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Dr. Mordechai Kedar Defends Judaism and Christianity in Arabic on Al Jazeera

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:40

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, confronts an Imam on Al Jazeera in Arabic, defending Judaism’s claim to Jerusalem and Israel, while also defending Christianity in the strongest possible terms.

The post Dr. Mordechai Kedar Defends Judaism and Christianity in Arabic on Al Jazeera appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Father’s Day: The Fifth Commandment Connecting Heaven and Earth to Bring Redemption

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:16

Father’s Day does not appear on the Jewish calendar but its roots are certainly Biblical and, according to one rabbi, may be the key to bringing one of the essential tikkunim (fixings) for Redemption.

Father’s Day in the USA, celebrated on June 17, was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day but the holiday has its roots in the Middle Ages in Europe and is celebrated on different days all around the world.

These universal beginnings hint at ancient roots. Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a prominent Jewish educator and bestselling author, believes this seemingly secular holiday is actually based on the Fifth Commandment.

Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that Hashem your God is assigning to you. Exodus 20:12

“We can see that for some reason, the Torah has explicitly linked the mitzvah (commandment) of respecting your parents to the redemption, to the Jews being in the land of Israel,” Rabbi Apisdorf said to Breaking Israel News. “It seems that it is a prerequisite for living here.”

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He explained the connection between honoring parents and the land.

“The Ten Commandments are divided into two sets of five: the first set are between man and God, and the second set is between man and his fellow man,” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “The fifth commandment of respecting your parents connects heaven and earth. These flesh-and-blood people are the child’s connection to his Creator. The Land of Israel is just land, but it is a link that connects heaven and earth.”

Rabbi Apisdorf believes that even though the holiday is Biblically rooted, its modern incarnation is especially important.

“It is called Father’s Day but all the pressure is on the kids to remember,” he said. “These days, the pressure should be on the father. It is so important in the world today that fathering makes a comeback.”

The rabbi’s plea is indeed timely.  A quick look at current statistics shows that the US is suffering a fatherhood crisis.

  • Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.2 million — are being raised without a father.
  • Single- mothers are five times more likely to raise their children in poverty than married couple families.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes – 5 times the national average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.  70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.  

Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of the Ohr Chadash Torah Institute, notes that despite being a secular holiday, Father’s day is actually deeply Jewish.

“There is no such thing as Father’s day in Judaism,” Rabbi Trugman told Breaking Israel News. “Due to the fifth commandment, every day is Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day).”

The rabbi believes that relating to this national fatherhood crisis is one of the final tikkunim (fixings) required to bring the Messianic Redemption.

“One of the reasons it is so important to do this mitzvah is that relating properly to our parents is the manner by which we learn to relate to God, as this relationship for many is too abstract,” Rabbi Trugman said. “Additionally, respecting one’s parents is the most essential form of gratitude since we owe them our very being. This is also true of God, since He, along with our parents, are the three partners that give us life. In the Talmud (tractate Kiddushin) it is written that in a home where a child respects his parents, the Shechina (God’s Presence) can be found but if not God’s Presence can not dwell there.”

“Of course, a respectful and loving relationship between parents and children is prophesied to be part of the geula,” Rabbi Trugman said. “The Mishna (oral tradition) in Sotah gives signs that will characterize the end-of-days. These negative phenomena are part of a general decline of generations. One sign given is that young people will not respect their elders. We see that happening today in an extreme manner.”

The Rabbi emphasized that the end of the Book of Malachi describes the Tikkun (fixing) that will replace this distressing phenomenon:

He [Elijah, the prophet] shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of Hashem. Malachi 3:24

“Young people respecting elders is one of the tikkunim that will bring the Moshiach,” Rabbi Trugman stated unequivocally.

The post Father’s Day: The Fifth Commandment Connecting Heaven and Earth to Bring Redemption appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Netanyahu’s Media Adviser Slams Hypocritical UN Condemnation of Israel for Protecting Border From Hamas

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 05:49

Hananya Naftali, a powerful Israel advocate turned deputy social media adviser for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, explains the hypocrisy of the UN condemning Israel for protecting its southern border from Hamas terrorism.

The post Netanyahu’s Media Adviser Slams Hypocritical UN Condemnation of Israel for Protecting Border From Hamas appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Report: Hezbollah Rejects Russian Request to Withdraw From Syrian Positions Along Israel Border

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 05:10

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shi’ite terrorist organization, has rejected Russian demands to withdraw its forces from the Lebanese-Syrian border, a prominent Syrian-rights group indicated Thursday.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Hezbollah is still in the al-Qusayr area southwest of Homs and the Jusiyyeh crossing area on the border.

Russia reportedly demanded that Hezbollah pull out of Syria following an alleged Israeli airstrike on May 25 that was said to have targeted Hezbollah munitions depots at the al-Qusayr air base. The area is a known Hezbollah stronghold, also housing other Iran-backed militias.

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In a dramatic diplomatic development on May 28, it was revealed that Israel and Russia had reached understandings whereby only Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army—not Iran or its Shi’ite proxy militias, including Hezbollah—will take up positions near the border with Israel.

Under the agreement, an Israeli official said, not only will Russia enforce its commitment to keep Iran’s militias and Hezbollah forces from the border, it will publicly call on all foreign forces to leave Syrian soil, among them the United States and Turkey.

The Observatory reported no clashes between Hezbollah and Russian forces, but said the Russians were adamant about the terrorist group’s withdrawal from its positions along the border.

Meanwhile, sources linked to Syrian rebel factions told The Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Hezbollah terrorists and other Iran-backed militants were fighting alongside Syrian soldiers near the Israeli border disguised in Syrian army uniforms.

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US Threatens to Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council Over Anti-Israel Bias

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:51

The United States is close to withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council after talks to reform the Council have failed to meet Washington’s demands.

A U.S. source told Reuters that the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent” as the UNHRC is set to open its three-week session on Monday.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has repeatedly suggested that the United States would pull out unless it reforms and ends its anti-Israel bias.

“When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,” Haley said in March after the council passed five anti-Israel resolutions.

“The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council. Our patience is not unlimited,” she added.

Israel is the only country with a dedicated item at the UNHRC, known as Agenda Item 7, which mandates a discussion of Israel’s conduct with the Palestinians at every session.

The United States refused to join the UNHRC when it was first created in 2006 under President George W. Bush. It later joined the council in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

The post US Threatens to Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council Over Anti-Israel Bias appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..


Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:49

The above verse refers to Hashem (God) comforting the Children of Israel following the destruction of the first and second Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temples). Thousands of years after Isaiah spoke these words, they continue to provide comfort and hope to the Children of Israel. In times of sorrow, the Jewish People seek comfort in the Torah (Bible) and in Hashem’s promise of the ultimate redemption. Today is Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims. 23,645 soldiers have been killed defending the Land and the People of Israel since 1860. On this day, the People of Israel come together to remember the brave men and women who fell fighting for the Jewish dream of establishing a home in the Land of Israel. Isaiah’s words are no less appropriate today than they were when they were spoken for the first time. May Hashem comfort the families and loved ones of Israel’s fallen soldiers and usher in the redemption speedily in our days. In the picture above, a soldier is carried to his final resting place at the military cemetery in Jerusalem.

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During Ramadan Ban of Jews on Temple Mount, Waqf Workers Destroyed Temple Artifacts [WATCH]

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:38

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf took advantage of the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, when Jews were barred from visiting the Temple Mount, to eliminate from the compound piles of earth that were rich with archaeological treasures dating back to the Temple period, Makor Rishon reported Friday. The piles of earth were created initially by illegal renovations the Waqf carried out in 1999.

The soil that was now eliminated was dug up by the Waqf as part of its project of erecting a new mosque in the Solomon’s Stables area on the Temple Mount. At the time, 400 truckloads of ancient soil were unloaded in city dumps and in the Kidron Valley. Eventually, Israeli legal authorities became involved and banned the removal of the remaining piles of soil on the Temple Mount.

The Waqf was planning to get rid of those piles as well, but a court petition by the Public Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount was accepted by the High Court of Justice, which in 2004 issued an injunction against the removal of the piles of soil.

But the Waqf never agreed with the court’s decision, which stood in the way of its plan to pave over the eastern part of the compound, as they have done elsewhere on the Temple Mount. An Israeli archaeologist, Tzahi Devira, who runs the Sifting Project that has revealed tens of thousands of treasures in the dumped soil, has been keeping watch on the Waqf for close to two decades, to make sure they don’t sin again.

So the Waqf did what so many faithful Muslim officials do when faced with a legal prohibition: they cheated, using the Israeli gesture of closing off the Temple Mount to Jews on the last week of Ramadan to complete their heinous crime against history and culture, and recruited more than 1,000 men to remove the piles of soil – this time making sure to get rid of the pesky evidence of there ever being a Jewish Temple there.

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According to Makor Rishon, a group of Jews who stood near the Temple Mount gates one night this week noticed a truck entering the compound.

At this point, those tall piles of soil are gone from the Temple Mount, replaced by terraced stones. The crime paid. All evidence of a Jewish Temple has been permanently eliminated.

Israel Police offered a reassuring statement in response to the Makor Rishon inquiry – read slowly, let the implied message sink in: “The irregularity has been identified by Israel Police, and once the situation is restored to normal by the Waqf and under the supervision of professionals, additional measures will be weighed.”

The post During Ramadan Ban of Jews on Temple Mount, Waqf Workers Destroyed Temple Artifacts [WATCH] appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Human Rights: Other Views – Part III

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 02:00

Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history’s most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah?

As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world’s rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places… The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.

In the first part of this series, as many surveys have shown, we saw how difficult it has been, and apparently remains, for many Muslims to be assimilated into non-Muslim societies.

In Part Two, we examined how difficult it remains to allow Syrian and other refugees even to settle into other Muslim and Arab countries, including places such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, which have taken in millions.

In this final part, we shall look at the remaining Muslim countries, which have taken in few or no refugees from the Syrian civil war. These are the richest countries in the Arab world, and the least troubled by disintegration. Many are generous in their funding for humanitarian aid, but that money is donated on the understanding that the refugees are looked after by the UNHCR and the countries they have already reached. Seeing why may be a help.

In 2014, Amnesty International published a short article, “Facts and Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement”, in which it stated that “The six Gulf countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain – have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees”.

This conclusion was echoed Deutsche Wellethe BBCTime magazine, CNN, the Washington Postthe Huffington Postthe Jerusalem Post and other media. The most detailed report, however, came from the Brookings Institution in a September 2015 article by Luay Al-Khateeb, a prominent Arab expert on the geopolitics and economics of the GCC. Al-Khateeb noted that:

condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stance on the region’s refugee crisis has reached a crescendo… they have countered criticism by asking the world to do more.

“The GCC, it is pointed out, has nonetheless given more money for refugees than any other [country].”[1]

As early as 2013, this amounted to $40 billion. Despite this generosity, the bulk of GCC aid money goes to other Muslim states, notably Egypt and Morocco, which, as noted in Part Two, have taken almost no refugees.

At this point, things become murkier. In 2015, Alex Nowrasteh, writing for Newsweek, argued that there are more Arabs and Muslims living in Arab and Muslim lands than ever before:

Many more Syrians are living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States than at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The World Bank reports that 1,000,000 Syrians resided in Saudi Arabia in 2013, a whopping 795% increase over 2010. There were 1,375,064 Syrian migrants living in the Gulf States in 2013, a 470% increase over 2010.

Excluding Oman, the 2013 Syrian population in every Gulf State has increased dramatically since right before the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

Others have also taken up cudgels on behalf of the GCC countries. Open Source Investigations, writing in December 2015, argued that the story about GCC failure to receive refugees is “a myth”. Just before that, the Guardian opined that Saudi Arabia had said criticism of their refugee response was “false and misleading”. The humanitarian organization HumanRefuge(e) published an article entitled “How Many Syrians Let in by the Gulf States?”

The HumanRefuge(e) post even features a map that purports to show high numbers of Syrian refugees who have been settled in Saudi Arabia.[2]

Why is there such a discrepancy between these two accounts: on the one hand, that the Gulf states have taken in no refugees and, on the other, that they have taken large numbers?

The explanation given by HumanRefuge(e), Open Source Investigations, the Saudi government and others hinges (or appears to hinge) on the fact that:

The UNHCR counts refugees using the 1951 Refugee Convention, among other protocols. Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE did not sign any UN protocols on refugees, so most refugees residing in these areas aren’t counted by agencies like the UNHCR.

A clearer explanation is given by Chaker Khazaal, commenting on a 2014 report by Amnesty International:

The reason it’s difficult to establish just how many refugees are being hosted by countries in the GCC is because they do not officially recognize incoming asylum-seekers as refugees. Since the GCC is not a signatory of the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, they are not bound by law to provide these people with the standard treatment and rights typically afforded those seeking refuge in a new country.

