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PM Netanyahu Meets with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 04:18

PM Netanyahu welcomed Mnuchin to Israel on his second official visit and maintained that the US-Israel alliance under President Trump has never been stronger.

(Ret.) IDF Major General’s Assessment of Israel’s Security Response Following Gaza Escalations

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 04:04

This past week has seen a rise in tension in the south of Israel, with early morning rockets fired from the Gaza strip towards Israel on October 17, one of them hitting and destroying a home in the city of Be’er Sheva. With strikes continuing, the IDF struck 20 Gazan coastal targets, including underground infrastructure including a terror tunnel and tunnel dig sites, Hamas military bases and rocket manufacturing sites.

While IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis held Hamas responsible for the attack, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, denied responsibility for the rocket fire, claiming the cell belongs to an “errant” radical factions formerly part of Fatah, now with close ties to Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment meeting at the headquarters of the IDF Gaza Division, with the participation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Deputy IDF Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, National Security Council Director Meir Ben-Shabbat, ISA Director Nadav Argaman and senior security establishment officials.

“If these attacks do not stop,” Netanyahu told them, “we will stop them.”

Dr. John A.I Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, thanked the IDF for its quick response and continued efforts in keeping Israel safe “and for doing everything it can to minimize casualties and trauma, especially in southern Israel where residents have only seconds to take cover in bomb shelters.”

He expressed his relief that the family in the destroyed Be’er Sheva home was able to run to their bomb shelter in time. “Thankfully, the mother acted quickly to rush her three children to safety,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is a situation all mothers in Israel must be prepared for – a reality of terror that the IDF is working to address to the best of its abilities.”

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A long-term solution, he said, is critical in order to provide Israel with lasting calm.

As a part of such efforts to address Israel’s security challenges on the Gaza border in the future, Major General (ret.) Giora Eiland, who previously headed the IDF operation branch, planning branch and Israel’s national security council, addressed the escalating tensions at a press conference call and laid out his long-term solution towards a quiet border.

Eiland urged Israeli politicians to adopt a “more realistic” reframing of Israel’s security situation, necessary to pave the way for lasting solutions on the Gaza border. The current political perspective, he said, does not permit the IDF to make important security decisions that could make a real change.

He posed that Israeli politicians are hesitating between two alternative responses: “One alternative, the implicitly chosen alternative, is to tolerate low levels of terror activities along the fence, as well as Palestinian civilian demonstrations with terrorist devices such as arson balloons,” he said.

 

Another alternative, presented Eiland, is to retaliate with airstrikes and a ground operation similar to the 2014 incursion. “If this happens,” said Eiland, “we could regain deterrence against Hamas and others.”

However, maintained Eiland, this option would not solve the root problem, and Israel is reluctant to enter into another incursion “because there would be a high military, economic, political and international price for few achievements.” Hamas, he said, is also uninterested in another cycle of violence.

Eiland therefore called for a third policy alternative, an option he posed as necessary to address the root problem of terror on Israel’s border. He warned, however, that this third policy alternative would be difficult to adopt with the current political narrative that Hamas is only interested in the destruction of Israel and should not be negotiated with.

Thus, a reframing of Hamas would be necessary – a reframing towards the accurate perspective that Hamas has created a de facto, independent Palestinian state. “It has clear territorial borders, a central government with independent foreign policy and military force,” said Eiland. Because Hamas is the de facto government of the state of Gaza, he said, it maintains interests like any other government – first and foremost of which is maintaining power in Gaza against any opposition, whether it is the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or “any other extreme organizations.”

“Once Israel adopts that perspective, we might be able to negotiate for the benefit of Israel’s security interests,” declared Eiland.

Towards those ends, Hamas would need monitored economic assistance to rebuild Gaza. “Hamas does not accept Israel’s nonviolence for nonviolence proposal because they are then left with the responsibility of a shortage of electricity, water, employment, funding and infrastructure,” Eiland explained.

What would interest Hamas, he maintained, is an arrangement with Israel in which economic assistance is given by a European country or international organization to build power stations and other infrastructure, in addition to desalination and power assistance to increase the GDP of Gaza. In return, Hamas would be committed to full non-violence and a reasonable exchange of prisoners – a perspective Eiland believes Hamas would accept.

To ensure that the money would not be funneled towards terror activities, a bank would allocate funds in phases related to the progress of infrastructure building. “Every dollar would need to be presented, as is the way national projects work all over the world. It could be done in Gaza quite easily if Hamas gives a clear commitment to nonviolence,” he said.

“If we view Hamas as a government that needs to be accountable and feed its people, we would understand that Hamas will agree to these conditions and there would be no conflict with security interests,” Eiland related.

“But the fact that Israel only will work with the Palestinian Authority is an obstacle preventing both sides from reaching this arrangement – ff there is no change in Israeli policy shortly, we might be left with the two other alternatives.”

Adopting this perspective is not simple for a politician, he warned, but policy “must be conducted on real national interests.”

“We cannot ignore the de facto state of Gaza. Recognizing this reality will most likely lead to a solution that would promote a lasting quiet on our Gaza border.”

Written in coordination with LIBI USA.

Why Palestinians Do Not Have a Parliament

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 02:00

In the absence of a parliament, the Palestinians have no address to express their grievances. They cannot write to or phone their elected legislators to complain about anything. All they can do is resort to social media, especially Facebook, to air their views.

As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not tolerate criticism particularly well, he doubtless feels more comfortable delivering speeches at international forums such as the United Nations, the European Parliament and his own Fatah and PLO institutions than at the Palestinian parliament. The others are places where no one takes him to task for his tyranny.

In the past few years, scores of Palestinians have been harassed, arrested and interrogated by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

The Fatah Revolutionary Council, dominated by people loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has recommended that Abbas dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). This is yet another attempt by Abbas to silence his critics and prevent an open debate among Palestinians about his policies. Pictured: The PLC building in Ramallah on January 28, 2006, three days after its last election. (Photo by Zharan Hammad/Getty Images)

Parliaments, among the strongest manifestations of a democracy, represent the electorate, enact laws and oversee the government through hearings and inquiries.

Apparently, this does not apply to the Palestinians, who, as a result of the power struggle between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have, for the past 11 years, been without a functioning parliament.

The Palestinian Authority’s unicameral legislature is the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Both the PA and PLC were established after the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993. The first Palestinian legislative election took place in January 1996. The second, and last, election took place in January 2006; it resulted in a victory for Hamas.

