Palestinians Want to Live in Israel So Badly, They'll Abandon Their Own Children

They say Israel is a terrible, discriminatory and racist place for Arabs to live. It's apartheid all over again, they shout!

Don't believe them.

But, if you're not willing to believe Israel on the matter, perhaps you'll listen to the Arabs of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

They want so badly to live in Israel that they're willing to abandon their own children to do so.

The Israeli military has expressed growing concern over a new phenomenon that sees Palestinian parents from Gaza enter Israel to take their children for medical treatment, only to abandon those same children at the Gaza border and disappear.

These are folks who receive official permits from Israel to bring their suffering children for free medical treatment (oh, those nasty Zionists!), and then leave those children at the border, hoping someone will pick them up and care for them.

Either way, the parent(s) in question are more concerned about their own well-being, which they know, contrary to what's portrayed in the mainstream media, can be best provided for in the Jewish state.

Even as illegals on the run from the authorities, they'd rather be in Israel than living under Hamas. Tells you a little something about the accuracy of those "apartheid" claims, doesn't it?

Israeli military officials say this abandoning of children at the Gaza border is happening several time every month, and is only increasing.

Col. Iyad Sarhan, who is head of the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza, and who is also an Arab, wrote in a statement:

"This is an unacceptable phenomenon. As a father myself, I do not understand how a parent abandons his child and leaves him in the hands of a stranger without worrying about his welfare and safety. Those who choose to stay in Israel are violating the conditions of their entry permits. As a human being and as a father, I hope that this phenomenon will stop and the residents of Gaza will start prioritizing their children above everything else."

PHOTO: A Palestinian child abandoned at the Gaza border to be picked up by Israeli soldiers. Calls into question those accusations that Israeli soldiers are heartless "child-killers" when Palestinian parents apparently have no problem dropping their kids with said soldiers. (COGAT)

 

IN PHOTOS: 'Peaceful' Palestinian Protest at the Gaza Border

The mainstream international media continues to portray the weekly protests at the Gaza security fence as "peaceful," while ignoring clear evidence to the contrary.

Some will argue that these are youths wielding mere slingshots going up against well-armed soldiers. But two things must be remembered.

First, these photos do not reveal the full extent of the demonstrations. IDF sources, local residents and some news media have reported some Palestinians using firebombs and even guns against the Israelis.

Second, the media did recently feature (for days on end) the story of radical Jewish activists prosecuted for throwing stones at Palestinian cars, resulting in the death of a Palestinian Arab woman and mother. In other words, stones can kill.

Photos by Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

 

Why are Hollywood Stars Infatuated With Judaism?

Gentiles have always been fascinated with Judaism, and for good reason. Wherever the Jews have gone, they bring education, prosperity and a coherent theology of God that has attracted followers across the globe.

Even Hollywood has found an attraction to the ancient faith. Some would say that the pop stars of the starlit city could use a good moral compass, but celebs who have tried their luck with Jewish practices have not always found their way.

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first Hollywood stars to convert to Judaism after her Jewish husband died in in a plane crash in 1959. His sudden death sent her on search for the meaning of life that her Catholic upbringing didn’t provide. How much did Judaism help Taylor find her way? She famously went on to marry eight times to seven different men; she married Richard Burton twice.

The late-Sammy Davis Jr. converted to Judaism in 1961 after nearly dying in a car accident. Davis told Time Magazine: “I wanted to become part of a 5,000-year-old history which would give me inner strength. I wanted to become a Jew because Judaism held an honesty and spiritual peace that was lacking in my personal makeup.” Davis maintained a strong Jewish identity until his death in 1990.

It was Madonna who popularized Judaism among modern Hollywood stars, or at least the mystical branch of Judaism called Kabbalah. Born to Catholic parents (who else with a name like that?), Madonna took an interest in Kabbalah when she was pregnant with her eldest child. "I was pregnant with my daughter, almost 14 years ago,” she wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in 2009. “I realized I had spent my whole life worrying about myself, and that I would soon be responsible for someone else's life. Something was missing in my life," wrote Madonna. Through Kabbalah she claims that she “woke up."

Madonna’s studies in Kabbalah did lead her to take an interest in helping others. She later adopted two children from Malawi and became a major philanthropist for poor children in Africa. Still, it is not clear how she reconciles her provocative performances with any form of Judaism.

Britany Spears was introduced to Kabbalah by her long-time friend Madonna. She told Christianity Today: “I read the Kabbalah books and I meditate on them. For some reason, I am thirsting for it.” Other well-known stars who have gotten involved in Jewish mysticism include Lindsay Lohan, Roseanne Barr, Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo DiCaprio, Demi Moore, Mick Jagger, Alex Rodriguez and Rosie O'Donnell, to name but a few. Paris Hilton told the UK's More Magazine: “When I split with Nick Carter, I coped by going straight to the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, told everyone about the break-up and got a new red string Kabbalah bracelet. I go there regularly. It helps me deal with my life.”

The red strings Hilton and other Hollywood stars wear are one of many questionable, some would say superstitious, practices that often accompany Kabbalah. That is why in normative Judaism, only scholars who were married religious men over the age of 40 were encouraged to study Kabbalah. Originally written in Aramaic, the Zohar, or book of Kabbalah, is filled with cryptic and coded language, not unlike other apocalyptic and esoteric writings from the Middle Ages.

When a Kabbalah Center opened its doors in Los Angeles in 1984, they “sought to make the wisdom of Kabbalah accessible and understandable to everyone, regardless of race, gender, or religious belief,” according to their website. The center continues to attract many Hollywood stars after Madonna become a major donator to their efforts. The question is, does this new celebrity interest in Judaism and Kabbalah help lift us up out of the rowdy commercialism that dominates our culture, or is it dragging an ancient and profound faith down with us?

PHOTO: US pop star Britney Spears got a police escort to the Western Wall during a 2017 visit to Jerusalem. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

 

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Something Good From Nazareth

When the Israeli town of Nazareth is mentioned, most people immediately think of Jesus. It’s where he came from.

But when Nathanael, one of Christ’s first disciples, heard that the Messiah was from Nazareth, he responded rather sceptically with the question: _“Can anything good come from there?” _(John 1.46)

The same question is sometimes asked today as the Galilean town is now an entirely Arab community with very few Christian believers.

Step in the Sakhnini family. Although part of the town’s minority Christian-Arab population, there was a time when being ‘Christian’ merely described their culture – it just meant that, unlike most of the Arab world, they were not Muslims.

That is until 2007 when Bishara, a barber and head of the family, was betrayed by a close friend – and soon afterwards received news that his sister-in-law was dying of cancer, with only a month to live. In the midst of it all, his wife Sarah was found to be expecting their fourth child.

A pastor from Haifa then befriended Bishara and began to share what the Bible teaches, especially about forgiveness. As a result, Bishara forgave his friend and received true forgiveness for his own sins.

Not only that, but his whole family, including his three preteen sons, agreed to fast for three days as they prayed for their stricken relative, who subsequently walked out of hospital completely healed! And Sarah had a healthy baby soon afterwards despite an initial scare.

Having witnessed such miracles, including the power of fasting and forgiveness, the family’s transformation sent shockwaves through the community. But they were scorned by their Arab neighbours, just as Jesus had been at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders.

And their world understanding was further rocked when some Jewish believers came to visit. They hadn’t even realised Jesus was Jewish, let alone that an increasing number of Jews believed in him. Now they worship together with their Jewish brothers on a regular basis.

“Seeing us sing and dance together as we worship the same God,” writes Shani Ferguson in Maoz Israel’s January report, “was mesmerizing to outsiders and always elicited questions.”

She adds that “there is no greater testimony to unbelieving Jews that Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) has power over all than when Arabs embrace them as the people of their Saviour.”

It’s a little known fact that Arabs and Jews are meeting together at an increasing number of fellowships all over Israel, demonstrating the truth of the gospel that true peace and reconciliation can only be found through what Jesus has done on the cross.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “For he himself (Christ) is our peace, who has made the two groups (Jew and Gentile) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” (Ephesians 2.14)

The Sakhnini brothers – Adeeb, Eliya and Yazid – are particularly skilled musicians and are now engaged on a project to reach the Arab world with a blend of Arab and Jewish sounds as part of the Israel Worship Initiative.

They are currently working on a unique album – including some original and some old Arab hymns – which will cost about $20,000 to complete. CLICK HERE to read the full story of the Sakhnini brothers and help bring their vision to fruition.

PHOTO: Adeeb, Eliya and Yazid make music in Nazareth. Picture courtesy maozisrael.org


For more information on Arab-Jewish reconciliation, read my book Peace in Jerusalem (available from olivepresspublisher.com as well as from Amazon and Eden Books) or access the excellent Highway19 YouTube video.

 

Love the One You're With - Valentine's Day, IDF-Style

Another soldier who was on guard at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron took the opportunity afforded by Valentine's Day to propose to his girlfriend.

She said yes!


 

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Mideast Political Climate Change

Foreign ministers and officials from 60 countries are in Warsaw, Poland to discuss hostilities across the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an informal meeting during the conference, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Yousuf bin Abdullah, Oman’s foreign minister. “Many are following the (Omani) lead, and may I say, including at this conference,” Netanyahu told the Omani minister in a video of their meeting released by Netanyahu’s office (see below). Oman does not formally recognize Israel, and though secret talks with Arab nations have been hinted at, permitting a video of the two leaders having an informal discuss to be published is an extraordinary change of policy for any Arab nation.

Speaking to Netanyahu in the video, bin Abdullah said, “People in the Middle East have suffered a lot because they have stuck to the past. Now we say, this is a new era, for the future.” In an earlier sign of Mideast political climate change, Oman had hosted the Israeli prime minster this past October.


A major cause of warming relations is the concern many Gulf States share with Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its support of terrorist groups that continue to instigate regional conflicts. With public support from the US government, Israel sees an opportunity to become part of an Arab alliance to hold back Iranian aggression. The Iranians say it is US-aligned forces in the region, and not they, who are belligerent.

“We’re trying to expand the number of nations who are engaged and have a stake in the future of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East,” Brian Hook, the US State Department’s special representative for Iran, told Reuters. “Arab nations and Israel face a common threat of Iranian regional aggression and Washington was working closely with these nations to counter this. Iran isn’t behaving like a normal country. They have a very expansionist foreign policy and that destabilizes other countries,” Hook said.

Russia, Iran's key ally, declined the invitation to attend the US-lead conference. Iran was not invited. Palestinian officials were invited but also refused to attend. Palestinian leaders view any attempt at normalization between Arab nations and Israel as a betrayal and view the current US administration as having a biased pro-Israel policy.

Just outside the conference venue, hundreds of expatriate Iranians from various European countries demonstrated against Tehran’s regime. Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, was a special guest at the protests. "There is no better place to talk about freedom than Warsaw," he said, pointing out that Poland had been oppressed by Russia for years.

 

Saudis Tell Israelis: Don't Believe Netanyahu!

A senior member of the Saudi royal family granted an unprecedented interview to Israeli media this week in order to convey a simple message to all Israelis: Don't believe Netanyahu!

Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to the US and UK, was interviewed by Israel Channel 13's Barak Ravid in London.

He told Ravid that Israelis need to know that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exaggerating the extent to which Israeli-Arab ties have warmed in recent years. Prince Turki said Netanyahu is no doubt doing so in order to make himself look good ahead of the upcoming election in Israel: "He’s a man who runs for election on platforms of ‘look what I have done for you. I have brought you this. I have brought you that.’ Like all politicians."

Prince Turki explained that the reality of the situation is that Saudi Arabia, and possibly other Gulf states, are never going to fully normalize ties with Israel until the conflict with the Palestinians is solved.

"Israeli public opinion should not be deceived into believing that the Palestinian issue is a dead issue," said the Saudi prince. "From the Israeli point of view, Mr. Netanyahu would like us to have a relationship, and then we can fix the Palestinian issue. From the Saudi point of view, it’s the other way around."

Netanyahu has suggested on several occasions of late that the wider Arab world was tiring of the Palestinian cause, and was eager to cooperate with Israel on a range of issues regardless of the situation in the "West Bank." Those suggestions have been supported by remarks from Arab capitals in recent years, where Arab leaders and media have indeed sounded a weary tone in regards to Palestinian nationalism.

Prince Turki was not at all disparaging toward Israel, but did accuse Jerusalem of failing to take seriously Arab peace offers. He, like other Saudi leaders of late, indicated that he was looking forward to a future in which Israel and the Arab world work together: "With Israeli money and Saudi brains, we can go far."

Prince Turki insisted that he was doing the interview in a personal capacity and did not represent the Saudi government in his remarks. However, he did admit to letting Riyadh know about the interview beforehand, and Ravid revealed that the prince had met with Saudi King Salman only days prior to speaking to the Israeli press. According to Ravid, Prince Turki was clearly conveying a message direct from Riyadh to the Israeli public.

Watch the interview below. The opening is in Hebrew, but the actual interview is conducted in English.


Ironically, at the very same time Prince Turki was claiming that Netanyahu's portrayal of warming ties with the Arab world was a deception, the Israeli leader was in Warsaw, Poland having what appeared to be a very friendly chat with the foreign minister of Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

 

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

For the Prophet Ezekiel, Israel is “the most beautiful of all lands” (Chap. 20:6). Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Israel’s love of her ancient homeland is not without reason.

For those of us lucky enough to be in Israel during the peak wildflower season of mid-February to late March, right now is the time to take a walk anywhere in the Land and enjoy Israel’s brilliant scenery. For the rest of us, we hope a few pictures might just whet your appetite to come over and see for yourselves!

Israel is home to hundreds of species of wildflowers and the plant life are now awakening as spring approaches. Almond trees are the first to bloom each year, coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat — the New Year for Trees — which fell already on January 21st this year.

Jesus himself took time to appreciate the unique beauty of the Promised Land and commanded his disciples to do the same.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27).


Zachi Evenor / Wiki Commons


Anat Hermony / Flash90


Anat Hermony / Flash90


Nati Shohat / Flash90


Yossi Zamir / Flash90


Nati Shohat / Flash90

 

Israeli Coffee Now At 25% Discount

Israeli coffee is very popular to a lot of people around the world. Especially to Jewish populations living in other countries.

The coffee culture in Israel started since the nation's declaration as a state in 1948. There had been many Jews living in Europe who had established excellent coffee businesses in roasting and grinding coffee beans. After the holocaust, and their settlement in the Jewish homeland they brought their coffee knowledge to Israel.

Israeli coffee is famous for its rich aroma and one of a kind taste. You can prepare it in two different ways:
(a) The cooked version – “Kafe Shachor” (“black coffee”), or
(b) The uncooked version that is unique in Israel and they call it “Kafe Botz” (“mud coffee”).

The use of cardamom spice in both versions is very common. The people of the Middle East region are very fond of this aroma and taste. Many people call it “Israeli coffee” or “Israeli Turkish coffee” or “Arabic coffee”. The drinking of Israeli coffee is a tradition when working in “kibbutz”, going out camping, serving in the army or over a game of backgammon.

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A Moral and Historic Moment in Israel

A Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services Bill was passed earlier this year in the Israeli Knesset making prostitution illegal by a vote of 34-0.

“Years of hard work have come to a conclusion today,” MK Shulamit "Shuli" Mualem-Rafaeli (Jewish Home) said. “The State of Israel made today a moral and historic decision in which we condemn prostitution and act to rehabilitate women, men and teenagers who have found themselves in the cycle of this industry of cruel exploitation.” The legislation, Mualem-Refaeli argued, “will significantly reduce the scope of prostitution in Israel.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said the law will lead to a “dramatic change” and called its passage an “exciting, moral and defining moment which defines the State of Israel as a society – who we are and what our values are. Israel joins a host of nations which made it clear that the consumption of prostitution is an immoral norm with devastating consequences,” she added.

Explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that “over the past few years, there is a growing recognition in Israel that the prostitution industry embodies very hurtful characteristics and that it must be diminished through rehabilitation, informing the public, education and enforcement.”

“These are excellent tidings for some 14,000 women, men and children who are viciously exploited every day in Israel’s sex industry," said Calev Myers, a recognized Israeli human rights lawyer. “We have advocated for about 10 years to advance this legislation, and we are thankful to God that He allowed us to harvest this sweet fruit,” he reported.

Israel is only the tenth country in the world to make prostitution illegal. The law punishes the client who purchases sex, and not the prostitute. A number or non-profit organizations have begun to address the situation. Since the passing of the law, there has been a 210 percent increase in the number of women seeking rehabilitation and re-entry into the legitimate job market. The sex trade in Israel is estimated to generate up to $500 million in revenue a year.

Under the terms of the bill, the offending prostitution client will be fined. Courts will be empowered to raise the fines on repeat offenders up to a maximum of NIS 75,300 (approx. $20,600). The legislation also offers the option of instituting other punishments, such as classes to educate those who pay for sex. In certain cases, repeat offenders could face criminal prosecution.

The new law will go into effect a year-and-a-half after it was passed in order to give law enforcement agencies ample time to prepare for its implementation, and to expand the rehabilitation programs for prostitutes.

 

Israeli Dogs Diagnose Cancer

An Israeli start-up is using dogs to diagnose cancer. Individuals are being asked to send a saliva sample to the company, called Prognose 220 Mil, where highly-trained canines are able to smell signs of cancer.

Dr. Uri Yoel, an instructor at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, has been researching the ability of dogs to determine illnesses through their highly-developed scent capabilities. Already back in 2013, he concluded that various forms of cancer have a common smell that can be detected by dogs.

“The main significance of the test is life-saving early detection (of cancer). Since dogs can identify the characteristic scent of the disease,” says Uri Bekman, a dog trainer at Prognose.

For centuries, man’s best friend has helped sniff out scents that the human nose cannot pick up. Researchers in the United States had discovered about decade ago that dogs can accurately detect advanced stages of colon cancer using breath and stool samples of patients. The study showed that dogs were able to successfully identify even early stages of cancer in 33 out of 36 (92%) breath samples and in 37 out of 38 (98%) stool samples.

According to Medical Detection Dogs, a US-based lab has shown that dogs are able to detect tiny odor concentrations, around one part per trillion (the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized swimming pools). Early diagnosis is one of the most effective ways of fighting cancer, but current tests often take time and require surgery and biopsies to confirm a diagnosis. Research is showing that dogs can detect many cases of cancer earlier, and with greater accuracy, than current test methods.

One of the earliest examples that dogs might be able to sniff out cancer occurred in 2013, when Stephanie Herfel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin noticed that her Siberian husky would smell her stomach multiple times before running off to hide. Since Herfel had been experiencing stomach pains, she believed that her dog was reacting to something that was wrong. After a few weeks her doctor told her that she had an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. Herfel underwent a hysterectomy and chemotherapy.

In subsequent years, her dog again acted strange prompting her to return to her doctor. Indeed, she discovered that the cancer had returned. She feels that her dog Sierra has saved her life on multiple occasions.

 

ZAKA - Holiday camp stays for terror victims

In March and August 2019, ZAKA will be organizing rehabilitation camps in Eilat for approximately 150 children injured in terror attacks or traffic accidents. ZAKA would like them to be able to continue their everyday lives and help them experience a moment of hope and overcome their emotional and physical pain.

ZAKA is a non-profit organization that has been officially recognized by the State of Israel since 1995 but is not financially supported by it. The approximately 1,500 volunteer ZAKA members are amongst the first to arrive at scenes of disasters and usually the last ones to leave as they work closely with the police to identify victims. ZAKA collected human remains for the first time after a terrorist attack on a bus in 1989.

The volunteers are available 24/7 whatever the weather conditions to handle victims of accidents and terrorist attacks. They seek and collect every piece of human tissue, every drop of blood, all that is left of what once was a human body. The human remains are packed, labeled for identification purposes demanding hours of work. No case for the faint of heart! They also provide first aid services and help in search and rescue missions of missing persons.

All members undergo special training to participate in, what is no doubt, one of the most painful, difficult and stressful tasks in Israeli society!

 

Palestinians Apologize for Brutal Slaying of Israeli Teenager

Several Palestinian Arabs on Tuesday visited the home of the Ansbacher family in the Jewish settlement of Tekoa to express deep regret over the slaying of their daughter, Ori Ansbacher, by a Palestinian man last week.

"There’s no religion in the world that supports this kind of act," insisted the leader of the Palestinian delegation, Ziyad Sabatin, in remarks to 103 FM, Non Stop Radio, outside the Ansbacher home. "We came to console here today," he added.

Sabatin has been pushing coexistence between Jews and Arabs for years, along with many other Palestinians from his hometown of Husan and other towns and villages in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

What's notable is that Sabatin doesn't do this in the framework of left-wing Israeli politics that often view the very presence of Jews in the so-called "West Bank" as an obstacle to peace and a near-justification for terror.

No, Sabatin wants peace and coexistence with his Jewish settler neighbors.

And he said that most of the time, there is relative peace and coexistence, but it's never shown by the mainstream media.

"The interest of journalists is to find where there’s violence," he told 103 FM. "Whenever there’s blood, you see them running there straightaway and making a fuss. Where there’s peace, you don’t see that. That’s a problem with journalists. We do a lot for peace, gatherings with people, a ton of activities for peace, coexistence, a shared life."

PHOTO: Illustration. Jews and Arabs often get along just fine, but that reality is almost never reported by the mainstream media. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

 

Israelis Respond to Christian Warning that Saudis Might Destroy Mount Sinai

Israeli media on Tuesday picked up on the recent claim by Christian researchers that the real Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia, and that the Saudi authorities might soon bulldoze the holy mountain to prevent what they call "idolatrous" attention.

The Doubting Thomas Research Foundation has for years been trying to prove that the biblical Red Sea crossing took place between the Sinai Peninsula and what is now Saudi Arabia, and that the real Mount Sinai is located in the oil-rich kingdom at a site known as Jabal al-Lawz.

In a recently-published video clip (see below), the group's director, Ryan Mauro, is seen secretly visiting Jabal al-Lawz before being chased away by locals.

Mauro claims that the Saudi regime knows that the mountain in question is the biblical Mount Sinai, and is doing all it can to keep that fact from going public. A local jihadi who he interviewed in the video seemed to agree.

"When I was in the jihad world we all knew that the Mount Sinai was in Saudi Arabia," the jihadi says while speaking through a voice changer with his face hidden. "The people on the outside had no idea that it was there," he added. "We fighters didn’t want anyone to know about it, and we knew the Saudi government hid it and protected it with security and we all agreed with it."

Should those efforts to keep the location of what he insists is the real Mount Sinai fail, Mauro worries that Saudi Arabia could demolish one of the Bible's most well-known holy sites.