Admittedly, while the Arab states of the GCC might not have officially resettled any of the Syrian refugees, it would be incorrect to say that Arab states have not received any of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced since the civil war began.

The problem is that being an official refugee and being a guest of a GCC work-sponsorship program are not one and the same. The most significant difference is that official refugees in countries that have agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention are eligible to become citizens after a certain period of time.

There are (or have been) a lot of Syrians in some of the countries in question. But these are migrant workers, not people fleeing from the civil war. Instead of treating these workers as asylum seekers entitled to the rights of resettlement and citizenship, the Gulf states are trying hard to expel them.

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Saudi Arabia, for example, has experienced physical and social decline from its migrant population. Dr Khalid Mandeli (PhD from Newcastle University), a lecturer at Jeddah’s King AbdulAziz University, has published a number of articles that show concerns about the impact of migrant workers living in slum areas.[3]Their presence goes back to the 1970s, when the country brought in cheap foreign labour after the oil boom and religious awakening of the period.

By 2013, the Saudi government had embarked on a “Saudization” campaign that aims to remove foreign workers in order to put more Saudis to work. The result has been alarming:

Until recently, of the kingdom’s 30 million residents, more than nine million were non-Saudis. Since the labour crackdown started in March, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left. And the campaign has moved into higher gear after the final deadline expired on 4 November, with dozens of repatriation flights now taking place every day. By next year, two million migrants will have gone.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch published a short report on the issue: “Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions”. The report noted that:

None of the workers interviewed were allowed to challenge their deportations or apply for asylum. Saudi Arabia has not established an asylum system under which migrants could prevent their forced return to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.

Is it plausible, however, that a country that sees foreigners as a problem and has no asylum system in place has brought in as many as two million Syrian refugees to add to their woes?

The same problem apparently lies behind the rejection of refugees in the rest of the region. Khazaal notes that:

The mass deportation of workers is considered to be a result of the region’s reported attempts to prioritize giving employment opportunities to their local citizens. There is also widespread perception that Syrians wishing to seek refuge in the Gulf states are unlikely to be granted a visa in the first place.

This was confirmed by the BBC:

Although those fleeing the Syrian crisis have for several years been crossing into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in huge numbers, entering other Arab states – especially in the Gulf – is far less straightforward.

Officially, Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter a Gulf state.

But the process is costly, and there is a widespread perception that many Gulf states have unwritten restrictions in place that make it hard for Syrians to be granted a visa in practice.

In 2017, UNHCR reported on a “landmark agreement” between themselves and Kuwait to aid Syrian refugees. Good news, but it is important to read the small print. The agreement is worth $10 million and is aimed “to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in northern Iraq”. But, given that Kurdistan is linguistically and culturally different from Syria, those refugees will find it hard, almost impossible, to settle there. Kuwait’s money will only ease refugees living in camps.

Bahrain fits the same narrative. In March 2018 Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million “to build schools in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan”. That is small help for a country already highly pressurized by the numbers of refugees it has taken. This too is not a solution.

In March 2018, the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million “to build schools” in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (pictured above). Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images.

The UAE boasted in 2016 that is planning to take in 15,000 refugees over the following five years — three thousand a year. But the long-term prospects of those refugees are not encouraging. Reem Al Hashemi, the UAE’s minister of state for international cooperation explained that:

Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives. [Emphasis in original.]

Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history’s most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah? To Eastern Ghouta? To Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Lattakia, Deir al-Zur, al-Raqqa, Tartus, Daraa, al-Hasakeh, al-Qamishli? In order to “maintain their dignity… reintegrate themselves… and rebuild their countries and their lives”?

This is the response from the sixth richest country in the world (taking the Emirates together)? The second richest in the Arab world (after Saudi Arabia)? Where Abu Dhabi has been described as “the richest city in the world”?

What of Qatar, ranked by Fortune magazine in 2017 as the richest country in the world per capita? Qatar houses a large number of migrant workers, mainly Pakistani and Indian, with three out of four residents male. The migrants make up 94% of the country’s workforce and 70% of its total population. In January 2017, Qatar offered to house Salvadorans who may be expelled from the United States. But they would be admitted on a temporary basis only. The treatment of migrant workers by the state, however, has been strongly condemned by the European Parliament and others. A report by the BBC in 2015 gives some details.


As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world’s rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places in which to live, work, and raise their families. The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.

This decline in many parts of the world will accelerate the growth of refugee and migrant populations, creating a downward spiral that will drag down even the more affluent countries. According to Paul Ehrlich, “Collapse of Civilization is a near certainty within decades”. The failure of so many Islamic states and the refusal of some of the richest countries in the world to do much to help, alongside their expenditure of billions of dollars over many years to spread the radicalization of Islam and finance Islamic terrorism, is one of the greatest problems facing the modern world and challenging the democracies.

This situation theoretically calls for major intervention by the United Nations, but the UN is effectively controlled by the very countries that are causing or contributing to the problem. With the Organization of Islamic Cooperation adding to the pressures on the democracies by working in the interest of Muslim states, it is time for a response. But so far, the Western nations have shown no willingness to create one.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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Who Sanctions Russia? Not Germany

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 01:00

President Trump is taking flak for having introduced a subject to the G-7 meeting that our European friends wanted to keep under the table. Russia. The allies expressed horror when Mr. Trump said, “Why are we having a meeting without Russia? We have a world to run… We should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Aside from the hyperbole over who actually runs the world, his comment and the allied response are only shocking if one thinks the Europeans have been boycotting Russia. There are sanctions on Moscow since it illegally invaded and seized Ukraine and Crimea, but sanctions are one thing and trade is another. Germany leads the pack in trade with Russia.

This may have something to do with the fact that Germany, in particular but not only, stays warm in the winter with Russian natural gas meeting about 40% of its requirements.

This is an old story. The Reagan administration objected to Russian-European plans to build the natural gas Yamal Pipeline from Siberia to Germany from which gas would be distributed to much of Western Europe. The American position was that, in the middle of the Cold War, having the USSR control a majority of the supply of natural gas to Germany’s industrial heartland would make it difficult for Germany to resist Russian political and military demands. But the Europeans wanted to sell Russia the machinery for the pipeline, making money as they mortgaged their energy future to Moscow.