In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip and toppled the Palestinian Authority regime that was there. Since then, the Palestinian parliament has not been functioning properly, although Hamas legislators sometimes meet separately in the Gaza Strip. In the absence of a functioning parliament, Abbas has been passing laws by “presidential decree.” Several Palestinians have questioned their legality and accused the Palestinian leader of violating Palestinian Basic Law.

Abbas has effectively replaced the PLC as the sole lawmaker for the Palestinians. This situation has turned him into an autocratic and totalitarian president who makes decisions without being held accountable by anyone, including members of the Palestinian parliament.

Worse, Abbas has also been using his powers to punish those members of parliament who dare to criticize him or voice opposition to his policies. In 2016, for instance, Abbas stripped five “rebellious” legislators of their parliamentary immunity: Mohammed Dahlan, Shami al-Shami, Najaf Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma’ah and Jamal Tirawi.

“Abbas’s decision is in violation of the Palestinian Basic law, which calls for the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities,” commented Abu Bakr. “We respect the judicial system and the law. We reject any attempt to exploit the law to tamper with the judiciary.”

Abbas, for his part, does not like the PLC because he knows that many of its Fatah and Hamas members are critical of him and his policies. As Abbas does not tolerate criticism particularly well, he doubtless feels more comfortable delivering speeches at international forums such as the United Nations, the European Parliament and his own Fatah and PLO institutions than at the Palestinian parliament. The others are places where no one takes him to task for his tyranny.

The PLO and Fatah institutions Abbas frequently addresses are dominated by his loyalists, many of whom are also on his payroll. Who needs a parliament when one has the PLO Executive Committee, the PLO Central Council and the Fatah Central Committee, whose members can be counted on blindly to back Abbas and his decisions? The three Palestinian bodies have, in fact, replaced the PLC as the key decision-making institutions of the Palestinians. However, the only decisions these bodies take are ones that fully support Abbas in everything he says and does.

In the absence of a parliament, the Palestinians have no address to express their grievances. They cannot write to or phone their elected legislators to complain about anything. All they can do is resort to social media, especially Facebook, to air their views. Even then, the Palestinians are not safe from the long arm of the Palestinian security forces. In the past few years, scores of Palestinians have been harassed, arrested and interrogated by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

On October 14, Abbas loyalists took yet another step that will further undermine the Palestinians’ chances of ever becoming a free and democratic society that would include a functioning and vibrant parliament with an open debate. The Fatah Revolutionary Council, another significant body dominated by Abbas loyalists, recommended that the Palestinian president dissolve the PLC and prepare for general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This recommendation, by unelected Fatah officials against elected members of the Palestinian parliament, was seen both as undemocratic on legal and parliamentary grounds, and as undermining the Palestinians’ confidence in Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.

Critics of Abbas and legal experts have condemned the Fatah recommendation to dissolve the Palestinian parliament. They argue that the move is not aimed at bringing reform and democracy, but to allow Abbas and Fatah to get rid of the PLC.

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Hasan Khraisheh, a deputy speaker of the PLC, said that neither Abbas nor Fatah was authorized to dissolve the parliament. “The PLC was elected by the Palestinian people, and it can’t be dissolved by the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which was not elected by the people,” he argued. “Dissolving the parliament means dissolving the Palestinian Authority, which also means dissolving President Abbas himself.”

The latest move to dissolve the PLC is yet another attempt by Abbas to silence his critics and prevent an open debate among Palestinians about his policies. In the absence of a parliament, for example there is no debate about Abbas’s policy towards his rivals in Hamas or his relations with the US and Israel. His aides claim that the decision to dissolve the PLC is aimed at preparing for long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the continued power struggle between Abbas and Hamas makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections. The rival parties do not trust each other, so it is hard to see how, under the current circumstances, when they are at each other’s throats, they would ever agree to hold such elections.

For the past 11 years, because of the infighting between Hamas and Fatah and because of Abbas’s continued attempt to bypass and undermine the Palestinian legislators, the Palestinian parliament has been dying . Now, the Fatah recommendation to dissolve it completely has driven the final nail into the parliament’s coffin. By sidelining the PLC, Abbas and his loyalists have destroyed any dream the Palestinians ever had of having a functioning parliament.

By a stroke of fate, the Fatah move to dissolve the PLC came hours before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, opened its winter session in Jerusalem.

All that is left, therefore, for the Palestinians to do is envy Israel, which has a vibrant parliament where lawmakers, including Arab MPs, are free to criticize and denounce Israeli government leaders and policies without fear of intimidation and retribution. For now, it seems the Palestinians will have to live with a dictatorship and autocratic leaders who are doing their utmost to deprive their people of democracy, transparency and accountability.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

God is Not a ‘What,’ or a ‘When,’ and Not Even a ‘Who’

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 01:00

“And God said to Noah: The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth has become full of robbery because of them, and behold I am destroying them from the earth.” [Bereshit 6:13]

In the last chapter, I suggested that from an authentic Jewish point of view, it is a mistake to hold humankind or the Jewish people responsible for natural disasters—such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes or fires—due to religious or moral failures. Though some disasters may indeed be due to human failure, it is in fact irresponsible and dangerous to make human beings responsible for every disaster, since it reflects the same mistake the friends of the biblical Iyov (Job) made when they assumed that he must have sinned. For them it was obvious that he was at fault; otherwise, why would so many terrible afflictions have befallen him? Iyov, however, insisted that he had not sinned and challenged God as to why he had been made to endure such terrible miseries, since he was innocent! God responded that He knew this to be true but confronted Iyov with a question that speaks to the core of the matter: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? In other words: Since when is the human being really the measure of all things? The universe, with its black holes, baby universes and millions of stars clearly indicates that God’s reason for creating the universe surpasses by far the argument that all this was just created for the sake of humanity. That people suffer and natural disasters take place may have to do with matters that go to the very foundation of all existence and have nothing to do with peoples’ religious or moral failures.

Do terrible tragedies that afflict the innocent raise the question of whether it is more honest to deny God’s existence? Does all the pain in this world not make a strong case for such a proposition? Is the constant attempt to justify God’s existence, by way of apologetics, not a farce, and futile?

An attitude such as this, however, is guilty of erroneous reasoning. It assumes, as do the “pro-God” apologists, that God needs to fit the picture we have of Him, or would like to have of Him: a good God. However, by making God good by our standards, we are essentially making God into an idol, one Who fulfills our needs. That is surely not the Jewish God. While He shares with us certain qualities, He is far more than that. He does not belong to any category with which we can identify.

It seems that God is not the type of “good God” we always speak about and want to believe in. His goodness may apply only to the fact that He is good in and of Himself. He possesses goodness, but it is a truth known only to Him and has no bearing on human beings.

