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EXODUS 10:2

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 06:46

Hashem (God) says that plagues which He sent to Egypt were intended to cause the Children of Israel to recognize Him. After generations of enslavement in Egypt, the Jewish people were influenced by their idolatrous surroundings. The plagues served a reminder of Hashem’s absolute control over everything; water earth, the animal kingdom and human life. This lesson was especially important as the Children of Israel were about to follow God into the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land Today, Jews around the world continue to remember the exodus story and inspired by the words of the Torah (Bible) continue on their journey to Israel and to settle in the Promised Land. Above, a Jewish immigrant sounds the shofar in celebration of his arrival in the Land of Israel.

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Israel Sings ‘Hallelujah!’ and Praises God in Honor of 70th Anniversary

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 06:30

Israeli singer Gali Atari sang her 1979 classical hit, “Hallelujah!” alongside pop star, Eden Ben-Zaken at the state of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations this year.

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Over 250 French Celebrities Sign Petition Demanding End to Anti-Semitism

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 06:00

More than 250 major French personalities including politicians and actors have signed a manifesto denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” in France marked by “Islamist radicalisation” after a string of murders of Jews. The text was published on Sunday in several newspapers.

“We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France,” reads the manifesto co-signed by several politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls bu also celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu and singer Charles Aznavour.

The signatories  condemn what they called an “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighborhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.

The country’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to the emergence of virulent anti-Semitism in predominantly immigrant neighborhoods.

“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated – and some tortured – by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,’’ they say.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,” adds  the manifesto.

It notes that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school.”

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The murders referenced include the barbaric killing of Ilan Halimi in 2006, as well as the deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the city of Toulouse in 2012.

Three years later, in 2015, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

In April 2017, a Jewish woman in her sixties, Sarah Halimi, was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbor shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).

The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll eleven times, before setting her body on fire.

Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.

Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron had reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

Written by Yossi Lempkowicz/EJP

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On Earth Day, We Witness Biblical Prophecy Come Alive in the Land of Israel

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 02:00

In many ways, the existence of the State of Israel is a miracle. Surrounded by the conflict-ridden Middle East, situated between enemy armies, and coupled with a lack of natural resources, one would hardly believe that Israel is “blooming” with major technological advances, water technologies, waste management, solar power, and clean energy.

But Israel is, in fact, at the forefront of earth-saving technologies.

“Israel has always leveraged innovation to address the world’s greatest environmental challenges,” said Amir Cahn, Executive Director at Israel’s Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN).

According to Rabbi Yaakov Beasley, as quoted in The Israel Bible, the Bible is well-known for its prophecies of consolation and hope, a redemption of the Jewish people living peacefully in their land. A large part of these messages of hope include messages of the flourishing land.

“These images remain an integral part of Israel’s consciousness until today,” he said, which could explain Israel’s eco-consciousness.

Before the Jewish people settled Israel in a prophetic return to the land, it was a desolate, as described by Mark Twain 150 years ago in his renowned travel book that became the foundation for his success, Innocents Abroad. He described the Holy Land as “unpicturesque” and “unsightly,” even “desolate.” This too was prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11 and in the Book of Lamentations that “This whole land shall be a desolate ruin.” Echoing the Biblical words, Twain wrote, “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes…. desolate and unlovely.”

But now, the land is indeed filled with milk and honey, thriving like never before.

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Here are five of Israel’s greatest green space feats:

Water Security

As Israel is made up of mostly desert, there is no doubt that it too should find various challenges with water security. But in Israel, out of challenge comes innovation, and Israel is changing the future of water resource management through their innovations in water security.

According to Cahn, “The UN projects that by 2030, 40% of the world’s population won’t have access to clean drinking water.” According to Cahn, “to live sustainably, we will need to leverage smart, data-driven solutions” such as  using satellites to detect leaks from space (Utilis) and alerting about industrial polluters in real-time (Kando).

Israeli innovation in this field dates back way before “going green” was popularized. Israeli scientist Sidney Loeb pioneered the technique of reverse-osmosis desalination back in the 1960s at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, located in Israel’s biggest desert. According to Israeli company Soreq, the largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in the world, Israel gets 60 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Of course, Soreq shares this technology with the world, providing 3 million cubic meters of potable water around the world daily. In addition, according to Cahn, “Israeli water technology companies are already working to make this a reality through “smart” data-driven solutions which enable cities to more effectively measure, monitor, and manage their diverse water challenges.”

Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb shall shout aloud; For waters shall burst forth in the desert, Streams in the wilderness. Torrid earth shall become a pool; Parched land, fountains of water; The home of jackals, a pasture; The abode [of ostriches], reeds and rushes” (Isaiah 35:6-7)

 

Israeli and American government officials, including U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz (second from right), visit Israel’s Sorek water desalination plant in April 2016. (U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv) Food Security

Israeli drip irrigation has been exported all over the world, increasing the world’s food supplies through environmentally friendly watering systems. Netafim, Israel’s leading drip irrigation company developed a drip irrigation kit that has been exported to hundreds of countries around the world, allowing farmers to increase their crop yield by up to three times. But Israel is not only exporting the technology, Israel also trains farmers around the world to more effectively grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, citrus, and even dairy products.

And I will plant them upon their soil, Nevermore to be uprooted From the soil I have given them —said Hashem your God.” (Amos 9:15)

Netafim drip irrigation technology has changed agriculture worldwide. (Photo: Moshe Brinn, Netafim) Waste Management

Israeli company BioGas is a leader in renewable energy and gas emission reduction through its innovative process of converting household food scraps into cooking gas and fertilizer. Their bio-digesters have been exported all over the world, including the more local Bedouin villages and Palestinian communities. Another Israeli company, BlueSphere, is an expert in reducing methane and greenhouse gas emissions through their waste-to-energy plants that convert millions of tons of dangerous waste into years of global sustainable energy.

We must pay to drink our own water, Obtain our own kindling at a price.” (Lamentations 5:4)

A facility in “Emek Hefer” (Hefer valley) for treatment in agricultural sludge. (Photo by Chen Leopold/Flash 90) Environmental Peace Building

Israel spearheads various projects that both help the environment and build peace at the same time. According to its website, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies offers Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian students the opportunity to learn together from leading professionals in environmental studies while developing skills that enable them to lead the region and the world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Behold, I will make Yerushalayim a bowl of reeling for the peoples all around. Yehuda shall be caught up in the siege upon Yerushalayim,” (Zechariah 12:2)

“Methusaleh,” the date palm that sprouted from a 2,000-year-old at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in southern Israel. (Photo: JNF) Eco-Tourism

Similar to the Arava Institute, The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), based in Jerusalem, brings together faith groups, religious leaders, and experts in the field to promote peace and sustainability through advocacy, education, and action-based programming. Eco Israel Tours, a branch of ICSD, introduces tourists who come to Israel to global and local environmental challenges and Israel’s solutions, taking them to various organic farms, green businesses, and nature reserves to learn more. This ecotourism allows tourists to review the Biblical scriptures of prophecy and see for themselves the land of Israel’s great restoration taking place.