After a bitter fight, the Yamal pipeline was partially blocked and only one strand of two was built. Post-Soviet, the Russians were able, with European support, to build the second strand. In the early 2000’s Europe bought into yet another Russian-originated pipeline — an undersea project called Nord Stream — again providing manufacturing jobs and pipeline work for Europe as well as gas.

Early in 2018, Bloomberg reported, “Russia, which shipped some $38 billion of gas to its most lucrative markets in Europe last year, has diminished thoughts that other suppliers could ensure supplies in Europe anytime soon.” Nord Stream, and its successor Nord Stream 2, will give Russia the same influence its predecessor, the USSR, would have had.

Russia is now a fine partner for Europe. The Vice President of the BundestagThomas Opperman said, “Nord Stream 2 is an important economic project, which we support and it should not be threatened by sanctions from third countries.” Mrs. Merkel would agree, no doubt, not only for the warmth, but because the pipeline will enter Germany at Greifswald in the old East Germany, part of her constituency.

The underwater Nord Stream 2 will reduce the price of natural gas by about 40% compared to overland pipelines, benefitting Germany, the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands — among the countries most outspoken about the invasion of Ukraine. But to make Nord Stream 2 work, Gazprom has to get out of old contracts with Ukraine and Poland. Gazprom is presently suing Ukraine in the international arbitration court in Stockholm to cancel both its gas supply and transit contracts, stiffing Kiev. Ukraine won the first round, but Russia appealed. In the wake of the Ukrainian victory, the EU offered to “mediate” between the two.

Mediate away a favorable judgment for Ukraine? Isn’t this whole Russia-boycott project about Putin’s interference in Ukraine’s march to democracy? Talk about collusion.

So, now that we are clear on Germany and the EU’s interest in maintaining economic ties with Russia, consider why they are pretending to keep Putin out in the hallway. Russia, they say, is out because of its horrendous behavior in Ukraine, but — while no additional sanctions have been imposed for Russian support for the Syrian war criminal regime of Bashar Assad (which may make Moscow complicit in war crimes) — Syria is on European minds.

Germany, in particular, has had harsh words for Russia over its veto of 12 UN Security Council Resolutions on Syria. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters, “We can’t go on like this… So, we’re keeping up the political pressure on Russia and we’d like to increase it further. Getting Russia to change its behavior is a condition for solving the Syria conflict.” Germany has backed allied air strikes on Syria as “necessary and appropriate.”

While claiming to be appalled by Russia’s behavior in Syria, however, Germany continues to push trade not only with Russia, but with Russia’s partner in the Syrian genocide, Iran.

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European firms raced to enter Iran under the terms of the 2015 JCPOA; American firms were less aggressive. But since the U.S. has withdrawn from the never-signed deal, major European companies have been winding down or winding up operations in Iran. At the same time, though, the EU has begun to update its ” blocking statute,” the most powerful response it has to prevent European companies from complying with impending Iran sanctions.

In what Mrs. Merkel has said is a bid to “protect European companies” in Iran, the statute will nullify in Europe punishment the U.S. imposes for sanctions violations and allows EU companies to sue for damages caused by leaving Iran for fear of U.S. sanctions.

So, the EU will use its leverage to keep companies in a country, Iran, that hangs gay people from cranes in the street, holds American hostages, threatens democratic Israel with annihilation, participates fully in the Syrian genocide, and actively seeks nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology.

And as Iran seeks military technology, Germany obliges.

In 2016, with government permission, the German company Krempel sold electronic press boards to Iranian companies. The German newspaper Bild reported that Krempel parts were discovered at the site of a Syrian government chemical attack on its civilian population. The Jerusalem Post said the technology was used in the rockets that delivered the chemicals. Krempel didn’t deny it, telling Bild the company was “shocked” to find its product in Syria.

A 2018 German intelligence report confirms that Iran is currently seeking nuclear technology in Germany.

Since the 2015 JCPOA, Germany, has been Iran’s largest European trading partner: 2.9 billion euros in 2016 according to the German government and 3.6 billion euros in 2017. Interestingly, the trade goes only one way: in 2016, Germany exported 2.6 billion euros worth to Iran and took back only 300 million euros. According to Deutsche Welle, Germany imports dried fruits, pistachios, rugs and industrial raw materials from Iran and sends machinery and equipment, cars, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical products, and takes back

Chemicals, machinery, industrial raw materials for Iran’s mullahs. What could go wrong?

In sum, then, President Trump’s faux pas appears to be having the temerity to suggest that Russia — a key German trading partner — have a place at the table for international trade talks. Perhaps it would be better to leave the hypocritical Germany out in the hallway.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish Policy Center

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Parashat Korach: The Curse of Camouflaged Jealousy

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 00:00

They assembled against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation is all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” Bamidbar 16:3

One of the most beautiful human virtues is the ability to enjoy the achievements of others and encourage them to reach even higher goals. It’s one of the greatest pleasures a person can experience.

But as a tragic story in the Torah reveals, it is extremely hard to actually do so. When reading about Korach’s rebellion against Moshe, we learn what can happen to even the loftiest among us if we fail to practice this virtue.

Korach strongly objected to Moshe’s leadership, his divine mission, and his standing in the community. While he knew very well that Moshe was the most humble man in the world, that God had appointed him, and that he had tried to decline this honor on several occasions, Korach still could not stop himself from demeaning Moshe. The motive for his behavior was nothing short of uncompromising jealousy.

Korach, one of the greatest men of his generation, fell so low that he lost all sense of equilibrium, turned to character assassination of Moshe, and ultimately paid with his life. He could not bring himself to enjoy or even admit Moshe’s achievements. Instead of being proud that he was affiliated with this man of God, all he could do was speak evil of him.

Envy blinded him to such an extent that he did not even realize what had caused him to fall so low. Instead, he convinced himself and others that his objections to Moshe’s leadership were entirely justified. His jealousy made it impossible for him to see that he was actually destroying his own reputation and, above all, his own happiness. “The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves,” said William Penn.

It seems very difficult to enjoy someone else’s achievement, although to do so is the noblest of acts. It takes courage, humility, and integrity.

Regrettably, many of us deny ourselves this happiness. We fall into the abyss of envy and despicable feelings that we cannot control. We prefer criticism and even character assassination to accomplish our goals. It often seems like the more exceptional another’s achievement, the stronger our jealousy.

We will undermine, deny, and even manipulate the successes of others in the belief that by doing so we build ourselves up and become more important. In the words of Francis Bacon, “He that cannot possibly mend his own case will do what he can to impair another’s.”

