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Qumrusalem: The Hidden Dead Sea/Jerusalem Connection

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 07:03

Jim Barfield’s 12-year search for the Temple utensils revealed an unexpected discovery to an Oklahoma Noahide: a powerful spiritual connection between the mountaintop Temple in Jerusalem and at Qumran, located near to the deepest spot on the planet. Just as Jerusalem was a city for priests to serve in the Temple, Barfield argues that Qumran was a center for prophecy.

Barfield, a retired criminal investigator for the Oklahoma Fire Department and a Noahide, believes he has deciphered an ancient riddle revealing the hiding places of the gold and silver implements of the Temple. Barfield has spent the last 12 years studying ancient maps in his quest to unravel the Copper Scroll.

Discovered in 1952 as part of the trove of ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll describes 64 locations where gold and silver from the Second Temple were hidden away before the Temple was destroyed. Barfield believes the Copper Scroll points to spots inside a compound that stood in Qumran in Temple times. Some archaeologists surmised the site was a community of Essenes, an austere sect of Judaism ,flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE.

In the course of his research, Barfield spent countless hours staring at maps of Qumran. At one point, his research turned him toward the Temple.

“I was already done with the Copper Scrolls,” Barfield told Breaking Israel News. “I was just collecting more data, getting the background picture so I could figure out what Qumran was all about and why it might be the place they chose to hide the Temple artifacts.”

Believing the prophet Jeremiah played a key role in hiding the treasures, Barfield printed out a map of Jerusalem as it appeared in the times of the prophet. Something about the map piqued his curiosity but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. As a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army, Barfield was intimately familiar with maps. Gazing at the map of Jerusalem, he suddenly saw something entirely unexpected.

“Why did they put Qumran upside down?” he thought. He flipped the map of Jerusalem around and indeed, just as his pilot’s instincts had told him, it was identical with the map of Qumran. In a strange confluence Barfield refers to as “Qumrusalem.”

There have been several artifacts discovered connecting Qumran to the Temple in Jerusalem. Vendyl Jones, a Texas preacher turned Biblical archaeologist who was a mentor for Barfield, . spent 30 years searching Qumran. Jones discovered  a small vial of Persimmon Oil used to anoint kings and high priests and a large quantity of what he figured was Temple incense.

Qumran clearly served Temple-related purposes. Like modern Israel, Qumran produced salt from the waters of the Dead Sea in a large cistern. In addition to its domestic use, salt was a necessary component of the Temple service.

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Another function of the city was to serve as a location for scribes and many utensils used for writing holy texts have been found at Qumran. One of the central rooms is described in the Copper Scroll as “The room of the Scribe of Yachad.”

Just as Jerusalem has a Jaffa Gate, the identical location on the inverted map of Qumran has a gate and the Copper Scroll describes a “Jaffa Gate.”

(Courtesy)

The room in Qumran that corresponds to the Temple Mount on the map of Jerusalem is referred to as “the room of Tzadok.” “Tzadok” is a Hebrew name which means “righteous man.” The room has a pool referred to inexplicably as “the pool of the High Priest.” The Temple also contained a mikveh (ritual bath) for use by the priests.

The Copper Scroll also refers to a “Column of Boaz” that stood outside of that room. According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two copper, brass or bronze pillars which stood on the porch of Solomon’s Temple. Barfield has verified that in precisely that location in Qumran, there lie the remains of a stone column.

“Why they only had one column I don’t know, but the remains of that one column are still there,” Barfield said.

The connection between the two cities has not been investigated by archaeologists but Barfield has many ideas about the purpose behind this undeniable similarity.

“Jeremiah was connected to Qumran and trusted its inhabitants because, like him, they were prophets who came to immerse themselves in the lifestyle and rituals that would heighten their abilities,” he theorized. “The priests in Jerusalem connected Israel to God in one way and the prophets connected the people to God in a different way. The prophets, separate and isolated in the wilderness could set the priests straight when they went astray.”

Barfield has a personal theory that has yet to be substantiated that Qumran and Jerusalem were connected by the powerful scapegoat ritual that was the centerpiece for the Yom Kippur Temple service.

“I think that the goat was walked out to the cliffs in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea and was thrown off, landing near Qumran,” Barfield theorized. On one of his visits to the site, Barfield discovered a square stone which had a conical depression carved into its surface. He referred to the part of the ritual in which a skein of wool dyed red was wrapped around the goat’s horns. An identical skein was hung from the handles of the Temple. If, after the goat was thrown from the cliff, the wool in both locations turned white, then the nation could rest assured their repentance had found favor in God’s eyes. Barfield believes an additional skein of scarlet wool was either hung from a staff inserted into the rock so the wool could be more readily seen from up above.

Barfield has dedicated years to his study of the Copper Scroll but his motives are simple.

“I want to return the Temple artifacts to the Jewish People,” he said. “It’s time.”

Will UN Vote to Condemn Hamas Today?

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:38

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will vote today (Thursday) on a U.S.-drafted resolution condemning egregious violations undertaken by the Palestinian Hamas movement.

The organization – which rules the Gaza Strip and has done for the last 11 years – stands accused of numerous actions worthy of international condemnation.

In what will likely be outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s last action at the institution she has consistently accused of having a strong in-built anti-Israel bias, the resolution condemns Hamas and its use of violence, including “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel, using “airborne incendiary devices” and the use of resources to build “military infrastructure” targeting civilians.

Jason Greenblatt, Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations tweeted on Wednesday that the root cause of Palestinian suffering in Gaza could laid at Hamas’ door.

If countries truly want to help Gaza, & start down the path to peace, they should vote in favor of the condemnation of Hamas, without any obstruction. Anything else does not help Gaza & absolutely hurts peace.

— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) December 5, 2018

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The tabling of the resolution comes amid further revelations concerning November’s botched IDF operation – the fuse that lit such a furious Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad response. Recent reports suggested that the IDF special forces unit was embedded within a humanitarian aid organization operating within the Strip for weeks before the incident. It is apparently a common practice in covert warfare, but goes against international law.

