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Netanyahu Lauds Israel’s Prophetic Contributions to World at UN: WATCH

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 05:30

At Tuesday’s address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the Bible various times as a source against “fake history” and the true reason behind Israel’s flourishing in the face of its enemies.

During his speech, Netanyahu had harsh words for the United Nations, known for its anti-Israel bias. Condemning the UNESCO’s July declaration of the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage site, he said, “That’s worse than fake news, that’s fake history.” Citing the Bible as evidence to history, Netanyahu added, “It’s true that Abraham, the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, is buried there, but so too are Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca – Sarah is a Jewish name, by the way – and Leah, who just happen to be patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. You won’t read about that in the latest UNESCO report.

“But if you want to, you can read about that in a somewhat weightier publication,” he continued. “It’s called the Bible. I highly recommend it. I hear it even got 4 ½ out of 5 stars on Amazon. And it’s a great read. I read it every week.”

Netanyahu called upon the UN, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, to reflect on the “miraculous rebirth of our nation” and the “remarkable contributions Israel will continue to make to all nations.” Such contributions are prophesied in Isaiah, where it is told that Israel will become a light unto the nations that brings salvation to the world. Netanyahu acknowledged the fulfillment of that prophecy, highlighting Israel’s positive influence in “the food you eat, the water you drink, the medicines you take, the cars you drive, the cell phones you use, and in so many other ways that are transforming our world.”

“As the prophet Isaiah said, ‘I have made you a light unto the nations, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth,’” Netanyahu quoted. He concluded that Israel is amidst a “great revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations.”

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Over and over, the Israeli premiere emphasized the divine origin of Israel’s great contributions to the world. “Today, 2,700 years after Isaiah spoke those prophetic words, Israel is becoming a rising power among the nations,” he said. “And at long last, its light is shining across the continents, bringing hope and salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Netanyahu also thanked United States President Donald Trump for his unequivocal support for Israel at the UN, and the Trump administration, the American Congress and the American people for strengthening “the remarkable alliance between the United States and Israel,” which he said “has never been stronger, never been deeper.” Netanyahu also thanked President Trump for rightly calling the deal with Iran “an embarrassment.”

Focusing on Iran’s ballistic missile campaign, Netanyahu called it a “campaign of conquest across the Middle East” that “vows to destroy my country every day, including by its chief of staff the other day.” He urged breaking the deal with Iran: “Change it, cancel it, fix it, or nix it,” he said.

He assured the people of Iran that they are not the enemy and instead sent a simple Biblical warning to Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran, quoting Samuel 15:29: “The light of Israel will never be extinguished.”

In his own address, his first speech before the United Nations, President Trump sent a similar message to Iran on Tuesday, targeting “rogue regimes” including North Korea, Iran, and Syria, and calling Iran “another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

Breaking with the more mild approach American leadership has taken towards radical Islam in the past decade, Trump called out Hezbollah and other terror regimes by name, making clear he intends to take a hard line on terror in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Israeli commentator and political figure David Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh, praised Trump’s speech in an interview on Fox, stating, “I think that we can clearly say after hearing that speech that the age of American naivete is over.”

The post Netanyahu Lauds Israel’s Prophetic Contributions to World at UN: WATCH appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Mexico Hit By Second Devastating Earthquake as Puerto Rico Prepares for Category 5 Killer Hurricane

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 05:11

Nature is still raging as a second major earthquake shakes Mexico and yet another Category 5 hurricane is about to hit Puerto Rico. While Mexican rescue teams sift through the rubble and mourn the hundreds dead, residents of Puerto Rico have been told, “Evacuate or die.”

Less than two weeks after getting hit by a major earthquake, leaving 90 dead, the earth shook yet again in Mexico. At around 1PM local time on Tuesday, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico. The government has confirmed that at least 216 people are dead, but the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers clear the rubble. The US Geological Survey predicted up to 1,000 fatalities will come from the earthquake, as well as an economic impact of between $1-10 billion.

Los simulacros ayudan a estar preparados para actuar en caso de sismo, incendio, etc. Nuestros voluntarios siempre estarán para ayudarte

— Cruz Roja Puebla,Pue (@CruzRojaPuebla) September 19, 2017

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said more than 20 children and two adults had died and 30 were missing after a school collapsed. 15 people were reportedly killed in Atzitzihuacan when a church on the slopes of a volcano – which appeared to have a small eruption following the earthquake – collapsed during a mass.

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The epicenter of the latest quake was near Atencingo in Puebla state, about 75 miles from Mexico City. At least 40 buildings collapsed in Mexico City, the nation’s capital. About two million people in the capital were left without electricity and phone lines were down in many areas. Officials warned residents not to smoke on the streets as gas mains could have been ruptured.

Many world leaders responded to the Mexican disaster and U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017

The quake hit just two hours after a nation-wide disaster drill. Each year on September 19, cities across Mexico stage emergency disaster simulations and evacuations. The drill falls on the anniversary of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico City in 1985, killing nearly 10,000 people.

While Mexico struggles to recover, Puerto Rico braced for Hurricane Maria. Meteorologists say it is the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall on the island in 80 years and may be the most powerful storm to ever hit the island. Maria could bring up to 2 feet of rain and a storm surge of up to 9 feet to Puerto Rico, sparking flooding and mudslides, CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló declared a state of emergency and urged people to evacuate.

“There’s still time … but people need to move fast,” Ricardo Rosselló told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview on Tuesday, calling the storm the “worst hurricane in modern history in Puerto Rico.”

Héctor Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s commissioner of public safety, was even more grim.

“You have to evacuate — otherwise, you are going to die,” he said, according to Telemundo, NBC’s Spanish-language network. “I do not know how to make this any clearer.”

Cat 5 #Maria has sustained winds of 165 MPH and a staggeringly low pressure of
26.87″. The eye is forecast to cross #PuertoRico today.

— NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) September 20, 2017

Maria has already hit Dominica and killed at least one person in Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico was spared last Tuesday when Hurricane Irma swerved north. Irma killed at least 70 people as it raged through the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States earlier this month.

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Wed, 09/20/2017 - 04:25

Music has always played a significant role in the Bible. The earliest instruments are mentioned in Sefer Bereishit (4:21). Moshe and the Jewish people sing a great song of gratitude after the splitting of the sea, and Israel sings a similar song after being saved from peril in the desert (Numbers 21:17). Priests and Levites use instruments on holidays to signal important meetings for the camp. Elisha asks for a harpist in order to receive the divine word (II Kings 3:15). But above all, King David is the musician par excellence, who would play his instrument to soothe the soul of Shaul (I Samuel 16:23). Later, he composes music, writes psalms and even invents new instruments to be used in the Beit Hamikdash (I Chronicles 23:5).

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A Rosh Hashana Message to My Congregation in Israel

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 04:15

My grandfather, David Stavsky, was the rabbi of the synagogue where I grew up in. He was a real rabbi’s rabbi. A powerful, larger than life personality whose booming voice would always captivate the entire Beth Jacob Congregation, especially on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The only time I remember my grandfather’s voice faltering, the only time I remember him crying was when we would recite the prayer before the blowing of the Shofar.

Lamnatzeyach Livnei Koroach Mizmor…

For the leader. Of the Korachites. A psalm. (Psalm 47)

Min Hametzar Karati Ka, Anani b’merchav Ka…

In distress I called on the LORD; the Lord answered me and brought me relief. (Psalm 118:5)

Koli Shamata Al Talem Aznecha, liravchati l’shavati…

Hear my plea; Do not shut Your ear To my groan, to my cry! (Lamentations 3:56)

My grandfather was completely solemn and fearful when it came to this part of the service: the blasting of the Shofar, the Mussaf prayers, U’netane Tokef. Through his voice and his tears you could sense that he internalized the words, the meaning and the spirit of all the Rosh Hashana prayers in the authentic way of all the previous generations of God-fearing Jews.

My grandfather looked around the beautiful synagogue that he built, and looked at each one of his precious congregants. He looked at the families whose sons he performed their Brit Milah (circumcision), and then their Bar Mitzvah and then their wedding. He looked with pain at the empty seats of his dear congregants, those who passed away in the previous year and would cry to Hashem and pray his heart out for his congregation that they be granted another year.

On Rosh Hashana, in most Synagogues it is common for grandfathers to sit next to their sons and grandsons, and for grandmothers to sit next to their daughters and granddaughters.

Our community here in Israel is different.

Our synagogue is primarily made up of many young families who have left their parents and grandparents behind. Our Kehilla is made up of people who, like our forefather Abraham, have left their “birthplace, their father’s house to go to the Land I will show you”.  

