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Updated: 16 min 27 sec ago

Do Israeli News Outlets Know Content of Trump Mideast Peace Plan?

14 hours 22 min ago

A report on Israel’s Channel 13 News revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” between Israel and the Palestinians will involve creating a Palestinian state on 85-90 percent of Judea and Samaria, as well as dividing Jerusalem to make a capital for each state.

The Israeli news report purported to be based on a source who was present at a briefing by a senior American official about the plan in Washington.

If the details prove to be true, it would involve the annexation of large Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and the creation of a Palestinian state on the remainder.

Jerusalem would be divided between east and west, with most Arab neighborhoods becoming part of a Palestinian state.

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Smaller Jewish communities would not be evacuated under the plan, but would not be issued any building permits. It is unclear whether the communities would remain part of Israel or would become part of Palestine.

The plan would also give Israel sovereignty over the Holy Basin—the area of the Old City, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives and the Western Wall—though the area would be jointly administered with the State of Palestine, Jordan, and possibly additional countries.

The area will apparently be less than what then-prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, but more than double the areas the Palestinians currently control. Olmert had offered putting the entire Old City of Jerusalem and the associated holy sites under international control. Abbas rejected the deal.

Following the report, White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt said the Israeli report “is not accurate” and added that “speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it.”

American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the plan would not be released until after Israeli elections on April 9.

Global Warming Worse Than Even Paris Climate Change Agreement Contemplated

15 hours 22 min ago

Republican administrations in the US have generally dismissed the danger of global warming, saying that any fluctuations in temperatures are “natural.” Last October, President Donald Trump – who still favors the use of petroleum to make things go and has called global warming “a hoax” – cast doubt on a report by his own government that cautioned about the calamitous effects of climate change.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the main international body evaluating climate change – maintained that the damage could be stopped only if the world implemented major and costly changes – in the way we treat the environment. Despite this, most other governments and leading environmental specialists declare that climate change is caused by mankind and warn that natural fluctuations in temperature are being made worse by human activity.

The Paris climate change agreement signed last fall requires 187 other countries, except the US, to minimize the rise in global temperatures.

But now an esteemed Hebrew University of Jerusalem expert on climate has declared that “we need to rethink everything we know about global warming,” as new calculations show that scientists have grossly underestimated the effects of air pollution. Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld, an expert in the university’s Institute of Earth Sciences, writes in the journal Science that aerosol-driven droplet concentrations dominate the coverage and water of oceanic low-level clouds.  

For some time, he wrote, the scientific community has known that global warming is caused by manmade emissions in the form of greenhouse gases and global cooling by air pollution in the form of aerosols. These are tiny particles that float in the air and can form naturally (as with desert dust) or artificially (from smoke from coal and car exhaust). Aerosols cool our environment by enhancing cloud cover that reflect the sunlight (heat) back to space.

But the Hebrew University-led research shows that the degree to which aerosols cool the earth has been grossly underestimated, necessitating a recalculation of climate change models to more accurately predict the pace of global warming.

Rosenfeld and his colleague Yannian Zhu from the Meteorological Institute of Shaanxi Province in China developed a new method that uses satellite images to separately calculate the effect of vertical winds and aerosol cloud droplet numbers. They applied this methodology to low-lying cloud cover above the world’s oceans between the equator and the 40th parallel south. 

With this new method, Rosenfeld and his colleagues were able to more accurately calculate aerosols’ cooling effects on the Earth’s energy budget. And, they discovered that aerosols’ cooling effect is nearly two times higher than previously thought.

Clouds form when wind rises and cools. However, cloud composition is largely determined by aerosols. The more aerosol particles a shallow cloud contains, the more small the water droplets that it will hold. Rain forms when these droplets bind together. Since it takes longer for small droplets to bind together than it does for large droplets, aerosol-filled or “polluted” clouds contain more water, remain in the sky longer (while they wait for droplets to bind and rain to fall, after which the clouds will dissipate) and cover a greater area. All this time, the aerosol-laden clouds reflect more solar energy back into space, thereby cooling the Earth’s overall temperature.

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Looking into how much aerosols cool down our environment, the authors noted that all estimates have been unreliable because it was impossible to separate the effects of rising winds which create the clouds, from the effects of aerosols which determine their composition. That is, until now. 

But if this is true, why is the Earth getting warmer, not colder?  For all of the global attention on climate warming, aerosol pollution rates from vehicles, agriculture and power plants is still very high, they wrote. For Rosenfeld, this discrepancy might point to an ever deeper and more troubling reality. “If the aerosols indeed cause a greater cooling effect than previously estimated, then the warming effect of the greenhouse gases has also been larger than we thought, enabling greenhouse gas emissions to overcome the cooling effect of aerosols and points to a greater amount of global warming than we previously thought,” he explained.

The fact that our planet is getting warmer even though aerosols are cooling it down at higher rates than previously thought brings us to a Catch-22 situation: Global efforts to improve air quality by developing cleaner fuels and burning less coal could end up harming our planet by reducing the number of aerosols in the atmosphere, and by doing so, diminishing aerosols’ cooling ability to offset global warming.

Illustrative: The sun shines out from behind rainclouds. (Credit: Shutterstock.com)

According to the Hebrew University and Chinese researchers, another hypothesis to explain why Earth is getting warmer even though aerosols have been cooling it down at an even a greater rate is a possible warming effect of aerosols when they enter deep clouds, meaning those 10 kilometers or more above the Earth.

Man-made emissions of particulate air pollution can offset part of the warming induced by emissions of greenhouse gases, by enhancing low-level clouds that reflect more solar radiation back to space, they wrote.

“The aerosol particles do that because cloud droplets must condense on pre-existing tiny particles in the same way as dew forms on cold objects and more aerosol particles from man-made emissions lead to larger number of smaller cloud droplets. One major pathway for low-level cloud enhancement is through the suppression of rain by reducing cloud droplet sizes. This leaves more water in the cloud for a longer time, thus increasing the cloud cover and water content, which reflect more solar heat to space.”

This effect, they note, is strongest over the oceans, where moisture for sustaining low-level clouds over vast areas is abundant. Predicting global warming requires a quantitative understanding of how cloud cover and water content are affected by man-made aerosols.

The Israel Space Agency and France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES) have teamed up to develop new satellites that will be able to investigate this deep cloud phenomenon, with Rosenfeld as its principal investigator.

Either way, the conclusion is the same. Our current global climate predictions do not correctly take into account the significant effects of aerosols on clouds on Earth’s overall energy balance.  Further, Rosenfeld’s recalculations mean his scientific colleagues will have to rethink their global warming predictions, which currently predict a temperature increase of 1.5° to 4.5° degree Celsius by the end of the 21st century to provide us a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis of the Earth’s climate.

Japan Negotiating Free-Trade Agreement with Israel, Increases Investment

15 hours 46 min ago

Israel and Japan have been negotiating a free-trade agreement, the financial newspaper Calcalist reported on Tuesday.

This development comes as a Japanese envoy, led by the country’s Economy, Trade and Industry minister Hiroshige Seko, visited Israel.

Seko met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen. This visit is Seko’s third in the past four years.

“There’s been a tremendous increase in Japanese investments in Israel. In the last few years, the growth of Japanese investments in Israel has been 120 times,” said Netanyahu. “Last time I spoke, it was 44 times. It grows in astronomic rate. Actually, $5 billion today, but it is growing very rapidly.”

He continued, “Our relationship is a natural one. Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe and I agreed that we have to upgrade the economic relations and this visit is part of that.”

“We want to see more trade, more tourism, more investments in both directions,” added Netanyahu.

“The negotiation is highly significant,” said East Asia scholar Cory Evans. “Prime Minister [Abe] has made international outreach a very important part of his foreign policy. Trade is an important part of this effort. Japan seeks a rules-based global order for trade and, more broadly, for international relations. By striking new agreements, Japan seeks to strengthen ties around the world and to strengthen the broader rules-based global order.”