Above all, we often judge someone else’s accomplishments wanting to show that we know it all better, when in fact we do not.

Sure, we don’t mind when others make great contributions in areas that are not our expertise. After all, they are not undermining our prestige. But when they dare to overstep that boundary and enter our realm, all hell will break lose. Who are they to achieve something in a field where I am an authority?

The biggest tragedy is that we are completely oblivious to any motive for our behavior, and we feel too great to even contemplate such a possibility.

All must be done to discredit this person. (It simply cannot be that they are as clever as that, or that they have that kind of knowledge!) And if that requires changing the facts, so be it. We convince ourselves that this must be the truth.

Most of the time these strategies work very well, since there will be many fellow travelers who will happily jump on the bandwagon. They will encourage this character assassination because it helps them, as well, to unload their jealous feelings. They just needed someone to take the initiative.

This becomes clear in the story of Korach who gets a multitude of followers to oppose Moshe. Completely unawares, Korach, who initiated the incitement, now becomes its victim. To his surprise, he not only gains the approval of his friends but they also start heaping even more insults on Moshe than he ever expected. This only strengthens him, and while he may have had doubts at the beginning of his campaign, he can now assure himself that he’s been right all along. No greater joy than that! What he doesn’t realize is that he’s been manipulated by his friends while convincing himself otherwise. He allowed himself to be used by his friends while thinking that he was using them.

But Korach is not the only one to fall into this pit. Throughout human history we are shown that at certain moments in our lives we all fall victim to this plight, especially when we realize that the other is becoming too successful and being given too much respect.

We are even prepared to do this to our best friends, especially when they have the chutzpah to go their own way and disagree with us. We realize that we have lost our power over them, and nothing irritates us more than that. After all, they are only allowed to enjoy our true friendship as long as they do and say what we want them to do and say.

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We scoff at their independence and freedom and will do anything to stop them from expressing their own opinions. It will never occur to us that by doing so we simply embarrass ourselves, because jealousy blinds us to everything and cleverly hides all our inner motives.

A remarkable aspect of this phenomenon is that we firmly believe it can only happen to someone else but not to us. We are too sophisticated and intelligent to fall into this pit!
But as the story of Korach teaches us, it is specifically with the “mighty ones” that the chances for adopting such ugly behavior are exceedingly high.

When watching world leaders, governments, the academic world, and even the Jewish world, we see symptoms of this repugnant conduct. And while it also happens among the average population, it is with the “mighty ones” that the consequences are much more serious.

It is one thing if someone is jealous of another’s achievement and this will have no serious consequences for the larger community. But when a person of great stature, such as Korach, is overpowered by this character trait, it causes considerable damage.

Besides the terrible example that this person sets for younger people, it could actually destroy a very important contribution to society made by someone else. This is achieved largely by tearing down the other person’s image in the eyes of the public. It is a shameful misuse of one’s authority and standing in the community, especially when this “Korach-like” figure is otherwise one of integrity and dignity. In that case the situation is much worse. It is a camouflaged jealousy, which most people are unable to detect and therefore fall right into the trap without even being aware of it. It works wonders.

Whether these Korach-like people are government officials, prestigious professors, or influential members of the clergy, they act exactly as a child does when overcome with jealousy. They run to the school principal and complain about their friend. They need the principal to agree with them so as to confirm their own self-worth and undetected jealousy. However, they can only do this by distorting facts, making degrading remarks about other people, and fabricating stories so as to put their friend in a bad light. This is especially true when they really do have limited knowledge of the topic at hand and cannot accept the idea that the other really does know more about it then they do.

All of this happened to Korach. Instead of realizing his enormous mistake, he most likely insisted that he was right, even when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed him up alive, together with all his co-participants.

Yes, Korach would have had every right in the world to disagree with Moshe, if it had come from a place of honesty and respect. Disagreement is encouraged in Judaism. If not for controversy, Judaism would have long disappeared. The great disputes between Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel, Rava and Abaye, and many others until this very day, serve as proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.

But once envy enters the discussion, all further debate becomes impossible and remains stagnant.

The only thing the object of envy can do is remember the famous observation of Greek historian Herodotus: It is better to be envied than pitied.

People require, for their own happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but also the joy of seeing another’s success. Once they have reached that point, they have become rich. A difficult but uplifting task.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

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US Ambassador Deflects Allegations IDF Guilty of Human Rights Allegations

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 20:00

An email sent by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman dismissed accusations that the IDF was guilty of human rights violations, saying, “it would be against [US] national interests” to limit military aid to Israel.

The email, written in October, was revealed in an article by Politico on Saturday. Friedman had written the email in response to a call by State Department officials to re-examine American military assistance to governments in the Middle East to ensure the department wasn’t violating a law barring U.S. security aid to foreign military units that commit serious human rights abuses. Some Democratic Congressman suggested at the time that Israel might be guilty of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated against  Palestinians.

Friedman sent the email to a number of his colleagues in the State Department, saying he did “not believe we should extend the new [guidelines] to Israel at this time.”

“Israel is a democracy whose army does not engage in gross violations of human rights,” Friedman wrote, adding that Israel “has a robust system of investigation and prosecution in the rare circumstance where misconduct occurs.” He added, “it would be against [U.S.] national interests” to take a step that could limit Israel’s access to military equipment – “especially in a time of war.”

The email, part of a chain shown to Politico by a former State Department official. Politico wrote that last year,  a State Department inspector general report found shortcomings in the review process by US embassies in the Middle East. In addition, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted issues at the US embassy in Egypt.

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In response, Friedman wrote there was no need to reexamine vetting requirements in Israel, saying “my understanding is that nothing is broken that requires a repair.” He also rejected the idea that the findings of the GAO report applied to Israel.

“Post disagrees with the assessment that the Department should proactively address Israel based on GAO criticism of procedures in Egypt,” Friedman wrote in the email.

“We cannot and should not assume that GAO intended to apply the same criticism to Tel Aviv. If and when they do criticize Embassy Tel Aviv for these issues, it would be more appropriate to react at that time,” he added.

This revelation comes at a time when Israel is the focus of international criticism concerning the IDF handling of Hamas-led riots that threaten Israel’s southern border. Over 120 Palestinians, most identified as Hamas and Islamic Jihad military operatives, have been killed in clashes with the IDF.


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15 Fires in Israel Set by Incendiary Kites; IAF Fires at Group Launching Kite

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:48

Hamas threats to launch 5,000 incendiary balloons and kites at Israel fell short but several of the terror devices did cross the border, setting off at least 11 fires inside Israel on Friday and another 15 on Saturday.