Reactions to the story on the Israeli news portal Walla! ranged from outrage that these Christians thought they knew better than Jewish sources, to disdain for all who think the Exodus as recording in the Bible is even real.

A poll posted at the end of the Walla! article found that 83 percent of respondents believe the Exodus from Egypt really happened, though some aren't sure it happened how it's recorded in the Bible. Eleven percent of respondents to the poll said the Exodus is a fairytale, which was the position taken by what appeared to be a majority of those who bothered to leave a comment.


 

Number of Arab Israelis Earning PhDs Has Doubled

The Council for Higher Education in Israel confirms that Arab Israelis far exceed even the most conservative estimates of their advancements in Israeli society. In the face constant fake news reports of Israel’s “unfair” treatment of her Arab citizens, high priority is given to ensure that young Israeli Arabs are acquiring higher education.

The data shows that 627,480 Arab students studied in Israel in all degrees, thanks the Council’s investment to integrate the Arab population into Israel’s society and improve their socio-economic standing. The number of Arab PhD candidates has doubled over the past decade. The Council, which operates under the auspices of Minister of Education Minister Naphtali Bennet, had set specific goals to increase the representation of Arabs in higher education to be achieved by 2022. The Council’s report confirms that these goals have already been achieved and surpassed in 2019, three years earlier than the original plan.

The sharp growth in Arab students pursuing higher education is in large part due to the comprehensive program initiated by the Council. The program operates in 45 communities and villages and provides opportunities, information, counseling and guidance towards academic studies for Arab students. They also provide support and training to help high school students pass the university psychometric entrance exams. As part of the pre-academic preparatory courses and bachelor’s degree programs, Arab students receive academic, economic and social support. Career centers were also established within institutions of higher learning to give students opportunity to consider a variety of professional career choices during their years of study. There are also numerous scholarships for Arab students rewarded on the basis of their socioeconomic status and chosen fields of study.

The Council for Higher Education’s report was released in recognition of 60 years since it was established in 1958. The overall budget of the Council, which serves students from every background, is six billion NIS per year, which is then transferred to the public universities and colleges.

An important goal of the Council is to provide access to Arab and other minority populations in Israel to higher education. There are also scholarships for the absorption of outstanding faculty members and scientists into key positions.

Israel is in second place, just behind Canada and ahead of the US, for the number of students from all backgrounds in higher education.

 

UK's Dangerous, Israel-Hating 'Hero' Exposed

Revelations expected to further stoke the fires over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party have been published in the British press.

The Mail on Sunday has dedicated a dozen pages of coverage to initial serialisation of a new book by one of the country’s leading investigative authors.

Tom Bower’s Dangerous Hero (to be published on February 21st by William Collins at £20) is a damning expose of a man ‘not fit to govern’, even in the words of long-time friend and former hard-left MP Reg Race.

“He’s not fit to be leader of the Labour Party, and not fit to be Britain’s Prime Minister,” the man who worked closely with Mr Corbyn over three decades is quoted as saying.

Coinciding with the serialisation comes news of vicious racist attacks against Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger over claims she plans to join a breakaway movement along with several others.

And this was followed by an admission from the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson that the Liverpool parliamentarian is indeed being bullied by constituency activists, as claimed.

In doing so, Mr Watson repeated his call for the party in Liverpool Wavertree to be suspended over its treatment of her.

Alarmingly, tucked in among the acres of copy on Mr Corbyn straddling the voluminous Sunday paper was the observation that he was ‘insult-proof’.

The culture of intimidation that is shaping today’s Labour Party is a culmination of 40 years of following Lenin and Trotsky’s bloody blueprint of seizing power, purging moderates and crushing dissent, Bower concludes.

“And, just like today, the man secretly driving it all swore blind that it had nothing to do with him.”

Upon his resignation in 1992 as Corbyn’s constituency agent, Keith Veness is quoted as having said: “You’re an anarchic shambles, without any discipline.”

The leader of Her Majesty’s official opposition has famously talked of engaging in “a kinder, gentler politics”, but a very different story of ruthless tactics is emerging.

A relentless campaign to root out moderates classified MPs into five categories in which every Jewish MP was ‘hostile’ or ‘negative’ including former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who represents the Doncaster North constituency in my hometown.

High on the list of targets was Ben Bradshaw, the MP for Exeter in Devon, who denounced Corbyn as a “destructive combination of incompetence, deceit and menace”.

And the intimidation of Ms Berger was not unique. “Many female Labour MPs, particularly Jews, complained of renewed abuse by the Left,” writes Bower.

Corbyn was evidently an academic failure who apparently doesn’t read books, which is a shame because, for his 16th birthday, his mother gave him a collection of George Orwell’s essays. Orwell’s Animal Farm – a classic allegorical tale of the destructive and hypocritical dogmatism of communism – might have proved a useful lighthouse keeping his ship away from the rocks.

The trouble is, he has failed to build his life on _the _Rock – Jesus, the Jewish Messiah – which ultimately explains his reluctance to deal effectively with gross anti-Semitism within his party.

Opposition to Israel is usually associated with denial of God, for it is the God of Israel whom Christians worship and who forms the basis of our Judaeo-Christian civilization which the likes of Corbyn are so keen to destroy.

In its place, all they have to offer is the prospect of a lifeless, colourless, totalitarian regime that imprisons people into ghettoes of misery, poverty and purposelessness. 

But the greatest teacher of all time said: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.” (Matthew 7.15f)

And then he added:_ “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock._

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7.24-27)


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

 

2nd International Negev Desert Hiking Trip

Would you like to get to know your limits? Then come with us! If you want to see and experience Israel differently, you have to go to the desert. Experience the desert for 7 days, where people gain a new perspective of Israel, nature and themselves.

Back2Basics
Not a desert hike for everyone, only for those who are looking for something extraordinary in their lives and capable of doing so. An adventure in the biblical desert, where people come to think about what really has priority in life.

NEW ROUTE
We have changed our program for this year's hike. Shabbat will fall in the middle of the hike and we have determined this day as a rest day while we observe Shabbat. As a result we have planned the sections we will be hiking around this Shabbat rest day.

BACK2BASICS
2nd International Negev Desert Hiking Trip
December 11th - 18th, 2019

7 days through the biblical Negev desert

For more information about the trip and request registration forms contact us at:
E-Mail: info@israeltoday.co.il
Telephones:
US & Canada (toll free) 1-866-854-1684
UK & Norway (toll free) 00-800-60-70-70-60
Rest of the world: +972-2-6226-881

 

“The Wicked Must be Put to Death”

The brutal slaying of a teenaged girl, Ori Ansbacher, has stirred government officials and Israelis across the nation to call for the death penalty for the 29-year-old Palestinian who murdered her in cold blood.

Unlike most modern democracies that reject the death penalty, in Israel there are two specific crimes that are punishable by death: crimes against the Jewish people and humanity (the law for the punishment of Nazis and their accomplices), and murder in the context of a terrorist act (under the emergency regulations act).

According to Israeli law, the death penalty requires a unanimous vote by the Supreme Court. The caution against rashly implementing the death penalty in Israel is based in large part on Jewish tradition, in which, despite the existence of this punishment, it is almost never invoked. As it is written: The Sanhedrin that kills one person every seven years is considered damaging.In other words,Jewish law requires moderation in dealing with murder cases.

In scripture, God provided Israel with a detailed toolbox for determining the crime and punishment in murder cases (see for example Numbers 35). As the Children of Israel were about to enter the Land, knowing that setting up a nation would require dealing with the complexities of human sin, cities of refuge were established to which a murderer could flee until the case was properly judged. 

A major breakthrough in the laws that governed ancient civilization came with the biblical allowance for Israel to discuss a person’s intent in crime, not only the results of his or her action. The Bible makes a distinction between malicious and accidental murder. The concept is found first in Leviticus 4, where the person who acted without intent is given an opportunity to pay for the murder, but not with his life. Today, we distinguish between manslaughter and murder, wrongdoing and malice. Incredibly, the Bible had recognized all these scenarios a long time ago.

The basis of the Bible’s approach to these laws is to protect the sanctity of life, while also taking into consideration the weaknesses and complexities of humanity. Yet,the biblical guidelines would not be considered “humane” by modern politically-correct standards. In the Book of Numbers, chapter 35, we have the clearest standards for judging murder. The chapter concludes with a strong warning not to go easy on the “wicked criminal.” There is a severe prohibition against any kind of plea deal, payment or political considerations to ease the punishment of a convicted murderer.  The murderer "which is wicked must be put to death.” However, it is also commanded that the murderer will be executed, not killed for revenge. 

All of the scriptural regulations were given to protect the “sanctity of the land,”to maintain personal security for the individual and the public, and to prevent further bloodshed. What will happen to a society whose leaders renounce their responsibility to protect the sanctity of life when there is “wickedness in the land”? Perhaps it is the chaos, mayhem and anger we see on the streets of Israel, and around the world. God help us in these troubling times.

 

The Day After Netanyahu

Both Israelis and Israel's Christian supporters are being warned to prepare themselves for Netanyahu's downfall.

The full article can be found in the February 2019 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

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When Christians Were Jews

How did what clearly started out as a part of Judaism become what we know today as Christianity? When did Christianity as we now know it begin?

A leading scholar on Christianity in its earliest form, Paula Fredriksen, has written much about the Jewish context of Jesus’ original disciples and about early Christian attitudes toward the Jews. In her recent book, When Christians Were Jews (Yale Univ. Press, Oct. 2018), she presents a history and analysis of Christianity when it was still a part of Judaism.

Fredriksen emphasizes the Jewishness of that first generation of Jesus-followers. She reminds readers that Jerusalem was at the heart of their Messianic faith. The disciples of Jesus left Galilee to live in Jerusalem and wait for the risen Jesus to return. Fredriksen argues that the early Jewish believers expected, as the Hebrew scriptures teach, that salvation for the world would go forth from Jerusalem and out of Zion, God’s “holy mountain.”

She contends that the disciples had a positive attitude toward the Temple in Jerusalem and challenges the idea that it was Jesus’ disturbances in the Temple that led to his arrest. “Jesus did not so much condemn the Temple as he did prophecy a new one,” Fredriksen writes.

The disciples’ faith and hopes in Jesus as the promised Messiah were rooted in their unwavering commitment to the Jewish faith. Initially, what we now consider Christianity was really just a form of Judaism, and was not Gentile-inclusive until later.

Even Paul’s avid refusal to require circumcision of Gentiles under pressure from the Jerusalem-based Judaizers was based on Old Testament prophecies that in the last days the Gentile nations would come to the God of Israel (e.g., Zechariah 8:20-23).

How did a group Jewish disciples end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the Gentile Church? The gathering of Gentiles into the early ecclesia was “unintended”, Fredriksen suggests. It simply came about as Paul and others spread the message to the Jewish people throughout the diaspora. In synagogues throughout Asia Minor at the time, there were Gentiles know as “God-fearers” who were attracted to the God of Israel and Jewish culture, such as Sabbath observance. The early Jesus-followers required these Gentiles to cease from worshipping their ancestral deities. So the Gentiles who accepted Jesus could no longer be considered pagan Gentiles, nor were they any longer God-fearers, nor proselytes to Judaism. Instead, they were understood to be the fulfillment of scripture and the “Coming up of all nations to the Mountain of the Lord.”

The central understanding of what became the Gentile “Christian” identity was the belief that the end of the age and the Kingdom of God were at hand. Here we have a theological position that embraces both the unity and distinctiveness of Jew and Gentile. “In their own eyes, the early disciples were history’s last generation," notes Fredriksen. "It is only in history’s eyes that they would become the first generation of the church.”

Prof. Paula Fredriksen is currently serving as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

 

ANALYSIS: Iranian Missile Threat to Israel Increases

New reports about Iran’s presence in Syria indicate the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is currently looking for another location for its headquarters in the devastated country, another indication the Iranians have no intention to leave Syrian soil.

This happened after a series of Israeli airstrikes which repeatedly destroyed weapon storage facilities and the so-called Glass House, the headquarters of the Quds Force at Damascus International Airport.

The latest Israeli aerial attack on Iranian facilities near the airport in Damascus, which took place on Jan. 29 and followed a failed Iranian attempt to hit an IDF base at Mount Hermon with a missile, was apparently too much for the Quds Force and its commander Qassem Soleimani.

The missile strike by the Israeli air force (IAF) was conducted from Lebanese airspace and destroyed a weapon storage facility near the Glass House and the entrance to the passenger terminal at Damascus International Airport.

Soleimani has his own headquarters in a heavily guarded compound located along the Road of the People’s Palace in Mezzah, a neighborhood in western Damascus.

The same neighborhood also houses Shiite militias from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the headquarters of Hezbollah in Syria and the Syrian Republican Guards.

Israeli military intelligence and the Israeli intelligence blog Intelli Times now report that the Quds Force is relocating part of its military infrastructure to the so-called T-4 air force base between Homs and Palmyra (biblical Tadmor).

The T-4 base, however, has been the target of IAF strikes as well and is considered still within reach of the Israeli air force despite the deployment of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile shield which was delivered to Assad’s army at the end of last year and has now become operable according to some observers.

Intelli Times reportedly discovered the Iranian move after it tracked a Syrian Ilyushin 76 cargo plane which was on its way from Tehran to Damascus but disappeared from the radar after which the editors of the Israeli blog determined the aircraft headed to T-4.

A couple of hours later the plane continued its usual flight route to Damascus International Airport.

The Iranians initially thought they could avoid IAF airstrikes on its base at the airport of Damascus by building military facilities close to buildings in use for civilian purposes but the continuing Israeli strikes on the buildings caused tensions with the Assad regime.

President Bashar al-Assad wants foreign airlines to return to Damascus and is feverishly working to restore ties with Middle Eastern and other governments after he won the 7 year-long civil war with Russian and Iranian assistance.

Assad’s brother Maher, who is considered close to Soleimani, is reportedly helping the Iranians and their Shiite proxies with the relocation of the Iranian bases and weapon storehouses and has allowed the construction of new Iranian missile facilities at Syrian army bases in the Damascus area.

One of these bases is home to the Fourth Armored Division of the Syrian army which is commanded by Maher al-Assad.

The Iranians are working nonstop to expand their missile arsenal in Syria and are seeking to produce the Burkan-2H short-range ballistic missile and a new version of the Golan 1000 missile which has a payload of 450 kilograms. 

Local Syrian media on Sunday published new satellite images which delivered evidence of the construction of the new Iranian facilities at Syrian army bases and the reconstruction of missile facilities destroyed by Israel.

Aman, the Israeli military intelligence agency, last week reported Iran decided to relocate the underground missile facilities it was building in Lebanon until they were exposed by Israel and subsequently removed by Hezbollah.

The Organization of Technological Industries (OTI) in Syria helped Iran and Hezbollah circumventing US and European sanctions and is assisting Iran and Hezbollah with the development of precision-guided missiles in Syria.

At the same time, Iran continues to expand its arsenal of mid-range and long-distance (nuclear-capable) ballistic missiles.

The past few weeks Iran unveiled or tested two new guided missiles which could be used in a future war against Israel.

On Saturday, the IRGC unveiled the Dezful surface-to-surface missile which has a reach of 700 kilometers after successfully testing its new Hoveizeh cruise missile with a range of 1,330 kilometers.

IRGC commander Mohammed Ali Jafari unveiled the missile at a thus far secret underground ballistic missile facility dubbed “the underground city”  according to Fars News in Iran.

“Displaying this missile production facility deep underground is an answer to Westerners … who think they can stop us from reaching our goals through sanctions and threats,” Jafari reportedly said.

The IRGC commander attacked the European Union which on Monday last week finally uttered a condemnation of Iran’s ballistic missile program and said it was “gravely concerned” by Tehran’s recent activities.

Indicating Iran for the first time Iran could still be working on nukes the EU said the Iranian activities “deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability.”

“Iran should refrain in particular from any work on missiles designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear weapon,” according to the EU statement which stopped short of announcing European sanctions against Iran.

The Trump Administration, meanwhile, is upping up the pressure on other countries to follow its lead and to (re)impose “tougher international restrictions to deter Iran’s missile program.”

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in 2015 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

PHOTO: Will Israelis again be rushing to gas mask distribution centers as Iran's missile arsenal in Syria grows? (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Death Penalty for Palestinian Who Savagely Murdered Jewish Teen?

Top government ministers are demanding that the courts finally invoke Israel's underutilized death penalty.

What's got the whole nation in a uproar is the savage murder last Thursday in Jerusalem of a teenage Jewish girl by a knife-wielding Palestinian man.

Ori Ansbacher, 19, was taking a stroll in a wooded area just a few hundred yards from Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo when she was set upon by 29-year-old Arafat Irfayia, a Palestinian from Hebron.

Details of the attack are under a strict gag order, but local media and government officials have described Ansbacher's slaying as "grisly" and "brutal."

It is also clear that the act of violence, if not the choice of victim, was premeditated. After being arrested in an IDF raid on the Palestinian Authority's de facto capital of Ramallah, Irfayia admitted to Israeli authorities to having set off from Hebron early Thursday morning armed with a knife and intent on killing a Jew.

DNA evidence that he left at the scene led to Irfayia's swift capture. And Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is insisting that he just as swiftly be condemned to death, lest Israel further sacrifice its deterrence against such violence.

"The military prosecution needs to ask for the death penalty," Shaked told Channel 13 news. "We should not hide the truth. He killed Ori because she was a Jewish girl."

The last and only time Israel sentenced someone to death was at the trial of captured Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust, in 1962.

Last year, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to advance legislation that would have resulted in more frequent use of the death penalty, particularly in response to deadly terrorist attacks.

Israel's primary response to such attacks is the demolition of the terrorists' homes, but that has clearly not had the desired effect, largely owing to the fact that the Palestinian Authority rewards the families of terrorists with large financial aid packages, enabling them to simply rebuild. Many Israelis insist something more must be done.

As Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement following Ansbacher's killing, "The terrorists are no longer afraid. At this moment they are preparing the next terrible murder of Jews."

Netanyahu himself was in favor of the death penalty bill, but it was eventually shelved amid political wrangling. Opponents of the bill latched on to testimony by top security officials, including the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Nadav Argaman, who suggested that the use of capital punishment was "unhelpful."

PHOTO: Israelis in Jerusalem light candles in memory of slain Jewish teenager, Ori Ansbacher. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Graveside Sermon

In the photo, ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are seen gathering around Rabbi Yechezkel Roth (Rata) during a ceremony at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron, Israel.

Shimon bar Yochai, known by his acronym Rashbi, was a 2nd century sage attributed by many with the authorship of the Zohar, the chief book of Jewish mysticism.

Rabbi Roth and his followers have close ties to the Satmar, a large anti-Zionist sect of Orthodox Judaism.

Photo by David Cohen/Flash90

 

The Power of Religion in Israeli Politics

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews will once again be the tipping point in Israel’s upcoming election. As Left and Right juggle their options to convince a deeply-skeptical public to follow their lead, the Orthodox will inevitably hold the keys to determining Israel’s next prime minister and the party that will lead the country into our unforeseen future.

And here’s why. The ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim (Hebrew for “those who tremble at His word”), make up about 9% of Israel’s population, but their political power reaches far beyond their numbers. Traditionally, Haredim will vote as a bloc according to directives of their chief rabbis. Voting in alliance has consistently given the Haredim far more influence in determining who will form Israel’s collation governments than the ever-growing lists of non-religious factions. Haredim also come out to vote in far greater numbers than their secular counterparts. 

But don’t let the fact that Haredim comply with their rabbis fool you. This does not mean that they are not able to express their personal opinions on politics or candidates. Indeed, politics is considered the national pastime of the ultra-Orthodox! Hesitant to participate in other recreations like sports, movies or spending their leisure time like the secular population, the Haredim love to discuss politics. To have influence over Israel society, it’s security, culture and future, is a source of great pride in Haredi communities. They are very proud of this influence and see it as part of their destiny to Am Yisroel, the People of Israel.

For Haredim, personal opinion on politics or candidates is not as important as concern for the community. Just because they may not agree with their rabbi, it doesn’t mean that they are not voting their own conscience. It is their very awareness of the importance of their community that convinces the ultra-Orthodox to compromise their personal preferences and vote, as recommended by their rabbi, with the whole. For Haredim, their identify is not only as individuals, but as being part of their wider community. The group is more important that one’s personal choice. This is in stark contrast to secular voters, whose personal choices and freedoms are tantamount. 

There are two main Haredi voting blocs, Ashkenazi and Sephardic. Since the 1980s, theAshkenazi has become a predominately Hasidic bloc (a spiritual revival movement that began in Eastern Europe). They often join with Degel HaTorah, a non-HasidicHaredi party for elections and coalition-forming. When so combined, they are known as United Torah Judaism. Sephardic Jews are primarily represented by Shas, the Haredi party that was founded and led by Ovadia Yosef, an Iraqi-born Talmudic scholar. 

The large majority of all Haredi voters define themselves as conservative right-wingers. However, Haredi parties will often be willing to go along with a peace process, even though most of the people in their constituency may not agree. This is because the issues that truly concern Haredim are more about stipends for yeshiva students, exempting their own from military service, kosher rules or Sabbath observance. Haredi politicians will make deals with secular parties in order to protect the interests of their constituency. Unity with flexibility has given the Haredim huge advantage over other political parties.

Netanyahu continues to be well-liked by the Haredim. He is conservative, has had success in pressing Israel’s case in the international community, and for the most part has managed to protect Haredi interests. For the past 10 years, Netanyahu has been able to offer ultra-Orthodox communities billions of shekels for their institutions in exchange for their remaining a “safe” coalition partner keeping his government intact. 

Through more access to Internet news, young Haredi voters are increasingly aware of their civic responsibility and many cast their ballots for Netanyahu’s Likud party in the last election, rather than vote for one of their own Haredi factions. Young ultra-Orthodox Jews are more willing to vote independently of their rabbi’s mandate, and in the last election, according to estimates, a full 30 percent of young voters did not follow their rabbi’s request to vote for a Haredi party. A trend, that if it continues, will likely begin to weaken the power of religion on Israeli politics. 

 

BREAKTHROUGH: Britain Says 'Sorry' to the Jews

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s apology over Britain’s treatment of Jews during the Mandate of Palestine is an encouraging development to be greatly applauded.

But it has been a long time in coming. Not from him, I mean, but from successive British governments. He is believed to be the first holder of this office to have acknowledged our criminal behaviour over the plight of Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazis.

Calling it a ‘black moment’ in history, it involved denying entrance to the very homeland we had pledged to help recreate for the Jews at the time they needed it most. And Britain has been under a curse ever since, fulfilling the negative part of Genesis 12.3 – that those who curse the seed of Abraham would face judgment.