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Evans added that the relationship between Israel and Japan is both historical and strategic.

“Historically, Japan has long held Jewish people in high esteem,” he said. “Jewish investment banker Jacob Schiff was the principal financial backer of Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. Later, during World War II, Japan famously refused to hand over Jewish persons under her jurisdiction to Nazi Germany. Many individual persons went to great efforts to aid the Jewish people.”

“Notably, Consul Chiune Sugihara provided duplicate passport documents that secured safe transit for thousands of Jewish persons,” he continued. “So the relationship between Japan, Jewish people and Israel has long been of historical and cultural significance.”

Strategically, said Evans, “Japan and Israel share broader goals of securing the rule of law in international relations. Both Japan and Israel have advanced economies, with a technological focus. Securing broad international standards, for example regarding intellectual property, is a significant strategic goal for both countries. Of course, geopolitically, Japan and Israel are both strong allies of the United States—part of the United States’ global network of allies and strategic partners.”

He continued, “Setting the rules of the game for these economies is very important, to the United States, to Japan and to countries throughout the region. These rules make the most sense if they are broadly adopted around the world. The principal way of advancing that adoption is by negotiation of new bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Seen in this context, a free-trade agreement with Israel makes a lot of strategic sense.”

Should Christians Observe Shabbat?

16 hours 2 min ago

The Bible clearly tells us that Shabbat (the Sabbath) is an eternal covenant and a sign between God and the Children of Israel, a testimony to the fact that God introduced the concept of rest on the seventh day.

It shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Yisrael. For in six days Hashem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17

For most of the past 2,000 years, this hasn’t presented any conflict. Jews had their Sabbath from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night. And Christians had Sunday.

In recent times, these categories have become somewhat blurred, as people with Christian backgrounds have begun seriously exploring the Hebrew roots of their faith. It’s also not uncommon for Christian Zionists to experience Shabbat with a Jewish family in Israel and to want to replicate elements of the Jewish Shabbat when they return home.

This interest in Shabbat from Torah-aware Christians creates dilemmas on both sides of the bridge. Jews are commonly taught that Shabbat is exclusively and eternally for the Jewish people and that non-Jews are not allowed to keep the Jewish Shabbat. The discussion about people from the Nations marking the seventh day as a Sabbath is found in rabbinic texts which most Christians don’t accept.

At the same time, Torah-aware Christians are looking for guidance about how to best recognize and honor the Biblical Shabbat.

Therein lies the dilemma.

The dilemma intensified recently when an article by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz in Breaking Israel News quoted Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, a major rabbinic figure, saying that the time has come for the Jewish people to encourage people from the Nations to honor Shabbat in ways that are appropriate for them. Rabbi Schwartz said that doing so is connected to the appearance of Moshiach (Messiah).

Illustrative: a cup of wine, candles and challah that typically adorn the Sabbath table. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Jewish law recognizes multiple categories of non-Jews. The discussion on this topic is extremely technical and beyond the scope of this article. Given this dilemma, and the complications involved, what practical advice can be offered to people from the Nations who wish to take part in Shabbat?

For the Torah observant Jew, Shabbat observance is a combination of things we do (sometimes called positive commandments) and things we refrain from doing (sometimes called negative commandments).

The actions we refrain from doing on Shabbat include driving in a car, using electronic devices, handling money, turning light switches on or off and cooking. Jewish law is clear that people from the Nations are not required to, indeed ought not, refrain from any of the actions that Jews refrain from on Shabbat.  

The actions that mark Shabbat include things like lighting candles before sundown, eating festive meals and studying the weekly Torah portion. People from the Nations are encouraged to remember the Shabbat by marking it with special rituals.

Breaking Israel News spoke to Daniel Goldstein, author of Practicing the Sabbath with Community: A Christian Guidebook for Restoring a Day of Rest from A Jewish Perspective. Goldstein recommends that a Shabbat for non-Jews should include, “two candles, a cup of wine (for kiddush), and at least two challot (the special bread of Shabbat).

“The candles bring light to the home and remind us of the beauty and sacredness of the day. The challah bread is a reminder that God alone is the One who provides our daily food, especially for Shabbat. And the wine of kiddush reminds us how one day each week is set apart as holy unto God,” he elaborated.

To accompany the lighting of the candles, drinking Shabbat wine and eating challah, it’s worthwhile for non-Jews to consider reciting relevant Biblical verses  

Some of the Biblical verses that could be recited to accompany Shabbat candle lighting include:

Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light for my path. Psalms 119:105

I found that Wisdom is superior to folly As light is superior to darkness; Ecclesiastes 2:13

Remember the Shabbat day and keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

The mitzvah (commandment) of lighting candles to inaugurate Shabbat is rabbinic and not Biblical in origin. At the same time, there is a very strong tradition in Judaism that all the Biblical foremothers, starting with Sara, lit candles for Shabbat. It is taught that a miracle accompanied Sara’s Shabbat lights and they would continue to burn all week long.

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Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, more commonly known as the Lubavitch Rebbe, taught that,  “Just as any candle reveals whatever is hidden in a dark room, so too the Shabbat candles reveal the Godliness hidden in all things. Just as the light of the Shabbat candles bring peace between a husband and wife, so too they bring peace between God and His world.”

Kiddush over wine or grape juice has a much more direct Biblical connection. Goldstein pointed out that “The blessing for kiddush begins with the verses from Genesis 1:31-2:3 which remembers the first Shabbat as God Himself sanctified the seventh day.” It’s worthwhile to consider reciting these verses before taking a sip of wine or grape juice on Shabbat.

And Hashem saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array.  On the seventh day Hashem finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And Hashem blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it Hashem ceased from all the work of creation that He had done.  Genesis 1:21-2:3

The third element Goldstein mentioned, challah, translated here as a loaf, is also mentioned in the Bible, specifically as a gift the Jewish people offered to the priests. It’s worthwhile to consider reciting these verses before cutting and serving the challah on Shabbat.

as the first yield of your baking, you shall set aside a loaf as a gift; you shall set it aside as a gift like the gift from the threshing floor.  You shall make a gift to Hashem from the first yield of your baking, throughout the ages.  Numbers 15:20-21

Interestingly, the commandment of challah is categorized as t’luyot ba’aretz (dependent on the Jewish people living in the Land of Israel).  

Beyond the three elements of candles, challah and wine, Christians should seriously consider spending time studying the Bible and especially focusing on the parsha (weekly Torah portion) or the Biblical verses related to the Creation. These verses are especially significant because Shabbat is the culmination of Creation.

Shabbat is also an ideal time to spend with family, close friends and like-minded neighbors. A festive meal, with special tableware, wine, challah and multiple courses, is entirely appropriate.

Shabbat is also a good time to recite chapters from the Book of Psalms, especially chapter 92 which specifically mentions Shabbat. Some have the custom of reading the entire Book of Psalms every week . To facilitate that, the 150 chapters of Psalms are divided into seven sections. Chapters 120-150 are the Shabbat portion of the Book of Psalms.

Another potential Shabbat activity for non-Jews is spending time in nature, which could include taking leisurely walks or hikes or picnicking in a nearby park.

Whatever activities one chooses, the emphasis on Shabbat should be on bearing witness to the fact that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Shabbat is the ideal time to reflect on love of God, studying His Torah and  acknowledging our belief in the Oneness of God.

Goldstein further advised, “I would recommend reading the Biblical texts that teach about the Sabbath day and to read an easy-to-understand commentary on the Sabbath, like the book that I have written, Practicing the Sabbath with Community. Regarding the cessation of work, I generally challenge others to consider what consumes their lives for the other six days of the week and to set these activities aside for the day of rest.”