An Israeli Air Force plane fired warning shots toward a group launching a kite. The IAF plane also fired at a nearby vehicle being used by the terrorists. Sources in Gaza reported three people were injured.

A balloon bearing the words “I Love You” landed near a highway in the Shaar Hanegev region on Friday. Police sappers exploded the balloon and an explosive device attached to it.

It is believed that many Gazans did not take part in the violent protests due to Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that ended the month of Ramadan fasting. The holiday began Thursday evening and continued until Friday evening.

Hadashot news reported that the IDF began using a new type of radar to track kites and balloons, allowing drones to intercept them.

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The incendiary kites began as part of the Hamas-led March of Return protests that began March 30. Since the beginning of the protests, hundreds of kites have been launched, burning over 6,100 acres of Israeli farmland and nature reserves.

On Friday, as thousands of Gazans protested along the security fence, an unarmed man attempted to infiltrate into Israel. He was apprehended by the IDF and taken into custody.

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Fri, 06/15/2018 - 06:51

Both in the Bible and in modern times, the Children of Israel battled to take possession of the Land of Israel. Moshe (Moses) led the Children of Israel in battle against Sihon and Og in the capture of Gilead and Bashan which became the geographic inheritance of the tribes of Gad, Reuven, and half of Menashe. Similarly, Yehoshua (Joshua) led the Children into battle at Yericho (Jericho) after crossing the Yarden (Jordan River) and entering the Land of Israel. Israel’s War of Independence, the first of many wars between the State of Israel and it’s neighboring Arab countries, broke out immediately after Israel’s miraculous declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Attacked by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, the infant State of Israel emerged victorious from the war. Israel’s miraculous victory made clear that Hashem’s (God) presence remained among His Children as He fulfilled His ancient promise of returning the Jewish People to the Land of Israel. The IDF soldiers pictured above take a well-deserved rest while one soldier wraps himself in a prayer shawl to commune with Hashem.

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Israeli-Arab: Coexistence Only Possible in Israel

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 06:45

Mohammad Zoabi, an Israeli Muslim Arab, explains how Israel promotes coexistence and pluralism in a powerful and unique manner.

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Return of Lost Tribe of Menashe Signals New Stage in Redemption

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 06:38

Rabbi Michael Freund, head of Shavei Israel, brought home another 225 Bnei Menashe this week as part of the return of the tribes of Israel that was prophesied to follow the return of Judah.

Bnei Menashe arriving in Israel (Photo courtesy Shavei Israel)

Freund founded Shavei Israel to seek people with Jewish roots who have become disconnected from the Jewish People. He has helped Subbotnik Jews who converted under the Russian Czars 200 years ago, Poles who were put up for adoption by their Jewish parents during the Holocaust, descendants of Jews who arrived in Kaifeng China over one thousand years ago, Bnei Anousim descended from Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions of the 14th and 15th centuries, and many others.

As their website explains:

“Returning to the Jewish people does not and should not involve coercion or compulsion. It is a deeply personal

(Photo courtesy Shavei Israel)

decision and cannot be imposed from the outside. It may result from a desire to recover a lost heritage, or from an intense need to understand various inherited customs and family traditions.”

The Bnei Menashe left Israel more than 27 centuries ago. As part of the Ten Tribes, they were separated from the rest of Israel by the Assyrians at the end of the First Temple, 140 years before the Babylonian exile. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

80-year old new immigrant Abel Hangshing meets his Israeli-born great-grandson for the first time upon making Aliya
(Photo credit Shavei Israel/ Laura Ben-David)

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

Shavei Israel has brought over 3,500 Bnei Menashe to Israel, helping them through the difficult process of becoming acclimated and settled in a new country. There are still another 7,000 Bnei Menashe remaining in India.

Most of the Jews today, as their name implies, are descended from the tribe of Judah, sent out from Israel in the Babylonian exile. Freund explains that this is not the story of the Bnei Menashe and, as such, is a “new stage in the Redemption.”

“The return of the Bnei Menashe is a clear and explicit indication that we have entered a new stage of the Redemption,” Freund told Breaking Israel News. “In so many places, the prophets talked about the return of Judan and  the return of Israel. At first glance it seems repetitive unless it was intended to tell us that the tribes of Israel were meant to return separately from the tribe of Judah, or, what we know today as the Jews. The prophecy clearly states that the tribes of Israel and Judah will return separately, and that is what is happening right now with the Bnei Menashe.”

Freund explained that this was described in an allegory by the Prophet Ezekiel.

And you, O mortal, take a stick and write on it, “Of Yehuda and the Israelites associated with him”; and take another stick and write on it, “Of Yosef—the stick of Efraim—and all the House of Yisrael associated with him.” Ezekiel 37:16

“We know the whereabouts of four of the twelve tribes,” Freund explained. “The Jews are descendants of the tribe of Judah. The Kohanim and Levites are descended from the tribe of Levi.”

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Freund is referring to a tradition passed down from father to son that identifies the patriarchal family line as being

Rabbi Freund with 4-year old Manoah (named after the Biblical Samson’s father) upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo by Shavei Israel)

from the tribe of Levi, a kohen (the priestly subdivision of the tribe of Levi and descendants of Aaron the high-priest), or Israel (a descendant of any of the other eleven tribes).

“The Ethiopian Jews have a tradition that they are descended from the tribe of Dan,” Freund said. “This tradition was accepted by the rabbinate as accurate. There are others out there. Some subtribes of the Pashtuns f Afghanistan and Pakistan have a tradition that they are from Israel but because of the political enmity between those countries and Israel, there is not enough known about this to conjecture about.”

Freund founded Shavei Israel in 2002 to achieve this aspect of the end-of-days ingathering of the exiles but he emphasizes that this process will necessarily include the non-Jews.

“The nations of the world have a direct role to play in returning the jewish people to Israel,” Freund stated emphatically, quoting the Prophet Isaiah.

Thus said Hashem: I will raise My hand to nations And lift up My ensign to peoples; And they shall bring your sons in their bosoms, And carry your daughters on their backs. Isaiah 49:22

“The verse says they will ‘carry’,” Freund said. “This implies being actively and directly involved. They will bring our sons and daughters. This is involvement in the most intimate and personal manner, implying a deep level of trust and brotherhood. This is a powerful biblical mandate for non-Jews to help this aspect of geula move forward.”