The Atheist’s Solution

This argument is not apologetic but an admission of our limited understanding. Atheism is no solution. It is an escape, which ultimately only increases the problem. To argue that all of existence is accidental requires more belief than believing that there is a Creator, and a purpose to all existence. The believer is a greater skeptic than the atheist. The difference is that believers admit their limitations while atheists do not. “The writers against religion, whilst they oppose every system, are wisely careful never to set up any of their own,” said Edmund Burke.

This idea is supported by a well-known passage in the Talmud discussing the case of shiluach haken — the obligation to send away a mother bird before taking her young. In an unusually harsh statement, the Sages forbid one to say that compassion is the reason for this law, and they declare that such a person “is to be silenced.” It is not mercy behind this law, says the Talmud, but the unknowable Divine Will. Ultimately, we do not know why things are the way they are. God cannot be scrutinized.

The problem of creating God in our image is not a new one. Moshe asks God to reveal His name to him before he conveys the message to the Jews that He will redeem them from Egyptian bondage. God refuses to do so, and His answer is astonishing: “I will be Whoever I will be.” I am not a “what,” or a “when.” I am not even a “who.” There is no term you can use to describe Me. Any attempt to give Me an image is a serious violation of My very being. Any conclusive explanation of My deeds is idol worship. I permit you to describe Me in human terms only as long as you know that any such description will ultimately break down. No word can ever contain Me.

When disasters befall humankind, they may very well have no correlation with people’s behavior. They may simply be part of God’s cosmic plan, perhaps alluding to other divine aspects that are totally beyond us and known only to God. As long as we do not know why God created the universe, including so many other worlds, we cannot say for sure whether every calamity is a result of our shortcomings. Some may be, and some may not be. We should never deny the ever-present possibility that various divine factors are at work.

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The Joy of Life

The joy of life, which is so much a part of Jewish tradition, focuses on the fact that from a divine perspective, things could actually be much worse. Despite God’s impenetrable nature and thoughts, He shared some of His “good” qualities with humanity, informing us that our existence has great meaning, though we will never know what that consists of. It is this aspect that is celebrated by Jewish tradition and beckons us to understand that despite all the pain, it is for the most part possible to enjoy life, to attain simchat chayim!

The claim that people are responsible for every disaster is a burden we may not be able to bear. It is an attitude of hopelessness that may lead us to give up and see God only as a vengeful God with Whom we cannot have a relationship. It would be better to reason, as does Søren Kierkegaard, that God sometimes applies His “teleological suspension of the ethical” so as to achieve His goals within the universe—not only because we have a philosophical need to see God in terms of His total Otherness, but because it may be closer to the truth. Theodicy as a means of claiming that God can be justified in human terms is a form of idol worship.

Over the years, Jewish worship has adopted an attitude of mipnei chato’enu galinu me’artzenu (because of our sins we have been exiled from our land), which has developed into a form of pessimism that is not loyal to the teachings of our Jewish tradition. It pretends that humans are superhuman; it is dangerous and religiously unhealthy.

This approach has infiltrated and dominates too many of our daily prayers, which should be replaced with prayers about God whose exalted greatness is inscrutable but worthy of our worship.

Whether or not a devastating fire, or any other natural disaster, is an expression of divine displeasure we do not know. Nor will it ever be known, until we will again be blessed with prophets.

Humility

What it should evoke in us is a feeling of deep humility. It should serve as a wake-up call, that all our boasting, our arrogance, our claiming that we know it all and that one day all of nature will be under our control is one of the most pathetic dreams we have ever entertained. One storm, such as those that in recent history hit the United States and other countries, can bring all of the world’s population to its knees.

No doubt we should treat each disaster as if it was a warning, a call for repentance, for humility, and even more a call to help wherever we can. The dangerous apathy of many of us in the wake of such terrible tragedy is perhaps the most devastating expression of human failure.

We must be fully aware that calamities are perhaps part of God’s cosmic plan far beyond human behavior. And we are not to be blamed. This is an important message to send to our young people, lest they despair under the yoke of religious pessimism. Better a God Who is incomprehensible than a God Who unremittingly causes us to feel that all catastrophes are our fault. Believing the latter is un-Jewish.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

How a Virtual Jewish Nation Can Bring About Tikkun Olam

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 00:00

We’re all familiar with “the cloud.” But have heard about “cloud nations”?

If you ask futurists and visionaries, such as Dr. Roey Tzezana, they will tell you that in the coming decades we will no longer need the territorial institutions of the world. Instead, most of the government and civil services will be provided automatically and from anywhere in the world through newly developing technologies such as Blockchain.

Essentially, “cloud nations” are a virtual way for a large number of people to unite under a common identity, and easily program their own “smart contracts” that will transparently oversee the conduct of a large number of individuals. And at the same time, enjoy all the rights and services that currently only exist in the physical world.

Cloud nations are not bounded by territory, they have no borders, and citizens can leave and enter these “states” freely. Cloud nations can replace a large number of institutions and governmental bodies, and even transfer the power of decision-making to citizens, gradually rendering governmental functions obsolete.

Cloud nations will provide immediate and decentralized systems of justice, so most of the functions of courts won’t be necessary. Citizens will receive prompt justice anywhere and at any time, and have an effective government that will act for them on their own behalf.

In addition, cloud nations will allow for a cooperative economy that doesn’t concentrate power in the hands of greedy economic tyrants. And obviously, the artificial intelligence of the cloud nation will know how to answer any question, as it will analyze all the information that exists from the dawn of humanity, and also calculate the basic needs of every human being to provide him with what he wants with a push of a button and 3D printing.

As mind bending as this future scenario sounds, Dr. Roey Tzezana doesn’t stop there. In his recent book, “Rulers of the Future,” he takes the idea of cloud nations another step further.

Together with Jewish thinkers and researchers, the futurist is working on the “Jewish Cloud Nation” project – a virtual state that will finally unite all Jews around the world, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, and provide services to all of them “in a fully decentralized way with no geographical limitations.”

The core values of the Jewish Cloud Nation will be determined by a committee of Jewish sages that will include the great thinkers and social scientists who will meet physically and virtually to decipher and define common values for all Jews around the world.

According to the “Jewish Cloud nation” website, the aim is to realize the momentous Jewish value of “Tikkun Olam” – an old-new principle according to which Jews carry a responsibility for the entire world. “The code of the Jewish Cloud Nation will be open and transparent, and will be shared with everyone to allow for further creation of other cloud nations, to serve the needs of citizens of the entire world without the involvement of dysfunctional governments or corrupted regimes.”