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None of us have attended this particular synagogue long enough to go through a life cycle together. Some of us are experiencing our first Rosh Hashana as new immigrants in Israel. Many of us are sitting here far away from our families, but close to new friends who we are traversing life’s ups and downs together, and are coming close as a holy congregation.

We are sitting here together during the most powerful moments of the entire Jewish year.

We are not combining our voices with our own mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. Here, in this congregation, we can recognize more than others perhaps that Hashem is our Father and we are His children.

As we said today in the special Haftara reading for the second day of Rosh Hashana, “Hayiti Lyisrael l’av v’efrayim bechori hu – For I am ever a Father to Israel, Ephraim is My first-born.” (Jeremiah 31:9)

And so while we are connected with all the previous generations of our God fearing ancestors throughout our history in the exile, who quaked in fear during these moments before the sounding of the Shofar, we are also entirely unique.

We are the first generation of Jews who have had the privilege to return to our promised land. We are amongst the first generations of Jews in history that are irrevocable proof of the promises that Hashem will remember His children and His land, which we will say in the Rosh Hashana prayers: Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob; I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:42)

We are amongst the first to blow the great Shofar and to cry out in prayer on Rosh Hashana in the same place where our matriarch Rachel cried for her children. We can say, as the first descendants in our families in two thousand years, to our mother Rachel:

“Restrain your voice from weeping, Your eyes from shedding tears; For there is a reward for your labor —declares the LORD: They shall return from the enemy’s land. And there is hope for your future —declares the LORD: Your children shall return to their country.” (Jeremiah 31:15-17)

We can turn to our Father in Heaven from the land that He gave to us and we have the special ability to reach the highest levels of prayer and repentance on account of the special blessings of the Land of Israel – and that is what we must do today.

We must use these moments before the Shofar blowing to pierce the heavens with our prayers for our families, for the sick members of our community, for the leadership of this country, for the IDF soldiers who are guarding us, for the safety and wellbeing of the entire world, for those recovering from earthquakes and hurricanes, and for the One True God of Israel to finally be coronated as the King over the entire universe who will bring the Moshiach (Messiah) and grant peace to Israel and the entire world.

The post A Rosh Hashana Message to My Congregation in Israel appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Trump Praises “Incredible Character and Spirit” of Jewish People in Rosh Hashana Greeting

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 04:00

In the annual White House High Holidays greeting to Jews around the world before Rosh Hashana, President Donald Trump lauded the spirit of the Jewish people and reaffirmed the strength of the US-Israel relationship.

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Watch the Israel365 Shofar Blowing Contest Video #Shofar5778

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 03:31

Congratulations Jan-Willem van den Bosch, this year’s winner of the Israel365 Shofar Blowing Contest!!!

The post Watch the Israel365 Shofar Blowing Contest Video #Shofar5778 appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Five Astonishing Scenes Bringing Bible to Life in 5777 [WATCH]

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 03:30

As Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, approaches this week, it is customary to look back and reflect on the previous year. Between Sunday and Wednesday, Breaking Israel News will present a series of Top Lists recalling some of the most significant Biblical and Israel stories of 5777. On Sunday, we looked back on 5777’s biggest stories of redemption: the year’s top 10 articles demonstrating that the Messiah is on his way. On Monday, we revisited the top 5 Biblical prophecies fulfilled in Israel and around the world this year. On Wednesday, the series concludes with the year’s top 5 stories of how the Bible comes to life in spectacular images and events worldwide.

There were no cell phones in Biblical times, but many of those miraculous events are reappearing in modern times and are being faithfully recorded and shared on the internet. The visual proof is undeniable, as videos surfaced showing God’s glory being revealed through the wonders of nature. For those who love the Bible and have the eyes to see, there is no greater pleasure than seeing its timeless stories come to life.

1. Biblical Pillar of Cloud Appears Over Golan, Proving Hand of God Protects Israel From ISIS [WATCH] The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan, Benjamin West, 1800 (Wikimedia Commons)

Just a few days after Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists attacked IDF troops on the border between Syria and the Golan in December, a massive pillar-shaped cloud appeared. Witnesses to the strange phenomenon noted that the cloud remained in place, confounding any ISIS troops who may have considered threatening Israel but halting exactly at the Israeli border. The video went viral, with a multitude of viewers calling it a reenactment of the pillar of smoke that protected the Children of Israel in the desert during the Exodus. The divine cloud seems to be as effective as ever. Though a vicious civil war just to the north of Israel has claimed over 300,000 lives, the Golan remains blessedly untouched with only occasional spillover fire disturbing the serenity.

2. Rare Red Heifer Eligible for Third Temple Offering Discovered in Mexico Rabbi Benny Hershcovich discovered a purely red heifer on a farm in Baja, Mexico. (Facebook, Benny Hershcovich)

A red heifer, necessary for ritual purification, is one of the final elements missing for reinstating the Temple service. Incredibly rare, only nine red heifers were ever found from the time of the Tabernacle until the destruction of the Second Temple. The requirements are stringent, and one potential candidate being raised on a farm in New Jersey was disqualified in 2015 when it gave birth. So it was astounding when, in February of this year, two red heifers were discovered, one in Mexico and the other, just ten days later, in West Virginia. The Heifer in Mexico was visibly unfit due to an ear tag attached soon after birth that created a disqualifying blemish, and it is unknown whether the Temple Institute investigated the suitability of the Virginian candidate. Nonetheless, the sudden plethora of viable red heifers seems to indicate the era in which they will be needed is imminent.

3. WATCH Exodus 7:18 Come to Life as Indonesian River Turns Poisoned Blood-Red [VIDEO] The Bah Bolon river in Indonesia suddenly turned blood-red on August 7, 2017. (Facebook/Rodrigo Contreras Lopez)

A river that meandered through a village in a lush corner of Indonesia suddenly turned shockingly blood red in August. Once the vibrant centerpiece of life in Pematangsiantar, the Bah Bolon river became a horror to behold, with dead fish floating in the bloody broth. No explanation could be found and local experts were as dumbfounded as Egypt’s chief charlatans. Though not entirely rare, the vision of red rivers always evokes the archetypal first encounter between Moses and Pharaoh.

4. Locust ‘Plague’ of Biblical Proportions Strikes Across Globe [WATCH] Desert locusts feast on grass. (Shutterstock)

Farms-strikes-acrossers and scientists have utilized modern methods to diminish outbreaks of locusts, but the eighth plague from the Book of Exodus was recreated twice last month. In Russia, a remote agricultural region was demonstrated by locusts and desperate locals took to catching the insects in flight to use as fish-bait. Officials in Trinidad were perplexed by unprecedented swarms. In a distinctly Biblical manner that seemed intended to annoy, the bugs turned up everywhere: in clothing, inside vehicles, everywhere they could crawl or fly.

5. WATCH: Hurricane Irma Recreates Splitting of Red Sea in Florida and Bahamas (Shutterstock)

Irma became a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. Its winds, recorded at over 190 MPH, were strong enough to blow away entire sections of the ocean in Florida and the Bahamas in precisely the manner the Bible describes the splitting of the Reed Sea. In the same manner the Children of Israel walked away from Egypt, residents walked on dry land in places that had always been underwater. Boats were left high and dry and a visual reminder of the power of God’s hand that hadn’t been seen since the Exodus was once again revealed.

The post Five Astonishing Scenes Bringing Bible to Life in 5777 [WATCH] appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Yair Netanyahu and the Angry Left

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 03:00

Yair Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 26-year-old son, has been getting some harsh press in recent weeks.

Yair walked (or toddled) onto the stage of public life when he was five years old as he and his then two-year-old little brother Avner accompanied their parents, Bibi and Sara, into the Prime Minister’s Residence for the first time in 1996.

For nearly 20 years, the Netanyahu boys were little more than a silent presence standing to the side of their parents on election nights. But while Avner remains on the sidelines while serving as a combat soldier, Yair is no longer a stage extra in his parents’ story.

In recent years the older Netanyahu boy has taken to Facebook. And it works out that he is quite an iconoclast.

Yair’s iconoclasm is unsurprising. The Israeli establishment has been bludgeoning his parents since Yair was learning to finger-paint. It would be bizarre if he sought its approval.

Not only does he not seek acceptance from the leftist elite, he clearly holds its members in contempt.

And he’s happy to tell everyone what he thinks about them. Indeed, over the past month, as the criminal probes against his parents have dominated the news cycle, the frequency of Netanyahu’s controversial postings has steeply intensified.

In the last month alone, Yair’s posts have caused media furors three times.

At the beginning of August, Molad, a far-left NGO that supports the BDS movement, published a scathing attack on him on 61, a satirical website it runs.