It will come as a surprise to no-one that proposed resolution was met with diplomatic wrangling; with the Palestinians tabling an amendment to the U.S.-endorsed text to include a reference to UN resolutions condemning Israeli settlements, a call for negotiation on East Jerusalem and a pledge to support the two-state solution. After discussions with the Europeans, the Palestinians withdrew their amendment, but committed to tabling a separate resolution, according to diplomatic sources.

Since Haley took up her post in January 2017, there has been a sea-change in the United States’ attitude toward the United Nations. She sent a letter to all UN missions to outline that “the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously.”

The UNGA will have an historic opportunity to condemn Hamas for the first time in its history. Although resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, they do carry political weight and might help send a message to Gaza’s Islamist rulers.

GENESIS 8:9

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 05:47

Throughout Talmudic literature, the Jewish people are compared to the dove. Once a dove meets her mate, she never leaves him for another, and a dove, even when her offspring are taken, will never abandon her nest. In a similar fashion, the Children of Israel are faithful to God. The Sages of the Midrash comment that the dove that Noach (Noah) sent foreshadows the journey of the Jewish people throughout history. Just as the dove found no rest for the sole of its foot, so the Jews will find no solace in exile. Just as the dove returned to the ark seeking shelter, so the Jews will return from exile to the Land of Israel. Like Noach’s dove, the people have remained faithful to Hashem (God), and now, after thousands of years of absence, have returned to His land.

Israel: There’s No Place Like Home

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:51

Ever wondered why the Jews feel a special connection to Israel? Well, where do YOU feel most comfortable? At home!

ISAIAH 42:6

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:39

This famous phrase captures the mission statement of the People of Israel. For most of Jewish history, the role of “light unto the nations” has been understood primarily as a private call to have a positive influence on the world by living an ethical life and setting a personal example of righteous behavior. Rarely was anyone on the outside ever interested in what the Jews as a nation had to say, and so the concept of ‘ohr goyim’ was an ideal that individual Jews strived for. However, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) is calling for so much more. The “light” in his stirring description is capable of opening the eyes of the blind and leading the imprisoned out of darkness. The establishment of the State of Israel and its role on the international stage calls for a transformation of the “light unto the nations” metaphor from a passive, individual candle, to a powerful blaze, firing up the nations and igniting the world with righteousness. The State of Israel represents the historic opportunity for the People of Israel to fulfill their religious destiny as a nation.

‘On This Day,’ Hanukkah and the Menorah Made of Pure Gold

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:11

He made the menorah of pure gold. He made the menorah – its base and its shaft – of hammered work; its cups, calyxes, and petals were of one piece with it. Shemot (Exodus) 37:17

וַ ּיַ עַ ׂש אֶ ת־הַ ּמְ נֹרָ ה זָהָ ב טָ הֹור מִ קְ ׁשָ ה עָ ׂשָ ה אֶ ת־הַ ּמְ נֹרָ ה יְרֵ כָ ּה וְ קָ נָּה ּגְ בִ יעֶ יהָ ּכַ פְ ּתֹרֶ יהָ ּופְ רָ חֶ יהָ מִ ּמֶ ּנָה הָ יּו׃

va-YA-as et ha-m’-no-RAH za-HAV ta-HOR mik-SHAH a-SAH et ha-m’-no-RAH y’-rayKHAH v’-ka-NAH g’-vee-E-ha kaf-to-RE-ha uf-ra-KHE-ha mi-ME-nah ha-YU

The menorah, made of “pure gold,” was lit with pure olive oil and gave off a radiant light. The light of the menorah is symbolic of the Jewish Nation’s duty to spread the light of Torah and God’s will. The pure gold and olive oil are reflective of the pure intentions necessary to influence the nations of the world for the sake of Heaven. Today, the menorah is the official symbol of the State of Israel, which represents the eternity of the Jewish People. The bronze menorah, located across from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Yerushalayim, was modeled after the menorah of the Beit Hamikdash. The six side branches are engraved with depictions of events from the Bible, as well as the Jews in exile. The center branch of this impressive menorah tells the story of the return to Eretz Yisrael, up until the establishment of the State of Israel. Now that the Jewish people have returned home, they can again work together to spread light to the rest of the world.

Iran’s Rouhani Mulls Blocking Critical Waterway

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 03:46

If the United States blocks Iran’s oil exports, Iran’s president threatened that his nation is prepared to shut the Straits of Hormuz, a critical shipping route and waterway for the world’s oil supplies, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told state television, “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil [exports], no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”

In November the U.S. reimposed nuclear sanctions on Iran, targeting its energy sector and has reduced its exports by 1 million barrels a day.

According to CNBC, in 2015 some 18.5 billion barrels of crude oil, accounting for about one-third of all crude shipped overseas, passed through the critical waterway.

Rouhani’s threat was made as the U.S. has ordered a strike group associated with the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis to deploy to the Persian Gulf.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that military officials described the move as “a show of force against Iran.”

The carrier group would also be supporting U.S. and allied efforts against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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Officials told the Journal that the presence of the carrier in the Gulf “certainly provides a deterrence” against any possible hostile Iranian actions.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Rouhani, often described as a moderate, has threatened the world’s oil supply routes.

In July, Rouhani, who is often described as a moderate, suggested that Iran would close the Straits of Hormuz, if the United States forced nations to stop buying Iranian oil. In a statement published at his website, Rouhani said, “The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported.”

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani praised Rouhani for his comments. Referring to Rouhani’s statement, Soleimani said, “Your valuable statement that said there will be no guarantees for oil exports from this region unless the Islamic Republic of Iran (can) also export its oil was a source of pride.”

The Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, have been threatening ships in the Bab al-Mandab straits, at the mouth of the Red Sea. The Houthi threat prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assert earlier this year that an international coalition, including Israel, would be prepared to keep that critical waterway open.

Ireland Begins Legal Steps to Ban Israeli Settlements Goods

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 03:10

Ireland has begun the legal process allowing it to ban goods made by Israeli settlements. But being part of the EU may stand in their way. Will they be able to do it?

