Netanyhu's Speech: The Calm After the Storm

Netanyhu's Speech: The Calm After the Storm

In a well timed visit to Nir Moshe, a village near the Gaza border, Yitzhak Herzog, leader of the Labor Party-led "Zionist Camp" lambasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even as the latter was addressing the US Congress on Tuesday.

Netanyahu's speech, said Herzog, "severely sabotages Israel’s relations with the US." This marked a grating climax to a fierce political debate that had raged in Israel since US House Speaker John Boehner first invited Netanyahu, without White House consent, back on January 21.

As expected, arguments for and against Netanyahu’s speech were made along partisan lines. Those on the Right argued that, as Boehner had said, there was no one better qualified than Netanyahu to explain the dangers of the proposed "Iran deal." One the Left, the planned speech was panned as a pre-election scheme that would needlessly further agitate the already strained relations between Israel and the White House.

Herzog's description of Netanyahu as a saboteur signaled the rhetorical escalation depicting Netanyahu, and not Iran’s Supreme Leader, as most dangerous to Israel’s future. Naturally, this topsy-turvy logic was nourished by the Obama Administration.

Following the speech there was a sense of agreement among many Israelis that their prime minister had performed impressively. Omer Bar-Lev of the Labor Party said he could only dream of possessing Netanyahu's rhetorical skills, and others couldn't but agree with him.

But that’s where agreement over the speech ended. Israel’s Ynet news portal, a bitter critic of Netanyahu, chose the headline "Dr. Strangelove in Congress" to express its contempt toward the prime minister. The write-up played on metaphors used by American commentators like CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Though grasping at the coattails of leading American liberals seemed a rather desperate attempt to cling to a predetermined view.

Israel Hayom, the only Israeli newspaper openly supportive of Netanyahu, used Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s words to describe the speech, headlining their lead story "Well Arranged, Thorough and Shuddering." Rather than quoting American pundits, the newspaper cited right-wing Members of Knesset like Danny Danon and Ayelet Shaked, who complimented Netanyahu on a job well done.

And yet, comments following the speech were surprisingly sparse. It was like the calm after the storm, which just goes to show that perhaps the commotion surrounding Netanyahu's speech was nothing more than the same old political opportunism.

The calm may also suggests that as good as it was, Netanyahu's speech was unlikely to affect the upcoming elections or the Iran deal.

 

'Obama Must Satisfy Netanyahu's Concerns'

'Obama Must Satisfy Netanyahu's Concerns'

While not taking a side in the debate over whether or not Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right to address the US Congress in defiance of the White House, The Washington Post on Wednesday said President Barack Obama must nevertheless provide real answers to the Israeli leader’s “legitimate questions” regarding the Iran nuclear threat.

In his much-anticipated speech, Netanyahu noted that the deal the Obama Administration is currently negotiating with Iran would leave the latter in possession of a massive nuclear infrastructure and would put a time limit on any punitive sanctions should Tehran fail to comply.

Given those conditions, and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) confirmation that Iran has concealed significant portions of its nuclear program, Netanyahu argued convincingly that Washington was in effect “paving Iran’s path to the bomb.”

What’s more, Israel fears Obama could spark a Middle East nuclear arms race by tacitly accepting Iran as a nuclear power.

“Rather than continuing its political attacks on Mr. Netanyahu, the [Obama] administration ought to explain why the deal it is contemplating is justified — or reconsider it,” the Post recommended.

Unsurprisingly, Obama tried to downplay what many called a “historic” speech by Netanyahu, pointing out in an interview with Reuters that “as far as I can tell, there was nothing new,” and criticizing the Israeli leader for failing to “offer any viable alternatives” to the deal he is negotiating.

US House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was even more aggressive in her rebuttal, labeling Netanyahu’s speech “an insult to the intelligence of the United States.” Pelosi claimed to have almost cried over the perceived “condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran.”

But the position taken by Obama and Pelosi appears to have been shared by very few outside of Iran, which likewise dismissed the Israeli leader’s address as “boring and repetitive.”

During the speech itself, Netanyahu received no fewer than 26 standing ovations, despite saying “nothing new.” And in addition to widespread accolades in the US, Netanyahu found unlikely support from the Arab press.

“Despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei,” wrote Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of the English-language website of pan-Arab news agency Al Arabiya.

A day before the speech, a leading columnist for the Saudi daily newspaper Al Jazirah said someone had to take a bold stand against “the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents,” and insisted that Netanyahu’s appearance before the US Congress was beneficial for all peace-loving people of the Middle East.

 

Even Saudis Want Netanyahu to Address Congress

Even Saudis Want Netanyahu to Address Congress

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared on Tuesday to address the US Congress regarding the Iran threat, in direct defiance of the Obama White House, at least one nation outside of Israel was supportive of the move: Saudi Arabia.

Writing in the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Jazirah on Monday, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj called Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress under such circumstances “unprecedented in US political history.”

Obama Administration officials and Netanyahu’s political rivals in Israel insisted the speech is a mistake and would only serve to damage US-Israel relations. But Dr. Al-Faraj said the Israeli leader was providing a vital service not only to the Jewish state, but the entire Middle East.

“I am very glad of Netanyahu’s firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress, despite the Obama administration’s anger and fury,” wrote the Saudi. “I believe that Netanyahu’s conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents.”

Al-Faraj hinted Obama’s naive and dangerous behavior in the Middle East had necessitated someone like Netanyahu taking a bold stand.

“…Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and…he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations,” he wrote, suggesting that any deal struck by this particular American president could simply not be trusted.

 

WATCH: Netanyahu in Lightsaber Duel With Obama

WATCH: Netanyahu in Lightsaber Duel With Obama

Never missing an opportunity to poke fun at the most serious of situations, Israelis have likened the current mounting tension between their own government and the Obama White House to the rift in the Jedi Order in the Star Wars movies.

Israeli comedy production company Hafakot 101 has produced a short Facebook video clip superimposing the likenesses of Netanyahu, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennet and US President Barack Obama on the characters participating in the climactic lightsaber duel at the end of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Retitled Jew Wars Episode 7: Revenge of the White House, the clip even includes a surprise guest appearance by David Ben-Gurion, who arrives just in time to save his fellow Israelis from the evil Obama.

Check it out:

OBAMA VS BIBI Jew Wars from 101 productions on Vimeo.



 

The Divided Loyalties of American Jewry

The Divided Loyalties of American Jewry

Why do American Jews vote for the Democratic Party and against the more conservative Republican Party? And why are Jews in America unfriendly toward Christians?

The full article appears in the March 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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The King of Israel Goes to Washington on Purim

The King of Israel Goes to Washington on Purim

With Purim just days away, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu preparing to address the US Congress tomorrow, we present this analogy of Israel’s past and present dealing with the Persian threat and associated world leaders.

And so it came to pass that the people rose up and declared to the Prime Minister of Israel, “O Mighty Minister of Israel, go now, even on the eve of Purim, March 3, 2015, and speak to that Man in the White House. Remind him once again of the plots and plans of that evil Tyrant of Teheran. Tell him, O Minister, of his devises to bring devastation, annihilation and destruction upon the Jewish people in all the lands that they dwell.”

“My dear people,” replied the Chief Minister of Israel, “Have I not already these many times entered into the Chambers of that Man in the White House. Indeed, I have gone down to Washington already these two times in 2012 and 2013 on the Festival of Purim to warn him of the Persian plots to destroy our people. Yea, have I not made it clear to all that that Teheranian Warlord will bring his sword not only upon my people, but upon the peoples of many nations?

“Amen, amen I say to you, I have warned all those with ears to hear of the schemes the terrible Tyrant of Teheran is plotting even now with the wicked Hezbollah, Hamas and other evil Jihadists, and of their violence and venom that has spread throughout many lands. I have shown them in detail of the new weapon of mass destruction being built in Teheran, a weapon more powerful than our chariots and horses. A weapon so great that it will turn the sun into darkness and the moon to blood, even as the prophets have spoken.

“But alas, the Man in the White House has not called on me these many months. He is now even refusing to allow me into his chambers and has sent his eunuchs and many other servants warning me not to come.

“Indeed a multitude of false media reports, as many as the grains of sand of the sea, have been spread throughout all the lands declaring that I am to be shunned and disregarded. My own people have believed the lies and they will cast me out of their presence and a new Prime Minister of Israel will arise, a leader who knows not the evil Persia. I cannot go!”

“O Mighty Minister of Israel,” shouted the people. “Who can we send but you? Who can speak of the evil deeds of Teheran’s tyranny? You alone have grown up in those troubled lands and come face to face with these evil powers fighting them with your own hands. You can bring light to that which is hidden in the darkness.”

And so it came to pass, that the King of Israel took it upon himself to go down to Washington on the Eve of Purim. And many peoples shouted this and that, but the King of Israel would not heed their complaints. Indeed, all of the shouting only strengthened his resolve to speak with greater immediacy and authority.

The Man in the White House, however, was afraid of what the King would say. And so he ran, hid in his chambers, locked the doors and stuck his fingers into his ears. But alas, the words of the King of Israel were so loud that they penetrated even unto the House and the Kingdom of America was in an uproar that their Emperor had acted so foolishly closing his ears to the King of Israel, his closest ally.

And it came to pass that once again salvation came to the Jews from another source. For the Lord threw the enemies of Israel into confusion and they began to fight each other. Muslim against Muslim, Shiites fought with Sunnis, Iraqis against Iraqis, Syrian against Syrians. And the Lord allowed yet another rinky-dink Islamic State to fight with all the other Muslim nations, who then began fighting back until all hell broke loose in the Middle East. And it came to pass that only Israel remained, unto this day, a place of joy and everlasting security under the wings of the Most High.

 

Christian Soldier: I Defend Israel, I Have No Other Home

Christian Soldier: I Defend Israel, I Have No Other Home

News has been swirling that ISIS is again on the rampage against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Reports indicate that no fewer than 35 Assyrian Christian villages have been targeted in northeastern Syria in recent weeks. Most of these villages are now empty of inhabitants. The lucky ones fled, but dozens and perhaps hundreds have been abducted by ISIS and await a grizzly fate.

Those monitoring Arab media reported last week that at least 15 of the Assyrian Christians taken by ISIS have already been publicly beheaded because they had dared to take up arms in defense of their homes.

In posting that story to Facebook, a young Israeli Christian named George said it was a harsh reminder of why he and so many young Israeli Christians like him willingly and happily volunteer to serve in the Israeli army.

“I will continue to defend and protect the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, the Holy Land,” wrote George. “I have no other country,” he added, echoing the Jewish cry for the Land of Israel.

George further noted how ludicrous it was for activists on campuses around the world to protest Israel as an “apartheid” state when he and other Arabic-speaking Christians are free to speak out and defend this nation, even as fellow Christians are butchered just for being Christians in a neighboring country.

The young Christian soldier’s words were posted to the Facebook page of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, which encourages local Aramean Christian youth to serve in the IDF as a first step toward full integration with Israeli Jewish society.

PHOTO: Father Gabriel Naddaf, spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, joins several young Arabic-speaking Aramean Christians as they are inducted into the Israel Defense Forces.

 

'European Jews Have Been Abandoned'

'European Jews Have Been Abandoned'

Amidst calls from Israeli leaders for Europe’s Jews to make aliyah en masse, and counter-calls from European leaders for their Jewish constituents to stay put, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says all arguments aside, the growing threat of Islamic terrorism in Europe is making a mass Jewish migration inevitable.

“It is time to tell the truth - the Jews of Europe have been abandoned. The security afforded Jews in most of those countries is a joke. And they [the Jews] aren’t even permitted to arm and protect themselves.”

That according to Foreign Ministry officials following a terrorist shooting outside a Copenhagen synagogue in which an unarmed volunteer Jewish guard, Dan Ozen, was killed.

Senior Israeli officials spoke of an almost criminal approach to Europe’s treatment of Jewish communities that want only to protect themselves.

“The Europeans refuse to recognize the fact that Islamic terrorism is anti-Semitic because they want to remain politically correct and not upset the Muslim community in Europe,” said one Foreign Ministry official. “Without a proper diagnosis, there can be no treatment.”

Another senior staffer at the Foreign Ministry added: “There are some European countries that are doing more, and there are some that are doing less. But all of them need to improve security. No nation is immune to terrorism, but what is happening today in many European nations is the result of being irresponsible. The writing is on the wall, and the Europeans need to wake up.”

In Israel, there is fear that the recent string of attacks is just the beginning. As far as Jerusalem is concerned, there is a clear and worrying pattern whereby the Islamists first attack European values such as freedom of speech (see the recent shooting at Charlie Hebdo), and immediately after take aim at the Jews.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that these recent attacks “prove what we have been saying for years, that Israel and the Jews absorb these attacks first because we are the frontline in the war against terrorists that are ultimately targeting the entire free world.”

Lieberman insisted that Western nations “must not be satisfied with strong announcements and mass rallies against terror, but must shake loose of political correctness and launch an all-out war against Islamic terrorism and its roots.”

European Union officials have actually been attentive to the criticism coming out of Israel, and for the first time have invited Israeli officials to join a dialogue in Brussels next month regarding intelligence coordination in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

Israel initially requested this dialogue amidst concerns that European citizens who are today fighting for ISIS will soon return to Europe and attack Jewish and Israeli targets there.

 

Communists, Nationalist and Jihadists

Communists, Nationalist and Jihadists

A change to Israeli electoral laws has forced the smaller Arab parties to form a United List that could give communists, Palestinian nationalist and jihadists influence over Israel's future.

The full article appears in the March 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Report: Saudis Ready to Help Israel Attack Iran

Report: Saudis Ready to Help Israel Attack Iran

European officials say that Saudi Arabia is just as concerned as Israel over the details of the nuclear agreement the Obama Administration is currently negotiating with Iran, and is even prepared to facilitate an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, should it come to that.