In a 2015 video about whether  a non-Jew can keep Shabbat, Rabbi Dror Cassouto who has a very large following of non-Jewish students, taught that ultimately, the purpose of honoring Shabbat in whatever way is appropriate is, “to be very humble, to crown Hashem Yitbarach (God, may His name be blessed) on ourselves. It doesn’t matter where you are and on which level you’re holding. The question is how humble you are and how much you’re crowning Hashem Yitbarach on yourself and how much you’re serving and want to commit yourself to Him.” he explained.

Goldstein concluded by saying that, “The Sabbath is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a negative command that people have to keep, causing some to feel restricted from doing what they want to do whenever they choose to do it. Instead of this negative perspective of the Sabbath, I believe it is better to view the Sabbath as a gift from God of a weekly day to set aside the activities that consume our lives with a focus on reflecting on the goodness of God, the joy of family and relationships, and the opportunity to relax without feeling guilty.”

Does Iran Pose an Existential Threat to Israel?

17 hours 55 min ago

Forty years after the Islamic Revolution, Iran is considered a global security threat. The Israeli government views Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East and nuclear ambitions as an existential threat, but does everyone agree?

Rabbi Agrees With Iranian General: Drought in Iran Due to Israel

18 hours 30 min ago

Jewish law denotes four New Years with Tu B’Shevat, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month Shevat, being the New Year of the trees and begins a three-month series of mid-month full moons that culminate in Passover.

Tu B’Shevat is the cut-off date in the Hebrew calendar for calculating the age of a fruit-bearing trees. A tree planted before Tu B’Shevat is considered one year old and a year is added to the tree’s age every year on Tu B’Shevat. Fruit that ripened on a three-year-old tree before Tu B’Shevat is considered orlah and is forbidden to eat, while fruit ripening on or after Tu B’Shevat of the tree’s third year is permitted.On the fourth year, the fruit is considered Neta Reva’i and is brought to Jerusalem as a tithe.

When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten.In the fourth year all its fruit shall be set aside for jubilation before Hashem. Leviticus 19:23

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, head of the Sanhedrin’s Noahide Court, had a special message for Tu B’shevat.

“Just like Rosh Hashanah, Tu B’Shevat is a time for introspection and a personal accounting. It is a time for renewal, the beginnings of spring that are still hidden. Everything new in nature is intended to awaken in us the desire to return to God, to seek out God’s influence in the world, especially in this era that is preceding the end of days.

The entire world receives its sustenance, spiritual and physical, via the land of Israel. Not only is this written in Jewish sources but we see this today; Israel is a tiny country yet we produce more than enough food for our needs, a beautiful bounty that we even export. We have technology that allows other countries to increase their food production.

The rain that falls around the world is determined on Tu B’Shevat and in the land of Israel. This is reflected in Israel being a leader in water technology. We are the means by which Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) gives water to the entire world. The basis of rain, of course, is spiritual; God’s connection to the world.”

Rabbi Schwartz referred to an incident over the summer in which an Iranian general accused Israel of stealing rain clouds.

“Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain,” Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization told Iranian media in June.

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“On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft,” Jalali added, citing a survey showing that above 2,200 metres all mountainous areas between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean are covered in snow, except Iran. The general’s bizzare accusation came in the midst of a severe drought in Iran.

Schwartz noted that the Iranian general had unintentionally hit upon an aspect of the truth, although he had entirely missed the lesson to be learned.

“Since God gives rain to the world via Israel, anyone who threatens Israel will not be blessed with rain,” Rabbi Schwartz said. “The rain is stopped at the border of Iran.”

Rabbi Schwartz also noted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the Iranian General. The prime minister made a video in which he offered Israel’s water technology to the Iranian people. To facilitate this, he established a Persian language website with information about water shortage. Netanyahu emphasized that the conflict with Israel was due to the current regime and not from the Iranian people.

“In this act, Prime Minister Netanyahu was acting on the aspect of Israel being the source of water for the entire world,” Rabbi Schwartz said.

The rabbi called for the non-Jews to recognize Tu B’Shevat as a universal day to emphasize the divine aspect revealed through nature.

“This can be accomplished by a universal initiative of planting trees,” Rabbi Schwartz said. He cited a section of the Talmud that illustrated the importance of planting trees. The Talmud (Ta’anit 23a) teaches in the name of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai that if you have a sapling in your hand and are told, ‘Look, the Messiah is here,’ you should first plant the sapling and then go out to welcome the Messiah.

The rabbi noted that in his lifetime in Israel he merited to see that deserts can indeed bloom and how it affected the people.

“Tu B’Shevat needs to be a global day for planting trees,” he said. “In addition, every time a tree is cut down, whether it is a fruit tree or not, it should be replaced and another tree should be planted in its place.”

“Just as prayer and repentance on Rosh Hashanah lead to a blessed year, planting a tree on Tu B’Shevat will bring a blessed year and hasten the Messiah,” Rabbi Schwartz said.

As part of the global tree initiative, the Sanhedrin established a blessing that can be said when planting a tree.

בָּרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ אֶת הַשָּׁנָה הַזּאת. וְאֶת כָּל מִינֵי תְבוּאָתָהּ לְטובָה. וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה עַל כָּל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה. וְרַוֵּה פְּנֵי תֵבֵל וְשַׂבַּע אֶת הָעולָם כֻּלּו מִטּוּבָךְ. וּמַלֵּא יָדֵינוּ מִבִּרְכותֶיךָ וּמֵעשֶׁר מַתְּנות יָדֶיךָ. שָׁמְרָה וְהַצִּילָה שָׁנָה זו מִכָּל דָּבָר רָע. וּמִכָּל מִינֵי מַשְׁחִית וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פּוּרְעָנוּת. וַעֲשֵׂה לָהּ תִּקְוָה טובָה וְאַחֲרִית שָׁלום. חוּס וְרַחֵם עָלֶיהָ וְעַל כָּל תְּבוּאָתָהּ וּפֵירותֶיהָ. וּבָרְכָהּ בְּגִשְׁמֵי רָצון בְּרָכָה וּנְדָבָה. וּתְהִי אַחֲרִיתָהּ חַיִּים וְשָׂבָע וְשָׁלום. כַּשָּׁנִים הַטּובות לִבְרָכָה. כִּי אֵל טוב וּמֵטִיב אַתָּה וּמְבָרֵךְ הַשָּׁנִים:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ , מְבָרֵךְ הַשָּׁנִים:

May the Lord our God bless this year. And provide all types of bounty for our good. And give dew to bless all the earth. And fill our hands with your blessings and from your many gifts. Protect and save us this year from every evil, and from every danger and disturbance. And may this year be one of hope and peace. Have mercy on us and on this year’s harvest and fruit. May this year be blessed with good and giving rains. And may it be a year of life and satisfaction and peace.Because you are a good God whose blessings are good and who blesses the years. Blessed are you, God, who blesses the years.

The Man Who Banned Guns in Chicago Had 23 of Them

18 hours 51 min ago

“Bullets and booze don’t mix,” Alderman Edward Burke growled. Then the Chairman of the Finance Committee vowed to fight the NRA. He had spent much of his 50 years in power fighting for gun control. And the man dubbed “Alderman-for-Life”, whose wife who sat on the Illinois Supreme Court, had the heft.

Five years ago, Chicago had lost yet another of its serial gun control battles. But Burke and the
Democrat machine were vowing to go on fighting with more laws attempting to restrict the Second Amendment.

Burke, an Obama and Blagojevich ally, and the godfather of Chicago politics (dubbed its real mayor), hated and loved guns at the same time. He had nearly as many guns as he had gun control bills. When the FBI raided the offices of the powerful Chicago Democrat, they found 23 guns. That’s a lot of guns for one man. Especially for a man who had worked hard to ban handguns in Chicago.