Titled “Five things you didn’t know about Crown Prince Yair Netanyahu,” the piece attacked him for his political views, for continuing to live with his parents and for having publicly funded security guards, and a publicly funded car and driver.

In response, after pointing out that Molad never criticized the children of any other premier despite ample reason to do so, Yair referred to Molad as a “radical, anti-Zionist group financed by the Fund for Israel’s Destruction and the European Union.”

Molad, which is funded by the New Israel Fund, European EU-funded foundations, anti-Israel, Jewish- born billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, responded in fine democratic form.

It filed a libel suit against Yair Netanyahu.

Two weeks after the Molad brouhaha, there was the face-off between the neo-Nazis and the violent leftists from Antifa at Charlottesville which left one leftist demonstrator murdered by a neo-Nazi.

The Israeli political and media classes stood as one with the US political establishment and condemned the neo-Nazis while ignoring the violent far-left protesters.

In so doing Israel’s national leadership incidentally or, in some cases deliberately, lent support to the US establishment’s condemnations of President Donald Trump for his decision to condemn “both sides” for their resort to violence rather than just the neo-Nazis.

Just as the conventional wisdom that only the neo-Nazis were to blame was getting set in stone, along came Yair Netanyahu and his Facebook page.

In a post in English, Yair condemned the neo-Nazis as “scums” who “hate me and my country.”

But, he said, “Their breed is dying out.”

Netanyahu continued, “The thugs from Antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter] who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

Netanyahu’s view of the neo-Nazis as a spent force is probably incorrect. True, their numbers aren’t very big, and to be sure, they do not hold sway in either major political party. But they do have the capacity to incite Jew-hatred on both sides of the ideological divide.

At the same time, his assertion that antisemitic groups on the Left are a “getting stronger and stronger” is entirely accurate.

Netanyahu said what Israel’s political leaders didn’t say. In so doing he blew the lid off the Left’s self-righteous lather over right-wing antisemites by asserting, accurately, that the bigger problem is in their political camp.

Not surprisingly, his statement enraged the leftist establishment. MK Micky Rosenthal, for instance, referred to Netanyahu as “Hitler Youth.”

This brings us to last weekend and Yair Netanyahu’s most recent media storm.

Last Friday the news broke that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is about to indict Sara Netanyahu for ordering take-out from restaurants even though one of the cleaning ladies at the Prime Minister’s Residence was doubling as a cook.

The next day, Yair Netanyahu published an extraordinary cartoon on his Facebook page.

Under the headline “Food Chain,” the cartoon featured Soros holding a globe and pulling the strings controlling a lizard.

The lizard, in turn, is pulling the strings controlling the Literati – or in current parlance – the elite.

The Literati image is pulling the strings controlling the prime minister’s arch-rival, former defense minister, and prime minister Ehud Barak.

Barak is pulling the strings controlling Eldad Yaniv, Barak’s former political strategist. Yaniv is now leading the weekly protests outside Mandelblit’s home demanding that he indict Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Finally, Yaniv’s image is pulling the strings controlling Meni Naftali, the former manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence. Naftali was fired from his position in 2014 and turned against Netanyahu ahead of the 2015 election, alleging that Sara Netanyahu is guilty of multiple acts of graft and breaches of faith.

Naftali’s testimony against Sara Netanyahu forms the basis of what will likely become the criminal indictment against her.

As soon as Yair posted the image, Haaretz published it as a news story. Haaretz, like the rest of the leftist universe, condemned the image as antisemitic and condemned Yair Netanyahu for trafficking in antisemitic incitement. Conservative and Reform American Jewish leaders were quick to join the anti- Yair bandwagon.

The truth is, they have a point. It is hard to deny that the cartoon he posted is antisemitic in effect if not in substance.

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In the face of the onslaught against Yair, some right-wing commentators and political allies of his father have come to his defense. The general argument made by a dozen or so Netanyahu defenders was that it is rich, to say the least, that the same leftists who call their political foes Nazis and fascists on seemingly a daily basis have the nerve to take offense at young Netanyahu’s post. And there is a great deal of truth to the claim.

Haaretz, which has been leading the charge against Yair, and against his parents, cannot seem to stop calling members of the nationalist camp fascists and Nazis.

Haaretz writers constantly attack Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, for instance, as “Mussolini” or a “Nazi” or a “fascist” for trying to advance a judicial reform agenda that is supported by the vast majority of the Israeli public.

So indeed, it is absurd that Haaretz can dare to wail about antisemitism from Yair Netanyahu, whose parents have been subjected to pathological attacks, for decades, by the far-left publication.

But again, while the Left’s wounded cries are hypocritical, they aren’t wrong.

True, George Soros is a major engine behind the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist generally and the BDS movement in particular.

True, George Soros is a major engine of a parallel campaign within the American Jewish community to convince American Jewry to abandon its support for Israel.

And true, in an interview with 60 Minutes in 1998, Soros proudly admitted that he collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust.

But despite all of this, it is undeniable that some of the attacks against Soros over the years have been antisemitic. During the Asian currency crisis in 1997, for instance, then-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammed accused Soros of leading a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to harm the Muslims.

And then there is David Duke, the white supremacist leader behind the Charlottesville riot. After Haaretz reported and published Netanyahu’s Facebook post, Duke republished the Haaretz article and proclaimed that it gave credence to his claim that Soros controls America.

The thing is, Yair Netanyahu is smart enough to know an antisemitic image when he sees one.

So how did he dare to publish it? And this brings us back to the Left’s favored mode of public discourse.

The purpose behind the Left’s constant use of loaded terms like Nazi and fascist to describe its political foes is not to win a substantive policy dispute.

Rosenthal didn’t call Yair Netanyahu a Hitler Youth because he wanted to prove that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are not powerful engines of antisemitism on the Left.

Leftists use terms like these to demonize their political opponents and render them toxic so that the public will be too embarrassed to support them or agree with them.

These assaults are not limited to one issue. They span the spectrum of all the Left’s hot-button issues, from women in combat to gay marriage to climate change to public funding of anti-Israel movies and plays to judicial reform and the Palestinians.

Anyone who rejects the Left’s positions is subjected to a campaign of demonization that is unrelenting, unsubstantiated and always over the top.

These campaigns have delivered two results – both of which are far different from the ones the Left intended.

First, they have made a very large portion of the public hate the Left. Whereas in the past the public sympathized with the Left but voted Right because it believed the Left was well-meaning but misguided, today little of that goodwill remains.

The other, deeper, consequence is that terms that should be deeply meaningful have now become virtually meaningless.

If Shaked is a Nazi for trying to advance a wildly popular judicial reform agenda, then the term “Nazi” is meaningless. If attacking Soros, one of Israel’s most dangerous and powerful enemies in the Western world, is antisemitic, while endemic, genocidal Jew-hatred throughout the Muslim world is strategically insignificant, then antisemitism is an empty term. And so on and so forth down the line.

In other words, Yair Netanyahu could use antisemitic imagery to attack the people he believes are persecuting his mother because as far as he is concerned, the concepts behind the images more powerfully evoke the Left’s campaign against his parents than they resonate centuries of antisemitic imagery.

Again, this isn’t to say that Netanyahu was right to use the image. He was wrong. But his decision is no mere personal failing. Rather it is a symptom of a far greater problem.

The Left’s constant misuse of intrinsically important terms has caused these terms to lose their meaning.

And as a consequence, our national discourse is becoming more irresponsible, crass and untethered from substance to the detriment of our society and our future.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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At Rosh Hashana, Colel Chabad Looks Back on Year of Helping Needy Jews

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:30

As the Jewish calendar comes to a close and Jews all over the world take an accounting of their past year’s deeds, Colel Chabad, Israel’s premiere charity supporting the Holy Land’s neediest since 1788, is taking an accounting of the help they have given throughout the country.

Though the organization runs a large network of social welfare programs including hospital summer camps for sick children, bar and bat mitzvah celebrations for orphans, day care centers, and The Grabski Center which treats people with multiple sclerosis (MS) using cutting-edge innovations, their first priority is to ensure that Israel’s hungry have proper food to eat and their basic needs are filled.

Colel Chabad, through the generous donations of our supporters and with help from Israel’s government, spent $20 million through our National Project for Food Security in 2017,” explained Rabbi Shmuel Lipsker, Colel Chabad’s administrator, to Breaking Israel News. “Though now we are focusing on ensuring that Israel’s neediest citizens have food, clothing and household supplies for the High Holidays, the reality is that the help we give now is similar to our distributions every month throughout the year.”