It is nice to see that experts who recognize the imminent technological future, also envision the emergence of a cooperative society and even take steps to realize the vision. Such a vision corresponds directly with the social teachings that appear in the authentic writings of Kabbalah. About a century ago, Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag wrote: “Do not be surprised if I mix together the well-being of a particular collective with the well-being of the whole world, because indeed, we have already come to such a degree that the whole world is considered one collective and one society.”

The process that we’re about to enter is no less than the birth of a new humanity. From day to day, we are witnessing the culmination of a multi-faceted global crisis that will necessitate us to reorganize human society. We will have to adapt to our interdependence, as well as our interconnection with the natural system. And technology experts are certainly among the pioneers to identify this trend. What’s more, they recognize the practical tools to create an infrastructure that will enable a new social order at every level: economic, social, political, educational etc.

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And yet, smart contracts are not enough to bring people together. Technology does indeed upgrade our abilities, but it doesn’t upgrade our inner qualities and the way we relate to each other.

If the “Jewish Cloud Nation” aspires to be an exemplary society based on mutual concern, it must begin from an educational process that is welcomed by its initial citizens. They will have to encourage mutual consideration and build new norms and values for positive social engagement. Ultimately, they need to develop a new way to sense each other, as pieces of a single whole. This is a conscious development that requires people’s willingness to change themselves and upgrade their perception of life.

A prime example of such a change is the issue of privacy. To futurists such as Tzezana, It’s clear that no matter how much we discuss the right for privacy in our time, in the technological future, the struggle for privacy is a lost battle. Also, the renunciation of privacy will help the system benefit the individual.

Privacy in cloud nations will have to be reduced to a minimum, but the willingness to give up one’s privacy is a matter that requires great preparation and adoption of new values that will exchange the need for privacy with real benefit. This is just one example of the need to change human consciousness and nurture human connection.

As we move towards the structure of the future society that our technology is weaving before our eyes, we will have to adapt to values and concepts that today seem utopian or simply delusional. Therefore, rather than expecting our technology to direct us, we should educate ourselves towards the change we have to go through – becoming interconnected human beings in a society that promotes unity and rewards mutual concern and consideration.

If the pioneers of the Jewish Cloud Nation train themselves for this, rains of blessings will come down from the Jewish Cloud Nation to the entire world.

US To Impose Further Sanctions On Iran, Aim To Oust It From Syria

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 06:15

The United States is planning to impose further sanctions on Iran as it ratchets up the pressure to attempt to force the Islamic Republic from its proxy, Syria.

Short of a full-blown military plan, the strategy would stress political and diplomatic efforts to oust Iran out of Syria by weakening it economically. It would pause reconstruction assistance from areas where Iranian and Russian forces are present, three people familiar with the plan told the media outlet. An example of such an area is Aleppo, a rebel stronghold until the Syrian regime won it back in 2016.

Additionally, the United States would impose sanctions on Russian and Iranian firms working on reconstruction in Syria.

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz told NBC News.

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The United States is not allowed to specifically expand the U.S. military mission in Syria to directly target Iranian assets, according to legal experts, because that would put it on the wrong side of the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001. However, the U.S. army is allowed to strike the Iranian military in self-defense under that same authorization.

“The United States will continue to seek to hold [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad accountable for his crimes,” an administration official told NBC News. “Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, the administration will soon submit to Congress a strategy for Syria that reflects the president’s key priorities.”

This development follows the U.S. sanctioning of 22 businesses on Tuesday for providing financial support to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s militia, which recruits, trains and deploys child soldiers to fight in Syria and other places. Iran responded negatively on Wednesday to the announcement.

“America’s new sanctions are a clear insult to international and legal mechanisms and a result of the American government’s blind vindictiveness against the Iranian nation,” declared foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

Rare Recording Of Menachem Begin Announcing State of Israel Unearthed

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 05:32

A speech by Menachem Begin recorded just after the establishment of the State of Israel had been archived and hidden away but is now being offered for sale. Kedem Auction House announced the magnetic reel and the rights to the recording are going on auction in Jerusalem next month with an opening bid of $300,000. It is estimated the recording will demand a price of $500,000-800,000.

The speech was first broadcast on Saturday night, May 14, 1948; one day after the establishment of the State of Israel. Begin delivered the speech on the underground radio station of the Irgun, “Kol Tzion HaLochemet” (“Voice of Fighting Zion.”)

In this speech, which constitutes a kind of alternative “Declaration of Independence” instead of the one delivered by Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, Begin addresses the dismantling of the paramilitary groups, the need for a strong and well-trained army, the essential foreign policy with the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., repatriation of Jews, and more. In fact, in this speech he lay down the ideological foundations of the Herut Party he was about to form.

Begin made this speech while in hiding from both the British and the nascent Jewish government. The Irgun headed by Begin was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948 and was the political predecessor to the Likud Party. Ben Gurion fiercely opposed the Irgun and the conflict even led to the shedding of Jewish blood in the Altalena Affair. Their relationship eventually improved and after Begin visited him at Sde Boker on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ben Gurion said, “ “If I had known Begin as I know him today, history would have been different.”

Begin became prime minister of Israel in 1977, ending three decades of Labor Party dominance. He had a reputation for being a brilliant and fiery public-speaker. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the signing of a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 that still holds today. He died in March 1992.

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Ben Gurion requested to review the text of Begin’s speech two days before the broadcast in order to coordinate between the state proclamation speeches of the two leaders. At first, Begin agreed to the request, but following the opposition of his colleagues in the Irgun command, he was obliged to reject it. The speech was archived immediately after its broadcast but the Irgun published the original text which differs from the recording.

“The State of Israel has been founded, and it has been founded ‘only thus’ [‘Only Thus’ was the slogan of the Irgun]: with blood and fire, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with suffering and sacrifice,” Begin says in the recording. “The Hebrew army can and must be one of the best-trained and excellent armies in the world… what is the spirit of our fighters? This was shown by all of the Hebrew youth, the youth of the Haganah, of Lehi and of the Irgun… the likes of which no generation in the generations of Israel, from Bar-Kokhba to the Bilu’im, had ever seen;” and of the dismantling of the Irgun: ‘The National Military Organization’ [Irgun] now leaves behind its underground existence in the boundaries of the independent Jewish state… in the State of Israel we shall be soldiers and builders. We shall observe its laws, since they are our laws. We shall respect its government, since it is our government. Only beware of the Hebrew government… lest it itself create… a new underground movement.”