“What it does do hopefully is put a freeze on the number of handguns that are presently owned by the people in the city of Chicago,” he had said of Chicago’s 1982 handgun ban.

The freeze however didn’t apply to all the guns in his office.

The unconstitutional gun ban had been proposed by Alderman Burke. Burke’s ordinance became a national first and a model for future efforts to deprive citizens of their Second Amendment rights.

It wasn’t just guns. Alderman Burke had never met anything that he didn’t want to ban.

This year the Chicago Sun-Times had dubbed him the “Ban Man”. Burke had banned or tried to ban laundry detergent, spray paint, smoking, trans fats, plastic knives, caffeine drinks, horse-drawn carriages, Uber, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

If you liked it, Burke would ban it. And probably stockpile 23 boxes of detergent, caffeine drinks, e-cigarettes, food full of delicious trans fats, chewing tobacco and horse-drawn carriages in his office.

But while Alderman Burke banned ordinary Chicago residents from owning guns, he had a legal loophole for owning as many guns as he wanted and even being able to legally carry semi-automatic weapons.

The same pol who had fought to ban handguns, expand the gun registry and pressured banks to use their monopolistic power to impose gun control, was doing exactly what he banned others from doing.

How did he do it? Tune in Wednesday night at 9 PM for episodes of Ed Burke, PI.

The crooked Chicago pol, who has been charged with extortion, was also a private detective. When the Firearm Control Card application asked him what agency he worked for, he answered, “Edward Burke”.

And Burke wasn’t the only gun control politician to pull this scam.

Back in 2012, State Senator Donne Trotter was busted at O’Hare International Airport with a gun in his bag. Trotter was an impassioned gun control advocate who had co-sponsored 31 gun control bills and opposed concealed carry, claimed that he needed the gun because he moonlighted as a detective.

Burke was not only a law unto himself, but a law unto the people of Chicago. He not only had a PI license, but three other active state licenses, some meant for people that “need a weapon on the job.”

Chicago is a pretty violent city, but its political leaders don’t need 23 guns to do their jobs. Unless their job is extorting businesses. That’s why the Finance Committee chair and occasional PI has been charged with one count of attempted extortion for trying to shake down fast food restaurants.

Here’s how the alleged scam worked.

In addition to being one of Chicago’s top bosses and a private investigator, Burke also had a law firm. And the Chairman of the Finance Committee’s law firm specialized in, what else, property tax appeals.

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A humble hack would have been satisfied with that degree of corruption, but Ed Burke was not as ordinary politicians are. Humble men don’t try to ban all the guns in Chicago while having enough guns in their office to outfit a small gang. And even in his seventies, Burke wasn’t just going to wait for suckers to come to his law firm on their own and get some help with their property tax issues.

Burke has been charged with threatening to block driveway permits for fast food restaurants unless they gave his law firm a taste. That was apart from trying to fine fast food places $1,000 a day for cooking with trans fats. You can see why he needed weapons on the job.

The Chicago Dem is also accused of soliciting a campaign contribution for another politician.

Alderman Burke came by his job honestly. He inherited it from his father, Alderman Joseph Burke. And he lived in a Democrat world in which the laws don’t apply to aldermen, only to the little people.

Chicago’s aldermen had banned guns for everyone, except themselves. And even during the heyday of the gun ban, they benefited from a special law giving aldermen and other officials the power to carry.

Democrat pols believe that they can be trusted with guns when no one else can. But the track records of Ed Burke, Senator Trotter or Alderman Dorothy Tillman, who during a ward redistricting meeting, settled the debate by pulling out her “38-caliber,snub-nosed, nickel-plated pistol”, say otherwise.

Both Burke and Tillman had to take a backseat to Senator Leland Yee, a California Democrat and rabid gun control enthusiast, who was caught trying to sell rocket launchers.

“Does the NRA oppose common sense safety measures in the home?” Burke had demanded of an NRA representative.

“No we don’t. We just think that decision should be left up to the individual,” the NRA’s Vandermyde had answered.

Alderman Burke didn’t believe that individuals had any right to make decisions. Unless they were politicians in good standing with the Democrat Party and the Chicago machine.

Gun control isn’t based on the belief that guns are evil, but that people are. It’s championed by celebrities with armed details (Burke used to be the only alderman with his own police security detail) and politicians who fill their offices with guns while trying to confiscate them from everyone else.

While Burke wanted to deny guns, detergent, caffeine drinks and fatty foods to others, there’s never been any reason to believe that the powerful politico ever denied his appetites anything he craved.

Alderman Burke is on the loose for now. And he’s got at least $12 million to spend on his defense.

But, in a tragic irony, the condition of his release is that he give up all his guns. The politician who had spent so much time using the law to take away other people’s guns, had his own guns taken away by the law.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

Italy Building Anti-EU Axis

19 hours 51 min ago

“Today begins a journey that will continue in the coming months for a different Europe, for a change of the European Commission, of European policies, which puts at the center the right to life, work, health, safety, all that the European elites, financed by [billionaire Hungarian philanthropist George] Soros and represented by Macron, deny….” — Matteo Salvini, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

“Both President Macron and Mrs. Merkel have expressed frustration at the rise of populism and nationalism, and at Europe’s dithering in the face of problems such as climate change and mass migration….” — The Times.

“The only certainty I have of the European elections is that the socialists and the communists will always be less in Brussels — they have already done enough damage….” — Matteo Salvini.

During a January 9 visit to Poland, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that populists from Italy and Poland should spark a “European spring” and forge a “new equilibrium” to replace the influence of Germany and France in the European Parliament. Pictured: Salvini meets with Poland’s Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński in Warsaw on January 9. (Image source: Matteo Salvini Facebook page)

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is leading an effort to create a pan-European populist alliance to challenge the pro-European establishment over the future of the European Union. The aim is to reclaim sovereignty from unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and transfer key EU powers back to national capitals.

Germany and France, the self-appointed guardians of European integration, are responding to the challenge with an ambitious counterplan to make the European Union a “more decisive power on the world stage.”

The showdown, which threatens to split the European Union down the middle between Eurosceptic nationalists and Europhile globalists, will heat up in coming weeks and months, ahead of elections for the European Parliament in late May 2019.

During a visit to Warsaw on January 9, Salvini, now the most powerful politician in Italy, said that populists from Italy and Poland should spark a “European spring” and forge a “new equilibrium” to replace the influence of Germany and France in the European Parliament:

“The Europe that will be created in June will be different from the one of today, which is managed by bureaucrats. In Europe, one has always spoken of a French-German axis. We are preparing for a new equilibrium and a new energy in Europe. There will be a joint action plan that will infuse Europe with new blood, new strength, new energy. Poland and Italy will be the protagonists of this new European spring, this revival of true European values, with less bureaucracy and more work and more family, and above all more security.”

Salvini is trying to create a new political bloc — dubbed the “alliance of sovereignists” (alleanza di sovranisti) — that incorporates nationalists and populists from across Europe to contest the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. The objective is to reassert national sovereignty by changing the political composition of the European Parliament, and by extension the EU’s executive, the European Commission, and eventually the European Council, where national leaders make the most important EU decisions.

Members of the supranational European Parliament organize themselves into ideological groups as in national legislatures. There currently are eight political groups in the European Parliament. The largest is the center-right European People’s Party (of which German Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is a key pillar), followed by Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The recent decision by French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party, En Marche, to join ALDE could potentially make it the second largest bloc in the European Parliament, up from the fourth currently, after the May elections.

In Poland, Salvini met with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński and Jarosław Kaczyński, the powerful leader of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which currently is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. The ECR potentially faces collapse when its 18 British Conservative party Members of European Parliament (MEPs) depart after Brexit; this would leave the PiS without a grouping in the European Parliament. The PiS is unlikely to join the European People’s Party because Poland’s main opposition party, the Civic Platform, is part of that grouping. As a result, the new Salvini-led group could be an attractive option for the PiS.