I will restore My people Yisrael. They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine; They shall till gardens and eat their fruits.” (Amos 9:14)

Harvesting fresh olives for olive oil in the Galilee. (Courtesy Galilee Green)

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New Bible the Perfect Gift for Israel’s 70th Anniversary

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 02:00

Numbers have great meaning in Judaism, and Israel’s 70th year of independence — being celebrated today — takes on special significance when we realize that, according to Jewish tradition, 70 represents the nations of the world.

The first time the number 70 appears is in the lists of genealogy following the flood.

Genesis Chapter 10 enumerates exactly 70 descendants of Noah. Jews extrapolate from this verse that the world comprises 70 nations, each with its own language.

Over the past seven decades since its founding in 1948, Israel has made many great achievements in building relationships with all the nations of the world.

In 2018, Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, is moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Incoming tourism to the Jewish state is at an all time high. New relationships are developing with long hostile enemy nations, such as Saudi Arabia. And we have new trade partners in the Far East. These are all signs that the nations globally are embracing Israel in unprecedented ways and looking to the Jewish state with renewed interest and openness.

This week, Israel365 (Israel365.com) along with Menorah Books (an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem) have released The Israel Bible,” a 2,200-page Bible highlighting the relationship between the land and the people of Israel.

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Throughout the volume there are maps of Israel along with hundreds of photographs. Each page has lessons and commentary written by a team of Israeli rabbis and scholars — for Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike.

“The Israel Bible” brings the relationship between the people of Israel and the land of Israel to life by emphasizing the many wonders achieved in the seven decades of statehood.

Along with some of the more well-known stories, including the ingathering of the exiles, the revitalization of the Hebrew language, and the transformation of the barren wastelands, “The Israel Bible” also focuses on lesser known, but no less remarkable achievements. Primary among them is the spiritual partnership emerging between Jews and non-Jews.

Reprinted with author’s permission from NewsMax

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Poland Marks 75th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 01:00

Poland marked the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on Thursday with Polish and Jewish leaders praising the heroism and determination of the fighters against near certain death.

“We bow our heads low to their heroism, their bravery, their determination and courage,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the ceremony at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw. “Most of them died … as they fought for dignity, freedom and also for Poland, because they were Polish citizens,” he said.

Nearly a year after invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis created a special district in the city for its roughly 480,000 Jews. In what became known as the Warsaw Ghetto, tens of thousands would die from hunger and disease, and 300,000 were eventually shipped to the Treblinka death camp to be killed.

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On April 19, 1943, when the Nazis began liquidating the ghetto and its remaining 60,000 Jews, hundreds of Jewish fighters emerged and attacked the Nazis, preferring to die fighting than being shipped to the gas chambers.

In his address, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder noted that the anniversary of the uprising also overlaps with Israel’s 70th anniversary this year, and that the Jewish fighters in Warsaw inspired the future defenders of Israel just a few years later.

“I believe that it was the heroism of the brave young Polish-Jews who stood up to the Nazis here that inspired the future young defenders of Israel, who defeated five armies many times their size,” said Lauder.

“There is a history of strength and courage in the Jewish people that defies number and odds and, sometimes, reality … and it was here in Warsaw that one of the most important chapters in that history was written … we are standing on a modern-day Masada.”

The commemoration in Poland comes amid heavy criticism of the Polish government for its recent law criminalizing anyone who attributes crimes committed during the Holocaust to Poles and Poland.

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70 Years of an Unyielding 3,330-Year Marriage

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 01:00

This year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorates the anniversary of a marriage that has lasted more than 3,000 years and has now completed its 70th year. An almost minor event on its own, but once seen in the larger picture, a milestone, and a miracle.

This may sound like a paradox, but it is the inescapable truth about the Land of Israel and the Jews.

No marriage has lasted so long and been as deep in its commitment and as overwhelming in its love as the one between the Jews and their homeland.

Yet no marriage has been as painful and as tragic. The partners were forced apart by the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago and could not unite throughout all those years.

But the bride and groom pledged unconditional love. Nothing — absolutely nothing — could emotionally separate the partners even when they were thousands of miles away from each other.

After all, this marriage did not depend on the physical proximity of the partners, but rather where their souls dwelt.

For this marriage to continue and grow, the Jews — metaphorically and unprecedentedly — lifted the Land of Israel from its native soil and transformed it into a portable homeland, taking it with them to all four corners of the earth. Only in 1948 were the people and its land physically reunited.

The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham.

The State of Israel was not established in 1948; it was established more than 3,000 years ago when Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah in order to bury his wife Sarah. It was reaffirmed a few hundred years later when the Israelites inherited the land under the leadership of Joshua, immediately after Moshe’s death, and then again in our own days.

But no marriage should be taken for granted. Not even after 3,000 years. When a bridegroom offers his new wife a ring as a sign of commitment, he knows that this is only the first installment of an ongoing pledge. No marriage can endure if both partners do not constantly reinvest in their relationship. The moment a marriage is counted in years rather than marked by shared striving for new opportunities, it has come to an end.

Only a mission — a common dream — can sustain a marriage, and only something greater than itself will allow it to succeed. To paraphrase Aristotle, marriage is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. But a soul that has lost its purpose has lost itself.

Ironically, a significant number of people in Israel today are struggling to remain spiritually wed to their land. Rampant materialism, secularism, and religious fanaticism have eroded Israel’s sense of Jewish identity and the historical consciousness that gives meaning to its national existence. A large percentage of its people — often through no fault of their own — lack Jewish self-understanding, and many of them question why they should live in this country at all.

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It is true that the wonderful Israeli soldiers are ready to sacrifice their lives for our country, but that is because something tells them that there is more to Israel than meets the eye. They know that this country is unlike any other. Deep in their hearts, they know that this is a meta-country, built from the souls of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov; of Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah. But still, how long can this motivate them to defend the land, when too many Israeli citizens see Israel as nothing more than just another country?

People are willing to die only for that by which they have lived. And human beings can live meaningful lives only when they know that there is something eternal worth dying for.

It is thus crucial to identify the element that has bound the two partners together for these thousands of years. And that element is, unequivocally, Judaism and the mission to be “a light unto the nations,” as pronounced by God to the prophet Isaiah (42:6; 49:6). The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse humankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits people’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.

This then is the task of the Land and People of Israel: to elevate the human race so that it becomes a link between the divine and the earthly. For life is a mandate, a privilege — not a game or mere triviality. The Jewish people married the land in order to create a model society to be emulated by all of humankind.

It is the rabbis who consecrate a marriage. But that is only part of their task. As pastors, their responsibility is to ensure the marriage’s success and tend to it if it flounders or stagnates. This is the task of Israel’s religious leaders today. They must transform the Jewish people by creating a spiritual longing for its unique mission, thereby restoring their marriage to its full potential after the long and difficult separation.

Genuine rabbis should not seek to be “honored,” or be “well respected.” Rather, as men of truth, they should evoke unparalleled awe among Israelis and all Jews, drawing them closer with their towering personalities and overflowing love.

The times demand unwavering religious and moral guidance. The religious leadership must extricate itself from the morass in which it has become mired. In an unprecedented initiative, it must steer the ship of an inspiring, rejuvenated Judaism in full sail, directly into the heart of Israeli society, causing shockwaves that will impact every aspect of life.