“The Saudis have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi air space en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary,” an unnamed senior European diplomat was cited as saying by Israel’s Channel 2 News.

The source added that Saudi Arabia is “completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran.”

The one condition Riyadh reportedly had for providing this kind of assistance is some kind of tangible progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The report, if credible, is a major blow to the Obama Administration, which insists that Israel’s urgent criticism of its proposed deal with Iran is unwarranted.

“Anybody running around right now jumping in to say, ‘Well we don’t like the deal,’ or this or that, doesn’t know what the deal is,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, responded by suggesting that perhaps it’s Kerry that lacks the full picture.

“We know all we need to know, and we have an excellent picture of the negotiations,” Steinitz told Israeli media. “Maybe [Kerry] doesn’t know everything we know.”

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook Praises Israel's Integration of Minorities

Apple CEO Tim Cook Praises Israel's Integration of Minorities

Apple CEO Tim Cook is currently in Israel to oversee the opening of a new Apple research and development center in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya. Even as campuses around the world begin their annual “Israel Apartheid Week” festivities, Cook openly praised Israel’s integration of minorities in its burgeoning hi-tech sector.

“True innovation can only result from full access to education for all, regardless of race, religion, or sex,” said Cook, noting that Israel had done just that. “We would like to learn from your experience in the US, in bringing education and technology to periphery groups and communities.”

During a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, Cook said that he and all the Apple staff “have an enormous admiration for Israel, not just as an important ally for the US, but as a place to do business.”

Rivlin highlighted the presence in the delegation of Johny Srouji, an Israeli Arab from Haifa and graduate of Israel’s prestigious Technion Institute of Technology who today serves as Apple’s vice president of Hardware Technologies.

“We are so proud of him and all he has achieved,” Rivlin said of Srouji.

PHOTO: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Apple VP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji, an Israeli Arab and graduate of Israel’s Technion Institute.

 

A Prime Minister From the Diaspora?

A Prime Minister From the Diaspora?

Israel lacks a leader with a vision and a mission. A person needs direction or he will get lost. A nation needs a leader who will not be tossed by the wind of public opinion.

The full article appears in the March 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Ambassador to UN Gives 'Oscars' to Israel's Enemies

Ambassador to UN Gives 'Oscars' to Israel's Enemies

The UN Security Council this week held a special session on its commitment to peace and security in the world in honor of the world body’s 70th anniversary. Taking place a day after the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor mocked the gathering by handing out phony “Oscar” awards to Middle East abusers of human rights whom the UN has categorically failed to curtail.

“Last night the eyes of millions were turned towards Hollywood. If the Oscars for Maintenance of International Peace and Security were given at the UN, I would not be surprised if these candidates were awarded a prize,” Prosor opened his speech and began to detail the various categories sarcastically:

  • “In the Best Actor Category – for acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust, and threatening the destruction of another member state… the Oscar goes to Iran.”

 * “In the category for Best Supporting Actor – for its unrelenting support to the Assad Regime in killing hundreds of thousands civilians… the Oscar goes to Hezbollah.”

  • “In the category for Best Visual Effects – for making women disappear from the public sphere, the Oscar goes to… surprise surprise… Saudi Arabia. No competition there.”

  • “And finally, for rewriting history, the Oscar for Best Editing goes to… the Palestinian Authority. But the truth is – the Palestinian Authority already received enough prizes from this institution.”

Prosor concluded by saying, “If we want to pursue peace and security in the real world, it is time to bring down the curtain on this theater of the absurd and return the original values of the U.N. Charter back to center stage.”

Watch Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor:

 

Many Arab Voters Want Integration With Jewish State

Many Arab Voters Want Integration With Jewish State

The amount of nonsense Israelis are subjected to as election campaigns heat up is diverting attention the new United Arab List that poses a serious problem for the Jewish state.

The list is a merger of four Israeli Arab Knesset factions that run the gamut from communists to extreme Islamists. If this list wins the 12 seats surveys say it will win, the Knesset will play host to a powerful political faction that takes order and money from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Yet the consequences of such a large and subversive party in the Knesset are brushed aside by the Israeli media.

The United Arab List is headed by Ayman Odeh, though he is far less known than the outspoken Haneen Zoabi, who has made a career of cheerleading for the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah.

But a revealing interview in Al-Monitor showed that Odeh is no less dangerous than his more controversial underling. Odeh, who promises to fight against corruption, racism and discrimination - all code words for a serious anti-Israel platform - is the new kid in town who will further inflame and agitate already tense Israeli nerves.

This Arab Christian lawyer from Haifa has declared himself an enemy of Zionism, and is in all likelihood up to no good.

A little known fact is that a large percentage, perhaps a majority, of Israeli Arabs do not share the views of their Knesset representatives. At least that’s what Mahmoud Nujidat (pictured) and Atef Alkernawi, two Bedouins from Israel’s south, told me.

Meeting with Nujidat was a breath of fresh air. Sick and tired of the old guard, whom he views as having done nothing to improve the lives of Israeli Arabs, Nujidat has created a new party, Hope for Change, that calls for the nation’s Arabs to integrate with Jewish society.

Nujidat, a devout Muslim who twice made the pilgrimage to Mecca, hopes for his children to love and integrate with their Jewish neighbors.

“We can’t live in the same home without cooperating with one another,” he insists. “We can no longer fight against each other. Enough. It just can not be that we will educate an entire generation for alienation and hate.”

Instead, Nujidat wants to see Arabs take on the mantle of loyal citizens of the State of Israel. As far as he is concerned, Israel is his home, and like in any home, husband and wife must find the way to live in peace and harmony.

Hope for Change is not only about good relationships between Jews and Arabs, it is also about hope and change for Arab women. Any society, says Nujidat, is built upon educated and supportive wives. Improving conditions for women, he argues, will be the beginning of local Arabs’ success. “When a woman is educated, works and adds to the family’s income she honors herself and her husband.”

Above all, Nujidat believes that the values of Jews and Arabs should not be different. “We all have the same faith,” he asserts. “We have one God whom we believe in. I don’t understand how we managed to miss it. How we led ourselves to dark corners.”

The present Arab leadership, he says, are benefiting from hostility and animosity. They thrive upon hate. Hope for Change wants to change that. Nujidat and those supporting him want to live in a country where people love one another.

It is striking how different this message is from that of Odeh the Christian.

Sadly, however, the positive voice of Hope for Change that represents many Israeli Arabs is drowned out by the clamor of inciting rhetoric that, if given the chance, will frustrate any hope for peace.

 

Israel Cuts Electricity to Palestinians Amidst Enormous Debt

Israel Cuts Electricity to Palestinians Amidst Enormous Debt

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) on Monday decided that enough was enough and began throttling the flow of electricity to the Palestinian Authority, which for years has refused to pay its bills.

While the move garnered a lot of media attention, it really was less severe than portrayed, and less punishing than many believe the Palestinian Authority deserves.

What the IEC did was cut power to the “West Bank” cities of Nablus (biblical Shechem) and Jenin for a period of no more than 45 minutes. The company said it would repeat the short blackout daily until the Palestinian Authority starts paying off its nearly NIS 2 billion ($500 million) debt.

Palestinian officials tried to link the situation to Israel’s freezing of tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority over its unilateral diplomatic maneuvering at the UN and the International Criminal Court. But the truth is that the electrical bills have been mounting for a very long time, with no indication that the Palestinian Authority ever intended to pay.

That was especially infuriating to many Palestinians, who noted that they pay electric bills to the Palestinian Authority every month, begging the question, “Where’s the money?”

Palestinian government-controlled utility companies buy the electricity from the IEC (apparently on credit) and then resell it to the local population.

“I feel like a sucker,” Nablus resident Mahmoud Arafat told Israel’s NRG news website. “I pay my electric bills, but still suffered from the blackout.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that he had not ordered the blackout, and that it had been an internal decision taken by the cash-strapped IEC.

“It was an independent decision that wasn’t done on the orders of the political leadership,” officials in the Prime Minister’s Office told Ha’aretz.

Seemingly ignoring the circumstances, and the fact that the blackout lasted a mere 45 minutes, the Obama Administration expressed “concern” over the move.

Many Israeli politicians have called to use the frozen Palestinian Authority tax revenues to pay the outstanding debt. But, again, the Obama Administration has put pressure on Israel not to do so, insisting that without those funds, the Palestinian Authority could collapse.

It should be remembered that in addition to charging its population for the Israeli-supplied electricity, the Palestinian Authority is the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign financial aid every year.

 

IDF Trains to Repel Alien Invasion

IDF Trains to Repel Alien Invasion

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) put a somewhat humorous spin on a very serious training exercise this week, asking members of the Air Force cyber unit “Ofek” to disrupt and sabotage fictitious invading alien spacecraft.

The Jerusalem Post reports on the exercise, noting that it was part of increased efforts to train Israeli forces to handle and counter a growing number of cyber threats, but tailored to be more culturally relevant and interesting to a younger generation of soldiers.

“The goal was to make them understand the importance developing [cyber] defense. We adapted the exercise to Generation Y, which loves challenges. So we prepared the framing story of an alien invasion,” the commanding officer explained to the newspaper.

The drill had various teams within Ofek competing with one another to simultaneously hack the “alien” systems while protecting the IDF’s data from snooping and sabotage.

The IDF has for many years already been heavily engaged in cyber-warfare and defense. Units like Ofek have played major roles in a number of conflicts, including last summer’s Gaza war.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet approved the establishment of a National Cyber Authority that will similarly coordinate efforts to defend Israel’s civilian networks and infrastructure from cyber attacks.

 

They Called Him Rabbi Abraham Lincoln

They Called Him Rabbi Abraham Lincoln

We all know how much Abraham Lincoln did for African-Americans, but until now very little was known of the special place Honest Abe held in his heart for the Jews. In fact, Lincoln showed so much favor to the Jewish community of his time that they called him “Rabbi Abraham.”

When Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 there were fewer than 3,000 Jews in the United States. By the time he died there were 150,000. Many of Lincoln’s contemporaries were alarmed by this development. Anti-Semitism, like the plague, had spread from Christian Europe to the New World, but Lincoln, a staunch Christian Republican, stood up for the Jews, much in the same way he would for African-Americans.

Lincoln was a devote student of the Bible and often quoted from the Old Testament in his public speeches. Lincoln rejected the notion held by many Christians of the time that the Jews were responsible for killing the Son of God. He made it a point to treat the Jews with respect right from the beginning of his career. Lincoln boasted many Jewish friends, often represented them in his law practice, and even appointed Jews to offices in his administration. Many Jews served as President Lincoln’s personal advisors.

A number of Lincoln’s generals regarded the Jews as hostile intruders to the North American continent and tried to have them expelled. General Ulysses Grant tried to force them out by issuing an edict barring Jews from selling goods to Union soldiers. Lincoln would have none of it, and confronting his commanding general immediately rescinded the shameful order.

When the Union Army wanted to “appoint Christian Chaplains to care for the spiritual needs of our brave soldiers,” Lincoln insisted on also appointing Jews to serve as chaplains to the army, something that had never been done before. Lincoln then signed the act into law and Jewish chaplains have been serving in the US Armed Forces ever since.

It was Lincoln who was the first to acknowledge the need to recognize Judaism as an official religion of the United States. At the time it was common to call the United States a “Christian Nation.” In order to make sure that the growing Jewish population also be included, Lincoln insisted that America be called “a nation under God.”

In 1863 Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation declaring that “all slaves under the Confederacy were from then on forever free.” Shortly afterwards, Lincoln met with a Canadian Christian Zionist named Henry Wentworth Monk who explained to him that Jews who were being oppressed in Russia and Turkey also need to be emancipated "by restoring them to their national home in Palestine."

Lincoln replied that this, the rebirth of Israel as a nation-state, was "a noble dream and one shared by many Americans."

When Lincoln was assassinated, the Jewish response was unprecedented as communities around the country mourned him in the traditional Jewish way for seven days by sitting “Shiva.” Eulogizes for the fallen president were offered by rabbis in every synagogue across the nation.

In what surely must have been a divine toss of the coin, the new copper penny minted in 1909 in celebration of Lincoln’s 100th birthday and adorned with his own iconic portrait was designed by the Russian-Jewish immigrant Victor David Brenner.

More of this fascinating story can be found in the new historical documentary “They Called Him Rabbi Abraham” by Gary Phillip Zola.

 

Israeli FM Compares Knesset to a Kindergarten

Israeli FM Compares Knesset to a Kindergarten

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Israel Beiteinu party, took a break from his pre-election campaigning earlier this month to give his granddaughter, Yarden, and 20 of her kindergarten classmates a tour of the Knesset.

The tour was actually scheduled before early elections had been announced, but Lieberman wasn’t about to let that little development cancel the children’s field trip. Together with his wife, herself a former kindergarten teacher, Lieberman happily guided the children through Israel’s halls of power, providing much insight based on his personal experience.

Lieberman explained to the children that there really isn’t that big a difference between the Knesset and a kindergarten: “At kindergarten there is a teacher, and in the Knesset there is a Speaker. The job of both is to make sure everyone speaks nicely. Both must break up fights. The essence [of both jobs] is the same.”

The curious children at one point asked Lieberman why Knesset members are required to vote on various laws and decisions, and why the prime minister doesn’t simply make decisions alone. “That is the essence of democracy,” the foreign minister responded.

PHOTO: Lieberman at the Knesset plenum with his granddaughter, Yarden. (Yossi Zamir)

 

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat Subdues Terrorist

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat Subdues Terrorist

Terrorist stabbing attacks are sadly becoming common enough that most are no longer surprised by news of the latest incident. But Sunday’s terrorist stabbing on the streets of Jerusalem did catch widespread attention because it was brought to a halt by none other than Mayor Nir Barkat.