In fact, just for the High Holidays, starting September 21 and running through October 13, Colel Chabad is distributing food, prepaid shopping vouchers and household supplies to 7,800 families who fall into the following categories:

59 percent of families receiving food packages are single parent households

11 percent of heads of households receiving help suffer from a handicap or mental illness

10 percent of the people receiving help are victims of domestic violence

10.5 percent of families receiving help are immigrants from the former Soviet Union

9 percent of families receiving help were born in Ethiopia

9 percent of households receiving help have a special needs child

Colel Chabad also provides empowerment programs which teach participants how to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty through education and budget training. 75 percent of families that receive aid from Colel Chabad participate in this program.

Additional unique Colel Chabad programs include the “Chesed Menachem Mendel Young Widows With Young Children” program which gives nearly 850 widows food shopping vouchers. “Each of these families has a personal relationship with Colel Chabad,” said Rabbi Lipsker. “We provide them with regular help throughout the year. But, for the holidays, we do what we can to make their lives more festive and joyful.”

The “Food Crates for the Elderly and Homebound” program ensures that people who cannot shop for their own needs but are able to cook and prepare their own meals, receive basic food and household goods delivered directly to their homes. 4,000 elderly Israelis throughout the country receive this help.

“Meals-on-Wheels For Elderly and the Homebound” are delivered to 1,500 people throughout Israel to ensure that those who cannot shop or cook for themselves have freshly cooked meals each day and the friendly company of volunteers who deliver these meals.

Colel Chabad also maintains a network of 24 soup kitchens throughout Israel which not only supply 3,100 hungry souls with their sole daily source of a hot nutritious meal but also gives Israel’s most marginalized citizens an opportunity to socialize. Each and every day of the year, including holidays, meals are served in these soup kitchens with dignity and respect.

The organization does what it can to create a quality future for orphans and children from impoverished homes, giving them a sense of self respect and normalcy. “At the onset of the new school year and before the High Holidays, Colel Chabad distributed 2,500 vouchers for children’s clothing stores,” said Rabbi Lipsker.

“No one should underestimate the importance of a new pair of shoes, suit or dress as these can make all the difference in a child’s joy and self confidence. Especially for the holidays, we must bring joy to the lives of struggling individuals and families and, in that merit, may everyone have a blessed New Year.”

To support Colel Chabad’s life-saving and enriching programs, please donate here.

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How Women are Treated by Islam

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:00

“No one wants to demonise a particular community but the fact that this is happening again and again in the same circumstances and communities is a fact we cannot ignore. I think there needs to be a national approach…” — Greg Stone, Liberal Democrat party.

If we look at a list of 265 convictions for grooming gangs and individuals in the UK between November 1997 and January 2017 (and if we add on another 18 for the recent Newcastle gang), we will note that more than 99% are for Muslim men, mainly young men in their 20s and 30s.

It is, however, not just white (that is, non-Muslim) women whom Muslim men hold in such contempt. This abuse starts at home in Islamic countries in the treatment of Muslim women. Its roots lie in aspects of Islamic law and doctrine that are retained in the 21stcentury, despite having been formulated in the 7th century and later.

The idea that a man is not responsible for rape or other sexual assault and that women bear the blame for such a crime goes far to help explain why Muslim men in Britain and elsewhere may feel themselves justified in grooming and sexually abusing young women and girls far less well covered.

Newcastle upon Tyne is a small city in the North-East of England which, in 2017, was acclaimed the best city in the UK in which to raise children (London was the worst). Imagine, then, the shock when the city again became national news on August 9 when a trial at the Crown Court ended in the conviction of 18 people for the sexual grooming of children. Juries “found the men guilty of a catalog of nearly 100 offenses – including rape, human trafficking, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drug supply – between 2011 and 2014.”

Of the 18, one was a white British woman. The rest were males of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian backgrounds, all with Muslim names.

Newcastle has a fairly small Muslim population, quite unlike those in other northern and Midlands towns such as Bradford, Blackburn, or Dewsbury. Based on the 2011 census, Bradford’s Muslim population reaches 24.7%, that of Blackburn 27.4%, and that of Dewsbury 34.4%. The highest in the country is only fractionally larger – the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, at 34.5%. The lowest out of 20 local authorities in England and Wales was the London Borough of Hackney with 14.1%. Newcastle’s Muslim population is much smaller, at 6.3%. The city boasts around 15 mosques, the vast majority of which are located in the less prosperous south-west sector. The Central Mosque (Masjid-at-Tawheed) is run by the Jamiat Ahle Hadith, a radical Pakistani religious movement and political party.[1] The Islamic Diversity Centre is also connected to a fundamentalist organization based in London. Finally, only 2 terrorist offenders have ever come from Newcastle (see p. 932 in the link).

Compared with many other places, Newcastle does not figure high on any list of radical Islamic activity, even if it has a moderate share of fundamentalists. Indeed, following the revelation of the grooming gang in August, a representative of the local Muslim community, city councilor Dipu Ahad,[2] said to the national press that local Muslims were “absolutely disgusted” by their crimes and feared a possible backlash.

It would be churlish and inaccurate to assume that the entire Muslim community of Newcastle, or even a minority, view such criminal activities as acceptable. Islamic law and ethics would condemn the actions of these men as immoral and anti-Islamic. At the same time, efforts by Ahad and others to divorce Muslim grooming gangs from Islam itself raise deeper questions. As in earlier grooming cases, it was important to ask how the crimes had gone unmentioned by those members of the Muslim community who would be closest to the men involved. Ahad said that “fellow Muslims should not feel the need to “apologize” for grooming gangs. He added, “Did the white community come out and condemn the crimes of Jimmy Savile?”

Savile was one of the most popular characters in the UK in his day, awarded an OBE and knighted by the Queen for his services to entertainment and charity. His overwrought celebrity status, his image as a person of good works and compassion served to cover a long career as Britain’s greatest sexual predator, who had preyed on at least 500 women and girls, some as young as two. But he was a national celebrity, not a member of a small “white community” that might have been aware of his depredations and capable of alerting the police.

Ahad’s reply was an ingenious way to deflect the question of whether Muslims had covered up the crimes by failing to pass on even suspicions of illegality out of feelings of solidarity with members of what they might see as a beleaguered community. This same question has frequently surrounded cases of terrorism by Muslims — cases that go unreported by the often tight-knit communities.

Like Ahad, Chi Onwurah, the Labour Member of Parliament for Newcastle Central, tried to diffuse the concerns by diminishing any responsibility for the Muslim community. She said:

“those who sought to use the abusers’ Asian or Muslim backgrounds to create division were putting other girls at risk. Assuming that grooming and child abuse is [sic] prevalent in one group helps potential abusers hide in plain sight if they are not part of that group.

“Crimes of sexual exploitation can be and are committed by members of all communities and indeed it remains regrettably true that sexual abuse is most likely to come from within the family circle.”

However, another city councilor, Greg Stone, from the Liberal Democrat party, took a more robust approach. He saw problems precisely in places that the leftist Ahad and Onwura chose to draw attention away from:

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“No one wants to demonise a particular community but the fact that his is happening again and again in the same circumstances and communities is a fact we cannot ignore.

“I think there needs to be a national approach – this is happening in too many places for it to be local circumstances.”

He said sexual exploitation would not “go away until we ask difficult questions”, adding:

“I don’t think we can eliminate the scale of abuse, which has national implications, unless we ask some tough questions of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community in particular.”

Indeed, if we look at a list of 265 convictions for grooming gangs and individuals in the UK between November 1997 and January 2017 (and if we add on another 18 for the recent Newcastle gang), we will note that more than 99% are for Muslim men, mainly young men in their 20s and 30s. On June 2, 2017, it was reported that another 165 suspects had been identified in Rochdale in West Yorkshire, all described as “Asians”, a code-word for Pakistani Muslims. Some days later, on June 9, fourteen Pakistani men appeared at Oxford Crown Court charged with child sex abuse.[3]

Like Rochdale and Oxford, several towns appear more than once in different years as centers of Muslim grooming gangs. Rochdale itself saw convictions of a total of 41 men from 2010 (twice), 2012, 2013, and 2016 (twice). It is hard to escape the conclusion that there is an endemic problem both with Muslim men and the communities from which they emerge. The police, social workers, the courts and other authorities who for so many years did their best to cover up the identity of the criminals, allowing them to carry out their sexual abuse for so long, were in the end forced by some determined investigators to take action that exposed the Islamic origins of the vast majority of offenders. But, as some statements about Newcastle have shown, there is still a remarkable reluctance to pinpoint features of Islamic doctrine or Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and other cultures as the trigger for this behavior.

Perhaps that influence is best summed up in the following remarks made by Badrul Hussain, a member of the Newcastle grooming gang when speaking to a female inspector on the local Metro service who asked to see his ticket:

“All white women are only good for one thing, for men like me to f*** and use as trash, that is all women like you are worth.”