Salvini has already persuaded French and Dutch populist parties — Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (formerly known as National Front) and Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom — to join. If PiS and Austria’s ruling Freedom Party were to come on board, Salvini’s eurosceptic alliance could have up to 150 MEPs. This would make it the third largest group in the European Parliament and give it tangible power to influence EU legislation.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Alliance) continues to be part of the European People’s Party, which has resisted calls to expel Orbán for his eurosceptic and anti-immigration views. Orbán’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs hailed Salvini’s plans to create a populist alliance:

“The Warsaw-Rome axis is a great development to which great hopes are linked. I would like Europe to have a political force to the right of the EPP, a Rome-Warsaw axis, capable of governing, capable of assuming responsibility and opposing immigration.”

Orbán has, however, been unwilling to leave the European People’s Party. Some observers have postulated that he is inclined to stay with the EPP because, as the most powerful grouping in the European Parliament, it shields him from retribution from his pro-EU opponents.

In any event, Salvini and Orbán have pledged to create an “anti-immigration axis” aimed at countering the pro-migration policies of the European Union. Meeting in Milan on August 28, Orbán and Salvini vowed to work together with Austria and the Visegrad Group — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — to oppose a pro-migration group of EU countries led by French President Macron.

At a joint press conference, Salvini said:

“Today begins a journey that will continue in the coming months for a different Europe, for a change of the European Commission, of European policies, which puts at the center the right to life, work, health, safety, all that the European elites, financed by [billionaire Hungarian philanthropist George] Soros and represented by Macron, deny.

“We are close to a historic turning point at the continental level. I am astonished at the stupor of a political left that now exists only to challenge others and believes that Milan should not host the president of a European country, as if the left has the authority to decide who has the right to speak and who does not — and then they wonder why no one votes for them anymore.

“This is the first of a long series of meetings to change destinies, not only of Italy and of Hungary, but of the whole European continent.”

Orbán added:

“European elections will be held soon, and many things must change. At the moment there are two sides in Europe: One is led by Macron, who supports mass migration. The other side is led by countries that want to protect their borders. Hungary and Italy belong to the latter.

“Hungary has shown that we can stop migrants on land. Salvini has shown that migrants can be stopped at sea. We thank him for protecting Europe’s borders.

“Migrants must be sent back to their countries. Brussels says we cannot do it. They also said it was impossible to stop migrants on land, but we did it.

“Salvini and I, we seem to share the same destiny. He is my hero.”

Germany and France have responded to the challenge by doubling down on European integration. On January 10, The Times of London reported that Merkel and Macron are set to sign the so-called “Aachen Treaty” which will “herald a new era of integration” by “forging shared defense, foreign and economic policies in an unprecedented ‘twinning’ pact regarded as a prototype for the future of the European Union.” According to The Times:

“Regions on either side of the Franco-German border will be encouraged to form ‘Eurodistricts’ with merged water, electricity and public transport networks. Berlin and Paris will offer cash to incentivize these cross-border areas, which could involve shared hospitals, joint business schemes or environmental projects. Some officials regard these experiments as a petri dish for the integration of the EU.

“Both countries will lobby for Germany to receive a permanent seat on the United Nations security council, alongside France, the US, China, Russia and Britain, the victorious allies at the end of the Second World War.

“France and Germany also intend to speak with one voice in Brussels, drawing up common positions before pivotal European Union summits in an effort to make the bloc a more decisive power on the world stage. The treaty is designed to signal that France and Germany will uphold the values of multilateralism at a time when the global liberal order is under threat. Both President Macron and Mrs. Merkel have expressed frustration at the rise of populism and nationalism, and at Europe’s dithering in the face of problems such as climate change and mass migration….

“The brief document will be signed on January 22 in Aachen, the ancient German spa city near the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. It is meant to be ratified by the two national parliaments that same day.

“The location is heavy with symbolism. Aachen, known as Aix-la-Chapelle in French, was the Frankish imperial capital under Charlemagne, and has passed back and forth between Germany and France several times.

“Leaked extracts from the new Aachen treaty describe ‘harmonization’ of business regulations and co-ordination of economic policy between the states, guided by a joint council of experts.

“The text bears the imprint of Mr. Macron’s desire to use Franco-German consensus to rally the EU into becoming more assertive as a global power.

“The two governments will agree to hold ‘regular consultations on all levels before major European meetings and take care to establish common positions and issue joint statements.’ It adds: ‘They will stand up for a strong and effective common foreign and defense policy and strengthen and deepen the economic and currency union.’

“It lays the groundwork for a Franco-German defense and security council that would act as a ‘political steering group,’ with each side influencing the other’s decisions…. On the military front, the treaty enshrines an ambition to form a “common culture and common deployments” overseas.”

The Aachen Treaty is certain to face considerable domestic opposition in both countries. In France, which has been rocked by the “yellow vest” protest movement, Marine Le Pen dismissed the new treaty as an “unbalanced” diktat from Germany. Alexander Gauland, leader of the anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany, described it as an “erosion of our national sovereignty.”

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The AfD is split over its approach to Salvini. While senior AfD leaders have praised Salvini over his support for national sovereignty and his opposition to mass migration, Alice Weidel, leader of the AfD in the Bundestag has been sharply criticalof the Italian government’s financial management:

“Rome has already piled up a debt of almost 2.3 trillion euros. Wealthy Italians have long since transferred their assets abroad….

“When the EU rejects Italy’s draft budget, Interior Minister Salvini rumbles: ‘Nobody will take even one euro from this budget, from the pockets of the Italians.’ He apparently overlooks the fact that Italy would have long ago been insolvent without the help of the EU. How can you sell to the Europeans that in the future 400,000 to 500,000 Italians will be retired early, and also that there should also be a minimum income and a flat tax? These are benefits of a welfare state that other EU member states do not dare to dream of.

“The median assets of the Italian households are at a stately 240,000 euros, while in Germany they are only 66,000 euros. Italy grants amnesty to tax evaders, barely recognizes property taxes and has a ridiculous inheritance tax. Instead, it relies on European solidarity or on the European Central Bank to cancel the debt. Germany would once again be paymaster. These Romans are crazy!”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz agreed. He tweeted:

“I do not understand the budget proposal that #Italy submitted to #Brussels. We certainly will not pay for the #debts and populist election promises of others.

“At least since the #Greece crisis, it is clear that over-indebtedness is dangerous. In addition, socially weak and poor people pay the highest price for this policy. Therefore, we have finally ended the #debt policy in Austria and reported a budget surplus to Brussels.

“We therefore expect the Italian government to comply with the existing rules. The Maastricht criteria apply to all.”

Salvini first promoted the idea of a pan-European network of nationalist parties in July 2018, after his Lega party formed a coalition government with former arch rival, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S):

“To win we had to unite Italy, now we will have to unite Europe. I am thinking about a League of the Leagues of Europe, bringing together all the free and sovereign movements that want to defend their people and their borders.”

Salvini is now working on a shared, ten-point program that has yet to be fully defined. During a joint press conference in Warsaw, Salvini elaborated:

“I proposed to PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński — and I intend to propose it to others — a pact for Europe, a contract with specific commitments, a ten-point platform based on the model of the contract we signed in Italy. This agreement would allow us to overcome the differences between parties and geographical and cultural traditions. I would like a common alliance between those who want to save Europe. This goal must be first and foremost in the next European Parliament….

“We propose a common program to be offered to other parties and peoples in Europe founded on certain themes, like economic growth, security, the family, Europe’s Christian roots — themes that some in Brussels have denied….

“We have started a journey of ideas in a European Parliament that will be different from the socialist-center-right duopoly that has always governed Europe…. The only certainty I have of the European elections is that the socialists and the communists will always be less in Brussels — they have already done enough damage….