Einstein ‘God Letter’ Sells for $2.9 Million

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 03:03

A hand-written letter by Albert Einstein, in which he offers his thoughts on God just sold for $2.9 million. The one-and-a-half page document was written in 1954 – one year before the genius’ death. It is thought to contain the most fully articulated expression on Einstein‘s religious and philosophical views.

France and Germany, Have You No Shame?

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 02:00

When you think certain nations have descended to the ultimate moral nadir of the universe, you never fail to be astonished with just how much farther they are capable of descending.

A report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal states that France and Germany have just linked forces to salvage an effort to create back-channel payments to Iran, defying the U.S.-led effort to sanction the regime for its nuclear activity. This effort, known as “Special Forces Vehicle,” or SPV, amounts to nothing more than a brazen effort by the two nations to diminish the effort to sanction the Islamic Republic for their work towards making a nuclear bomb.

Simply for money.

France has a long and sorry history of helping the enemies of the Jewish state develop the means of genocide, simply for money. In 1976, Saddam Hussein’s government purchased the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the Osirak, from France. Saddam of yesterday—like the leaders of Iran today—had made clear exactly what his intention was. In numerous speeches, Saddam had pledged to “scorch half of Israel.”

During World War II, the French Vichy government, along with the French police force, eagerly linked forces with the Nazis to round up Jews and put them in concentration camps, diminishing their Jewish population by roughly one-quarter.

And Germany: Have you no shame?

Just this past Saturday, Hassan Rouhani, the so-called “moderate” president of Iran, called Israel “a cancerous tumor” and a “fake regime,” created in the aftermath of World War II in order to advance the interests of Western countries.

There are three reasons to be very concerned about this statement.

First of all, what “moderate” calls for the extermination of a nation?

Secondly, we Jews have learned from our long and painful history that when leaders evoke biological analogies to “cancers” or “vermin,” they are desensitizing their populations in order to objectify and dehumanize us, to clear their populace of any remnant of remaining empathy towards us before doing something truly egregious.

And finally, the fact that Israel has been referred to as a “fake regime” is simply the au current way of wiping out our history and delegitimizing our genuine claim to the land, as the original indigenous people of Israel—a claim that has been verified over and over again by mountains of historic, genealogical and anthropological evidence.

However, the chilling and critical fact is that the Iranians have most likely kept their nuclear infrastructure in place, and the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) has not been living up to its verification responsibilities.

A treasure trove of documents was retrieved by the Israelis in their stunning raid on the Iranian nuclear documents depot in Tehran earlier this year, led the Institute for Science and International Security to issue a new report on Nov. 20. The report states that the Iranians intended to build five nuclear weapons, and “that Iran had put in place by the end of 2003 the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear-weapons program. The evidence supports that Iran was preparing to conduct and underground test of a nuclear-weapons program. The end goal was to have tested, deliverable nuclear weapons, and Iran made more progress toward that goal than known before the seizure of the archives.”

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The Institute for Science and International Security, of course, puts the onus on Iran for disclosing the information and granting access to both sites and individuals. It emphatically states, however, that:

“It is the responsibility of the IAEA and member states to ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is ended in an irretrievable permanent manner. … Although absence of progress on this critical issue if largely due to lack of Iranian cooperation, fault also lies with some who negotiated the JCPOA and have failed to empower the IAEA do so. There is no visible indication that the IAEA is yet acting on this new information.”

This report, which should have made headlines, also states that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, only “helped limit the uranium and plutonium enrichment programs, creating a bottleneck that will eventually end. Once it does, Iran will still maintain all the infrastructure and weapons to build weapons at a later date. The current U.S. strategy to ramp up pressure through sanctions is probably the best way to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.”

And finally, the report states that “the IAEA’s unwillingness to ask to inspect the warehouse site and its slow response to acting on the information in the archives after being secretly briefed about their existence and purpose from Israel raises questions about the IAEA’s impartiality and ability to verify both the JCPOA and Iran’s nonproliferation commitments. It is not only the Secretariat, but the IAEA Board of Governors, which has not lived up to its task. They have created a double nonproliferation standard which, unless remedied, will decrease the chance of ensuring Iran does not build nuclear weapons and will serve as a playbook for future proliferators.”

France: Avez-vous pas honte? Germany: Haste du keine Schande?

And to all of those members of the international community, including those of the Obama administration who were responsible for negotiating the grossly inadequate JCPOA in 2015: Have you no shame?

Reprinted with author’s permission from EMET Online

Make It Count

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 01:00

Warning: unconventional “Israel Watch” column straight ahead.

In a dozen years, I’ve recommended resources from time to time. Not often. My background in publishing still compels me to make suggestions from time to time for those who are pro Israel. I do believe one of our weaknesses is lack of education.

I just noticed this week—if I can be frank—that another pro Israel confab by Christian leadership was held…to the waste of everyone’s time.

For 25 years I’ve advocated for Israel in one form or another. In my opinion, much of Christian Zionist leadership mismanages money and resources in almost obscene ways. In this way, they run parallel to the more openly outlandish and useless ministries, such as faith healers and personal brand builders like Andy Stanley.

My experience tells me that worthy beneficiaries of the rank-and-file’s hard-earned donation money are few and far between. The lion’s share is obtained by either outright scammers, or those who waste resources.

In other words, those who are doing the best work advocating for Israel are doing so on an old, rotting, threadbare shoestring.

It makes me angry.

I know too many organizations and big names that work to simply perpetuate their own brand. Sort of like a politician that cares nothing for constituents, but everything about salary, pension, benefits.

There are heads of pro Israel ministries that jet set around the world, blog, host conferences, and generally tread water. They are as valuable to the cause as a tireless getaway car is to a bank-robber.

Yet they continue with their large annual budgets and at the end of the year, their genuine accomplishments for Israel would fit into the front pocket of an old work shirt.

Then there are individuals like Brian Schrauger. Brian is a friend, an American who now lives in Israel. His Jerusalem Journal and Chaim Report are superb. Brian actually reports what’s happening on the ground. He is right there. No support staff, no $100K website. No lunches with evangelical bigs who just want to be seen.

But he is the best Israel correspondent I know about, seriously. In short, he thinks like us and keeps us informed.