The attack took place at IDF Square where the Jerusalem Municipality meets the corner of the Old City. A young Palestinian man, like many “lone wolf” terrorists before him, approached an Orthodox Jewish man waiting at a crosswalk and stabbed his victim from behind.

The Jewish man jumped and swung his bag to keep the terrorist at bay as he retreated across the street.

The terrorist began to slowly cross street, still threatening his wounded prey and other passersby.

It was at this point that traffic cameras (see below) recorded Barkat and his bodyguards bravely march into the intersection and confront the terrorist. Barkat demanded that the terrorist drop his knife. As soon as the weapon hit the ground, Barkat pounced, quickly subduing the attacker with the help of one of his bodyguards.

Barkat was then seen crossing the street to assist and comfort the victim, later identified as 27-year-old Avraham Goldschmidt, a local father of four. On Sunday evening, Barkat visited Goldschmidt at Jerusalem’s Sha’are Zedek Hospital, where the victim was listed in stable condition.

Goldschmidt recalled frantically calling out for help, and his surprise when that call was selflessly answered by Jerusalem’s mayor, who had seen the attack unfold while waiting in his vehicle at the intersection.

Watch traffic camera footage of the attack and Barkat (seen in a white shirt flanked by two bodyguards) confront and subdue the would-be killer:

 

Netanyahu Furious: Iran Builds Bomb While the West Talks

Netanyahu Furious: Iran Builds Bomb While the West Talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday was astonished that even as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) once again acknowledges in its latest report that Iran is likely building a nuclear bomb, the West, led by the Obama Administration, remains mired in fruitless diplomatic talks with Tehran.

In its report dated last Thursday, the IAEA detailed that at the facilities and programs open to it, Iran appears to be complying with international demands regarding its nuclear program.

However, the report emphasized that there are many suspected facilities and programs that Iran is keeping concealed or otherwise denying access to, and that among them are facilities and programs that are strongly believed to be military in nature.

“The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” read the report.

The IAEA noted that its November 2011 report had “provided a detailed analysis of the information available to the Agency at that time, indicating that Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” and that that assessment remains credible.

In a statement released to the press just before the weekend, Netanyahu wondered how in light of these revelations “the major powers are continuing to try and allow Iran to produce the core of such weapons, enriched uranium.”

Israeli authorities have charged that the nuclear deal currently being negotiated between the Obama Administration and Iran would permit the Islamic Republic to keep the bulk of its nuclear program intact so long as it provide guarantees that the purpose is peaceful.

Like many in Israel, Netanyahu argues that such guarantees are worthless given that even the IAEA admits Iran is concealing dangerous activities, and the Israeli leader intends to tell the US Congress as much early next month.

 

Poll: Israelis Don't Trust Obama on Iran Nukes

Poll: Israelis Don't Trust Obama on Iran Nukes

A pre-election poll in Israel reveals that an overwhelming majority side with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in not trusting the Obama Administration to prevent Iran from going nuclear, though very few voters consider that the most important electoral concern.

Conducted by the Times of Israel, the survey found that US President Barack Obama’s approval rating amongst Israelis continues to plummet. However, the online news agency stressed that Obama’s approval rating in Israel is roughly on par with Netanyahu’s.

As Netanyahu prepares to defiantly address the US Congress regarding the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program against the wishes of the White House, 72 percent of respondents signaled that they share Netanyahu’s distrust of a deal Obama is negotiating with Iran behind closed doors.

Unfortunately for Netanyahu, a mere 10 percent of respondents rated the Iranian threat as the most important issue in Israel’s upcoming elections. Far more (48%) said economic issues will sway their votes, and in this area Netanyahu is generally seen as lacking, especially as the local media engages in smear campaign over petty expenditures at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

 

Arabs an Integral Part of Israel, Insists Israeli President

Arabs an Integral Part of Israel, Insists Israeli President

The Arab population is an integral part of the modern State of Israel, insisted President Reuven Rivlin last week in remarks aimed at pre-election promises by some who would like to transfer control of certain Arab towns to the Palestinian Authority.

In an appearance at the Haaretz Democracy Conference last week, less than a month before Israel’s national elections, Rivlin labeled as impractical and immoral suggestions that future peace negotiations include swapping several large Arab towns in the lower Galilee region for control over Jewish settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.

That is one of the key planks in the election platform of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Rivlin accused Lieberman and other right-wing politicians of making populist statements rather than exercising true leadership.

“Our leaders look behind them at the public rather than lead,” he said, predicting that whatever government emerges from the ballot boxes on March 17, in all likelihood Israel will yet again endure early elections in a year or two from now.

Rivlin was adamant that the dream of a Jewish and democratic state is not impossible, but that the “burden of proof is on us. We can’t say, ‘They’re our enemies, what do we owe them?’”

PHOTO: President Reuven Rivlin and Chairman of the Muslim Religion Believers Committee, Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, meeting in July 2014 in an effort to curb mounting Jewish-Arab violence in Jerusalem (Flash90)

 

Israel Today Interview With a 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

Israel Today Interview With a 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

As Israel’s anti-terror methods improve, so too, the terrorists adapt and find new, sometimes simpler ways of reaching their victims.

In recent months, a wave of attacks by ‘lone wolves’ who stabbed people or rammed their cars into pedestrians have left many Israelis feeling uneasy, to say the least. It is supremely difficult to prevent such lowtech terrorist attacks by ordinary Palestinians acting on their own.

Israel Today reporter Elizabeth Blade spoke to one of these potential assailants.

The full interview appears in the March 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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PHOTOS: Israel Becomes a Winter Wonderland

PHOTOS: Israel Becomes a Winter Wonderland

A massive winter storm that descended from Europe slammed into Israel overnight Thursday, with heavy winds, rain and thunder. By the morning, all but the lowest parts of the country were covered in snow.

The Golan and the Galilee regions experienced heavy snowfall, in Jerusalem over 12 inches had accumulated, and even the desert capital of Beersheva reported some snow on the ground.

Below is a gallery of photos taken in Jerusalem on Friday morning by Israel Today's Tommy Mueller:











 

Local Christians Take Very Different Approaches to Reconciliation

Local Christians Take Very Different Approaches to Reconciliation

Over the past several years, two local Arabic-speaking Christians have distinguished themselves as leaders of reconciliation efforts with the Jews around them. However, both men have taken very different paths to reach that goal, and have now turned decidedly non-conciliatory gazes upon one another.

First up is Salim Munayer, founder and director of the reconciliation ministry Musalaha, which is almost exclusively focused on bringing together Christian Arabs and Messianic Jews. As for the rest of Israeli Jewish society, Munayer has traditionally taken a more antagonistic approach, which speaks to what he expects of Messianic Jews interested in reconciliation.

Of note, Munayer has boasted of family ties to George Habash, once described by Time magazine as “Terrorism’s Christian Godfather” and a man responsible for the murder of many Israelis. More recently, Munayer was heard (listen at 43:13) suggesting that Hamas aren’t really terrorists and are just trying to make life better in the Gaza Strip.

Statements like these have often landed Munayer in hot water. Last week he penned a plea that painted criticism of his efforts and behavior as a kind of persecution.

But it would seem our second example of leadership in reconciliation is suffering true persecution for taking a somewhat different approach. Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Orthodox priest from the Nazareth area, has received numerous death threats and endured the brutal beating of his son, all because he encourages fellow Christians to embrace all Israeli Jews and to serve the State of Israel as loyal citizens.

Founder of the Christian Empowerment Council and spiritual father of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, Naddaf has gone so far as to lead a movement to reclaim local Christians’ ancient Aramean identity, an identity with much stronger historical ties of friendship to the Jews.

Late last month Musalaha held a conference at which former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah was invited to rebuke this new Aramean movement and Naddaf’s “collaboration” with Israel. Like Munayer, Sabbah has in the past justified Hamas terrorism and even claimed the Islamist group is protecting Christians from Israel.

Naddaf responded with a strongly-worded post on Facebook in which he vowed that, unlike Musalaha, the Christian Empowerment Council “encourages a positive Christian voice to stand up for Israel and to take a stance against terrorism.”

The Nazareth priest warned that under Musalaha’s veneer of reconciliation “lurks an anti-Israel and pro-terror agenda,” and called for an inquiry into its funding.

 

Obama Accuses Israel of Lying About Iran Deal

Obama Accuses Israel of Lying About Iran Deal

The Obama Administration on Wednesday suggested that the Israeli government was being less than honest regarding the details of negotiations between the US and Iran regarding the latter’s defiant nuclear program.

But a senior and respected Israeli politician said the White House is risking Israel’s future for the sake of its own selfish interests, and so Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must go forward with a controversial appearance before the US Congress next month.

“There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who insisted on the importance of keeping the details of talks with Iran private.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki conveyed a similar assessment: “I think it is safe to say not everything you are hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks.”

Israeli leaders say the deal America is negotiating would leave the Iranian nuclear program largely intact, trusting to the word of the mullahs to not develop a nuclear weapon. Of course, if the Islamic Republic clandestinely continued on that path and ultimately tested an atomic bomb, it would be at that point too late to do anything about it.

Due to the increased and vocal Israeli opposition to the impending deal, officials in Jerusalem last week said they had largely been shut out on the issue by the Obama Administration.

Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that Jerusalem was no longer receiving full and regular briefings from Washington regarding the Iran nuclear talks. One official told The New York Times that while certain briefings are still maintained, “they are empty.”

The White House staunchly denied the report, but European officials who spoke to the Times said there was some truth to the allegation.

“European officials say that the Israeli reports, while overblown, are not entirely based on fiction,” reported America’s leading newspaper. “One recalled a recent call from Wendy Sherman, the No. 3 State Department official and lead American negotiator with Iran, saying she had cautioned against telling the Israelis too much because the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.”

But senior Likud candidate Benny Begin, son of legendary former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, said Israel is not twisting anything, and that the agreement Obama is prepared to sign with Iran is a real threat to the Jewish state.

“We are not just talking about a bad agreement, we are talking about an agreement that poses an great danger to the security of Israel,” Begin told Army Radio, explaining that with “Iran’s leadership calling for the arming of the West Bank, in a military sense, Israel now shares a border with Iran.”

Begin argued that despite all the opposition, it was important for Netanyahu to go forward with a March 3 appearance before the US Congress. “Not every American congressman knows the facts or details of this thing from Israel’s perspective,” he noted. “And learning about that could change the minds of some.”

 

Christians Urged to Vote in Israel's Upcoming Elections

Christians Urged to Vote in Israel's Upcoming Elections

Christian leaders in the Holy Land are urging their constituents to get involved in Israel’s upcoming national elections. And the call is being answered, with some going so far as to become candidates for Knesset themselves.

The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land under Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal issued a statement this week encouraging local Christians to help improve the situation and make a positive impact on the Middle East conflict by exercising their right to vote in Israel.

Noting that they are “deeply concerned about justice, peace, and equality in this country,” the Catholic leadership said that “in order to progress towards these aims, we call upon the voters to go out and vote in the upcoming elections.”

The desire to make a difference at the ballot box is probably even greater among Orthodox streams of Christianity, which make up the bulk of a new movement seeking greater integration with Israeli Jewish society.

One of the leaders of this movement, Shadi Khalloul, has even become a candidate for Knesset with the Yisrael Beiteinu Party.

Explaining his decision, Khalloul told The Jerusalem Post, “Christians see themselves as part of this state. They want to live here, and they want the people speaking in their name to improve their situation here. As Christians, we don’t have any other state.”

Khalloul admonished local Christians to resist traditional tendencies to vote for Arab political parties, which do little but provoke conflict with their Jewish countrymen.

“Christians don’t want their representatives to incite against the state all the time, to undermine the state, to curse the state that protects them,” he explained.

“The only party which has free Christian representation that can deal with the tough problems and the needs of Christians in different fields is Yisrael Beiteinu, because Shadi Khalloul is there and he has worked all his life for strengthening the cooperation with the State of Israel and the Jews. This is what I will do, God willing, and with the help of Jesus the Messiah,” he concluded with a bit of electioneering.

Israel Today has reported on the activities of and interviewed Shadi Khalloul numerous times in the past, in particular regarding his leading role in last year’s successful campaign to have Israel officially recognize local Christians as Arameans, rather than Arabs.

 

Israeli Child Dies 2 Years After Terror Attack

Israeli Child Dies 2 Years After Terror Attack

Adele Biton, an Israeli girl critically wounded in a Palestinian stone-throwing attack in March 2013 at the age of two, died on Tuesday of complications related to her injuries.

Little Adele suffered severe head injuries while driving with her mother and two of her siblings to their home in Samaria. An ambush by Palestinian Arab stone-throwers caused their vehicle to swerve into incoming traffic and slam headfirst into a large truck.

But it wasn’t the car accident that left Adele in a near-vegetative state. Investigations into the attack revealed that she had been struck square in the forehead by one of the large stones hurled at their car.

After the attack, Adele spent 18 months in and out of hospitals, undergoing numerous surgeries and endless rehabilitation to regain rudimentary use of her hands and other faculties.

She was finally released to home care in August of last year. Adele returned to the hospital last week after catching pneumonia. Doctors said her condition deteriorated rapidly as her still severely damaged body was unable to cope with the infection.

Following Adele’s death late Tuesday evening, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett posted the following to Facebook:

“There are no words. Adele Biton, who was injured by rock throwing at the tender age of two, passed away today at the age of four. Any people whose heroes are the murderers of children will never have a state.”

 

World Vision Retracts Support for Anti-Zionist Propaganda

World Vision Retracts Support for Anti-Zionist Propaganda

The Christian humanitarian aid and development organization World Vision has followed the lead of the Lausanne Movement in distancing itself from an article penned by its own vice president who strongly criticized Christian Zionists.