“If we want to change the EU we must be ambitious — think big. Our goal is to be present in all European countries and work with other sovereignist forces…. I know there is interest within many countries for change. This is a historic occasion: it is time to replace the Franco-German axis with an Italian-Polish alliance.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

NYT Passes Off Opinion as Reporting on Steve King

20 hours 51 min ago

The New York Times offered few alternative voices against its editorializing masquerading as reporting that equated the vile, white supremacist, racist remarks by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) were the same as President Trump’s hard-hitting language that serves as an equal-opportunity defender for all Americans.

“After years of turning a blind eye to Rep. Steve King’s inflammatory statements and racist behavior, Republicans decided this week they had had enough after Mr. King asked The New York Times when phrases like white supremacy and white nationalism became offensive,” writes New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s article. “But even as they piled on their condemnation, President Trump had used Twitter to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren for not announcing her presidential exploratory committee at Wounded Knee or Little Bighorn, sacred ground for Native Americans whose ancestors fought and died there …. Republicans are used to agonizing over how to handle the president’s offensive comments and racially tinged remarks.

Stolberg’s article fails to mention that Trump has presided over record employment among black and Latino voters, that he led the charge for new criminal justice reforms and life opportunities for prisoners and former prisoners, including many black Americans.

“‘They know on some level that their defense of Trump is morally unsupportable, and so when they get a chance to speak out against Steve King, who doesn’t have any power over them and doesn’t pose a threat to them, a lot of them are falling over themselves to condemn him,’ said Peter Wehner, who advised President George W. Bush on domestic policy. ‘But you can’t condemn Steve King and not condemn Donald Trump and pretend that you’re doing the right moral and ethical thing.’”

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In King, Republicans seem happy to have found an opportunity to condemn racism without attacking the president. After taking a beating in the 2018 midterm elections — which produced a freshman Republican class that is almost entirely white and male and boosted the share of white men in the House Republican Conference to 90 percent — Republicans are also well aware that the party needs to overhaul its image.”

Yet Stolberg also fails to mention that Trump saw improvement among black and Latino voters relative to Mitt Romney in 2012 and a higher percentage of black voters than Republican John McCain in 2012.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Accuracy in Media

NEHEMIAH 2:17

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 21:59

One of the Jewish prayers recited on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple)h, states: “You destroyed Jerusalem by fire, so too will You rebuild it with fire.” Near the Western Wall, archaeologists uncovered a complex destroyed in the Roman fires of 70 CE, and spear-pierced skeletal remains found there gave silent testimony to the tragedy. Destruction by fire is comprehensible, but the idea of construction by fire is more difficult to understand. Perhaps it indicates the degree of passion necessary to engage in such a task. If this is the case, indeed we have merited living in a time where the latter fire is burning brighter, and many are answering Nechemya’s (Nehemiah’s) call: “Come, let us rebuild!”

Leaving Egypt with Weapons of Faith

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 09:41

Leaving Egypt the Jewish men take swords for the eventual next wars, and the woman take tambourines to celebrate the eventual miracles! Rav Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai for a faithful journey through the Splitting of the Red Sea, and the war with Amalek. Then, Malkah Fleisher joins to talk about the Manna-like snow in Jerusalem and Judea!

Twin Terrorist Attacks in Syria and Kenya Show Islamist Extremism Alive and Well

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 09:16

Twin terrorist attacks – one in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the other in northern Syria showed that despite counter claims, Islamist terrorism is alive and well.

U.S. President Donald Trump precipitously announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, claiming that ISIS was on the back foot and would soon be neutralized as a force. Then came Wednesday’s attack in Manbij.

According to a report on Debkafile, “The military council of Mabij said in a statement on Thursday that more than 20 civilians were killed, as well as four Americans, in a big explosion in the center of the north Syrian town on Wednesday, and that a cell of 7 terrorists, ‘acting in concert with Turkish intelligence’ had been arrested. A large number of weapons and ammunition, including grenades, Kalashnikov assault rifles and M6 rifles was seized during searches. The blast was detonated by a suicide bomber on the town’s high street as a US military patrol was passing by. The attack was initially claimed by Daesh [Islamic State].” Three U.S. servicemen were also reportedly wounded in the attack.

Manbij, located in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria and only a few miles from the Turkish border, was liberated from ISIS in 2016 by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, there is controversy connected with the SDF; although they are partners in the anti-ISIS Coalition, Turkey views them as linked to Kurdish People’s Protection (KPP) units – which it views as a terrorist organization. This had been one of the causes of the tension in US-Turkey relations over the last few months, culminating in Trump’s decision.

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More than 5,000 miles away from Syria, another Islamist group carried out a prolonged terrorist attack in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Beginning on Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday, heavily armed terrorists took over the DusitD2 Hotel, in the same Westlands suburb that witnessed a similar attack at a mall in 2013. In that massacre, an 80-hour siege resulted in 67 people being killed. Initial reports suggested that approximately 700 people were evacuated from the hotel complex and that the death-toll in this latest atrocity was 24, though this may be subject to change.

One of the most poignant victims of the attack was American tech CEO Jason Spindler. He survived the September 11 World Trade Center immolation, but was caught up in this latest barbarity.

CCTV footage reveals faces of militants behind #RiversideAttack. #KenyaAttack #WeShallOvercome pic.twitter.com/ouYugp5s9v

— Nairobi News (@Nairobi_News) January 16, 2019

What made this attack especially newsworthy is not that it was carried out by Somali-based Islamist group Al-Shabaab – who also carried out the attack at the Westgate Mall and in 2015, Kenya’s deadliest ever assault when they shot dead almost 150 people at Garissa University – but they directly linked the motivation for carrying it out as a response to Trump’s moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The Mujahideen carried out this operation … [as] a response to the witless remarks of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the capital of Israel,” the statement read.

UPDATE: #AlShabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Dhere says Nairobi attack was retaliation for #US Pres. Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel, 21 people were killed in this attack according to #Kenya police chief, while Al Shabab claims killing 47 pple. pic.twitter.com/f6OeHHsJIi

— Mogadishu Update (@Magdashi3) January 17, 2019

On Wednesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the five attackers had been “eliminated.”

The Israeli NGO Helping Africa

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 06:38

From Senegal to Malawi, Israeli NGO Innovation: Africa has carried out over 200 innovative technology projects across Africa, helping to improve the lives of at least one million people. And counting. Find out how Israeli innovations and know-how are changing communities across Africa for the better.

Are the Ten Plagues Reappearing Today?

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 06:09

A recent wave of four Biblical plagues has many wondering if the remaining six are about to strike since, according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues that struck Egypt will reappear before the final redemption.

 

First Plague: Water to Blood 

 

Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. (Exodus 7:20)

 

More than any of the plagues that followed, the sight of crimson water has become deeply embedded in the collective unconscious and is readily associated with the Exodus. Although Pharoah’s necromancers were able to duplicate Aaron’s feat, the sight of the Nile-God turning to blood gave the Egyptians a taste of things to come.

Earlier this month, several cases of rivers turning blood-red were reported in different spots around the world, kicking off the New Year with Exodus aspirations.

 


Plague of Blood Red Rivers Suddenly Appears in Multiple Locations

 

Seventh Plague: Hail 

 

Hashem said to Moshe, “Hold out your arm toward the sky that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, upon man and beast and all the grasses of the field in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 9:22

 

Last year ended with hail showing up in unexpected locations. Saudi Arabia was hit by baseball-sized ice balls, covering the sandy deserts. A short but intense hailstorm is Swaziland, South Africa killed a herd of cows. But even more shocking was the Biblical mixture of fire and ice that struck in Australia as ice storms were accompanied by lightning that set of bush fires.