It is, however, not just white (that is, non-Muslim) women whom Muslim men hold in such contempt. This abuse starts at home in Islamic countries in the treatment of Muslim women. Its roots lie in aspects of Islamic law and doctrine that are retained in the 21st century despite having been formulated in the 7thcentury and later. These include polygamy for men, the permission for men to buy and sell women as sex slaves/concubinesdivorce laws that discriminate against women, the insistence that women must covert their bodies and even faces, the discriminatory rules for a woman’s inheritance (“The male takes a share equal to that of two females”), the high and escalating practice of honour killings in Muslim societies, including communities in the West (with 58% carried out because young women were “too Western”), the extreme incidence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Muslim countries and Western Muslim communities, the astonishing level of child marriage (as permitted by shari’a law), and legislation that blames and punishes women for the “crime” of being raped.

Beyond all this, actual attitudes revealed in regular events show a more immediate impact on women’s lives.

An Australian report from 2014 records the treatment of women under shari’a law as applied in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the only part of the country (which has the largest Muslim population in the world) where full enforcement of Islamic legislation is permitted. Focusing on the treatment of women, it features an interview with one commandant of a shari’a enforcement patrol, Captain Ibrahim Latif. Speaking of a young woman who was gang-raped by vigilantes allegedly because she was found alone with a man, he declares:

“She didn’t ask them to do it, but she encouraged it. She encouraged the men because she was wearing super-sexy [he uses the English words] clothes. I think any normal man would have been provoked”.

Under his jurisdiction, women covered from head to foot are arrested on the streets (as shown in the film) and shamed or caned for what is deemed “inappropriate” clothing. The young women interviewed all loathe the treatment meted out to them for the most minor infringements. But female members of the shari’a patrols have internalized the notion that women are to blame for crimes such as rape. One says, “crime happens because we [women] invite it”, and another comment: “if the man doesn’t see anything, he won’t be aroused. It’s up to us. It’s the women that invite it. The curves of their body can arouse men’s lust” — even though any Western man looking any of the well-covered girls who are being hauled over and berated would have difficulty in detecting any curves at all, much less being sexually aroused by them.

The idea that a man is not responsible for rape or other sexual assault and that women bear the blame for such a crime goes far to help explain why Muslim men in Britain and elsewhere may feel themselves justified in grooming and sexually abusing young women and girls far less well covered.

Pakistani attitudes are even more important in understanding what happens in the UK, which houses the largest number of Pakistani immigrants in Europe. In 2012, Atlantic magazine reported on “Six Stories of Abuse, Shame, and Survival” concerning women in Pakistan:

“According to a 2011 poll of experts by the Thomson Reuters Foundation Poll, Pakistan is the third most dangerous country for women in the world. It cited the more than 1,000 women and girls murdered in ‘honor killings’ every year and reported that 90 percent of Pakistani women suffer from domestic violence.”

The author, Zara Jamal, herself a woman of Pakistani background, says:

“A difficult irony for women in Pakistan is that, should a victim speak up about physical or sexual abuse, she is seen as having lost her and her family’s dignity. Many rapes go unreported as the victim fears she will become worthless in Pakistani society”.

Among Jamal’s stories is that of 18-year-old Ayesha, a poor young woman who had been sexually abused by a brutal father:

“I went to my uncle’s house to get more bread. I didn’t know a young man was there. In the empty home, he took advantage of me; he did things that I didn’t understand; he touched my chest. Before I could realize, there was a cloth over my mouth and I was being raped. I was having trouble walking back home; I felt faint and I had a headache. This happens a lot in villages. Young girls are raped, murdered, and buried. No one is able to trace them after their disappearance. If a woman is not chaste, she is unworthy of marriage. All he did is ask for forgiveness and they let him go as it was best to avoid having others find out what had happened. He didn’t receive any punishment even though he ruined me. People may have forgotten what he did, but I never forgot. Now, he is married and living his life happily. I blame my own fate; I am just unlucky that this happened to me.”

The rapist is forgiven and his victim, now considered unfit for marriage, is forced to go out to work to earn a pittance.

Women wearing burqas in Pakistan. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Finally, it is notable that since the post-2015 mass immigration to Europe started, large numbers of Afghans, mostly young men, have been entering countries such as the UK. Although the EU has made a deal to deport Afghan asylum seekers, migrants from that country constituted the second-largest group of asylum seekers in Europe, with 196,170 applying in 2015. If anything, male attitudes to women and girls in Afghanistan can make Indonesia and Pakistan seem enlightened.

In 2011 and again in 2013, an Iranian female reporter, Zohreh Soleimani, traveled to the Afghan capital, Kabul, where she carried out interviews and reported on the story of one young woman, Soheila, who had been imprisoned for having taken a lover and having a son with him. Soheila’s older brother had run off with another man’s wife when Soheila was five, and her father had engaged her to the injured husband, a much older man. Forced to marry him when she was in her teens, Soheila ran away and lived for three and a half years with Niaz Mohammad, a cousin. They fell in love, but her father found them and took Soheila to prison himself. She and Niaz were both sentenced to six years in prison. Many young women in Afghanistan are in jail for such moral “crimes”.

In the first of two interviews, Soheila’s father, a grizzled old man who looks as if he is in his eighties, states:

“Our religion of Islam does not let a woman do whatever she wants. Under Islamic law, a daughter must marry whomever her father chooses. Islam says whenever a father wants to marry away his daughter – 8, 9, or 10 years old, it doesn’t matter. The woman belongs to him. And a woman has no right to refuse.” [4]

Now, Afghan civil law currently permits a woman over 18 to marry whom she pleases. The problem with both marriage and divorce lies elsewhere, in traces of shari’a law combined with tradition-soaked tribal or customary law. Soheila’s father dismisses civil law and insists that the laws he follows give him absolute rights over a daughter who “belongs to him”.

In 2013, Soleimani found Soheila living in a safe house, but unable either to go free with her would-be husband (Niaz Mohammad) or to return home. She had once gone to her father and produced divorce papers from a civil court, but he had rejected them and she was beaten by him, her brother, his wife, and an uncle. She was told never to return, but her father made one concession: he said he would accept her again if she killed her son. Yes, you read that correctly: she could return home if she killed her small son.

In a further interview with the father and Soheila’s brother, the father says they will track her down and kill her even if she goes to America. ‘Wherever she is found, she will be killed’. He then addresses Soheila:

“If you love him, go to Niaz Mohammad. With all the strength that God has given me, I will ask God, ‘Before they take another step, God, kill both of them.'”

On a final visit, the brother states that he had already engaged his own daughter to an older man when she was three days old. Asked what he would do if she too ran away from such a marriage, he is as direct as his father: “I will kill her”.

Some of this seems as if taken from a horror story in which men are the unchanging villains and women the eternal victims. Certainly, it is not hard to understand why men coming from these and similar backgrounds, propelled by Islamic and traditional attitudes, unable to cope with the sight of a lightly dressed woman, teenager or little girl, and taught that women are their property, zealous of their personal or family honour, and never taught self-control, assuming male rights over all women, and contemptuous of non-Muslim women on the grounds that all non-Muslims are the inferiors of all Muslims, choose to groom, traffic, and rape vulnerable females living in their own towns.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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ISAIAH 46:13

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:26

In the Bible, the word Tzion often refers to Yerushalayim. Reflecting upon the significance of the holy city, Holocaust survivor and Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel said, “Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, ‘Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.’ Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.”

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5777 Population Stats Prove Jewish People Flourishing in Land, Exiles Returning

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 06:30

On Monday, The Central Bureau of Statistics published data on the population of Israel just ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, shining a light on the fulfillment of several Biblical prophesies anticipating the return and flourishing of the Jewish people in Israel.

Israel’s population stands at 8.743 million on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Jews number over 6.5 million, representing 74.6 percent of Israel’s population, a slight decrease compared to last year. Arabs numbered over 1.8 million of the Israeli population, representing 20.9 percent of Israel’s population, a 3 percent increase over the past year.

The statistics showed a population increase similar to previous years of 1.8 percent and a steady maintenance of Israel’s high immigration and fertility rates, the latter ranking as the highest in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

According to end-time scholar Rabbi Pinchas Winston, this decade’s rise in Israel’s Jewish birthrate is indicative of fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham of his prophesied descendents.

Bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. Genesis 22:17

Israel’s high birth rates juxtapose with declining global fertility rates. The global birthrate in the 1950s was 3.6 while last year, the global birthrate was just 1.85, showing a sharp decrease. In contrast, Israel’s birth rate was 3.11, the highest fertility rate in Western developed economies of the OECD. The death rate was four times less the birth rate, with 43,000 deaths in the past year.