In the January 2015 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, World Vision VP Steve Haas wrote that “for over 60 years, many evangelicals have clung to a very narrow theological narrative that weds Christian theology with a political ideology known as Zionism.”

Haas went on to compare Christian Zionism to the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Apartheid South Africa and other large-scale atrocities to which Christians were party.

Messianic blog Rosh Pina Project highlighted on Wednesday that World Vision is now seeking to disassociate itself from the words of its own vice president.

Read a statement released by the ministry:

“The article…published in the Lausanne Global Analysis does not accurately reflect World Vision’s position and views toward the State of Israel and the Palestinian people and was published without proper World Vision approvals. …broad statements such as those in the Lausanne piece oversimplify issues at hand, limit meaningful dialogue, and harden staunch perspectives toward the conflict.”

The statement went on to call Haas’ criticism of Christian Zionists “unhelpfully simplified and combative.” World Vision even went so far as to retract its support for the propaganda film “With God on Our Side,” which condemns Christian Zionism. “World Vision no longer endorses the film,” according to the press release.

Unfortunately, even as World Vision spoke of avoiding oversimplifying complicated issues, it did just that by concluding that “sustainable peace cannot be fully realized under the realities of military occupation…”

There was no mention of how or why that “military occupation” came to be. The truth is that “peace cannot be fully realized” until people are educated for peace, rather than for violence, which is what led to the “military occupation” in the first place.

 

Divers Find Sunken Treasure Off Israel's Coast

Divers Find Sunken Treasure Off Israel's Coast

A group of recreational divers this month discovered the largest cache of gold coins ever found in Israel while diving in the ancient sunken harbor of Caesarea.

The group of divers immediately notified the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which sent an underwater team to recover the treasure.

“They discovered the gold and have a heart of gold that loves the country and its history,” said the IAA’s director of the Marine Archaeology, Kobi Sharvit, of the recreational divers. Of course, Israel severely punishes anyone who pockets an archeological find with up to five years in jail.

But this particular find was surely tempting, with its nearly 2,000 gold coins dating back to the 11th century, when the land was ruled by the Fatimid dynasty based in Cairo. Experts believe the coins either belonged to a large merchant ship or were collected taxes en route to the capital in Cairo when the transport ship sunk.

Another IAA official noted that the coins were in near perfect condition, and required no special cleaning or other conservation efforts.

 

Why Israelis Are Hesitant to Re-Elect Netanyahu

Why Israelis Are Hesitant to Re-Elect Netanyahu

With Israel's elections just a month away, Israel Today explores why while most agree Benjamin Netanyahu is the best candidate for prime minister, a majority of Israelis are nevertheless hesitant to re-elect him.

The full article appears in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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VIDEO: Israel's Castles

VIDEO: Israel's Castles

The medieval castle at Migdal Tzedek, near the central Israel town of Rosh Ha’ayin, is not only historically interesting, it is a stunningly beautiful location that demonstrates the vast array of archeological gems packed into this tiny country.

The following video provides a drones-eye-view of the castle situated in the hills of Samaria. As can be seen, the castle is currently being renovated, and is open to visitors.

Migdal Tsedek-Rosh Haayin by Amir Aloni from Amir Aloni on Vimeo.

 

Getting Paid to Kill Jews

Getting Paid to Kill Jews

It is by now no secret that the Palestinian Authority uses large portions of the international financial aid it receives to provide salaries and other payouts to terrorists who kill Jews.

But a fresh investigation by journalist Edwin Black has revealed that this is not some automatic, blind welfare system, but rather a very deliberate effort to reward those who have chosen the path of violence, and therefore encourage others to do the same.

America today contributes about $400 million a year in direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, and another $400 in other assistance and investments. The European Union provides a similar amount.

In 2011, Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch spoke before the US Congress to explain how this money was being cynically used to encourage the slaughter of Israeli Jews by paying healthy monthly salaries to those sitting in Israeli jails, or to the families of terrorists killed during successful attacks.

A year later, two Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip admitted to an Israeli court that they had gotten into terrorism game in order to earn a decent living. Killing Jews, they said, was the best way to secure a good and steady income.

Last summer, Israel’s Knesset was shocked to learn that in 2012 the Palestinian Authority had paid no less than $150 million to jailed terrorists and their families. It was further revealed that these salaries were determined on a sliding scale according to the length of the terrorists’ sentence. In other words, the more Jews killed, the worse the sentence and the bigger the reward.

In the course of his research, Black successfully sued to gain access to previously court-sealed documents pertaining to cases heard before US courts.

Those documents revealed what Black called a “meticulous, exacting official process” in which Palestinian leaders all the way up to President Mahmoud Abbas were involved in the direct reward and encouragement of terrorism against Israel’s Jews.

One example from the documents details the case of a Palestinian Authority police officer who in 2002 participated in a number of terrorist attacks that left a total of 12 Israelis dead and many more wounded. Following his capture, Israel sentenced the officer to 13 life sentences.

The case was only reviewed in 2009, but the Palestinian Authority decided to retroactively compensate the terrorist policeman back to the time of his incarceration. He was even later given promotions and accompanying pay raises while sitting in an Israeli jail.

A second example involved a terrorist, also a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces, who was killed while carrying out an attack that left two Israelis dead on the streets of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Social Affairs subsequently determined that this terrorist, like many others, was “martyred while performing his national duty,” and that his closest living relative, his mother, would be compensated accordingly.

Black concluded by noting that “most taxpayers in donor countries have no idea that their well-intended money is actually financing the flames of terrorism.”

 

Israeli Minister Dies After Battle With Blood Disease

Israeli Minister Dies After Battle With Blood Disease

Israel’s minister for pensioner affairs, Uri Orbach (Jewish Home), died on Monday after a long battle with a rare blood disease.

Orbach, 54, was hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Sha’are Tzedek Hospital in late January as his condition began to worsen. On Sunday, doctors said that Orbach had taken a turn for the worse, and both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin came to visit the ailing minister just hours before he passed away.

Orbach rose to moderate fame as a journalist and co-host of a popular morning talk show on Army Radio. He also authored several children’s books, wrote a book on Hebrew slang, and founded and edited two popular Israeli children’s magazines.

Orbach is survived by his wife, Michal, and their four children: Roni, Tamar, Shira and Daniel.

 

Report: Islamists Seize Ezra's Tomb in Iraq

Report: Islamists Seize Ezra's Tomb in Iraq

Arab media last week reported that Islamist forces operating in the south of the country had seized control of an ancient shrine revered as the tomb of the biblical scribe and priest Ezra.

Pan-Arab news website Al-Araby reported that the militants had destroyed large portions of the shrine, which included both a synagogue and a mosque, and now intend to use it as their headquarters in southern Iraq.

According to Al-Araby, the terrorists had cut off all access to the Tomb of Ezra to prevent journalists from reporting on their conquest and destruction of the holy site.

It would seem those efforts were wasted, as news of this latest Muslim assault on Judaism was mentioned by not a single major media outlet. Only the Jewish blog Elder of Ziyon and the Israeli news website Israel National News bothered to carry the report.

After leading a major contingent of Jewish exiles back to the Land of Israel and instructing the people in the keeping of God’s Word, on the orders of the Persian emperor, the Bible makes no indication that Ezra returned to what is now Iraq.

Hundreds of years later, the Jewish historian Josephus recorded that Ezra had been buried in Jerusalem, which, along with Nehemiah, he had helped to rebuilt and re-sanctify.

But later traditions likely started by the large Jewish community remaining in Mesopotamia asserted that Ezra had been laid to rest along the banks of the Tigris river. A shrine revered by both Jews and local Muslims was erected at the location.

Even after the mass immigration of Iraqi Jews to Israel from 1951–1952, Ezra’s Tomb, complete with its many Hebrew inscriptions praising the God of Israel, continued to be a place of pilgrimage for Arabs living in the area.

PHOTO: Shot of the shrine believed to be the biblical Ezra’s resting place taken in 1916 by Gertrude Bell, a British explorer, spy and political officer influential in the region during and after the First World War.

 

Israeli DM Demands Water for Palestinian Town

Israeli DM Demands Water for Palestinian Town

The city of Rawabi (pictured) is a flagship Palestinian project. It is a modern, planned town of 40,000 homes aimed at moving Palestinian society forward.

But while the first apartments are ready to be occupied, they remain empty. Israel’s Water Authority has thus far refused to connect Rawabi to the Israeli water network.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon isn’t pleased by the situation, and has been working on behalf of getting Rawabi connected to the water system and operating as a symbol of what Palestinian society can become if it focuses on advancement rather than conflict with Israel.

Legally, Rawabi can only be connected to the Israeli water network by a decision of the joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee (JWC), but this committee has not met in over five years.

With the help of IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, military coordinator for the Palestinian-controlled territories, Yaalon is looking to bypass the JWC, and has ordered that Rawabi and several Jewish communities in the area be connected to the water network immediately.

But Yaalon has found opposition in fellow Likud politician Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom, who insists on formal approval for the project by the JWC. It is the Palestinian side that since 2010 has refused to appear at the JWC meetings, and Shalom said that Rawabi could instantly receive approval for water if only the Palestinian Authority would change its attitude and again start working together with Israel.

 

2 Extremist Candidates Barred from Israeli Elections

2 Extremist Candidates Barred from Israeli Elections

Israel’s Central Election Committee last week barred both current Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi and political activist Baruch Marzel (pictured) from running in Israel’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

Zoabi, a controversial self-styled advocate of Arab rights, has been repeatedly accused of incitement against the State of Israel, while the right-wing Marzel regularly stirs up anger against Israel’s Arab population.

The committee met under the leadership of Salim Joubran, an Israeli-Arab Supreme Court justice. There remains a chance the committee could reverse its decision, as it did prior to the previous elections, from which it also initially barred Zoabi.

Zoabi’s short career to date has been characterized by virulence toward the Jewish state, with repeated calls to strip her of diplomatic immunity. Zoabi was investigated and punished recently for her role in a hostile demonstration during which she reportedly became violent toward police officers.

Marzel is a long-time political activist and the media’s poster boy for Jewish extremism. He was previously a senior figure in the Kach movement, which was in 1988 likewise barred from running for the Knesset due to pronounced aggressiveness toward the nation’s Arab population. It was the first and only time that an entire party has been barred from participating in Israeli elections.

The decision to bar Marzel was passed by the slimmest of margins, with 17 committee members voting in favor and 16 against. The decision against Zoabi was more definitive, with 27 committee members agreeing she should be barred from the elections.

The opposition Zionist Camp (formed by the merger of the left-wing Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua faction) welcomed the decision, noting that both Zoabi and Marzel “have pushed the limits of democracy and have taken freedom of expression to an extreme.”

Zoabi defended her behavior, and denounced as racist and undemocratic the decision against her. “I have fought against the killing of civilians, wherever the take place,” she insisted. “I fight against racism. This [decision] is not only against me, but against the entire Arab point of view,” Zoabi continued, side-stepping the fact that the committee that barred her was headed by an Arab.

Tellingly, Zoabi found support from the Hamas terrorist organization. Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri agreed that barring Zoabi from the elections (of a state that Hamas says is illegitimate) was an act of racism, but also called it a badge of honor for the firebrand soon-to-be former Knesset member.

Both Zoabi and Marzel have vowed to petition the decisions against them at the Supreme Court.

 

The Guarantee of Prophecy

The Guarantee of Prophecy

Over the centuries, many Jews and Christians have speculated about the coming of the Messiah and the return of Yeshua (Jesus). In recent times, it was supposed to happen in 1844, then in 1989 and then in the millennium year 2000. Yet time and again, they had to postpone the date and calculate a new one. The prophecy has not changed; it was just the interpretation that went awry.

The full article appears in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Messianic Pastor: Israel Not Perfect, but Still the Chosen People

Messianic Pastor: Israel Not Perfect, but Still the Chosen People

In the February issue of Israel Today Magazine we explored the mounting wave of corruption plaguing Israel at this time, what Israelis think about it, and what can and should be done.

We also provided examples of how while this corruption is a stain on the Jewish state, it is also an opportunity for Israel to fulfill its role as a light to the nations, all of which likewise suffer from corruption, and how that opportunity is being seized with greater frequency.


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As part of our investigation into this issue, Israel Today spoke with a Jerusalem-based Messianic pastor, who asked that we not use his name in publication. While there was not room for all his remarks in the magazine article, they are important as the pastor spoke strongly regarding those who would use the imperfect nature of nation of Israel to argue against the modern rebirth of the State of Israel.

His argument is as follows:

The problem of corruption is ever present in the Bible. Despite being a chosen people, the people of Israel experienced corruption.

The nation of Israel today, just as in the past, is not perfect, and does not live according to the Word of God. Nevertheless, the nation of Israel remains the chosen people and the beneficiaries of an unbreakable covenant with God and many accompanying promises. However, Israel can not fully enjoy these blessings until it stands before God clean of sin.

God returned the People of Israel to the Land of Israel not because of our purity, but rather despite our impurity and lack of repentance. (Ezekiel 36:16–32)

There are critics who say that as the chosen people, the nation of Israel must live according to the Word of God in order to enjoy His blessings. These critics insist that so long as Israel is not practicing biblical morality, they can not be the chosen people and certainly can not enjoy the blessings of God, including possession of the Land of Israel.

These arguments have a certain legitimacy. But if we use the same argument in looking at all the nations that claim to be Christian, or all the Christian Churches and Evangelical communities, we suddenly realize that God chose to dwell in and work through imperfect human vessels. If God were to wait for people perfect and without sin, then the Kingdom of Heaven would be empty.

He who would argue against Israel for failing to practice biblical morality must judge all nations by the same standard. Every person, of every nationality, race and sex is called to live according to God’s moral code, and every person has fallen short and is in need of redemption and forgiveness.

God has a plan of redemption for all mankind, [and] in this plan there is a place for the salvation of Israel as the chosen people, and for all other nations. God is implementing this plan now in Israel and the surrounding nations.