It can no longer be concerned only with the kashrut of our food, or with our Jewishness. Above all, it needs to inspire the kashrut of our souls. Like the prophets of old, our religious leaders must generate a spiritual revolution, triggering an ethical-religious uproar that shakes the very foundations of the state. Israelis are waiting for such a move, and there is little doubt that their response will be overwhelming.

Only then will the Jewish people fully re-engage with its land. Only then can the Jewish people stay eternally married to its land. Only then will no third party — whether European Anti-Semitism, BDS efforts, Muslim extremism, Jewish self-hate, or the deceitfulness of UNESCO — dare to interfere in its matrimonial bond. This is Israel’s hope and future.

May God bless this eternal marriage and bless Israel’s religious leadership in confronting this mind-boggling task.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

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Arab Knesset Members Marched Against Israel on Independence Day

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 00:00

Some 10,000 people, including Israeli Arab lawmakers, participated in a march on Thursday mourning the founding of the Jewish state.

The “March of the Uprooted” is organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and is held annually on Israel’s Independence Day to mark the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence, known in Arabic as the Nakba (“catastrophe”).

Arab Knesset members, public figures and mayors in Arab towns, as well as left-wing and human-rights activists, participated in the march, which took place near Atlit, a coastal town south of Haifa.

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Protesters hoisted Palestinian flags and shouted slogans condemning the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some chanted: “This is our land,” “We will never give up the fight,” and “We’ll sacrifice our lives for Palestine.”

Joint Arab List MK Ahmad Tibi declared: “This is the day when the Palestinians are united in memory and grief for shattered families. What happened then [in 1948] was a nakba—a human and national disaster by any measure.”

“We must recognize our national identity as Palestinians,” he said, “with empathy for our suffering and loss since 1948, which continues to this day in various ways.”

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“May Allah Destroy Your Houses and Burn You All!” Muslim Persecution of Christians: October, 2017

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 00:00

In one of the most brazen attacks on Egypt’s Christians, a Muslim man slaughtered a Christian priest in broad daylight.  Security camera footage (viewable here) captured a man with a large butcher knife chasing and stabbing Fr. Samaan Shehata—including in the head, neck, and torso—in the streets of Cairo on October 12.   According to eyewitnesses “the assailant had seen Shehata in his car, forcibly stopped him, ordered him out and then started to stab him in the neck and torso. Shehata fled, and the attacker followed him into the warehouse and finished his attack there with several blows to the head.”  Then, while standing over his fallen victim, “the assailant used the bishop’s blood to form a cross on his forehead.”  It took 90 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, and “the bishop was alive for half an hour after being struck and could have been saved if the ambulance had arrived timely.”

Some personally acquainted with the murderer said Ahmed Saeed Ibrahim had recently “begun praying in the street, shouting loudly and calling Christians infidels.”  As for motive, one report says “he had decided to kill any Coptic priest, purchased a dagger, and lay in wait for one to pass by, in a street leading to the local church.”  His father “is more of a terrorist than his son,” added one woman; he “used to stop children on their way back from church and say, ‘You are multiplying, may Allah destroy your houses and burn you all. You have filled our neighborhood with filth.’”

Even so, and as in similar cases, Egyptian authorities labeled Ahmed “crazy,” prompting one Copt to ask: “Why is it that anyone who kills Christians is crazy?  The person who killed two Christians in a train was crazy. We got used to this, and are expecting [the murderer] will soon be released too.  We don’t want to be unfair to anyone, but Ahmed Saeed is not crazy, he’s a religious extremist.”  Soon after knowledge of the incident became widespread, “We saw a sheikh online saying those who kill Christians should be prosecuted and not sentenced to death, even before the priest’s blood had cooled,” said a woman, “because those who kill Christians are better than us. But, if a Christian does something, he is executed, his house burned and his family displaced.”

The rest of October’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Pakistan:  On October 9, seven Muslim police officers stormed a school and beat a 14-year-old Christian boy—who had earlier defied forced conversion—to death.  According to the slain’s father, “they all started beating Arsalan with fists, kicks and rifle butts.”  After murdering him, “the police team threw Arsalan’s body on the roadside and fled.”  Four month earlier, Arsalan had fought a Muslim classmate who was pressuring him to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. “I did not know about the fight until recently,” the father explained. “Arsalan had reportedly beaten up a boy whose uncle, Sardar alias Billu, is a constable in the Sheikhupura District police. Billu nurtured a grudge against Arsalan, and that’s why he brought his police friends with him to teach the poor boy a lesson.”  (Another teenage Christian student was beaten to death by Muslim students angered that an “unclean” infidel had drunk from the same water source used by Muslim pupils a few weeks earlier in September.)

Syria:  Islamic State militants are believed to have executed two Russian mercenary fighters— Roman Zabolotny, 39, and Grigory Tsurkanu, 38—for refusing to renounce Christianity and embrace Islam.  Commenting on their appearance on an ISIS propaganda video, Senior Russian MP Viktor Vodolatsky said: “It is very sad but 99 per cent Roman Zabolotny is not alive, nor is the second prisoner.  Before filming that video they were given a statement which they had to read.  In this text they would reject their Orthodox religion, reject their motherland, become Muslim and join ISIS. They stayed loyal to the Orthodox faith and their Motherland until the very end, and this is what they were killed by those gangsters for.”

Separately, in what eyewitnesses described as a “shocking massacre,” the Islamic State spent 20 days systematically slaughtering people in the Christian village of al-Qaryatain.  According to one report, “The militant group killed at least 116 civilians [later sources say 128 people] in executions committed in the days before the Syrian regime recaptured the town…  ISIS regained control of the town three weeks ago, and then the killings began. Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air power, arrived and liberated the town on October 21 after dozens of ISIS fighters retreated, at which point the remains of the victims of the mass execution were found.  After the regime retook it, the town’s residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives.”

Iraq: The Muslim family of a Baghdad man who turned Christian slaughtered him.  According to the report, “after Muhammed shared the gospel with his mother, she talked with his father and his father became angry. He gave his son two days to repent or be killed.”  When Muhammad refused, “his cousins just killed him.”

Separately, and as another example of the ravishes of the Islamic State, a report explained how “Three years ago, there were 73 nuns with the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine,” but “[s]ince the Islamic State captured the Plain of Nineveh in 2014, one-third of them have died,” or about 24.  One of the survivors, Sister Silvia, said, “We pray for them [Islamic terrorists] every day as sisters. We pray for them, for those bringing peace, for our soldiers, for those who help people have a better life.  This prayer helps us forgive—not to forget, because you can’t forget, but to not hate the other person. If we hate others, that means that we’re doing what the devil wants, not what Jesus wants.”  The report adds that “The sisters—whose community has lived in the Nineveh Plains and Kurdistan regions of Iraq for 120 years—were forced to flee in August 2015.  During ISIS’ occupation of the Nineveh Plain, some 100 places of worship were destroyed, mostly Christian churches.”

Nigeria:  A report shed light on the nature and frequency of Muslim Fulani raids on Christian villages.  In 13 separate invasions, the Islamic herdsmen slaughtered 48 people—including women and children—and destroyed 249 homes.   “All Christians in villages around here have been displaced, and worship buildings have been abandoned.   Some of the church buildings were destroyed by the attackers, said the resident of one of these villages.  “These attacks are being carried out daily,” said the resident of another village. “Every blessed day we witness the invasion, killing of our people, and the destruction of their houses.”