Mr Hunt was addressing the annual parliamentary reception of Conservative Friends of Israel, hailing the “very strong relationship” between Britain and Israel and declaring Israel’s right to self-defence as being “absolutely unconditional”.

But he added: “There have been some black moments when we have done the wrong thing such as the 1939 White Paper which capped the number of visas issued to Jews wanting to go to the British mandate of Palestine.”

Anne Heelis, who heads up a group dedicated to comforting those who suffered as a result of British Mandate policies, said this “wonderful development” had come just a day after confession for our role was made during a Holocaust memorial service in Northern Ireland.

“Hundreds of thousands of Jewish people could have escaped death in the Nazi concentration camps if they had been allowed free entry into their ancient homeland, but Britain cruelly blocked this way of escape by severely restricting Jewish immigration,” Anne said.

Those who had been praying for a change of heart were “deeply grateful” for this development, and though Mr Hunt’s remarks were “most welcome”, they did not amount to an apology.

“They are indeed a wonderful answer to prayer and a great encouragement to continue praying with broken hearts for our Government to make a full apology to Israel. There is still a deep wound in the heart of many Israelis as a result of Britain’s misconduct of the Mandate.”

Rosie Ross, whose organisation Repairing the Breach has also been working with those who suffered under the Mandate, said Mr Hunt’s statement was “a major breakthrough” that was clearly an answer to prayer, some of which has been specifically targeted at the Foreign Office.

She plans to thank Mr Hunt personally and also looks forward to a full apology.

Because the 1917 Balfour Declaration – promising to do all we could to aid Jewish repatriation – had subsequently been legitimised both by the 1920 Treaty of San Remo and the League of Nations in 1922, Britain had all the delegated power she needed to rescue many thousands of God’s chosen people from disaster.

But they failed to act because of Arab opposition, choosing to pursue a policy of appeasement that had never worked with Hitler. And we are still suffering the consequences, with the Middle East up in flames, the rest of Europe in turmoil and Britain in particular in a state of utter chaos and bewilderment.

We lost our empire, beginning with India in 1947, along with much of our power and influence and, as we succumbed increasingly to secularisation, we broke loose from our moral moorings. We also lost our sovereignty as we got sucked into the godless European whirlpool which further weakened our Judaeo-Christian foundations.

All this leaves us frantically splashing about in an ocean of confusion while the political elite are engaged in a desperate bid to avoid carrying out the people’s wish of regaining our national pride.

I pray that Mr Hunt will stick to his guns, and I would like to encourage him by emphasising the undeniable link – both at an individual and national level – between political longevity and treatment of the Jews.

It is worth noting, for example, that the three longest-serving British Prime Ministers of the modern era – Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair – were unflinching in their support for the Jews. I mentioned Wilson last week (see The Forgotten Friend of Israel). Mrs Thatcher not only helped save a Jewish girl’s life from the Holocaust but also faithfully served her strongly Jewish constituency throughout her parliamentary career and Mr Blair inaugurated the annual Holocaust Memorial Day to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Others, including Neville Chamberlain, Anthony Eden, James Callaghan and even Winston Churchill, disappeared from the political scene after letting God’s ancient people down.

Where are the great empires of the past – Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman – who have treated the ‘apple of God’s eye’ (Zech 2.8) with disdain? They are buried in the dust of history.

With this in mind, Christians United for Israel UK has launched Operation Mordecai to highlight the threat to Israel and the West posed by Iran with the primary aim of ensuring that Britain positions itself on the right side of history by defending Israel against tyranny.

The campaign takes its inspiration from the biblical account of Esther’s cousin Mordecai who, having heard of a plot to annihilate the Jews, sought the Lord, warned about what was planned and took action.

Let’s not go the way of Ireland, Amnesty International or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Ireland is currently pushing through legislation designed to boycott the sale of Israeli products from so-called “illegal settlements in occupied territories”. They are referring to Judea and Samaria, which is the heart of Israel though obviously disputed by those who oppose their right to the land (which, as I said, is theirs by international treaty as well as God’s sovereign Word).

Amnesty International is calling for a boycott of Israel’s tourism industry in the same region, accusing them of “occupation, human rights violations and war crimes”.

Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland, said the humanitarian organisation thus demonstrates its lack of neutrality by whitewashing any Palestinian culpability for the conflict.

“Amnesty must recognise the incitement, the children’s television programmes encouraging violence and terrorism, and the salaries to convicted terrorists under the Palestinian Authority’s ‘Pay to Slay’ policy, to name but a few of the many disgraces which bear much responsibility for the current situation.”

He added that such boycotts harm the very people they wish to help.

Returning to our relationship with the Jewish state, Labour ties with its sister party in Israel were officially cut last year over its handling of anti-Semitism, which bodes ill for any potential Labour-led government.

It was in 2016 that Mr Corbyn refused an invitation from Isaac Herzog, then leader of Israel’s Labour Party, to visit Israel and tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

Herzog, now chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, is reported to be “extremely distraught” by what is happening in Britain’s Labour Party.

So should we be. And our Foreign Office has a bad record of dealings with Israel; so let’s hope Mr Hunt’s statement signals a turning of the tide.

For we do not wish to be numbered among Israel’s enemies, of whom the Psalmist wrote: “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” (Psalm 83.4)

And Psalm 146 adds: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (verses 3-4).

PHOTO: A former British detention camp in Atlit, near Haifa, has been turned into a museum telling the story of Jews trying to escape the Nazi Holocaust, only to be imprisoned in their ancestral homeland. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)


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

 

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Palestinians Slam US for "Conspiring" to Broker Peace Against Their Will

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday slammed the Trump Administration for "conspiring" to broker a Middle East peace deal that doesn't meet each and every one of the Palestinians' demands.

For the very same reason, most Israelis are thrilled to now have the likes of Donald Trump steering the Israeli-Arab peace process.

Next Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 13-14), the Trump Administration and the government of Poland will jointly host a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw. Government ministers from around the world, and especially from the Middle East, have been invited to attend.

Left off the invitation list was the Palestinian Authority, which has repeatedly rejected any notion of a Trump-led US brokering peace between Israel and local Arabs.

The Palestinians have similarly preemptively rejected any possible outcome of next week's gathering, calling it "an American conspiracy intended to get the participants to adopt the US views on issues of the region, particularly the Palestine question."

For it's part, the Trump Administration has made clear that it will not apologize for taking a pro-Israel approach to the Mideast peace process, noting that the previous approach of trying to strike a note of equivalency had failed miserably.

"We don’t believe that in order for us to work on a peace effort we need to have an equivalency, where we can only say certain things about Israel if at the same time we also say something about the Palestinians," a senior US official told The Times of Israel.

"Not only does that not work; we don’t think it’s right. We say what’s on our mind; we speak the truth. The truth may be uncomfortable for some people. But we cannot solve the conflict without being open and honest," he added.

Indeed, 20 years of American administrations playing to Palestinian sensitivities had allowed the Palestinian Authority to systematically violate signed peace agreements and demand gestures and preconditions to which no Israeli government could realistically agree.

PHOTO: Palestinian demonstrators in Nablus (biblical Shechem) burn a coffin featuring the images of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

 

Many Messianic Jews Not Voting for Netanyahu

Many people may not be aware that the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic political party Shas controls Israel’s Ministry of the Interior. This is the price Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pays to stay in power. His coalition government requires a parliamentary majority, and Shas required this prize.

When Netanyahu decided to dissolve his last government and go to elections almost four years ago, I feared that he was going to exchange the secular Yesh Atid party under Yair Lapid, whic formed part of his previous government, for the ultra-Orthodox parties in the new coalition. That is just what happened, even though the leader of Shas, Arye Deri, is a convicted felon who spent a good bit of time in jail.

The Interior Ministry controls immigration into the Land, visas for entries and exits, the population registry, citizenship issues and more. There is great injustice from Shas in this role, not only against Jewish followers of Yeshua (Jesus), but against many others.

For instance, Shas control of the Interior Ministry has resulted in over 7,000 Ethiopian Jews being denied the right to immigrate to the Jewish state. Many have relatives here in Israel and seek family unification. These are the Falash Mura, who some centuries ago were baptized under extreme duress into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with tacit government approval. They maintained a Jewish identity and are desirous of conversion to Judaism. The Israeli parliament has approved this and allocated funds. But the Interior Ministry refuses to let them come to Israel. Many believe this due to prejudice and maybe even racism on the part of the Shas leadership against Ethiopian Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity.

Another example was reported just this week, when two teenagers

from South America who flew to Israel to visit their mother and stepfather were effectively deported. The mother married an Israeli and converted to Judaism. But Interior Ministry agents at the airport who interrogated her children would not let them enter the country. They were put on a plane back to South America after authorities claimed they were not convinced the teens would not remain in the country illegally. The mother in Israel protested and got legal help. She was about to take this to court when the Interior Ministry relented and accepted that the kids could visit. But it was too late, the teen’s vacation was over and a visit no longer possible. We regularly hear stories like this of people detained and put back on planes to go home without good reason.

Under pressure from several ultra-Orthodox parties, the government rescinded policies that would require more Orthodox Jews to be drafted into the Israeli army or do other forms of national service. They also refused to adopt policies that would reduce the number of Orthodox on welfare who refuse to work so as to study Talmud.

For all these reasons and more, many Jewish followers of Yeshua in Israel will think twice about voting for Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election. We like some of his policies, but are having a hard time knowing that a vote for him is a vote for the ultra-Orthodox.

Daniel Juster is Founding Director of the Tikkun America network of congregations. He has served in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972.

 

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The "Christian Rabbi" Dies of a Heart Attack

Yechiel Eckstein, known to Evangelical Christians around the world as the “Christian Rabbi,” has died at the age of 67. Eckstein was known for his philanthropic efforts in Israel over the past 35 years through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). 

As head of the IFCJ, the New York rabbi raised more than $360 million in donations — mostly from Christians — for projects benefiting needy Jews and Arabs in Israel and beyond, according to the organization’s website.

But Eckstein’s appeal to the Church to support Israel made him a pariah with many Jews, Christians and Messianic Jews. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate repeatedly condemned Eckstein’s use of Christian money to “expand Christian missionary propaganda.” In Mea Shearim, Jerusalem's most ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, dozens of posters claim “Beware! Eckstein is a secret Evangelical Christian!”

Many Christians are also convinced that Eckstein was a believer in Yeshua. However, in his book, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism, Eckstein devotes an entire chapter to casting suspicion on Jews who believe in Jesus. One of the underlying purposes of the book is to make clear to Christians that if they hope to have friendship with Jewish people, they need to disassociate from Messianic Jews and should stop evangelizing.

Eckstein’s approach played well with Christian organizations who sought access to Israel’s higher echelon, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who actively pursues support from America’s right-wing Evangelicals. Rabbi Eckstein knew how to tap into the deep Evangelical conviction to support Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem and bless the descendants of Abraham, without mentioning Jesus.

Rabbi Eckstein’s inroads into the Christian world are extraordinary. He organized leading Christian broadcaster tours to Israel. His nationally-syndicated radio broadcast "Ask the Rabbi" aired on predominantly Christian stations. Eckstein made regular appearances on major Christian television broadcasts to discuss subjects that include Israel, Jews, Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations. He was one of the initiators of the International Prayer for Israel movement that has brought together over six million Christians to pray for the Jewish state. He has been a keynote speaker at the International Christian Embassy's Feast of Tabernacles event in Jerusalem. 

His IFCJ launched On Wings of Eagles to bring Soviet Jews to Israel following the collapse of the USSR. He organized an emergency campaign to raise funds from Christian communities to pay for "Freedom Flight" airlifts from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Millions have been donated by Evangelical Christians to rescue the Jews of Ethiopia and bring them to Israel.

Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family went so far as to say of Eckstein, "I'm aware of your own efforts to defend righteousness… it's heartening to know that you and other members of the Jewish community are standing with us [Christians] in striving to defend biblical truths."

But David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, wondered already back in 2007 in his organization's newsletter, “Why do so many Christians respond to Rabbi Eckstein’s appeals for Bible-based support for projects that have nothing to do with reconciling Jewish people to God? I can understand it to a certain extent, as they do not know that some of the funds Rabbi Eckstein collects go to groups that oppose efforts to tell Jewish people that they need to know Jesus as Messiah and Lord. However, the high-profile Christian leaders who deal with Eckstein certainly know that he is not a Christian. Still, they encourage Christians to express their love for Jewish people by giving to leaders who are spiritually blind. Because yes, as offensive as that statement sounds, the Bible does say that without Jesus, my people are blind (Romans 11:25).”

 

Terrorists in Suits in the Service of BDS

Israel's Minister of Public Security and of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan (pictured), this week sounded a dramatic, but not surprising, warning that "terrorists in suits" are working against Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Organizations like NGO Monitor had already previously raised the alarm concerning terrorist exploitation of the human rights agenda. But it is only now that the Israeli government has decided to launch its own full-blown campaign against those human rights organizations that, knowingly or otherwise, are facilitating the deadly schemes of Palestinian terror groups. 

The reason for the long-delayed official recognition of this worrying phenomenon, to give Erdan the benefit of the doubt, was the need to fully verify the information collected by Israeli NGOs before going public with it. That this might be the case can be seen in the knee-jerk reaction of Middle East Monitor (MEM), which called Erdan's announcement "a new smear campaign" that "shirks the transparency it demands of others and disseminates misleading and tendentious information." Apart from the teary-eyed personal testimonies of those directly or indirectly involved in terror, however, MEM didn't provide a single shred of evidence to credibly dispel the information presented in the report "Terrorists in Suites," published by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

In the introduction, Erdan is quoted saying in no uncertain terms that "terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map. Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks. Following the exposure of over 100 links between terrorist groups and leading BDS organizations, I urge all governments and financial institutions to investigate the activities of these BDS organizations, and immediately end all funding and support which they provide to them."

The report itself "reveals how Hamas and the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] are utilizing a network of NGOs promoting boycotts against Israel as an additional tactic in their ultimate goal of dismantling the State of Israel. These organizations have successfully placed over 30 of their members, 20 of which have served time, including for murder, in senior positions within BDS-promoting NGOs. The report documents how boycott organizations and terrorist designated organizations raise finances together, share the same personnel, and showcases that contrary to popular belief, these officials have not abandoned their support for terrorism, but instead, continue to maintain organizational, financial, and active ties with terrorist groups."

A case in point is an NGO called Addameer, that was founded by none other than members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Many of its members were convicted of terrorist activity. Among them is Yaqoub Oude – a PFLP terrorist for decades. Oude murdered two Israelis and injured nine others. He was sentenced to three life terms, but served only 17 years in prison after being released in a prisoner exchange deal in 1985.

Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq since 2006, served as a senior PFLP official in the past, and at least until recently maintained close ties with PFLP operatives in Judea and Samaria. Jabarin was tried and convicted for his "military" activity in the PFLP, and has served multiple prison sentences. And the list goes on, and on. 

The report will not change the minds of Israel-hating BDS-associated NGOs. Hopefully, however, European countries who by their own laws are prohibited from facilitating either BDS or terrorist activity, will do something about their own support of those who seek to destroy Israel.

 

Israeli Artists Bring Streets of Jerusalem to Life

Popular Israeli artists brought the streets of Jerusalem to life this week as part of the annual art festival known as Sha'on Horef (Winter Clock).

Photos by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90







 

US Needs Israeli Iron Dome "Immediately"

According to a statement from Israel's Defense Ministry, the American military told Israel it had decided to purchase the Iron Dome missile defense system "for immediate needs of the U.S. army."

It is not clear for what “immediate needs” the US military requires the battle-tested Israeli system. In a statement the Americans said, “The Iron Dome will be assessed as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, called this a “great achievement for Israel” and “further proof of our solid bond with the U.S., as well of Israel's rising status in the world.”

One of the big stories in Israel’s recent technological achievements is the overwhelming success of the Iron Dome. The idea was originally scoffed at by many Israeli leaders back in 2012, when few thought it was possible to bring down the Kassam rockets being fired as Israel from Gaza. In takes only a few seconds for the Iranian-funded missiles to explode in towns and villages along the southern border. According to official statements, the Iron Dome has knocked down thousands of Hamas missiles and over 90% of rockets that would have otherwise struck Israeli population centers.

The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 to 43 miles away. Israel hopes to increase the range of Iron Dome's interceptions to 160 miles and make it more versatile so that it could intercept rockets coming from two directions simultaneously. Each Iron Dome battery is capable of protecting an urban area of approximately 58 square miles. In addition to their land-based deployment, Iron Dome batteries will in the future be deployed at sea, where they will protect off-shore gas platforms in conjunction with Israel's ship-based Barak 8 missile system.

Other missile defense batteries typically consists of a radar unit, missile control unit, and several launchers, all located at the same site.

Conversely, Iron Dome is built to deploy in a scattered pattern. Each launcher, containing 20 interceptors, is independently deployed and operated remotely via a secure wireless connection. The first battery was reportedly deployed back in 2011 to protect Air Force bases in southern Israel. Development was accelerated and the system quickly put into the field as Gaza rocket attacks intensified shortly thereafter.

 

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Trump Does Not Endorse Netanyahu. What About Israel?

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday retweeted a photo of a campaign billboard in Jerusalem featuring himself shaking hands with incumbent Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House immediately put out a statement insisting the tweet was not an endorsement of Netanyahu in Israel's upcoming national election.

“It’s no secret that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu have a strong relationship based upon mutual respect and that they reflect the mutual admiration and affection of the American and Israeli people,” read the statement, passed on Tuesday by the White House and the US Embassy in Israel to various news outlets. “The administration is not endorsing any candidate.”

The billboard, several versions of which are now plastered across Israel's major cities, reads, “Netanyahu. In Another League,” which is intended to mean that, like Trump, Netanyahu is far more successful in politics than any of his challengers. Israel will hold national elections on April 9. According to most polls, Netanyahu is expected to win.

In his 5,200-word State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Trump mentioned Israel only once in a 16-word sentence praising his transfer of the US Embassy. “My Administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem” was the only time Israel was mentioned. The Palestinians were not mentioned at all.

In recent history, all American presidents have made it a point during the State of the Union to express their strong commitment to Israel’s defense and to bolster the strategic and historic alliance between the US and the Jewish state. Some have wondered if Trump’s exclusion of full-throated support for Israel was a sign that he sees no political advantage in advocating for Israel at a time when there is not much in the news to attract his, or the American publics', attention. Others wonder if he does not want to be too closely linked to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is under investigation for bribery and fraud, and may soon be facing criminal charges.

On the other hand, Trump had much to say (400 words) about the “poison of antisemitism” in the US. He called out by name a number of survivors of recent antisemitic attacks whom he had invited to attend the address. He also spoke about the American soldiers who had liberated Nazi concentration camps. In an emotional moment, Trump pointed out that in the audience were both one of the soldiers who had liberated Dachau, and one of the survivors from the Nazi death camp.

 

New Palestinian 'Christian' President is a Fan of Israel

El Salvador's new president is an Arab of "Palestinian" descent. He's also a fan of the Jewish state.

The small Central American nation is home to a community of 100,000 Palestinian migrants. While it is unclear how most of them view the Israel-Palestinian conflict, what we do know is that President-elect Nayib Bukele has no problem building relations with the Jewish state.

A year ago, in February 2018, at a time when many of his political contemporaries were cozying up to Venezuela and Cuba to spite US President Donald Trump, Bukele chose to visit Jerusalem.

While here, the then-mayor of El Salvador's capital, San Salvador, met with his counterpart, then-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. He also laid a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem and prayed at the Western Wall.


Arab media reported that Bukele faced harsh criticism from Palestinians in El Salvador over his "normalization" with Israel. It also seems that he was vilified, possibly by conservative Catholic elements, for visiting a mosque.

In a Facebook post addressing what he called these "dirty" campaign tactics, Bukele insisted that he was simply not "religious," and therefore had no problem visiting the Dome of the Rock, the Vatican and the Western Wall.

However, while he has problems with organized religion, Bukele stressed that he does believe in Jesus and relies upon the Word of God to guide his life.

"I respect all religions, and those who wish to believe in them, but I believe that the relationship with God is personal, I believe that no one is saved in groups, but that salvation is obtained individually," wrote El Salvador's new leader. "That's why I've accepted Jesus Christ, that's why I read the Word of God written in the Bible when I feel confused or need guidance, that's why I ask Yahweh for the wisdom he gave to Solomon, though I know I'll never be so wise. That's why I believe deeply in God and in his kingdom, but I don't consider myself religious."


H/T Elder of Ziyon

 

It Was the Jews Who Created Christmas Spirit

Snowflakes falling, reindeers prancing and chestnuts roasting all go into making the family traditions we call Christmas. But did you know that the popular songs that we all associate with this most colorful of Christian celebrations were largely composed by Jewish songwriters?

Traditional fixtures of the Yuletide atmosphere like Silent Night, White Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are some of the best-known examples of songs written by Jews.

White Christmas was written in 1942 by Irving Berlin during World War II. The nostalgic images Berlin inspired – chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or the snow-covered sentiments “just like the ones we used to know” – came from the deep-seated yearnings for home that permeate every wandering Jewish soul.

Berlin’s White Christmas was released just before Christmas during the war in November 1942. The song gave a needed respite for lonely soldiers to dream about home and family as they fought through the chilly battlefront nights. Bing Crosby’s well-known rendition of the song remained a top single for more than a half-century.

“God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave Irving Berlin White Christmas,” wrote Philip Roth. “If supplanting Jesus Christ with snow can enable my people to cozy up to Christmas, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning author with his unique humorous twist.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written by Johnny Marks, who also served in World War II, during which he earned a Bronze Star and four Battle Stars as a Captain in the 26th Special Service Company.

We all love the story about Rudolph, a Christmas song about an introverted reindeer who became a social outcast because of his unusual nose. It’s the story of a Jewish wish-fulfillment fantasy. It’s the story of an outsider who just can’t seem to figure out his place in society, until one day his others begin to recognize his special gift. The nose they thought was so amusing is actually a way to guide the whole through the dark night. In a kind of biblically Jewish prophetic hope, it’s a funny looking nozzle that saves Christmas and earns them the love and respect of the Gentiles.

Gene Autry's recording of Rudolph hit number one on the charts during Christmas of 1949. The song was the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

As an aside, God Bless America was originally composed in 1918 by Irving Berlin for his World War I musical Yip Yip Yaphank. The song was revised and published on the eve of World War II to inspire the peaceful return home of American soldiers. Over time, the singalong tune became kind of a national anthem sung during baseball games. But when Berlin penned the nostalgic tune, it was never intended as such. Berlin, the son of a Russian cantor, wrote the song as an immigrant’s cry of hope, love and appreciation for his newly-adopted “home sweet home.”