“Heroic daughter of Israel, who shall tell of your heroism. For we have known your tears in the night… Hannah and her seven sons is no longer a legend, you are Hannah, thousands of Hannahs…”, Begin continues. “This mighty event has transpired after seventy generations, seventy generations of dispersion, disarmament, enslavement, of endless wandering and persecution…”

Israel’s Supreme Court Overrules State, Grants ‘BDS Activist’ Permission to Enter

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 04:40

In a controversial judgment, Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the government’s refusal to allow entry to a pro-BDS American graduate student. Lara Alqasem – a 22-year-old Palestinian-American – is enrolled for a Masters degree in Human Rights at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“Since the appellant’s actions do not raise satisfactory cause to bar her to entry to Israel, the inevitable impression is that invalidating the visa given to her was due to the political opinions she holds,” read the verdict. “If this is truly the case, then we are talking about an extreme and dangerous step, which could lead to the crumbling of the pillars upon which democracy in Israel stands.”

“The Law of Entry to Israel is intended to protect the state’s sovereignty, and the public’s safety and security. It does not have a component of penalty, or revenge for previous bad behavior,” said Justice Neal Hendel.

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“Despite the obstacles in her way, the appellant insists on her right to study at the Hebrew University. This conduct is not in keeping, in an understatement, with the thesis that the she’s an undercover boycott activist,” he continued.

“This ruling will not weaken our determination to combat the anti-Semitic BDS campaign,” said Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Security Gilad Erdan. “We will continue to fight for the principle that whoever acts to harm the State of Israel and its citizens should be refused entry.”

“The court minimized the extremist and anti-Semitic nature of SJP, the organization of which Alqasem served as president,” said Erdan. “Furthermore, the justices essentially ignored the fact that she erased her social-media networks to hide her activities before arriving in Israel.”

Erdan added, “And while the court recognized that ‘The state is entitled, in fact obliged, to defend itself. It may take steps against the boycott organizations and their activists. Protecting democracy is a fundamental part of what is democracy,’ their ruling opens the door for BDS activists to enter the country simply by enrolling in an academic program and declaring that they do not support boycotts at the present moment.”

Looking Back At Ron Arad Falling Into Enemy Hands

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 03:48

The story of Ron Arad is one of the most heartbreaking of any of Israel’s soldiers. An Israel Air Force pilot, his plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986. He was captured by the Amal militant group. A rescue mission successfully recovered his co-pilot, but the fate of Arad and his whereabouts are still unknown.

Security Cabinet Green Lights IDF Stepping Up Reprisal Attacks for Gaza Terrorism

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 03:23

Following Wednesday’s early morning rocket attack that completely destroyed a Beersheba home – in which a mother and three young children only just escaped almost certain death – Israel’s Security Cabinet has green-lighted the IDF to escalate its response.

While the Cabinet did not issue a statement after a marathon overnight session into the early hours of Thursday morning, Housing Minister Yoav Galant warned that the rules of engagement with Hamas and Gazan terrorism are about to change. The former head of IDF Southern Command, who sits on the Security Cabinet, told Channel Two that although he could not speak about “the content of the cabinet discussions… I can say one thing very explicitly – the rules of the game are about to change.

“We will no longer accept the arson terror and the border terror,” he warned.

According to various reports, the Security Cabinet instructed the IDF to gradually implement a zero tolerance policy, beginning with Friday’s expected weekly mass demonstration on the border.

The IDF was reported to have presented two different operational plans for the escalation in the south – one, a wave of aerial strikes and the other a policy of containment with a gradual escalation of its response in line with developments on the ground.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was said to have demanded a more aggressive response. Liberman said earlier this week that Israel had exhausted its options in trying to reach a long-term understanding with Hamas and that the time has come “to take off the kid gloves” and launch a major military operation against the terrorist group to put a stop to months of violence.

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Meanwhile, reactions to the Security Cabinet’s failure to take decisive action Wednesday’s rocket attacks, have been mixed.

Speaking to Channel Ten TV, Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni expressed his “disappointment” that major action against Hamas was no longer on the agenda right now.

“We should have used the rocket attack in Beersheba to launch an attack and restore the balance of fear in Gaza, and unfortunately this did not happen,” he said. “We don’t need a ground invasion of Gaza, but we do need to make their leaders afraid to walk outside. They must be the ones who are afraid.

“We met with the prime minister yesterday and he sounded determined to act, but this morning we were surprised to learn that things were returning to normal,” he said.

Likud MK David Bitan said told Army Radio that “the time has come to carry out a ground operation in Gaza.”

The former coalition chairman said had been no cease in attacks or calming of the situation. “Enough already with this foot-dragging.”

However, Likud MK Yoav Kish explained that Israel is giving Gaza another opportunity to de-escalate the situation.

“We were very close to making a decision to significantly escalate the situation in Gaza,” he said. “I assume that this is one of the last attempts at an agreement.”

“The blow to Hamas will come. It’s just a question of when – and it’s not worthwhile to fall into [the trap of going according to] their timetable.”

II SAMUEL 5:7

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 00:51

Yerushalayim has always been the capital of the Jewish people. It is where King David ruled for 33 years, where King Shlomo (Solomon) built the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and where the Jews returned in the time of Cyrus. The United States became the first nation to recognize this eternal truth when in 2018 it moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. Get more inspiration from the Land of Israel in Israel365’s 16-month calendar!

Marilyn Monroe’s Jewish Prayer Book Up For Auction

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:22

The Hebrew-English prayer book that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe is going up for auction. Worn and tattered, the small book can attest to the sincerity of her conversion while bearing witness to the spiritual journey of the troubled soul behind the iconic blond bombshell who appeared on the big screen.

On November 12, Marilyn Monroe’s cream-colored siddur (prayer book) will go up for auction. A non-celebrity edition of the Hebrew-English prayer book published in 1922 would only be worth around $100, but this siddur will have a starting bid $4,600. The auction house, J. Greenstein & Co. in Cedarhurst, Long Island, expects the book to fetch between $7,000-$12,000.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, Monroe led a tragic and short life, struggling with substance abuse and depression, passing away on August 5, 1962 at the age of 36 from an overdose of barbiturates. Considered a sex-symbol to this day, Monroe worked at her craft and won several awards for acting.

The identity of her father is unknown and she spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage, suffering from sexual abuse and stuttering. She married at the age of sixteen and divorced four years later. She began modeling at the age of 18 and two years later, signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox to act in films. She married retired baseball star Joe DiMaggio in 1952, divorcing him only nine months later.

