanyahu's remarks on Jerusalem start around the 5-minute mark.

 

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