Rabbi Winston explained to Breaking Israel News, “When Jacob rises Esau falls, so it is only natural that as Jewish fertility increases, that of the rest of the world declines.”

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In the past, Arab Israeli births have outnumbered Jewish ones by a wide margin. But the Jewish fertility rate increased by 20 percent between 1998 and 2017, rising from 2.6 children to 3.1 children per woman, now equal to the Arab birth rate. Growth in the Jewish population is often compared to Arab population growth, as the proportion affects Israel’s ability to maintain its status as both a democratic and a Jewish State.

In the past 30 years, global fertility rates in the Muslim world have decreased, with Turkey dropping from 4.07 to 2.08, Tunisia dropping from 4.82 to 2.14, and Morocco from 5.4 to 2.52

Last year’s immigration trends also fulfill Biblical prophecy as the exiles are gathered from four corners of the earth. Over the last year, Israel welcomed 27,000 immigrants, the majority from the Soviet Union, followed by France and the United States. Israel’s consistent immigration patterns exhibit the continuing ingathering of the exiles, as foretold in the times of the redemption by the prophet Isaiah.

He will hold up a signal to the nations And assemble the banished of Yisrael, And gather the dispersed of Yehuda From the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12

The Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that Israel’s population will continue to grow, reaching 10 million people by 2024, 15 million by 2048, and 20 million by 2065.

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Netanyahu Meets With World Leaders at UN General Assembly

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 06:00

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with dozens of world leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in new York City, including Japanese President Shinzo Abe.

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In Growing Trend, Christians Taking On Biblical High Holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 05:30

The growing phenomenon of Christians observing the Biblical holidays is bringing Jews and Christians closer while helping to eliminate anti-Jewish replacement theology. This phenomenon is creating a new Bible-based aspect within Christianity, and for some Jews, revealing a previously hidden aspect of the holidays.

Wednesday evening begins an intense period including three major Jewish holidays, starting off with Rosh Hashana (the New Year), continuing with Yom Kippur (Day of Repentance) ten days later, and ending with Sukkot. Until recently, this was a uniquely and exclusively Jewish experience. Now, many Christians are finding spiritual meaning in experiencing the feasts and holidays they previously only read about.

The source for the holidays in Judaism is, of course, the Bible, and many Christians are drawn to the holidays for their Biblical origins. Harriett Shipman Casas grew up in South Carolina listening to her father talk about the High Holy Days and keeping the Sabbath. His family origins were from Jerusalem, which perhaps gave him a different perspective than the other members of their Baptist Church.

Harriett Shipman Casas (Photo via Facebook)

“He said that we should go to church on Saturday, not Sunday,” Shipman told Breaking Israel News. “He also said that we shouldn’t eat any pork or unclean food.”

As she grew older, she felt that something spiritual was lacking in the church. Shipman searched the Bible for answers.

“I read my Bible, taking each chapter apart, sentence by sentence. I kept praying and asking God to show me, and show me He did,” Shipman said, explaining that her search led her to an in-depth study of the Jewish calendar and the Sabbath. The answers she found in the Bible led her on a search for a church that shared this belief, which she eventually found.

“I found out, that they kept not only the Sabbath, but the Holy Days and dietary laws also,” Shipman said.

Kim Kunkel (Photo via Facebook)

In a similar story, Kim Kunkel, a 29-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida, learned about the Biblical holidays from her father. As a devout Christian, he read books about the Temple and “God’s feasts”, so her understanding of the holidays, though Biblically based, is uniquely Christian.

Eventually, the Biblical holidays became a practical part of their religious observance. The prayer group she attended in college held special services on the Friday night preceding the holiday.

“We would celebrate both Jewish and traditionally Christian holidays,” Kunkel told Breaking Israel News. This approach to the holidays continued after university, when Kunkel returned to live with her family. “My family loved the feasts, but they would never give up Christmas.”

The result of Christians connecting to the Biblical holidays is a phenomenon some may find troubling: Christians who incorporate Jewish holidays into their observance.

David Nekrutman (Breaking Israel News)

David Nekrutman, the executive director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), feels that Christian observance of the Jewish holidays is entirely Torah appropriate, especially for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

“Rosh Hashana is a universal holiday,” Nekrutman told Breaking Israel News. “It is the birthday of the world. All of creation is being judged as to whether they are accepting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as King of the World.”

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“The shofar has all the components of the creation of man, and it breathes,” Nekrutman explained. “It wakes us up to a universal call to action. It is an amazing opportunity to come together.”

For some Christians, rejecting replacement theology, a Christian doctrine which holds that Christians “replaced” Jews in the Biblical covenant with God, led them to search out the Jewish roots of their religion. This inevitably led to the festivals described explicitly in the Bible.

Myrjam, from the Netherlands, grew up attending a Roman Catholic Church and was raised in replacement theology. A little more than two years ago, she began to seriously consider prophecies about the end-of-days. This caused an “inner earthquake resulting in an deeper knowledge of God”.

“I really felt obliged to look into it,” Myrjam told Breaking Israel News. “This got me into a spiritual roller-coaster that completely consumed me and my husband. In the end, I had a deeper knowledge of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. When you dive into end times, sooner or later you will run into Israel.”

This powerful epiphany led to a search for the Torah roots of her faith.

“My eyes were opened to a whole new beautiful world to explore,” she said. “That is Israel, the Jewish people, and God’s appointed times.”

Myrjam and her family began keeping Shabbat, which quickly led to observing the Biblical holidays.

“We keep God’s appointed days and times, though we started out keeping them clumsy at first, we do the best we can, learn, and ask God to show us the way.”

In the same manner as religious Jews, Myrjam has been working on repentance for the past month, the Hebrew month of Elul, in preparation for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. “We have been sounding the shofar every day, not drinking alcohol, reading Psalm 27 every day, and searching our souls, asking for forgiveness,” she told Breaking Israel News.

Myrjam plans on celebrating all the High Holidays this season.

“We will be attending the service at our church this Thursday and blowing the shofar,” she said. “Everyone will bring nice foods, probably with apples from our garden and make some loud noise, the kids will love that. It really is an adventure as we don’t know anything about these traditions and apart from the church, we don’t have anyone to teach us.”

Yom Kippur, the day of repentance, is more theologically challenging than Rosh Hashana for many Christians.

“I still think more like an Evangelical Christian,” Kunkel said. “We can feel guilty and unsure about sin at times and ask for forgiveness or repent at any time in the year. We don’t really have the idea about doing it all on Yom Kippur and fasting, so that is still a new idea to me.”

Nekrutman explained that this difficulty is not uncommon since Judaism and Christianity have very different approaches to repentance.

“In Jewish tradition, repentance is universal and not individual,” Nekrutman explained. He emphasized that even the language used in Jewish prayer books is written in the first-person plural. “We sinned. On Yom Kippur, we turn to the king in national repentance.”

Nekrutman explained that as more Christians observe the holidays, a unique message for Jews is being revealed.

“On the holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, Jews need to ask ourselves, are we relating to our Torah-mandated commission to the world? Have we uplifted the world? Have we been a light unto the nations?” Nekrutman asked. “If we make Rosh Hashana exclusive to one religion, we are closing the doors on our universal repentance.”

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In Wake of Hurricane Harvey, Israeli Wineries Donate Rosh Hashana Wine to Texas Jews

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 04:30

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation across the greater Houston area, Israel’s leading Golan Heights and Galil Mountain wineries are donating 100 crates of fine wine to local Jewish institutions to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, which begins sundown on Wednesday, September 20 and runs through sunset on Friday, Septempter 22.

The leading Israeli wineries decided to help the Greater Houston Jewish community when the storm hit Houston just a few weeks before one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.

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“For the Houston Jewish community, the first priority right now is the daunting task of recovering from this unimaginable disaster, and so preparing for Rosh Hashana becomes especially challenging,” said Dorit Ben Simon, executive manager of Yarden Inc., the U.S. importer of Golan Heights and Galil Mountain wines.

“In providing wine for the New Year, we hope we can both support the community and remind them that Jews everywhere are standing by their side for the High Holy Days.”

Cases of Israeli wine prepared for shipment to Houston. (Yarden Inc)

The wineries and Yarden Inc. are delivering 25 crates each of Yarden Syrah 2012, Galil Viognier 2013, Galil Rose 2015, and Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2014 to major Jewish communal institutions, including the Bellaire Jewish Center, the Chabad Lubavitch Center, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston before the new year. These institutions will ensure the wines are available for communal services for Rosh Hashana or provide them to members of the community for the High Holy Days.

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State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 04:00

“It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

“Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel returns $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2017.