 


Hail Pounds Saudi Desert, Kills Cattle in Swaziland

 

 

Eighth Plague: Locusts

They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)


Just last week Saudi Arabia suffered a massive infestation of bugs, most notably locusts. In a case of divine irony, the bugs arrived in time for the weekly Torah reading that described their role in the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Though many natural causes were blamed for the insects’ appearance, images of the floor of the Great Mosque in Mecca covered in dead locusts evoked Biblical connotations.

 


Plague of Locusts Attacks Islam’s Holiest Mosque in Mecca

 

 

Ninth Plague: Darkness

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt. (Exodus 10:21)

 

The total solar eclipse that transversed the continental U.S. in August 2017 ushered in one of the most catastrophic hurricane seasons in the nation’s history. The country will not see another total solar eclipse until April 2024 but on January 21, a lunar eclipse with grave spiritual significance will pass over the country.

 

 


Mystic Rabbi: Blood Moon Over D.C. Sending Message to America

 

 

Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn

 

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. (Exodus 12:29)

 

It may be that the most dreaded Tenth Plague is reappearing, or at least one disturbing aspect of it. In a recent article concerning the Messianic implications of do-it-yourself DNA testing, it was revealed that 20-30 percent of paternity tests reveal that the man doing the test is not the father of the child they are testing.

Rabbi Berger saw this an aspect of the redemption that was witnessed in the Exodus from Egypt. He noted that this technology-aided revelation of widespread infidelity closely resembles what was seen in Egypt just prior to the Exodus of the Hebrews. He noted that according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues of Egypt would be revisited before the Messiah.

“During the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn, there were households with one father and one mother in which several, or all of the children would die,” Rabbi Berger explained. “That was because they were all firstborn…to different fathers.”

 


Plague of the First Born Revisited Via Genetic Testing

 

ISIS-Claimed Suicide Attack Kills US Forces in Northern Syria

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 04:29

Warning: Some viewers may find the opening scene upsetting!!

An Islamic State-claimed suicide attack targeting US-led coalition forces in the flashpoint northern Syrian city of Manbij killed at least 15 people including four U.S. servicemen on Wednesday.

A U.S. official confirmed that four American servicemen were killed in the attack and at least three others were wounded.

Israel Air Force Invited to First-Ever Joint Exercise With Britain’s RAF

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 04:11

Israel’s air force is to take part in its first-ever joint drill with the Royal Air Force in Britain in the most open level of cooperation between the two forces yet, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.

The IAF has been invited to take part in the annual Cobra Warrior exercise at Coningsby airbase in Lincolnshire in September. While defense cooperation between Israel and Britain has been intensifying at all levels in recent years, the IAF has never been invited to participate in the exercise.

The RAF’s advanced Qualified Weapons Instructor course traditionally includes crew and aircraft from other allied air forces that train together with their British counterparts in complex combat scenarios. In 2018, the RAF invited German and Italian aircraft to take part in the exercise.

In a sign of intensified military and defense relations, a team of Israeli combat pilots last year held a joint training seminar with the RAF Typhoon aircrew at a base in Lossiemouth in Scotland, but on that occasion did not arrive with their own aircraft.

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In 2017, the RAF and IAF completed three days of joint exercises to test sea-rescue capabilities in stormy conditions. The two air forces have also exchanged experience they gained operating the new F-35 stealth fighters.

Every two years, the Israeli Air Force hosts “Blue Flag,” an international exercise in which air forces from other nations travel to the Jewish state to practice their aeronautic skills.

Much like the American-hosted “Red Flag” drills, the exercise aims to forge bonds between multinational allies. In 2017, the “Blue Flag” exercise included aircraft and crews from the United States, Germany, Greece, India, Poland, Italy, and France.

The RAF is expected to participate in the exercise in 2020, which would be the first time they openly train in Israeli airspace.

In October, Britain’s Ministry of Defence agreed to a contract worth up to $52 million to purchase the MORPHEUS battlefield management application from Elbit Systems UK, a subsidiary of the Israeli defense giant.

Are the Ten Plagues Reappearing Today?

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 02:56

A recent wave of four Biblical plagues has many wondering if the remaining six are about to strike since, according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues that struck Egypt will reappear before the final redemption.

First Plague: Water to Blood

More than any of the plagues that followed, the sight of crimson water has become deeply embedded in the collective unconscious and is readily associated with the Exodus. Although Pharoah’s necromancers were able to duplicate Aaron’s feat, the sight of the Nile-God turning to blood gave the Egyptians a taste of things to come.

Earlier this month, several cases of rivers turning blood-red were reported in different spots around the world, kicking off the New Year with Exodus aspirations.

A satellite photo taken of the Nile River. (Credit: European Space Agency) Plague of Blood Red Rivers Suddenly Appears in Multiple Locations

 

Seventh Plague: Hail

Last year ended with hail showing up in unexpected locations. Saudi Arabia was hit by baseball-sized ice balls, covering the sandy deserts. A short but intense hailstorm is Swaziland, South Africa killed a herd of cows. But even more shocking was the Biblical mixture of fire and ice that struck in Australia as ice storms were accompanied by lightning that set of bush fires.

Cattle killed by hail in South Africa (Twitter/Citizen) Hail Pounds Saudi Desert, Kills Cattle in Swaziland

 

Eighth Plague: Locusts

Just last week Saudi Arabia suffered a massive infestation of bugs, most notably locusts. In a case of divine irony, the bugs arrived in time for the weekly Torah reading that described their role in the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Though many natural causes were blamed for the insects’ appearance, images of the floor of the Great Mosque in Mecca covered in dead locusts evoked Biblical connotations.

A swarm of locusts infests the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Credit: YouTube screenshot)

 

Plague of Locusts Attacks Islam’s Holiest Mosque in Mecca Ninth Plague: Darkness

The total solar eclipse that traversed the continental U.S. in August 2017 ushered in one of the most catastrophic hurricane seasons in the nation’s history. The country will not see another total solar eclipse until April 2024 but on January 21, a lunar eclipse with grave spiritual significance will pass over the country.

 

Mystic Rabbi: Blood Moon Over D.C. Sending Message to America

 

Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn

It may be that the most dreaded Tenth Plague is reappearing, or at least one disturbing aspect of it. In a recent article concerning the Messianic implications of do-it-yourself DNA testing, it was revealed that 20-30 percent of paternity tests reveal that the man doing the test is not the father of the child they are testing.

Rabbi Berger saw this an aspect of the redemption that was witnessed in the Exodus from Egypt. He noted that this technology-aided revelation of widespread infidelity closely resembles what was seen in Egypt just prior to the Exodus of the Hebrews. He noted that according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues of Egypt would be revisited before the Messiah.

“During the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn, there were households with one father and one mother in which several, or all of the children would die,” Rabbi Berger explained. “That was because they were all firstborn…to different fathers.”

(Credit: Shutterstock.com)

 

Plague of the First Born Revisited Via Genetic Testing

NEHEMIAH 3:15

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 02:46

The most extraordinary site where one can see the merging of biblical text with archaeology is Jerusalem’s City of David National Park. Although identified in the mid-nineteenth century, many answers to biblical riddles still lay locked beneath its soil. In 2005, Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar discover a large stone structure that she believes to be the foundations of King David’s palace, illuminating the verse “David captured the stronghold of Tzion; it is now the City of David” (II Samuel 5:7). As one stands in this spot and gazes at the mountains in all directions, King David’s words come to life: “Yerushalayim, hills enfold it, and Hashem enfolds His people now and forever” (Psalms 125:2).

Israel’s Sovereignty on the Golan Heights: Why Now?

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 02:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a public declaration of Israel’s interest in having the United States recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  Senators Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz have introduced legislation urging just that.

Why now?

There is no “peace process” – certainly none that involves Syria – and little push in international circles to force Israel to cede the territory to the war criminal Bashar Assad.  The U.S. has even taken a stand against the annual U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s presence on the Golan, calling it “useless” and “plainly biased.”  Is it possible that someone, somewhere, thinks that as the Syrian civil war calcifies and the players jockey for new semi-permanent positions, this is a good time to “settle” the Golan as well?