One of my favorite moments came last year when we lunched at Mamilla Mall, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City.

If you’d like to donate to Brian’s critically important work, email him directly at Brian@JerusalemJournal.net. Or, you can send support online at https://www.jerusalemjournal.net/donate.

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He explains what he’s doing with the Chaim Report:

“Inspired by the Drudge Report, the Chaim Report (a publication of the Jerusalem Journal) is a 24/7 aggregation of Israel-related news from publications here in Israel — and from around the world.

“The Chaim Report is the only website dedicated to bringing viewers the best selection of news from the best sources of news—and all from Israeli perspectives.

“The idea is to give you an up-to-date and top-quality collection of stories every day of the year.”

This will be the only resource I recommend for at least the next year. I believe in it that much, and I’m mindful of your resources, believe me. We’re all in this together.

As you look forward to Christmas and time with your family, and focusing on our Savior, if you are also looking for a place to send monthly support that will bless Israel and you, remember Brian.

Thank you!

Reprinted with author’s permission from Rapture Ready

“Burnt Beyond Recognition”: Muslim Persecution of Christians, August 2018

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 00:00

Christians Burned Alive and Churches Torched

Ethiopia:  Approximately 15 Christian priests were killed—at least four burned alive—and 19 churches torched during Muslim uprisings in the east, where most of the nation’s 33 percent Muslim population is centered.  “Similar tensions are bubbling under the surface in other parts of Oromia,” which is approximately 50 percent Muslim, said a local source. “We have even heard of places where Muslims had asked Christians to vacate the area. And though this call is veiled as ethnic rivalry by some media and observers, it is at its very core a religious matter.”

Nigeria: During one of eight raids on Christian villages on August 28, Muslim Fulani herdsmen burned alive a Christian pastor, his wife, and three young children in their home; two other non-relatives were also killed in the raids. Armed with machetes and AK47 rifles, the Islamic raiders also looted and destroyed 95 houses and three churches.  Gyang Adamu, one of the pastor’s surviving children who was away at the University of Jos at the time, “got to know about the attack when I saw a post on Facebook that Abonong village [his home], was under attack,” he said.  When he finally got through to someone local, “the report I received was very devastating; I couldn’t believe that all my family members have been engulfed in the pogrom. On reaching home, I saw my daddy and younger ones burnt beyond recognition. The sight of the gory incident broke me down.”

Also in Nigeria, armed Muslims stormed a Baptist church around 1 am, shot its pastor dead, and kidnapped his wife.  “The abductors said we need to pay them N5 million [equivalent to about $15,000 USD] before they can release her to us,” said one local source. “You can imagine that they now have the gut to walk into people’s home, kill and abduct and also have an effrontery to demand for ransom. Where and how can we get that money?”

Jihad on Christian Churches in Egypt

At attempted suicide attack against a Christian church just outside of Cairo was foiled on August 11, near the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday.   Only the bomber died on detonating an explosive belt near the church after police denied him entry; two others were injured.  The church was targeted on that day because it was packed with hundreds of worshippers celebrating an annual holiday.  It was later discovered that the jihadi cell responsible for the attack, which included two women, “had laced nails with poison to ensure that the blast would cause fatal injuries.”   According to a local Christian teacher, “We are accustomed to this; that became the normal behavior at every feast or celebration, one terrorist trying to blow up a church or conduct violence like as an Eid gift.” Mina, a 22-year-old engineer, said, “Currently, I am no longer very interested in incidents, and all the talks are nothing, I look for chances to leave this state… I don’t belong here.”

Another eight churches were closed in one Egyptian province alone, Luxor, all of them “following attacks by Muslim villagers protesting against the church[es] being legally recognized,” said an August 29 report.

In one instance on August 22, while Christians were celebrating a feast day at the Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox church, “A great deal of Muslim young men, aged 16-26, from our village and nearby gathered in front of our church building, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [Allah is greater] and chanting hostile slogans against Copts and the Church, such as ‘We don’t want a church in our Islamic village,’” recalled one church member. “They tried to break the front door … but we locked [it] from the inside. We immediately called the police who arrived and dispersed the demonstrators but they didn’t arrest anyone. They then closed the church building, sealed it and placed security guards with it.”

On August 25, in the village of Beni Suef, a Muslim “policeman tasked with guarding the church from extremists instead aggressively entered the church and hurled insults at the congregation, calling them infidels,” says another report. “The other policemen reportedly remained outside of the church during the incident…” Ibrahim, a member of the church, said, “The Christian villagers are very distressed and want a strong stand from official persons.”

In another incident on Friday, August 31, Muslims assaulted Christians in al-Minya because they “objected to the presence of a church in the area”; three Christians were hospitalized.

Discussing these violent Muslim protests followed by illegal church closures, Gamil Ayed, a local Coptic lawyer, said what many Egyptian Christians think: “We haven’t heard that a mosque was closed down, or that prayer was stopped in it because it was unlicensed. Is that justice? Where is the equality? Where is the religious freedom? Where is the law? Where are the state institutions?”  “The gathering of Muslims causing a shutdown of churches in the process of legalization is bullying—not only of the Copts but also of the state,” said another human rights activist. “The non-implementation of the law has brought us a gang of hardliners who have become above the law.”

Jihad on Christians in Pakistan

Vicky Masih, a 35-year-old Christian man, was murdered when he met with Muslim acquaintances and asked them to repay a debt owed him on August 6, the day of his wedding anniversary.  According to the report, “The claim for compensation triggered a discussion that soon degenerated into a violent clash. During the quarrel Muhammad Abbas, one of those present, opened fire. With his stomach pierced by bullets, Vicky begged for mercy, but the group continued to beat him ignoring his cries of pain. Eventually the Christian was abandoned agonizing on the street and the guilty parties fled.” According to the victim’s brother, “the police are conniving with the perpetrators, who are part of rich criminal families….  We want justice.  We are poor and we do not have the strength to fight these thugs. We call upon all the people of God to help us and pray for the wife of Vicky and her three little children: now they are the most vulnerable and defenseless.”

