COMMENTARY: Light in the Darkness

As we approach the traditional season of Christmas, we (in the Northern Hemisphere) are all too aware of the gathering gloom of midwinter, and are anxious to help dispel the darkness with a multiple array of bright lights.

The prophet Isaiah addressed this dilemma when he proclaimed that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa 9.2) – although he was thinking more of man’s spiritual condition than their general environment.

Written around 600 years before Christ, this is one of his many references to the coming Messiah, and points (in the preceding verse) to the very region where he would engage in most of his earthly ministry – “Galilee of the nations (or Gentiles)”.

In the midst of the oppression of Roman occupation, a Jewish virgin would give birth to a son, who would be ascribed a series of majestic titles including ‘Prince of Peace’.

As with Christians, Jews at this time of year also light up the darkness with a glittering host of candles to celebrate Hanukkah, the feast of Dedication.

I well remember sharing the excitement of the occasion with Jerusalem residents five years ago as joyful groups celebrated in restaurants festooned with brightly coloured lights and menorahs.

Though not among the prescribed seven feasts dating back to the time of Moses, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival Jesus himself attended and is celebrated close to Christmas (appropriately though not intentionally) to mark God’s miraculous intervention at the time of the reign of the ruthless Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Jewish Temple by sacrificing a pig there and blasphemously proclaimed himself God.

Judah Maccabee led a brave and successful revolt against the tyrant in 164 BC and re-established temple worship (Hanukkah means ‘Dedication’) with the aid of the menorah (seven-branched candlestick) which burned miraculously for eight days despite having only enough oil for a day. The Greeks had polluted the rest.

In my opinion, the feast also foreshadows the coming of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), described as “the light of the world”, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that it falls around the same time as Christmas (even though it is more likely that Jesus was born in the autumn) when much of the world is lit up with elaborate decorations to commemorate his birth some 2,000 years ago.

Messianic Jews (who do believe Jesus is their Messiah) celebrate both feasts and it is interesting to note that the sight of a menorah as part of the festive decorations is increasingly common.

And yet at a time when billions of people celebrate the coming of light into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, a dark evil casts a shadow over the place of his birth as sabre-rattling surrounding nations threaten the very existence of Israel.

Paradoxically, the spectre of Armageddon continues to loom each year just when the world focuses on the coming of the ‘Prince of Peace’. 

Armageddon is not some Sci-Fi invention of a film-maker’s overactive imagination. It’s a reality; for there will come a time, very possibly in the near future, when the nations of the earth will clash in a catastrophic battle on the plains of Megiddo in northern Israel – the Bible makes this clear. But then the Messiah will return in power and great glory to put an end to war and usher in a thousand-year reign of absolute peace.

As my wife and I were reminded a few years ago in a Christmas card from the Jews for Jesus organisation, the baby born at Bethlehem is the only hope for peace in the Middle East.

Explaining the feast of Hanukkah, a Jews for Jesus spokeswoman said: “That is why each year we kindle our lamps, one light for each of the eight nights,” adding: “The Hanukkah Menorah has nine branches and we light each of the branches with the ninth candle, the shammas or servant candle. The light of the menorah reminds us of our Messiah Jesus, the Servant King, of whom the Apostle John said: ‘The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.’

“We can’t help but see the connection between the light of Hanukkah and the light that pierced the darkness when Yeshua (Jesus) was born. During this Hanukkah and Christmas season, let us remember that the light of the world has come among us to bring hope and life to all who believe.”

But as Jesus was misunderstood, so are his followers. As John also wrote: “The light (of Christ) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood (or overcome) it.” (John 1.5)

Conflict over Jesus’ claims was also apparent during the Hanukkah feast he attended. John writes: “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe…’” (John 10.22-25)

Millions of Christians today testify to being among those who once walked in darkness, but have since seen “a great light”. Their testimony is the same as the slave ship captain turned hymn-writer John Newton, who so beautifully reflected the truths of the gospel with the words: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


VIDEO: What's Happening on the Northern Border


Israel's South Continues To Suffer Arson Terror

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Through Strength, Not Weakness, Netanyahu Looks to Normalize With Arab World

For decades it has been assumed that Israel must bend over backwards in order to convince the Arab world to make peace with it. Israeli concessions and "goodwill gestures" were always the order of the day when it came to negotiations, be they with the Palestinians, or other Arab neighbors.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent years demonstrated that the above formula is not the only way forward. Indeed, what many see as the path of "weakness" has largely failed to alter Israel's standing among its neighbors. For those who know the Middle East, this probably sounds like a no-brainer. The Arab world respects strength, and views pandering with disdain.

Netanyahu credits the projection of strength with leading to incredible steps toward normalization over the past several months, including Culture Minister Miri Regev being welcomed in her official capacity by the United Arab Emirates and Netanyahu himself making a highly-publicized state visit to Oman. On Monday, it was reported that Netanyahu's visit to Muscat in October had resulted in Oman giving Israel permission to use its airspace for commercial purposes.

The biggest breakthrough has been warming ties with Saudi Arabia. Senior Israeli officials have of late held a number of meetings with counterparts from the oil-rich kingdom, and Netanyahu is reportedly working hard to fully normalize ties with Saudi Arabia before the next general election in Israel, currently scheduled to take place in November 2019.

During last month's historic visit to Israel by Idriss Déby, president of the Muslim-majority African nation of Chad, Netanyahu said that past prime ministers had tried to cozy up to the Arab and Muslim worlds by making "dangerous concessions." Netanyahu vowed to continue following a much different path. "We are getting the world’s support, including by many in the Arab world, through our strong and steadfast standing," he insisted.


Terrorists Shoot Pregnant Jewish Woman, Forcing Premature Delivery of Baby

A 21-year-old Jewish woman and her prematurely-delivered baby boy remained in stable, but serious condition on Monday afternoon, a day after being shot by Palestinian terrorists in Samaria.

The pregnant woman was waiting at a bus stop outside the Jewish town of Ofra when gunmen in a passing vehicle opened fire. Seven people were hit, but the most critically wounded was the pregnant woman, who suffered several gunshots to her body, including one to the lower stomach area.

After being rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, the woman's child was prematurely delivered via Cesarean section. He was initially listed as "stable," but doctors have since reported that his condition is deteriorating.

The mother underwent emergency surgery and was said to be "fighting for her life," but has since been upgraded to "stable" condition.

Doctors said that neither the mother nor her child were yet out of danger.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to hunt for the perpetrators of this heinous crime, who are believed to be taking refuge in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory.


Hamas Thinks It's "Heroic" to Shoot Pregnant Women, Trump Disagrees

A 21-year-old pregnant Jewish woman was shot and critically wounded, along with six other victims, in a drive-by shooting perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists on Sunday.

Demonstrating just how distant genuine peace remains, the Hamas terrorist organization, which Palestinian voters handed a parliamentary majority to in the last general election, immediately hailed the shooting as "heroic."

Just after the shooting, doctors in Jerusalem delivered the injured woman's baby, though both the child and mother remain in serious condition.

The Trump Administration also responded to the shooting, but had a very different description for it from the one offered by Hamas.

"Absolutely disgusting," tweeted US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt. "Terrorists attack a group of Israelis celebrating Hanukkah. My prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families."

Greenblatt also wondered with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would condemn the attack, or join Hamas in celebrating the attempted murder of Jewish women and children.


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Third Lebanon War Seems Inevitable Amid Threats, Discovery of Terror Tunnels

Analysts have been saying for years that it was only a matter of time until Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist militia were again engaged in open conflict. The events of the past several days have finally woken most Israelis up to the seriousness of those warnings.

Over the weekend, Hezbollah deputy secretary general Naim Qassem told Lebanese media that his group now possesses missiles capable of hitting every location in Israel.

"The entire Israeli homefront is exposed, even Tel Aviv," said Qassem.

During the Second Lebanon war, Hezbollah fired medium-range missile as far south as the port city of Haifa and other locations in the lower Galilee region. Tel Aviv and the populous central region of Israel were never in any direct danger at that time.

Qassem's warning came amidst what Israel has dubbed "Operation Northern Shield," which has seen Israeli forces uncover at least three Hezbollah-dug tunnels extending from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

It is believed that the massively-armed terror group planned to enter northern Israel in strong numbers and cut off the border town of Metulla at the start of the next war. Some cautioned that Hezbollah might even be planning to conquer and occupy portions of the border region.

So far, and as far as the public knows, the IDF has been dealing with those parts of the tunnels that are under Israeli territory. But military officials say that to fully neutralize the threat, Israeli forces might have to enter southern Lebanon and destroy the tunnels at their source.

PHOTO: An Israeli soldier stands guard on the border near the northern town of Metulla. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)


Arab Man Shot Dead for Allegedly Selling Land to Jews

It might seem a relic of darker times to most Westerners, but there are places in the world where it remains a capital offense to sell land to Jews.

One of those places is the Jews' own biblical homeland in Judea and Samaria, most of which is currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

On Saturday, a Palestinian Arab man with residency in Israel-proper was gunned down in his hometown of Jaljulia after it was reported that he had sold personal property in the so-called "West Bank" to Israeli Jews.

Ahmed Salama was declared dead at Meir Hospital in nearby Kfar Saba following a drive-by shooting. Palestinian media reported his "crime" matter-of-factly, though Salama had earlier denied the allegations that he had conducted any land transactions with Jews.

An American-Palestinian named Issam Akel remains in Palestinian Authority custody for selling property on the eastern side of Jerusalem to Jews.

Another Palestinian-American, 31-year-old Suha Jbara, made headlines in Israel over the weekend after appearing in court in Jericho and accusing the Palestinian Authority of torturing her.

Jbara remains imprisoned for unspecified crimes. Her revelations have shined a spotlight on recent reports that the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas regime in Gaza routinely resort to psychological and physical abuse of Palestinian Arab prisoners.

PHOTO: Illustration. Palestinian gunmen take aim at their target, which can just as likely be fellow Palestinian Arabs as Israeli Jews. (Nati Shohat / Flash90)


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UN Fails to Officially Condemn Hamas

The United Nations has failed to officially condemn Hamas, even after the US and Israel managed to garner a strong majority in the General Assembly for a resolution doing just that.

Typically, such resolutions require a simple majority to pass. But the General Assembly decided that a two-thirds majority would be required for it to condemn a group that most of the world considers a terrorist organization. Simple majorities are the order of the day for the regular anti-Israel resolutions brought before the chamber. In the above video, US Ambassador Nikki Haley decried this clear example of bias.

Even so, the resolution received a "yes" vote from 87 nations, while 57 voted against and 32 abstained.

This, said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was a victory, considering that such a firm majority of the international community was willing to stand up and call out a group that exists for the sole purpose of destroying Israel.

Also celebrating were Israel's supposed peace partners in the Palestinian Authority, which saw the outcome as yet another censure of the Jewish state, as well as Hamas, which called the failure to pass the resolution a slap in the face of US President Donald Trump and his pro-Israel policies.


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COMMENTARY: Dead Sea Comes to Life!

A remarkable thing happened to me last week. I was studying the Book of Ezekiel in preparation for a weekend retreat when a friend forwarded a YouTube clip announcing the most incredible news, which is surely another significant sign of the imminent return of Jesus.

One of Ezekiel’s famous prophecies – widely thought to be allegorical rather than literal – is now being fulfilled just as he said it would 2,600 years ago!

In short, the Dead Sea is coming alive! Fresh water is now flowing into this Rift Valley expanse that has been unable to support life since the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah thousands of years ago, useful only for drawing tourists to sample its healing properties while floating unsupported. And freshwater fish have now been seen swimming in the surrounding sinkholes that have opened up in recent years as the sea, made up of 33% salt, has been receding. See this CBN News clip at

In chapter 47 of Ezekiel, who prophesied while in exile in Babylon from 597 BC, the prophet describes a vision of an increasingly deep river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem down towards the Dead Sea, bringing new life wherever it flows and supporting the same kind of fish as those inhabiting the Mediterranean.

Ezekiel wrote: “He said to me: ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah (the Jordan Valley), where it enters the Sea (the Dead Sea). When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean).” (Ezek 47.8-10)

The vision comes amid the latter part of the book dealing with the promised restoration of the Jewish people both to their Land and their Lord. And I believe the ‘resurrection’ of a dead stretch of water reflects a time (near the end of the age) when the fortunes of Israel – long forsaken and persecuted – would be turned around.

This is what the world is now witnessing with the Jewish state emerging as a major player on the world scene with a thriving economy borne out of extraordinary innovation.

At the same time there is a growing movement of those who believe that Jesus is the long-promised Jewish Messiah, fulfilling the word that when the Jews are finally restored from all the nations to which they were dispersed because of forsaking God’s ways, they would be given a ‘new heart’ and, as with the Dead Sea, cleansed and ‘sprinkled clean’ of their sins. (Ezek 36.24-26)

You can be sure that all prophecy of Scripture will be fulfilled to the letter. Around three-quarters of Ezekiel’s predictions (81% of Bible prophecies on the whole) have already been fulfilled with pinpoint accuracy.

Take, for example, his prophecy of Tyre’s downfall. The Eastern Mediterranean fishing port would, he said, one day be razed to the ground and thrown into the sea, and the bare rock where it once stood would become a place for fishermen to dry their nets. (Ezek 26)

No other city, before or since, has ever been thrown into the sea, writes author and Bible teacher David Pawson in his masterful work Unlocking the Bible. “When Alexander the Great came marching down towards Egypt with his great army, the people of Tyre simply got into their fishing boats and sailed to the island half-a-mile offshore, knowing that Alexander had an army but not a navy.”

But when Alexander saw this, he commanded that every brick, every stone and every piece of timber in the city be used to build a causeway to the island, after which his army went across and defeated the people of Tyre.

Even today, fishermen’s nets are spread out on the bare rock of old Tyre, just as Ezekiel prophesied, while the modern city is out on the island with sand having silted up against Alexander’s causeway. If it’s in the Bible, you better believe it!

Ezekiel also had a profound impact on my personal life almost exactly 18 years ago when a verse from chapter 9 confirmed to my then new girlfriend Linda that she should marry me! I was widowed at the time and she had asked the Lord for assurance as to whether I was the right choice for her life’s partner, and he subsequently spoke to her heart directly from a rather obscure verse which told of “a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side”. (Ezek 9.2)

The Lord then said to her: “I want you to support the man with the writing kit!” And of course I’m forever grateful for that. I couldn’t believe the extraordinary change in her demeanour towards me when I next called at her home. She had heard from the Lord – and that changed everything!

But we can all be assured that God is returning to his holy city because the end of this prophetic book actually tells us that it will be named ‘The Lord is there’ – a wonderful thought also reflected in Charles Wesley’s hymn on Christ’s return, which includes the majestic line, “God appears on earth to reign!” (See Zech 14.4)

A river of life from God’s throne is also depicted on the last page of the Bible in the Book of Revelation, which is all about what will happen in the days immediately preceding the Second Coming.

The biblical symbolism of life from the dead relates both to Israel (see Romans 11.15) and their Messiah. We are living in momentous times that could well usher in the return of our Lord. Watch and pray so that you (and your loved ones) are not caught unawares.