 

Israel's Universal Healthcare System Faces Collapse

Israel is often touted for having superb healthcare. But here in Israel, folks these days are more likely to be complaining about, rather than praising the healthcare system.

For the past couple weeks, the front pages of local newspapers have been occupied by urgent headlines of the healthcare system's imminent collapse.

Now, this is an election season, and pointing out the problems in the healthcare system is an effective way for the left-leaning media to take jabs at the current right-wing government. But that doesn't make those problems any less real.

Israel's healthcare system is universal, or "socialist." Everyone is supposed to have access to the exact same medical care (though that's no longer really the case, as we'll get to shortly). But what really made Israel's healthcare stand out was the quality and dedication of the medical professionals involved.

Unfortunately, the past decade or so has seen a great many of Israel's best and brightest doctors and nurses seek employment abroad (interestingly enough, capitalist America is where most prefer to go) in response to the shamefully-low salaries here at home. Many of the top doctors who choose to remain now spend much of their time on the clock providing "private" care to that small percentage of Israelis who can afford it, making Israel's healthcare (or, at least, the best of it) no longer really "universal."

On top of all that, Israel's hospitals are now overcrowded to the point of collapse. Many of the aforementioned newspaper headlines decried the fact that patients in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and elsewhere are being put in hallways and even storage rooms for lack of actual hospital beds.

In a very telling remark published on Tuesday by Makor Rishon, Prof. Naiel Basharat, head of the Internal Medicine Department at Emek Medical Center in northern Israel, said that when his own father was deathly ill a year ago "I chose to take care of him at home ... because of the situation in the hospital wards, even my own ward."

This is not necessarily an indictment of universal healthcare. Israel made it work, and work well, for decades. But it is a warning for those paying attention that universal healthcare is not without its own unique challenges and problems, some of which can lead to a collapse of the system if not managed responsibly.

PHOTO: Israel's hospitals are dangerously overcrowded and underfunded, and many of its best doctors have already sought greener pastures abroad. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

 

Rabbis and Christian Pastors Join Forces to Push Israeli-Arab Coexistence

Persian Gulf states are now more willing to speak openly about their desire to have ties with Israel, a topic that was previously only hinted at behind closed doors. “UAE ministers are looking forward to establishing ties with Israel,” US Rabbi Marc Schneier told The Jerusalem Post on a phone call from Abu Dhabi. “It was not a question of if, but a question of when,” he said.

Schneier meet with Arab and Evangelical Christian leaders during an inter-religious gathering in the Persian Gulf. The UAE, like other Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are pursuing alliances with Israel and the Trump Administration. After feeling betrayed by the 2015 nuclear deal with adversarial Iran brokered by former US President Barack Obama, these Sunni-majority nations are looking for a security buffer to counter Shiite-majority Tehran's aggressive tactics in the region.

“We also need to sensitize and educate and expose both Gulf leaders and Muslim interfaith leaders to the fact that Israel is not a political dimension for the Jewish people; it's at the very core of our religion," Rabbi Schneier told The Associated Press during his visit. Rabbi Schneier has been building relationships with Arab countries for years. He previously reported that the first condolence call he received after the deadliest attack on Jews in US history (the Pittsburg synagogue shooting) came from Sheikh Nahyan of the UAE.

Schneier said that he used to hear people in the region say: "We have nothing against Jews. It's Israelis and Zionists that we have a problem with." But now, the rabbi says things have changed. "I no longer hear that rhetoric. It's no longer part of the conversation," he said.

Several prominent US Christian leaders were also in attendance at the UAE interfaith symposium. For many Evangelicals, support for Israel is also at the very core of their faith. This is not the first-time Christian leaders have traveled to the Gulf States in efforts to promote ties with Israel and the US. Earlier this year, a delegation of Evangelicals led by author Joel Rosenberg met with the Saudi Crown Prince in Riyadh. That meeting was actually initiated by Saudi Arabia's future ruler following his tour of major US cities, during which he broke old taboos by saying that the Israelis have a "right to their own land."

PHOTO: Illustration. Getting Jews and Muslims to be friends is rarely a simple exercise. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

 

In Memory of Shir - Food Baskets for the Needy

Shir was torn from this life in a bloody terrorist attack on January 8, 2017 on the famous Haas Promenade in Jerusalem's south. To commemorate her her family distributes food baskets to needy families and they are making a special effort to distribute "mishlochot manot" - celebratory gift baskets distributed every year at Purim.

Herzel and Merav Hajaj could be proud of their daughter. Shir was the eldest of her four daughters. She was always one of the best at school, having passed her high school diploma with honors. She enrolled at Azrieli College and participated in a project that did development research on semiconductors, consisting of four materials that generate electricity. The research is extremely relevant for solar cells. Measurements are complicated, extensive and very accurate. Shir performed excellently in this project and graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Materials Engineering at Azrieli College.

Then she was called up by the IDF for her compulsory military service.

Shir was assigned to an intelligence unit, the 81st Technology Unit, founded in 1961 to find solutions for specific complex issues. Many soldiers from this unit have, over the years, been awarded the Order of the Chief of the General Staff. The unit has also won many Israeli Security Awards. The 33rd time this award was given to Unit 81 was for an operation in which Shir participated. After serving in this unit for 2 months, Shir began an officer's course.

Two weeks before the end of her officer's course, Shir was dead, torn from life during the bloody terrorist attack on January 8, 2017. Israel's Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff and the President visited the family to personally convey their condolences.

Shir had grown up in a loving home, often struggling with financial difficulties. She was aware that not only did she need financial support, but others had to struggle to survive as well. In her spare time, she dedicated herself to students from 5-6 different schools in Maale Adumim who had learning difficulties. Many of these students owe their high school diploma to her effort.

Shir not only helped these young people but, for a year, she voluntarily assisted a Holocaust survivor. She visited every Thursday, helped with doing shopping, kept her company, and helped wherever she could. After the terrorist attack, the family of the Holocaust survivor did not have the heart to tell her about the death of the young soldier.

Shir's parents sought a way to commemorate her and to deal with their grief and formed an organization honoring her. This organization aims to carry on the good deeds that Shir started. Two of the organization's goals are distributing food baskets for low-income families and organizing lessons for scholars with learning difficulties.

Food baskets are donated by parents and students from Maale Adumim and every other week are collected, packed and distributed by a different high school class. At the beginning of the project the number of baskets distributed numbered 26 and now stands at 150 every two weeks.

This year the organization has taken on two special projects, traditional Purim gift baskets and at Passover they would like to distribute 120 food baskets to the needy.

 

Trump Appoints Ambassador on Antisemitism

US President Donald Trump is appointing Elan Carr, a prosecutor from Los Angeles, to be the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

The office “advocates U.S. policy on anti-Semitism both in the United States and internationally, develops and implements policies and projects to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism.”

The announcement comes after protests from lawmakers and leading Jewish groups that the post had been left empty during the first two years of Trump’s administration. President George W. Bush established the watchdog post in 2004 after bipartisan lawmakers decided it was necessary to confront the growing threats to Jewish people and their institutions in the US.

Last month, the US House of Representatives approved a bill elevating the position from Envoy to Ambassador as incidents of antisemitism are increasing worldwide. According to a report put out by the Israeli government’s Diaspora Department last week, 2018 was a record year for the number of victims of antisemitic attacks, especially in the United States and Europe. Antisemitic incidents originating from right-wing extremists are now the most dangerous threat facing Jewish communities. More, even, than Islamic terror, according to the report.

Carr is a US Army veteran who served in Iraq and a former president of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, the world's largest Jewish college fraternity, operating chapters on more than 190 campuses in seven countries.

“We eagerly look forward to working with Carr, as his office combats rising antisemitism, generated from the far right, the far left, and Islamist extremists, and abetted by the ubiquitous nature of social media,” David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement.

Ambassador Carr will be heading this week to Slovakia for a symposium on antisemitism planned by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Further meetings are scheduled with the European Union Conference on Antisemitism in Brussels, and then it's back to the US for meetings with former Republican and Democratic administration officials.

PHOTO: Elan Carr during a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. (SoCalOperator / Creative Commons)

 

From Disillusioned Muslim to Christian Arab 'Zionist'

An up-and-coming Jordanian political activist writes for Israel Today his story of transitioning from a young disillusioned Muslim student to a "Christian Zionist."

PHOTO: It can be dangerous to support Israel in the Arab world, but more and more brave young Arabs are doing just that. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

The full article can be found in the February 2019 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

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Democracy in Danger: A Call for Revolt

The left's slogan for the 2019 election campaign is "democracy in danger." Everyone and anyone opposing Netanyahu and the right feels obligated to warn us about the end of Israel as a democratic state. 

At the Cybertech TLV 2019 conference held last month, Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and former member of Knesset with the Labor Party, told attendees that "right up until the moment of the election Netanyahu, a political figure seeking to be elected, controls the civil cyber defense system is a clear and present danger to Israeli democracy."

Among others to sound the same alarm in the past month alone was Labor Party MK Shelly Yachimovich, who said that "we face a national challenge that poses a danger not only to the rule of law, but also to Israeli democracy." Tzipi Livni, a former Likud member and now head of the Hatnuah party, said that "Netanyahu is the greatest threat to democracy and rule of law, and Israel must be rescued from his grip." Yair Lapid, head of centrist Yesh Atid party, said that "a prime minister in Israel can't attack the legal authorities … this is a danger to democracy, a danger to the rule of law." Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak spoke about a "murky anti-democratic wave," and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak decried a "danger to our homeland … in a short time we will have either a non-democratic state, or a non-Jewish state."

These few examples out of many others reveal the distress of the left. Justified or not, the left does believe that Israeli democracy is in danger, to the extent that calls for revolt are now being openly expressed. Until now, the left has tried to change the political scene by using its bastions of power, primarily the media and legal system, to shape the way Israelis perceive the situation. But if anything, after decades of relentless attacks against traditional values, it seems as if too many Israelis have only dug their heels deeper in the conservative soil.

The latest call for no less than civil war came from Daniel Baltman, a professor of Jewish history and Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In his column titled "Who will lead the revolt?" published in the daily Ha'aretz on January 31, Baltman sought an Abraham Lincoln-type of leader who could lead his nation into a bloody civil war. "We are a minute away from the apocalyptic crisis Netanyahu is leading Israel toward, which demands the breaking of old conventions and organization of a new fight different from anything we have previously known," he wrote. This fight, Baltman continued, means a "difficult war," a "violent struggle" against those who oppose liberal democracy.

The pessimism and despair of Baltman is real and acute enough to raise the banner of armed struggle against those who do not share his worldview. Anti-democratic as this call is, for the like-minded the paradox of violent revolt against a duly-elected government is justified as being the only way to save true democracy. As of yet, however, Baltman bitterly laments the fact that no contemporary left-wing figure possesses the leadership qualities of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. But, he hopes and prays that such a leader will emerge soon, before all is lost.

So far, the police and the legal system have made no attempt to press charges against any one of those who publicly call for (illegal) mutiny, and most likely they never will.

PHOTO: Israeli leftists demonstrate against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insisting he is a threat to democracy. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

 

The New Faces of an Old Hatred: Antisemitism in 2018

Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs has just released its annual 2018 report on antisemitism. Minister Naftali Bennet, a rising political figure ahead of the upcoming elections, oversees the ministry and the compilation of the 112-page account of the frightening new trends in antisemitism around the world.

The picture emerging from this in-depth analysis is that incidents of antisemitism are increasing, and in many countries are reaching record levels. Worldwide, 2018 was a record year for the number of victims of antisemitic attacks.

Unlike years in which Islamist antisemitism was the central and most dangerous threat to Israel, 2018 was a turning point. Now antisemitic incidents originating from right-wing extremists are the main and most dangerous factor for Jewish communities, especially in the United States and Europe.

The year began with the horrific murder of the American Jewish student by a member of a radical right-wing group and continued with the Etz Chaim Synagogue attack in Pittsburgh, perpetrated by an extreme nationalist opposed to immigration and advocating white supremacy.

The background to these trends is diverse and includes: polarization in the political discourse, the continuation of the immigration crisis, globalism, Euro-scepticism, the strengthening of nationalism, and the counteractions that these trends provoke.

Jews were accused by right-wing radicals of encouraging immigration to Europe and the United States. Jews are seen as part of a progressive global attempt to mix races and create a "unified society." On the other hand, they are accused by the radical left of strengthening nationalism, colonialism and even Nazism with reference to Israel as the main stumbling block to the creation of a new world order that will replace nation-states.

The distance between these ideological opposites cannot be bridged, except in one instance - Israel-hatred. This is the glue that enables feminist leaders to support the Islamists, and Muslim immigrants to join forces with European nationalists who espouse white supremacy.

In the United States, in light of the political polarization and the ongoing crisis of immigration, alternative right-wing movements have joined forces with traditional right-wing politics. The shooting event at the Etz Chaim synagogue in Pittsburgh is the climax of this trend and constitutes the most severe antisemitic outburst experienced by the Jewish community in recent decades. The massacre undermined the sense of personal security and demonstrated that antisemitism is having a deadly impact on personal and community life in the United States.

On the other side of the political map, radical left-wing antisemitism is disguised as anti-Zionism and a concern for Palestinian rights. Antisemitic statements by left-wing leadership have recently been exposed. Two leaders of the infamous 2017 Woman’s March, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, refused to sever contact with Louis Farrakhan, a known antisemite who called the Jews "termites."

This atmosphere also prevails on many campuses, where incitement against Israel and Zionism continues and Jewish students are excluded, or else threatened not to identify with their Jewishness or with Israel.

In Western Europe, against the background of the refugees crisis, rightwing parties continued to accumulate public support and are becoming bolder. Parades of neo-Nazi activists are becoming more common, and the general feeling common to the Jews of Europe is that antisemitism has become widespread and of little concern to authorities. A survey conducted by the European Union shows that 85% of Europe’s Jews believe that antisemitism is a problem in their countries, 89% believe antisemitism and 38% are considering emigrating. The survey also showed that 80% of the incidents were not reported.

France, which has the largest Jewish community on the continent, recorded a record number this year of antisemitic incidents following a downward trend in previous years. In the UK, a new normalization of the antisemitic discourse in central politics has begun, this time on the left. The rise of Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the Labor Party, and his candidacy for prime minister, represents the new antisemitism, posing as criticism of Israel. Others like Corbyn are finding a place in the center of the political debate. This trend became of such a concern that the European Union appointed a commission to accept responsibility for the safety of Jewish communities and help finance their security needs.

Finally, in Eastern Europe, for the first time in years, the use of antisemitic motifs was used to promote internal political and social goals. Here the Jews are portrayed as examples of foreign and hostile elements throughout history and as a negative factor in the local social discourse. Some governments attempt to glorify the national ethos that was part of World War II while distorting, or even rewriting the memory of the Holocaust.

Despite the above, there is room for hope, Bennet’s report suggests. More and more governments are declaring their commitment to fight antisemitism. The struggle against BDS movement is in a positive trend, and successes in that arena are growing.

 

Jews Complain: The Rabbis are Sounding Like Christians!

Rabbis generally do not speak out against abortion, at least not like Christians. But New York's terrible new law allowing abortion up to the moment of birth has stirred at least two of the largest rabbinical councils in the US to come out with public statements on the controversial issue.

“Jewish law opposes abortion, except in cases of danger to the mother,” reads the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) statement. "There is no sanction to permit the abortion of a healthy fetus when the mother’s life is not endangered."

Jewish congregants were surprised by the public condemnation of abortion. Many of the most popular comments on the ruling, which was posted on the RCA website, complained that the rabbis now sounded like the Christians:

"This reads more like evangelical Christianity than Orthodox Judaism."

"Why is the RCA emulating the Catholic Church rather than following the halacha?"

"RCA you may want to brush up on Halacha before latching on to Evangelical Christian ideals."

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, vice president of the RCA, went so far as to call abortion murder: “The removal of any restriction from abortion access and the redefining of the word ‘homicide’ to exclude abortion, indicate a further erosion of the moral values of our society, where killing babies is no longer construed as immoral in any way.”

The fact that the law was passed in New York, a state heavily populated by Orthodox Jews, moved the rabbinic councils to make a clear ruling. It also seems like the Orthodox Jewish world is moving to the right politically, much along the same lines as conservative Christians.

Traditional Judaism has tended to be more liberal on abortion than Evangelical or Catholic Christianity. Orthodox Jewish groups do not support a full ban on abortion, generally allowing for more consideration of the mother. Reform Judaism prioritizes the life of the expectant mother over that of the unborn child, although abortion as a form of birth control is discouraged. The Reform movement has repeatedly opposed any legislative limits on access to abortions.

Abortion in Israel is common, about 100 to every 1,000 births, but is still only half of that in Europe, while in 2018, New Yorkers aborted 350 babies to every 1,000 births, according to the Guttmacher Institute annual report.

In Israel, Orthodox Jewish political parties have tremendous influence over deciding which coalition can form a government, but they have yet to make any restrictions on abortion a part of their bargaining tactics. Unlike Evangelical churches in the US, rabbinical councils here have not taken a real stand against abortion in the political arena. Orthodox Jewish groups in Israel tend to appeal to the public though massive pro-life advertising, as well as offering services to help pregnant mothers keep their babies.

 

Israelis Want a Clean Election, But Will Netanyahu Play Ball?

The religious organization Tzohar has drafted a charter calling for a clean election campaign leading up to the April 9 vote in Israel.

The charter stipulates, among other things, that expressions against other parties and personalities should be made in a respectful, non-denigrating manner, that family members of rival candidates should be off-limits, and that the "culture of lies" should be avoided.

So far, the charter has been signed by former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, Labor Party leader Avi Gabai and newcomer Benny Gantz, to list but a few of the bigger names on the document.

As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his latest campaign video clip titled "Kicking the fake out of the news" is a good example of how Israeli politicians translate the notion of "clean elections" to their own campaigns. The video (Hebrew only, see below) features Netanyahu negotiating with a reporter. The dialogue goes:

Reporter: Are you sure this is the right thing to do?

Netanyahu: I know this is the right thing.

Reporter: So you are actually asking me for positive coverage? (alluding to Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is accused of trading political favors for positive coverage by the Walla news portal)

Netanyahu: Honest coverage.

Reporter: Positive.

Netanyahu: Honest.

Reporter: But it would be positive.

Netanyahu: Enough with this.

Reporter: But if I'll do honest reporting it could come across as positive.

Netanyahu: Walla! (Hebrew slang for "Really!", and a play on words alluding to the aforementioned Walla news portal)

Reporter: So what are you actually expecting me to do?

Netanyahu: You will report only what you actually see, and I'll make sure it will be positive.

Reporter: And what's in it for me?

Netanyahu: I'll give you a "Like".

Reporter: A heart "Like"?

Netanyahu: Alright. Enough with it.

Reporter: It's a deal.


This short and effective clip, which doesn't denigrate anyone or any party, packs a lot of innuendo that every Israeli can grasp in a heartbeat. It addresses what Netanyahu sees as a years-long personal smear campaign against him and his family; it addresses a biased media and bizarre police investigations; it addresses the absurdity of being charged for seeking positive media coverage; and it does all of that and more in a humorous and witty way that puts Netanyahu in a new light, a playful prime minister who can take a jab at his rivals without resorting to fake news, defamation and other forms of abuse.

Hopefully, Netanyahu is ushering in a new kind of campaigning that others will follow. Judging by the names on Tzohar's charter, most parties contending the upcoming election really want to keep it clean.

 

"Netanyahu. In a whole different league."

That's the message scrawled on a series of new billboards popping up in Israeli urban centers ahead of the next national election.

With the vote just eight weeks away, these billboards featuring Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump are just part of the massive campaigning now underway. It's impossible to visit a Hebrew-language website without some politician's face flashing about on your screen.

Most of the polls show a small decline for the Likud, the senior partner in the government coalition lead by "Bibi" Netanyahu. There is also a rise in the number of center, center-right and right-wing parties getting into the election flurry.

The fact that Netanyahu is pushing his close friendship with Trump is seen by some as as sign that he's worried that Likud might not get the votes needed to keep him in the Prime Minister's Office.

Photo by Roy Alima

 

Cranes Descend on Israel

Tens of thousands of cranes were seen in Israel's Hula Valley on their annual migration. Early pioneers drained the swamps of the valley, which nestles among the foothills of Mount Herman, creating an artificial lake with abundant fresh waters.

Hula is now an important stopping point for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. The lake is often visited by more than half a billion birds during the migrating season and is one of the world’s most important bird observation sites on earth.

Photo by Anat Hermony, taken January, 2019

 

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We have something for every taste. Be it dead sea cosmetics, Israeli foods such as coffee, tea, spices olive oil, organic snacks, our Israeli cookbook or games for the whole family! We also have a large selection of jewelery - earrings, pendants, watches and rings with Hebrew Bible verses / names.

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Beware of Fake News From Iran

Facebook removed hundreds of Iranian accounts that were being used to spread disinformation about Israel in the US and other regions. According to Facebook's announcement, 783 accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram that originated in Iran were fake accounts being used to promote Iranian propaganda.

Most of the postings on these accounts were targeting Israel, including articles denying the Jewish state's right to exist. According to Facebook, “This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations. This activity was directed from Iran, in some cases repurposing Iranian state media content, and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting people across the world.” That’s a nice way of saying that the Iranian government coordinated a world-wide fake-news attack on Israel.

Facebook reported finding 262 Pages, 356 accounts and 3 Facebook groups, as well as 162 accounts on Instagram that were set up to promote Iranian propaganda by posting “news stories” about current events. The phony Facebook pages had already garnered a combined two million followers, 1,600 people had joined at least one of the aforementioned groups, and 254,000 were following the Instagram accounts.

The accounts had been opened in dozens of countries, including Israel. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as Facebook admits they are far from having completed their review of where the content is coming from for these fake sites. Some of these accounts date back to 2014, when a bogus Facebook page invited followers to an anti-Israel event. More recently, an event was scheduled from a fake Iranian account for May 2018. Hundreds of people express interest in attending these events.

 

Trump Admin Tells Palestinians to Grow Up, Get Serious

In an exchange that was reminiscent of a school teacher telling the class flunkee to finally get his act together, America's top Middle East envoy on Friday scolded the Palestinian Authority via Twitter.

Earlier that day, Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh publicly complained that the elimination of all remaining US financial aid "will have a negative impact on all, create a negative atmosphere, and increase instability."

That sounded a bit odd to US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, given that the Palestinians themselves had actually requested that the Trump Admin halt all remaining financial aid.