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Hamas Threatens Israel With Thousands Of Burning Kites

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 04:23

Hamas warned Thursday that it would dispatch some 5,000 burning kites into Israel from the Gaza Strip to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

“We’re giving the Israeli government a chance to end their siege on the [Gaza] Strip, otherwise we will force the residents of the Gaza Belt to live under a siege of [burning] kites,” commanders of Hamas’ kite unit said at a press conference.

Burning kites and helium balloons filled with flammable materials have caused millions of shekels in damages and set ablaze thousands of acres of farms and forestland in areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip over the last several weeks.

Meanwhile, Thursday afternoon, IDF drones attacked a squad of Hamas operatives who were preparing aerial arson balloons at a training camp, presumably to be used tomorrow.

“A short while ago, a drone fired a warning shot at a squad who were preparing fire balloons in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement.

A video of the air raid was posted to Palestinian social media, and, according to Palestinian reports, no one was injured in the incident.

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Police: Bomb-Making Attempt Causes East Jerusalem Explosion

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 04:05

An explosion in Shuafat Refugee Camp in east Jerusalem late Wednesday night occurred during an attempt to build an explosive device, Israel Police said after a preliminary investigation.

One person was critically injured in the explosion and was taken to hospital.

Police said it found further explosive material in the apartment in which the explosion took place. Police arrested eight suspects after the explosion, and they were taken for questioning.

“The Israel Police will continue to investigate and act openly and covertly against all those involved and possessing explosive material intended for the preparation of explosive devices,” police said in a statement following the incident:.

While leaving at the refugee camp, police clashed with local residents. A Jerusalem Police spokesman said that no injuries were reported in the clashes.

Shuafat Refugee Camp, a neighborhood inside Jerusalem, is located behind the West Bank security barrier and Palestinians have free access into it.

A spike of terrorist activity was reported in the neighborhood since the erection of the barrier, including during the “knife intifada” in 2015.

Meanwhile, the services that the Jerusalem Municipality provide to the neighborhood dropped almost entirely during that period. The municipality – including Mayor Nir Barkat – claims that sending workers inside is too dangerous. This has resulted in poor infrastructure in the neighborhood. Police rarely cross the checkpoint and go inside the camp.

Residents often complain that the lack of police presence harms them, allowing violence and terrorism to rule the streets.

In March 2017 police inaugurated a station at the Shuafat checkpoint – separating the neighborhood from the rest of city – which was meant to improve the residents’ quality of life.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post in December that the opening of this station is intended to serve the residents, and that this move comes while police are regularly operating in the area.

“We are operating at all levels, including the criminal level. We are seizing drugs, recovering stolen possessions and confiscating weapons.”

As reported by The Jerusalem Post.

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Russia Marks ‘National Day’ Celebration in Jerusalem

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 03:51

The Russian Embassy in Israel marked its “National Day” celebration on June 14, and for the first time in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

“This is a holiday for Russia, and it’s a celebratory day that was initiated and takes place in Jerusalem, and I assume that there will be many more days like this one in Jerusalem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his remarks held at Sergei’s Courtyard, a historic Czarist-era compound built in the late 19th century, which Israel transferred to Russian ownership more than a decade ago.

“I know that we’re going to celebrate many, many years of cooperation between Israel and Russia in Moscow and also next year in Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu.

Last year, Russia surprised many by recognizing western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, that recognition was contingent on the Palestinians establishing their capital in eastern Jerusalem.

Russian Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, who was newly appointed last month, noted this in his speech, saying that “that we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” but only if “specific parameters of a solution” are reached by the Israelis and Palestinians.

“We stand ready to facilitate such an agreement,” he added.

Netanyahu also spoke about the  “great respect for Russia for its contributions to civilization and for the courage of its people,” and noted the role that the Red Army played in the defeat of Nazi Germany, saying “we never forget the sacrifice of the Russian people and the Red Army in the defeat of the Nazi monster.”

The Israeli leader also thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s “fight against anti-Semitism.”

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What Zionism and Israel’s Reestablishment Mean to Me

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 03:13

By Yotam Eliach

I have been truly fortunate to be born and live at a time in Jewish History where I get to realize the dreams of close to 100 generations of Jews; namely the Return to Zion, for which Jews have prayed, for 19 centuries. To me that is remarkable on a religious and a historical level. There are prayers I get to recite daily (some three times a day) that speak of the return of the Jewish people from all four corners of the Earth to the land of Israel, that speak of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, that speak of a new light shining on Zion, that to past generations were aspirations for the future, that for me are affirmations of my present!

The simplest way for me to share what the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty has meant to the Jewish people from my perspective is by telling a story that involves relying on a principal from science fiction, namely time travel.

Imagine that time travel was possible. If it were I would set my time machine to transport me back in time to the following dates and places: Southern Europe during the years 1095 – 1099 when the Crusaders were on their way to the Holy Land and killed tens of thousands of Jews. Spain, the summer of 1492 when after centuries of Jews living in the country and at times being fully integrated into the country’s life; all are expelled. Parts of Ukraine (In the Jewish Super Ghetto known as the Pale of Settlement.) during the years 1882 – 1903 when horrible violent riots were taking place in Jewish towns – pogroms – that were either sanctioned by the Russian Government or ignored by it. Finally, from September 1, 1939 – May 9, 1945 in all the countries of Europe and North Africa where the Nazis were exterminating Jews, in what we now call the Shoah – Holocaust.

Being that I have been privileged to have been to Israel well over 50 times and in total having spent over 5 very intense years in the country. I would bring with me a photo album of pictures I have taken during my travels as well as aerial photographs of Israel. At each one of the above mentioned stops I would tell the Jews around me that I am from their future, and I would describe in detail what the sovereign re-established Jewish state looks like and how many, and what types of Jews live there.

I would show them photographs of the country, and its people. I would describe what the Kotel Plaza (Western Wall) looks like, and what it’s like on Friday nights when thousands of different types of Jews come there to pray. What it looks like on Sukkot when thousands come to be blessed by the Kohanim (Priestly Caste), and what it looks like when soldiers from the IDF are sworn in there. I would tell them about the Knesset, the Israeli Flag and the Menorah which is the emblem of the Jewish state.

I would tell them about the IDF, and a little about what it has accomplished since 1948. I would show them my own swearing in ceremony when I received my Tanach and M16. I would tell them about the millions of Jews in Israel who come from well over 150 countries, and how they have all returned to the land of their forefathers. I would tell them about the many accomplishments of the Jewish state in science, technology, medicine, and its archeological finds, that link the Jewish present to the Jewish past.