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


Hanukkah - The Festival of Light

The Menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum that stood in the temple, was instructed by God to never be allowed to go out. The Seleucid Greeks attacked, invaded and occupied the land in those days. They desecrated and profaned the Temple.

The Hasmoneans, after their victory against the Seleucid Greeks, found only a small jar of oil holy enough for use in lighting the Menorah. The oil was only enough to last a day. It took eight days for the production of new consecrated oil. The menorah was kindled and a miracle took place! The oil lasted for eight days until new pure oil could be made.

Since Hanukkah reminds us of the miracle of oil, we eat oily foods during this time. Potato latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiot (dougnuts).

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ANALYSIS: How Israel and the US are Working to Contain Iran

On Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces launched operation ‘Northern Shield’ on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon.

The operation is meant to destroy a number of Hezbollah attack tunnels which have been built in recent years as preparation for a future offensive against Israel which Hezbollah believes would end in the occupation of the northern Galilee.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnels had already penetrated Israeli territory but emphasized they were not yet “operationally ready” and therefore posed "no immediate threat to Israel".

The operation against Hezbollah was launched hours after Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benyamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo in Brussels, Belgium where he discussed “a list of developments in the region” with the Secretary.

One of these developments is Iran’s increasing belligerent activity in Lebanon where it has built underground missile facilities which manufacture guided ballistic missiles.

The Iranians are now also supplying Hezbollah with weapons by using planes which fly directly to Beirut National Airport in Lebanon. The carrier uses civilian aircraft and is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps which has apparently decided to change the supply routes to Hezbollah.

Before taking off from Ben Gurion National Airport, Netanyahu made clear Israel and The United States were now working in tandem to contain Iran’s “aggression”.

We are in continuous contact with our American friends, I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a list of developments in our region, and (actions) we are taking together to halt the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the North. We will of course also discuss other issues,” the Israeli PM told reporters.

On his visit to Brussels, where Pompeo attended a NATO defense ministers meeting, Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad head Yossi Cohen and Meir Ben Shabbat the director of Israel’s National Security Council.

The Israeli leader has been warning against the growing Iranian threat to Israel for a long time and risked the fall of his government when he refused to launch a ground operation against the Iranian-backed Palestinian terror groups in Gaza after they pounded Israel with 460 missiles within two days three weeks ago.

When he faced harsh criticism over his decision not to invade Gaza the Israeli PM and DM made clear he had intelligence he could not share with the citizens and even with politicians.

After the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Netanyahu told the public in Israel that the Jewish State was in a complex security situation which demanded “very difficult decisions”.

“On the issue of security, I have made difficult decisions, some of them very difficult, and I bear full responsibility. And when such decisions are made, they deal with matters of life and death. In matters that sometimes even touch upon the very existence of the state,” the Prime Minister said at the time while emphasizing that the Israel military was “in the middle of a campaign.

Three weeks later, it has become clear that Netanyahu looks at the overall picture of Israel’s difficult security situation and prefers to contain the growing Iranian threat via smart and sophisticated military operations which could prevent a multiple-front-war with Iran and its proxies.

For this reason, Israel is working with the Trump Administration which has shifted its focus from battling ISIS toward containing Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

It is reasonable to believe that Netanyahu asked Pompeo to use his leverage over the Lebanese government to contain Hezbollah on the eve of Operation Northern Shield in order to prevent another war with the Iranian-backed Shiite terror organization.

Another indication the Israeli leader doesn’t want a war with Hezbollah currently is that he apparently ordered the IDF not to use explosives to destroy the attack tunnels underneath the Israeli border. The Israeli army is using heavy drill equipment instead.

Operation Northern Shield comes a few days after the Israeli military launched unprecedented missile strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah related targets in Syria.

Late Thursday evening last week, the IDF used surface-to-surface missiles and LORA long-distance artillery shells to destroy 15 Iranian and Hezbollah military targets in Syria among them the headquarters of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in Al-Kiswah south of Damascus.

The missile offensive lasted for 70 minutes and was answered by the launch of one rocket which fell in open territory on the Israeli Golan Heights.

By using missiles instead of aircraft the Israeli military indicated it has changed tactics in Syria now that the Russians have supplied the S-300 anti-aircraft missile shield to the Syrian army.

The US military, meanwhile, has started battling the Iranians and its proxies in east and north Syria as well as northern Iraq by using proxies as well.

The Americans are training and equipping 30.000 men of the Syrian Democratic Forces who will confront the Quds Force and Iranian-backed Shiite militias in northern and eastern Syria while the U.S. uses local Iraqi Sunni militias against the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias in northern Iraq.

After his meeting with Netanyahu Pompeo emphasized the importance of restoring America’s deterrence vis a vis Iran and its allies.

“We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” Pompeo said after condemning Iran for a new test with a ballistic long-range missile which can carry multiple warheads last weekend.

Iran recently supplied ballistic missiles to Hashd al-Shaabi militias which can reach Tel Aviv and which are now stationed on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. This is the same mountain from where Saddam Hussein lobbed Scud missiles at Israel during the First Gulf War.

PHOTO: Heavy machinery (R) work on the border between Israel and Lebanon near Metulla, northern Israel, on December 4, 2018. Photo by Basel Awidat/Flash90


What Does the Future Hold for Messianic Jews in Israel?

Israel Today speaks to Guy Cohen, leader of a Messianic congregation in the northern city of Acco, about the future of the movement in the Jewish state.

The full text of the article can be found in the December 2018 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

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Netanyahu's Alleged Billion-Shekel Bribe in Exchange for Positive Coverage

On November 2, the Israel Police decided to recommend indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with bribery, fraud and breach of public trust. Along with the Netanyahu's, the police also recommended indicting the prime minister's alleged partner, Shaul Elovitch, owner of Bezeq, the largest telecommunication company in Israel, and of the Walla news portal. 

Such was the conclusion of an 18-month investigation into what's known as "Case 4000."

Now, for those who can't make heads nor tails of the various charges Netanyahu faces, since 2016 he has been either a suspect or person of interest in no fewer than five cases of alleged corruption. Case 1000 has been looking into the gifts Netanyahu and his family received from wealthy friends, at least some of which are suspected of being bribes. Chief among those gifts has been a steady supply of expensive champagne and cigars.

Case 2000 has been investigating the nature of conversations Netanyahu had with media tycoon Noni Moses, owner of the daily Yediot Ahronot. The alleged bribe comes in the form of Netanyahu proposing to endorse legislation harming the free commuter daily Israel HayomYediot's chief competitor, in exchange for more positive coverage in Moses' newspaper.

Case 3000 deals with alleged bribes given to Israeli brokers in return for signing a deal with a German company that would be commissioned to build seven submarines for the Israel Navy. Netanyahu was accused of knowing about the corruption, and even requested to buy unneeded submarines to somehow profit indirectly from the deal. So far, this is the only case in which suspicions against Netanyahu were dropped.

Case 4000 is investigating a deal Netanyahu allegedly made when he was Communication Minister between himself and Bezeq's major shareholder, Shaul Elovitch. Netanyahu is said to have advanced Bezeq's acquisition of Elovitch's holdings in satellite television provider Yes, a deal worth one billion dollars. All that in exchange for positive coverage of the private affairs of Netanyahu and his family. This case yielded the police recommendation to press charges against Netanyahu and his wife for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

Case 1270 is looking into the suspicion that Netanyahu's former media advisor offered District Court President Hila Gerstel an appointment to the vacated position of Attorney General of Israel in exchange for closing a case against Netanyahu's wife, an offer Gerstel refused.

These five ongoing cases are in addition to a further 10 cases of alleged corruption that Netanyahu has faced since 1997, none of which could ever be proved. Add to this the separate charges against Sara Netanyahu–which range from bribery to mistreating employees at the Prime Minister's Residence to misuse of state funds to order expensive catering–and a pretty disturbing picture emerges. Depending on which side of the political spectrum one stands, the prime minister and his wife are either thoroughly corrupt, or are the victims of a "witch hunt" aimed at returning the Left to power at any cost.

Netanyahu himself has repeated time and again that nothing will come of all the investigations because he has done no wrong. In a speech he gave on the day the Police announced its recommendation to indict him, Netanyahu said that he knew all along it would come to this. "These recommendations," he said, "were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began. I am certain," he continued, that investigators will come to the conclusion "that there was nothing because there is nothing."

If Netanyahu is right, and his constituency is convinced that he is, what he says means that there are powerful forces trying every which way to get rid of a legitimately-elected prime minister. Netanyahu, one must remember, is hated by the Left for what they call his "inciting" rhetoric in the 1996 election campaign, after which Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and Netanyahu ultimately rose to power. In this camp's eyes, Netanyahu is the archenemy of peace, which justifies using every available means to overthrow him, including suspending all democratic norms until the government is back in the hands of those who dream of a peace that will end all peace.


BREAKING: IDF Uncover Hizbullah Offensive Tunnel

IDF troops located a cross-border attack tunnel in the Lebanese southern area of Kafr Kela on Tuesday morning. At this time, the IDF is carrying out an operational and engineering process to neutralize the tunnel,” an army spokesperson said Tuesday.

The tunnel originates in the southern portion of the Lebanese town of Kafr Kela. The tunnel crosses over into Israeli territory and is believed to have been dug for use in an upcoming terror attack on Israeli targets.

“The Hezbollah terror organization, which is responsible for digging the cross-border attack tunnels, continues its activity that is supported and funded by Iran, to establish its terror infrastructure against Israeli civilians,” an IDF spokesperson said.

PHOTO: IDF spokesperson video screenshot


Hamas Sentences 6 To Death For Collaborating With Israel

In total 14 people were sentenced for "collaborating with the occupation," with five sentenced to be hanged and one shot, and eight others were sentenced to hard labor ranging from six to 15 years. It was not clear when the executions of those in custody would take place.

A Hamas interior ministry spokesperson said, "those convicted were linked to a communications and eavesdropping device planted by the (Israeli) occupation."

The six condemned to death on Monday ranged in age from 29 to 55 and had each allegedly been working with Israeli intelligence for several years.

Among those sentenced to hang is a 55 year-old woman living inside Israel, who was sentenced in absentia. She is alleged to have encouraged her nephew in Gaza to collaborate with Israeli intelligence.

The Hamas spokesperson further stated, "Collaborators must realize the (Israeli) occupation will not be able to protect them."

Human Rights Watch condemned the verdicts. Officially 28 executions have been carried out in Gaza since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Fatah. In practice many more Arabs have been summarily executed by Hamas militants merely by being suspected of collaboration with Israel since the takeover.


Celebrating Hanukkah in the Desert

Just as the olive oil, that was used to fuel the Menorah during the Temple times, is representative of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is what fuels our spirits when we get alone with God.

The desert is a place that can speak volumes in its silence when we get alone with God and contemplate and meditate on Him and His word!

The adventure continues!

Getting alone with God to refuel.

The physical man also needs replenishment.

Onwards and upwards.

Enjoying a spring in the desert.

Camaraderie in the "kitchen".


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Hamas Not Enamored By Pending Condemnation At The UN

This Thursday, December 6th, a United States resolution will be put to the vote in the UN General Assembly condemning Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and calling for an end to violence.

The United States has succeeded in winning over support from all 28 member states of the European Union to support the resolution, after incorporating other relevant UN resolutions, but without referring to a two-state solution.

US delegation leader Nikki Haley, who is leaving her position at the end of the year, said that the resolution was not in support of a specific peace plan. Any country would be free to vote for or against the activities of Hamas, as well as other terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad, the US delegation said.

"If the United Nations fails to accept this resolution, they have no right to participate in any future peace negotiations," the delegation said.

Hamas is now trying to thwart the impending condemning vote. As early as last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah sent a letter to the General Assembly in which he complained about the planned vote. International law would allow all Palestinian organizations to use any means to fight against Israel until "Palestine from the River to the Sea is liberated" he stated.

Israel UN Ambassador Danny Danon sees the Thursday vote as a historic opportunity to condemn Hamas. "Any country voting against condemning Hamas should not later turn to the United Nations if they become victims of a terror attack," Danon said at the annual IAC conference, which took place this past weekend in Miami, Florida.

"We talked to Ambassadors from around the world and explained the importance of their support," Danon continued. "We have created a broad consensus in the United Nations regarding Hamas, and that is a great achievement for us."


Our "Lone Soldiers" Say "Thank you"!!

Thanks to the generous donations of our Israel Today readers, the second workshop for releasing "Israel's Lonely Soldiers" took place two weeks ago. 100 Lone Soldiers, which included 75 new immigrants who immigrated to Israel without their families, received guidance on everything they will need for their future lives in Israel.

Our soldiers, which arrive from every corner of the world, are extremely pleased and touched by the support they receive. Without this help, it would be difficult to get along without family here in Israel. The staff of the Association for Israel's Lone Soldiers work hard to keep every soldier in Israel, and have achieved a success rate of 83%. All donors and employees can be satisfied with their commitment!

We thank all of our donors for your wonderful support!

Help us help our "Lone Soldiers" and an IDF sweatshirt could be yours!


Setting Off Into the Biblical Desert

After our successful German speaking guided tour through the Biblical Desert concluded last week, our English guided hike got underway yesterday.

The adventurers will hike a large part of the southern portion of the Israel National Trail from the vicinity of Sde Boker, south of Beersheva, all the way down to the Red Sea resort of Eilat over the course of the next 7 days.

All participants were put through a physical test to make sure they are up to this unique challenge.

Stay tuned for additional reports from the desert in the coming days!

Setting out and looking forward to the experience.

A sustenance break is always welcome.

A dip in a pool of rainwater is always refreshing.

Sharing around the campfire after a long day.


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Hanukkah, also known as Festival of Lights, begins tonight!

Hanukkah is the annual celebration of the rededication of the Temple during the Hasmonean revolt. You may recall that just one jar of oil, which was ritually clean, was found to rekindle the Temple Menorah. According to tradition, the oil was only enough to last one day but the Hasmoneans kindled the Menorah anyway. Miraculously the oil burned for 8 days when newly produced oil became available.

Enjoy the IDF Rabbinical choir singing a selection of Hanukkah songs. You may even be familiar by one or two of the songs. Hanukkah Sameach, Happy Hanukkah!


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Iran Finds New Way to Arm Hezbollah After Israel Reportedly Strikes Syria, Again

No doubt Iran hoped the introduction of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems to Syria would deter further Israeli air strikes on its installations in the war-torn country.

But massive explosions at Iranian and Hezbollah weapons depots in Syria overnight Thursday were attributed by Arab media and Syrian officials to the Israel Air Force. Israel declined to comment, as it typically does, but local and international media touted the operation as a rare exception to new Russian rules of engagement in Syria. Arab media claimed that Israel lost a plane in the strike. Israel insists it did not.

However, none of that mattered much amid reports that Iran had started to supply weapons direction to Hezbollah at the terrorist militia's base of operations in neighboring Lebanon.

Israel's air strikes in Syria over recent years had been aimed at denying Iran both the ability to establish a military foothold in Syria and providing Hezbollah with the kinds of weapons that would shift the balance of power.

This week, Israel learned that Iran's military was flying direct flights over Iraq and Syria to Beirut, and directly supplying Hezbollah in its home country. Cutting this new supply route would require air strikes on Lebanon, which Israel will be reluctant to consider.