Greenblatt responded to Rudeineh in a series of tweets:

"1st: This aid was cut (not just suspended) at the PA’s request because they didn’t want to be subject to US courts which would require them to pay US citizens killed by Palestinian terrorists when the PA was found guilty."


"2nd: The PA has $ for health/education- but must use their $ wisely. Example: stop rewarding terrorists who kill Israelis. That will save the PA a fortune. They can also work with the US & others to help improve their economy and need even less foreign aid."


"3rd: Palestinians are too smart to continue to live as victims and recipients of foreign aid. Until a political solution is found (maybe it will be our peace plan?), the PA must focus on helping Palestinians lead better lives. Blaming others doesn’t work; never has/never will."


"4th: Threats about increasing instability if the PA doesn’t get what it wants (in this case money) are also tiresome, not just to the US, but to most countries around the world that I’ve spoken to in the past 2 years."


"Mr. Abu Rudeineh: time to get serious. Either work on peace and/or work on helping Palestinians. The old messages and methods don’t work anymore- not with the US, and not with many other countries. It’s only a matter of time until other countries say this out loud too."


Whether or not you support US President Donald Trump, there can be no question that the Palestinian Authority has finally met its match in the current US administration.

No longer can they violate agreements with impunity and peddle the same tired excuses and accusations.

PHOTO: Greenblatt meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in 2017. (Flash90)

 

Netanyahu Indictment, Conviction Said Just a Matter of Time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to convinced Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (see photo, right side) to delay any decisions in the corruption cases targeting the Israeli leader until after the upcoming national election.

Though the two used to work well together, Netanyahu is now accusing Mandelblit of surrendering to pressure from his left-wing opponents, who are determined to unseat him as Israel's longest-serving prime minister at any cost.

Meanwhile, officials in Mandelblit's office last week insisted that at least one of the possible indictments against Netanyahu must move forward considering the seriousness of the evidence. According to these officials, Netanyahu's conviction is a slam dunk, and they don't want to give him time to pass new legislation granting himself immunity from prosecution.

PHOTO: Archive shot of Netanyahu (L) and Mandelblit at a weekly cabinet meeting during happier times. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Ilhan Omar: Israel's New Enemy in Congress Speaks Out

Newly-elected Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of the first of two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, used her first public interview to bash Israel on Yahoo News.

Omar was elected to a district in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she immigrated with her family from Somalia and became a US citizen in the year 2000. The Somali community in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul urban area is one of the largest in the US.

Omar compared Israeli government policies to those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, refusing to acknowledge the well-known fact that Israeli law respects the religious beliefs of all its citizens. “When I see Israel institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle,” she scoffed.

The false notion that Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state does not recognize equal rights for her non-Jewish citizens is the “apartheid” narrative, word-for-word, used by Israel’s enemies around the world. Given the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East where freedom of all religions is protected by law, it appears that America’s newly-elected government official is simply repeating the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda rhetoric she grew up with.

“I support and participate in the BDS boycott movement,” she boasted on the broadcast. Omar is one of only two members of Congress to openly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Chillingly, the congresswoman now serves as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In what could be seen as a veiled threat, Omar once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people to see the evil that Israel is doing (#Gaza #Palestine #Israel)". Apparently, invoking the name of her god to punish Israel and the Jews is an acceptable approach to her political agenda.

PHOTO: Ilhan Omar campaigns at the Twin Cities Pride Parade in downtown Minneapolis. (Tony Webster/Creative Commons)

 

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Israeli 'Psychic' Says He'll Use Telepathic Powers to Hold Antisemitism at Bay

Put this one in the bizarre column.

Israeli-born UK-based celebrity psychic Uri Geller has offered to use his "telepathic powers" to prevent UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn from ever becoming Britain's prime minister.

Corbyn is largely viewed as an antisemite after his cozying up to anti-Israel terrorists like Hamas and the leaders of Iran helped to spur a fresh wave of Jew-hatred in the UK in recent years.

"I have no problem in saying he is an antisemite," Geller said during a panel discussion in Jerusalem this week. "God forbid if he takes control."

Geller claims that on several occasions during the Cold War the CIA consulted with him and utilized his powers against the Soviets. As such, he is no stranger to taking down political targets, or so he says.

"Will all my telepathic powers, I am not going to let" Corbyn become prime minister, Geller insisted.

Also on the panel was American sitcom star Roseanne Barr, who jokingly (?) chimed in that she would support Geller with "telepathic powers too."

Geller is by no means unique in Israel, where a number of psychics and mystics have achieved celebrity status, and are, indeed, sometimes consulted by religious and political leaders.

PHOTO: Uri Geller holds artifacts discovered during construction work on the Uri Geller Museum in Jaffa last year. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

 

COMMENTARY: Israel's Forgotten Friend in Britain

I confess that the article I am about to write was initially intended only to address the important issue of roots – both of Christianity and of Western civilization as a whole.

But I have been somewhat diverted along a different route, which I shall explain. So stay with me as I will eventually return to the roots of my story.

In looking up a verse from Isaiah, where he refers to the “root of Jesse” (one of many prophecies of the coming Messiah, Jesus), I was reminded of the fact that former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson had made much of a text from this passage in support of his Zionist views, spelt out in his book _The Chariot of Israel _and clearly inspired by his strong Christian faith. (I am reliably informed that both Harold and his wife Mary were Bible-believing Congregationalists to which he also owed his brand of Christian socialism).

The text in question, Isaiah 11.11, refers to a second return of Jewish exiles, which trumps the notion that such prophecies were all fulfilled with the return from Babylon so that modern Israel has no right to their ancient land today.

I believe this is very significant in light of the ongoing controversy over rising anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, of which Wilson was a long-time leader and the only occupant of No 10 Downing Street to have won four general elections.

By contrast, current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has openly embraced those who wish to destroy Israel.

Writing for the Jewish Chronicle on the 50th anniversary of Wilson’s first election victory, Robert Philpot dubbed him “the forgotten friend of Israel” who sprang to her aid in 1967 and 1973 and whose first overseas visit after leaving office in 1976 was to Israel, where he received an honorary doctorate and inspected a forest near Nazareth that had been named after him!

In Parliament he described the Jewish state “by any test…the only democracy in [the] region” and his book was described by his Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer Roy Jenkins as “one of the most strongly Zionist tracts ever written by a non-Jew”.

Tragically, however, his devotion to the cause of Israel contrasts sharply with today’s Labour left from whose ranks he originally hailed.

Which takes me back to my starting point, for the survival of our Judeo-Christian civilization will depend entirely on whether we remain connected to our biblical roots. If we cut ourselves off from our godly heritage, the ‘sap’ that gives us life, direction and purpose will no longer flow, with the result that our culture will wither and die like a tree pulled from the ground.

It’s that time of year when we begin to witness the shoots that produce flowers like snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils pointing the way to another springtime. These beauties come from roots (or bulbs) buried in the ground for many months.

Christianity was the new spring in the purposes of God that emerged from the roots of Judaism. According to St Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians, who had to be reminded that God was not finished with his chosen people, Gentile believers “now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root (of Israel) …You do not support the root, but the root supports you,” he thundered. (Rom 11.17f)

This should encourage us to put our trust squarely in the God of Israel, and his Son, the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David” _(Revelation 5.5), also prophesied by Isaiah as _“the root of Jesse” (Isa 11.10) who will draw the nations (Gentiles) to himself.

In this respect it is also significant that there is a strain of Gentile ‘blood’ in Jesus, through his ancestor Ruth, the Moabitess, King David’s great-grandmother, a wonderful woman of virtue who threw in her lot with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi.

Still on this theme, Isaiah’s discussion of roots is related to a springtime for the nation of Israel that surely speaks of today with its reference to a second return from exile, this time not just from Babylon but “from the four quarters of the earth” (Isa 11.11f) including “the islands of the sea” considered by some theologians to refer to the British Isles.

This passage also speaks of a coming millennial age of perfect peace when _“the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together…” _(Isa 11.6)

Something of a preview of this beautiful picture was sent to me by a friend the other day. It was a photo of an elephant crossing a road with a lioness and her cub, using its curled up trunk to protect the baby lion from the scorching heat. (Ed. note: The veracity of the photo is currently being disputed.)

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa 11.9)

As for Israel, the Lord speaks emphatically of final restoration through the prophet Amos, concluding with the words: “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted…” (Amos 9.15)


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

 

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VIDEO: Iran Wants to Destroy Israel, But It Can't Even Break a Vase

In the spirit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent trolling of belligerent Iranian leaders, we're sharing the above video of Iran's military forces, so dedicated as they are to Israel's destruction, demonstrating their combat prowess.

The clip is from a military parade in Iran back in 2016. The soldiers are members of Iranian special forces who are attempting to demonstrate martial combat skills by breaking a ceramic vase.

At the time it was originally posted, the clip eliciting mocking responses from across the region, in particular in Arab states at odds with the Islamic Republic.

"That vase is indestructible and is now in Iran's hands. Should we be worried?" one commenter facetiously wondered.

"It's really no joke," quipped another. "I remember our platoon almost got ambushed by a group of vases while in Afghanistan. We were lucky to have made it out alive."

The clip was brought back into the spotlight on Wednesday by Israeli Messianic social media star Hananya Naftali, again prompting humorous reactions, like one who wondered if the vase had been "made in Israel."


 

An Israeli Fight Against Brain Cancer

Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, once famously said that to be a realist in Israel, one must believe in miracles.

Those words accompanied me during the last month as I witnessed a military-style operation by Israeli citizens the likes of which I had never before seen.

A member of my family in Israel (for privacy reasons I call him Avi) was diagnosed two years ago with Glioblastoma Grade 4 (GBM), a highly-aggressive form of brain cancer that has so far proved incurable.

In Israel, this form of cancer is almost always treated with standard therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation and, in highly exceptional cases, through surgery. 

Medical marijuana has been added to the treatment regimen in recent years, and until January 1 of this year, the Novocure helmet had been available for GBM patients.

The innovative Israeli approach to GBM has now become unavailable to most patients, having been removed from the basket of treatments covered by our universal health care due to a government budget deficit.

Life expectancy for patients with Glioblastoma is less than two years.

The condition was discovered in November 2016 after Avi was found unconscious and bleeding in the bathroom of his house. After being transferred to Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, doctors determined that Avi had suffered a so-called "Grand Mal" seizure caused by a tumor in the right hemisphere of his brain.

This all happened less than three months after Avi had married Sarah (also not her real name), and a month after they had discovered Sarah was pregnant.

What followed was a long period of uncertainty as Avi was treated with prolonged chemotherapy and radiotherapy (radiation). Every three months, he'd go in for an MRI, with the whole family tensely wondering if this time the tumor would be gone.

Avi also received a medical marijuana prescription from his doctor because it has been  proven that the natural drug stunts the growth of Glio cells and even kills them. 

I believe that Avi's unwavering spirit and optimism has also played an unheralded role in the fact that he is still alive and has very few complaints about his physical condition. But that optimism was put to the test recently when, in December 2018, doctors found a new tumor in the front lobe of Avi's brain.

This tragic discovery was again preceded by two epileptic seizures.

What happened next is the kind of thing I've never witnessed anywhere else in the world, despite having spent years working with oncology patients. A number of Avi's family members formed a WhatsApp group under the name "Prince Avi." The support group consists of people with an academic and medical background, but also of people who have expertise in other fields.

Together, they began to investigate alternative treatment options around the world.

The English-speakers in the group searched through Google for any treatments that could save Avi's life, while others contacted Rabbi Firer, who has built up a reputation worldwide as a consultant on medical treatments for life-threatening diseases. He is often consluted by medical experts in Israel.

After a week, it was decided that the group would approach Trial-in Pharma based in the central Israel town of Modi'in, which is a company that is doing research on trials all over the world. These trials are new treatments with promising results which had been developed in laboratories and are then tested on volunteer patients before being approved for general use by governments.

At the same time, members of the Prince Avi group contacted religious organizations and rabbis and requested that they pray for his complete healing. Thousands of Jews in Israel began petitioning heaven for his recovery.

It was around this time that a cousin of Avi's, a former IDF officer, used contacts he had made while studying in New York to find help in the United States. He eventually got in touch with Dr. Andrew Lassman, a Jewish-American expert on Glioblastoma, for an e-consultation.

After two weeks of treatments and a number of consultations, the group, together with Avi, decided to go for a multi-front approach including several known and new treatments that could overlap one another. 

With almost military precision, this incredible, selfless endeavor honed in on the use of Gamma Knife and auto-immune therapy. The group found and contacted Dr. Christopher Duma, an American expert in the field of Gamma Knife (GK) treatment of Glioblastoma. Duma no longer believes in chemotherapy and radiation as the right way to treat GBM. He has patients who have been tumor-free for more than twelve years after treatment with the Gamma Knife machine.

Duma's team at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA requested Avi's latest MRI. Two days later, Duma responded with exactly what the group was hoping to hear: Avi was an "ideal patient" for Gamma Knife treatment. Duma told Avi to come to California as soon as possible, and requested his complete medical records.

But there was a new problem to overcome.

Parts of Avi's medical records existed only in Hebrew. But it just so happened that a member of the Prince Avi group is a researcher in cancer therapies, and offered to shoulder the grueling task of translating the files into English.

Nor was that the end of their challenges.

Avi had never been to the United States and needed a visa, a process that usually takes weeks, at best. The cousin who had studied and lived in the US turned to friends at the Israeli consulate in New York and asked them for help to get the visa urgently. The visa was issued that same day.

And then yet another problem presented itself.

The Gamma Knife treatment was going to cost $33,000, including travel and accommodation expenses. Dr. Duma had told Avi to come to California with all haste, but how could such an amount be procured quickly?

The Prince Avi group decided to turn to the Israeli organization Kav L'Chaim (Lifeline) for a fundraising campaign. They decided, in collaboration with Kav L'Chaim, to first campaign within the family and circle of Avi's friends to raise the needed funds. Within three days, all the money had been raised and tickets to California were booked.

Almost immediately upon arriving in the US (which happened just last week), Avi and his companions began to face new challenges around every corner.

First, the scheduled meeting with Dr. Duma didn't take place due to miscommunication within the hospital. Duma rescheduled.

In the meantime, Avi and his friends needed to rent a car and find accommodation in Newport Beach. But after waiting for an hour at the rental car desk at Los Angeles International Airport, they were told that no vehicles were available. They tried another rental company, which did have a mini-van to fit them all, but charged an exaggerated rate due to high demand.

Upon arriving at their rental apartment in Newport Beach, the group found that the landlord had provided an incorrect code for the key lockbox. After a four-hour ordeal via Airbnb, the landlord finally arrived and let them into the apartment.

On Monday morning, Avi and his companions headed to Hoag Hospital and finally met with Dr. Christopher Duma. Sarah participated via video chat as Dr. Duma explained his approach to treating Glioblastoma. He has developed a method for tracking down the Glio cells, which is tricky because they use brian's white matter, the so-called "pathways," to travel to other parts of the brain. Dr. Duma creates a sort of "firewall" around those areas to isolate the cancer cells.

While there is still no official cure for Glioblastoma, Dr. Duma's methods have proved remarkably more successful than more traditional treatments.

On Tuesday, Avi was wheeled into surgery for his Gamma Knife treatment, officially known as Stereotactic Leading Edge Radio Surgery. It lasted no more than 40 minutes, after which Avi was free to return home. The MRI-guided procedure had discovered five spots where the Glio cells had formed tumors. The Gamma Knife radiation had eliminated them all.

A nurse involved in the operation later told the group that they had come to Dr. Duma "just in time."

Everyone involved in Avi's support group say they are Israeli realists. What that means is that they fully believe God was with them every step of their incredible journey, and that Avi will be healed.

 

VIDEO: Your support for our "Lone Soldiers"!

About 6500 "Lone Soldiers" serve in the IDF. Almost half of these "Lone Soldiers" are Jews or Israeli citizens, that were raised outside Israel. The soldiers from abroad voluntarily leave a usually pleasant and comfortable life to commit themselves to dangerous military service in the Holy Land. These young soldiers not only lack family comforts and support but usually experience financial hardships during their military service.

The following video explains the "Wings project" which supports lone soldiers which come to Israel from all corners of the earth. Their appreciation and thanks for the support they receive are expressed in their own words. Without this support it would be more difficult to cope without family support.

Your support helps Wings support "Lone Soldiers". We will report on the next "Lone Soldier" support workshop. These workshops offer counselling and practical support for "Lone Soldiers" that are nearing the completion of their military service and continues after their release. The support helps "Lone Soldiers" successful absorption into regular Israeli society after their release.

 

Election 2019: Is Gantz Just an Anti-Netanyahu Poster Boy?

Benny Gantz, head of the new Israel Resilience party, has finally broken his silence. 

In a clever election campaign, Gantz built expectations over what his party stands for by remaining mum on the issues for the past month. Last night Gantz delivered his first public speech and finally revealed his platform to an eager Israeli media. Given that Gantz is viewed as the only candidate able to seriously challenge Benjamin Netanyahu for the premiership, the speech was the most important event yet in Israel's current election season.

While he is a former IDF Chief of Staff with a decorated military career, Gantz's political career is only a day old. His inaugural performance had the potential to either make or break him. The truth is that Gantz looked like an oratory student flawlessly repeating the intonation and body gestures he had practiced at home. It should also be noted that most of the 300 or so who attended the speech were paid campaign staff members behaving in accordance with some unseen instructions. In other words, the scene oozed superficiality. Still, it was a good show, and Gantz seemed to successfully transition from "playing dress-up" to becoming a real-world politician.
Novice though he is in this arena, Gantz delivered a good speech that touched on the main issues with which most Israelis are today concerned. He presented himself as neither left nor right, but as a unifier who can mend the bitter divides in Israel society. Gantz cut himself loose of the "new left" that is preoccupied with conscious-cleansing at Israel's expense. He didn't mention the two-state solution, and he insisted that the Golan Heights would forever remain in Israel's hands. Gantz criticized Netanyahu for being kingly, rather than stately, and vowed to serve the people, rather than have the people serve his personal ambitions.

But identifying the real issues and delivering a good speech are not enough. Gantz will have to show whether he is shrewd enough to form a bloc big enough to overpower Netanyahu and his loyal constituency. 

His first move in this direction was to join forces with Telem, the newly-formed party of another former IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon. According to current polls, Ya'alon's Telem wouldn't have passed the electoral threshold on its own. But a party headed by two generals might be too much even for many right-wingers, let alone potential voters from the left that Gantz and Ya'alon hope to woo. And if that weren't enough, there are rumors that the party might also be joined by a third former IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi. Were that to happen, one might wonder whether or not we were witness some bizarre form of coup d'état

It remains unclear whether or not Gantz has the makings of a prime minister, whether he relies on his own wisdom knowledge and experience, or is instead the product of good campaigners. The weeks ahead leading up to the April 9 election will reveal if Gantz is the real deal, or just an anti-Netanyahu poster boy. But if he turns out to be the former, there is a very real chance that Gantz could end the reign of "King Bibi."

 

US Intelligence Warns Iran Could Soon Attack Israel

America's top intelligence officials are warning that Iran could soon launch a major conventional attack against Israel if the Jewish state continues to attack its military assets in Syria.

US President Donald Trump's director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that while "Iran seeks to avoid a major armed conflict with Israel...Israeli strikes that result in Iranian casualties increase the likelihood of Iranian conventional retaliation against Israel."

On January 20, Iranian forces fired a medium-range surface-to-surface missile at Israel in what it called a warning to stop harassing its forces.

Israel has made clear that it deems an Iranian military presence in Syria to be a threat to its national security, an existential threat, even. Indeed, Iran has made no secret of the fact that its presence in Syria is meant to threaten Israel.

As such, Israel has repeatedly stated that it will do whatever necessary to hinder and halt the Iranian military buildup there. And those words have been backed by action in the form of hundreds of devastating airstrikes against Iranian targets over the past two years.

Those airstrikes have primarily focused on infrastructure and weaponry, and not on killing Iranian personnel. But an aerial raid earlier this month did leave at least a dozen Iranian soldiers dead, and this is what concerns Washington.

According to Coats, the risk might not be worth the reward. He noted that the effectiveness of the Israeli strikes notwithstanding, Iran has not been prevented from establishing itself in Syria. "Iran continues to pursue permanent military bases and economic deals in Syria and probably wants to maintain a network of Shia foreign fighters there despite Israeli attacks on Iranian positions in Syria," explained the American intelligence chief.

PHOTO: Iranians take selfies with a Shahab-3 ballistic missile designed for a single purpose - to destroy Israel. (EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH)

 

VIDEO: Why Israel Built the Wall

Israel takes a lot of flak over what many call the "apartheid wall" separating the Jewish state from the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories.

Setting aside the fact that the vast majority of the "wall" is really just a fence (albeit a technologically-advanced fence), this barrier was not just arbitrarily thrown up to separate two peoples.

The wall was built for a very specific reason: because Israelis were being mass-murdered by Palestinian terrorists who could too easily cross into Jewish-majority towns and cities.

Prior to the wave of terrorism known as the Second Intifada, there was no wall, and there were a lot fewer checkpoints. Israelis and Palestinians crossed into one another's cities, legally, on a daily basis.

So, is it really fair to call this "apartheid"?

 

Support Project - Agricultural Aid "Darom Adom"

Everywhere you look in Israel the almond trees are already blossoming. This is a sign that spring is approaching. In a few weeks, Israel's south will be transformed into a beautiful red sea of ​​flowers of countless anemones. The north-western Negev area surrounding Gaza is especially known for this phenomenon. Far too much of the nature in this area has fallen victim to the fire-kite terrorism that originated from Gaza in the last year. But nature and life are stronger than the will of our enemies. "No fire-kite can completely destroy what God has created," said Ilan of Sderot. "Flowers are beginning to grow again and people have helped us through this."

In order to help the Israeli landscape adjacent to the Gaza Strip return to fields of red flowers, we were asked to assist the local population at this time! More than 1000 different fires have destroyed around 3000 hectares of agricultural fields, pastures, trees and, among other things, 200 beehives!

The ecosystem urgently needs renewing and is important to Israeli farmers in the south, especially nectar producing trees, to assist the beekeeping industry. The beekeeping industry is of paramount importance to both nature and crop pollination.

 

US Democrats Try to Retain Pro-Israel Credentials, But Is It Already Too Late?

American support for Israel used to very much be a bipartisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats could credibly point to genuine concern for and backing of the Jewish state.

But in recent decades, the Democrats' pro-Israel credentials have been called into question, especially with Israel itself routinely criticizing former-US President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, as antagonists who were jeopardizing its national security.