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Israelis Speak Out on New Wave of Anti-Semitism

Israelis Speak Out on New Wave of Anti-Semitism

A recent string of attacks targeting Jews, culminating in the hostage stand-off at a kosher deli in Paris, proved once again that anti-Semitism is alive and well.

That doesn’t bode well for Jews still living abroad. But even within the relative safety of their national borders, these events still have a profound impact on the Jews of Israel.

Israel Today took to the streets to ask average Israelis, some of whom immigrated from the West, how they feel about the new rise in global anti-Semitism.

 

Netanyahu: Israel in 'Profound Disagreement' With Obama Admin

Netanyahu: Israel in 'Profound Disagreement' With Obama Admin

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday released a statement explaining that he intends to go ahead with a contentious address to the US Senate on March 3 in order to dissuade the Obama Administration from negotiating with Iran a nuclear agreement that would endanger the Jewish state.

“I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country,” said Netanyahu.

The Obama Administration has been irate over Netanyahu’s scheduled speech, and a number of top Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, have announced they will not be present for the Israeli leader’s appearance.

But many in Israel, Netanyahu among them, have suggested that it is Israelis who should be upset over the Obama Administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear crisis, which first and foremost threatens the Jewish state.

“…we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran,” Netanyahu noted. “This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival. …It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.”

Netanyahu further pointed out that it was not unusual for Israeli and American leaders to disagree, and took aim at those who warn the current disagreements could harm, rather than ultimately strengthen, bilateral relations. Some of those issuing such warnings are to be found within the Obama Administration itself.

“Disagreements over Israel’s security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the left and from the right and American presidents from both parties,” the Israeli leader said. “None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States. In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.”

 

Israeli NGO Increases Aid to Yazidi Refugees in Iraq

Israeli NGO Increases Aid to Yazidi Refugees in Iraq

Israeli NGO IsraAID is set to scale up its winter relief operation among Yazidi refugees who fled to Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq in the face of last years’s ISIS onslaught.

IsraAID has been on the ground in northern Iraq for months. Over the past year, the ISIS conquests in Iraq and Syria have resulted in an estimated 2.1 million refugees, over one million of whom have sought shelter in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI).

While the Kurds have done all they can to provide for and especially to defend these displaced persons, the enormity of the humanitarian crisis is beyond their resources.

Most of these refugees are living in tent encampments, where life during the freezing winter months is nearly unbearable. In the camp where IsraAID is active, some 18,000 Yazidis and Christians have been huddled together - men, women and small children - for no fewer than seven months.

IsraAID has already delivered thousands of winter items, including blankets and mattresses, but intends to do much more.

In the coming months, the Israeli NGO will expand its distribution efforts, as well as begin to provide education programs for the thousands of Yazidi and Christian children who for months have been without schooling or psychological treatment for the trauma they have endured.

PHOTO: Israeli aid workers in northern Iraq (from the IsraAID Facebook page)

 

Palestinians Boycott Israeli Foods

Palestinians Boycott Israeli Foods

The Palestinian Authority has announced an official boycott of six major Israeli food companies in retaliation for Israel’s withholding of tax revenues, a move which was itself retribution for the Palestinian leadership’s efforts to drag the Jewish state before the International Criminal Court.

From today (Wednesday), Palestinian stores are forbidden to purchase from the Israeli food manufacturers Strauss, Tnuva, Osem, Elite, Prigat and Jafora. Those shops which still have stock from these companies have two weeks to clear their shelves of these products.

Senior PA official Mahmoud al-Alul said that government inspectors will soon begin random checks of Palestinian stores to ensure the boycott is being observed. He said this was a first step toward a total boycott of all goods made in Israel.

Global pro-Palestinian organizations have for years been calling for a total boycott of Israeli products. Palestinian merchants have for years already been prohibited from selling products produced in Jewish settlements.

But a survey conducted last year by the PA’s Consumer Protection Authority revealed that Palestinian Arabs are major consumers of Israeli products, for which there are no quality local alternatives.

According to the survey, 70 percent of Palestinian imports come from Israel.

Israel does not restrict imports to the Palestinian-controlled areas, and Israeli goods sold there must compete with those imported from Europe and other Arab states. The reason Israeli products do so well is because Palestinian Arabs prefer them, according to several Palestinian merchants who spoke to the Al Quds newspaper at the time.

For Palestinians, Israeli products are less expensive than European imports, but of much higher quality than cheaper Arab-made alternatives.

The survey was yet another example of how boycott efforts, both local and international, hurt Palestinian Arabs as badly or worse than Israelis, and therefore do very little, if anything, to advance the cause of peace.

 

Israeli Minister: Hamas and ISIS Are the Same

Israeli Minister: Hamas and ISIS Are the Same

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz (pictured), equated Gaza’s Hamas rulers with the jihadist horde known as the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) during a panel discussion this week.

Such groups, said Steinitz, “fight against all infidels,” which in their eyes include Jews, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and moderate Muslims. Along with Hamas and ISIS, Steinitz listed Al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front and Islamic Jihad in the same category.

These groups previously worked behind the scenes, but more recently have come to the forefront and are now bringing entire cities and territories under their direct control.

Hamas is an Arabic acronym meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement.” It was founded in 1987 with the express purpose of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. For this reason, Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, however, has once again accused Israel of being the obstacle to peace.

“We have been trying to reach a peace agreement for so many years. But Israeli intransigence has prevented this from happening,” he insisted, explaining that “the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory [sic] has prevented us from achieving this. Israel must admit that the Palestinians deserve to have their own independent state.”

The Middle East Quartet (comprised of the UN, United States, European Union and Russia) demanded at a recent security summit in Munich the immediate resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

But negotiations remain at an impasse.

The Palestinians decry fresh construction in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, which they say includes the eastern side of Jerusalem. For its part, Israel is outraged that Hamas, which remains committed to the violent destruction of Israel, is part of a new Palestinian unity government under “moderate” President Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Church of England Clips Anti-Israel Pastor's Wings

Church of England Clips Anti-Israel Pastor's Wings

The Diocese of Guildford of the Church of England ruled this week that a controversial vicar, Dr. Stephen Sizer, had in his “undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda” crossed the line into anti-Semitism by promoting conspiracy theories against the Jews.

Late last month, just around the time of International Holocaust Memorial Day, Sizer posted to Facebook a link to an article titled “9/11 Israel did it.” In text accompanying the link, Sizer wondered, “Is this anti-Semitic?” Whether or not it is didn’t seem to matter to Sizer, in whose mind the link in question “raises so many questions.”

Sizer has a long history of antagonism toward Israel, from targeting Christian support for the Jewish state to cozying up to the mullahs of Iran.

Joining himself to the ranks of what the Americans call “truthers” - those who insist that the truth has been concealed regarding who was behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and especially suggesting the Jews did it - was one jab too many.

In his official statement, the Bishop of Guildford, the Right Revd Andrew Watson, said that he did “not believe that [Sizer’s] motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate…some of which is clearly anti-Semitic.”

Bishop Watson and other officials in the diocese ultimately determined that Sizer’s “increasingly undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda has become a liability to his own ministry and that of the wider church,” and that “Stephen’s work in this area is no longer compatible with his ministry as a parish priest.”

The Church of England decided to let Sizer remain pastor of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, England on condition that he never again publicly address any issue related to the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular.

In other words, Stephen Sizer should never again be heard from regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Christian support for the Jewish state, otherwise known as Christian Zionism.

 

Speechless on Iranian Nukes

Speechless on Iranian Nukes

A bad deal on Iranian nukes would be so catastrophic to global security that presidential resistance to a related speech – by the leader of an allied democracy, who may be the greatest expert on the issue – should leave everyone speechless.

The Obama administration’s outraged accusation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu violated protocol by accepting House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress is preposterous: Bibi’s speech before Congress in 2011 came about in the exact same way with no similar Obama outrage (predictably, given the upcoming 2012 election). And the New York Times advanced this “violated protocol” narrative all too willingly, only to correct itself as inconspicuously as possible, revealing yet again its own anti-Israel agenda. Ironically, Obama’s main, if not only, motivation for visiting Israel in 2008 (and promising policies far from those he eventually adopted) was to gain the support of Jewish voters, back when he needed them to win the presidency.

Now Obama is trying everything in his power to unseat Bibi, including what he accuses Bibi of doing: meddling in another democracy’s domestic politics. Whitehouse Spokesperson Josh Earnest’s inadvertent slip about hoping that Bibi gets voted out in Israel’s next elections was just the appetizer. The Obama administration will boycott Bibi on his next trip and is boosting the profile of his political opponents, as Obama-linked strategists actively support Israeli campaigns to defeat Bibi (after already slighting the democratically elected leader of America’s top Mideast ally on countless other occasions).

Worse still, Obama and many commentators upbraid Bibi for trying to influence the very negotiations whose outcome will decide whether military force is needed, creating an absurd catch-22. If Bibi does nothing to prevent Obama from making Iran a threshold nuclear state, then he will be excoriated for any Israeli military attack undertaken to defang that threat; but if he speaks up now while a non-military solution is still possible (with adjustments to Obama’s disastrous negotiating strategy), then he is accused of meddling in U.S. politics and breaching protocol.

But, as the Washington Post pointed out, there are compelling reasons to question Obama’s Iran policy, which has been formulated by relatively inexperienced advisers and roundly critiqued by former secretaries of state and his own former adviser, veteran Mideast expert Dennis Ross, among other heavyweights. Yet Obama appears determined to quell any dissent – whether from Congress, policy experts, or the allied countries most immediately endangered by his inept strategy.

Separation of powers improves governance precisely because overly concentrated power tends to corrupt and no single institution has a monopoly on wisdom. Congress has been involved in Iran-related decisions and sanctions for decades, so how could it be prudent or constitutional for Obama to circumvent Congress on this issue? And yet that is exactly what Obama is trying to do by unilaterally weakening sanctions and vowing to veto any bill requiring Congressional approval of his nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama’s extraordinary fear of different views speaks volumes about his amateurish policymaking approach and his dubious motives. Is he trying to get a deal at any cost just to show an ostensible foreign policy win after so many conspicuous failures (from Ukraine to Syria)? Does he not realize that his legacy would be far more tarnished as the leader who enabled the world’s leading sponsor of terror to acquire nuclear weapons?  

The current deal reportedly allows Iranian uranium enrichment to continue with about 7,000 centrifuges and eventually ends inspections, leaving Iran as a threshold nuclear state. The day Tehran decides to go nuclear, terrorism itself becomes exponentially more lethal, and a wave of nuclear proliferation will spread across the Middle East. Iran’s rivals will seek to deter it with nukes of their own, making the world's most dangerous and unstable region a nuclear powder keg, with Islamists like ISIS eager to grab whatever nuclear materials they can.

A bad deal also makes it that much harder for any state to take preemptive military action against Iran’s nukes and strengthens the very government that optimists naively think will change once the Iranian economy opens up with the lifting of sanctions. The Iranian regime’s survival will be extended by a double victory: improving the economy and keeping Iran’s nuclear program, which has broad nationalist support. The Ayatollahs will have nukes long before the world has a democratic Iran run by moderates.

Now that Obama is unshackled from reelection pressures, his true face has emerged – with unbridled hostility towards Bibi, and a readiness to sacrifice Israeli security on the single greatest threat facing this New Jersey-sized country. The Iranian regime has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction; just last month, Mohammad Ali Jafari, a top Iranian military leader, clearly stated that Iran’s goal is Israel’s annihilation. In case there was any doubt left about Iran’s intentions, it released this video simulating an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel. So how can Obama – who deceptively affirmed the Holocaust lesson of “never again” – possibly expect the Jewish state to live with such threats? There is no margin for error on Iranian nukes because tiny Israel would be instantly destroyed after a first nuclear strike, so Obama clearly doesn’t mind rolling the dice with Israel’s survival.

But even if Israel’s survival were not a vital U.S. interest, how could entrusting the world’s leading terror sponsor with nukes possibly make the U.S. safer? Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was involved in Latin America’s bloodiest terror attacks and presumably had some role in Iran’s recent terrorist activity in Uruguay. Iran has tried to assassinate U.S. diplomats in Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, not to mention countless other attacks from Europe to the Middle East (including the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed over 240 Americans).

Never has a foreign leader’s Congressional address mattered so much to global security. Fortunately, most Americans want to hear Netanyahu’s speech, before it’s too late to avoid much worse scenarios. Obama’s efforts to silence Bibi only exacerbate serious concerns about Obama’s strategy, competence, and intentions. Any time a president tries this hard to suppress an opposing view shared by myriad experts and allies, the public needs to hear that other view.

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

 

VIDEO: Dancing Water in the Shadow of Jerusalem's Walls

VIDEO: Dancing Water in the Shadow of Jerusalem's Walls

Teddy Kollek Park, situated on the edge of Jerusalem’s Old City near Jaffa Gate, is one of the newer and more popular attractions in Israel’s capital. Of special interest, especially to younger visitors, is the large fountain area, where columns of water shoot out of the ground in sequence to music. The park is one of several stations around the city established in memory of Teddy Kollek, a legendary mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 to 1993.

See the video below:

 

Illegal Palestinian Worker Shown Mercy for Saving Jews

Illegal Palestinian Worker Shown Mercy for Saving Jews

The Tel Aviv District Court has decided to show clemency to a Palestinian worker residing illegally in Israel-proper after he saved the lives of an Israeli Jewish doctor and his son from a stone-throwing Palestinian mob.

“The defendant is a kind of ‘Righteous Among the Nations,’” ruled Judge Shamai Becker, referencing the designation given to non-Jews who helped save Jewish lives during World War II.

Becker sentenced the defendant to 18 days in prison, which he had already served while in custody. “Rather than condemn, we show gratitude to this man because he risked his life and livelihood in his home village in order to save Jews in danger,” the judge continued.