Trump Admin Demands Palestinian Authority Release Abducted American Citizen

US President Donald Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman (pictured), on Wednesday demanded that the Palestinian Authority release an American citizen that it effectively kidnapped for selling his eastern Jerusalem property to Jews.

Issam Akel, who is a Palestinian Arab resident of Jerusalem as well as a US citizen, was "arrested" by PA security forces in October after word got out of his "crime."

Friedman tweeted that the Palestinian leadership's behavior in this case demonstrated a total lack of the kind of peaceful intentions and democratic rights that the international community expects of a future Palestinian state.

"The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected ‘crime’? Selling land to a Jew. Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release."

Israel is working to secure Akel's freedom. The most visible step has been to arrest the PA's "Jerusalem Governor" Adnan Ghaith (seen being taken to court in the above video), who was almost certainly involved in Akel's abduction.

Israel has also imposed a travel ban on the PA's Minister for Jerusalem, Adnan Husseini, until Akel is released.

But a senior officer in the IDF's Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that much tougher action must be taken on Akel's behalf. He suggested taking direction action against the Palestinian Authority intelligence services, and possibly even their boss, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.


VIDEO: Israeli Soldier Reveals Who's the Real Culprit Behind Gaza's Suffering

Life in the Gaza Strip isn't easy these days. And the mainstream media would have you believe that Israel's wholly at fault.

But, during the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli soldiers operating in the coastal enclave encountered unbelievable abuse of the civilian population by Gaza's Hamas overlords.

Rather than turn a blind eye and complete the mission at hand, these soldiers put their own lives at risk to rescue and protect Palestinian Arab civilians in Gaza.


The Threat of Israel's New 'Spiritual' Leaders

Israel is often accused, by those on both sides of the debate, of being its own worst enemy.

The full text of the article can be found in the December 2018 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

We're giving away a week in Jerusalem including accommodation and flight!

All new subscribers and purchasers of gift subscriptions for a friend or loved one (until spring 2019) will be eligible to participate in the draw. Good luck and see you next year in Jerusalem!
Purchasers of a gift subscription can select a gift from a selection!


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ANALYSIS: Iran and Israel Preparing for Multi-Front War

Iranian leaders stepped up their war of words against Israel and the United States over the weekend while new information shows both the Israel Defense Forces and the Islamic Republic are actively preparing for a multi-front war in Israel.

The new war of words started when Iran’s so-called moderate president Hassan Rouhani toldparticipants in an Islamic conference that Israel was a “cancerous tumor” and “a fake regime” founded by Western nations.

While calling upon the Islamic world to establish a “joint force” that could win the “battle against criminals”  Rouhani claimed Israel had killed and displaced the (non-existing) “historic nation of Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani’s belligerent rhetoric by warning Iran that Israel knows how to defend itself against the “murderous Iranian regime”.

His statement drew a prolonged response by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who on Sunday claimed “the Zionist regime is clearly weaker than 10 and 20 years ago,” while bragging Hezbollah and Hamas had won the wars in 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014 and in 2018 during what he called “the two-day war”.

On Monday, Khamenei again used his Twitter account to blast the United States and Israel.

The Iranian dictator wished Israel and the U.S. “to hell” and predicted the victory of “the resistance”.

“ To hell with the U.S. and Zionist regime for threatening the Iranian nation. Their threats and atrocities have so far failed and will continue to fail; the sanctions will also be defeated by the grace of resistance,” Kkamenei’s tweet stated.

Rouhani’s remarks drew the condemnation of both the U.S. and the European Union (EU) which saidin a statement that the Iranian president’s remarks “were totally unacceptable” while reassuring Israel that the 28-nation bloc would remain fundamentally committed to the security of the Jewish state.

The EU also seemed to admit for the first time that Iran is a real threat to Middle Eastern countries and Israel in particular when it said that there are “current and emerging threats in the region.”

New information indeed underscores the scope of Iran’s threat to stability in the Middle East and to the existence of the State of Israel.

The Syrian news site Zamanalwsl keeps track of Iran’s belligerent activities in Syria and on Tuesday reported that the Iranians together with the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad are reconstructing military facilities which had been destroyed by the Israeli air force (IAF).

One of these facilities is the headquarters of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps near the international airport of Damascus.

The Iranian regime is spending a huge amount of money in Syria where it has established a 80,000 member strong Shiite brigade which aims to ‘liberate’ the Israeli Golan Heights.

According to various sources the Mullah’s spent between $15 and $20 billion annually in Syria in order to realize their dream of a Shiite crescent and to achieve their ultimate goal: the annihilation of Israel.

The Islamist regime in Tehran is also heavily involved in a project that aims to change the demographic situation along the border with Israel where until recently Sunni rebel groups were controlling the region.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Sunday that the Assad regime has issued Syrian citizenship to hundreds of thousands  Iranians and foreign Shiite fighters who fought alongside with the Syrian army during the prolonged offensive which restored Assad’s control over two-thirds of the country.

These Iranians, most of them members of the Quds Force, as well as Shiite fighters and their families are settled in the houses of displaced Sunni Syrians who were deported to the predominantly Sunni province Idlib in northern Syria under so-called reconciliation deals. 

Those who wished to remain in their hometowns are now one by one murdered by the Syrian regime the news site Syria Direct reported from Daraa.

The silent ethnic cleansing in southern Syria “contravenes the understandings reached between Israel and Russia this year, according to which the Iranian and Shi'ite forces must withdraw from southern Syria. The issuance of identity cards to these fighters may be aimed at enabling them to stay there, ostensibly without violating the understandings,” according to MEMRI.

There’s more.

Hezbollah, which became an integral part of the Syrian military in the beginning of 2017, is currently building scores of military facilities and training camps near the border with Lebanon.

The facilities also house members of the Iranian Quds Force which is commanded by Qassem Soleimani the man who oversaw virtually every major battle in Iraq and Syria in recent years.

Hossein Salami the deputy commander of the IRGC openly admits that the Quds Force together with the so-called Basij militia, a division of the IRGC which had been operating in Iran only until now, are heavily involved in Syria and other Arab countries where Iran tries to expand the Islamic Revolution.

'Today, the branches of the strong tree of Basij are empowered in the Islamic countries, defeating the sinister goals of the US, Israel and al-Saud,' Salami told members of the IRGC in Tehran on Sunday. 

The IRGC commander also claimed that Iran has become so powerful that it has the ability to “chase the enemy, if necessary, and inflict an unforgettable defeat on it.”

As for the southern front in Israel, there too Iran continues its military build-up.

 As we reported earlier this month, Iran was most likely behind the one-day war in southern Israel which started when Hamas took a page out of Hezbollah’s playbook for wars and targeted an Israeli bus with a Kornet anti-tank missile.

The attack on the bus, which had unloaded a group of 50 IDF soldiers minutes before it exploded, was followed by an unprecedented missile offensive against civilian targets in southern Israel.

The Hebrew language news site Walla in Israel now reported that ISIS-branch Wilayat Sinai had intercepted a new shipment of Iranian Kornet anti-tank missiles and other GPS guided weaponry bound for Gaza.

Wilayat Sinai refuses to hand over the weapons to Hamas and could use them in the continuing battle against the Egyptian army or against the IDF in the future.

The Israeli army is now conducting a massive drill in preparation for a multi-front war according to  reports in the Israeli media on Sunday while the US military is reportedly building up a large mainly Kurdish proxy force which will be used to curb Iran’s presence in Syria.


Palestinian Authority Abducts Jerusalem Arab for Selling Land to Jews

In mid-October, an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem by the name of Issam Akel was essentially abducted by the Palestinian Authority's intelligence service known locally as the GIS. His crime was selling property in the Holy City to Jews.

The Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction over any part of Jerusalem, making Akel's arrest illegal, especially given that he hold an Israeli identity card as a permanent resident of the Jewish state.

Akel is also an American citizen, and the US Consulate arranged with the Palestinian Authority to let his wife visit him in prison. She later reported that her husband was in very bad shape following weeks of imprisonment, and, given the PA's track record, mostly likely torture.

Israel itself is working to secure Akel's freedom. The most visible step has been to arrest the PA's "Jerusalem Governor" Adnan Ghaith (seen being taken to court in the above video), who was almost certainly involved in Akel's abduction.

Israel has also imposed a travel ban on the PA's Minister for Jerusalem, Adnan Husseini, until Akel is released.

But a senior officer in the IDF's Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that much tougher action must be taken on Akel's behalf. He suggested taking direction action against the Palestinian Authority intelligence services, and possibly even their boss, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

PHOTO: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90


3 Soldiers Wounded in Terrorist Car-Ramming Attack

Three Israeli soldiers were wounded on Monday when a Palestinian Arab driver purposefully slammed his vehicle into them on the side of a main thoroughfare connecting Jerusalem to the Etzion Bloc of Jewish settlements.

The soldiers were protecting road workers at the time of the attack.

The Palestinian driver attempted to flee the scene, but was shot by other nearby soldiers.

The following security camera footage shows the attack take place:

The soldiers are all in stable condition, but at least one suffered serious injuries to his extremities.


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Netanyahu's Next Hurdle

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government survived the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the withdrawal of his Yisrael Beiteinu party from the ruling coalition. But now, Netanyahu governs with the slimmest of majorities, and there are some big votes coming up in the Knesset.

This week, the Knesset will vote on Culture Minister Miri Regev's controversial "cultural loyalty law" that would strip state funding from any cultural bodies that work to slander the Jewish state or its institutions. Not all coalition members are enthusiastic about the bill, many calling it a violation of free speech.

With just 61 out of 120 Knesset seats on his side, and such challenging votes ahead, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon doesn't believe Netanyahu's government can survive for very long. "A majority of just 61 seats is a problem," Kahlon said in a radio interview. "It will be very difficult to push through laws. You can't get everyone to agree on every detail of a controversial law."

Earlier, Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, had urged Netanyahu to call early elections, insisting that "while I don't want the government to fall, our job is to act, not only to survive. A government that is fighting only for survival cannot effectively govern."

PHOTO: It's not easy governing in Israel. Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Israel Katz at the last Knesset session. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)


Desert Hike Day 7: A Summary

For the most part, it is difficult for us to leave our comfort areas. “You’re off to great places!” - Dr. Seuss

But if we only dare get up and leave, meet others, to be in the least comfortable place,the place of survival, and difficulties. Hearing different languages in the background, food spiced with a little dirt. If only we dare….
Then we have an opportunity to meet ourselves. To get to know what we did not know and see that everything is possible.

The first Israel Trail hike was a complete success. In 7 days we walked about 120 kilometers. The hike has taken us to places we never thought possible. No two moments were alike and we tasted everything.

From breathtaking views and extraordinary connections with people and nature. And acquaintances with the Biblical paths of the Land of Israel. We walked many miles, climbed up, and descended realizing how much is possible. We experienced rain and realised its power.

Below is a selection of images that may make you want to be with us next time.

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just a few more days!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

If you'd still like to join us, CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


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COMMENTARY: Anti-Semitism Doesn't Pay

Proof, if it were needed, that it doesn’t pay to be anti-Semitic has come with the rejection of Roald Dahl’s image for British coins.

The Royal Mint, responsible for such decisions, has ruled him out for his virulent anti-Semitism, which should be taken as some consolation at a time when British society is rife with anti-Jewish sentiment – even a Kristallnacht 80th anniversary vigil at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner was broken up by men shouting “Kill the Jews” in Arabic.

Dahl’s views on the subject were apparently not widely known in spite of the fact that the immensely successful children’s author made no secret of it.

But as Tony Rennell put it in the Daily Mail, his dark side was brought to light with the Royal Mint’s decision against honouring his achievements by dedicating a British coin to him – the honour going instead to one William Shakespeare “whose caricature of a Jew (Shylock) in The Merchant of Venice fed anti-Semitism for centuries.”

I think that’s a little unfair as the Bard did not make a habit of such sentiment.

Dahl, on the other hand, was quoted in the Independent newspaper as saying: “I’m certainly anti-Israel and I’ve become anti-Semitic.” And he told the New Statesman: “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them (the Jews) for no reason.”

Rennell lists several other nauseous instances of Dahl’s anti-Semitism that might have had him arrested today (he died in 1990, aged 74). And while acknowledging that he remains one of the greatest children’s storytellers of the 20th century, he suggests that the dark side to many of his tales is a fair commentary on his life, with much evidence of cruelty and unpleasantness.

Yet not even Jewish Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, when he shot the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) film, had any idea of his rank anti-Semitism.

What really bothers me is that there is so much that is dark and gloomy in today’s literature, especially for children, as well as in TV drama. In fact, it’s an absolute obsession, reflected by the way in which Halloween is rapidly challenging Christmas for our kids’ attention as an increasing number of homes are decorated with various aspects of occult paraphernalia.

There is surely an urgency as never before to point our children to the “light of the world” (John 8.12).

Dahl’s rejection for our coins reminds me of how America’s famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, fell spectacularly from hero and zero as soon as his Nazi sympathies were made public on a national radio broadcast.

He ended his life in relative obscurity and even a star-studded movie about his magnificent flying exploits was a flop at the box office.

In other words, he brought a curse on himself. For the Word of God says of Abraham’s seed: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” (Gen 12.3)

Whatever anyone may think of the Jewish people, the Bible tells us quite plainly that they are God’s chosen people, with several references to them being his “treasured possession”. (See, for example, Deut 7.6)

Anti-Semitism is thus the rotten fruit at the end of the dark road of rebellion against our Creator. Hitler went all the way down that path, and not only destroyed himself, but also brought his country down with him, along with much of Europe.

A massive battle for the soul of our nation continues today – between good and evil, light and darkness, God and the devil.

Jesus warned: _“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” _(Matthew 7.13f)

Choose life!

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


Desert Hike Day 6: Rain Blesses the Desert

Because of the rain we had to change our program. So we went today (Shabbat) into the Ramon Crater. This is a route with many challenges and a beautiful desert landscape.

We set out at 7 o'clock in the rain. A two-hour window of sunshine was suddenly interrupted by another downpour as we reached the Ardon mountain in the center of the Ramon Crater.

We took the opportunity to rest, have some quiet time of prayer and enjoy God's blessing on this dry land. It was chilly, but for our guests from abroad it was a unique experience to see the biblical desert blessed with water.

In the afternoon, we were picked up by a bus and drove down to a desert mountain overlooking the Red Sea town of Eilat. Here we will spend the night and continue with the final leg of our hike.

Despite the rain, we push on...

A well-deserved break.

What a view!

More from the field:

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

If you'd still like to join us, CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


VIDEO: Top 8 Attractions in Tel Aviv-Jaffa


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Desert Hike Day 5: Watching for Rain, Welcoming the Shabbat

Today we slept in...until 7 o'clock.

While it is already raining heavily in most of the country, here the sun still shines on us. However, because of the rain elsewhere, we had to alter our course so as to not endanger the group by hiking in the path of possible flash floods.

Our route today takes us to the Saharonim Spring, then through the Nekarot stream and on to the ancient spice road that was the source of so much wealth for the Nabatean civilization. A little way along that road, we find, and climb, Mt. Saharonim, and watch as those precious rains wash over the land.

We planned to go a bit slower this day, so as to be to change our route at a moment's notice due to any flash flooding in the area, a constant concern in the south of Israel during the rainy season.