Current-US President Donald Trump has played on this theme, big time, to use one of his favorite phrases, by positioning himself as the most pro-Israel American leader ever. And that's an assessment with which most Israelis will agree after Trump bucked decades of US foreign policy, to say nothing of regional Arab sensitivities, by moving the American embassy to Israel's chosen (and eternal) capital, Jerusalem.

The Democrats are now hoping to reverse this trend with the establishment of a new group called the Democratic Majority for Israel.

The group's leader, Democratic Party pollster Mark Mellman, told The New York Times:

"Most Democrats are strongly pro-Israel and we want to keep it that way. There are a few discordant voices, but we want to make sure that what’s a very small problem doesn’t metastasize into a bigger problem."

Many would argue that it's already too late.

The Democratic Party's old guard might be pro-Israel, or at least not anti-Israel, but it's no longer their voices that are animating a new generation of Democratic voters. Rather, it's those "few discordant voices" that Mellman spoke of that seem to be having the biggest impact today.

This was seen in the last midterm election, when young Democratic voters put the likes of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez into Congress. Both Tlaib and Omar are brazenly anti-Israel, the former being a supporter of the BDS movement, and the latter on record as calling the Jewish state an "apartheid regime." Ocasio-Cortez accused Israel of committing a "massacre" last summer when it was battling Hamas-led mass infiltration attempts along the Gaza border.

Trump has called these newcomers and others like them "radical socialists," which is true, and they don't deny it. But it's a trait that seems to go hand-in-hand with anti-Israel sentiment. Take, for instance, socialist poster-boy Bernie Sanders, who, despite being Jewish, seems to harbor absolutely no love for the nation-state of his people. It's a bit of an irony given that Israel itself is much more socialist than America, particularly when it comes to some of the Democrats' pet agendas like healthcare.

Really, the only Democrats that the newly-formed Democratic Majority for Israel can reasonably hope to sway in any significant numbers are Jewish voters. That used to be enough. A majority of Jewish Americans are registered Democrats, and form a rather influential voting bloc. But they have long since been eclipsed in their devotion to Israel and enacting of pro-Israel legislation by Evangelical Christians and their representatives in Congress.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that, pseudo-socialist though it be, Israel is far more resistant to the progressive liberal trend sweeping America. Polls and election results routinely show that a very firm majority of Israelis fall on what would be the Republican side of US foreign policy debates vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Middle East. As such, it's going to be a serious uphill battle, to say the least, to get more Democrats, and especially the ascendant progressive millennials, to suddenly start singing a pro-Israel tune.

PHOTO: Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led a delegation of American lawmakers to Jerusalem last summer. But she and the rest of the party's old guard are now being openly challenged by radical Democratic newcomers who harbor little but hate for the Jewish state. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

 

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Jerusalem 2018: Biblical Figures on Trial

Following a turbulent hearing, the judge announced his verdict: "Cain is acquitted of murder."

The full article can be found in the February 2019 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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On the occasion of Israel Today's 40th anniversary we are offering a 15% discount off our regular annual (11 issues) subscription. Instead of $50 you pay only $42.50.

 

Tel Aviv: Hallowing and Desecrating the Shabbat

In a profound scene from the movie The Frisco Kid, Avram (Gene Wilder), a Polish Jew sent to America to deliver a Torah scroll to the Jewish community of San Francisco, forces Tommy (Harrison Ford) to stay put on the Sabbath day even though they are being closely chased by hostile natives.

Unctuous Avram would not violate the Sabbath event at risk of his life. Indians or not, Sabbath has its own rhyme. It ends only when the sun sets. So Avram must hasten the sunset, and he does so by letting the sun disappear behind a high mountain. This kind of ingenuity, that the ignoble would say is cheating, is part and parcel of Jewish life.

A sober example of it can be seen in the following video, taken from the Facebook page of Yehuda Polishuk, that shows construction workers performing kiddush before commencing work on the "Judith Bridge," a new pedestrian bridge in Tel Aviv. The Judith Bridge has been at the center of national controversy after it was discovered that it would be constructed on weekends (read: Sabbath) to avoid further snarling Tel Aviv's already-infamous traffic.


Among the loudest voices in this debate has been Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who couldn't care less about the sanctity of the Sabbath. Huldai has insisted that the bridge will be built with or without the approval of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who ordered that work be halted on the Sabbath.

The dispute between Huldai and Katz reached the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of Huldai's position. Sabbath work on the Judith Bridge resumed last week, thus turning it into yet another example of the struggle over Israel's identity as a Jewish state.

Another proponent of the Sabbath construction work was Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid faction in the Knesset, who had criticized Katz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly caving to the demands of their ultra-Orthodox coalition partners at the expense of Tel Aviv commuters.

But Lapid, Huldai and the rest who have no problem violating the Sabbath are forgetting about the workers themselves. The law states that no Jew should be compelled to work on the Sabbath. But what is a simple construction worker to do when even the Supreme Court is supporting this contravention? If he refuses to show up for work, he could lose his job. So, as seen in the video, these workers first sanctify the Sabbath, and then go violate it by building a bridge.

It's a predicament in which much of Israeli society today finds itself. Did these workers violate the Sabbath? They certainly did. Did they nevertheless sanctify it? They certainly did. In the struggle between rival politicians, it's the workers, the people, who almost always find themselves in a lose-lose situation.

 

The Holocaust Remains a Wake-Up Call for the Church

Nearly three-quarters of a century has passed since the Red Army liberated the notorious Auschwitz death camp on January 27 1945, a date now marked by the annual Holocaust Memorial Day here in Britain and elsewhere.

It is held with the intention of ensuring that it never happens again. But alas, anti-Semitism is back to haunt us, proving the point often made that we never learn from history.

In the UK, we face the dreadful possibility of having a Prime Minister with strong anti-Israel sympathies if the party currently holding onto power by the skin of its teeth does not get its act together.

In the US, they have witnessed the ghastly spectre of a congresswoman who took “swearing in” quite literally as she launched a profanity-laced tirade against President Trump on taking office.

Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Representative Ilhan Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, with the latter having already expressed her opposition to Israel.

Anti-Semitism has also been cited among issues affecting the Women’s March movement in America. In fact, it is on the rise worldwide, with left and right forming an unholy alliance against God’s chosen people.

On the other hand, there is increasing support for Israel from unexpected quarters. Take Brazil, for instance. Its new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has boldly declared his intention of following the US lead in moving his embassy to Jerusalem. And Wilson Witzel actually requested the sound of a shofar to accompany his inauguration as a Brazilian state governor, so strong is his support for the Jewish state.

So what does this mean? Nations, communities and individuals are lining up for battle (whether knowingly or not) in anticipation, no doubt, of the day of judgment when the sheep are separated from the goats (see Ezekiel 34.17, Matthew 25.31-46, Joel 3.2) on the basis of how they treated the Jewish people.

In the midst of all this, the silence from most leaders of the Christian church has been deafening – just as it was in Germany and elsewhere during the Shoah. I guess this is largely because of the dangerous and heretical Replacement Theology that has certainly swept through much of the British church.

We should be witnessing stirring calls from our pulpits to stand with the Jews, but somehow they don’t see the connection. That’s because they have been disconnected from the roots of their faith, and have forgotten that we worship the God of Israel, who has sent his Son as Messiah, first for the Jews and also for the Gentiles.

We owe them everything – the Law, the Prophets, the Patriarchs, the entire Bible (Luke being the only Gentile author) and most of all Jesus, who will soon return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev 5.5).

That the Jewish state is once more under severe threat was illustrated by the surface-to-surface missile fired into Israel by Syrian-based Iranian forces on Sunday. Fortunately, it was successfully intercepted.

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham, is currently suffering severe side-effects from cancer treatment which she believes could be a message for Israel.

Recalling that God had some of his prophets live out the message he gave them, she wonders if her current life and death battle relates to the Jewish nation, reborn just a week before she came into the world.

“The warning I feel deep within is that Israel is in danger of a surprise attack in this, her 70th year,” she writes, urging them to return to the Lord (Joel 2.12-14) and us Gentiles to pray for the peace of Jerusalem “and for the whole House of Israel”.

If we truly love Jesus, we will love the Jews – as many of our Arab friends testify on finding peace and reconciliation at the cross. Wake up, church!

PHOTO: Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

Hezbollah Still Plans to Invade Galilee, While Israel Looks to Boot Iran From Syria

A regional war pitting Israel against Iran has never appeared more likely.

Over the past month, Israel made a great show of uncovering and neutralizing terrorist attack tunnels running from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

But the leader of the Iranian-allied Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which presumably dug the tunnels, boasted on Saturday that Israel's much-touted "Operation Northern Shield" that was declared finished and successful last week did not eliminate even 10 percent of the terror group's ability to invade the Galilee.

And Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah admitted that invading the Galilee is precisely what Hezbollah intends to do in the next Israel-Lebanon war.

"Part of our plan for the next war is to enter the Galilee... The important thing is that we have this capability and we have had it for years," Nasrallah told Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV over the weekend.

He explained that the handful of invasion tunnels Israel had neutralized were old, and that there remain more.

"The Israelis discovered a number of tunnels after many years, and it’s not a surprise. The surprise is that these tunnels, they took some time to find," said Nasrallah. "One of the tunnels discovered in recent weeks is 13 or 14 years old. ...The uncovering of the tunnels does not affect by 10 percent our plans to take over the Galilee."

Nasrallah added that Hezbollah has no intention of initiating a war, and will only respond to Israeli aggression. However, he also suggested that such a response could be the result of continuing Israeli airstrikes on Hezbollah's Iranian benefactors in neighboring Syria.

Expelling Iran from Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made abundantly clear of late that Israel will continue to hamper Iran's efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

But, Nasrallah noted that it had already failed to do so, that Iran is already established in the war-torn country. Some Israeli commentators have suggested the same, that Israeli airstrikes might prevent Iran from importing or setting up more advanced weapons, but that the Islamic Republic's military presence in Syria can not now be reversed.

Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant on Saturday insisted that they were wrong.

Speaking at a campaign rally near Jerusalem, Gallant, who recently joined Netanyahu's Likud party ahead of the upcoming national election, said that Israel has a plan to fully expel Iranian forces from Syria.

More than that, Gallant, who is a former top IDF general, claimed that the Russians support Israel in this endeavor. "Israel and Russia have a shared interest to expel the Iranians from Syria," he said.

Russia and Iran have traditionally been allied, but reports in recent years have suggested that Moscow is displeased by the Islamic Republic's meddling in Syria. That would explain why the Russians have largely turned a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets there.

Indeed, just last week Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denied that his country was allied with Iran in Syria. "The Iranians were very helpful when we convened the National Congress of the people of Syria in Sochi, but we do not see at any given moment completely eye-to-eye on what happens," said Ryabov, adding that Moscow views Israel's security as a "top priority."

 

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Jewish Evangelist Who Preached Yeshua During the Holocaust

With the annual Holocaust Memorial Day in view, it is worth being reminded not only of how many perished, but also of those who escaped the jaws of Nazism – often miraculously.

It is a little known fact that in spite of terrible persecution in Eastern Europe, thousands of Jewish people were very open to the message of Jesus. In fact, research is currently being undertaken on the so-called ‘Messianic’ believers who died in the Shoah.

Among those who experienced miraculous deliverance from the death camps was Jakob Jocz, a Lithuanian-born third generation follower of Yeshua who became an evangelist to the Jews of Poland under the auspices of CMJ (the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people), a British-based international society already reaping a plentiful harvest of souls throughout Europe and North Africa by the 1930s.

Such was the response to their work that the Warsaw branch CMJ chief Martin Parsons expressed the need for over 700 staff rather than the mere ten suggested at the time.

Jocz was sent to Birkenhead, near Liverpool, to train for Anglican ordination, and when he returned to Poland, he wrote: “In spite of anti-Semitism and increasing hatred, the Jews met us in many places with an open mind and with great readiness to hear the gospel.”

He added: “Today when the cross is being twisted into a swastika…Jewish men and women flock into the mission halls to hear and to learn about the wonderful Saviour.”

In May 1939, he received an urgent call to England to replace the main speaker of the Church Missionary Society’s annual summer conference, who was unavailable due to illness.

In a recent research paper The Rev Dr Jakob Jocz, Dr Theresa Newell writes: “This was indeed a miraculous deliverance as members of his family died at the hands of the Nazis soon afterwards…” Jakob’s father Bazyli was betrayed to the Gestapo and shot to death.

The family’s story has something of a Fiddler on the Roof ring to it. Jakob’s grandfather, Johanan Don, was the local milkman in his shtetl (village) who first encountered the good news of Jesus when seeking medical help for his teenage daughter Hannah (Jakob’s mother) who had been crippled in a fall.

The doctor was a Jewish believer and gave Johanan a Hebrew New Testament. He subsequently became a disciple, but died soon afterwards.

In order to make ends meet, his widow Sarah took in a boarder, a young rabbinic student named Bazyli Jocz. When he read Isaiah 53, he asked his teacher, ‘Who is the prophet speaking about?’ It was of course a situation very reminiscent of the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion in the Book of Acts (chapter 8). But the teacher was no evangelist, instead hitting him over the head and calling him a ‘detestable Gentile’ for asking such a ‘foolish’ question.

Bazyli was shocked, but undeterred, and after consulting the same doctor who had pointed Johanan in the right direction, he too became a believer.

He duly married Hannah, and Jakob was born in 1906. He became a noted evangelist and theologian whose writings represent a rich legacy of inspiration and encouragement for Christians – all called to preach the gospel to Jews.

As the Third Reich stormed across Europe, he wrote a booklet appealing to churches to speak out against the persecution of his people. As an Anglican bishop pointed out in the foreword, “he rightly calls attention to apathy in the church on the subject of missionary effort amongst the Jews.”

Indeed, he challenged the church to become ‘missional’ as its raison d’etre and to remember the call in that mission is “to the Jew first” (Romans 1.16).

If the church has no gospel for the Jews, he believed, it has no gospel for the world. He had total confidence in the authority of Scripture and stood on the premise that “loyalty to Jesus Christ is the ultimate test of the disciple,” adding: “Commitment to Jesus Christ makes universalism (the idea that all roads lead to God) impossible.”

He was highly critical of Rabbinic Judaism, lamenting that “making Torah into a religion robbed it of life” and saying that the removal of the sacrificial system (following the destruction of the Temple in AD 70) without their acceptance of the “once and for all times sacrifice” of Jesus led Judaism to a preoccupation with the study of the law. The irony of this, of course, is that the law was anchored in the fact that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin”. (Leviticus 17.11)

One of his theses was that the early church was much closer to the Old Testament than Rabbinic Judaism is today. And he advocated Jewish believers to fulfil the prophetic call to take the gospel to all nations.

Jakob certainly practiced what he preached. It is estimated that, through outreach efforts like his, there were as many as 100,000 Jewish believers in Yeshua by the time war broke out in 1939, many of whom would no doubt have shared the fate of their brethren in the concentration camps but who would also no doubt have shared the life-giving gospel of their Saviour.


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

 

Why Did Israel Save the Life of the Palestinian Leader?

Mahmoud Abbas has been a thorn in Israel's side. He's refused for the past several years to negotiate with Israeli leaders, and continues to approve blatant incitement against the Jewish state in Palestinian schoolbooks, to list but a couple of his violations of signed peace agreements.

So, why did Israel rush to save the life of the Palestinian leader when he fell severely ill last year?

According to Israel's Ynet news portal, in May 2018, Abbas got a severe ear infection which developed into pneumonia and other health complications. His own doctors in Ramallah were said to be concerned that the 83-year-old Abbas was near death.

Fearing a Palestinian power vacuum that would be quickly filled by Hamas, or just a general state of chaos that would facilitate a fresh wave of terrorist violence against local Jews, Israel reportedly offered to move Abbas to an Israeli hospital that could offer him more advanced care.

Not wanting to appear to be the kind of "collaborators" that Abbas himself so often derides, the Palestinians turned down the offer.

But Israel wasn't ready to just let him die, so, a source told Ynet, the Jewish state sent one of its top medical experts on Abbas' particular illness to Ramallah. Two days later, Abbas was on the road to recovery, and a few days after that, he was discharged and back to work.

Even so, Abbas' medical scares have become more and more frequent over the past two years, and it's clear to all involved that he won't be able to serve as leader of the Palestinian Authority for much longer.

War of succession

Israel and the United States have reportedly been maneuvering to get someone more amenable to genuine peace and coexistence into the position once Abbas is gone, but the current Palestinian leader is believed to be resorting to violent intimidation to ensure his own preferred successor takes the reins after him.

Adnan Mjalli is an American-Palestinian billionaire who lives in North Carolina, but is no stranger in the West Bank. He recently served as an advisor to US President Donald Trump on Palestinian economic affairs.

Israeli officials from across the political spectrum have long viewed economic incentives and the growth of joint Israeli-Palestinian business ventures as the key to true peace, and Mjalli could be just the man to help make that happen. He's also said to have been a liaison between the Trump Administration and a Palestinian leadership that has refused to publicly treat with the current occupant of the White House.

Needless to say, Abbas isn't keen to let a man whose own views more closely align with Israel's and who has been chummy with the reviled President Trump take over as head of the Palestinian Authority. Israel's Channel 13 news reported this week that some two months ago, Mjalli was visiting the West Bank when a bomb was detonated next to his car. He wasn't in the vehicle at the time, and so was unharmed, but the attack was seen as a warning for Mjalli to stay out of the race to succeed Abbas.

Abbas has made clear that his preferred successor is Nablus Governor Mahmoud al-Aloul, an old-guard PLO official like himself. Aloul currently serves under Abbas as deputy chairman of the ruling Fatah faction. Like Abbas, Aloul no longer openly advocates terrorist violence, but often justifies it, and remains bitterly hostile toward Israel. With the Palestinian Authority under Aloul's leadership, most expect that the peace process would remain in a state of stagnation.

 

Netanyahu Again Trolls Iran's Leaders, but Suffers Harsh Backlash at Home

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have a number of things in common. For instance, they both seem to relish the opportunity to troll their foes on social media.

According to a Kuwaiti newspaper, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Qassem Soleimani, recently said that a few well-timed cross-border attacks could help prevent Netanyahu from winning Israel's upcoming national election on April 9.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu published a short video clip to Twitter in which he told Soleimani that instead of worrying about Israel's election, perhaps he should go take a look at the Iranian military bases on the outskirts of Damascus that Israeli fighter jets had just devastated.

"Instead of interfering in the elections, Soleimani would do well to check the state of the Iranian bases that he is trying to establish in Syria," said Netanyahu, adding that Israel will continue its determined efforts to cripple the Iranian presence in Syria.


National security, or electioneering?

At home, Netanyahu was lambasted by his critics in the Knesset for exploiting the airstrikes on Syria to score political points ahead of the election.

Many insisted that by boasting about the Israeli attacks, Netanyahu had forced Russia to publicly condemn the practice, thus endangering future Israeli operations.

"After years of quiet and efficient cooperation [with Moscow], Netanyahu’s election campaign has forced the Russians to come out against us in the Syrian arena," said Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party and a man who sees himself as a future prime minister.

"Netanyahu is breaking with Israel’s policy of ambiguity for personal political reasons, and is tying the IDF’s hands in the northern campaign," added Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni.

Russia's ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, concurred with the opposition lawmakers, telling i24 News that the Netanyahu government "now makes immediate comments on any strikes at a very, very high level, and in our mind, this is very much connected to the election campaign."

 

Russia Tells Israel to Stop Bombing Syria

Moscow on Wednesday cautioned Israel to halt its "arbitrary" airstrikes against targets in Syria, lest the Jewish state spark wider conflict in the region.

"The practice of arbitrarily launching strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case Syria, should be simply excluded," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. "We urge everyone to think about the possible consequences of provoking a new round of chaos in the Middle East."

Zakharova was addressing a press briefing following a rare daytime Israeli aerial assault on Iranian military targets near Damascus. Iranian forces responded by firing a surface-to-surface missile at Israel, which was promptly intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile shield.

The Russian statement failed to address the Iranian military build-up in Syria, which Tehran has acknowledged serves to further threaten the Jewish state, which Iran's leaders have in turn openly admitted they wish to annihilate.

 

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Syria Threatens to Bomb Ben Gurion Airport

Syria's ambassador to the UN on Tuesday told the world body that his nation (presumably with the help of its Iranian allies) would attack Ben Gurion International Airport if Israel didn't stop bombing targets in the war-torn country.

"Syria will practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport," Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari warned members of the UN Security Council, insisting that they "stop the Israeli repeated aggressions on the Syrian Arab republic territories."

Earlier this week, Israel carried out a series of airstrikes against Iranian military targets near Damascus. Recently-retired IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot acknowledged earlier this month that over the past several years, Israel had dropped thousands of bombs on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.

The Israeli strikes have been largely carried out with tacit Russian approval and a clear green light from the Trump Administration.

It is unlikely that Syria itself has the ability to make good on its threat, but Iran and Hezbollah do. And while both certainly know that an attack on Ben Gurion Airport would mark a major escalation and elicit a crushing Israeli response, some fear they might be crazy enough to disregard the consequences.

 

Election 2019: The Gantz Enigma

Of all the new parties established ahead of the upcoming election in Israel, Hosen Le'Israel (Israel Resilience) is the only one posing a serious challenge to the ruling Likud. 

According to polls, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, founder and head of the party, will win 13 seats in the Knesset, despite the fact that he is running on a platform as devoid as possible of details. "Silence is golden" seems to be Gantz's electoral motto, and as odd as it may seem, the tactic appears to be paying off as the former general is receiving more media attention than any other politician, save the prime minister himself.

But as hard as Gantz tries to obscure his political views, there's little doubt that he is a moderate leftist. After analyzing the nameless people working on Gantz's campaign (see below), journalist Tal Schneider identified almost all of them as former left-wing party members. 


That leftists would follow a military leader who takes pride in the severe blows he dealt to Hamas-ruled Gaza (Gantz oversaw Operation Protective Edge in 2014) is something of an anomaly on the Israeli political scene. In a short video clip titled "Only the Strong Survive," the campaign lauds Gantz for bringing three-and-a-half years of relative quiet to the area by "sending parts of Gaza back to the stone age" and killing 1,364 local Hamas members. 


Why so many Israelis, even from the radical left, are now rallying behind Gantz is intriguing, and may pose a more serious challenge than right-wingers are willing to consider. In an op-ed titled "Why Gantz, and only Gantz" published by the left-wing daily Ha'aretz, writer Orian Morris puts himself in the line of fire by supporting the former IDF chief. Despite his disliking Gantz's body-count clip, Morris still considers the general to be the only honorable contender, and as such the one with the best chance of winning the election and "saving" Israel's democracy, which is the whole thrust of the current left-wing campaign against Netanyahu and the right.