Separately, a young Christian university student lost sight in one of his eyes during an armed attack by Muslims on his Christian household.  For months earlier, neighborhood Muslims had been pressuring the Christian family—the only one on the street—to leave, including by teasing and mocking the young children for being Christian.  According to Alvin John, the family head, “Soon after the Muslims started harassing us, I had made up my mind that I would not let my children suffer in this environment.  I was waiting for the 12-month rental agreement to finish so that we could relocate … and start afresh. I wish I had the financial means to leave that neighborhood earlier.”  Then, on the night of August 28, Muslims surrounded and pelted their home with stones and broke windows.  “After the attackers left the scene, I told some neighbors who had gathered there that we were going to launch legal action and sought their assistance in the matter.  However, around 11 p.m., some 30 armed Muslims attacked our house again, this time forcing their way into our home. Someone had informed them about our intention to approach the police, so they had come to ‘teach us a lesson.’”  They beat the father and his two sons—blinding one in his left eye—as his wife and daughter “screamed in panic.” The “attackers also broke the furniture and ransacked our other belongings.”

In another incident, Muslim mobs attacked and ransacked Christian homes after a 19 year-old Muslim woman went missing and her father, Muhammad Hanif, accused Waheed, the 22-year-old son of one of the Christian households, of eloping with her. “All the Muslim residents flared up and shouted at us, saying they would burn our houses and cut us into pieces,” said Waheed’s brother, Nasir.  The “imam announced more than once on the loudspeaker that all Muslims should gather at the centre of the village, and ‘Don’t let even a single Christian live in the village.’ Following this, a large number of Muslims gathered and then attacked the houses of the Christians.”  Despite insisting that they did not know where the Muslim woman went, “The mob took my mother and beat her publicly,” said Nasir, adding that most of the men, bonded laborers, were at work at the time. “Someone alerted the police, who rescued her from the mob but then took her into custody to pressure us to produce Waheed at the police station,” which Nasir did.   According to the report, eventually “Nabeela [the missing Muslim daughter] appeared in the magistrate’s court and requested to record a statement in which she submitted that she had run away to marry Muhammad Nazir Kashif—of her own freewill…. At this, the police released Waheed and his mother.  But the police have not yet filed charges against the theft, ransacking and incitement to hate from the mosque loudspeaker…”  Later, Nabeela filed an appeal saying that she was in fact abducted by Waheed and his brother, was repeatedly raped, but managed to escape.  “These new charges are being used to pressurize Christians to withdraw their application seeking legal action against misuse of the mosque loudspeaker, and the theft and ransacking of our houses,” Nasir said.  Even one police official admitted that “Nabeela has changed her statement so we are asking what statement she’s sticking to.”

In yet another incident, a group of Muslims thrashed Vishal Masih, an 18-year-old Christian, after he repeatedly defeated a Muslim teen at arm-wrestling on August 2.  Angered for losing, the Muslim youth verbally abused Vishal and Christians as a whole: “How could a man of a dirty community defeat me?  A Choora (Untouchable) defeats a Muslim is unbearable, I will teach him a lesson.”  After the match, “while Vishal was on his way home, a gang of over a dozen young Muslims followed him and attacked. The gang brutally beat Vishal, attacked his family’s house, and beat his family members,” says the report.  Then another Muslim gang attacked him.  “[A]lthough Vishal survived the attack, it was as if they left him for dead.  The gang then kidnapped the severely injured Vishal, locked him in a room at their residence, where they repeatedly beat him for the third time.  After the assaults, Vishal was reportedly admitted to a hospital. His family is being pressured by influential Muslims to withdraw the case, otherwise they could be in more danger.”

Finally, “a charged mob of over 50 Muslim men … attacked” a group of Christians, including children, for trying to defend their church property.   According to Bashir Masih, one of the victims,

Ahmad, a local landlord carries a dispute with the local Christians over a piece of land for years…The lower court of Kasur has already issued ‘stay-order’ for the piece of land for both the parties … However, the Muslim family wanted to grab the church property using their social and religious pressure….  On August 2, 2018, Ahmad tried to cultivate a piece of land with a tractor which belongs to the church. The local Christians requested him not to violate court orders, however, Ahmad abused the Christians and passed derogatory remarks against [the] church, stating, “Building a church is nonsense.”… Within no time, Ahmad’s armed companions attacked the Christian men, women, and children with arms and sticks. They left two seriously injured and other with minor injuries. The mob stoned the under-construction church as well.

The church, St. Matthews, which serves about 40 Catholic families, was built by the impoverished community’s own money.   “When the Christians complained [to] the police about the attack, the police officials ordered them to keep quiet and avoid mentioning it as a religious issue… The police were unfair in the matter,” one of the locals said.

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More Church Attacks

Uganda: After months of being pelted by stones hurled by local Muslims, a church finally shut its doors on Sunday, August 4.  Then, a stone hurled through a window of Greater Love Church struck the pastor in the forehead and rendered her unconscious.  Pastor Moreen Sanyu was delivering a sermon when the projectile broke through the window.  “I fell down and became unconscious,” she said. “When I woke up, there were only a few members who surrounded me—the rest of the church members had fled in different directions.”  No one came to the following Sunday worship service.  Just outside Kampala, the nation’s capital, the church was in a predominantly Muslim area.  Because some Muslims began to attend the church, other Muslims began to hurl stones at it: “We cannot watch our children joining infidels’ church,” explained a local sheikh. “The throwing of stones broke glass windows and destroyed a solar panel, and as well there was the uttering of abusive and threatening words to me and my church members,” the pastor said.  Two months after its opening in May 2017, and due to the constant stoning, the congregation went from 400 to 150, until the August 4 incident, when membership dropped to zero. “I am not ready to lose my life by attending the church,” admitted one anonymous church member. “I need prayers and material support to relocate to another area at this trying moment,” said the pastor.