In the evening, we prepare for the unique experience of welcoming the Shabbat in this biblical desert, just as our forefathers did so many millennia ago.

Shabbat Shalom!

Starting the day with a hearty breakfast.

Then a group prayer for safety as we traverse the wilderness.

And we're off again!

Some additional shots:

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

If you'd still like to join us, CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


Israel Ready to Reoccupy Gaza, Warns Minister

The latest round of fighting in Gaza might be over, for now, but Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned that Israel is prepared to recapture and reoccupy the coastal enclave in order to root out Hamas and its terrorist allies should the situation escalate again.


Jordan Asks Israel for More Water

Israel's Hadashot TV news reports that neighboring Jordan has requested that the Jewish state provided it with even more water than stipulated in the peace agreement between the two countries.

This just weeks after the Hashemite Kingdom decided not to renew parts of that agreement under which Israel leases part of the Jordan Valley for agricultural use.

A delegation of Jordanian officials visited the Galilee region on Monday to make the request, explaining that Jordan is suffering from extreme drought.

Some believe Israel might use the request as leverage to convince Jordan to renew the Jordan Valley land lease. However, that would require actually providing Jordan with additional water, which Israel might not be able to spare, having itself weathered a significant drought over the past few years.

While the water situation in Israel at present is relatively stable, no one yet knows if the coming winter will bring sufficient rainfall, and the Sea of Galilee certainly cannot support any additional pumping.


Desert Hike Day 4: A Real Team is Forming

We started our fourth day at 5 AM with a great breakfast. After eight hours of sleep, we awoke fresh for a new day. We then set off to descend the steep canyon walls into the beautiful Hava River bed. During the journey through this wadi, we were accompanied by a family of wild deer.

The hiking and climbing was challenging, but the group quickly learned to work together and help one another to overcome all the obstacles in our path. It has been amazing to see these wonderful people come more and more together as a group with each passing day.

Following a bit of quiet time, we will continue down into the Ramon Crater, where we will camp tonight.

There's nothing quite like a desert sunset.

"We're going down there?!"

Overcoming every obstacle, together.

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

If you'd still like to join us, CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


ANALYSIS: New Information Shows Iran Behind Latest Gaza Crisis

Information released this week and comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu during an address to the Israeli public on Sunday shed new light on the mini-war between the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the beginning of last week and the Israeli decision not to launch a ground offensive.

Netanyahu said during his address to the nation, which was meant to save his coalition after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned, that as leader of Israel he sometimes had “to hide crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy” and hinted that there were plans for a military operation in the future.

"I can not elaborate on our plans for the future but we will determine the right conditions and the right times for the State of Israel, those which are optimal for the security of our citizens,” the Israeli PM earlier told participants in a state memorial service commemorating the 45th anniversary of the passing away of former Israeli PM David Ben Gurion.

Some understood this as a hint to a future ground operation against the terror organizations in Gaza after Netanyahu decided to enter into a ceasefire with them on Tuesday last week.

However, from a briefing to the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense last Monday it became clear Netanyahu’s statement was related to Iran’s continuing preparations for a three-front war with Israel.

The three fronts are Syria, where the IDF has succeeded in preventing Iran from establishing a foothold on the Syrian Golan Heights according to Gaby Eisenkot  the Chief of Staff of the IDF, Lebanon and Gaza.

Netanyahu said during the Knesset briefing that  Israeli “spy-planes continue to fly and collect information” on the movements of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria  and the Iranian military build-up in Syria.

The Israeli PM and new Defense Minister also revealed he had tried to enlist Russian President Vladimir Putin for the effort to drive Iran out of Syria but acknowledged that this effort would require the help of a third country.

His remarks immediately led to speculation Israel could be this third country.

During his address to the Israeli nation Netanyahu hinted at a very large military operation which would demand “sacrifice”.

The Israeli military and government are very concerned about Iran’s activities in Lebanon where it is helping Hezbollah with converting crude rockets into guided missiles which can reach all of Israel and about the continuing Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

The Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has founded the so-called Golan Liberation Brigade a 80,000 men strong umbrella organization of Shiite militias which fought in Iraq and Syria and which is commanded by Qassem Soleimani the shrewd commander of the Quds Force.

Until recently the Israeli air force (IAF) used to frustrate the Iranian military build-up in Syria by carrying out airstrikes on weapon convoys and military facilities but the delivery of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile shield has limited the operational capabilities of the IAF.

The Iranian-led pro-Assad coalition is currently setting its sights on the Israeli Golan Heights and last week threatened Israel with war over what it calls the ‘illegal Zionist occupation’ of the mountainous plateau.

During a meeting of the fourth committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations Dr Bashar al-Jaafari the Syrian ambassador to the UN said “we will reclaim Golan by peace or by war.”

 Al-Jaafari’s statement indicated that Syria and Iran are looking for a casus belli to start the anticipated three-front-war against Israel after the Iranians most likely tested the Israeli military via the mini-missile-war last week in Gaza.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel revealed on Monday that Iran –via Hezbollah - had delivered the Kornet missile which was used to open the offensive against Israel by the Palestinian terror groups on Monday last week.

The anti-tank missile destroyed a bus which had just transferred and unloaded a group of 50 IDF soldiers to the border with Gaza an action which was filmed by Hamas and which was clearly taken out of Hezbollah’s playbook for wars.

Shortly after the Kornet missile was launched Hamas and Islamic Jihad started to pound southern Israel with roughly 460 rockets while the IAF destroyed 150 terror-related targets in Gaza in response.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah openly admitted his organization had supplied the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza with the Kornet missile, according to the Meir Amit Center.

Islamic Jihad, furthermore, reported it had used a new missile with a large warhead to destroy a complete building in the coastal city of Ashkelon in southern Israel.

The short-range missile was a copy of the Iranian Falaq-2 rocket and was assembled in Gaza. The missile onslaught in southern Israel was furthermore conducted in waves an indication the Iranian-backed terrorgroups in Gaza wanted to test the limitations of the Iron Dome anti-missile shield of the IDF.

All this shows that the actions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad last week bore the hallmarks of a Hezbollah operation and that the Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip acted on orders from Iran.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has been very open about who is calling the shots in Gaza.

During an interview with al-Mayadeen TV in Lebanon on May 21, 2018 Sinwar said Hamas and Hezbollah are working in tandem in the war against Israel “almost on a daily basis” and claimed  the relationship between the two terror groups is “excellent and evolving” while he also said they are conducting joint operations.

The Hamas leader boasted  about the “strong powerful and warm ties” with Soleimani and said Iran had provided the Islamist Sunni terror group with “large amounts of cash, ‘equipment’ and expertise.”

Sinwar told the Lebanese TV station that Hamas had “greatly developed its capabilities” thanks to friends, “first and foremost the Islamic Republic of Iran” and said that with Allah’s help “the resisters will stand on a united front”.

His remarks led to an IDF statement that read “Hamas is Iran, Iran is Hamas”.

This week the radical Hamas leader intended to pay a visit to Tehran but he was barred from flying to Iran by the Egyptian authorities.

PHOTO: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters. (Amir Levy/Flash90)


Desert Hike Day 3: From Ein Akev to Ma'aleh Sharav

Our climb started at 05.00 in the morning in order to observe the sunrise over the desert at 06:00 from Hod Akev where we each had a time to meditate on the beauty of creation alone.

From there we will continue to Ein Akev where we will have the opportunity to once again swim in the spring water.

Later in the day we will continue on to the Ma'aleh Sharav area, where we will spend the fourth night.

The team is in very high spirits and are keeping an excellent pace.

Until tomorrow's update....

Getting up early is always worth it in the end.

It was a difficult climb up Har Hod Akev.

Spending time alone with God to refill the gas-tank.

Observing the magnificent grandeur of God's creation.

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

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When All Else Failed, Netanyahu Turned to Spiritual Guidance

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government almost fell this week. According to new reports, it was saved thanks to a bit of spiritual intervention.

Last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned and pulled his Yisrael Beiteinu party out of the coalition in protest over what many felt was a premature ceasefire in the latest round of Gaza fighting. Immediately after, Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to likewise quit the government along with his Jewish Home party if he wasn't appointed as the new minister of defense. That would have left Netanyahu with a minority coalition, and made early elections impossible to avoid.

Netanyahu fought back by insisting that there was a looming security crisis to which the public was not privy, but that necessitated keeping his government in power for as long as possible.

Many weren't convinced. Among them was the spiritual leader of Bennett's Jewish Home faction, Rabbi Haim Druckman.

According to Hadashot TV news, Netanyahu's people, including National Security Council head Meir Ben Shabbat, sought the rabbi's help in saving the ruling coalition from collapse. Druckman responded that he needed proof that what Netanyahu said about a looming crisis was true, and so he was purportedly shown classified security information.

The very next day, Bennett called a press conference and announced that he had dropped his ultimatum and would remain in Netanyahu's government under Netanyahu's terms.

PHOTO: Bennett and Rabbi Druckman at a 2013 event confirming that the Jewish Home party would join the Netanyahu government. (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)


Abortion: The One Issue That Can Make Enemies of Israel and America at the UN

Ever since President Donald Trump's election, Israel and the United States have present a strong united front in the halls of the United Nations. But on Monday, America found itself being voted against by Israel at the General Assembly.

The issue up for debate was sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement.

The Trump Administration sought to water down portions of a non-binding resolution pertaining to the matter, in particular clauses that affirmed a woman's right to terminate her unborn child. The US was backed in this endeavor by Russia, China, India, a number of Muslim countries and the Vatican.

"We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance," US diplomat Courtney Nemroff told the world body.

But Trump's amendment to the resolution was defeated, and among the countries voting against it was Israel.

Abortion is rampant in Israel, though rates have been declining for the past two decades. While it requires approval by a special committee, that approval is so easy to obtain that abortion is often used as a form of birth control in the Jewish state. Even so, about half of the estimated 40,000 abortions performed every year in Israel take place at private clinics without committee approval. This is technically illegal, but there have been no known prosecutions related to the practice.


Desert Hike Day 2: From the Pits to the Spring

We walked about 20 kilometers (almost 12.5 miles) on Monday, traveling from our campsite at the Remilia Pits to the area of Ein Akev, a wonderful natural spring that invited us for a swim.

After a great time of fellowship around the campfire, we all slept well in our tents, and rose bright and early the next day to continue our way along the Israel National Trail.

We set off at 6 AM this morning (Tuesday) amid a heavy fog that hid the sun and only added to the mystical atmosphere of the biblical desert.

Signing off, for now...

A well-deserved sleep after a long day's hike.

Mapping out the next day's route.

Hitting the trail.

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

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Netanyahu's Government, It's Still Going

Rarely does a speech made by a political leader so move Israelis, who learned the hard way to take what our politicians say with a grain of salt. But Netanyahu's short televised address last night was an exceptional spectacle. It wasn't so much the content as it was the presentation. The weary, red-eyed premier came across as pouring his heart out in a last-ditch effort to keep his coalition from breaking down.

Netanyahu approached the podium without ado and started his nine-minute speech, addressed to the citizens of Israel, with a retelling of his army experience, his fallen comrades and his hero brother, Yoni. "I risked my own life time and again," he said, "to make sure our lives here in the Land of Israel are secure." He went on stress that when Israel's security is at stake, there is no place for self-interest.

As for the way he handled the latest round of fighting with Hamas, which came under heavy criticism from his own constituency, Netanyahu reassured the citizens of Israel that he knows what he is doing, and that, though he understands the frustration and confusion that followed the ceasefire, we, the citizens, don't know the full picture, which for security reasons can't be disclosed. 

"You see only a partial picture of a widescale campaign we are still in its midst of, one that I am committed to complete … I am not going to say here tonight when we are going to act or how we're going to act … but we will act," Netanyahu reassured, explaining that things are not always clear as they happen, but that all would become clear once the plan had come to fruition.

"We will overcome our enemies … but I tell you ahead of time, it will come at a great price," the prime minister continued. He then said to the heads of the parties making up his coalition: "At such a time, you don't overthrow a government. At such a time, you don't opt for elections. To do so would be to eschew responsibility." Netanyahu didn't expound, but his words alluded to an all-out war in the near future. He simply asked the citizens of Israel to be patient, and called upon the coalition leaders to leave their egos at the door and work together for the good of Israel. Netanyahu then left the room without any further remarks.

The speech came just days after the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, which left the coalition with a slim 61-seat majority in the Knesset. 

Liberman's departure from the government was followed by an ultimatum by Jewish Home party chief and current Minister of Education Naftali Bennett that he be appointed as the next Defense Minister. Bennett's ultimatum was seen by almost all political analysts, experts and commentators as the death knell of the current government, especially after Jewish Home called a surprise press conference after being rebuffed by Netanyahu. Everyone was certain that Bennett and his #2, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, would be following Liberman in abandoning Netanyahu and putting his coalition in the minority.

This morning, however, Bennett and Shaked announced that they accept Netanyahu's challenge, and will remain in the government with no conditions, save one–that Netanyahu keep his promise to steer the army and his security policy in a different direction. "I suppose I will pay a political price," said Bennett, "but it's better if the prime minister beats us in a political battle than if [Hamas chief Ismail] Haniyeh beats us." 

Bennett criticized Netanyahu for indecisiveness and lack of fighting spirit. He also said that "our soldiers fear the IDF's attorney general more than Yahyah Sinwar [the Hamas military leader]," thus alluding to what many see as the IDF's lack of will to win wars, and its concern for legal issues, that come at the expense of efficient and professionally-executed military missions.

Bennett's "capitulation" has only deepened the mystery regarding the great campaign Israel now faces, and Israelis remain puzzled as to what's going to happen in the near future.


Setting Off Into the Biblical Desert

Our German-speaking group set off for a stunning 7-day hike through the biblical Negev desert on Monday. The 29 adventurers will follow the Israel National Trail from the Beersheva area all the way down to the Red Sea resort of Eilat over the course of the next week.

The hike began a bit south of Beersheva, actually, at the grave of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in Sde Boker.

All participants were put through a physical test to make sure they are up to this unique challenge.

Stay tuned for additional reports from the desert in the coming days!

Our English-language NEGEV EXTREME hike will depart in just two more weeks!

If you'd still like to join us for this special experience, our English-language hike will be departing Sde Boker on December 2, and concluding in Eilat on December 9.

There are still a few places left!

If you'd still like to join us, CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE


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Trump Admin Moves Toward Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

For the first time ever, the United States on Friday intended to vote against an annual UN resolution condemning Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights.

Ever since Israel seized control of the strategic plateau on the 1967 Six Day War, the US has abstained when the resolution titled "The Occupied Syrian Golan" was brought to a vote. While the resolution is non-binding, the annual ritual has served as an international censure of Israel's decision in the early 1980s to bring the Golan under its sovereignty.

In one of her final major actions before resigning her post, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was set to proudly and officially change the American position on the matter by voting "no" on the resolution.

And, while Haley's vote won't keep the resolution from passing, it will certainly upset the balance of international diplomacy vis-a-vis the Israeli-Arab conflict by signaling that the US now accepts the Jewish state's maintaining long-term control over the Golan.

In a statement announcing the shift, Haley pointed out that with Syria in tatters, and its rulers having proved themselves to be dangerous war criminals, "if this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today."