To justify his position, Morris challenges some of the left's views, that in his mind have kept this camp in the opposition for decades. To begin with, he writes, leftists should overcome their desire to polish their delicate moral conscience by voting for fringe parties like the United Arab List or Meretz. The coming election, he insists, is not about fastidiousness, conscience or even about resolving the conflict. It is about "saving the country's institutions from a criminal movement [Likud] under the leadership of the 'angel of destruction' [Netanyahu]." The greatest threat to Israel, he continues, is not Iran or the Palestinians. It is the polarization of Israeli society and the politics of hate. As an honorable, honest and responsible person, Gantz is the best candidate to this corrosive trend.

Regarding "occupation," until now the most important leftist concern by far, Morris explains that the paradigm is false. "If the left wants to win, it must stop talking about the occupation," says Morris. "In truth, Palestinians and Zionists are fighting over the same land called The Land of Israel [from the river to the sea]." Accordingly, if the left wants to win the election, it must put aside its two most important flags - its refined conscience and its dream of a peaceful Palestinian state. In this framework, where occupation is viewed as a necessary evil, Gantz's "appalling" military record can be whitewashed by an assumed impeccable personal character.

For the many Israelis who despise Netanyahu and his policies, but nevertheless still view themselves as dedicated Zionists, Morris' arguments in favor of Gantz could sound extremely attractive.

 

ZAKA - (Zihui Korbanot Ason) Disaster Victim Identification

ZAKA is a non-profit organization that has been officially recognized by the State of Israel since 1995 but is not financially supported by it. The approximately 1,500 volunteer ZAKA members are amongst the first to arrive at scenes of disasters and usually the last ones to leave as they work closely with the police to identify victims. ZAKA collected human remains for the first time after a terrorist attack on a bus in 1989.

The volunteers are available 24/7 whatever the weather conditions to handle victims of accidents and terrorist attacks. They seek and collect every piece of human tissue, every drop of blood, all that is left of what once was a human body. The human remains are packed, labeled for identification purposes demanding hours of work. No case for the faint of heart! They also provide first aid services and help in search and rescue missions of missing persons.

All members undergo special training to participate in, what is no doubt, one of the most painful, difficult and stressful tasks in Israeli society!

Since it is a Jewish duty to bury a deceased person as a whole and with dignity, we too would like to support this organization. Help us to support these brave and courageous volunteers in their important work with a donation, they need your help!

 

Iran: The Hour of Israel's Destruction Draws Nigh; Netanyahu: Bring It On

After Israeli air strikes on military installations in and around Damascus reportedly killed 12 Iranian soldiers, the Islamic Republic said it's itching like never before to annihilate the Jewish state.

"We’re ready for the decisive war that will bring about Israel’s disappearance from the earth. Our young airmen are prepared for the day when Israel will be destroyed," the head of Iran's air force, Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh, told an online Iranian news portal.

In addition to the Iranian casualties, at least nine other people were killed in the Israeli airstrikes early Monday morning, including four Syrian soldiers and a number of pro-Iranian fighters, possibly members of Hezbollah.

Hours after Nasirzadeh issued his dire pronouncement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that Israel remained unfazed by Iranian threats, and would continue to strike the Islamic Republic's military foothold in Syria.

"Anyone who tries to hurt us, we will hurt them," Netanyahu said at the opening of a new airport in southern Israel. The prime minister noted that Monday's airstrike had "delivered powerful blows to Iranian targets in Syria," and insisted that Iran "won't get a pass" for exploiting the situation in war-torn Syria to make good on its threats against Israel.

PHOTO: Netanyahu speaks during the official opening of the new Ramon Airport, named in memory of Ilan and Asaf Ramon, near the southern city of Eilat. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

It Is Not Too Late To Get Your 2019 Calendars

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Iran Fires Surface-to-Surface Missile at Israel

Iranian military forces fired a medium-range surface-to-surface missile at Israel on Sunday, Israeli military sources are now saying.

The missile was fired from an Iranian installation on the outskirts of Damascus. It was immediately intercepted as it crossed the border over Mt. Hermon by Israeli anti-missile defenses.

A statement released by the Israel Defense Forces called the incident a "premeditated" attack meant to send a message to the Jewish state to stop attacking Iran's military build-up in Syria.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Air Force had conducted a series of airstrikes on Iranian targets in the war-torn country. A second wave of airstrikes then targeted the Syrian air defenses that had fired on the first wave of Israeli jets.

Renewed Israeli airstrikes have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of Syria's new Russian-made air defense systems. Desperate to halt the Israeli assault, Iran resorted to the kind of attack that could spark a regional war, and highlighted exactly why Israel is so determined to prevent the Islamic Republic from establishing a strong military presence in Syria.

The IDF released video of its planes bombing Iranian targets and being attacked by Syrian air defenses:


The army also published video captured by skiers on Mt. Hermon just as an Iron Dome battery in the Golan Heights was intercepting the Iranian missile:


PHOTO: Illustration of Israel's Iron Dome in action. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

Israel Shuts Down Toxic UN Schools in Jerusalem

The Israeli government has decided to shut down schools operated by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

While there are numerous refugee populations in the world, the only one enjoying the support of its own dedicated UN agency (UNRWA) is the so-called Palestinian "refugee" population (though it is debatable whether or not they can even be called genuine refugees).

At any rate, with their own heavily-financed UN agency, you'd think the Palestinian refugees would be sitting pretty, and that such investment would result in the quick resolution of the situation.

But you'd be wrong.

One of the main ways that UNRWA has ostensibly tried to help the Palestinian Arabs is by operating schools in local Arab towns and neighborhoods. Sadly, those schools were long ago hijacked by extremist elements in the Palestinian Authority, and today teach children to perpetuate the conflict with Israel, rather than to seek peace and coexistence. This abuse has resulted in Western nations yanking funding from the agency, in particular the United States, which recently cut off $300 million in annual funding for UNRWA over its complicity in anti-Israel incitement.

Evidence of just how bad the UNRWA school curriculum has become can be seen in the fact that Hamas permits these schools to operate in the Gaza Strip.

Israel will no longer play that game, and the UNRWA schools on the eastern side of Jerusalem will be shuttered, according to a Channel 12 report on Sunday.

Former-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had been advocating such a move for years, arguing that schools in Arab neighborhoods should be overseen by the Israel Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality, just like all other schools in the capital.

 

Tu BiShvat Has Arrived - The New Year For Trees!

Today Jews all over the world celebrate Tu BiShvat, the Jewish New Year for trees! This festival is also called "Chag Ha'ilanot" (Festival of Trees). Today many trees will be planted here in Israel which symbolizes a new beginning and a newness of life. Tu Bi'Shvat points to the coming spring, the end of winter, the spring blossoms and the beauty of nature.

You can actively support Israel on this festival by planting a tree in Israel!

In addition to planting trees, it is a tradition to eat many different (dry) fruit and nuts on this day, all produce of trees.

Dates are also among the healthiest fruits available and are considered a superfood. And to celebrate the day we are offering 25% discount off our organic Medjoul dates! Take advantage of our discount and pamper yourself with these delicious dates from Israel!

 

VIDEO: Palestinians Say Violence, Not Negotiations, Remains Primary Path to 'Peace'

Israelis believed that by entering into peace talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), precursor to today's Palestinian Authority, that the latter had eschewed violence.

Most Israelis now know that they were wrong, and that the Palestinian leadership and the various groups that dominate Palestinian society continue to view violence against Israelis as a legitimate means to achieving their objectives.

But the international community, and especially the mainstream international press, has inexplicably taken the Palestinian leadership at its word, or at least at its word in English.

Because in Arabic, the Palestinian leadership continues to admit freely that it practices and will continue to practice violence against Israel.

The above video features a report on Gaza's Alkofiya TV that aired on January 1 of this year. The armed group shown conducting military exercises simulating an attack on an Israeli army base and the abduction of Israeli soldiers is not Hamas. It is the Fatah movement headed by "moderate" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas' representative in the video, a masked man identified as Abu Muhammad, confirms that Fatah, and therefore the Palestinian Authority, remains committed to its founding principle of seeking the "annihilation of the so-called 'Israel.'"

How, then, is Israel supposed to conclude a lasting peace agreement with these people?

 

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Psalm 22 and the Crucified Messiah

Much like Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 describes the Messiah’s torment, rejection and death.

“To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1-2).

Son of David: King David, who wrote Psalm 22 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, predicted that the Messiah - who would be his descendant - would suffer, be rejected and killed. When Jesus was on the cross, He cried out quoting the first line of the Psalm, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” That is: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Psalm 22 foretells how God had to separate from the Messiah. God turns His face away from the Messiah so that, as he dies, He may take the sins of Israel and of all mankind upon Himself.

Rashi (who was a famous Jewish sage) gave his commentary on this verse: “Why have You forsaken me?: They are destined to go into exile, and David recited this prayer for the future” (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki). Even Rashi could see that this psalm is a prophecy about the future and not just some past experience of David.

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; He trusts in the Lord; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, for He delights in him!” (Psalm 22:6-8).

Now these verses describe the scorn and derision towards the Messiah by all those around him. 

“Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help” (Psalm 22:9-11).

The Messiah’s trust is not in people, but in God, and has been from the beginning. However, God is not there in His time of trouble. Interestingly, even here like the rest of the biblical prophecies about the Messiah, only the Messiah’s mother is mentioned, there is no human father mentioned.

“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; Like a lion are my hands and feet” (Psalm 22:16).

And now, here comes the interesting part! For the past millennia, all Hebrew bibles say: “Like a lion are my hands and feet.” Or, in other words: my hands and my feet are like those of a lion. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, does it? 1,000 years ago, the Masoretes who made the “Masoretic text” that Israelis all use today, changed one single letter in this verse: 

They shortened the letter VAV ( ו )

 into the letter YUD  ( י ).

Originally, the text actually read they have pierced my hands and my feet. The original Hebrew word means to mine or bore, to make a hole or dig a pit. According to Bar-Ilan University’s Biblical Hebrew Dictionary the meaning of “mine” is the same as “dig.” This is reinforced in various places throughout the Old Testament. For example, in Exodus 21:33 or in 2 Chronicles 16:14. However, this sounded a little too much like Jesus for the rabbis, they decided to shorten the letter VAV ( ו ) to become the letter YUD  ( י ). Any person who reads any ancient version of the Old Testament, such as the Septuagint or the Dead Sea Scrolls, will see for themselves that the original text doesn’t say “like a lion”, but rather “they have bored / pierced.” The Dead Sea Scrolls, dated hundreds of years before the time of Jesus or as in the New Testament, were written at least 1,200 years prior to the Masoretic text.

That description is remarkably similar to the one in Zechariah 12, verse 10: “When they look on me, on Him whom they have pierced” as well as to the description in Isaiah 53 where the Messiah is said to be “pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). 

Even the Jewish Sages recognized and admitted that Psalm 22 was a prophetic psalm about the Messiah. In fact, Rashi explains verse 27 as referring: “To the time of redemption, to the days of the Messiah.” (Rashi’s commentary on Psalm 22:27).

When one properly understands Psalm 22, the true Messiah and Savior can be easily discerned. It describes one who has suffered unbearable agony, pierced in his hands and feet, tortured and killed, but then rose from the dead. King David wasn’t referring to himself - even the rabbis agree about that. However, unlike David, Jesus not only risked His own life for His people, but He GAVE His life – for us all!


Eitan Bar is author of the new book Refuting Rabbinic Objections to Christianity and Messianic Prophecies, available from Amazon.

 

Trump's Leaked Peace Plan: Fake News, or Familiar Delusion?

Israelis were taken aback on Wednesday when their evening news broadcast announced purported details of US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan that didn't quite fit with what they'd come to expect from the American leader.

According to journalist Barak Ravid of Channel 13 News, who cited a "senior American" official, Trump was planning to offer the Palestinians a fully-sovereign state on 85-90 percent of the West Bank, with the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as its capital city.

The report further claimed that Trump wants to return to a long-abandoned UN proposal to place Jerusalem's "Holy Basin," the area of the Old City and its immediate surroundings, under some form of international supervision.

The Trump Administration's engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict up until now had led most Israelis to believe that gone were the days that the Palestinian Authority could flaunt its peace obligations and still be offered to have nearly all of its demands met.

But offering to give them a fully-sovereign state on most of Israel's biblical heartland and divide Jerusalem would suggest otherwise, especially when the Palestinian Authority is still inciting its people to hatred and violence against Israel's Jewish population.

The White House immediately dismissed the Channel 13 report as "inaccurate."

Trump's special envoy for the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, tweeted: "While I respect @BarakRavid, his report on Israel’s Ch. 13 is not accurate. Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it."


So, it was just another case of fake news? Could be. Israel suffers from it just as much as America.

Or, perhaps it was the Trump Administration sending up a test balloon to see which provisions would be strongly rejected, and which would find some degree of acceptance among the parties involved. It's not uncommon for the Americans to do such a thing.

Either way, one aspect of the story that's being largely ignored, indeed that's been ignored for over two decades now, is the Palestinian Authority's rejection of any proposal that doesn't meet 100 percent of its demands, and then some.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas already months ago rejected Trump's "Deal of the Century" before any details were even known because he knew the Americans wouldn't offer him all he and the Palestinians demanded. It's the same reason he's been refusing to rejoin negotiations with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the second term of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

It's Abbas' rejectionist approach that suggests Trump was sending up a test balloon, and that Ravid and Channel 13 did not, in fact, report inaccurately. Trump knows he's got to give the Palestinians something really good to get them back to the table, so perhaps he was trying to see just how much the Israelis would go for.

The problem with that approach, if that's what happened here, is that Trump, like all his predecessors going back to Jimmy Carter, has failed to understand just how intransigent the Palestinian leadership has become.

Former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak already tried to offer the Palestinians all that Trump is now allegedly offering, and more, only to have Yasser Arafat throw it back in his face. Abbas, who was mentored by Arafat, isn't now going to accept a Palestinian state on anything less than the pre-1967 armistice lines, or a truncated East Jerusalem. He's staked his entire legacy on rejecting such compromises.

It's delusional for anyone to think that they can get the Palestinian leadership to now climb down from this tree, even for a "master dealmaker" like Trump.

 

ANALYSIS: How Israel is Working to Defeat the Iranian Axis

On Tuesday, during the appointment ceremony of incoming IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told Iran to get out of Syria fast.

 "I'm telling you, get out of there fast. We won’t stop attacking," Netanyahu told participants in the ceremony.

His comments followed an official statement at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday in which Netanyahu confirmed the latest Israeli action against Iran in Syria.

“Just in the last 36 hours the air force attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus. The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised,” Netanyahu told his cabinet.

The Israeli leader claimed the IDF and IAF had “worked with impressive success to block Iran's military entrenchment in Syria” and had struck “Iranian and Hezbollah targets hundreds of times.”

In interviews with Israeli broadcasters and The New York Times (NYT) the outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot revealed more about how the Israeli military had succeeded to trim the Iranian military build-up in Syria and Lebanon.

Eisenkot said that the Israeli military had carried out “thousands of strikes” against the Iranian axis in Syria and in 2018 alone had used more than 2,000 missiles and bombs to stop Iran from building up its forces in the war-torn country.

The outgoing IDF commander also confirmed Israel could try to assassinate Qassem Soleimani the shrewd commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Soleimani is the driving force behind the attempt to encircle Israel and has established umbrella organizations of Shiite militias in both Syria and Iraq which are functioning as Iran’s proxy army in the region.

Eisenkot claimed the Israeli military had effectively stopped the Iranian military build-up in Syria and confirmed Iran is now increasing its entrenchment in Iraq where the IRGC-founded Hashd Al-Shaabi organization of predominantly Shiite militias is controlling the northern part of the country after the defeat of ISIS’ Caliphate.

The turning point in the covert war between Israel and Iran came when Soleimani ordered the launch of 30 missiles at northern Israel in the night of May 10, 2018.

None of these missiles reached their target but it gave the IAF the opportunity to deliver a devastating blow to the Iranian axis in Syria.

A fleet of 28 F-15 and F-16 warplanes launched missiles and dropped bombs at “80 separate Iranian military and Assad regime targets in Syria,” according to Eisenkot.

The former Chief of Staff claimed that as a result of the carefully prepared operation, which was dubbed ‘Operation Chess” by the IDF, Soleimani decided to withdraw his forces from the Golan Heights and to shift his focus from Syria to Lebanon and Gaza.

The destruction of Hezbollah’s attack tunnel project (Operation Northern Shield) and the revelation that Iran was actively helping Hezbollah with the conversion of crude rockets into GPS-guided missiles dealt another devastating blow to Soleimani’s Israel project, however.

The exposure of the underground missile facilities Hezbollah built with Iranian help in the Beirut area forced the Iranians and Hezbollah into dismantling the project, according to the Israeli government.

Operation Northern Shield has so far resulted in the destruction of six attack tunnels which were already crossing the Israeli border. The operation not only deprived Hezbollah from an important weapon but also delivered a mortal blow to the Iranian plan to surprise Israel in a future multiple-front-war.

The IDF operation also restored Israel’s deterrence vis a vis Hezbollah as it bore all the hallmarks of psychological warfare. 

It was no coincidence Eisenkot waited for four years before ordering the destruction of the tunnels at the moment Hezbollah neared their completion.

The video of a scared Hezbollah operative who came to inspect an IDF robot which was equipped with a small explosive device and a camera was another example of the psychological warfare the IDF uses against the Iranian axis.

The images of the Hezbollah men fleeing after the device exploded in his face were very humiliating for the Iranian proxy. 

Then there is Gaza where the Iranians acted via its IRGC branch Islamic Jihad and its newfound ally Hamas in the beginning of November 2018.

Soleimani reportedly ordered the escalation on November 9 and 10 and asked the Palestinian terror organizations to open up a new front in southern Israel.

Eisenkot now revealed why he opposed a new ground operation in Gaza.

The former IDF chief told NYT that he thought Israel should focus its attention on winning the war against Iran and called Hamas “a weak enemy”.

“When you fight for many years against a weak enemy, it also weakens you,” Eisenkot claimed while adding the IDF is making “continuous and kinetic efforts” to degrade the military capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

His successor  Maj-Gen Aviv Kochavi is expected to continue Eisenkot’s sophisticated and intelligent warfare.

“The IDF is getting an excellent Chief of Staff,” President Reuven Rivlin said during the appointment ceremony of Kochavi while PM Netanyahu praised the incoming IDF chief of staff for his out-of-the-box thinking.

 

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Palestinians Push for Full UN Membership

They just don't give up. The Palestinian Authority is reportedly planning to again request full membership in the United Nations, despite knowing that the Americans will veto any positive decision on the matter.

That according to recent remarks by PA Foreign Minister

Riyad al-Maliki.

In 2012, the Palestinian Authority secured "observer" status at the UN, which many saw as de facto recognition of a Palestinian state by the General Assembly. But full membership as the "State of Palestine" requires the approval of the Security Council, where the US enjoys veto power.

"We know that we are going to face a US veto but that won’t prevent us from presenting our application," insisted al-Maliki. The proposal is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

The Palestinians are feeling a little more confident of late after assuming the chair of the UN's Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing countries. At a ceremony marking the event, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the world's representatives that "Israel’s continued colonization and occupation of the state of Palestine undermines our development and capacity for cooperation, coordination and obstructs the cohesive future development of all peoples of the region."

For his part, Abbas maintained that he remains committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict resulting in the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state with the eastern half of Jerusalem as its capital.

Of course, that stated position has been belied by Abbas' years of refusal to return to the negotiating table. Going back to the Obama Administration, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited Abbas to hold direct peace talks, but the Palestinian leader has refused to do so unless Israel agrees to his top demands prior to negotiations.

Since the election of US President Donald Trump and his announcement of an overtly pro-Israel foreign policy, Abbas has only become further entrenched.

Archive: Riyad al-Maliki (Photo: Flash90)

 

WATCH: IDF Troops Bust Palestinian Weapons Factory

During a raid in the central Samaria town of Nablus (biblical Shechem) on Tuesday, Israeli troops discovered a factory used to make terrorist weapons.

Despite its obligations under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority does very little to prevent such illegal activities, which in turn lead to more violence against Israelis, which in turn lessens the chances of a diplomatic solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

 

Support Israel's "Lone Soldiers" During Service And Receive A Free Hooded IDF Sweatshirt

Let's help support our "Lone Soldiers" and make them feel at home in Israel!

About 6500 "Lone Soldiers" serve in the IDF. Almost half of these "Lone Soldiers" are Jews or Israeli citizens, that were raised outside Israel. The other half are Israeli citizens from broken or single-parent homes that find it difficult to support their youngsters during their IDF service.

The soldiers from abroad voluntarily leave a usually pleasant and comfortable life to commit themselves to dangerous military service in the Holy Land. A large percentage of Israel's "Lone Soldiers" serve in combat units.

These young soldiers not only lack family comforts and support but usually experience financial hardships during their military service.

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Netanyahu Promises More Attacks on Iranian Forces in Syria

So much for those "game-changing" Russian anti-aircraft batteries.

Israel has broken with its previous policy of ambiguity, and is today saying forthrightly that it has attacked Iranian targets in Syria, and will do so again.

Just days after Israeli officials acknowledged bombing an Iranian weapons storage facility in Damascus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Iranians to "get out of there quickly, because we will continue our offensive policy as we promised, and will do so without fear and without pause."

Netanyahu was speaking at the ceremony for the transfer of power from outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to his successor, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

Eisenkot admitted that over the past several years, Israel had dropped "thousands" of bombs on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, as well as having provided material support to rebel groups in the war-torn country.

Incoming IDF chief Kochavi is also seen as a hawk regarding the situation in Syria. Recent reports suggested that several years ago he advocated assassinating dictator Bashar Assad and toppling the Syrian regime, but that the plan was turned down by Israel's political leadership.

 

With 'Holy Awe,' New IDF Chief Takes the Reins

Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi officially took over as chief of general staff of the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday.

Following a ceremony at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Kochavi and his predecessor, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, took a traditional tour of Jerusalem, including lengthy stops at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the Western Wall.

The visits are meant to be a reminder of what Israel's military chiefs are fighting to defend: The Jewish people and faith.

During his swearing-in ceremony, Kochavi stated that he was taking the reins of the IDF with "holy awe."

PHOTO: Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (left) with incoming Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at IDF headquarters, the Kirya, in Tel Aviv, on January 15, 2019. (Flash90)

 

Exclusive Olive Oil From Israel's South

For thousands of years excellent quality olive oil has been produced in the Holy Land. Israeli olive oil is reputed for its quality and holds its own against any other olive oil marketed around the world. Few people know that Gethsemane (the garden on the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion) is called "Gat Shmanim" in Hebrew - "Oil Press"!