Nigeria:  Christians are denied places of worship all throughout the Muslim-majority northern regions, even near and in supposedly progressive universities, said Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah during a speech:

As I’m talking here now, … Christians don’t have a place to worship after over 40 years of the existence of these universities and these are the areas where the intellectuals, those who are going to govern Nigeria, this is where they are….  Up till today, as I’m talking to you, you can’t find a single governor in northern Nigeria that will effortlessly sign a certificate of occupancy for the building of a church.  Nowhere…  Northern Nigeria is literally a closed book. And our inability to understand northern Nigeria collectively as a nation accounts for most of the crisis we still face in this country.

Meanwhile, the education Muslim children receive in northern Nigeria perpetuates the animosity for Christian houses of worship, said the bishop:

I have windows of my churches broken because young children are throwing stones at the cathedral. I had one of my parishioners went blind three years ago. His house was by the roadside. Children coming from Quranic studies threw stones to his house. I’m asking the question, what are these children being taught about the other person? This is a very serious crisis in northern Nigeria.

Attacks on Apostates

Iran:  A court sentenced twelve Christians, most of whom had apostatized from Islam,  to one year in prison on the “charge of propaganda activities against the system and in favor of Zionist Christianity through holding house meetings, evangelism, and invitation to Christianity and inclination to the land of Christianity,” says the August 11 report.  Payam Kharaman, one of the convicted converts, said “the pressure and harassment of the security forces on me began in early 2012, and I was repeatedly summoned … and interrogated about evangelism and communication with abroad, and I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity.” The accusation that Payam had an “Inclination to the land of Christianity” may be a reference to Israel, where Christianity was born, and its use indicates that court officials “were looking for the accused’s confession to communication with abroad, especially America, Britain and Israel, and this term has originated from this matter.”  Another report adds that, “based on the cases we have been tracking, this is the first time this year that we’ve seen a jail sentence being given based on the charge of ‘inclination to the land of Christianity.’ This could be interpreted as a reference to Israel, the birthplace of Christianity and also a country that Iran has adopted a very aggressive stance towards.”

Separately, another convert to Christianity, Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, inquired about the charge he was convicted for: “Action against national security through the establishment of house churches.”  In an August, 2018, open letter to the Iranian court that sentenced him to ten years in prison, he asked, “is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security?  Isn’t it a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice to receive a ten-year prison sentence just for organizing ‘house churches…’”  Iran is widely considered one of the top ten worst nations where Christians experience “extreme persecution.”

Central Asia:  A Christian mother in Central Asia (name of exact country withheld for security reasons) was kicked out of her home by her Muslim husband for refusing to renounce Christ and return to Islam.   Sameda, 23, converted to Christianity three years ago.  Due to the lack of Christians in her area, she married Rashid, a moderate Muslim who was seemingly indifferent to her faith. “I married Rashid because he seemed to me to be a good man,” she explained.  Initially, we were very happy until he became more interested in my faith. Certainly, I did not hide the fact that I am a Christian and told him that God touched my life one day. After these words, my husband seemed to change.”  He eventually began pressuring her to return to Islam and beat her several times—including when she was five months pregnant.  After giving birth to a baby girl, Rashid told her return to the fold of Islam or else. “My beloved husband, who always seemed so kind and caring; he kicked me out of his house with a month-old baby without any means of subsistence!  People say that I am born as a Muslim [for being Asian] and should be this all my life. Now they call me a betrayer of the ‘pure religion and true prophet Muhammed,’ but how can I betray something or somebody I never knew and understood? Yes, I am a Christian, but also still an Asian woman.”   Although Sameda and her baby moved in with her mother in a tight room— “authorities refused to give them a new flat with good conditions because they are Christians” says the report—her problems are not over. She could still lose her child in a divorce, as many Muslim nations give fathers custody of children—all the more so when the mother is infidel.

Indonesia:  The Muslim children of an elderly and destitute widow kicked her out of their home for converting to Christianity.  After losing her husband, Nurul, 68, went to live in a missionary home for widows and orphans; there she eventually embraced Christianity. Then, according to an August 3 report, “Nurul later received news that one of her children decided to take her in their home. At first she was happy to be reunited with her family members, but then her Muslim relatives found out about her Christian faith, and allowed her to stay with them for only three months.”  “Because she became a Christian, no one cared for her and she had to go out from the community,” explained the director of the home for widows and orphans, which took Nurul back in.

Discrimination for and Abuse of Christians

Chad: “Christians in Chad are being intimidated and forced from public life, under new rules prioritizing Islam in violation of the North African country’s secular foundations,” said a report. Among these laws is an Islamic “oath [that] is exclusive and reductive in its vision of the state and appears to be another way of excluding Christians from public responsibilities,” elaborated one senior church source, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.  Priority is now being given to officials who take the oath “in the name of Allah the all-powerful,” while several top Christian officials have been dismissed for refusing it.  “What will now become of the many Chadians who are neither Muslims nor Christians, and what will be the purpose of our institutions of justice and regulation?” asked a local source, before adding that the situation has become “critical, as the great powers show complicity by turning a blind eye to violations of basic human rights …” The source also said that “Catholic leaders fear for their lives after criticizing constitutional changes.”

Comoros: Sunni Islam was formally declared “the religion of the state,” said an August 3 report.  “The state draws from this religion the principles and rules of Sunnite observance,” the nation’s amended constitution now reads.  As Christians amount to about 2 percent of population—which is 95 percent Sunni Muslim —this development bodes ill, say local Christians: “Things have been very hard on indigenous Christians before, and this kind of specification is expected to make things even harder for them,” predicted one local source.  According to the report,

Over the years, the rise [of] radical Islamic thought among the population, government officials, religious leaders and Muslim youth groups have caused anxiety among Christians…  Converts to Christianity from Islam can be prosecuted, and the converts that exist face severe discrimination from the Muslim majority…  The state also denies worshipping space for Christians in general. An ultra-conservative group of radical scholars … are pushing the country to a more extreme view of Islamic law (sharia) in the country and are against Christians.