The 38-year-old Palestinian was accused of residing in Israel illegally, of supplying a false identity and possession of counterfeit documents. He confessed to the crime, but was shown mercy both due to his earlier sacrifice and a lack of evidence that he would commit further offenses.

The incident in question, in which the man saved two Jewish lives, occurred just before last summer’s Gaza war. A Jewish doctor and his son found themselves in an Arab village in the so-called “West Bank” and were set upon by an angry mob.

The doctor, who appeared in court as a witness on behalf of the defendant, testified: “It was the first Thursday of the month of Ramadan. I was nervous and tried to pass through the Arab village as quickly as possible. Some local people told me which way to go, but they led me astray and followed us.”

Soon after, the two Israelis were attacked by the mob. The son called the police, but both feared for their lives as they became blocked and stones were hurled at their vehicle.

It was then that the defendant and some of his family members intervened and acted as a human shield between the stone-throwing mob and the endangered Israelis. For 45 minutes the Palestinian man stood guard over the two Jews until an Israeli army unit arrived to extract them.

“He undoubtedly saved our lives,” the doctor assured the court.

But that selfless act came at a cost. Since that day, the Palestinian man has suffered numerous reprisals in his village, where he is unable to find work after being branded a friend of Jews. This, too, was taken into consideration by the court.

PHOTO: Palestinian workers at a checkpoint leading into Israel-proper. The poor, corruption-riddled Palestinian economy leads many to seek jobs in the Jewish state.

 

Lausanne Distances Itself From Anti-Christian Zionist Viewpoint

Lausanne Distances Itself From Anti-Christian Zionist Viewpoint

The following is a letter sent to Israel Today by Michael Oh, director of the Lausanne Movement, in response to our previous report Leading Evangelism Movement Slams Christian Zionism (emphasis ours):

The Lausanne Movement is a global network of individuals and ministries from a wide range of denominations, nationalities, theologies, and strategic perspectives that shares an evangelical faith and commitment to work together to bring the whole gospel to the whole world, which includes both Jews and Palestinians.

Our publication Lausanne Global Analysis represents a diversity of evangelical viewpoints within the bounds of our foundational documents (The Lausanne Covenant, The Manila Manifesto, The Cape Town Commitment). Our priority is to encourage partnerships among evangelicals of all nationalities for global mission, not to define singular positions on each of the issues covered in our foundational documents. The views and opinions expressed in Lausanne Global Analysis articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the personal viewpoints of Lausanne Movement leaders or networks. In some cases, such as the article you refer to, the viewpoints of some of our constituency are quite far apart. We have now added a disclaimer to the Lausanne Global Analysis so as to avoid future misrepresentation of the Lausanne Movement by outside sources.

I am particularly concerned about the inaccurate portrayal of The Cape Town Commitment found in your article, namely related to section IIB–2 in which ‘Palestinian suffering’ is mentioned. It is mentioned in a section on ‘Christ’s peace in ethnic conflict’, which reads as follows:

“We acknowledge with grief and shame the complicity of Christians in some of the most destructive contexts of ethnic violence and oppression, and the lamentable silence of large parts of the Church when such conflicts take place. Such contexts include the history and legacy of racism and black slavery; the holocaust against Jews; apartheid; ‘ethnic cleansing’; inter-Christian sectarian violence; decimation of indigenous populations; inter-religious, political and ethnic violence; Palestinian suffering; caste oppression; and tribal genocide. Christians who, by their action or inaction, add to the brokenness of the world, seriously undermine our witness to the gospel of peace.”

Palestinian suffering is cited as one example in a list of many other contexts of ethnic conflict. In no way does The Cape Town Commitment call Christians to repent for supporting Israel nor does it link Palestinian suffering as a result of Christian support for Israel. Furthermore, there is no rank of importance to the different contexts of ethnic conflict that we mention.

In addition, the Lausanne Movement does not and cannot prescribe how the nation of Israel should deal with the many sensitive internal challenges it lives with daily. However, we do have a commitment to ongoing, healthy discussion on Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation and to be bearers of Christ’s peace in ethnic conflict.

The longest standing network in the Lausanne Movement is the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE), which was started in 1980 to share the good news of Messiah Jesus with Jews. We stand in unity with the LCJE in their ministry around the world among the Jewish people. Future articles from the LCJE have been commissioned for the Lausanne Global Analysis.

Sincerely,

Michael Oh
Executive Director/CEO
Lausanne Movement


EDITOR’S NOTES

Israel Today would like to add several notes of clarification regarding the above letter received from the Lausanne Movement.

  1. Michael Oh distances Lausanne, or at least some of its members, from the anti-Christian Zionist views recently published in Lausanne Global Analysis. But, he also states that the diverse viewpoints appearing in the publication all fall within the bounds of Lausanne’s foundational documents, suggesting that opposition to Bible-based Christian support of Israel is in line with Lausanne’s doctrines of faith.

  2. The letter takes issue with Israel Today’s portrayal of the 2010 Cape Town Commitment. Michael Oh stresses that the document does not explicitly “call Christians to repent for supporting Israel.” But in the paragraph following its reference to “Palestinian suffering,” the Cape Town Commitment does indeed call for “repentance for the many times Christians have been complicit in such evils…by providing defective theological justification for these.” This was widely understood at the time to be a reference to Christian support for Israel, or Christian Zionism. If Michael Oh is now saying this is not the case, then it is a very welcome clarification.

  3. The Cape Town Commitment vaguely lumped together all other crises in the world, while explicitly referencing “Palestinian suffering,” calling into question Michael Oh’s assertion that “there is no rank of importance to the different contexts of ethnic conflict that we mention.”

  4. The Cape Town Commitment and Michael Oh’s letter emphasize the “ethnic” nature of “Palestinian suffering,” when in fact there is no Palestinian ethnicity. Those who are today called Palestinians are universally accepted as belonging to the Arab race. This would again suggest the adoption of certain narratives prejudiced against the Jews’ historical claims in the region.

 

Israeli Politician Admits Mistake Calling for Golan Surrender

Israeli Politician Admits Mistake Calling for Golan Surrender

Zahava Galon on Sunday admitted in an interview with Channel 10 News that she had been mistaken in her previous demands that Israel surrender the Golan Heights to Syria in return for a peace deal.

“There is no one to whom to return the Golan,” said Galon. “I made a mistake in boycotting products from the [Golan] Heights.”

As leader of the far-left Meretz Party, Galon was at the forefront of those pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, to negotiate handing over the entirety of the strategic Golan Heights to neighboring Syria as part of a comprehensive push for peace with the Arab world.

Syria today is, of course, embroiled in a bloody civil war that is being contested by numerous radical Islamist groups, including some with ties to Al Qaeda. Had the Golan been negotiated away when Galon and others demanded as much, it would likely now be in the hands of such groups, facilitating deadly terrorist attacks on the towns of the Galilee region.

It was the “stubbornness” of Netanyahu, as Galon and others asserted at the time, that ultimately kept the Golan out of dangerous enemy hands.

Nevertheless, Galon enthusiastically joined other opposition figures in pre-election criticism of Netanyahu after two missiles from Syria struck the Golan late last month amid a brief, but deadly border flare-up.

“Netanyahu has failed to provide security to the citizens of Israel,” she told Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper. “My heart is with the residents of the north that are living under unbearable tension. Rocket fire on civilian populations is unacceptable, and Israel has the right and responsibility to defend its citizens.”

PHOTO: Israeli artillery positioned near an Israeli village in the northern Golan (Flash90)

 

Biden, Kerry Boycott Netanyahu, Meet Israeli Opposition Leader

Biden, Kerry Boycott Netanyahu, Meet Israeli Opposition Leader

Is the Obama Administration interfering in Israel’s upcoming elections? Recent statements and moves by America’s leaders sure would seem to suggest so.

Last week, both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry announced they would not be in attendance when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Senate dedicated to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

The White House has been furious with Netanyahu over the planned appearance, which Obama officials insist had breached protocol by being organized without their approval and involvement.

Just days after letting everyone know they wouldn’t be on hand to greet and listen to Netanyahu, both Biden and Kerry met with Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany on Saturday. And this just a month before Israel’s March 17 elections.

In Herzog’s own description to Channel 10 News, the episode represents “a complete boycott [of Netanyahu]. Even if that’s not stated, that’s the story.”

In remarks to Israel Radio, Herzog downplayed the encounters with Biden and Kerry, insisting that neither American official had tried to schedule a meeting with him, but rather engaged him at more public gatherings.

To be fair, Netanyahu was likewise accused of interfering in America’s last elections, in which support of Israel played a major role, by publicly embracing the candidacy of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

PHOTO: Kerry at Herzog’s office in Jerusalem last January (Flash90)

 

Israel, Incitement and Genocide

Israel, Incitement and Genocide

The resignation of William Schabas, chair of the United Nations’ Independent Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict, after the commission’s report has already been written is a clever move to deflect criticism from the anti-Israel Human Rights Council.

Given growing anti-Israel sentiment around the world, Schabas' resignation will not change anything, and another report blaming Israel for war crimes in Gaza will be used to further defame the Jewish state.

The approaching diplomatic assault shows how the UN is part and parcel of the campaign of incitement against Israel that can only lead to more violence and bloodshed.

Obvious as the biased UN treatment of Israel is, it is still in need of proof, and that is exactly what a report by the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention (JCGP) is providing. This institute, founded by Dr. Elihu Richter, professor emeritus at the Hebrew University’s medical school, has dedicated itself to the study of the causes leading to genocide and the possible ways of preventing it from happening.

The JCGP uses the expertise of Elihu in the medical field of epidemiology to support its conclusion that the last military operation in Gaza and its consequences was a direct result of Hamas' incitement against Israel. The JCGP submitted a report to the UN commission comparing incitement to a dangerous virus that, if not contained and destroyed, will spread and infect an entire population.

Words, explains Dr. Richter, are man's deadliest weapon, and people are as susceptible to words of incitements as they are to infectious diseases.

The report argues that the dreadful death toll in Gaza - 2,127 Gazans and 72 Israelis - is the direct result of increasing incitement against Israel manifested in the form rockets and terror tunnels designed to ultimately bring about Israel’s demise. Using an epidemiological timeline, the JCGP report points to a direct correlation between rocket attacks (incitement) and the number of deaths, which stopped mounting the moment Hamas accepted the last in a series of six ceasefire proposals.

The question of why Hamas refused the first five ceasefire proposals leads to the conclusion that bears responsibility for the death and destruction of its own people and property.

Indeed, as the report asks, "if the damage was so horrendous, why did Hamas violate the first ceasefire and four others before accepting the sixth offer? And why is Hamas continuing to incite adults and schoolchildren to hate and war in the public square, official media, schools and places of worship? And finally, why do international agencies continue to subsidize this incitement in UNRWA schools?"

This interesting analogy between incitement and infectious disease suggests that Israel's reaction to Hamas is in proportion to the level of incitement against it. It further suggests that Israel had no choice but dealing decisively with this menace before it reached its genocidal potential.

And yet, compelling as this report may be, most likely it will be pushed aside in favor of an agenda that seeks to malign Israel no matter what, thus aiding the declared genocidal purpose of Hamas.

 

Rabbi: Jewish Prayers Kept David's Tomb From Becoming Church

Rabbi: Jewish Prayers Kept David's Tomb From Becoming Church

King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion was the focus of major controversy last summer when it was reported that, under pressure from the Vatican, Israel was preparing to hand over or sell control of the holy site to the Catholic Church.

The site is also holy to Christians, as the second floor of the compound is home to a more modern representation of the “Upper Room.”

In March an Italian newspaper reported that the Israeli government had in fact reached an agreement whereby the Vatican would take control of the Upper Room, while the building itself, and therefore King David’s Tomb, would remain still be owned by the Jewish state.

The situation was unacceptable to religious Jewish authorities, who noted that the arrangement would in effect transform the building into a church, thereby making it ritualistically impossible for Jews to worship anywhere on the premises.

Rabbi Eldad Shmueli told Arutz 7 that he subsequently made a call for all Jews visiting and praying at the Western Wall to also visit the nearby Tomb of David.

“To our delight the Israeli public has visited en masse, the publication of the agreement with the Vatican has given us a boost [in attendance] - there are many [Torah] lessons, prayers,” said Rabbi Shmueli. “The place is alive and vibrant - everyone should come here and help maintain the spiritual essence of this place.”

 

Europe Helps Palestinians Create 'Facts on the Ground'

Europe Helps Palestinians Create 'Facts on the Ground'

The European Union has begun to engage in precisely the kind of activity against which it constantly cautions Israel: prejudging the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by creating facts on the ground.

In recent weeks, the EU has erected several hundred illegal homes for Palestinians in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank.” Most of the new accommodations are to be in the vicinity of the Jerusalem suburb of Ma’aleh Adumim, one of the largest Jewish settlements. And all the homes bear the logo of the EU (as seen pictured).

The Israeli government has thus far failed to publicly respond to this provocation, but Regavim, an NGO focused on legal issues related to land ownership in the territories, has shined a spotlight on the issue.

“It used to be restricted to diplomatic and financial support,” Regavim told journalists during a tour of the area. “But now it is about active cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. …This is part of their plan to unilaterally create a Palestinian state.”

Most of the newer EU houses were built in “Area C,” the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control, and given to the large Bedouin tribes dwelling there.

Regavim further noted that many of the houses were constructed on historically state-owned land, and in some cases on protected nature reserves.

At the end of 2014, the Knesset’s Defense Committee was presented figures showing that over the past year in Area C there were 550 cases of illegal Arab construction (some provided by the EU), compared to just 150 cases of illegal Jewish construction. Nevertheless, it was the Jewish cases alone that made international headlines.