In thanking Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said it was high time for the rest of the world to join Trump's America in distinguishing "between those who stabilize the region and those who sow terror." Much the same argument has been made for maintaining Israeli security control, if not sovereignty, over the so-called "Palestinian occupied territories."

PHOTO: Archive. US Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses the UN General Assembly. (Amir Levy/FLASH90)


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ANALYSIS: Widespread Anger in Israel After Ceasefire With Hamas

After 460 rockets were fired at southern Israel in a little more than one day, the Israeli government and Hamas entered an Egyptian brokered ceasefire on Tuesday evening.

The move came after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) started to call up reservists to reinforce "vital forces” along the border with Gaza a measure which was seen by many observers as a preparation for a ground incursion.

At the same time, the Israeli security cabinet was holding seven-hours-lasting consultations with the top of Israel’s security forces without coming to a vote about a large-scale military operation against Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

The news about the ceasefire angered many in Israel and the residents of the Gaza-belt in particular.

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, demonstrations involving schoolchildren were held in the border town of Sederot and in the coastal city of Ashkelon which had been the scene of a direct hit by a missile fired by Hamas on Monday evening.

Israeli residents of southern towns, communities and cities said that after 18 years living under the threat of terror they had enough and blamed the government for not dealing a mortal blow to Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

On the political front, the decision to enter into a new ceasefire with Hamas exposed the divisions within the Israeli cabinet and on Wednesday led to the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman who told reporters that the truce was “a capitulation to terror.”

Hamas, meanwhile, was celebrating the ceasefire with Israel as a new victory and claimed on Wednesday that Liberman’s resignation was “an admission of defeat and a sign of failure to face the Palestinian ‘resistance’,” a conclusion which was shared by Israeli commentators such as Tal Lev Ram a journalist working for the paper Maariv.

The divisions in the Israeli cabinet over the policy vis a vis Gaza and the resignation of DM Liberman could ultimately lead to the fall of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government if the Israeli PM doesn’t give in to the demand of Education Minister Naftali Bennet to appoint him as the new Defense Minister.

Bennet vehemently denied he had been in favor of the ceasefire with Hamas and immediately after Liberman announced he would resign made clear that his party Bayit HaYehudi would leave the coalition if he doesn’t get the Defense portfolio.

The leftist parties in Israel are already working in the assumption that early elections are on their way with Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay demanding that Netanyahu should resign as well.

The Israeli PM, however, rejected the criticism of his policy vis a vis the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

While delivering a speech during the state memorial service commemorating the 45th anniversary of the passing away of former Israeli PM David Ben Gurion, Netanyahu claimed that the enemies (in Gaza) had begged Israel for a ceasefire and said that the public in Israel is not able to see “the overall picture of Israel’s security.”

 “Our enemies pleaded for a ceasefire and they know very well why,” the longest-serving Israeli PM said, while adding that in times of crisis he had to show leadership and had to make “crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy.”

 “I cannot elaborate on our plans for the future. We will determine the right conditions and the right times for the State of Israel, which are correct for the security of our citizens,” Netanyahu said hinting at possible future action against Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas already breached the ceasefire on Wednesday morning when a terrorist threw  grenades at IDF soldiers who were guarding the border with Gaza. The terrorist, who was carrying a knife as well, was fired upon and later arrested by the Israeli soldiers.

The terrorist organization is controlling the whole conflict with Israel according to Israeli analyst Shimrit Meir who was interviewed by The New York Times.

Meir’s conclusion was shared by other analysts such as Ha’aretz journalist Amos Harel, who wrote that the Palestinian terrorists are “growing increasingly bold.”

Another Israeli commentator posted this video to express his opinion about how Israel is currently dealing with Hamas.

Others call for a clear Israeli policy for dealing with Hamas.

Dr. Ronit Marzan, a researcher in Palestinian politics and society at the University of Haifa and chair of the Chaikin Geostrategy Institute says “that if Hamas is a terrorist organization, then it is forbidden to help the group obtain financial support. But, if it is a political actor, then in addition to aiding the transfer of funds to its government, we must accept Hamas as part of the Palestinian political system alongside the Palestinian Authority and officially engage with it.”

Few in Israel, however, will ever accept Hamas as a part of the Palestinian political system especially after what happened the past seven months.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, for example, has compared the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot to the Islamic State Jihadist group while even members of the leftist Israeli opposition have repeatedly called for decisive action against the terror group which remains committed to the destruction of the Jewish State.

PHOTO: Israeli protestors blocked the entry of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip while their homes are under fire from Hamas rockets. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)


Israel Still Importing Gaza Produce, Sparking Furious Online Reaction

Palestinian Arabs living in the Gaza Strip infamously demolished all the farming equipment and facilities left behind by Israelis evacuating the coastal enclave in 2005. But that doesn't mean the now-Hamas-ruled territory has stopped producing fresh vegetable and fruits.

In fact, Israelis were shocked to discover that a large portion of the produce appearing on their supermarket shelves still comes from Gaza, despite Hamas and its terrorist allies routinely using the Strip as a launch site for rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

"Ever day you [Israelis] are eating vegetables from the same fields of terror from which they just fired 535 rockets in just two days," reported the online news service 0404, referring to the latest round of Gaza fighting in which Hamas pounded southern Israel.

"They are attacking in order to eliminate us, and we continue to spoil them with our money," the report continued, as a video clip showed boxes of fresh produce with stickers indicating that it was a "Product of Gaza" from a farmer named Ahmed Khaled Astel. Those stickers, noted 0404, are usually removed before the produce is sent to Israeli supermarkets so that customers won't know from where it came.

Indignant commenters on Facebook demanded that all such produce be destroyed until such a time that Gaza stops being a threat to the residents of southern Israel.

The report also called into question portrayals of Gaza as an impoverished territory incapable of feeding its residents.

If Gaza is producing enough fresh produce to actually export to Israel, then surely it has enough to feed local Gazans? Or, perhaps like in the case of other goods, the best produce is being sold so that Hamas and its cohorts can rake in the cash, while local residents are left to starve.


VIDEO: Gaza Celebrates 'Victory' Over Israel

In the international press, these video clips from Gaza are presented as local residents celebrating the ceasefire that ended the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

However, Hamas presented this as a clear-cut victory over Israel, and most Gazans agreed.

Hamas and its terrorist allies fired over 400 rockets at southern Israel, causing widespread damage, over a dozen injuries and one fatality. Most Israelis demanded that their government finally authorize the kind of military response that would put an end to the Hamas threat to their homes. But, instead, the Netanyahu government accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned in protest.

Given those conditions, in particular Liberman's exit from the government, most Israeli were forced to reluctantly agree that Hamas had indeed won this round of fighting.

To mark the occasion, Hamas produced the following animated video that embellishes its victory more than a little.

The audio is in Arabic, and the subtitles in Hebrew (Hamas wanted to make sure Israelis saw and understood), but the imagery is pretty clear:


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ANALYSIS: Israel Must Finally Decide What to Do With Hamas

The latest round of heavy fighting in and around the Gaza Strip again ended with a predictable ceasefire that left Hamas intact and well-armed, ready to continue harassing Israel at a later date.

That outcome has resulted in a rising chorus of voices demanding that the Netanyahu government either finally bring an end to the Hamas threat to the nearly 1 million people living in the south of the country, or resign.

This displeasure with our current prime minister and his policies vis-a-vis Hamas-ruled Gaza spans the political spectrum.

During an Israeli television news panel on the situation in Gaza, noted commentator Dr. Ronit Marzan, a researcher in Palestinian politics and society at the University of Haifa and chair of the Chaikin Geostrategy Institute, echoed what many are now feeling. Israel Today reached out to Dr. Marzan to explain her position to our readers.

While many might disagree with Dr. Marzan's recommendation of accepting Hamas as a political player, her insistence that Israel finally clarify its relationship to Hamas and act accordingly in all situations rings true.

Dr. Ronit Marzan:

"Hamas faces complex challenges both inside and outside the Palestinian arena, the regional arena and the international arena.

"The first of these challenges is the erosion of its status as a political leadership in light of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hamas finds it difficult to uphold the social contract it signed when it was democratically-elected to leadership in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. It is in great need of financial assistance in order to provide a response to growing public discontent.

"The second challenge is the erosion of its heroic image as a national liberation movement. It's acceptance of financial aid (from Qatar via Israel) in the absence of substantive progress on the issue of Palestinian statehood makes Hamas appear as though it sold the birthright ('Palestine') for a bowl of lentil soup (the reported suitcase of cash).

"The third challenge is the reduction of Hamas' military operational strength. When Israel strikes Hamas assets, it weakens and humiliates the group's military wing (the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades), causing many to instead join the ranks of its rival Islamist factions.

"In light of all this, we must not be dragged back into a policy of targeted killings (assassinations of Hamas leaders), which in the past failed to bring about any far-reaching changes to the situation. On the contrary, the current Hamas leadership should be preserved as an address for dialogue, because without it the chaos will only intensify.

"It is time for Israel to formulate a clear strategy vis-a-vis Hamas. If it is a terrorist organization, then it is forbidden to help the group obtain financial support. But, if it is a political actor, then in addition to aiding the transfer of funds to its government, we must accept Hamas as part of the Palestinian political system alongside the Palestinian Authority and officially engage with it.

"In the case of the latter, Israel should press for reconciliation between Hamas and the PA, which would facilitate a subsequent regional or international conference attended by Israel and the Arab states."


Netanyahu Under Fire as Israelis Protest Gaza Ceasefire

Israelis learned about the latest Gaza ceasefire following a two-day, 500-rocket barrage from the likes of Hamas and Al Jazeera. Only later did the Israeli media inform the country that our cabinet had agreed to this cessation of hostilities. None of the top national leaders–including the prime minister, defense ministry or any other member of the Security Cabinet–bothered to offer even a rudimentary explanation for the move in order to at least try to sooth the raw emotions of some 800,000 Israelis who just spent a frightful 48-hours huddled in bomb shelters.

What Israelis did hear via a communique from certain government ministers was that the cabinet was divided on accepting the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, and that at least four cabinet members had voted against it. This contradicted a government leak, most likely from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, that acceptance of the ceasefire had been unanimous.

The lack of unity, the confusion and disinformation, the efforts to blame one another for the pathetic outcome of this latest "round of combat," as we call it here, was the final straw for the battered residents of southern Israel, who for the past eight months have suffered from flaming kites burning their fields, sporadic rocket fire targeting their towns, and a constant state of alert that means their children often can't even go to school. 

For these and many other Israelis, accepting the ceasefire was an act of cowardice, a clear-cut capitulation to the few thousand Hamas and Islamic Jihad thugs who terrorize Israel whenever they please.

Maj.-Gen. Amiram Levin (ret.), a former deputy director of the Mossad, went so far as to say that Israel has raised a white flag. But the one who expressed best what many Israelis are today feeling was Sharon Gal, a former Member of Knesset with the Yisrael Beiteinu party and a popular right-wing radio show host. Gal is typically shunned by the mainstream media in Israel, but this time his impassioned speech in which he labeled the members of Netanyahu's cabinet as a gang of spineless pushovers (the Hebrew word is smartoot, which literally means a floor rag which everyone walks over) was echoed on all the major television and radio stations.

"Listen to me, dear cabinet members," he said. "If you spineless pushovers can't make a difficult decision, go home. You spoke like Rambo for weeks. From every podium you have threatened harsh and decisive measures … but in the end you squabble with one another and leave the children of southern Israel to wet their beds at night ... why in the world should Jewish children have to go to bed in fear?"

Gal then turned his wrath toward his former party head, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: "This defense minister, this toy Rambo, is like a mouse … I'll never forget [his promise]: 'Mark my words, if I become defense minister, [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh will be dead within 48 hours,' he said. You are an absolute nothing. Haniyeh is alive, and you sit there quietly."

Gal was voicing the frustration of many Israelis, including Netanyahu's own constituents, many of whom now vow to never again vote for him. This anger, even among Likud voters, was most visible in the rocket-battered southern town of Sderot, where hundreds of residents responded to the ceasefire announcement by blocking the main road through town with burning tires and shouting "Our blood is not cheap" and "We are not second-class citizens." This morning, more demonstrators blocked the road leading to the Kissufim crossing to prevent the delivery of goods to Gaza, and high school students in the south protested the government's decision by staying home, despite the military giving the all-clear to return to class.

Israelis from across the political map are now protesting against what they perceive as a weak and indecisive government whose promises to stop Hamas attacks have time and again proved to be empty. Minister of Construction Yoav Galant, a member of the cabinet, has tried to placate the public by insisting that the matter is not yet finished, and that a decisive blow against Hamas will still come. But no one's buying it. 


COMMENTARY: UK Labour Leader Corbyn Playing With Fire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is playing with fire over his mixed messages on Israel.

He denies being anti-Semitic while at the same time openly supporting a terrorist group committed to wiping Israel off the map.

Meanwhile his party continues to be embroiled in controversy over anti-Semitism with a police investigation now underway over allegations of “anti-Semitic hate crimes”.

Mr Corbyn reacted sympathetically to the Pittsburgh massacre, though a Labour Party branch in the north of England voted down a motion condemning it after members criticised that there was too much emphasis on “anti-Semitism this, anti-Semitism that”.

A Manchester-based Times of Israel blogger, commenting on Corbyn’s apparent compassion, said he believes it is because the attacker is a white supremacist rather than an Arab shouting ‘Allah Akbar’.

Solicitor Robert Festenstein wrote that the shootings in America, which left eleven dead and six wounded, reminded him of a visit three years ago to a friend’s Jerusalem synagogue where, the previous year, two men had run in one morning with guns and knives and killed four congregants.

He was particularly struck by Mr Corbyn’s tweet on the latest tragedy: “My thoughts are with those killed or injured in this horrific act of anti-Semitic violence, and with their loved ones. We must stand together against hate and terror.”

Festenstein wrote: “This was the first time I had heard him make any comment about any incident concerning attacks on Jews where he expressed a specific opinion and furthermore some support. At which point the penny dropped.

“My Corbyn, when he speaks of fighting anti-Semitism, is being mischievous, at best. It appears that he is deliberately misleading his listeners. He is not interested, as I am, in the identity of the victim. His motivation and those of his supporters…is based on the identity of the perpetrator.

“In other words, he is at the outset only interested in the person who pulled the trigger. In his world, therefore, and those of his supporters, it appears that a Jew can only be a victim of anti-Semitism if their attacker is white and crucially a neo-Nazi or white supremacist.

“If, though, the attacker is not white and is left wing, the attack cannot possibly be anti-Semitic…

“Here in the UK, the writing is not only on the wall about the risks of a Labour Government; it is in letters of fire. What Mr Corbyn has now made perfectly clear is that he will not protect the Jewish citizens of this country if they are attacked by anyone other than a white neo-Nazi. Since the threats against us are mostly from the left, including from some members of Mr Corbyn’s party, we will not be safe if he becomes Prime Minister.”

It is by now well known that Mr Corbyn once referred to Hezbollah and Hamas as ‘friends’, but few will be aware that, when making that comment, he went on to say that labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation was “really a big, big, historical mistake”.

Hamas, he declared, were dedicated to a peaceful solution! Yet they have openly, and consistently, vowed to destroy Israel and ‘reclaim’ all the territory “from the river to the sea”, as their slogan goes – a mantra also heard at this year’s Labour Party conference.