Well, yes.  The prime minister.

Two things are worth understanding: U.N. Resolution 242 and Israel’s “right to exist.”

Among those opposed to recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan are some notable friends of Israel – including former U.S. ambassador Daniel Shapiro – who believe that under the terms of UNSCR 242, Israel is required to give up the Golan at some point (not now, Shapiro says adamantly) because countries cannot acquire territory by force.  That is incorrect.  The text says, “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war…”

War, not force, and the difference is meaningful.

It was the Arab states that went to war in 1967; Israel acquired the territory in self-defense.  To say territory acquired through defense has to be returned to the aggressors would suggest that the Arabs could go to war and lose territory (which they did) but then return to status quo ante and try again later, rendering defense temporary at best.  The U.N. understood that, mandating that territorial adjustment for Israel would include:

… [T]ERMINATION OF ALL CLAIMS OR STATES OF BELLIGERENCY AND RESPECT FOR AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY AND POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE OF EVERY STATE IN THE AREA AND THEIR RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE WITHIN SECURE AND RECOGNIZED BOUNDARIES FREE FROM THREATS OR ACTS OF FORCE.

Arabs first, since Israel maintained no state of war against any Arab country.  It was only when Anwar Sadat acknowledged the requirement by appearing in Israel’s Knesset that peace was possible and Sadat’s demand for “every grain of sand in Sinai” was met.  Sinai was 93% of the “territories occupied in the recent conflict,” leading the late Eugene Rostow – a chief architect of the resolution – to say Israel had complied with it whether it returned “all, some, or none” of the remaining territory to Arab control.

“Secure and recognized boundaries” is a reference to the fact that the 1948 borders were neither of those things and would have to be fixed.

This leads directly to the second point.

It is frequently said by people meaning to defend the State of Israel that they accept “Israel’s right to exist, but not…” whatever.  Who asks permission to “exist”?  Did the United States ask King George?

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The restoration of part of the Jewish people to part of its historic, indigenous territory did not need ratification by the League of Nations or the U.N.  Jews lived there from the beginning – sometimes only a remnant, and after 70 C.E. under various occupations, and in increasing numbers beginning in the 19th century.   Its capital was never anyone else’s capital.  To be a modern, independent state, however, the Jewish people accepted the international standards of the 20th century – the Balfour Declaration, with an endorsement by the U.S. Congress in 1922, the League of Nations, and the United Nations – in support of its sovereign status.

That’s it.  The fact that the Arab States not only did not accept those standards, but went to war more than once to turn the clock back has nothing to do with anything.

As we mourn the passing of Moshe Arens — Israeli patriot and diplomat, defense minister and aeronautical engineer, we quote him.  “According to the second law of thermodynamics there are no reversible processes in nature.  Nothing can return exactly to its original state.  This law may not hold in international relations, but the exceptions are few and far between.”

The U.N. may have a better chance of reversing the laws of thermodynamics than of bringing Syria to accept its obligations under U.N. Resolution 242.

But in 1967, the U.N. was smarter than that.  Resolution 242 did not confirm some nebulous “right to exist” for Israel; that was established.   It didn’t even call for “peace” as its ultimate aim.  Instead, it required “a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security.”  Peace was the condition that would provide security – and security for a sovereign Israel was the endgame.

How long is Israel required to wait?  It has been almost 52 years since Syria lost the Golan Heights as a result of aggression from that space that began before the independence of Israel.  It is 45 years since Israel repulsed the aggression of the Yom Kippur War.

It is appropriate for the world to ratify Israel’s right, not to minimal or shaky “existence,” but rather to “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” on the Golan.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish Policy Center

Mourning for a Bygone Lebanon

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 01:00

Iranian-backed Hezbollah has long used Lebanon as a “state within a state.” This weekend, Israel’s sophisticated tunnel-detection equipment uncovered its sixth tunnel, carved out of rock by Hezbollah. In early December, Israel embarked on “Operation Northern Shield” to uncover and explode Hezbollah’s vast network of tunnels meant to reach across the Golan Heights, leading directly into Israel.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the tunnels were wide and deep enough to allow for dozens of Hezbollah terrorist to penetrate Israel and conduct an opening salvo of the next war, accompanied by a massive explosion of the approximate 150,000 missiles.

At the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 1701, calling for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon. Israel was so careful to honor not only the letter, but the spirit of the resolution that they painted their stones blue and retreated south of the demarcation line (thus, the etymology of the term “The Blue Line”).

U.N. Resolution 1701 also called for the creation of the United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, whose job remains to ensure that there is a disarmament of all foreign forces within Lebanon.

However, according to several reports, the IDF had notified UNIFIL Forces about the existence of the Hezbollah tunnels. UNIFIL turned around and notified the Lebanese Armed Forces, and unfortunately, the LAF, in turn, notified Hezbollah.

The LAF has an interesting relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah and the LAF have been in a delicate balancing act as to which militia is the more dominant power in Lebanon. At this point, it seems as though Hezbollah has been in increasingly more powerful, and is exerting its influence both outside and within the LAF.

Many have described the LAF as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Hezbollah.”

As Aram Nerguizian from the Carnegie Middle East Center discusses, Lebanon has “parallel non-state military actors retaining both operational autonomy and national security legitimacy. The most obvious of this are the asymmetric military forces of Hezbollah.”

He adds that “no state institution, including the LAF, will openly challenge Hezbollah’s domestic credibility with its own Shia constituency, and the group’s resistance operations and expeditionary campaign in Syria have further strengthened Hezbollah’s domestic legitimacy.”

This is profoundly sad.

There was a period of time when I had looked towards Lebanon as the one Middle Eastern nation, outside of Israel, with religious freedom for all, and proportional representation in government for where minority and majority ethnic groups and religions.

Beirut was once considered “the Riviera of the Mediterranean”—the wealthiest city in the Middle East, a magnet for the international jet-set crowd.

The radiant epoch of that optimistic history was a brief moment from Feb. 14 to April 27, 2005, known as “The Cedar Revolution.” It was a time when tens of thousands of Lebanese Christians courageously took to the streets and demanded an ouster of Syrian forces.

That moment now seems like ancient history.

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It had been provoked by the Feb. 14 assassination via truck bomb of Lebanese President Rafic Hariri. Four Lebanese members of Hezbollah were indicted in the murder.

Lebanon is a country made up of a myriad of ethnic and religious groups, including Shia and Sunni Muslims, Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, Melkite Catholic and Protestant Christians, and Druze (there hasn’t been a new census in Lebanon since 1932). Their byzantine system of governance tries to allow for a rotation of power for the various ethnic and religious groups, based on demographics.

In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadir and Hussein el-Husseini, both Shia Muslims, established “The Movement of the Deprived” or the “Amal Movement,” which was a populist movement that aimed to represent “all dispossessed, deprived and poor people.” And then, ignited by the momentum of Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Shi’ite movement began to emerge as a real force to reckon with and formed Hezbollah, meaning “The Party of God.”

Since then, Hezbollah has rapidly caught fire. Hezbollah runs an entire social-network system of schools, hospitals and even sports clubs throughout Lebanon. These entities and private homes have been used as military bases for Hezbollah.

To see how powerful it’s become, in the last parliamentary election in May of 2018, Hezbollah won more than half of the 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament.

Many of the Hezbollah fighters were involved in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside the forces of the ruthless Syrian President Bashar Assad and their mutual patron, Iran.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States gives the Lebanese Armed Forces approximately $150 million dollars a year, adding up to $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion over the last 10 years. Because of the intricate and complicated relationship between Hezbollah and the LAF, it’s high time we suspended that aid.

Unfortunately, we’ve come a long way since the golden days of the Cedar Revolution.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Endowment for Middle East Truth