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Election: Breaking Up to Reassemble

Ninety days to go before early elections, and the Israeli political scene is in disarray. 

Our political players are either breaking away from existing parties or forming new ones. Though established already in 2015, the Zehut (Identity) party of right-wing activist Moshe Feiglin will run for election for the first time. Present-Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have left the Jewish Home and formed the New Right party. Center-right Orly Levy Abekasis, currently an independent member of Knesset, has formed the new Gesher (Bridge) party. Ex-IDF chief Benni Gantz (identified as left by Netanyahu) recently established his Hosen (Resilience) party. Ahmed Tibi upset the Arab community by pulling his Ta'al party (acronym for the Arab movement for renewal) out of the United (Arab) List faction.

Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon, who is also a former IDF chief and minister of defense, formed the new Telem (Furrow) party. General (ret.) Yom-Tov Samia, until recently a member of the Labor party, formed Beyahad (the Hebrew word for "together," which he's using as an acronym for, don't hold your breath, security, Jewish-Israeli, social-educational, democratic). General (ret.) Gal Hirsch, recently a candidate for chief of police, has formed the new party Magen Israel (Shield of Israel). 

Of the seven new parties to date, four are headed by ex-generals. Of the generals' parties, polls show that Hosen (Resilience) will receive no less than 11 seats, despite the fact that party leader Gantz has yet to reveal anything regarding his political platform.

In addition to the new parties, new alliances between existing parties are beginning to from. Most notably is the possibility of uniting all the Orthodox parties, which include the Ashkenazi Agudat Yisrael and Yahadut Hatorah and the Mizrachi Shas parties. If these will unite, chances are that, after Likud, they could become the second largest Knesset faction. There are also rumors that the scattered far-right parties of National Home, Yahad and Otzma Yehudit could unite and together win a solid representation of seven seats.

With all this reshuffling, the current political picture is rather fuzzy, but there remains little doubt that the right, divided as it now appears, will win a firm majority. Though the political picture immerging from this reshuffling is fuzzy for now but, little doubt that the right, divided as it is now, still form a firm majority. If the far-right and Orthodox parties do unite, and chances are they will, the Likud, predicted to have at least 30 seats, will form the next government.

As for the left, polls give the Labor party only seven seats, down from the 24 it has now. However, if the left manages to form its own bloc consisting of the centrist Yesh Atid and the new party of Benni Gantz, it is possible that they, together with the far-left Meretz party and the Orthodox (who have shown that they will also join a left-wing coalition), could form the next government.

However, given that all the new players are still holding their cards close to their chests, the outcome of the election is far from determined, particularly when considering Prime Minister Netanyahu's looming legal cases. If the Attorney General decides to press charges against Netanyahu before the election, it could be that he's forced to resign in the midst of his campaign. Such a scenario would be devastating to the electoral hopes of the Likud, which is why Netanyahu is doing everything in his power to postpone the Attorney General's decision until after the election.

 

COMMENTARY: What Do Abortion and Antisemitism Have in Common?

As London-based newspapers noted with horror that the new year had been marred by yet more fatal stabbings, it was another statistic that really shocked me. And it’s one that points to what lies behind the eruption of violence on our capital city’s streets.

While we remain obsessed with focusing on the symptoms, rather than the causes, of our problems, we will get no closer to a solution.

Knife crime has risen to frightening levels which have left London’s streets apparently now more dangerous than those of New York, long notorious for its gang warfare.

But this shocking dilemma is met only with cries for more police, and more funding for law enforcement generally.

And yet in the midst of this comes news that abortion remains the biggest cause of death by far in our blood-soaked world. Whereas 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2018, almost 42 million abortions were recorded. In other words, for every 33 live births, ten infants were aborted.

The connection is obvious: violence breeds violence. We slaughter babies in the womb by the millions – legally in most cases – and wonder why violence on an unprecedented scale has erupted on our streets. And I am aware that there are other, often related, factors such as broken homes causing lost and unloved young men to seek ‘family’ elsewhere.

At a time when there is a major focus on research into killer diseases – and there has undoubtedly been much success with discovering new cures for cancer – anti-abortion fundraisers would more likely be harangued or beaten up than receive open public support.

And yet the Bible says: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

While every victim of senseless knife crime is a tragic statistic, the mass slaughter of innocents that goes by the euphemistic name of ‘choice’ for women whose lifestyle is unsuited to raising children, is a blot on Western civilization in general, and British society in particular.

After all, there was a time when we led the way with missionary zeal in proclaiming the efficacy of a Judeo-Christian culture based on the Ten Commandments, one of which states with the utmost clarity: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20.13)

But as soon as we jettisoned our commitment to those values, many of the nations we have influenced followed suit.

Our only hope as a nation is in returning to the God-given laws Moses was given on Mt Sinai – laws that Christ subsequently enabled us to follow through his Spirit in our hearts.

The slaughter of innocents is essentially a mark of rebellion against God – and the devil himself is behind it.

In anticipation of the birth of Moses, the Egyptian pharaoh tried to prevent God’s will from being fulfilled by murdering every male Jewish infant (Exodus 1.22). Moses was a ‘type’ of the Messiah to come in that he led God’s people out of slavery towards new life in the Promised Land. Jesus went further by redeeming all who trust him from slavery to sin.

But when Christ arrived on the scene some 1,500 years after Moses, King Herod ordered the slaughter in Bethlehem of every child under the age of two. (Matthew 2.16)

In both cases, God was about to usher in a wonderful new era – and Satan tried to stop it.

In more recent times, when six million Jews were mercilessly slaughtered in the concentration camps of Germany and Poland, one-and-a-half million children were among them.

Once again, God was about to introduce a glorious new epoch for Israel, with Jews back in their ancient land and many recognising Jesus as Messiah. Satan tried to stop it in an unspeakably monstrous way. Yet, even so, he failed in his ultimate objective, but at a terrible cost of precious lives because so few who were in a position to do so lifted a finger to help.

It’s interesting that the legalisation of abortion in Britain in 1967 happened to coincide with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the old established churches. Whenever God wants to do something special in revealing his presence and power to sinful humanity, Satan seeks to spoil his plan.

Ultimately, however, the devil is doomed to defeat and will take all his allies with him into the pit of everlasting fire known as hell. (See Rev 20.7-10)

St Paul writes: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16.20)

My new year message to abortionists, and all who support them, is: Stop this Satanic slaughter!


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

 

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Iraqis Establish a 'Virtual Embassy' in Israel

Attitudes toward Israel are shifting in the Arab world. This has a lot to do with Iran becoming a common enemy. But it has even more to do with average Arabs finally realizing that the Jewish state is not their enemy (accompanied by a serious decrease in support for the "Palestinian cause," which still seeks to destroy Israel).

Twenty years ago, Iraq would have been listed as one of Israel's most intractable enemies in the Arab world. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq fired dozens of ballistic missiles at Tel Aviv, the kind of direct attack few other Arab states have dared to attempt.

But today, evidence regularly points to average Iraqis taking a positive view of Israel, and even lamenting the mass exodus of their country's ancient Jewish community.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has reported a number of times in recent years that around half of the Arab commenters on it's Arabic-language social media pages are from Iraq, and the vast majority of them are supportive of the Jewish state.

Recently, a group of Iraqis decided to establish a "virtual embassy" in Israel via Facebook.

"Continuous dialogue will inevitably lead to peace!" reads the lead post on the page "The Virtual Embassy of Iraq in Israel." The page has thousands of followers, and each post seems to garner a large number of Shares and comments.

The Facebook page is an initiative of Project Bright Future, which lobbies Iraqi authorities to officially end decades of shunning Israel and to normalize relations with the Jewish state.

In the October 2017 issue of Israel Today Magazine, we spoke with the project's director, Ali A., who assured us that there are "millions of Iraqis" who today love and support the Jewish state.

"Project Bright Future was founded in 2011 to establish relations with Israel on the basis of friendship and common interests," Ali A. explained at the time. "Our mission is to prepare the ground for this strategic relationship by establishing channels of communication. We believe that Israel is not our enemy."

 

Israeli Coffee Now At 25% Discount

Israeli coffee is very popular to a lot of people around the world. Especially to Jewish populations living in other countries.

The coffee culture in Israel started since the nation's declaration as a state in 1948. There had been many Jews living in Europe who had established excellent coffee businesses in roasting and grinding coffee beans. After the holocaust, and their settlement in the Jewish homeland they brought their coffee knowledge to Israel.

Israeli coffee is famous for its rich aroma and one of a kind taste. You can prepare it in two different ways:
(a) The cooked version – “Kafe Shachor” (“black coffee”), or
(b) The uncooked version that is unique in Israel and they call it “Kafe Botz” (“mud coffee”).

The use of cardamom spice in both versions is very common. The people of the Middle East region are very fond of this aroma and taste. Many people call it “Israeli coffee” or “Israeli Turkish coffee” or “Arabic coffee”. The drinking of Israeli coffee is a tradition when working in “kibbutz”, going out camping, serving in the army or over a game of backgammon.

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Why It's Complicated Being a Messianic Jew During Election Season

The political fabric of the State of Israel is more complicated than many may realize, and it becomes more so if you’re a believer in Yeshua.

With the upcoming elections, a lot of questions have popped up for Messianic voters in the Land. One might assume that if you’re a Believer, you must support the conservative party, but then you must ask, which conservative party? Unlike in America, there are multiple conservative and liberal parties, each representing their own ideological, religious and ethnic groups with their own unique needs and interests.

Let’s take a look at the Likud party, for example; the most popular political party in recent years. Likud was officially founded by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon - both famous political figures in Israel’s history - later to be succeeded by the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud party is considered to be right on the political spectrum, as evident from their support for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a general rejection of a Palestinian state. Economically, the party advocates for free trade, privatizing government-owned companies, and the dismantlement of monopolies (though many exclusive services companies still operate in Israel, dictating high prices).

With the above said, the party also has a less conservative side; for example, taking a positive stance on gay marriage and, more crucially, on the ability of same-sex couples to adopt. Netanyahu once said in regards to the surrogacy law, “I made it clear in the past; it is not a matter of right or left. First of all, it is a private and human matter. I would like to remind you that in the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, we worked extensively with the various aid agencies in flying male couples as part of the surrogacy process.” The party even has its own LGBT branch, “Pride in the Likud,” headed by MK Amir Ohana. They actively participate in public events and gay parades throughout the country.

The ones who dare disagree with this definition of marriage and family are the Jewish Orthodox parties. Similar disagreements arise over laws regarding abortion, as the Likud and other "secular" right-wing parties generally hold liberal views on these issues. On such moral issues, the right is deeply divided between its secular and religious blocs. Usually, they sit together in the coalition, as they seek to propel their agendas in the Knesset, but just as they are the only stronghold against an atheistic and liberal worldview, they are also big advocates against everything Messianic.

Marriage for Messianic couples, or mixed couples who may not be Jewish by birth on their mother’s side, is impossible here. Believers are forced to fly out the country in order to become legally married, only then being permitted to register with the Ministry of Interior. The Rabbinate holds monopoly over marriage, burial, and perhaps one of the most controversial things for Believers – immigration. Even if you happen to be Jewish on both sides of your family, traceable all the way back to King David, if the government finds out that you have put your trust in Yeshua, you will be met with closed doors. In essence, more power to the right-wing bloc equals less freedom for the body of Messiah here in the Land.

In contrast, some left-wing parties have a tendency to embrace a more pluralistic approach towards Believers, but we also must take into consideration what they stand for as liberals. Few of the leftist parties hold to socialistic views anymore, even the Labor party, making the main difference between the right and left the issue of settlements, and of how much of a grip Judaism has on the character of the nation. If that grip is loosened and the Rabbinate loses its monopoly over the definition of who is Jewish, we may see the Believing population begin to rise; for with our “Jewishness” given back to us, we might see Jewish Believers finally being allowed their right of return.

All of this may seem very confusing, and many times followers of The Way will be required to choose the “lesser evil”, or simply withhold from voting altogether. Israel’s political scene is not as clearly definedas that of America’s, thus Believers in the Land may have a harder time making their choice.

Ultimately, whoever ends up taking a seat this year, among the 120 available, will require the frequent and fervent prayers of Believers both in Israel and around the world. As the political war rages on and the politicians' decisions, both on the right and left, encumber the Body of Messiah, I would like to suggest that we ought not merely stand with Israel, but rather, stand with God in Israel.

 

Arab Muslim Woman Brushes Off Threats, Insists She's a Proud Israeli

Dima Tayeh made waves a year ago when she participated in an Israeli delegation to tell American audiences that Israel is not an apartheid state and that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was harmful to both Jews and Arabs.

Tayeh is an Arab Muslim from the Galilee region. She was branded by many as a traitor over her pro-Israel activism.

But she was adamant.

"I wish that all the Arab countries would adopt a democratic system like Israel's," she said in an Arabic-language television interview at the time, noting that Arabs living in Israel have all the same rights and opportunities as Jews.


This week, Tayeh further disrupted the anti-Israel narrative by announcing that she was joining the Likud party and running in its upcoming primaries. Should she win a high enough spot on the list, Tayeh could soon become Likud's first Arab Muslim member of Knesset.

In the Hadashot TV news interview in which she announced her candidacy, Tayeh also defended Israel's contentious "Nation-State Law" that codifies the Jewish character of the state. "I don’t see that it harms minorities or any citizen," said Tayeh, noting that she'd read every line of the law. "Israel is a Jewish state and democratic and there is no other country in the Middle East that respects its citizens and gives them as much equality as possible and democracy for all."

She echoed these sentiments in an English-language interview with i24News on Tuesday:


These interviews resulted in Tayeh being shunned by her family, which released a statement reading:

"Due to her statements, we will not make contact with her or give her any assistance until she retracts her words and declares loyalty to her people and her faith."

The reaction by Tayeh's family and other Arabs of similar opinion calls into question who in the Holy Land is truly behaving in an apartheid manner. As Tayeh herself explained, Jewish society is open to the Arab community, but Arab society will shun any who seek normalization with the Jews and their state.

 

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Big Surprise: Hamas to Increase Gaza Violence to Cover for Its Incompetence

Israeli officials cited by local media said that they expect an escalation in violence along the Gaza border this coming weekend as Hamas attempts to divert attention from its ineptitude in governance.

A previous escalation in Gaza rocket attacks and border skirmishes in November was followed by many weeks of relative calm. Israel responded by facilitating the transfer of financial aid from Qatar to the cash-strapped Gaza Strip in hopes that Hamas would use the money to ease economic woes and further deescalate the situation.

But trusting in an unrepentant terrorist organization to behave in such a way was probably a bit short-sighted.

Instead, Hamas used the Qatari cash injections to allow its own higher-ups to resume their lavish lifestyles, leaving much of the Gaza population wondering why the hell they ever voted these clowns into power. (Yes, Hamas militarily seized control of Gaza, but only after winning a firm majority in parliament in the last Palestinian legislative election in 2006. And Jimmy Carter himself said those were free and fair elections, so who are we to argue?)

Doing what despots do, Hamas wants to get the people thinking about something other than how the group's top leaders are sitting pompously prosperous even as the coastal enclave's economy tanks.

According to Gaza sources, Hamas is looking to renew flaming kite and balloon bomb attacks (good luck with that under current windy and rainy weather conditions), as well as mass attempts to breach the Gaza security fence and assault nearby Israeli villages.

That should keep the people busy.

And so, on Tuesday, the verbosely-named "Supreme National Authority for the March of Return and Breaking of the Siege" urged the Gaza public to get themselves to the border fence on Friday for a little rumble with the IDF.

Just to make sure it's a full-featured event, Hamas also reportedly met with the heads of the "kite unit" and the "tire unit" (seriously, who comes up with these names?) and begrudgingly gave them some of their caviar money to, well, buy more kites and tires to set on fire.

Unfortunately for Hamas, the world is tiring of this story. So, unless the terror group can bring something new to the party (and Israeli forces are doing everything in their considerable power to ensure there are no surprises), any confrontation that does materialize is likely to be quickly forgotten, if not ignored altogether.

PHOTO: If the flaming kites and balloon bombs don't do the trick, Hamas has threatened to unleash its new jihadi boy band. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

 

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Netanyahu Demands Right to Confront His Accusers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to live television on Monday evening to demand that he be granted the right to confront his accusers in several corruption cases currently targeting him.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu had told the nation that he had a "dramatic announcement" to make, and nearly every Israeli television channel promptly cut into their primetime broadcasts to give a platform to the prime minister's important message. He was later harshly criticized for instead putting on what the media called an "election show."

Netanyahu insisted that the investigations are being handled in a haphazard way, driven by his opponents' agenda to see him finally unseated as prime minister. "I wanted to look them in the eye and throw the truth at them," Netanyahu said of several former aides who have turned state's witnesses. "I demanded it once and was refused. I demanded it a second time and was refused. Why was I refused this confrontation, that is so necessary to uncovering the truth? What are they afraid of? What have they got to hide?"

It's not necessarily that Netanyahu didn't have a point. What irked many Israelis was the dramatization of the event, the making everyone think that something actually important was going to be announced, rather than yet another statement regarding an investigation that most people here are hardly aware of, let alone care about.

The wave of disapproval over Netanyahu's showmanship was quick in coming, even from voices to the right of the political spectrum.

"In court, Netanyahu can confront the state witnesses during the cross examination as much as he wants," wrote conservative pundit Avishai Grinzaig, suggesting that a primetime "dramatic" press briefing wasn't the appropriate podium for such remarks.

Barak Ravid, a reporter for Channel 10 News, which like all the others had interrupted its primetime broadcast to accommodate the prime minister, railed, "This wasn’t a dramatic announcement — it was hutzpah on live TV."

Netanyahu "is behaving as if he is in a reality show," said a bewildered Guy Peleg, reporter for Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2 News).

Naturally, the prime minister's political opponents had a field day with his little stunt.

"In a normal country, a prime minister does not behave this way," insisted Avi Gabbay, head of the Labor Party.

Current-Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich was more shrill, accusing Netanyahu of "a blatant and coarse intervention...in his legal case, while creating a fake drama out of nothing and taking over screen time like a dictator."

Even the justice ministry, which is controlled by Netanyahu's own coalition partners, took issue with his televised remarks.

"Every action carried out as part of the investigations relating to the prime minister were conducted professionally and thoroughly, with the assistance of the Tel Aviv District Attorney and under the supervision of the state attorney and the attorney general, all according to professional considerations," read a statement released by ministry officials.

 

VIDEO: Palestinian Man Says It's Hamas, Not Israel, That Persecutes Christians

 

Aerial Views Of Our Readers Olive Trees In The Negev Desert

Your 4,000 olive trees are spread over 3 groves and are thriving. The olive trees of the first planting in March 2018 have already grown considerably and are much larger than those planted in October 2018.

Now that all our olive trees have been planted and the infrastructure has been installed, we have started plotting the position of each tree and in the near future, every olive tree owner will be informed of the exact location of his olive tree. Thus, everyone could "visit" his own olive tree on his next visit to Israel. In about three years we invite you to participate in the first olive harvest in the fall and to press olive oil from the harvest.

Incidentally, we intend to enlarge our vineyard! it is the only vineyard thriving in the sandy desert dunes in the country. With the sale of our red wine and the Canaan olive oil, we continue greening the desert and in so doing we financially support farmers in the South. We thank all those who have supported our projects in the desert and thus share in God's promise: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus" (Isaiah 35:1)

Very few people believe in and invest in the desert. This explains why only 5 percent of the Israeli population lives there while making up 60 percent of the country's territory. The majority of Israelis live in the center of the state. It is not easy investing in the desert with challenges, finances and time. But we do it out of love, faith and being a part of the Zionist dream.

Your Israel Today Team

 

Neither Silent Nor Holy: Christmas in Gaza

“The birth of our Redeemer is only celebrated here with difficulty,” an Arab Christian told me on the telephone. “The nights are not silent and quiet, neither are they holy. We live in the Holy Land, and the land is bleeding.”

The full text of the article can be found in the January 2019 issue of Israel Today Magazine.

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Israel Mourns the Loss of Moshe Arens

Another of the fast-dwindling number of Israel's "old guard" passed away on Monday. Moshe Arens was 93-years-old when he died at his home on Savyon in central Israel.

Arens was born in 1925 in Lithuania, but his family moved to the United States when he was 14, just prior to the outbreak of World War II.

He served in the US Army Corps of Engineers during the war, after which he immigrated to pre-state Israel and joined the Irgun paramilitary group headed by future Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Just after the State of Israel's establishment, Arens helped found the Herut political party, the precursor to today's Likud.

From 1951 to 1957, Arens was back in the US to study aeronautical engineering at MIT and Caltech. Upon returning to Israel, he used that newfound knowledge to educate a fresh generation of Israeli engineers at the Technion in Haifa. Arens was just 36-years-old when he was made a professor at Israel's most prestigious technical college.

A year later, in 1962, Arens was appointed deputy head of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), where he was heavily involved in the Jewish state's indigenous fighter-jet project, the Kfir. For his efforts during these years, Arens was awarded the Israel Defense Prize in 1971, the same year he left IAI.

Two years later, in 1973, Arens entered the Knesset for the first time as a member of Herut. For the next 19 years, he would serve as one of Israel's top politicians, holding the positions of Ambassador to the US, Minister of Defense (three times) and Minister of Foreign Affairs. During his stints as Minister of Defense, Arens oversaw numerous reforms and changes to the IDF and Israel's defense policies.

Arens was also credited with giving Benjamin Netanyahu his first big "break" in politics when he made the current prime minister an envoy at the Washington embassy in 1982, and then backed Netanyahu's bid to become Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1984. Upon hearing of Arens' passing, Netanyahu on Monday mourned the loss of "my teacher and master," adding, "I loved you as a son loves a father."

Arens was also eulogized by all the senior figures to the left of the political spectrum, who, despite disagreeing with him bitterly over issues such as a Palestinian state, nevertheless held great respect for the man.

"Moshe Arens was an example of a clean and sincere leader and public servant, who always spoke his mind and contributed immensely to Israel’s security and standing among the world’s nations," said former Labor Party leader and current head of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog.

Current Labor leader Avi Gabbay added that Arens was "exemplary, honest, wise, a man who knew how to make difficult decisions."

Arens was seen by many as the epitome of right-wing conservative Zionism, unencumbered as he was by controversy and scandal, and wholly dedicated both to peace and the fulfillment of the Zionist vision.

 

VIDEO: Israel Like You've Never Seen Her Before

 

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