So he is trying to convince all who will listen (which includes a vast swathe of our young people) that Hamas and Hezbollah are people with whom we should be negotiating for peace – because they are purportedly interested in peace; though of course there is scant evidence of this.

Neville Chamberlain tried to persuade the British Parliament – and public – that Hitler was interested in peace. But he was playing with fire. And 50 million people died in the fallout, a tally which included the unspeakable murder of six million Jewish civilians.

Claiming that Hamas are interested in peace clearly amounts to playing with fire – quite literally – as we have seen for the past seven months on the Gaza border, where protestors have engaged in murderous mayhem as they vent their fury with kite and balloon firebombs and Molotov cocktails while, behind them, Hamas keep up their constant volley of rockets into southern Israel.

(This was even replicated in New York last Friday where an arsonist attacked Jewish schools and synagogues at seven different locations while ‘Kill all the Jews’ graffiti was found daubed elsewhere.)

As I write this on November 5th, when we give thanks for the uncovering of a religiously-motivated plot to blow up Parliament, it seems that Mr Corbyn is engaged in something even more sinister – support for those who want to destroy Israel, the very source of our civilization.

It is paramount that we don’t get too close to the fire, as I was reminded yesterday on our return from a weekend away when, after running the gauntlet of rocket fire down the half-mile stretch of our road before turning into our drive, I saw what looked like a house on fire nearby and promptly dialed 999.

It turned out neighbours were ‘enjoying’ a bonfire right beside a half-completed house, with huge flames appearing to lick the exposed wooden beams of the roof. The Fire Brigade paid a visit, and the bonfire was soon snuffed out.

And yet, while fire destroys, it can also turn the wheels of industry; it can even be redemptive and is among the symbols of the Holy Spirit. When Elijah called down fire in his great contest with the false prophets on Mt Carmel, it burnt up the sacrifice and sparked a turning back to the God of Israel. (1 Kings 18)

The devil wants to destroy Israel and the Jewish people, but the Lord “whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem” is more than a match for his enemies (Isa 31.9; see also Zech 2.5).

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122.6)

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


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ANALYSIS: Israel Readies for Third Gaza War

The Israel Defense Forces are preparing to call up reservists, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters on Tuesday morning.

The Israeli army said the move is expected to be executed on Tuesday afternoon and will be restricted to the mobilization of “vital forces” for now.

However, the IDF also announced that the mobilization could be “expanded” if needed.

The dramatic announcement, a clear sign Israel is preparing for another war against Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, came after more than 400 rockets rained down on southern Israel since Monday afternoon.

Magen David Adom, the Israeli first aid organization and ambulance service, said 27 Israelis were injured by the massive missile attacks from Gaza while one resident of the coastal city of Ashkelon was killed by a direct hit on his house Monday night.

The victim appeared to be a Palestinian Arab, 48, from the Hebron area who was only found dead hours after police and the fire brigade arrived at the scene of the devastating blast which destroyed an entire building.

The lead up to what could be the third Gaza war began this weekend when a Palestinian terrorist from Gaza infiltrated an Israeli community in the vicinity of the security fence and set ablaze a greenhouse before being arrested by Israeli security forces.

The incident was followed by a shoot-out between an elite undercover unit of the IDF and members of Hamas’ military wing Izz-a-Din al-Qassam in the area of the Palestinian town of Khan Younis in Gaza on Sunday night.

The secret intelligence-gathering operation went awry when members of Izz-a-Din al-Qassam spotted the IDF unit and tried to stop the private car they were traveling with.

In the ensuing shoot-out, 7 Hamas terrorists were killed, among them Nour Barakeh, a Qassam Brigade commander who reportedly was in charge with Hamas’ terror tunnel project and served as the commander of Hamas’ regional battalion in Khan Younis.

On the Israeli side Lt.Col. Mem - as he was called by the IDF apparently for security reasons - a senior Druze IDF commander was killed during the battle which involved Israeli warplanes and helicopters which came to the rescue of the exposed soldiers.

In response to the botched IDF operation in Gaza Hamas started to pound the Israeli communities and towns in the Gaza belt with rockets.

The attacks continued until 1.15 AM Monday morning after which a tense calm seemed to have been restored in southern Israel.

The deterioration in the security situation in southern Israel forced Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to cut short his visit to Paris where he attended the centennial of World War 1.

The Israeli PM, who on Sunday said he would do his utmost to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza and allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million in cash to the impoverished enclave, immediately started consultations with the top of the IDF after arriving in Israel.

Hamas, meanwhile, used the funeral of the 7 slain terrorists to ignite the Palestinian street and organized a mass demonstration against “the occupation”.

Shortly after the funeral of the 7 Hamas terrorists, the IDF struck an observation tower along the Gaza border which was used to identify targets for Hamas’ mortar and missile squads/

It didn’t prevent an unprecedented attack with a surface to surface missile on an Israeli bus which had just transferred a group of 50 IDF soldiers to the border with Gaza.

The 50 soldiers miraculously escaped a certain death while the Arab bus driver was critically wounded by the Hamas Cornet missile.

While first aid responders were still busy saving the life of the bus driver Hamas and Islamic Jihad started what they called “a bombardment of the enemy’s settlements” with “scores of rockets.”

The terrorists kept word and pounded southern Israel with no less than 400 rockets during Monday night and Tuesday morning while the Israeli air force struck dozens of terror-related targets in Gaza, among them the studio of Hamas’ TV station al-Aqsa.

Hamas, however, didn’t make good on its threat to widen the range of its rockets which can hit virtually every major Israeli population center up to the port city of Haifa in northwestern Israel.

This could be an indication that the terrorist group wanted to prevent another IDF ground operation in Gaza.

The question is now what the Israeli security cabinet, which already discusses the situation since 9 AM on Tuesday, will decide.

Until now the cabinet has been divided about an adequate response to the ongoing terror emanating from the Gaza Strip.

Many Israeli observers and commentators, as well as residents of the towns of villages in the Gaza belt, are convinced that Israel should change its policy of restraint versus Hamas and should now launch a new ground operation to finish off Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

After all, every attempt to restore calm in Israel’s south and to improve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza has been interpreted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as a sign of Israeli weakness according to these observers.

Israel shouldn’t Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups let dictate the security situation in the Jewish state according to the experts.

PHOTO: Israeli soldiers meet, and pray, at a gathering point near Gaza. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)


'Miracle' Kept 50 IDF Soldiers From Being Killed by Hamas Missile

Hamas terrorists operating on the edges of the Gaza Strip on Monday fired an anti-tank missile at a passenger bus driving on the Israeli side of the border.

Just minutes earlier, the bus, which had no military markings, had dropped off some 50 Israeli soldiers at a gathering point ahead of expected operations against the Palestinian terror group.

Two people were wounded in the strike, which can be seen in the video above–the 25-year-old Arab bus driver and a 19-year-old IDF soldier who was standing near the bus when it was hit. The soldier was initially listed in critical condition, but successfully underwent emergency surgery and is not being monitored in Intensive Care.

According to numerous online reports, the driver, whose injuries were not life-threatening, told doctors at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva that it was a "miracle" that the soldiers on his bus were not killed, and that the incident proves that "God loves the Jews."


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"All Israel" Owes Unpayable Debt to Top IDF Commando Killed in Gaza

Israel's leadership appeared rattled Monday morning in responding to the overnight death of a top IDF commando during a mission deep inside the Gaza Strip.

The fallen officer, identified only as Lt.-Col. M, was clearly known to everyone at the top of Israel's political and military echelons, as evidenced by their mournful reactions via Twitter and statements released to the press:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. M, a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. The day will come when we can tell of all his valor. The citizens of Israel owe him an enormous debt."

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: "Israel lost an experienced fighter, whose contributions to the country will remain a secret for years to come."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett: "Thanks to the heroes who work year-round in the shadows to ensure Israel’s security, we can all live here safely."

IDF Chief-of-Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot: "The IDF owes more to Lt. Col. ‘M’ than I can say."

What is known of Lt.-Col. M is that he was 41-year-old and is survived by his wife and two young children. He was apparently leading an intelligence-gathering mission when the team was discovered by Hamas terrorists. During the ensuing firefight, another IDF officer was wounded and at least seven Hamas gunmen were killed, including a senior leader in the terrorist group.

The IDF team was able to make the dangerous trek back to Israeli territory and successfully extract Lt.-Col. M's body thanks to precision support from the Israel Air Force.

"IDF troops that operated last night in the Gaza Strip became trapped in a highly complex situation. The soldiers acted heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory," IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis told Army Radio.

Hamas claimed that the purpose of the mission was to assassinate the terrorist leader who was killed in the gunfight, and responded by launching a number of rockets at southern Israel. Three of the projectiles were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome, and the rest fell harmlessly in open fields.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his state visit to Paris following the escalation, and possibly in response to the identity of the fallen IDF officer.

PHOTO: Illustration. Israeli forces evacuate a wounded comrade from the battlefield. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


“We’d Even Prefer Israeli Occupation”

Over the summer, Israel and Hamas came dangerously close to yet another destructive full-scale war in the Gaza Strip. Local residents of the terrorist-ruled enclave who spoke to Israel Today on condition of anonymity said the situation has become intolerable, and at this point, they’d even welcome a return of Israeli occupation.

The full text of the article can be found in the November 2018 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

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Palestinians Vow to Defeat Trump's Plan for Peace

US President Donald Trump's plan for Middle East peace will fail, just like those of his predecessors, if the Palestinian Authority has anything to say about the matter.

At a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his mentor, Yasser Arafat, current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas vowed to outright reject Trump's "deal of the century."

The controversial American leader has shaken up the standard formula for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, which for the past 25 years has failed to yield any significant results.

Senior US officials were cited by Israeli media as saying that Trump's plan will be published "soon."

Abbas insisted that it won't matter, telling the Palestinians that they will find another way to "end the occupation." He went on to call the Balfour Declaration a "conspiracy," ignoring the fact that at the time of its publication in 1917, Arab leaders were in favor of re-establishing a national home for the Jewish people in the Middle East.

In particular, Abbas stood firm on his insistence that the Palestinians will accept no peace agreement that does not make the eastern half of Jerusalem their capital city.

Last year, Trump publicly recognized Israel's claim to a united Jerusalem, telling the world that he had taken the Holy City "off the table" for future negotiation.


COMMENTARY: Jews Under Fire!

As a world in turmoil slips ever closer to the precipice of complete chaos and anarchy, it is comforting to hear of around a million people gathering for prayer in South Africa.

And it is also comforting to hear the meeting’s leader, farmer/evangelist Angus Buchan, specifically praying for Israel, which took a further battering as southern towns endured a nightmare of running for cover from a volley of rockets fired from Gaza.

Tragically, Jews in Pittsburgh, USA, suffered even worse as a gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue and shot eleven of their people dead, leaving six more wounded, some critical.

A congregation of some 80 people were attending a ‘baby-naming’/circumcision ceremony at the premises bearing a name that represents an appalling irony in view of the carnage witnessed there.

It is said to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history and is part of an exponential rise in such incidents worldwide, although predictable calls for a tightening of gun laws are expected to cloud the issue.

I believe it is significant, too, that the massacre took place at what for Jews is a hugely important ceremony reflecting their special covenant relationship with God established some 4,000 years ago.

In this respect, it was as much an attack on Israel, God’s chosen people – just as was the Holocaust, which was featured in a moving Channel 5 TV documentary presented by Chris Tarrant, who focused on how Hitler used the railways to take unsuspecting Jews to their grisly deaths in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other horror camps.

It’s time we woke up to the fact that it could all happen again if we continue to do virtually nothing about the rising clamour of lies and propaganda maligning the Jews in our midst.

Perversely, British peer Baroness Jenny Tonge has suggested that Israel bears some responsibility for the Pittsburgh attack, citing its “actions against Palestinians” on Facebook. The post has since been removed and she has apologised.

And it turns out that a Jewish doctor heads the hospital that treated the perpetrator!

But at the South African prayer meeting, held on an airfield near the country’s capital, Pretoria, Angus Buchan defied political correctness by leading a prayer for Israel – praying for Jews, Arabs and Gentiles there; and also praying that South Africa would remain friends with the Jewish state in the face of calls for downgrading diplomatic relations in view of alleged apartheid policies against the Palestinians.

Following similar meetings in Bloemfontein and Cape Town, the It’s Time event saw Christians travel from every corner of this big country to pray against corruption, violence, poverty and injustice.

Buchan has emerged as an extraordinary leader of men because he is a man of extraordinary courage and faith. This was powerfully demonstrated when he directly addressed the country’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa (who had been expected to attend, but in the end did not show up), respectfully taking off his hat and addressing him (via cameras) as ‘Your Excellency’ before challenging him to make a choice between “all those voices out there” and listening to the Word of God. “You cannot serve two masters,” he said, also quoting Jesus’ words: “Whoever is not for me is against me…” (Matthew 12.30).

For more details, see

There is certainly some excellent communication taking place among Christians in South Africa for such a large amount of people to respond to a call for prayer without much help, I’ve no doubt, from the mainstream media.

By shocking contrast, Christians in the UK seem to know nothing about it. Not only do we fail to communicate with one another, to the extent that a national call to prayer here would be unlikely to enlist more than a few thousand warriors, but encouraging news like this appears to be way off our radar even though easily accessible on the internet.

Part of the problem is that no spiritual ‘General’ has emerged capable of calling Christians to arms in the first place.

It seems that we have allowed Satan to silence us. We have let our thinking be informed by the BBC and other purveyors of secular-humanism, and we don’t bother to find out what the body of Christ is doing elsewhere for our mutual encouragement and inspiration.

The gospel is the greatest news ever told, and yet we Christians in the UK can’t even communicate with one another. How then are we going to have the boldness, co-ordination and co-operation to enable us to share this good news with a world that is rapidly tottering towards the brink of collapse?

We must surely pray, but also “encourage one another and build each other up”. (1 Thessalonians 5.11)

Time is short. Jesus is coming!

PHOTO: An estimated one million South Africans gather to pray for Israel and the Jewish people. (Charles Gardner)

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


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EXCLUSIVE: Israel Today Interviews Katie Hopkins

Israel Today recently had the opportunity to interview one of the UK's more controversial conservative commentators regarding her views on Israel's modern rebirth, the Middle East conflict and the liberal agenda that she and others like her say is sinking the West and eroding support for the Jewish state there.

Katie Hopkins is reviled by liberals in both the UK and North America, but she's found growing popularity among conservatives who see her as one of the few willing to speak truth to ills in our societies, irrespective of the consequences of doing so.

Below are several outtakes from the interview that took place when Hopkins was visiting Israel. The full text of the interview can be found in the November 2018 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

Israel Today: You mentioned being encouraged by seeing enthusiastic young Jews from around the world visiting Hebron. Most other journalists think Israel should get out of Hebron and other "Palestinian" towns.

Katie Hopkins: We were there when young recruits for the IDF were shown around. That was so exhilarating. I met these young Israelis who were there because they wanted to belong to something. There were 16- and 17-year-old boys from London coming to join the IDF as volunteers because they needed to belong to and fight for something. That's why I was so excited. But then I went into the Palestinian side. The level of hatred there is just beyond any kind of understanding.