After her divorce, Monroe began a relationship with playwright Arthur Miller. Miller, who had already married and divorced two Catholics, self-identified as an atheist and was a harsh critic of Israel. He claimed not to have influenced Monroe in her decision to convert though he supported her decision. Her conversion was overseen by Rabbi Robert Goldburg of Congregation Mishkan Israel in New Haven, Connecticut, who was ordained as a Reform rabbi. Monroe told the rabbi that she was motivated to convert because of the many wonderful Jews she had met.

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“She indicated that she was impressed by the rationalism of Judaism — its ethical and prophetic ideals and its concept of close family life,” Rabbi Golburg later wrote.

Monroe’s films were banned in Egypt as a result of her conversion. The process did not include immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath) and, therefore, would not be considered valid by Orthodox Jews.

She married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956 in a civil ceremony after converting to Judaism. Two days after the civil ceremony, they had a Jewish ceremony at MIller’s home. Rabbi Goldburg officiated at her traditional Jewish wedding to Miller which was followed by a meal of cold lobster.

The couple divorced five years later, the year before Monroe’s death. Rabbi Goldburg said that after her divorce from Miller, Monroe told him that she was still committed to being Jewish.

She attended events supporting Israel, continued to attend Passover Seders, had a mezuzah on her door, and proudly displayed a large Hanukkah menorah in her home. In addition, it appears that  Monroe put the siddur to use since it contains hand-written notes and the spine is worn.

The siddur is being sold on behalf of its current owner, an American living in Israel who bought it from Monroe’s estate in 1999, The Jewish Chronicle reported. The prayer book was previously put up for auction in 2017 and went unsold.

Daily Inspiration: Yom Ha’aliyah

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 08:23

Yom Ha’aliyah is an Israeli national holiday acknowledging immigration to Israel as a core value of the Jewish state, and to honor the ongoing contributions of Olim, “immigrants,” to Israeli society.

The last verse in the Tanakh calls upon the Jewish people to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. After decades of Babylonian rule, Persian king Cyrus, grants permission for the exiled Jews to return to their land and rebuild the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Yirmiyahu, that after 70 years Hashem would return the Jewish people home ( Jeremiah 29:10). Just as He fulfilled His word to return the People of Israel to the Land of Israel after the first exile, today as well God has begun to fulfill His promise to gather the exiles from the four corners of the earth and to bring the ultimate redemption (Deuteronomy 30:3-5). Since the establishment of the State of Israel, millions of Jews have returned home from more than 100 different countries.

How fortunate are we to witness the beginning stages of the tremendous miracle of the ingathering of the exiles. May we soon merit the final fulfillment of the complete redemption of Israel and the entire world.

“Thus said King Cyrus of Persia: “God of Heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and has charged me with building Him a House in Yerushalayim, which is in Yehuda. Any one of you of all His people, Hashem his God be with him and let him go up.”

כֹּה־אָמַ֞ר כּ֣וֹרֶשׁ ׀ מֶ֣לֶךְ פָּרַ֗ס כָּל־מַמְלְכ֤וֹת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ נָ֣תַן לִ֗י יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְהֽוּא־פָקַ֤ד עָלַי֙ לִבְנֽוֹת־ל֣וֹ בַ֔יִת בִּירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּֽיהוּדָ֑ה מִֽי־בָכֶ֣ם מִכָּל־עַמּ֗וֹ יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהָ֛יו עִמּ֖וֹ וְיָֽעַל׃

koh a-MAR KO-resh ME-lekh pa-RAS kol mam-l’-KHOT ha-A-retz NA-tan LEE a-do-NAI e-lo-HAY ha-sha-MA-yim v’-HU fa-KAD a-LAI liv-NOT LO VA-yit bee-ru-sha-LA-im a-SHER bee-hu-DAH mee va-KHEM mi-kol a-MO a-do-NAI e-lo-HAV i-MO v’-YA-al

Divrei Hayamim II (II Chronicles) 36:23

How Many Jews And Arabs Are There In The Middle East?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 07:20

Do you know how many Arabs there are the in the Middle East? Do you know how many Jews there are in the Middle East? From East Africa to the Persian Gulf there are approximately 350 million Arabs; and only 6.5 million Jews. The Arab world consists of 22 countries, the Jews only have one – Israel.

Does Rural Ohio Lead the World in Love of Israel?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 06:49

The phenomenon of Christians loving Israel is powerfully evident in rural north-central Ohio, where blessing Abraham has brought bounty to the region and resulted in a recent visit by a prominent Israeli politician. These blessings may increase ten-fold next month if the state passes legislation that could make it the first state to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.

North-central Ohio lies just outside of the Bible Belt but when it comes to belief in blessing Abraham, the region is a crown jewel. On Saturday evening, Knesset Deputy Speaker Yehiel “Hilik” Bar spoke at Sar Shalom Center in Ontario, Ohio for a “Stand With Israel” event. Bar is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever to come to the area, though his connection to the region goes back to 2015 when he became the fourth person ever to be given the “Keys to the State of Ohio” by the Ohio Speaker of the House.

Israeli Leadership Institute Founder & President Mr. Eeki Elner told the 200 attendees, “I travel extensively throughout the States, and I have never seen anyone like Ohio, more specifically, north-central Ohio, who loves Israel more.”

Though it may seem exaggerated to claim that rural north-central Ohio has more love for Israel than any other place in the U.S., there are many reasons to believe this is entirely accurate.

“There is something about Ohio, but we here feel a close brotherhood to Israel,” Benjamin Mutti, one of the organizers of the Richland Community Prayer Network (RCPN), told Breaking Israel News. “Maybe it is our closeness to nature that allows us to see God’s presence clearly.”

After elections in November, the Ohio legislature will be taking a vote on a resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mutti co-authored the resolution.

“We expect the resolution to pass since we have a conservative legislature,” Mutti said.

HCR 26 was co-sponsored by Republican Representatives Candace Keller and Keith Faber. It will be presented for a vote next month. The resolution recognizes that Ohio is Israel’s 28th largest trading partner. It also notes that archaeological evidence proves Israel’s historical connection to the city as well as Israel’s sovereignty since 1967. The resolution cites the Jerusalem Embassy Act adopted by the Senate in 1995 as well as President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem in December 2017.

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RCPN may seem political but its basis is purely Biblical.

“We organized RCPN because we believed that Biblical values should be in our culture,” Mutti explained. “This includes Israel but also involves issues like rejecting judicial tyranny. There are all denominations but what we have in common is simple: the Bible.”