In a separate attack, “A Christian woman and her two children were killed … three days after a kidnapped priest was slain by his abductors in the southwestern part of the country.” “We have been under attack constantly from these Fulani herdsmen because we are Christians,” Gyang Dahoro, a Christian elder said. “Our villages have been ravaged, and our houses and churches destroyed, and in most cases these herdsmen have taken over the villages where Christians have been displaced.”

Separately, a masked gunman stormed the mission house of the Christ Apostolic Church in search of Rev. Oluwarotimi Akinroyeje. On finding him the assassin opened fire, and, according to a witness, did not flee until ensuring the pastor had died. The killer did not steal anything and it appears he was only targeting Akinroyeje.   Although the culprit’s motivation is unknown, several Christian leaders have been similarly targeted in Nigeria and elsewhere on the charge that they are successfully converting Muslims to Christianity.

A separate October report quotes a Nigerian Christian wondering “Why do they [Western people] think Islam is a religion of peace? These people have been killing us for decades and your media just ignores it. Now they are killing you and still your President Obama [had] called it a peaceful religion. We see Western leaders saying that over and over again. Why?”

The Egyptian Jihad on Christian Churches

On Sunday, October 15, a group of Islamic militants in the Sinai region attacked St. George, a Coptic Christian church, as part of a staged operation to distract security forces while another group of militants successfully robbed a nearby bank.  The attack, which involved the lobbying of grenades and exchange of gunfire, left three civilians—including a young child—three bank guards, and one soldier dead, and 15 people, mostly women and children, wounded.   The church, which had sustained extensive damage from earlier terror attacks—its priest was killed last year and its congregation fled—was not occupied at the time.

In four separate instances, Muslim authorities responded to Muslim mob uprisings against four individual churches in Minya—in one instance Christians were pelted with rocks during service—by closing the Christian buildings of worship down on the charge that they incite unrest and violence.   As a result, thousands of Christians were left without a place to worship in the heavily Christian regions of Minya province.

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In one of these uprisings, on Sunday, October, 22, a mob of about 60 Muslim men were seen storming out of a mosque and marching to the nearby church of St. Moses, all while screaming: “no matter what, we’ll bring the church down,” and “Islamic! Islamic!” meaning the village must be entirely Islamic, with no place for infidel activities.  According to the report, “The attackers attempted to break into the building, the first floor of which houses a pre-school nursery [that serves 38 toddlers and children aged 2 to 4] and reception hall. When they could not get through they set the main iron gate on fire and broke the CCTV camera on top of the gate.”  They also hurled rocks at Christian homes and burned one Copt’s car.  “As soon as the violence erupted, the police cordoned off the village and restored security, but caught no culprit.”  Authorities proceeded to shut down the church, thereby leaving 1,000 Christian locals without a place of worship.

Another Christian eyewitness described another mob attack along similar terms: “Following the [Islamic] Friday prayer [on October 27], many Muslims gathered into a mob and began to attack us. They threw stones at our homes resulting in breaking the doors and windows of some houses, injuring a Coptic woman… they set three stables owned by Copts on fire. They then headed to the church (the building services) and tried to attack it but the security guards who were assigned confronted them and prevented them from approaching the church.”  Instead and to appease the Islamic rioters, security services closed the church up, thereby denying that village’s 1,800 Christian residents a place of worship.

“What did we Copts do to be attacked, our church closed, and Christians prevented from praying in it?” asked another Christian resident. “We are very peaceful and we have not made any trouble with them. Is this because we are Christians? They do not want us to have a place to pray in. Their aim was to close our church. They consider us Kaffir [infidels] and they say no to places for Kaffir to pray in our village. While they were throwing the stones at our homes last Friday they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, we don’t want a church in our Islamic village.’”

In response to this spate of Muslim mob uprisings against—followed by closures of—churches, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of Minya issued a statement on October 29: “We stayed silent for two weeks after the closure of a church hoping that the officials would do the job they were assigned to do by the state.  However, this silence has led to something worse, as if prayer is a crime the Copts should be punished for…  churches are closed, the Coptic Christians are being attacked and their property destroyed, and there is no deterrent.”  The statement further called the Egyptian authorities’ responses “disappointing,” as their closure of churches punishes the victims while validating the will of violent mobs.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan: Islamic terrorists hurled grenades on the Gospel Faith Church before fleeing the scene.  Although there was significant damage to the property—including a church wall, the surrounding gate, and a parked car—no one was harmed as congregants had already left church.

Mali: Christians who make up two percent of the Muslim majority nation’s population and their churches, “have come under systematic attacks by extremist Muslims,” says a report, with a “lack of a government response to the crisis.”  In one attack, “armed men stormed the local church, taking the crucifix, altar furnishings, and the statue of the Virgin Mary. They burned the church material right at the church door.”  In another incident, “Christians were chased away from their church with the threat that if they kept worshiping, they would be killed. Over the next few weeks, several churches were burned in Mali’s central Mopti region, forcing parishioners to flee.”  “On previous occasions,” said a local Catholic leader, “the government has deployed military units in our parishes. But this still hasn’t been done against these new attacks.”

Algeria: Claiming that a 2006 law that regulates non-Muslim worship is being breached, Muslim authorities cracked down on at least two churches, including one that was using a house leased on behalf of the Protestant Church of Algeria (an accredited institution formally recognized by the government since 1974).  The report argues that churches are facing “intimidation and harassment because of the 2006 law,” even though they are operating in full accordance with that law, as evident by their affiliation with a formally acknowledged institution.  “It is an unjust law against Christians, who are denied their right to worship and the opportunity to share the Gospel freely,” a local Protestant leader said, adding that “the situation of Christians in Algeria will not improve until the outright law, which is no longer justified, is repealed.”

Sudan:  On Sunday, October 22, police officers marched into a church in Omdurman and ordered its leadership to cancel the worship service. When they refused, all five were arrested and taken to jail; there they were threatened that they would be kept in prison indefinitely unless they complied.  They were released twelve hours later.

Nigeria:  Unknown persons plundered the Kings Tabernacle International Church before setting it aflame.  According to the report, “Burnt roof, drum set, PVC, electric wires, wall clock, light fittings ashes of completely burnt pulpit and alter rug littered the scene of the incident with smoke still billowing out from the burnt items.  Sympathizers and members of the church gathered watching helplessly as the fire had already burnt down a part of the church completely.”  Although the attack was registered as a criminal act of theft, Nigeria is roughly half Muslim and has witnessed the bombing and burning of hundreds of churches in recent years.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom

Iran: Authorities continued cracking down on converts to Christianity, including by raiding the homes of and arresting four Christians; their Bibles and other Christian paraphernalia were also confiscated.  Mohabat News says it had “obtained confirmed reports of them being beaten in prison and threatened that if they don’t renounce their faith in Christ and turn away from their Christian faith they will be forced to leave the country or be beaten to death.”

