Israeli Christians: Don't Place 'Christ at the Checkpoint'
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 |
The Christ at the Checkpoint conference now taking place in Bethlehem bills itself as an “authentic” voice of local Christians. That may be, but it is by no means the exclusive voice of local Christians. The following is a response to Christ at the Checkpoint conference by Shadi Khalloul, chairman of the Aramaic Christian Association in Israel, spokesman for the Christian IDF Forum and a representative of those Arabic-speaking Christians who have chosen to embrace Israel, rather than fight against it.
A growing number of Israeli Christians have been speaking out with a new voice and calling for integration into Israeli Jewish society. At the same time, many of us are asking for a halt to the cynical use of local Christians as pawns in the Palestinian cause or other Arab efforts to destroy Israel as a democratic Jewish state.
Like the majority of Israeli Christians, I feel that many Church leaders are betraying the Christian message and ignoring the rights of fellow Christians in the Holy Land in service to Islamic propaganda against our country, Israel.
To see Christian leaders participating in anti-Israel political conferences like “Christ at the Checkpoint” makes me feel like vomiting. I am ashamed of the duplicity of these leaders. In Israel, these Christians enjoy full rights and freedoms, even the freedom to publicly slander the state without fear. By contrast, they and their families would quickly be killed for so publicly criticizing the Palestinian Authority.
Our situation in Israel is better than any other Christian community in the entire Middle East. As we have witnessed of late, many Christians across the region have been migrating or converting to Islam by force.
What worries us as Israeli Christians is seeing fellow Christian continue in their fearful approach to the Arabs by joining with those who routinely abuse and kill our own people in order to falsely accuse Israel, the only country in the region where Christians are actually protected.
Israel will continue to be the everlasting home and safe haven of the Jews, and also of its Christian, Druze and even Arab minorities. The world needs to know these facts and to understand that the people who would cynically put Christ at the checkpoint do not represent the real Christian voice in this region, or anywhere else in the world.
We all long for peace in the Holy Land, but not a peace based on lies that can only lead to trouble for local Christians.
Shadi's full article, which explains why local Christians can not accurately be described as 'Arabs' and why Israel offers the first chance in millennia for local Christians to reclaim their Aramean heritage, can be read in the March 2014 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
The upcoming April 2014 issue of Israel Today Magazine will feature follow-up stories regarding Christ at the Checkpoint and Messianic Jewish participation there.
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Washington's About Face on the Jewish State?
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 |
It would appear as though the Obama Administration is rescinding its earlier support for Israel’s peace condition that the Palestinian Authority officially recognize it as the Jewish state.
In a interview with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Saturday, US State Department Spokeswoman Jan Psaki explained that “the American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state. However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement.”
However, in late January, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is close to the White House, wrote that Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East peace proposal would call on the Palestinians to “recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” as one of the core concessions necessary for a final status peace agreement.
The White House stresses that Kerry’s proposal is still not finalized, but the discrepancy between Psaki’s remarks and Friedman’s column suggest that the Obama Administration could be succumbing to Palestinian pressure and altering its proposal to lean more toward the Arab agenda.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that he will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and threatened to quit the peace talks over that and other US-backed Israeli conditions.
“They are pressing and saying, ‘No peace without the Jewish state,’” Abbas told student activists in Ramallah last week. “There is no way. We will not accept.”
On Sunday, Arab League head Nabil Elaraby told Al-Arabiya that he fully backs Abbas’ position, and is calling for all Arab countries to take a “firm stand” against Israel’s demand to be recognized as the Jewish state.
Surrounded by Iranian Arms, Netanyahu Blasts Int'l Community
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 |
Israel Today Staff
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday harshly criticized the international community for pretending the Iranian regime had changed its tune. He made the remarks while surrounded by a cache of Iranian weapons intercepted en route to Hamas.
Last Wednesday, Israeli naval commandoes raided a cargo ship off the coast of Africa after learning that it was transporting dozens of medium-range missiles, hundreds of mortar shells and a large amount of ammunition to Hamas and allied terror groups in Gaza.
Those arms were put on display Monday in the southern Israel port city of Eilat, where the cargo ship Klos C was docked.
Netanyahu said the international community’s downplaying of the Israeli operation and its failure to condemn Iran for supporting regional terror groups was “evidence of the era of hypocrisy in which we are living.”
“The international community wants to ignore Iran’s ongoing aggression and its part in the execution of the massacre in Syria,” the prime minister continued. “They want to delude themselves that Iran has abandoned its intention to obtain nuclear weapons.”
Hours later, the Obama Administration did finally comment publicly on the Iranian arms shipment, condemning it “in the strongest terms.”
It appeared as though the White House was concerned that openly condemning the arms shipment would damage its efforts to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program, as the official statement tried hard to separate between the two issues.
“It is important to make clear that even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue, in coordination with our partners and allies, to push back against Iranian support for terrorism, threats against our friends and partners, and violations of human rights,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Carney reiterated that American forces were very much a part of tracking and coordinating the interception of the Klos C.
As Netanyahu’s press conference was taking place, another ceremony was taking place in Gaza City, where Hamas unveiled a life-size statue of a locally-produced M–75 missile, the same type of missile used to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the last Gaza conflict.