RCPN believes strongly in blessing Israel and has seen these blessings returned. In January 2017, RCPN, led by Mutti and Reverend El Akuchie, sent a letter of solidarity to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2017. Signed by 103 north-central Ohio clergy from many denominations, the letter apologized for the lack of support of former President Barack Obama; in particular, his ordering UN ambassador, Samantha Power to abstain instead of veto Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution – which passed unanimously – declared Israel’s presence in “east Jerusalem,” Judea, and Samaria to be illegal.  

Upon sending the letter, the region began to witness the results of blessing Israel. The Rover Pipeline, a 713-mile natural $4 billion gas pipeline, that had been mired in lawsuits was approved ten days after the letter was sent. The project brought an influx of money and jobs to a region that had been economically stagnant and was ranked the fifth worst in the country.

Mutti also attributed significant increases in the spring turkey harvest and the whitetail deer harvest to this letter. The dairy industry, essential to the region, registered the largest cattle herd in thirty years.

The Ohio Christians continued to connect to Israel. In May 2017, 42 Christian clergies petitioned the Richland County treasurer, requesting that he invest community funds in Israel bonds. Purchasing the bonds was seen as an expression of solidarity with Israel as well as a way of combating the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Mutti also reported blessings that came out of this move.

“The day the county treasurer announced that the county government would invest in Israeli bonds, was the same meeting that half a million dollars in unexpected revenue were reportedly discovered to alleviate a budget shortfall!” Mutti shared.

Ohio now holds more than $200 million in Israel Bonds, making the state the largest holder of Israeli bonds in the world.

Israeli Historical Artifacts To Be Exhibited in China For First Time

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 05:39

A new international exhibition entitled “Bronze Age Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Plain,” will open October  21 in China – representing the first time that Israeli historical artifacts will be displayed in the Asian superpower. Hosted at the Sichuan University Museum the exhibition focuses on the two ancient civilizations that developed at the opposite extremities of Asia: Mesopotamia in the Middle East and the East Asian Chengdu Valley.

Scholars define the Bronze Age as taking place between 3,300 BCE to 1,200 BCE.

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem – the only one of its kind dedicated to the history of the Ancient Near East from a biblical perspective – will loan 15 artifacts to the exhibit. Through these objects  – cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and a statuette made of precious blue lapis lazuli – visitors will discover the way of life, the royal institutions and the rituals that characterized the ancient Mesopotamian civilization.  In addition, the exhibition will include dozens of artifacts on loan from various museums in China and from the Yale Peabody Museum in the United States.

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The exhibit has been constructed in such a way to offer visitors a comparative view of two Bronze Age civilizations – separated by 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) – and in regions that witnessed the development of rich cultures.

“The goal of the Museum is to connect each individual with their own educational heritage through the treasures on display.  Welcoming visitors of all faiths and nationalities, it brings the universal narrative of the development of civilization to audiences through exhibitions, and cultural programs ,” said Director of Bible Lands Museum Amanda Weiss.

“This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to extend the limits of our knowledge, to create a dialog between different cultures, to observe the traits they had in common in the past, and to forge fruitful in the present.,” she added.

The exhibition marks the first collaboration of its kind between Israel and China – and is symptomatic of a deepening of ties between the two countries – culturally and economically. Despite a slight decline in Chinese tourism to Israel in 2018 – following a government directive that it was not safe to travel there – numbers are beginning to pick up again. In the first eight months of the year, Israel welcomed a total of 65,500 tourists from China, which was still more than in all of 2015, but down 8 percent from the same period in 2017.

PSALMS 70:3

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 04:39

As the leader of Israel, David lead two lives: A public, national life, and a private one. This psalm focuses on the personal suffering of David which he sought to remember as he writes in the title of this psalm, lehazkir, which means to ‘remind’ or ‘mention’. David had enemies who sought to destroy him personally. They mocked him, deceived him, and acted traitorously toward him. David sought the ultimate failure of these enemies and their shame and humiliation, not out of vengeance, but rather to force them into repentance. Often, it is only the shock and humiliation of defeat that brings one to introspection and to change his errant ways.

Reactions To Israeli Home Hit By Gazan Rocket Attack

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 04:35

Yesterday morning, a rocket fired from Gaza destroyed an Israeli home in the southern city of Beersheba. It is the first direct-hit on an Israeli dwelling since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The shock wave did damage to neighboring houses. The city closed schools in the wake of the attack.

How Biblical Fulfillment Of The Jewish State of Israel Is Changing Christianity

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 04:04

Although there have always been Christians who rejected replacement theology, the establishment and success of the State of Israel “upends that whole apple cart,” according to Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, Associate Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation (CJCUC).

Wolicki told Breaking Israel News that, “Over the last few decades, there has been an awakening in many parts of the Christian world, to different degrees, more than people realize, in terms of an interest in Judaism and the Jewish people.”

He emphasized that it isn’t merely the creation of the State of Israel, but its success in nation-building, that caused many Christians to re-examine some of their fundamental beliefs about Judaism and the Jewish people.

“Being a Christian Zionist, in order to become a supporter [of the State of Israel] and see Jewish people in a positive light, they have to see Christianity differently. Once they do that, they see validity and authenticity in Judaism and Jewish teaching. It all comes [together] in the shift in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

“The next stage is that many Christians [become] interested in learning more about Israel and the Jewish people. They think about their own Christianity differently,” Wolicki explained.

Although the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was undoubtedly a crucial milestone in Jewish-Christian relations, Wolicki referenced Barbara W. Tuchman’s historical text The Bible and The Sword as a source for the idea that Christian interest in the Holy Land back goes back to the earliest days of Christianity.

“Until recently,” Wolicki asserted, “it was very much a marginal corner of the Christian world and now it’s taking a different shape. It never involved positive interaction with actual Jews. Christian Zionists existed without any real contact with Jews [as recently as] the early 1980s. And the Jewish community kept them at arm’s length.

“There was no interest in Jewish learning [back then]. This is a new thing that there’s so much respectful interaction. It’s the next stage. “The journey is initially a theological one for a Christian. The theology produces a political stance. Many Christians never move beyond that.”

But for those who do, “They start to read the Christian Bible differently and start to pay attention to the Hebrew Bible a different way. Rejection of replacement theology causes a Christian to reread certain passages of the New Testament and to see Jews differently. Their interest in Jewish teaching is the next level.”

“When I speak to people who are very active Christian Zionists and I talk to them about our goal of producing Biblical teachings that aren’t about Israel and politics, once they are in this relationship, this is what they want next,” he elaborated.