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

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May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warned that scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

Ratney, Shanno, and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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16th Century Scholar Warned of Hurricane Irma Through Hebrew Riddle

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 03:30

Following Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic which stretched 650 miles from east to west, pummeled nine states, rampaged through the Caribbean and darkened and flooded millions of Florida homes and roads, many are recognizing this “natural disaster” as an act of God.

In fact, a Hebrew analysis of the writings of the holy 16th century mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, known as the Arizal, reveals that the scholar predicted Irma would come as a result of man turning away from God’s dictates.

The Arizal taught that there are four elements which were used to make up the creation of the world:

Fire – אש-aish

Air – רוח-ruach

Water – מים-mayim

Earth – אדמה-adama

“One way to learn the hidden secrets of the Bible and the Hebrew language is by taking the first letter of each word in a phrase or with regards to a particular concept and finding that it spells out something from which to reap deeper insights,” explained Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, a company which teaches Hebrew language and Biblical studies online, to Breaking Israel News.

“This is called ‘roshei teyvot–ראשי תיבות’ and is one of the accepted tools for Bible study. When taking the roshei teyvot of the four elements, as noted by the Arizal, they spell out ‘Irma’ – ארמה.”

The Arizal, along with several other respected rabbis, explained that when man turns his back on Biblical dictates and his behavior becomes corrupt, the elements which make up the earth follow suit. God communicates to man, through the elements, that he must change his ways and come back to Him.

Biblically, it is telling that Hurricane Irma struck in the Hebrew month of Elul-אלול along with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, a disastrous earthquake in Mexico, and raging fires in California. Traditionally Elul, which began on August 23, is the last month of the Jewish calendar and is the most appropriate time to take an accounting of one’s actions of the past year and repent before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which falls this year on September 21.

The 18th century Rabbi Chaim ben Moshe ibn Attar and the 19th century Rabbi Moses Schreiber both taught that when the arrival of the Messiah is imminent, calamities will happen, one after the other, in rapid succession, in order to stimulate people to repent and come back to following God’s laws.

“When disasters strike, we all pray that the people affected are safe and that their possessions are protected,” continued Segal. “It is interesting to note that there are specific Hebrew blessings we make on hurricanes, powerful winds, and other phenomena of nature, in order to express our recognition and wonder at God’s power and His ruling over nature itself.”

The blessings are also said when one sees a shooting star or comet, or experiences an earthquake, volcano, lightning and thunder as a way to declare that God rules nature.

Blessing on comets, shooting stars, meteor showers, earthquakes, and strong winds:

Baruch Ata Adonoy Eloheinu Melech haolam, osay ma’asei bereisheet.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם עשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Maker of the works of creation.

Blessing on thunder and lightning:

Baruch Ata Adonoy Eloheinu Melech haolam, shekocho oo-gevurato malay olam.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם שֶׁכּחו וּגְבוּרָתו מָלֵא עולָם

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, whose power and might fill the world.

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, who has a BA and MA from Stanford University with a focus on global environmental issues, notes in Huffington Post that the leading 20th century mystic Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi Ashlag wrote, “God established the laws of nature in the world, and a person or society that transgresses one of these laws will be punished through nature. He likens nature to a judge that God created to punish those who violate the laws of nature.”

Rabbi Neril writes about himself, “This mess is an opportunity. Call me an apocaloptimist. I believe we are headed for a period of time when our spiritual awareness and physical living on this planet will be elevated. We will live at a higher level of soul awareness. For that to happen, we need to listen to what Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia are saying as messengers of God’s creation, planet earth. Something is out of balance in the way we are living, and the need to change is hitting us in the face.”

To learn more about the Hebrew language and Bible studies, please visit here.

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N. Korea and Iran: Regarding Eventual Nuclear Attack Upon Israel

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 03:00

“The existence of `system’ in the world is obvious to every observer of nature….” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man

The primary importance of “system” is obvious to all serious students of world politics. In this connection, what happens in the protracted American crisis with North Korea could sometimes have substantial or even profound implications for the Middle East. Most urgently, as the ongoing crisis in northeast Asia has focused renewed attention on the risks and consequences of a nuclear war, a broadly “systemic” question should be raised in both Washington and Jerusalem:

Will Iran become the next North Korea?

For a short window of time, at least, selective preemptions against certain Iranian nuclear assets and corollary infrastructures might still have made overall strategic sense. Now, however, for Israel, the country most directly threatened by a prospectively nuclear Iran, rational self-defense options must be limited to narrowly reactive counter-measures. Above all, this means conspicuous reliance for Jerusalem upon long-term nuclear deterrence and ballistic-missile defense.

There is more. If Israel’s senior military planners operate according to a properly fashioned strategic doctrine, these still-remaining options should include a graduated end to Israel’s policy of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity,” or what is sometimes called the “bomb in the basement.” Included, too, would be continuous engineering upgrades to all intersecting and multi-layered missile interceptors, and certain parallel efforts aimed at enhanced national plans for intelligence, counterintelligence, cyber-defense, and cyber-war. In the specific military parlance, because these plans would be inter-penetrating or “synergistic,” they could suitably represent more-or-less powerful “force multipliers.”

Earlier, a successful and timely preemption might still have prevented a nuclear Iran. Now, Israel’s defensive anti-missile programs can do nothing toward slowing down Iranian nuclearization, but they could nonetheless become useful adjuncts to national nuclear deterrence. This reinforcing development would come about because the rationality of any contemplated Iranian attack upon Israel would likely be impacted by Israel’s already-deployed hard-target protections.

With visibly capable Israeli ballistic missile defenses in place, Tehran would require a steadily increasing number of offensive missiles to ensure its presumptively necessary penetration capacity. Such defenses, therefore, constitute a vital component of Israel’s overall deterrence posture.

It is true that Israel’s active defenses could provide certain more-or-less limited physical protections for its civilian populations.  However, any such post-attack “soft-target” benefits would be plausibly less important than those defense-related Israeli gains associated with enhanced nuclear deterrence.

Whether rational, irrational, or “mad” – and there are genuinely crucial differences between these three decisional possibilities – any nuclear-capable Iranian leadership that eventually inclines toward military conflict with the “Zionist Entity” could initiate a nuclear war. Whether deliberately or inadvertently,  as a “bolt from the blue” or as an unintended result of escalation, in consequence of some inexorable religious commitment to Jihad against “unbelievers,” or as a calamitous result of more mundane war-causes (for example, miscalculation, accident, coup d’état, or command-control failure), a nuclear Tehran could ignite a treacherously Dantesque excursion into fire, into the eternal darkness, into ice.

More than thirty-seven years ago, I published the first of twelve books that contained certain authoritative descriptions of the physical and medical consequences of any nuclear war. These earlier descriptions were drawn largely from a still-valid 1975 report by the National Academy of Sciences, and included the following very tangible expected outcomes: large temperature changes; contamination of food and water; disease epidemics in crops, domesticated animals, and humans due to ionizing radiation; shortening of growing seasons; irreversible injuries to aquatic species; widespread and long-term cancers due to inhalation of plutonium particles; radiation-induced abnormalities in persons in utero at the time of detonation; a vast growth in the number of skin cancers, and increasing genetic disease.

Overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any Iranian nuclear attack upon Israel. These difficulties would extend beyond prompt burn injuries. Retinal burns could even occur in the eyes of persons very far from the actual explosions.

Tens of thousands of  Israelis could be crushed by collapsing buildings, or torn to shreds by flying glass. Others could fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiation; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.

After an Iranian nuclear attack, even a “small” one, those medical facilities that might still exist in Israel could be taxed beyond meaningful capacity. Water supplies could quickly become unusable. Housing and shelter could become unavailable for hundreds of thousands of survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages could be critical and long-term.

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Israel’s normally complex network of exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of even the most basic means of livelihood. Emergency police and fire services would be decimated. All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning. Severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would likely be no available therapeutic services.

Normal human society would effectively cease. The pestilence of unrestrained murder and banditry could quickly augment plague and epidemics. Many of the survivors would expect an increase in serious degenerative diseases. They could also expect premature death; impaired vision, and sterility. An increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary and uterine cervix would be unavoidable.

Extensive fallout could upset many delicately balanced relationships in nature. Israelis who survive the nuclear attack might have to deal with enlarged insect populations. Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect hordes could spread en masse from the radiation-damaged areas, in which they arose.

Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans. This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste, and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes. Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects could make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis. Throughout Israel, tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses would pose the largest immediate and also longer-term health threat.