Uganda:  A Muslim father beat his son and forced him to flee the family home after he learned that the 20-year-old had converted to Christianity.  When the father, who had noticed that Magale Hamidu had long stopped going to mosque and had been seen in Christian company, he pressed his son to confess.  When the latter remained silent, “his father began beating him with a stick,” notes the report; before long “other family members picked up sticks and joined in.  Hamidu’s screams … alerted neighbors who managed to pull the bleeding young man away” and rushed him to a hospital.  After the attack, a neighbor said the unrepentant father told him, “I will rest only after getting rid of Hamidu—he has become a big embarrassment to my family.”  Pastor Kisense, who took the outcast son in, said he was reluctant to press charges, as “it would trigger Islamist attacks on him or his church…”  The pastor has already been receiving threatening messages from area Muslims, including: “We are aware that several of our Muslim members are being accommodated by your church, and if you continue housing them, then be informed that your church and life has been marked, and expect something serious to happen soon.”

Indonesia: An open-air Christian prayer service was canceled due to pressure—and threats—from Muslim groups claiming that the public event was a “plot to convert Muslims to Christianity.” “For the sake of interreligious harmony,” the Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia responded in a statement, “and to avoid acts of intolerance, the committee decided to call off the national prayer service to mark 500 years of Reformation.”   Less than a year earlier, a Christmas service was also stopped by Muslim rioters.

Sudan:  Approximately one million Christians have no access to Bibles in the Muslim majority nation.  “They need Bibles, they need materials,” a senior church leader said. “It’s very difficult for them to get them now.  The government is denying their right to know their own belief and study their own religion.”  A separate report says that a shipment of Arabic language Bibles intercepted in a port has been held by authorities for at least two years: “The detained shipments were destined for Sudan’s capital, Khartoum…. At present the Bible Society in Sudan does not have a single copy of an Arabic Bible available in Khartoum.  Other shipments of Bibles at Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, have also been detained over the past two years.”

United Kingdom:  Another Christian who fled to the West from the Islamic world in search of religious freedom was attacked and beat senseless by Muslim men angered by the crucifix hanging in his car’s rearview mirror.   Tajamal Amar awoke five hours later in a hospital with a broken nose and several lacerations to his head.  According to the report, “Mr Amar, remembers being stared at by a group of Muslim men who seemed to be taking offence at the cross in his vehicle…  After this Mr Amar is not very clear on what happened but he seems to have been hit on top of the head and then suffered further violence as he lay on the floor unconscious.” Speaking later, Amar said:

Several times local Pakistani people in Derby have taken offence from the fact that I am Christian, when they first find out many stop talking to me. My wife and I have often been shunned.  On the day of my attack the visible display of a cross in my car and two poppies just below the front bonnet, triggered the violence against me. I know this, because for a few days before the attack the same men glared at me after they notice[d] my Christian paraphernalia.  I fled from Pakistan to escape violence such as this, but more and more the same violence is coming into Britain.  Freedom of religion should be the right of any British citizen but today I feel unsafe, even then nothing will stop me going to church.

Pakistani Abuse of Christians

Three Muslim men kidnapped a 12-year-old Christian girl, gang-raped, and sadistically tortured her, including by burning her body with cigarette butts.   That same day, when the mother of the sixth grade girl went to police, they refused to start a criminal investigation or even to file a complaint.  While explaining that things are bad for Christian minorities in general, one human rights activist Shahid Anwar added that “things are twice as bad [for females]. First, because she belongs to a religious minority. Secondly, because she is a woman. What is more, when minors go to police to file complaints, they are not treated the same way as other [Muslim] citizens, and their complaints are not taken seriously…  In Pakistan, [Christian] girls are often taken, raped and converted by force. The competent authorities did not take any action.”

Separately, Christian activists accused authorities “of failing to protect a 17-year-old Christian girl who for years has been sexually harassed and stalked by a Muslim man who threatened to throw acid on her,” says a report.  She “has been heckled since 2013 by a man 10 years her senior who is trying to get her to marry him,” including by “accosting her daily on her way to school…. [T]he chance of meeting with him filled her with fear and dread, so much so that often she would stay at home and cry her day away having lost all hope.”  On such days, “the man would also sit outside her house and yell her name.”  The girl eventually “stopped attending school and did not leave her home for an entire year, becoming seriously ill and depressed.”  At one point, the Muslim man “even pulled a dagger and chased away a police officer who wanted to talk to him about the case.”  In general, however, “police have failed to deal with the man despite his threats, including one instance in which he threatened to throw acid on Iqbal.”  According to a human rights group, “It’s sad to hear how this Christian girl has lost her ambitions and dreams of a brighter future, because fear of an impending and looming attack has left her so disheveled. Samina should have the freedom to live as she wants and this man should be punished. He has left her without an education and has destroyed a promising career.”

Finally, as part of a plan to continue avoiding to pay rent—and possibly expropriate their property— Muhammad Arshad, a Muslim tenant falsely accused the Christian family renting out to him of kidnapping a newborn Muslim girl, leading to the arrest and “excruciating torture” of the family’s three sons at the hands of police.  According to the report, “It has been forty days that the three Christians have been detained. What is more, the police are also intimidating and abuse female members of the Christian family. The victims claim that Muhammad Arshad had fabricated a false case against them in order to avoid payment of rent due from past seven months.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

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Netanyahu: ‘We Never Stopped Fighting For Our Independence’

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 23:00

In an Israeli Independence Day address to the diplomatic corps in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the Jewish people “never stopped fighting for our independence” throughout its 4,000 year history.

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US State Department Report Drops “Occupied Territory” Label For Israel

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 20:51

In the US State Department’s annual human rights violations report released on Friday, Judea and Samaria, previously referred to as “occupied territory” as a matter of policy, were referred to as “the West Bank”.

This changes a State Department policy that has remained in place since 1979.

The report did use the term “occupied territories” once.

“Israeli authorities did not permit Palestinians who were abroad during the 1967 War or whose residence permits the Israeli government subsequently withdrew to reside permanently in the occupied territories,” the report stated. “It was difficult for foreign-born spouses and children of Palestinians to obtain residency. Authorities required Palestinian spouses of Jerusalem residents to obtain a residency permit with reported delays of several years to obtain them.”

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Last December, David Friedman requested the State Department change the policy and refrain from using the term “occupied territory”.

The report also made note of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“On December 6, 2017, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the report said. “It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”

The report, covering events of 2017, did not give Israel a free pass and in the section dealing with the region, was critical of violations it considered Israel to be guilty of. These allegations included arbitrary arrests, demolitions of Palestinian homes, confiscation of Palestinian property, interrogations that used harsh techniques, and restricting Palestinians’ rights to peacefully assemble and protest.

“The most significant human rights issues included terrorist attacks targeting civilians and politically and religiously motivated killings by nonstate groups and individuals; administrative detention of Palestinians, often extraterritorially in Israel; and legal requirements and official rhetoric that adversely affected the operating environment for human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).”

Th report was also critical of Hamas, accusing the terror organization of killings, torture, arbitrary arrests of minors and homosexuals, and forced child labor. The US report also accused Hamas of “rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel, and they did so at or near civilian locations in Gaza.”

The report also contained other significant changes, removing a section on “reproductive rights” that was introduced by President Obama in 2011. In its place is a section for each country called “coercion in population control” outlining involuntary sterilization.

The report was issued under the auspices of Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan who replaced Rex Tillerson.

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Gaza Protesters Attack Israel With Kite Bombs to Honor Hitler’s Birthday

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 15:55

As part of the fourth week of Hamas-led protests on Friday, Gazans few large kites carrying firebombs over the border into Israel. One kite bomb set ablaze a warehouse in southern Israel on Saturday causing heavy damage. Another kite carrying a firebomb was decorated to honor Adolf Hitler’s birthday which coincided with Friday’s Hamas event.