Israel Today: How does the Jewish community in the UK feel about the rising antisemitism there?

Hopkins: Imagine being part of the Jewish community in Golders Green, where they've just approved planning for a mega-mosque right in the heart of this community. Rules were changed to make this happen. That's what the Muslim population is doing, planting these huge mosques right in the center of Jewish heredity.

Israel Today: Not many people would dare think these things, let alone saying them out loud.

Hopkins: That's exactly right, and that is why I am the target of death threats from jihadists who want to behead me. But once you choose to speak out it feels good because you give other people a voice, so I am okay with whatever the consequences may be.


COMMENTARY: Terrorists Smell Blood

With Israel now on a war footing as Gaza-based terrorists rain down yet more rockets on the Jewish state, we can anticipate yet more bloodshed in the ongoing conflict.

It appears that Israeli Defence Force patience has finally run out with ferocious rioting on its southern border showing little sign of abating and a rocket destroying a home in the city of Beersheva.

In fact, residents from southern Israeli communities are taking to the streets to protest what they perceive as government failure to deal with the situation.

It is four years since the ‘Protective Edge’ engagement which severely blunted Hamas firepower. Now I hear that tanks are moving into position to launch a fresh attack on the terrorists, who have been firing rockets into Israel on a regular basis ever since the very reluctant 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

That was when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon caved in to international pressure by agreeing to the pull-out as part of a ‘land for peace’ deal. And what peace did it bring?

It only served to embolden Israel’s enemies all the more as they took advantage of what Arabs would generally perceive as weakness (i.e. compromise) by using the Palestinian-led enclave as a launch-pad for missiles with which to destroy Israel – or wipe it off the map as their slogan goes.

Then, for several years following the 2014 war, the IDF kept a relatively low profile in a bid to contain the conflict while the Iron Dome anti-missile weapons system intercepted many rockets bound for Sderot and other southern Israel towns.

But back in spring this year, a new tactic was devised in the shape of a so-called ‘March of Return’ in which rioters would descend en-masse on the border fence demanding ‘re-entry’ as refugees allegedly forced out of the country.

Their status as ‘refugees’, backed by the United Nations, is entirely bogus and based on the claim to being descendants of the 700,000 Arabs who were panicked into leaving Israel in 1948 by the surrounding Arab nations who promised they would be able to return once they had defeated the new-born Jewish state – as they fully expected to do.

Of course that never happened, and the truth is that they left of their own accord, fearing for their lives no doubt but believing the word of Israel’s enemies who could easily have absorbed them into their combined vast territories.

But no, they were forever-after cynically used as pawns in a sick political game designed to make Israel look like uncaring bullies.

And yet a similar number of Jews, who had really been forced to leave Arab states at the same time, had been quickly absorbed into the Jewish state with no fuss or bother.

Meanwhile generations of descendants of these unfortunate Arabs would subsequently claim not only to inherit refugee status – uniquely in the world – but also Palestinian nationality at a time when no such state or people existed. If anything, it was a case of stolen identity as it was the region’s Jews who were known as Palestinians at the time of the British mandate.

The UN had in the meantime set up a body to look after the needs of these ‘refugees’ (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – UNRWA) at the cost of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in America and elsewhere. Fortunately, President Trump has the measure of this bogus body and has begun to cut U.S. funding.

And so, every Friday for the past seven months, when Jewish people are getting ready for their weekly Shabbat (Sabbath) and a well-earned rest, thousands of Gaza-based Palestinians have answered calls from terror group Hamas to put their lives on the line with violent protests.

These have included the use of Molotov cocktails, burning kites and balloons packed with explosives, from time to time causing further mayhem by blasting holes in the fence and charging into Israeli territory uninvited.

Then they wonder why they get shot at by soldiers called to protect their citizens from waves of terror which have left many dead and caused considerable damage to crops and property.

The snake has provoked the lion long enough, and it is time to deal a crushing blow. Hamas claims it as a ‘peaceful protest’ but this is yet another lie because the rioters are hired.

They smell blood – and suicide; the opportunity for ‘martyrdom’. This is what has been drummed into them – through education and the media – much as British children are brainwashed by LGBTQ+ propaganda.

Israeli soldiers, by contrast, are taught to value life, and this is no surprise because the Jewish people gave us the Bible which teaches that life is sacred. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is among the Ten Commandments, the basic laws by which they live and conduct the nation’s affairs.

Brutality and dishonesty is a defining portrait of some of Israel’s enemies. Saudi Arabia, though currently an unofficial ally of the Jewish state due to the threats of their common enemy Iran, also fits this description as you will no doubt have noticed from the shocking assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose criticism has thus been brutally silenced.

And the tangled web of deceit being weaved by the Saudi authorities desperately trying to cover their tracks is as farcical as it is tragic.

Yet our political left-wingers would rather focus on the supposed injustices committed by tiny Israel while dissenters in neighbouring states face summary execution.

There are at least 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi where torture chambers abound and where beheadings as well as crucifixion take place.

And yet we ingratiate ourselves with them. The Crown Prince now under fire over the Khashoggi scandal was given the red carpet treatment here back in March.

Mindful of all the injustices we are seeing, particularly in the Middle East, my wife and I were encouraged on our recent train journey to London to see Bible Society posters on the stations quoting the words of Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” (Isa 5.20)

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


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Why Israelis are So Concerned With Their Next Chief-of-Staff

Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently announced that Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi will be the IDF's next Chief-of-Staff. I doubt whether most Germans, Americans, Italians or any other nationality know the name of their respective military commander, let alone his views on morality, ethics or political issues. 

Though in Israel everybody knows the name of the current Chief-of-Staff, until recently few would even care to know what he thinks about non-military issues. This time, however, it was obvious that many Israelis were deeply interested in, even concerned by, the next Chief-of-Staff's positions.

Of the three candidates–Yair Golan, Nitzan Alon and Aviv Kochavi–the first two had previously spoken their minds on issues that positioned them clearly on the political left. In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, Nitzan Alon labeled the Jewish extremists in the "Price Tag" movement as terrorists. In 2011, Price Tag was blamed for the fire that destroyed a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria, as well as for the desecration of Christian and Muslim graves in Jaffa. But the presiding judge in the arson case couldn't find enough evidence to convict Price Tag thugs. The then-chief of police similarly had to blame the desecration of minority graves vaguely on "hooligans." Nitzan Alon's haste to accuse Price Tag and to even call it a terror group led Jewish settler leader Benny Katzover to demand that the defense ministry prevent him from climbing any higher up the ranks.

Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan similarly caused an uproar with his 2016 Holocaust Remembrance Day speech, in which he drew a parallel between the final days of the Weimar Republic in 1933 and the present right-wing political atmosphere in Israel. "It's scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here," he said back then. 

Both Alon and Golan broke the unwritten code of army personnel not expressing their opinions on political issues.

To put things in perspective, in 2010, then-US President Barack Obama effectively fired the outstanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal following a Rolling Stones interview in which the decorated officer and his staff criticized top White House officials regarding their policies and grasp of the situation in Afghanistan. Wired magazine rightly observed that "keeping General Stanley McChrystal in place would have shattered the chain of command, obliterated the authority Obama had with the military, and undermined any hope of waging a successful counterinsurgency in Afghanistan."  

But, in Israel, things are not so clear-cut. Controversial ideologies creeping into the army have become a major issue ever since current Chief-of-Staff Lieut.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot openly condemned Sgt. Elor Azaria for killing a wounded terrorist in March 2016. The rush to condemn a soldier even before an investigation into his actions had begun was interpreted by many as an abandonment of an irreplaceable camaraderie in exchange for "values" resembling those of a human rights organizations. 

Nor was Eizenkot's behavior during the Azaria affair a fluke. Last February, a leaked Cabinet discussion revealed that our current chief-of-staff's sense of morality is controversial, to say the least. Asked why he hadn't done more against those sending flaming kites and balloons across the Gaza border, Eizenkot responded that it was "against my operative and moral position" to do so. The recent IDF response to dozens of terrorist rocket fired at the town of Sderot again demonstrated this odd "moral position." Though 90 targets were struck throughout Gaza, not a single Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorist was harmed. In today's IDF, killing terrorists is apparently a morally questionable endeavor.

In this light, Liberman's choice of Aviv Kochavi seems to be wise, given that he is the only candidate not tainted by ideological bias. By so doing, Liberman has averted, at least for now, a tidal wave that could have wholly swept the army into the bitter political fray.

PHOTO: Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi during a ceremony at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Flash90)


ANALYSIS: Israeli TV Reveals the Truth About Hamas in Gaza

It doesn’t happen a lot that Israelis have the opportunity to see with their own eyes what Hamas is doing in Gaza, especially after the start of the ‘Great March of Return’ which started at the end of March and continues until this day.

There have been many reports about the deteriorating situation in Gaza where electricity and fuel are scarce and where most people don’t have any money to buy basic goods, according to NGO’s and humanitarian aid organizations.

This self-inflicted disaster is used by Hamas to justify the orgy of violence along the Israeli border where IDF soldiers are struggling to prevent infiltrations and attacks with incendiary balloons and kites.

But now, Israeli TV broadcaster MAKO sent a Channel 2 TV crew into the coastal enclave to interviewGazans and to film the violence from the Gaza-side of the border.

Reporter Ohad Chemo, who is fluent in Arabic, spoke with mostly young Palestinian Arabs in Gaza who told him Iran is paying damages to everyone who gets injured. A serious injured Arab who got hurt during the violence gets $500 and a moderate wounded person $200.

The family of a ‘Shahid’, a martyr, gets $3000 from Iran while Hamas is paying $100 a month to youths who show up at every ‘demonstration’ which have now become a daily occurrence.

Bus drivers who bring the rioters to the border with Israel, furthermore, get about $25 for a one-way trip while Hamas is encouraging mothers to participate in the violence together with young children in the hope they'll get hurt or worse. 

Injured Palestinian youths told Chemo they don’t believe in ‘the return’ and now think the whole strategy has become a failure.

“If there would be work and income nobody would show up” at the protests one older Arab told the Channel 2 reporter who said that many rioters are members of Hamas’ military wing Izz-a-Din al-Qassam.

They organize the violence and bring equipment to the security fence where IDF soldiers are blinded with lasers and heavy smoke caused by piles of burning tires.

“Hamas is the only group which profits from the violent demonstrations” others told Chemo.

The Israeli journalist later filmed shops and streets in the Gaza Strip and spoke with ordinary people some of whom asked Chemo to protect their security by blurring their faces and changing their voices during the interviews.

Shopkeepers in Gaza said there was plenty to buy but most people don’t have any money after employment hit a staggering 53 percent while 70 percent of the young Gazans are without work.

As a result of the diminishing purchase power many entrepreneurs in Gaza have gone broke while others were arrested and jailed after they failed to return their debts and to pay their bills.

Hamas is blaming Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the dire situation in the Gaza strip after the latter first limited payments to the more than 60.000 civil servants in the enclave and later stopped paying them all together.

Huge billboards in Gaza city depict Abbas with blood on his face and read “Whoever punish us doesn’t represent us.”

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, the body which takes care of roughly 5 million Palestinian refugees and all their descendants is now only providing people in Gaza with flour, one Arab said.

“We are living dead” another Palestinian Arab told Chemo while adding that the only thing which people are still able to do in Gaza is “breathing”.

The ones who still have money are Hamas members others told the Israeli reporter who then explained how Hamas is making money.

A truck driver who crosses into Gaza at the Keren Shalom border crossing  is forced to stop as soon as he enters the coastal strip after which he has to pay about $140 in fees.

Hamas also imports gasoline from Egypt for which it pays $0.23 per liter to the Egyptians after which the fuel is then sold for $1.62 per liter at gas stations in Gaza.

The same is true for cigarettes which are taxed with almost $1.20 per box by the Islamist terror group.

Asked if they ever thought of rising up against Hamas some interviewees said that there have been minor protests and strikes but Izz-a-Din al-Qassam simply shoots at people who dare to take the streets to express their anger at Hamas and the dire situation in Gaza.

Chemo also filmed squares in Gaza where Hamas has erected ‘monuments’, giant placates of M75 rockets which are pointed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

He said that to him the situation in Gaza was “not clear” but he had signaled a lot of fear among those who were asked to be interviewed in front of the camera.

On the other hand, many people in Gaza still support Hamas and its relentless war against Israel, according to the Israeli Channel 2 reporter.

The second part of his report was broadcasted shortly before Israeli Security Agency (Shin Beth) chief Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Committee for Defense and Foreign Affairs that over the past year alone the Israeli security services foiled 480 terror attacks in Israel and arrested 219 Hamas squads.

Hamas is feverishly trying to carry out terror attacks in Israel from Judea and Samaria where it is trying to rebuilt the terror infrastructure which existed before and during the Oslo War, the so-called Second Intifada, Argaman reported.


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Netanyahu Says When Israel Projects Strength, No One Cares About So-Called 'Occupation'

When Israel projects weakness, it invites the international community to make dangerous demands regarding the so-called "occupation" of Palestinian territories. Conversely, when Israel projects strength, the Palestinian issue is all but ignored in favor of more significant matters.

That was the gist of remarks reportedly made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting of his Likud party on Monday.

"Power is the most important component of foreign policy. ‘Occupation’ is baloney. There were huge countries that have occupied and transferred populations and no one talks about them," the prime minister was quoted as saying by Army Radio.

"Contrary to the notion that concessions will bring about agreements with the Arabs, concessions will only bring about slight and short-term changes and nothing more," he added.

To bolster his argument, Netanyahu pointed to warming relations between Israel and many Arab states, while those same Arab states have stopped paying anything but lip service to the "Palestinian cause."

There are believed to be two reasons for this.

First, Israel is for the first time joined by an American government in unequivocally rejecting those parts of the Palestinian narrative that reject the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence. That united front has quite possibly resulted in neighboring Arab states, which increasingly rely on US money and power, likewise spurning the very foundation of the Palestinian nationalist movement.

Second, while the Israel-Palestinian conflict was always presented as the primary threat to stability in the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and the Iranian nuclear threat have demonstrated that it, in the words of Saudi Arabia's future king, is little more than a "side issue" compared to these genuine threats.


Israel Considers Death Penalty for Palestinian Terrorists

Liberals like to point to Israel as an example of a country under constant threat of terrorist violence, but which nevertheless does not impose a death penalty on those carrying out said violence.

That might be about to change.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave a green light for lawmakers to push forward a bill that would make it easier to apply the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists convicted of murdering Israeli civilians or soldiers.

Many Israelis have long called for such measures, infuriated by the fact that even the most blood-soaked terrorists are often set free after only a relatively short time in jail as part of "goodwill peace gestures" toward the Palestinian Authority. Experts argue that this practice not only encourages terrorism, but has led to a hardening of Palestinian Authority positions that has in turn resulted in stagnation of the peace process.

At the same time, Israel's security chiefs have warned Netanyahu and his government that imposing the death penalty might spark an explosion of terrorist violence. The prime minister stated this week that those concerns, while valid, should not prevent the representatives of the people from considering and voting on the measure.

Israel technically has the death penalty, but it is currently so difficult to apply that it might as well not even be on the books. The only time Israel has ever applied the death penalty was in the case of convicted Nazi officer and Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann.