They would see pictures of the green fields of the Hula Valley, and the forests that surround Jerusalem, and of some of the thousands of synagogues and yeshivot in Israel. I can guarantee that at each one of these historical stops the Jews I would be speaking to and showing pictures would begin to weep with joy, and probably would just want to touch me since I would be representing something holy and unbelievable to them. I would not be surprised is some of them would probably ask me to describe the Mashiach (Messiah) since surely in their minds he has arrived. I would smile and tell them that we are still waiting for him, but that our present is the future that they have all been dreaming of. The re-established State of Israel with all the problems that running a sovereign state entails, is nothing less than the embodiment of a 2000-year-old dream!

In my book Judaism Zionism and the Land of Israel, I take the reader on the journey that began with the Patriarch Abraham until the present. My hope is that when you complete the book you will have an attachment to the re-established State of Israel that is religious, emotional and cerebral.

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Beneath the Surface: The Untold Story of US Christians Unearthing Israeli Archaeology

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 01:12

Can archaeology bring biblical history to life?

According to historian and Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu), it depends who you ask.

Speaking at a June 10 Jerusalem event celebrating the opening of the “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered” exhibit at the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation in Oklahoma and 50 years of archaeological collaboration between the Armstrong Foundation and Israel, Oren said that in Jerusalem, archaeology serves as a tool for proving the Jewish people’s roots in the land.

“By digging down into the earth of the holy land and finding our answers in there, we established our roots here and showed…we’re not interlopers or migrants, we‘re not survivors of the Holocaust that Europe dumped here,” as even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claimed as recently as a month ago. “We are indigenous people.”  

Archaeology, said Oren, is key to “our validity, legitimacy and security… Archaeology is not just about revealing the past. It is about acquiring the present and ensuring our future.”

Oren said this notion rings especially true with the most recent findings of Hebrew University Biblical archaeologist Eilat Mazar: The seals of Hezekiah and Isaiah.

In a rare public speech, Mazar explained the significance of the 2,700-year-old royal seal impression of King Hezekiah and the purported seal of the Jewish prophet Isaiah, both foundational pieces of the Oklahoma exhibit. The seals were found 10 feet away from each other in the same layer of soil in 2009 and are dated to the eighth-century.

The Hezekiah seal – upon which it is written, “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, King of Judah” – is the only seal impression belonging to an Israelite or Judean king ever found in a controlled scientific excavation.

It took several years for Mazar to complete her studies of the findings. The seal of Isaiah was only reported this year because Mazar and her team had difficulty interpreting it.

The Hezekiah bulla. (Eilat Mazar)

There continues to be debate if the seal really belonged to the prophet. But Armstrong Foundation founder Gerald Flurry is in no doubt. He said the seal dates to precisely the time the prophet was alive in Jerusalem. It was found near the royal Ophel area, where Isaiah served. Hezekiah and Isaiah are mentioned together in the same biblical verses 16 times.

“Let the stones of Hezekiah and Isaiah speak,” Flurry said. “They have a thundery voice of hope.”

The June 10 event was the first time the seals were open to the media. They were on display via live video from the Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, Oklahoma.

The partnership between the Armstrong Foundation and Mazar goes back 50 years, to Mazar’s equally well-known grandfather, archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, whom Israel commissioned in 1968 to run Hebrew University’s massive archaeological dig near the Temple Mount.

At that time, Herbert Armstrong, an ambassador of the Worldwide Church of God‎, and Mazar came into contact. According to Brad Macdonald, curator of the “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered” exhibit, Armstrong and Benjamin Mazar struck up a friendship and Armstrong started sending students to volunteer on the excavation. Ultimately hundreds volunteered, and Armstrong financially supported the excavations for almost 10 years.

When Armstrong died in 1986, his successors abandoned his legacy, until in 1989, Gerald Flurry, an Ambassador graduate and Worldwide Church of God minister, opened the Philadelphia Church of God to continue Armstrong’s legacy. In 1996 he established the Armstrong’s Ambassador International Cultural foundation and then Herbert Armstrong College.

Flurry got in touch with Mazar in 2005 after she started digging in the City of David. In 2006, Flurry sent two college students. It went so well, said Macdonald, that since then, more than 50 have been sent by Armstrong College to Jerusalem to work on Mazar’s excavations. The students comprised most of the laborers on Mazar’s most recent dig, which was also fully funded by the foundation.

Together, Mazar and the students unearthed evidence of King David’s palace, King Solomon’s royal quarters, the governor Nehemiah’s wall, the seals of two Judean princes mentioned in Jeremiah 37 and most recently, the golden Menorah Medallion and bronze coins.

Mazar said she remembers when the students supported her grandfather’s work.

“I was 10 or 11 at the time, and I used to go into the field and talk to them, which helped me learn English,” Mazar said. “They were so enthusiastic, really amazing, just like they are now when they come to my excavations. Nothing has changed.”

Mazar called Armstrong’s students Israel’s best archaeological collaborators who no one knows about.

Because the Herbert Armstrong College students helped Mazar uncover both the Hezekiah and Isaiah seals, the foundation was granted the honor of hosting the artifacts’ world premiere, said Macdonald. The exhibit will be open in Oklahoma until August 19 and then the artifacts will return to Israel.

Flurry said the exhibit is the “story of repentance, redemption and national salvation. It is the story of how God, through a remarkable king-prophet alliance, saved a city and its people from terrorism, war and conquest. It is the ultimate story of hope.”

Macdonald said the archaeological exhibition will illuminate how Jerusalem avoided annihilation at the hands of the Assyrian army at the end of the 8th century B.C.E. He said he hopes the exhibit will “bring biblical history to life and connect people to their roots, allowing the past to empower the future.”

He said that for him these findings are among a long list of artifacts found that directly relate to the Bible and prove to him its validity.

“In archaeology, there is all kinds of evidence the Bible is true,” said Macdonald.

Mazar said she is not quick to jump to conclusions. While one might consider the Bible a historical source, she said when an archaeologist starts digging, “you must put aside what you think you know because when the artifacts are found, they will teach you what you need to know. You cannot force your own ideas on them.”

But she said her team found Hezekiah’s seal – “you cannot argue with that.”

“The result of my work is that such a huge percentage of the Bible turns out to be accurately described,” she said. “The power of archaeology is that you have tangible evidence.”

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