Moments ago, terrorist #Hamas sent a Molotov cocktail over the Gaza border into Israel.
They flew it with their true colors. pic.twitter.com/LOexWD76lf

— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) April 20, 2018

Last Tuesday, a kite bomb from Gaza set fire to 25 acres of grassland inside Israel. Times of Israel noted the irony in the new style of attacks, recalling that, “last month, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) organized a “Kites of Hope” festival for over 1,000 Gazan schoolchildren from Khan Younis.”

The IDF responded to the protests with tear gas and rubber bullets, resorting to live-fire when Gazans threatened to cross the border fence. Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with the IDF. Palestinian sources claim a total of 39 Palestinians have been killed during the protests. This number has not been verified by any other source. Many of those killed have been identified as members of Hamas’ military wing or of Ismaic Jihad.

Conricus posted images showing minors involved in attacks on the security fence on Friday.

This is how #Hamas sends minors (1) to burn down the fence (2), and other kids (3) to pull it down (4). Zoom in, you probably won’t see this elsewhere. pic.twitter.com/VkDe5htcNP

— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) April 21, 2018

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, wrote a letter to the UN Security Council criticizing Israel for its use of force and calling for an independent investigation into the events.

“It seems that the Israeli occupying forces are not restraining themselves, they’re not listening to anyone and they are continuing with this massacre,” Mansour told reporters in New York on Friday.

It should be noted that Mansour’s reference to “Israeli occupying forces” is inaccurate. Israel has not had a military or civilian presence in Gaza since it dismantled the Jewish settlements of Gush Katif in 2005. His statement is, however, consistent with that of top Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who, on Friday, stated the purpose of the protests.

UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov echoed the Palestinian narrative.

“Our people will outnumber the occupation and force it from our land,” Haniyeh said, indicating the intent to cross the border into Israel.

The IDF dropped leaflets over Gaza on Friday, urging Palestinians not to protest violently.

The IDF just dropped these leaflets over Gaza, urging Palestinians not to endanger themselves by acting on behalf of terrorist #Hamas. The IDF will continue to defend our border and civilians against terror, let’s just hope warnings will be headed. pic.twitter.com/DOJCTAw0G7

— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) April 20, 2018

 Palestinian support for the protests appears to be waning as only an estimated 3,000 people showed up to protest on the border. Over 30,000 Palestinians took part in the first protest on March 30, with this number dwindling to 10,000 last week. The tactics have also changed weekly. On April 9, protestors burned 10,000 tires on the border in an attempt to destroy the security fence and obscure the field of vision of IDF soldiers protecting the border. Last week, protesters burned Israeli flags. Also last week, four Palestinians were killed when a large explosive device they were transporting to the security fence exploded prematurely.

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Remarkable Video Presents 70 Years of Israeli History and Achievement in 165 Seconds

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:39

Israel21 takes you on a journey through the last 70 years to discover how Israel has become one of the most creative and innovative countries in the world.

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Mazal Tov! First Jacob’s Sheep of Season Born on Israel’s 70th Birthday

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:20

The first Jacob’s lamb was born early, arriving in Ramot Naftali on Thursday morning, just in time to celebrate its birthday along with Israel. Jenna Lewinsky, the amazing woman who accomplished the seemingly impossible task of reuniting the sheep with the Jewish people, gave the little ewe a fitting name: Golda Meir.

“It’s an ewe lamb and we thought of the first lady prime minister,” Lewinsky told Breaking Israel News. “The name seems to fit since she is already bossing around the much larger adult sheep.”

Jenna Lewinsky (L) with Golda Meir (R) (Photo courtesy Jenna Lewinsky)

The birth on Thursday caught Lewinsky off guard.

“None of the sheep were supposed to give birth for a couple of weeks, so I just left in the evening without separating any of them,” Lewinsky said. She carefully tracks the pregnancies and normally separates the pregnant ewes from the flock one week before they give birth”I was shocked when I showed up in the morning on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and found a little sheep suckling from its mother.”

The story of the Lewinsky’s flock is truly remarkable. With no background in farming or animal husbandry, Jenna first adopted the flock of 119 sheep in Western Canada in 2013 with the intention of reuniting the sheep with the Nation of Israel. The sheep are a rare breed experts believe originated in Israel and their unique spotted appearance conforms to the Biblical account of the herd Jacob received from Laban.

And the flocks conceived at the sight of the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. Genesis 30:39

Though they are indigenous to the Middle East, none of the breed remain in the region. The sheep most commonly seen in Israel are from the Awassi breed and originated in Syria.

Lewinsky recreated the difficult Exodus of the Jews from Egypt when she brought the flock of 119 sheep from Western Canada to Israel in November 2016. The first stage required trucking the flock 2,100 miles overland to Eastern Canada. It took 11 flights to bring them to Israel, after which they sat in quarantine on a farm in the south of Israel. After several temporary homes, Jenna and her sheep arrived in  Ramot Naftali near the Lebanese border.

But just as the trials of the Jews were not over when they arrived in Israel, neither did the sheep’s arrival end their difficulties. Last summer, many of the sheep contracted Bluetongue Disease. Mortality from the disease can run as high as 90 percent in imported breeds. 60 sheep died. Remarkably, the young lambs born the month before, normally the most susceptible to the disease, were all spared.

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Contained within the sorrow was a blessing. A unique trait of the Jacob’s sheep is that each ram has four horns. Lewinsky had the horns of the dead rams turned into shofarot, horns used in Jewish ritual and for the first time in 2,000 years, the sound of the Jacob’s sheep shofar was heard in Israel.

“40 ewes are pregnant and many of them are much larger than usual,” Lewinsky said. “I am hoping that just like their ancestors who were more prolific than Laban’s regular sheep, these sheep can do the same.”

But with the feebler animals he would not place them there. Thus the feeble ones went to Laban and the sturdy to Yaakov. So the man grew , and came to own large flocks, maidservants and menservants, camels and asses. Genesis 30:42-43

Lewinsky’s will probably not become “exceedingly prosperous” from her not-for-profit endeavor but it is clear that all of Israel is being blessed by the fruits of her labor.

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Romania to Move Embassy to Jerusalem: Netanyahu Promises Six More to Follow

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:07

After meeting last week with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely last week,  a Romanian politician has announced their nation will be moving their embassy to Jerusalem. This will make Romania the fourth nation to do so and the first European Union country to break ranks and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, a Social Democrat, proposed the move to his government last Wednesday, April 11, and the process moved forward quickly. In an interview with the Romanian TV channel ANTENA 3 on Thursday, Israeli Independence Day, Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and a member of Romania’s ruling party, told viewers that the decision was made Wednesday night to move the embassy.