 

Hirelings in Jerusalem's Churches

Hirelings in Jerusalem's Churches

Protestant church leaders send clergy to Jerusalem who work against the Jews and support the Muslims. Christians in Jerusalem must search in vain for Sunday services to worship the God of Israel. Hirelings have taken over and chased away the real shepherds along with the true believers.

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

 

VIDEO: A Land of Diversity

VIDEO: A Land of Diversity

Israel is often maligned as a racist, even apartheid state. But the truth, as demonstrated in the following video, is that Israel is a land of unprecedented coexistence given its tiny size.

The video was put together by filmmaker Matty Brown who during his travels through the Holy Land was overwhelmed by the local diversity. Modern city life, Bedouin desert encampments, Orthodox Jews at the Wailing Wall, and so much more are what make up the fabric of Israel - a land of true diversity!

By the way - as Brown points out, the title of the video is not misspelled. It is an invitation to take a peek into the real Israel, not the negative caricature the international community likes to promote.

This Isreal from Matty Brown on Vimeo.

 

Knesset Speaker: Bible is Jews' Deed to This Land

Knesset Speaker: Bible is Jews' Deed to This Land

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (pictured) on Tuesday was among the 100 people honored at the second annual “Jewish 100” event in New York for positively influencing the lives of the Jewish people over the past year.

Hosted by the Jewish newspaper Algemeiner, the event saw Edelstein, Donald Trump and late Jewish comedian Joan Rivers, among many others, awarded the title “Warrior for Truth.”

In his acceptance speech, Edelstein lamented that “today unfortunately there is no concept of pure, ultimate truth,” especially when it comes to the Land of Israel. “The ‘truth’ of the claims by others on our land does not exist,” he continued.

Edelstein went on to explain that the truth of the Jewish claim to the land is firmly linked to the Bible. “When I leave my home I walk on paths where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked. And that’s the truth regarding our rights to the land.”

 

Poll: Most Israelis Interested in Studying Bible

Poll: Most Israelis Interested in Studying Bible

A new survey shows that a majority of Israeli Jews, while identifying as “secular” or “traditional,” are nevertheless interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Bible.

Conducted by the Motagim Institute on behalf of the religious website Maimonides Daily, the poll revealed that 54 percent of Israeli Jews feel they only have a “basic grasp” of their national faith, and that 57 percent would commit at least five minute a day to reading the Bible.

On Hanukkah 2014, the Israel government launched a three-year nation-wide Bible study under the banner of Project 929, named after the number of chapters in the Tanakh (or Old Testament).

The Project 929 website will let visitors know the current daily chapter, which they can read or listen to in Hebrew.

The obvious aim is to get all Israelis to read the Bible. But the array of associated commentaries by celebrities and other contributors has been a source of controversy among religious authorities.

The February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine examines this issue in greater depth. SUBSCRIBE NOW to read it all

 

Palestinian Leader Investigates Newspaper for Mohammed Cartoon

Palestinian Leader Investigates Newspaper for Mohammed Cartoon

Not a month has passed since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined other world leaders in a massive “freedom of speech” march through the streets of Paris (pictured) following a brutal terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing a series of political cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

The same Mahmoud Abbas has now ordered an investigation against the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat al Jadida. The charge: Publishing a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

The official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA reported that Abbas had called for an “immediate investigation” into the matter, insisting that “we need take deterrent action against those responsible for this terrible mistake.”

Al Hayat al Jadida is itself an official media outlet of the Palestinian Authority. Last Sunday’s edition of the paper featured a political cartoon showing Prophet Mohammed holding a heart-shaped bag as he sowed “seeds of love” over the entire world.

Islam forbids depictions of Mohammed, positive or negative. The newspaper subsequently printed an apology on its front page.

 

Messianic Video Series Now With English Subtitles

Messianic Video Series Now With English Subtitles

Two months ago we reported on a new Internet video project by a group of young Israeli Messianic media professionals.

What started as a brief set of video responses to anti-Messianic activists in Israel quickly blossomed into a catalogue of 52 short clips answering the most pressing rabbinical objections to Yeshua (Jesus).

Originally published in Hebrew for an Israeli audience, the ministry One for Israel is now in the process of adding English subtitles to all the clips. At present, more than a dozen videos have English subtitles, and can be viewed by visiting www.oneforisrael.org/messiah

 

VIDEO: Through the Eyes of Israeli Soldiers

VIDEO: Through the Eyes of Israeli Soldiers

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been making greater use of helmet cameras, for legal and documentary purposes. The following video is a brief collage of clips filmed by soldiers in the field. It demonstrates the diversity of roles these young men and women must fulfill as they battle for the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State of Israel, and to protect each and every one of her citizens.

 

The Eleventh Plague: Corruption

The Eleventh Plague: Corruption

Israel has been overwhelmed by a wave of corruption in the highest echelons of power. It has become a national plague, as dangerous as the enemies of flesh and blood. But corruption is a problem everywhere, and recent high profile cases provide Israel an opportunity to truly be a 'light unto the nations.'

Israel Today spoke with leading cultural figures, journalists, politicians, rabbis and Messianic leaders about this growing phenomenon, what it means for Israel, and what can and should be done.

The full story appears in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Israelis: Maybe the UN Should Investigate Itself

Israelis: Maybe the UN Should Investigate Itself

Following the revelation that the appointed head of the UN commission of inquiring into last summer’s Gaza war had previous associations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor suggested that the world body investigate its own ineptitude and overriding prejudice against the Jewish state.

“The United Nations should suspend its investigation into Israel and immediately investigate the disturbing revelations of its own incompetence and bias,” read a press release by NGO Monitor.

The group had long been at the forefront of publicly opposing the appointment of Prof. William Schabas to head the commission of inquiry following the most recent conflagration in and around Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Schabas, as NGO Monitor and many others pointed out, had a history of making outlandish assertions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of calling for the prosecution of Israeli leaders.

After Schabas’ resignation from the commission on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that all the work he oversaw in “investigating” Israel be dismissed.

“After the resignation of the committee chairman who was biased against Israel, the report that was written at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council – an anti-Israel body, the decisions of which prove it has nothing to do with human rights – needs to be shelved,” Netanyahu wrote in an official statement.

The prime minister further noted that the same Human Rights Council that saw fit to appoint Schabas to investigate the Gaza war over the past year “made more decisions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined.”

But NGO Monitor President Prof. Gerald Steinberg warned that the UN was unlikely to take the advise of either himself or the Israeli leader, and would undoubtedly press ahead with the work began by Schabas.

“Since the Commission has completed its fact-finding stage, the final report will be tainted by Schabas’ leadership until this point,” wrote Steinberg.

 

'Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism,' Rules German Judge

'Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism,' Rules German Judge

A German judge last week equated condemnation of Zionism with anti-Semitism, undercutting the arguments of many who claim that hostile criticism of Israel is not the same as hating the Jews.

In judging the case of 24-year-old Taylan Can, a German citizen of Turkish decent known for is anti-Israel activism, Judge Gauri Sastry refused to allow the defendant to hide behind the notion of legitimate criticism of the Jewish state.

Can was ultimately convicted for incitement against an ethnic minority for his role in a July 18, 2014 demonstration in Essen, Germany, where he and others used the term “Zionist” to stir up anger against Israel and local Jewish residents.

At his hearing, Can insisted he was not an anti-Semite, and was merely opposed to the policies of the State of Israel. But Judge Sastry was having none of it. Die Welt quoted her as clarifying that “‘Zionist’ is the language of anti-Semites, the code for ‘Jew.’”

It was likely that particular portion of Judge Sastry’s ruling would be overturned when Can appealed to higher courts, but European Jewish groups nevertheless praised the unprecedented and bold decision that had publicly unmasked one of the more dangerous lies of our times.

PHOTO: Pro-Gaza rally in Essen, Germany last summer

 

Biased Head of UN Investigation Into Gaza War Steps Down

Biased Head of UN Investigation Into Gaza War Steps Down

William Schabas, whose appointment to head a UN investigation into last summer’s Gaza war was vigorously opposed by Israel, has stepped down following the revelation of evidence linking him to the Palestinian regime.

The UN has been eager to launch a formal commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and last August put together a three-judge panel tasked with doing just that.

But the commission was immediately assailed as biased and unnecessary not only by Israel, but by the United States and the European Union, as well. At the time, Hamas said the commission could expect as much cooperation from it as from Israel, meaning none.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time called the commission a “kangaroo court” whose findings were “predetermined,” noting that Schabas, a Canadian professor teaching in the UK, had previously called for the prosecution of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres for alleged war crimes

Schabas likewise asserted that past Israeli offenses against the Gaza terrorists (in 2009 and 2012) were more severe than any other crises taking place in the world. And this at a time when the full number of those killed and displaced in Darfur was coming to light and when hundreds of thousands were experiencing the same and worse in neighboring Syria.

Naming Schabas to the panel “proves beyond any doubt that Israel cannot expect justice from such a body,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement read.

It would now seem that assessment was justified, as Schabas has something of a history with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which controls the Palestinian Authority.

Reuters reported that week that in 2012, Schabas was paid to provide legal consultation to the PLO. This was after some of his earlier outbursts against Israel and its leaders, suggesting the PLO chose Schabas for the job precisely because of his negative view of the Jewish state.

In his letter of resignation to the UN commission on Monday, Schabas remained unrepentant, insisting he had been the victim of “malicious attacks” by those determined to halt the wheels of justice.

Schabas asserted that his past work for the PLO was no different than the consultations he had provided many governments and organizations. He failed to acknowledge that prior to being transformed into the Palestinian Authority, the PLO was the world’s foremost terrorist organization, the “Al Qaeda of its day.”

 

More and More Jews Visiting Temple Mount

More and More Jews Visiting Temple Mount

The number of Jewish visitors to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount saw a significant boost over the past year, despite ongoing efforts to discourage non-Muslims from ascending the holy plateau and a firm ban on all Jewish and Christian prayer.

Last month, the Temple Institute made a “freedom of information” request to the Israel Police regarding the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. The group was pleased to learn that no fewer than 10,906 Israeli and foreign Jews had come to Judaism’s holiest site in 2014.

By comparison, 8,528 Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2013, and there were just 5,658 Jewish visitors in 2009.

For those who advocate full freedom of religion at the Temple Mount, those numbers were encouraging, especially given that Jews and Christians are only permitted to visit the holy site three days out of every week, and even then only at very restricted hours.

The issue of the Temple Mount has increasingly been the focus of tense debate within Israel’s Knesset in recent years. Last February, the Knesset held its first ever discussion on extending fully Israeli sovereignty over the site, which is presently managed by an Islamic Trust (Waqf).

It is at the Waqf’s request (demand?) that Jews and Christians are not allowed to utter even silent prayers while visiting the Temple Mount, and outbreaks of Muslim violence over any perceived violation has ensured that Israeli authorities do their best to honor the Muslims’ conditions.

Many Israeli lawmakers are increasingly frustrated by this situation, which they deem to be a total surrender to the dictates and threats of radical Islam. They want Israel to become the official overseer of the Temple Mount.

 

Israeli Singer Who Caused National Stir Begins First Album

Israeli Singer Who Caused National Stir Begins First Album

Shai Sol, the young Israeli Messianic singer who caused something of a national stir in December after boldly declaring her faith while competing in the televised singing contest Hakochav Haba (The Next Star), is now working on her first album.

Israel Today covered Shai’s initial “coming out,” which was shocking enough for Hakochav Haba’s producers to make it the focus of their weekly promotional commercials at the time.

That episode sparked a very positive debate in the Israeli media regarding Jewish believers in Yeshua and their place in Israeli society.

Israel Today’s David Lazarus later spoke to Shai and learned how her television appearances had encouraged many more young Israeli believers to share their faith. (The full interview can be read in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine)

Since leaving Hakochav Haba, Shai has written yet another song to go with her catalogue of over 300 originals (see below).

She is also asking Israel Today readers to help her out in a crowd-funding campaign to produce her first full album. You can click here to learn more

Listen to Shai’s new song (Hebrew):

 

How Deeply is Obama Involved in Israeli Elections?

How Deeply is Obama Involved in Israeli Elections?

Israel began this week abuzz with debate over whether or not the Obama Administration is trying to interfere in Israel’s upcoming elections, and if so, how deeply the White House is involved in seeking “regime change.”

It is by now no secret that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don’t get along, to put it mildly.

So when a new political organization going by the name of V15 (Victory in 2015) sprang up with the sole purpose of bringing Netanyahu’s premiership to an end, it didn’t take long before Israelis were pondering the level of Obama’s association.

Reports that V15 had brought on board Jeremy Bird, national field director for Obama’s 2012 campaign, as its “secret weapon” only fueled the fire.

As officials in Netanyahu’s own Likud Party stressed to Israeli media, professional campaigners like Bird do not come cheap.

And given the fact that V15 is explicitly not campaigning on behalf of the opposition Labor Party - indeed, Labor Chairman Eitan Cabel told Channel 2 News that he knew little-to-nothing about the group - questions were raised as to the source of the money.

V15 officials responded that wealthy American and Israeli Jews had put up most, if not all of the funds, but no detailed accounting appeared forthcoming.

Waist deep in such murky and questionable waters, Likud petitioned the Election Committee to bar V15 from public activity, arguing that even if Labor was not directly involved, the group was in fact campaigning on behalf of the opposition, and that at least partially with foreign funding.

US Senator Ted Cruz, himself a potential Republican presidential candidate, further piqued Israeli suspicions when he wrote to US Secretary of State John Kerry noting that V15 was working in partnership with OneVoice, an American non-profit organization that receives government funding.

“We write to express strong concerns over the recent media reports that a US taxpayer funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called OneVoice is actively working with a campaign operation called V15 or ‘Victory 2015’ in an effort to influence the outcome of the elections in Israel on March 17, 2015,” penned Cruz, together with US House Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

The State Department brushed off any insinuations, insisting that OneVoice hadn’t received any grant money since November 2014 (a mere three months ago).