The current system requires a special panel of three judges to unanimously approve the death penalty. The new bill would allow a simple majority of two-to-one judges to impose capital punishment.

PHOTO: Israel Supreme Court justices consider motions to punish convicted Palestinian terrorists. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


Help Our "Lone Soldiers" Feel At Home In Israel!

About 6500 "Lone Soldiers" serve in the IDF. "Lone Soldiers" refers to young men and women serving in the IDF separated from their families.

Almost half of these "Lone Soldiers" are foreign Jews whose families live outside of Israel. The other half are Israeli citizens from single parent families. Soldiers from abroad voluntarily leave a pleasant and mostly secure life to commit to dangerous military service in the Holy Land. The vast majority of Israel's lonely soldiers serve in combat units.

The young soldiers are not only lacking in family support but they are almost completely financially on their own.

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Hollywood Raises $60 Million to Support the IDF

It's kind of hard to continue claiming that Israel is isolated on the international stage when those at the heart of global entertainment are raising massive amounts of money to support the Israeli military.

Perhaps its a sign of the times, when support for the "Palestinian cause" is waning, that the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) raised more money than ever before at its annual Western Region Gala last week.

The Western Region Gala naturally encompasses Hollywood, where, despite its overtly liberal veneer, the Israeli military has many supporters.

This year's sold-out event welcomed more than 1,200 friends of the IDF, including prominent actors and singers like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler and Katharine McPhee. By the end of the evening, the FIDF had raised a whopping $60 million.

According to a press release by the organization, those funds will be used to "provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in-need, support for Lone Soldiers throughout their service and upon release, crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities."


Rabin Memorial Continues to Fuel Division, Not Foster Unity

A mere 10,000 people gathered for the annual memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin at the location where he was assassinated 23 years ago. While for some reason Israelis still hold out hope of this being an event that fosters unity, the fact is that, apart from lip service, it has never been about mending Israel's national divide.

This year's rally was supposed to be different, but right from the start it was clear that it wouldn't be.

Organized by Darkenu, a supposedly benign non-partisan organization, this year's rally promised to deliver a strong message "against division and incitement." But Darkenu, which claims to be the largest "moderate" civil movement in Israel, is, in fact, a front for American NGOs interfering in Israeli politics. According to Adv. Adi Ben Hur, Darkenu is comprised of of One Voice and V15, two foreign NGOs that during Israel's 2015 elections did what the Russians are accused of doing during the Trump-Clinton presidential campaign.

To demonstrate its "moderate" nature, Darkenu invited a single right-wing figure, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), despite the fact that the right represents a clear majority in the Jewish state.

Hanegbi, who himself was harshly critical of the 1993 Oslo Accords over which Rabin was ultimately assassinated, was booed during his entire speech. Nevertheless, while Hanegbi condemned Rabin's assassination in no uncertain terms, he said that he remains proud of strongly opposing the Oslo Accords.In the intricate Israeli discourse, Hangebi's agreeing to expose himself to a hostile crowd marks a change that is taking place within the right-wing camp, which is shifting from an apologetic to a non-apologetic footing.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, a former Likud member who back in 1996 likewise criticized the Oslo Accords as being a "doomed agreement," was anything but kind to her former colleagues. "History repeats itself," she said without hesitation. "It is enough to read the Prime Minister's posts [referring to Netanyahu's social media activity], to watch the videos, to listen to the speeches, to read the violent talkbacks, and to blame anyone who thinks otherwise. Whoever is working for peace is not a traitor, it was true then and it is true today." It is true, according to Livni, that Netanyahu incites for another political assassination.

Tamar Zandberg, head of the extreme-left Meretz party, also did not hold back. Netanyahu, she said, has "turned incitement into a central tool to keep the peace camp submissive, controlled and shattered. He uses it to make sure that … the legacy of peace will remain deep in the grave."

It's little wonder that in the wake of the rally, Netanyahu responded with a tweet reading: "It is unfortunate that the memorial ceremony for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin became a political gathering. Those who have freedom of expression in their throats try to silence anyone who disagrees with them."


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Israel Today Mourns the Passing of Its Founder, Ludwig Schneider

Our father, Ludwig Schneider, founder of Israel Today, passed away on Saturday night, the 3rd of November. He was 77 years old. He died the way he had always anticipated, at his home in Jerusalem surrounded by his many books. We find comfort in the current weekly Torah portion Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1 to 25:18) that talks about the passing of Sarah and Abraham.

The funeral is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
Schneider Family


Is Trump to Blame for the Rise of Antisemitism in the US?

Before anything else I should say this: Trump is not my president. I don't feel obligated to defend or defame him. Until now, I've said next to nothing about Trump. Now is the proper time to do so. As a Jew first, I am offended by Trump's comments following the Pittsburgh massacre. 

“If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple," said POTUS, "maybe it would have been a much different situation." To me, this sounds as if Trump partially blames the Pittsburgh Jewish community for the "successful" attack by Robert Bowers. He should have apologized for this unfortunate comment. But does it make Trump an antisemite spreading hate for Jews in particular, and minorities in general? I doubt it.

Among those blaming Trump for the Pittsburgh massacre are Washington Post contributors Dana Milbank and Joe Heim and Samantha Schmidt, whose recent columns claim outright that Trump is an antisemite who, as Milbank wrote, branded "his campaign with the 'America First' slogan of the anti-Semitic pre-war movement." So, Trump's rhetoric incited Bowers to kill Jews. It's that simple. Or is it?

Milbank, and others like him, like to cite the 2017 ADL (Anti-Defamation League) "Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents" that found a 57% increase in antisemitic incidents since 2017, or since Trump took office. This survey is the ultimate proof, if one needed any in the first place, that Trump is an antisemite who increasingly makes America uninhabitable for Jews. As Milbank phrased it, "there is no longer safety under the vine and fig tree."

The problem is that this is not exactly what the audit in question revealed. The ADL's statistics are most likely accurate, but there are caveats. The audit divides antisemitic incidents to three categories: harassment, vandalism and violent assault. However, it fails to account for the identity of the perpetrators, so one doesn't really know whether harassment, for example, speaks of Jews harassed by anti-Israel progressives, or by militant alt-right activists. Further, the audit specifies that under "harassment" it included 342 incidents of bomb threats, an increase of 101% compared to the 170 incidents recorded in 2016. But, of the 342 bomb threats (not evaluated in and of themselves), 163 or so were made by a "troubled Jewish teenager located in Israel," which means there was really only a 5% increase in bomb threats made by either the left or right in America, and we still don't know which made more.

The audit highlights the dramatic 94% increase in antisemitic incidents taking place in K-12 schools, which makes one wonder what the meaning of antisemitic activity among young children and teenagers is. As above, the report does not specify the identity of the children/teenagers, which allows for data abuse by agenda-driven people.

The report also failed to account for the dramatic increase in anti-Israel activities by progressives who have been, indirectly, fomenting distrust of Jews on campuses across American since the time of the Obama administration. This may or may not have contributed greatly to the rise in antisemitic incidents since 2017. Sadly, the ADL audit has conveniently dissociated anti-Israel slur from antisemitism, despite many reports demonstrating that the two are closely linked.

Lastly, though anti-Trump voices wave the ADL audit to prove that the president is an antisemite, the report itself says quite candidly that "thankfully, the number of assaults with perceived anti-Semitic animus decreased to 19 in 2017; a decrease of 47% compared to the 36 assaults in 2016."

To conclude, then, unless one simply assumes that there are no antisemitic Democrats, the ADL audit doesn't teach us anything about the ideologies driving people to attack Jews. So, is Trump an antisemite? While some can extract such a conclusion from the various tweets and statements by POTUS, unless Trump is a full-blown Machiavellist, his policy toward Israel says otherwise, that he is a genuine friend of the Jewish people. 

PHOTO: The Palestinians believe that Trump is about as pro-Jewish as an American president can be. Why do American liberals believe the opposite? (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)


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COMMENTARY: Jews Everywhere are Sharing Their Faith in Messiah

I awoke on Monday morning to the sound of my wife’s mobile phone bringing us more news from friends in South Africa, who keep us up to date on what the Lord is doing there – and elsewhere.

This time it came in the form of a YouTube link which really made my day. It was the testimony of a young Jewish woman from Israel who was abused as a child and later almost drowned herself in alcohol to ease the pain of her struggles, eventually contemplating suicide as she rode her motorbike, praying to God: “I don’t want to live anymore; I want you to take my life.”

At that moment she was suddenly enveloped by what she could only put down to a divine presence of love and hope running through her body from head to toe. She knew it was God, and desperately wanted to know more. So she sought out all kinds of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ including Buddhism and fortune-tellers, but to no avail. None of these was the source of her overwhelming experience of the warmth of God’s love.

After a year of searching, she picked up a newspaper and read of an invitation to volunteer on a farm where free accommodation would be provided. She duly signed up and discovered it was run by believers in Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus), and it was there that she came to know the living God who had saved her life on that motorbike. “I know that Yeshua is alive,” she says with total confidence and assurance.

The beauty and wonder of the relationship she now has with Jesus was expressed in every syllable she uttered as she simply glowed with joy and delight at the new life she is now living and passionately sharing with others.

This is the sort of thing I was trying to convey to a gathering in London last weekend – that Jews everywhere are sharing their faith in Jesus, their Messiah, and that this is a sign of His soon return.

It also shows why Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1.16)

It was the Jews who first brought us the gospel. Endued with Holy Spirit power received on the Day of Pentecost, Jewish evangelists took the message of Jesus throughout the known world, causing it to spread like wildfire – even under severe persecution.

That is why the Bible places such importance on Gentiles reaching the Jews for Jesus (see also Romans 10.1) – not only because it’s pay-back time (i.e. we owe it to them – see Rom 15.27), but also because when they get it, they really do something with it! When they experience an encounter with God through his Son Jesus, they don’t dig a hole and turn it into a memorial; they run with it – just like our young lady.

That is why, despite their still relatively low numbers in Israel, they are forcing both government and media to sit up and take notice.

Yes, I’m well aware that Israelis on the whole are not yet fully following the Lord as a nation, but there is already a Gideon’s army of passionate believers bursting with energy as they invest their time and resources into spreading the gospel. We should be cheering them on, and praying for them.

“For if their rejection (i.e. Jesus’ death) brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom 11.15) “…If their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”

Not only are they God’s “treasured possession” (Psalm 135.4), but they are also potentially the church’s richest resource!

Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International


ANALYSIS: Israel at the Center of a New Order in the Middle East

This has been a historical week with events that showed the old Middle Eastern order has ended while Israel is at the center of a new order.

First, there were the visits of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to the Sunni Arab Gulf state Oman and Culture Minister Miri Regev to Abu Dhabi where she attended the International Judo Federation's Grand Slam competition.

Until now, the diplomatic contacts between Israel and Arab states had been hidden for the public with the exception of the relations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt which signed peace agreements at the end  of last century.

Netanyahu’s visit to Oman where he officially discussed the Middle East peace process with Sultan Sayyid Qaboos was the beginning of a series of meetings with Arab leaders the Israeli PM predicted.

His visit to Oman was kept under the rug until he returned to Israel while Israeli media speculated the talks between Qaboos and the Israeli leader had focused on the Iranian threat, not on peace with the Palestinian Arabs.

Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi, however, later made clear that his country had effectively taken over the role of mediator in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs from Saudi Arabia. 

His statement came after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s credibility as interlocutor had suffered a mortal blow due to his role in the assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey almost a month ago.

Although the Omani FM claimed his country wasn’t acting as a mediator between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel the timing of Netanyahu’s visit, which occurred two days after PA leader Mahmoud Abbas conducted talks with Qaboos in Oman suggested otherwise.

Bin Alawi also made clear the time for Arab recognition of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East had arrived while he explained Oman was relying on President Trump’s not yet published new initiative for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

On Sunday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev made history when she became the first Israeli official to tour the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Standing next to two officials of the tiny Arab Gulf State Regev said that the mosque, which is the third largest in the world, conveyed “a message of brotherhood and peace” and wished that the visit would be the beginning of an era of “peace, Shalom and a good life for everyone.”

The Palestinian Authority later condemned Oman and Abu Dhabi for their reconciliation efforts with Israel and said Arab states should stick to the so-called Arab Peace Initiative from 2002 which was in fact a dictate that would have forced Israel to return to the indefensible 1948 armistice lines.

On Monday, the Central Council of Palestinian Liberation Organization, a body from which the Palestinian Authority was born, reacted to the overtures from Sunni Arab states toward Israel by effectively canceling the Oslo accords with the Jewish state.

WAFA, the PA’s mouthpiece, published a statement by the Council which said that the Palestinian leadership had decided to rescind recognition of Israel until it recognizes a Palestinian state based on the 1948 armistice lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The PLO body, which is headed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas also decided to revoke the Oslo Accords and to end security cooperation with Israel and said it would work to reach economic independency and total economic separation from Israel.

The statement said that  "this decision was made in light of Israel's continued denial of the signed agreements" and that the PLO rejected Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” the new initiative for solving the century-old conflict between Arabs and Jews in the land of Israel.

The Council claimed Trump’s initiative would separate the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria) from the Gaza Strip and expressed its desire to reach a “truce with the Israeli occupation” a new indication the PLO always saw the Oslo accords as a ‘Hudna’ a temporary cease fire.

It wasn’t the first time this year the Palestinian leadership announced the Oslo Accords were dead.

On January 16, the Council issued a similar statement but this time the body formed a executive committee which is supposed to implement the decision.

The news about the PLO decision was largely ignored by the international media but also by Israeli politicians.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett was one of the few Israeli politicians who reacted to the PLO statement and said that “the charade has ended” meaning the Palestinian Arabs had now “shown their true colors.”

“The Palestinians have never been serious about recognizing Israel. They have always been planning to destroy Israel piece by piece and throw the Jews out of our land,” Bennett stated while adding that the Palestinian leadership cannot have it both ways.

It should decide between “continuing paying salaries of terrorists who kill Israelis” and cooperation with Israel the Bayit HaYehudi chairman added.

PHOTO: Israel Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev being given an official tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, one of the largest and most elaborate mosques in the Arab Muslim world. (HANDOUT/EPA)


New From Israel Today: Canaan Olive Oil "Eden"

Our olive oil is produced from select handpicked fruit from an olive grove situated in Israel’s south in the vicinity of our own newly planted olive grove. The olive oil will be produced according to millennia old traditions. Fully ripe olives will be processed using a millenia old “cold pressing” technique.

On the occasion of Israel Today’s 40th anniversary, we introduce our Canaan brand Olive Oil. We have called this fine mild olive oil “Eden”. Our own olive grove in Nizanna which was planted this year will, God willing, be producing fruit in about 3 years.

The olive oil will be produced according to millennia old traditions. Fully ripe olives will be processed using a “cold pressing” technique.

Israel has always been a “…land of olive trees…” (2 Kings 18) and countless oil presses have been discovered in archeological digs. Only a few people know that the Garden of Gethsemane, located on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, is “Gat Shmenim” in Hebrew which means “oil press”. Olive oil was used, then and now, as food, for treating wounds, producing soap and anointing! Discover a long-forgotten tradition of the Holy Land and enjoy “Canaan olive oil “Eden” exclusively from Israel!

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Please note: The container labels will be in German.


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