The announcement comes after Hotovely met with Romania’s prime minister and foreign minister and heads of both houses of the parliament in Bucharest ten days ago. Hotovely described this meeting as the first leg of a campaign to persuade countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

מברכת את יור הפרלמנט הרומני על הודעתו היום לתקשורת לפיה רומניה תחל בהליכים להעברת השגרירות הרומנית לירושלים. זו היתה רוח הפגישה בינינו בשבוע שעבר בבוקרשט, ואני מקווה לראות בקרוב את שגרירות רומניה בירושלים. pic.twitter.com/9Hk0oEnGL9

— Tzipi Hotovely (@TzipiHotovely) April 19, 2018

“I congratulate the speaker of the Romanian parliament [Liviu Dragnea] on his announcement today to the media according to which Romania will commence the process of moving the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem,” Hotovely wrote on her Twitter account last Thursday. “This was the spirit of our meeting last week in Bucharest, and I hope to see the Romanian Embassy in Jerusalem soon.”

 The first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem will be the United States when it opens at a temporary location in May. This will be followed by Guatemala and Honduras. The only official embassy in Jerusalem at the time is the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Hotovely is planning a trip to the Czech Republic next week as the next step in her embassy effort.  

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that at least six countries are in talks with Israel to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

“We’re happy about [US] President [Donald] Trump’s decision to move the embassy here. It says a simple thing: Peace must be based on truth,” Netanyahu said at an Independence Day event at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence. The event was attended by many foreign diplomats from at least six countries.

“Recognizing reality is the way to build peace. You cannot build peace on the basis of lies because it crashes against the rocks of reality,” he said to the diplomats. “The fact that Israel has a capital city, that the Jewish people has had a capital city for 3,000 years named Jerusalem, is undeniable. It is time to acknowledge that fact.”

“I am happy to say there are at least half-a-dozen countries seriously talking with us about relocating their embassies to Jerusalem, and thank you Guatemala for doing so. There will be more following in your steps,” the prime minister said.

“There is a simple principle, you know it — ‘first come first serve,’” Netanyahu added. “I have decided that the first ten embassies that arrive here will get preferential treatment. We’ll help you!”

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ESTHER 9:21

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 05:16

Purim is the only Jewish holiday that is observed on two different days, depending on one’s location. The residents of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and other walled cities celebrate on the fifteenth of Adar, while the rest of the world celebrates on the fourteenth of Adar. In establishing the holiday of Purim, Esther wanted to guarantee that the lesson of the holiday would not be forgotten. In her time, the Children of Israel had forsaken Yerushalayim. Celebrating in Yerushalayim on a different day highlights its special status and its eternal connection to the People of Israel.

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IDF Drops Leaflets Warning Gaza Residents Not to Riot at Border

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 02:00

IDF planes dropped leaflets along the Gaza Border area Friday morning,  warning Palestinians not to approach the fence, ahead of a mass demonstrations expected later in the day.

“Violent disturbances in recent weeks took advantage of civilians to cover terrorist attacks against Israeli security infrastructures and the IDF,” a military spokesman said in a statement.

“The IDF will not allow damage to security and border infrastructures that protect Israeli citizens and will act against anyone who wants to harm Israel’s security,” the leaflet addressed to the residents of Gaza read.

“You are participating in violent disturbances. Hamas exploits you to carry out terrorist activities.The IDF is prepared for any scenario. Avoid approaching the fence and harming it. Refrain from using weapons and carrying out violent actions against the Israeli security forces and Israeli citizens.Stay away from terrorist elements and elements that promote disorder and violence,” the IDF warning continued.

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“The IDF will act against any attempt to damage the barrier and its components and any other military equipment.Hamas uses you to promote the interest of the movement.Do not obey Hamas orders that endanger your life.Your future is in your hands,” the leaflet concluded.

Friday’s protest will be the fourth week in a row of large-scale demonstrations along the Gaza border.The number of participants in last week’s protest was some 10,000 according to IDF sources, compared with around 30,000 in the initial protest three weeks ago. At least 32 people have been killed in clashes, at least 26 of then affiliated to Hamas and other terrorist groups according to Israeli sources.

The protests, labeled “The Great March of Return” are scheduled to take place weekly until Nakba Day on May 15 when a mass march toward Israeli territory is expected. Nakba Day, which means Day of the Catastrophe is marked annually on May 15,  a day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli Independence Day.

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[Photos] What Happens When Israeli Innovation Meets a Desire to Save Lives?

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 01:00

The Talmud tells us that he who saves a life saves an entire world.

United Hatzalah, Israel’s volunteer medic organization, is in the business of saving many, many worlds.

The Israeli organization provides the quickest emergency medical first response throughout Israel. Using innovation and technology, their highly trained all-volunteer team of medics have reduced response times to three minutes or less, from the very north to the very south of Israel.

Here’s how they do it:

United Hatzalah’s dispatch call center combines phone calls, medic app alerts, and video from those in need or those on-scene to provide immediate response with trained medics and equipment. Volunteers are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, who react instantly from their homes and workplaces, by foot, motorcycle, car, ATV, e-bike, water rescue ambuboat, and even tractor.

United Hatzalah volunteers at the dispatch center
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

United Hatzalah’s dispatch center integrates the latest GPS tracking technology with proprietary interactive dispatch software to allow dispaters the optimal level of resources that are available for any given incident.

CEO Eli Beer models the technology
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

The intuitive interactivity of the system allows the first responder to provide central dispatch with invaluable accurate on-scene incident data rapidly.

An interactive map showing all active volunteers
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

With a fleet of 5,000 volunteers around the country, they are able to reach incidences that occur minutes from their location, arriving in the precious first minutes of an emergency and offering medical treatment before ambulances arrive.

A 90-second timer at United Hatzalah’s Headquarters.
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

The average response time is three minutes in Israel’s smaller cities, but just 90 seconds in larger cities. Their innovation raises rates of survival and facilitates optimal recovery.

A United Hatzalah volunteer with a phone for each neighborhood in Jerusalem
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

United Hatzalah’s ambucycle unit is designed to bring speed and efficiency to save more lives, more efficiently.

A model ambucycle
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

United Hatzalah volunteers respond to over 1,000 emergency calls per day in Israel.

Volunteers at the call center
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

Their medical equipment center houses critical equipment, with a computerized inventory system that establishes proper maintenance and supervision protocols so that the volunteers will have all the necessary tools at their fingertips required for rapid response.

Medical Equipment at United Hatzalah’s Logistics Center
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

Volunteers are trained at United Hatzalah’s training and simulation center, with state-of-the-art simulations to better prepare for emergencies.

Terror attack simulation
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

Volunteers participate in regular training to reduce the risk of injury associated with the extensive physical exertion of volunteers.

Life saving supplies
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

The volunteers also enjoy support groups, events, organized activities, and a hub to rest and refresh.

United Hatzalah temperature-controlled IT hub
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

United Hatzalah exports their technology and is now in 20 other countries, outside of Israel.

Life saving kits for doctors and EMTs
(Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

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ESTHER 7:1

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:42

Why does Esther deem it necessary to invite the evil Haman to her banquet with King Ahasuerus? As long as the Jewish people knew that they had Esther in the palace, they were counting on her to reverse Haman’s evil decree. Yet Esther wanted the people themselves to fully repent for their wrongdoings. Inviting Haman to the banquet made it appear that Esther was abandoning her people and aligning with the wicked Haman. At that point, the terrified nation called out to Hashem (God) with a new intensity that merited their salvation. Throughout the ages, true redemption arrives when we realize that we have no one to rely on aside from Hashem. Purim is recognized as one of the most powerful days for prayer on which Hashem receives the prayers of His children with open arms.