Organizations like Yeshiva for the Nations, an online academy that offers authentic Torah classes designed for non-Jews and CJCUC are partnering to respond to this interest.

Wolicki’s preference, when speaking to Christians, is not to talk about Jewish-Christian relations, but to actually engage it, right there, on the spot, by teaching a lesson from the Bible.

“When I teach a piece of Scripture, I share Jewish wisdom and meanings that come from the Hebrew. I’m bringing a certain authority and authenticity because I’m a rabbi and a Jew and I’m coming from a community that has preserved this material in its original language.

“Their sense of wonder makes it difficult for them to [continue to] see Jews and rabbis in a negative light.”

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His goal, and more broadly the goal of his organization, is, “To wake up Christians to the fact that there’s a lot in common in terms of actual faith and Scripture and that Scripture contains definitions of who God is and what is good and what is evil. When we connect around it, the relationship becomes very real.”

Wolicki further explained how the Jewish people as a whole were charged with teaching Torah to non-Jews. “Judaism is all about bringing awareness of God to the whole world, to bring knowledge of God to all the families of earth. Judaism is a universalistic religion, but for most of our history, we didn’t have the ability to do that. We were working on surviving. During the course of the long exile, we forgot who we really are and what our mission is.”

CJCUC seeks to, “expand the circles of positive relationships between Christians and Jews from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. We help Israel and the Jewish people by widening the circles of friendship. Teaching Torah to Christians is the next frontier in this relationship. They want this next step.”

Cup of Salvation, a book written by Wolicki, published by CJCUC and available on Amazon in softcover and Kindle formats, “came about as a result of the fact that when I would speak in a church, whatever the topic, when I quoted a verse and shared insights from Hebrew and lessons that come through that insight, that’s where they were hungry for more.


“They love the word of God. They know they are getting something they cannot get anywhere else. No matter what I would say, when I would quote a verse, and say what it means in Hebrew, their eyes would open.”

Cup of Salvation is an in-depth study of the Hallel, the Jewish prayer that includes Psalms 113-118 and is recited on Jewish holidays. For Wolicki, it was a natural topic about which to write a book for Christian readers.

“Christians love Israel and praise God for what He’s done for  the Jewish people. They define the State of Israel the same way I do as a religious Zionist. The long-awaited ingathering of the exiles is happening and it’s an event of Biblical and prophetic importance.”

Wolicki and CJCUC’s Executive Director David Nekrutman do a Bible study podcast, also called Cup of Salvation, which will also be available through the Yeshiva for the Nations’ website later this year.

“It’s never just about the Jewish people. It includes the nations. The ingathering of the exiles is the story of everyone who has faith in God. The Jewish return to the Land is only the beginning.”

The staff of CJCUC encourages Christians to celebrate the founding of the State of Israel as a sacred day. “It’s as much about them as it is about us. Hallel itself describes all the nations praising God for what He’s done for the Jewish people. Hallel speaks about the universal mission of the world.

“It’s historically an absurdity but that’s a miracle.”

Speaking of the cooperation between CJCUC and Yeshiva for the Nations. Wolicki said, “It’s a natural partnership. At CJCUC, we’ve been involved with Bible study sessions and speaking tours. We have spent years developing an expertise in speaking to Christians. Not just translating. We’ve done the work of becoming familiar with the way they think.

“Yeshiva For The Nations exists to bring Torah to people who want to come in and learn from Jewish wisdom. For us, this is a dream come true. With the extensive reach of Yeshiva For The Nations, we have an opportunity to reach many more people than ever before.”

Come Home

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 02:00

I know I don’t write very often these days. Partly, it’s because I’m finishing a new book, and partly because of how really terrible it is these days to express an opinion, any opinion at all. The idea that we can be civil to each other, respect differences, listen to each other, has somehow disappeared. I think it began during the Obama-Jon Stewart era, when anyone who didn’t toe the line about his “wonderfulness” got a Jon Steward eye-roll. The ammunition of ridicule and vicious back-stabbing against those who disagree with the mainstream agenda has been picked up – to a lesser degree albeit – by conservatives as well. But I’d still rather open my mouth in a room of conservatives than an Antifa rally, where I might not escape alive. I mourn for the freedom of speech that I was brought up to cherish as a United States citizen. Those who cannot hear their opponents and try to silence them, are only creating weapons that can so easily be turned against themselves at any time.

But that’s just my introduction. This is what I really wanted to tell you: I was walking down Prophets Street in Jerusalem, thinking how lucky I was to be living my life in a place that has such a street. I was thinking how short life is, and how we live in such an incredibly special era, a time when miracles and prophecies are unfolding before our astonished eyes. You have only to read the Torah to see all that God predicted would happen to the Jewish people has happened and to realize that the time we are living in is when the good things that were promised are now coming true.

We are living at a moment in Jewish history when before our eyes the in-gathering of the exiles is taking place as Jews from all over the world flock towards Israel. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that anti-Semitism is forcing many communities to rethink their commitment to remaining in the Diaspora.

And so, if you can only live once, for such a short time span, and you are living in this miraculous age, how can you deny yourself the great and powerful joy of living in Israel?

My heart goes out to everyone who wants to come and for so many difficult reasons, like earning a livelihood and supporting a family , find that they cannot. But to those who can come, and who want to come, I want to encourage you. You cannot imagine what it is like to live in Israel, to walk the streets of Jerusalem, the hills of the  Galilee, the desert sands of the Negev.

I came to Israel in 1971, and I can honestly say that all the blessings of my life – my success in my writing, my wonderful children and grandchildren, all flow from that fateful decision. I have been blessed. And everyone I know who made Aliyah with me back then and who are now matriarchs and patriarchs of beautiful families, can surely say the same.

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It is out of great love that I write this to all of you. I wish I could bring everyone of you here to live your life, to participate in the great rebuilding of our nation, to experience that wondrous sense of blessing that comes with participating with your whole heart, and mind, and body in God’s will to bring His people home. I wish you could experience miracles, as I do, every, single day, without fail. Even in our tragedies, there is the comfort of living in the embrace of family, millions of hands outstretched to share their caring compassion and genuine concern.

If you are a Jew, this is your place on earth, for the time you have to live, be it long or short. It is a time for return. This is God’s will, as the tides of history turn in His hands like the potter’s wheel. If you shake off the ceaseless onslaught of electronic media that pollute our minds and blind our eyes and deafen our ears, the true picture of what is happening is so clear: planeloads of Jews from every corner of the earth coming home.

If this opens your heart to think about it once again, then that’s all I can ask for. For your own sake.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Naomi Ragen