 

Iraq's Yazidi Minority Asks for Israel's Help

Iraq's Yazidi Minority Asks for Israel's Help

Iraq’s Yazidi minority, a small group of Kurdish people who cling to an ancient religion, were virtually unknown before coming under siege by ISIS last summer. Now they, much like the larger Kurdish nation, are seeking Israel’s aid in battling their Islamist foes.

In a telephone interview with Al-Monitor last week, a top Yazidi militia commander said his people, most of whom remain trapped on Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq, would eagerly forge ties of friendship with the Jewish state.

“The Arab countries do not recognize us, nor do they recognize you,” said Lt.-Col. Lukman Ibrahim. “We regard you as a friendly state, with an opportunity for relations on the basis of neutrality and respect.”

While the Yazidi militia has managed to recruit no fewer than 12,000 fighters from a population numbering just over 200,000 in the region today, they are largely untrained and sorely under-equipped.

“We appeal to the Israeli government and its leader to step in and help this nation, which loves the Jewish people,” said Ibrahim. “We would be most grateful for the establishment of military ties.”

Israel is no stranger to aiding the Kurds in their battles against Arab neighbors. Kurdish-Israel ties are a poorly kept secret, and if a Kurdish state is ever realized, there is little doubt it would immediately become the Jewish state’s closest friend in the region.

Like the wider Kurdish nation, the Yazidis see Israel as a natural ally.

“We are not Arabs, nor are we Muslims. We see ourselves as sharing a fate with the Israelis, who went through similar pogroms,” said Majdal Rasho, a Yazidi who immigrated to Germany, but returned to help fight ISIS. “Those besieged on the mountain approached me and asked, ‘Maybe our Israeli brethren could lend a hand?’”

The Yazidis are adherents of a monotheistic faith linked to ancient Zoroastrianism. They believe in God as the Creator of all, but hold that He has given rule of this world to seven powerful archangels, the chief among them known as Malek Taus (the Peacock Angel). Muslims regard the Yazidis as devil-worshippers because according to Islam, Malek Taus is the archangel who fell from God’s grace and became Satan.

 

'I Have a Dream,' Israeli Pres Tells Black Christians

'I Have a Dream,' Israeli Pres Tells Black Christians

On his first visit to the United States, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin chose to make his first speech not to Jewish leaders, but to Black Christian leaders in Brooklyn's Christian Community Church. None of the previous nine Israeli presidents has ever addressed non-Catholic Christians inside a church outside of Israel. This unprecedented gesture was poorly covered by the media.

Short as Rivlin's speech was, it was nonetheless a landmark event worth much more attention than the short, cordial reports in the Jerusalem Post and on Brooklyn News. Worth noting was Rivlin's emphasis on learning history. 

Lest one forget and assume history is important, former President Shimon Peres repeatedly asserted there was no need to study the past. The reasoning behind Peres' contempt for history was his vision of a world where land no longer mattered in the formation of national identity, which in itself he viewed as unimportant. This explains his enthusiasm for the idea of "land for peace."

Rivlin thinks otherwise. In quoting his host, Pastor A. R. Bernard, the Israeli president indirectly justified the existence of modern Israel by insisting, "We must celebrate the past. We must rehearse it in the ears of our children and the world, from generation to generation so that history does not become myth." 

Rivlin's embracing of this profound approach to history as espoused by a wise African-American Christian leader should not be surprising. Jews have been doing this from time immemorial, and those like Peres will ultimately change nothing.

Rivlin certainly used the occasion to express much needed Israeli empathy with the American black community, but also to send a clear message to the world about the purpose of Zionism, a word increasingly associated with imperialism, occupation and injustice. 

"I also have a dream," said our president, "that once again God will knock on our door. I dream that Jerusalem, which is a microcosm of the world, will serve as a model for coexistence between different communities and religions. Jews and Arabs were not condemned to live together, but destined to live together. We are all the children of Abraham, and as the prophet Isaiah said: 'It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it … For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.'"

Amidst all the lies, disinformation and contempt thrown at Israel, Rivlin correctly presented Zionism as an effort to create a society that will be a light to the world. 

Though by no means perfect, Israel is at least attempting to achieve Isaiah's vision, and our president believes that Zionism as it was intended to be will one day become a reality. This is a far cry from the bad press Israel receives, and it may be why this particular visit did not fit the agenda of the major news agencies.

PHOTO: Rivlin with Pastor Bernard in New York

 

Pro-Palestinian UK Priest Suggests Jews Behind 9/11

Pro-Palestinian UK Priest Suggests Jews Behind 9/11

The Church of England has launched an investigation into charges of anti-Semitism made against one of its more controversial vicars, Dr. Stephen Sizer.

Sizer, it would seem, has joined the ranks of what the Americans call “truthers” - those who insist that the truth has been concealed regarding who was behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Most truthers promote theories that the US government itself was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. But Sizer has endorsed a smaller group of truthers who, in medieval blood libel fashion, say the Jews did it.

Sizer this week posted to Facebook a link to an article titled “9/11 Israel did it.” In text accompanying the link, Sizer wondered, “Is this anti-Semitic?” Whether or not it is didn’t seem to matter to Sizer, in whose mind the link in question “raises so many questions.”

Jonathan Arkush, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, echoed the outrage felt by most of those familiar with Sizer’s antics. “Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd,” Arkush told Jewish News.

As protests mounted, Sizer quickly removed the Facebook post, but not before a number of people saved screenshots and filed complaints with the Church of England.

A spokesman for the Church of England was quoted in British media as calling Sizer’s remarks “unacceptable whenever they were posted,” but especially egregious given that this past week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the foremost symbol of the Nazi Holocaust.

An unrepentant Sizer told London’s Telegraph that he was merely “encouraging debate.”

It was not the first time Sizer had gotten himself into trouble by bashing Israel to the point of being anti-Semitic. In 2013, following an earlier investigation by the Church of England, Sizer agreed to tone down his rhetoric and be more thoughtful about which links he posts in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But last October, Sizer was at it again, participating in a conference in Tehran where Iranian and foreign scholars debated the “Zionist” involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks. Sizer later denied officially endorsing the conference, but also defended it as not being an anti-Semitic affair.

Sizer has also been a regular organizer, lecturer and panelist at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference hosted by Bethlehem Bible College. The bi-annual event has been characterized by what amounts to Replacement Theology and a general attitude that Israel and its Christian supporters are to blame for most, if not all the woes in this region.

PHOTO: Dr. Stephen Sizer addressing the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in 2012

 

Young Israeli Believers Boldly Share Their Faith

Young Israeli Believers Boldly Share Their Faith

"A lot of Messianic friends said that they were encouraged to speak out about their faith once I took the step of openly talking about Yeshua on national TV," Shai told Israel Today

The full interview appears in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Hezbollah Tells Israel It Doesn't Want War

Hezbollah Tells Israel It Doesn't Want War

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday confirmed that he had received a message passed by Hezbollah via the United Nations that the Lebanese terrorist militia was not interested in further escalation of violence along the Israel-Lebanon border.

The message was transmitted a day after a cross-border Hezbollah attack left two Israeli soldiers dead and another seven wounded. The group said the attack was in response to last week’s targeted killing in Syria of a top Hezbollah field commander by an Israeli gunship.

By mid-day Wednesday, the situation seemed primed for a major explosion. But Hezbollah reportedly came under intense pressure from the Lebanese media and government, which were not at all keen for a repeat of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.

Ya’alon reiterated that Israel, too, would like to avoid another full-scale war, but Jerusalem has cautioned that it will not tolerate such overt threats to its security.

By Thursday morning, quiet had returned to the border region, but Israeli forces remained deployed on highest alert. The army also resumed drilling activities aimed at discovering possible Hezbollah terror tunnels running under the border.

Meanwhile, the two fatalities from Wednesday’s attack, Major Yochai Kalangel (25) and Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini (20), were laid to rest by hundreds of mourning family and friends.

Kalangel, a decorate and much-beloved company commander, leaves behind a wife and one-year-old daughter. Nini was still in the midst of the mandatory military service all young Israelis must do following high school. Nini’s mother, Sima, was quoted as saying the following at her son’s funeral: “My beloved boy. I’ve lost you. You went to the army and came back in a coffin.”

While the latest border incident is seen as concluded, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that those responsible for taking the lives of Kalangel and Nini would yet “pay the full price.”

 

2 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Lebanon Border Attack

2 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Lebanon Border Attack

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and several more were wounded on Wednesday when their patrol vehicles were hit by anti-tank missiles along the northern border with Lebanon. Several other IDF positions in the area were simultaneously struck by mortar fire.

Many believe the coordinated assault was an attempt by the Lebanese terrorist militia Hezbollah to abduct Israeli soldiers. The group has successfully done so in the past using similar tactics.

Israeli forces responded with targeted artillery fire. Residents of the northern Israel border region were ordered to enter their bomb shelters.

Earlier in the day, the IDF conducted test drillings in several locations near the northern border following complaints by residents who said they could hear Hezbollah terrorists tunneling under their communities.

The phenomenon of “terror tunnels” has become an overriding concern in the wake of last summer’s Gaza war, during which Israel discovered Hamas had dug dozens of such tunnels into southern Israel.

Israel’s northern borders with both Syria and Lebanon have been on highest alert since last week, when Israel successfully targeted a military convoy in the Syrian border town of Quneitra, killing a top Hezbollah field commander and a visiting Iranian general.

Apparently in retaliation for that strike, forces operating in Syria fired at least two missiles into the Israeli Golan Heights on Tuesday, causing no injuries or damage. Israel responded with artillery fire and overnight airstrikes on Syrian government forces.

PHOTO: IDF forces on patrol along the northern border (IDF Spokesperson)

 

Majority of Germans Fed Up With Holocaust Remembrance

Majority of Germans Fed Up With Holocaust Remembrance

Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army. The anniversary has become the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the organized extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazi regime.

However, according to a representative survey conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation, an overwhelming 81 percent of Germans have grown weary of dedicating so much time and effort to Holocaust remembrance, and want to instead focus on present-day problems.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier disagreed. “It remains the duty of parents to inform their children that there can never be a line drawn under [our history],” he told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

“We can consider ourselves lucky that after the atrocities of the Third Reich, after 70 million dead in the Second World War and 6 million murdered Jews, that we can be accepted back into the international community, even today,” the foreign minister continued.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed similar sentiments at a ceremony at Auschwitz, calling the former death camp a symbol that “concerns us all, today and tomorrow and not only on anniversaries. …We must not forget. We owe that to the many millions of victims.”

Unfortunately, it would seem a majority of Germans simply don’t see eye-to-eye with their leaders on this issue, and much of that has to do with the modern State of Israel.

According to the survey, more than a third of Germans believe that Israel’s policies in dealing with Palestinian terrorism is comparable to what the Nazis did to the Jews. Only 36 percent of Germans said they hold a positive view of Israel.

PHOTO: A young Israeli visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

 

Ben-Gurion's Prophetic Letters

Ben-Gurion's Prophetic Letters

In 1964, as a 15-year-old Jewish American living in New York, I had the honor of receiving two personal letters from Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The full story appears in the February 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Rockets From Syria Strike Northern Israel

Rockets From Syria Strike Northern Israel

At least two rockets fired from Syria landed in the Israeli Golan Heights on Tuesday, sparking widespread fears of renewed warfare with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist militia, which is currently deployed in Syria to aid embattled dictator Bashar Assad.

There were no initial reports of damage or injuries resulting from the rocket fire from Syria, but Israel evacuated the Mt. Hermon ski resort and police closed roads to the northern half of the Golan as a precaution.

Israeli artillery returned fire, and the air force scrambled jets to the border region.

Local residents were ordered to remain in bomb shelters for the duration of the exchange, which appeared to have subsided by mid-afternoon.

The border region has been on high alert since last week, when an Israeli helicopter gunship fired two missiles at a convoy in the Syrian border town of Quneitra, killing a top Hezbollah field commander and a visiting Iranian general.

PHOTO: Israeli artillery deployed along the Golan border (archive).

 

Israeli Soccer Coaches Bring Joy to African Refugees

Israeli Soccer Coaches Bring Joy to African Refugees

A delegation of Israeli soccer coaches recently arrived at a remote refugee camp in Cameroon that is home to thousands of refugee children who fled ongoing violence in the Central African Republic.

Equipped with soccer balls and nets, the coaches tried to bring a little joy to the camp’s children, who are suffering from severe trauma as a result of the brutal war ravaging their country.

The visit was the initiative of the Israeli Embassy in Cameroon, in cooperation with Israeli and UN human rights groups.

The Israeli delegation conducted a series of training sessions and activities for the local children in an attempt to encourage the development of positive self-image and strengthen the refugees’ sense of self-efficiency.

Over the course of two weeks, the coaches and embassy staff used soccer as a tool to bring the local refugee population closer together, while also providing a means of relieving stress and resolving conflict.

Israeli Ambassador to Cameroon, Nadav Cohen, said: "The idea for the project was born during my first visit to the refugee camp, when aid workers told us that the refugees wanted a television so that they could see the World Cup in Brazil.

“With the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Cameroon’s Ministry of Sport and various UN agencies, Israel has managed to bring a little light into the lives of more than 3,000 children, refugees traumatized by a brutal civil war in their homeland.”

One of the coaches, Tomer Marsland, works closely with the Israeli NGO “Mifalot Education and Society Enterprises,” which helped facilitate the mission. Marsland said that such cooperation between Israeli NGOs and Israel’s embassies around the world “allows us to reach a unique community, export our extensive knowledge to those who need us and represent Israel with honor.”

PHOTO courtesy of the Israeli Embassy in Cameroon

 

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