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Israel Receives New Bible for Its 70th Birthday

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:01

For its 70th birthday, Israel is receiving the Israel Bible, the first Bible published in more than two decades, an edition conceived in the Holy Land and focused on the connection between the land, the people, and their God.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz (left) presents a set of “The Israel Bible” to Avi Baumal. (Photo: Israel365)

“Every generation needs its own Bible,” Rabbi Naphtali ‘Tuly’ Weisz, the Israel Bible’s publisher told Breaking Israel News. “This has been true for the last 500 years. We need a new Bible based on how the modern miracle of Israel has affected both Jews and Christians as the materialization of God’s covenant and prophecy.”

Rabbi Weisz emphasized that modern Israel is a wonder among the nations as a source of innovation in technology but now it needs to take its place as a Biblical source for the world. He cited Isaiah as the Biblical mandate for this.

And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3

“Much of the religious strife between Jews and Christians and Jews has been due to us not taking on this role,” Rabbi Weisz said. “They have been learning a gentile version of the Bible. For example, the King James version of the Bible, the basis for all English translations, was written at a time when Jews were exiled from England. As a result, it is full of mistakes since no Jews were consulted in translating the Hebrew.”

The Israel Bible is a beautiful 20 volume set totaling over 2,000 pages and divided into 929 chapters. was published by Menorah Books (a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem) including contemporary commentaries, maps, charts, and illustrations.The original Hebrew text appears alongside the New Jewish Publication Society translation.

Rabbi Weisz founded Israel365, a nongovernmental organization, in 2012 to serve as a bridge between the Jews living in Israel and the nations of the world. As part of that vision, he began working on The Israel Bible at the same time with the expressed goal of “convincing a divided Jewish people, Christian Zionists and what sometimes seems like an anti-Israel world that Israel belongs to the Jewish people”.

The Israel Bible has already begun to accomplish its mission. At the joint Christian-Jewish Bible Study in the Knesset for the Caucus for the Encouragement of Bible Study and The Schindler Society in February, Rabbi Weisz taught a section of Isaiah from the hardcover edition in which he explained that the Torah belongs to the Jewish people as well as the entire world.

“The Torah will bring Jews and non-Jews together and become the source of unity for all people,” Rabbi Weisz said at the multi-faith gathering last month. “We are at a  pivotal time in history for relations between Jews and non-Jews,” Rabbi Weisz said. “For the first time, non-Jews are asking Jews to teach them Torah. We are responding to that and the Israel Bible is the first Tanakh (Bible; an acronym for Torah [the Five Books of Moses], Nevi’im [prophets] and Ketuvim [writings]) created with that in mind.”

Rabbi Weisz believes the Bible is the realization of the vision of Zechariah.

Thus said God of Hosts: In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold—they will take hold of every Yehudi by a corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that Hashem is with you.” Zechariah 8:23

One of the first differences readers will notice is that many words in the English translation are transliterated from the Hebrew. This is especially true of the names of locations and cities in Israel. Rabbi Yaakov Beasley edited and commented on the later prophets. This detail, using the Hebrew names of the cities, was subtle but significant.

“I found it challenging to transliterate the Hebrew words, more difficult than simply translating. But it is necessary for Jews and Christians to have a common language when it comes to the land,” Rabbi Beasley told Breaking Israel News, giving an example. “‘Jerusalem’ does not have the same emotional impact or connotations as Yerushalayim, which goes straight to the heart.”

“The Nevi’im teach us to never take Israel for granted,” Rabbi Beasley said. “This is an essential teaching for our generation when so many people don’t relate to how much of a miraculous realization of prophecy modern Israel actually is.”

Rabbi Avi Baumol, who is currently serving the Jewish community of Krakow Poland, wrote the commentary on Psalms. While working on the project, he envisioned King David “composing Tehillim (Psalms) while roaming around Israel.”

“The words of the Bible are the same but the setting is part of the message,” Rabbi Baumol told Breaking Israel News. “When I visited the caves of Ein Gedi, I was better able to understand what he was going through. This helped me understand the text even better, taking it to a new level.”

“Sometimes, Bibles are intended for one specific religion but the message is really universal,” Rabbi Baumol said, noting that this universality is expressed in the Land of Israel itself. “It is clear that Israel is not simply a place for one people. All people should come and experience walking on the stones the forefathers tread upon.”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); }); Ahuva Balofsky (Photo courtesy Israel365)

Ahuva Balofsky wrote the commentary on Mishle (Proverbs) which, “at first glance, seems more conceptual and not necessarily connected to the land”.

“God’s promise of the Land of Israel is not just in the places where it is explicitly stated in the text,” Balofsky told Breaking Israel News. “From beginning to end, the Bible is seen through the lens of the land.”

Balofsky cited one case in which the connection to Israel was implicit but powerful.

For the upright will inhabit the earth, The blameless will remain in it. Proverbs 2:21

“The word Eretz, translated here as ‘earth,’ also means ‘land’,” Balofsky wrote in her Israel Bible commentary, citing Yehuda Keel, author of the Da’at Mikra commentary on Sefer Mishlei. “This is a reference to the land of Israel.  In this verse, King Shlomo reminds us of Hashem’s promise to the Israelites in the desert, that if they walk in His ways, they will remain in the land which He has given them. Eretz Yisrael is promised to those who remain steadfast in their commitment to God’s words, not only in deed, but also in thought.”

Josh Even Chen (Photo courtesy Israel365)

Josh Even Chen, who wrote has a particularly strong connection with Israel, worked on the commentary on the books of Ezra and Nechemiah, a job he found particularly challenging.

“Ezra and Nechemiah essentially deal with the Babylonian exile and seem less Israel-centric,” he told Breaking Israel News. “But they can only be understood from an Israel perspective.”

To illustrate this point, he referred to the commentary he chose on a verse in Ezra which reflected his trailblazing sensibilities.

In all, 5,400 gold and silver vessels. Sheshbatzar brought all these back when the exiles came back from Babylon to Yerushalayim. Ezra 1:11

“The beloved Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach would quip, ‘Did you know that Jerusalem is the highest city in the world?’” Even Chen wrote in the Israel Bible. “Many were skeptical, but he was correct – in the spiritual, if not topographical, sense. The Bible states that “Avram went down to Egypt” from Canaan (Genesis 12:10), and when the people returned to the land of Israel from the Babylonian exile, although translated as “the exiles came back,” the more exacting translation is “the exiles ascended.” Ever since the magnetic north has dictated the directional illustration of maps, people have said things like, “I’m going down south,” or “I’m heading up north.” However, this verse teaches that no matter where a person is in the world, his “spiritual compass” should always indicate that Yerushalayim is always “up.”

Even Chen works as a tour educator and his job had a profound influence on his commentary.

“Israel is an open textbook and the main text of the Bible is, of course, the land itself,” he explained. “Bible can be read anywhere in the world but the full depth and meaning can only be understood when learned directly from the Land of Israel.”

Even Chen has great expectations for the Israel Bible.

“I have seen many tourists change their relationship with the Bible after standing on the actual spot the Bible is referring to,” Even Chen said. “In the same manner, the Israel Bible can take this experience out into the world. I can see the impact by the Israel Bible on the world of faith, both Christian and Jewish will be tremendous.”

The Israel Bible can be purchased on the Israel365 website.

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