Assuredly, all of these same effects, possibly even more expansive and destructive, would be unleashed upon Iran. This is because an immediate and massive Israeli retaliation for any Iranian nuclear aggression would be a certainty. Still,  Iran’s comparatively greater suffering could offer little meaningful solace for Israel.

In purely strategic terms, this greater enemy suffering would plainly be irrelevant.

In essence, nuclear war is like any other incurable disease. For Israel, the only reasonable remaining strategy must lie in prevention. Barring any unlikely eleventh-hour preemptions against Iran – protective first-strikes that would be known as anticipatory self-defense under international law – Israel will have to turn for its ultimate survival to a complex, well-reasoned and multi-layered survival strategy. Here, core emphasis would be placed on improved anti-missile interceptions, and on steadily enhancing levels of nuclear deterrence.

Unsurprisingly, such remedies would closely resemble residual American options vis-à-vis an already nuclear North Korea.

One final “systemic” point should now be made about the North Korea-Iran connection. In addition to Pyongyang’s likely technical assistance to Tehran (North Korea has long maintained tangible military relations with Damascus), any American crisis with North Korea that culminates in nuclear weapons use would put an immediate and obvious end to the longstanding “nuclear taboo.” Among other things, this would almost certainly heighten the particular likelihood of a subsequent nuclear attack or exchange involving Israel and Iran.

World politics is best understood as a system. Presently, America’s multiple mistakes on North Korea are being replicated by Israel’s cascading failures on Iran. Significantly, what ultimately happens in either hot spot could have very grave consequences for the other. In this connection, Jerusalem should now pay exceptionally close attention to all probable crisis outcomes in Washington and Pyongyang.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

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Gulf State King Surprises by Condemning Anti-Israel Boycott, Urging Citizens to Visit

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 02:30

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has condemned the Arab world’s boycott of Israel, saying its citizens are free to visit the Jewish state, in a declaration of worldwide religious tolerance facilitated by the Los-Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Although the Persian Gulf nation has no diplomatic relations with Israel, the king’s announcement was unveiled last week at the center’s interfaith event in California.

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, who head the center, said the Bahraini king issued the declaration during their visit to the country’s capital city of Manama earlier this year.

“The most exciting part of the visit was listening to His Majesty outline his vision for a new Middle East — one solidly based on the principles of inclusion and human dignity that rejects extremism,” Hier said.

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“May the day come soon when His Majesty’s plane lands at Ben-Gurion Airport, and when the anthems played here tonight will be heard around the world ushering in that long-awaited era of lasting peace and tranquility,” he added.

At the event, several guests formally signed the Bahrain Declaration, including the king’s son, Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa.

The prince was accompanied by a 40-person delegation that also joined him during a visit to the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance built by the Wiesenthal Center.

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Palestinians Imprison Journalists for Exposing Corruption

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 02:00

Harb’s ordeal began in June 2016, when she published an investigative report that disclosed how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were using medical care to blackmail Palestinian patients. Her report exposed how some physicians and Hamas and PA officials were demanding bribes in return for issuing permits to patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and Arab and Western countries. Those who cannot afford to pay the bribes are left to die in understaffed and under-equipped Palestinian hospitals.

Instead of launching an investigation against those involved in the corruption scandal, Hamas chose to punish the journalist who revealed how patients were being mistreated and abused by senior health officials.

Hajer Harb, a courageous Palestinian journalist, has been found guilty by Hamas of exposing corruption in the health system in the Gaza Strip. On September 13, a Hamas court sentenced her to six months in prison and a fine. It was the first sentence of its kind to be passed on a female journalist in the Gaza Strip.

Harb, however, is unlikely to serve her prison term in the near future; she recently left the Gaza Strip to Jordan, where she is receiving medical treatment after being diagnosed with cancer.

Her illness, however, did not stop Hamas from pursuing legal measures against her for her role in exposing corruption in the Palestinian health system. Instead of suspending the legal proceedings against her, the Hamas court chose to sentence her to prison in absentia.

If and when she recovers from her illness and returns to the Gaza Strip, Harb will be arrested and sent to prison for six months. She will also be required to pay the 1000 shekel ($250) fine that was imposed on her by the Hamas court.

If and when Hajer Harb, a courageous Palestinian journalist, recovers from cancer and returns to Gaza, she will be arrested by Hamas and sent to prison for six months, for the “crime” of exposing corruption in the Gaza Strip health system. (Image source: Hager Press video screenshot)

Harb’s ordeal began in June 2016, when she published an investigative report that disclosed how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were using medical care to blackmail Palestinian patients. Her report exposed how some physicians and Hamas and PA officials were demanding bribes in return for issuing permits to patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and some Arab and Western countries. Those who cannot afford to pay the bribes are left to die in understaffed and under-equipped Palestinian hospitals, the report revealed.

Harb’s investigative report — a rare practice in the world of Palestinian journalism — enraged Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials. Palestinians referred to those involved in the corruption scandal as the “mafia of destruction,” as was reported for the first time by Gatestone Institute.

After Harb published her report, she was summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities. Her interrogators demanded that she reveal her sources and the identity of those involved in the corruption scandal.

“I told them that I’m a journalist and I cannot provide them with the identities of the sources without a court order,” she said.

“The prosecution told me that I was facing the following charges: impersonation of another person (they claim I did not reveal my real identity during the investigative report); slandering the Ministry of Health, publishing inaccurate and incorrect information and working with ‘foreign parties’ (by preparing a report for a London-based television station under the pretext that the media organization is not registered with the Press Office in the Gaza Strip).”

It is both tragic and ironic that in the end, Harb herself had to apply for a permit to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment. She found herself in the same situation as the patients about whom she reported, who had to pay bribes to Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials to leave the Gaza Strip. Unlike those patients, however, she did not have to pay anyone a bribe in return for a permit to leave the Gaza Strip. Harb’s friends say she was allowed to leave after Palestinian human rights groups intervened.

The verdict on Harb has sparked widespread condemnations among Palestinians, especially Palestinian human rights activists, and journalists.

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The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) denounced the court’s verdict and said it was a “very serious precedent against media freedoms.” In a statement, MADA said that it sees this as another “setback to the growing repression of media freedoms” under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. “MADA, wishing a speedy recovery for our colleague [Harb], strongly condemns this decision, which lacks fair trial procedures.”

Harb’s lawyer, Mervat Al-Nahal, said that her client had been charged with libel, publishing inaccurate news about the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and impersonation, but that her client while receiving medical treatment in a Jordanian hospital, learned about the court verdict through the media.

The Palestinian political analyst Jihad Harb (no relation) said that the Hamas court verdict was not only aimed at silencing journalists but also at protecting corruption and those responsible for it in the Gaza Strip.

“The court ruling against the journalist did not come as a surprise,” he said. “However, it came as a shock because of the magnitude of the assault on freedom of expression and the media.” He pointed out that instead of launching an investigation against those involved in the corruption scandal, Hamas chose to punish the journalist who revealed how patients were being mistreated and abused by senior health officials.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has also strongly condemned the verdict against the journalist and urged Hamas to rescind the decision. “This is a dangerous precedent and a flagrant violation of freedom of expression,” the syndicate said. It also called on international human rights organizations to intervene with the Hamas authorities to prevent them from imprisoning the journalist because of her investigative report.

A Palestinian writer, Talal Al-Sharif, who also expressed solidarity with the journalist, pointed out that he too had been sentenced to six months in prison for an article he wrote in which he criticized Hamas. Al-Sharif said that after he published the article, he was tried on charges of defamation. He also noted that no one from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah had ever contacted him to support him or denounce the Hamas verdict passed on him.

Al-Sharif was naïve to think that the Palestinian Authority would come out in his defense. The PA itself has long been waging a campaign of intimidation against journalists, writers and political opponents in the areas under its control in the West Bank.

In recent weeks, scores of Palestinians, including journalists, have been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces. Some were arrested for openly criticizing the PA, while others were taken into custody for “undermining state security” and insulting senior Palestinian leaders ( “extending their tongues”, according to the PA law).

Meanwhile, Palestinian journalists and human rights activists are campaigning against President Mahmoud Abbas’s new Cyber Crime Law, which gives his security forces expanded powers to crack down on social media users, especially those who dare to express views deemed critical of his leadership.

The court verdict passed on Hajer Harb, and the ongoing punitive measures against Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, serve as yet another reminder that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have no respect for freedom of expression and media freedoms. Hamas and the PA may be at war with each other, but they both agree that the media is an enemy that needs to be defeated, to prevent the world from learning about corruption and repression.

For now, it appears that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have succeeded in silencing Palestinian journalists and writers. This is happening, of course, while the international community and so-called pro-Palestinian groups around the world bury their heads in the sand, and refuse to see anything wrong on the Palestinian side.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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