A Hamas official told AFP that in future conflict, Gaza-based terrorists will be able to strike even deeper into Israel. Indeed, had the Klos C managed to deliver its cargo, Hamas would have increased its missile range to nearly 200 kilometers, far enough to reach almost any target in Israel.
Palestinian Judge Killed While Attacking IDF Soldiers
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 |
Israel Today Staff
A Palestinian Arab who serves as a magistrates court judge in neighboring Jordan (where a majority of the population is make up of Palestinians) was shot dead on Monday while reportedly attacking Israeli Border Police officers manning the Allenby Bridge crossing between the Jewish state and the Hashemite Kingdom.
According to the Israeli army, Raed Zeiter, who in 2011 moved from the “West Bank” to Amman, charged toward an Israeli soldier with a metal pipe while shouting “Allah Akbar” - “Allah is Great.”
“The preliminary conclusion of the investigation indicates that the terrorist attacked the soldier. He charged at the soldiers shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ with a metal pole, and then attempted to seize the soldier’s weapon, prompting the soldiers to respond by firing towards his lower extremities, in line with standard operating procedures,” read an Israeli army statement.
After being shot in the legs, Zeiter is said to have then began choking a nearby soldier, prompting another burst of fire that killed him.
The official explanation was viewed with skepticism by Jordan, which demanded an inquiry into the incident. Israel government officials said they were working overtime to investigate the shooting and provide Amman with the results as quickly as possible.
Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani, told reporters that his government would take “firm measures” against Israel as soon as all the facts were in.
In the meantime, some 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Amman on Monday night, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the cancellation of Jordan’s peace treat with the Jewish state.
Security incidents between Israel and Jordan have been few and far between over the past two decades, during which the two countries have for the most part enjoyed peaceful coexistence.
The last major security incident occurred in 1997, when Jordanian soldier Ahmed Daqamseh massacred seven Israeli school children who were visiting the Island of Peace in the midst of the Jordan River. The late King Hussein traveled to the victims’ hometown of Beit Shemesh to offer his personal condolences and apologize on behalf of his nation. However, in 2011, Jordan’s minister of justice argued that Daqamseh should be freed from prison, as his brutal murder of Israeli children was a “heroic act.”
REVEALED: Abbas Only Talking Peace to Free Terrorists
Monday, March 10, 2014 |
The Palestinian Authority acknowledged on Sunday that it is only continuing to take part in US-brokered peace talks with Israel in order to secure the release of more jailed Palestinian terrorists.
As one of the conditions for getting the Palestinians to the negotiating table in the first place, Israel agreed to four prisoner releases, the fourth of which is scheduled to take place at the end of this month.
Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he had urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to pull out of the peace talks as the Palestinians were clearly not going to have 100 percent of their demands met.
But, Erekat revealed, Abbas is determined to maintain the ruse of genuinely negotiating peace until the fourth prisoner release occurs. Abbas has made securing the release of thousands of jailed Palestinian terrorists a central component of his hoped-for political legacy.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Sunday that given the wide gaps that remain between the Israeli and Palestinian positions, it would require at least another year of serious negotiations to reach an agreement.
Since Israel is unwilling to compromise on its security, and the Palestinians refuse to give an inch on their demands, Netanyahu is said to be considering a number of creative solutions, including one modeled on the complicated border agreements that exist between Belgium and the Netherlands.
Netanyahu has already stated that Israel would never again forcibly uproot Jewish civilians, meaning that if a Palestinian state is established, tens of thousands of Jewish settlers, at least, will either have to move willingly inside Israel proper, or be allowed to live as residents or citizens of said Palestinian state.
That prospect has not sat well with either Israelis or Palestinians.
A third way is the adoption of the Belgium-Netherlands model. There is a portion of the Dutch-Belgian border where both nations maintain sovereign enclaves within the territory of the other (mostly Belgian enclaves inside the Netherlands). In fact, in one area, there are even Dutch enclaves inside the Belgian enclaves.
The idea is to enable Netanyahu to keep his promise to not uproot any Jews, while still giving the Palestinians a largely-contiguous state.
PHOTO: Abbas celebrates at his headquarters in Ramallah with a group of released Palestinian terrorists. October 30, 2013
'There are Thousands of Al Qaeda Fighters in Gaza'
Monday, March 10, 2014 |
Israel Today Staff
A terror leader in the Gaza Strip on Sunday claimed that there are thousands of fighters either directly linked to or inspired by Al Qaeda operating in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
“We are six groups and we have thousands of fighters, maybe 4,000,” Abu Bakir al-Ansari told the Associated Press, explaining that in 2012, the various Salafi groups situated in Gaza decided to form an alliance.
According to al-Ansari, the Al Qaeda-linked conglomeration is a threat to both Israel and Hamas, which it rejects for participating in the Palestinian Authority elections and for tacitly taking part in the Israeli-Arab peace process.
For the time being, the terror leader said that the Salafist groups are honoring a Hamas-imposed ceasefire with Israel, but remain ready to attack the Jewish state at any moment, without first consulting Hamas.
If the figures provided by al-Ansari are correct, and if the Salafist groups are well equipped, they could potentially pose a real threat to Hamas control over the Gaza Strip. So long as the two groups remain focused on the common enemy of Israel, they are likely to tolerate one another.