Turkey: A declaration signed by non-Muslim religious leaders saying that, contrary to growing reports, they are experiencing no persecution, was signed under duress, say reports and rights activists.  The statement, signed by 16 Christian and two Jewish community leaders, said that religious minorities were allowed to practice their faiths freely, that “statements alleging and/or alluding to oppression are completely untrue,” and that “many grievances experienced in the past have been resolved.”  In an August 4 statement, however, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, the head of an organization comprised of the leading Orthodox churchmen in the United States, said:

The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, regrets the pressure that the Turkish government has clearly placed upon that nation’s religious minorities in obtaining a statement on religious freedom from them.….  In light of … the plight of religious minorities in Turkey, it is clear that Erdogan is acting as a dictator, going to religious minorities asking them to sign a paper that belies reality when they are in no position to refuse, for fear that their situation will deteriorate even more…..  [W]e fervently pray for our suffering Christian brothers and sisters and all those who are persecuted simply for professing their faith in Turkey and elsewhere.

Another report says that “Leading the signatory list was Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, whose community has been waiting for 47 years now to have its theological school [Halki Seminary] reopened.”   Around the same time that this “religious freedom” statement was being signed, and apparently to add insult to injury, Turkish authorities declared that a major Islamic Education Center will be built right next to the closed Christian building.  According to the architect, Korhan Gümüş, this move appears as a form of “religious antagonism….  A halki seminary was built there in the past. Building Islamic Education Center right next to it gives the feeling of revenge.  This is like old fears haunting us again in Turkey.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount: Third World War or Civil Rights Movement?

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 10:08

A conference on Wednesday brought together religious Jews and Christians to discuss a topic that had never before been addressed in a multi-faith forum: the past and the future of the Temple Mount as it related to their respective religions.

As participants entered the conference, they were greeted by the sight of a 20-foot model of the Second Temple and much of the discussion focused on the subject of the Third Temple. Though the conference was a religious forum, avoiding politics, the political implications of any discussion about the future of the Temple Mount, a location frequently described in mainstream media as a “flashpoint,” bears dire political consequences.

Doron Keidar, one of the conference organizers and founder of Cry for Zion, an NGO advocating for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was aware that he would likely be accused of incitement when he set out. This point was driven home during the press conference when Keidar was confronted by reporters who asked him several times if speaking about a Third Temple implied an agenda to destroy the Muslim sites on the Temple Mount.

Keidar rejected that claim, telling reporters that Cry for Zion’s main goal was to bring Jewish sovereignty to the Temple Mount.

“Our main goal is not to build the Temple and we are not a Temple organization,” he said. “We are advocating for Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount, petitioning the government to express stewardship of the site.”

This raised concerns among journalists who asked if sovereignty meant oppressing the Muslims or restricting them religiously.

“Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would benefit everyone,” Keidar replied. “At the Western Wall, there is total freedom of worship for all religions. Muslims are free to pray at the Kotel (Western Wall) as are Christians. Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would bring equality of religion to the site.”

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Keidar pointed out that the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel ensured freedom of religion for all faiths at the holy sites.

“Freedom of worship is also established in international law as described by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” Keidar said. “The right for all faiths to pray on the Temple Mount was upheld by the Israeli Magistrate’s court. Right now there is illegal discrimination taking place where only Muslims can pray.”

John Enarson, the organization’s Christian Relations and Creative Director, echoed this assertion.

“Allowing the Jewish flag on the Temple Mount would guarantee that this freedom of religion will exist, just as it does at every other holy site that is under Israeli sovereignty,” Enarson said. “Many Christians believe that there will be a Third Temple but that is not relevant to what our organization or this conference do. We want equality of religion on the Temple Mount, plain and simple. How the Third Temple comes about and what form it takes is in God’s hand.”

“I would prefer that the Muslims would welcome other religions and encourage this, but in any case, it should not be tolerated by the international community or by the Israeli government,’ Enarson declared.

Keidar compared their initiative to the civil rights movement in America, petitioning for equality for blacks.

“Christians can’t take their Bibles with them or pray or wear crosses on the Temple Mount,” Keidar pointed out. “Anywhere else in the world, that would be religious oppression and not tolerated.”

“We are trying to educate the Christian world about the Jewish perspective on their holiest site,” Enarson said. “There has been a lot of mistrust between the Jews and the Christians. This will increase peace, not lead to war.”

The main focus of the conference was on theories that the Jewish Temples stood in an area identified as the City of David.

“There is a mistaken belief that this would enable a peaceable solution in which the Jews could build a Temple in another location, a small distance from the Temple Mount,” Keidar said. Keidar, who works in security in the Old City, rejected that perception. “That area, referred to in the Bible as Shiloah, is known as Silwan. It is a hotbed of hatred and some of the most hotly contested territory in Jerusalem.”

Treasure Trove of Ancient Coins Found in Caesarea

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 09:05

A canister of coins was discovered in the Israeli maritime city of Caesarea. What does this treasure trove – a rare find – say about the city’s history?

Interfaith Bible Study Brings Light to Jews and Christians During Hanukkah

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 08:17

On the first day of Hanukkah, a group of 120 – comprised of 75 Christians and 40 Jews – brought light to the Knesset in a joint Bible study that included 40  honored guests, Christians visiting from Taiwan.

Representing the fifth Schindler Society Knesset Bible Study, co-sponsored by the Knesset Caucus for the Encouragement of Bible Study and Israel365, Knesset Member Yehuda Glick (Likud) opened the Tuesday session with Israel’s national anthem (HaTikvah, “The Hope”) and exuberant renditions of Psalms 118:24 in English, Hebrew and Taiwanese Mandarin:

This is the day that Hashem has made— let us exult and rejoice on it.”(Psalms 118:24)

Glick lit a chanukiah made by Holocaust survivors, thanking God for “our ability to be His light in the world.”

Reading from The Israel Bible– the world’s first Hebrew Bible to highlight the special relationship between the land and the people of Israel – Glick spoke about the prophetic beginnings of Hanukkah, maintaining, “Hanukkah is celebrated in the darkest time of the year, on the longest and darkest night, but by putting the menorah in our windows, we can bring light to the entire world.” He continued, “That’s our job on Hanukkah – to remind the world that even in the darkest of darkness, we had a connection to the light of the menorah, to the Temple, to God and to Jerusalem.”

Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, President and Co-Founder of Galilee Green Olive Oil, spoke of the Biblical aspects of olive oil and its connection to Hanukkah and the Jewish people. “The menorah, which was chosen as the emblem of the State of Israel, needs olive oil as fuel. In Biblical times, olive oil was the basis of the economy and it was used in the Temple to spread light.”

Veffer further explained, “Light represents Torah, our instructions for living. In addition, Jews are compared to olive oil – because if you try to them, you get this beautiful pure thing that lights up the world. But more importantly, it represents our job as the proprietor of the fuel to spread the Torah – the wisdom of the Almighty.” Without olive oil in the menorah- the Jewish people in the land of Israel – posed Veffer, there will be no light for the nations and “the world is destroyed.”

Singer Rabbi Shlomo Katz spoke of the “fixing of the eyes” that Hanukkah brings. “We have no permission to use the light for any other benefit, only to observe the light,” he explained. When we see each other in this way – “looking at each other, ourselves, Israel and God just for the presence of our light, without thinking of how we can use what is in front of us,” he posed – “man comes to a state of gratitude and everything becomes a miracle.”

Outreach coordinator for the City of David, AnaRina Heymann, spoke of the importance of “flipping the switch” from Greek influence that tried to drown out Jewish spirituality to “becoming who we really are.” The physical embodiment of Greek influence, she said, an Acra (a massive Greek stronghold) which some scholars claim was found in the City of David was originally built “to block out the vision of the Temple Mount.” When King David re-conquered the city, she said, he “flipped the switch of the Jewish people to understand who they really are, not bound to the system of the world, but rather, being the system of the living God and being the light unto the nations.”

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki of the Center for Jewish and Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) focused his comments on the exhilaration and celebration we have during Hanukkah for a miracle that happened “in those days” – over 2,000 years ago – “now.” He exclaimed, “We are not recalling history – there is no word in the Hebrew language for history – we are remembering, and memories only happen in relation to our own experiences.” Thus, he posed, the miracle of Hanukkah is related to each and every one of our lives.  

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David Nekrutman, executive director for the CJCUC, praised Christians who light the Hanukkah candles for “affirming that the Torah is still alive and standing in partnership with the Jewish community and Israel to sanctify God’s name together.”

Rabbi Elan Adler warned against Israel’s secular tendencies, becoming “more Greek” and breaking from traditions and discarding customs. He connected this thought to the Hebrew word for Greece (יָוָן). When read in Hebrew, the characters show increasing tendencies. Adler urged the audience to follow in the footsteps of Judah the Maccabee, who stood resolute against increasing tendencies to become more Greek. He argued for the Hanukkah story to affect government and public policy by requiring all Jewish students to learn the basis of the Jewish faith. Rather than “let my people go,” he said, “let my children know.”

Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler, Bible and Prophecy Watch reporter on Breaking Israel News and editor of Ten From the Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews, spoke of an alternative Biblical paradigm of leadership – a female and private form of leadership – that can change the world. She recalled the lesser-known story of Judith, aunt of Judah the Maccabee, who “contributed to a victory in her own way” during the Maccabean revolt against Syrian-Greek oppression.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Director of Israel365 and publisher of The Israel Bible and Breaking Israel News, spoke of the Bible study happening in the Knesset as a prophetic event, where the nations non-Jews come to Israel and declare their desire to learn the Torah as stated in Zecharia:

In that day many nations will attach themselves to Hashem and become His people, and He will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that I was sent to you by the lord of Hosts.” (Zecharia 2:15)

“That’s what’s happening here, in Taiwan, all over the world – together we are bringing Zecharia’s vision to light,” he said.

Pastor Jim Garlow (a member of US President Trump’s faith advisory council) and Rosemary Schindler Garlow, founders of the Schindler Society, found the location of the Bible study – Israel’s parliament – especially meaningful as a place where government officials can explore Biblical concepts and lessons in leadership that may guide their governance of the Jewish state. The Schindler Society is a US-based Christian group that has introduced ongoing Bible study in the US Congress and the United Nations.

In the context of Judeo-Christian values that have shaped societal and governmental values from the times of the Maccabees until today, Schindler thanked the Jewish people and the nation of Israel “for the victory that you portrayed through the Maccabees and through the Hanukkah story.” She maintained, “When anti-Semitism rose up and the Greeks tried to influence governments against the ways of God, you stood strong and preserved the light for the nations so we could be here today and understand the ways of the Lord and worship the God of Israel.”

Garlow posed that Hanukkah is a “picture of the struggle that we are in right now.” He spoke of the opposition of “two different worldviews,” represented by “all that is light and all that is dark” – the Maccabees and the Greeks, “one of a reverence and awe of God in which Biblical truths lead governance and one of mini or no Gods.” He closed the event wishing upon those in attendance to continue the “Maccabean spirit,” representing “the truth of God’s revelation from Zion.”

A Taiwanese family at the tree planting ceremony in Ofra. (Credit: Eliana Rudee/Breaking Israel News)

Immediately following the Bible study, the Christian Taiwanese group traveled to Israel’s Biblical heartland of Ofra, where they met with Owner and CEO of Lipkin Tours, Aaron Lipkin. The group planted trees – representing Judeo-Christian roots to the land of Israel – actualizing the promise at the Bible study that the Christian people will continue to stand with the Jewish people, playing an active role in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy in the Jewish homeland in Israel.

Christian-Jewish Coalition Urges Australia to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 07:01

A coalition of Christian and Jewish groups has called upon Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make good on his recent decision to weigh up moving the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The coalition – which includes organizations such as the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ), Zionist Federation of Australia, Rabbinic Council of Australia and New Zealand and Bridges for Peace – authored a letter in which they outlined their reasoning for urging Morrison to take the step of relocating the embassy as soon as is practicable. “Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government, and the location of the nation’s parliament, ministerial offices, supreme court, and the official residences of the president and prime minister,” the letter stated. “When government officials visit Israel, they meet in Jerusalem, when foreign ambassadors present their credentials in Israel, they do so in Jerusalem,” it added.

The letter added that Israel’s sovereignty over (at least) the Western parts of the city is “self-evident.” The coalition argued that moving the embassy – and thereby de facto acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “pragmatic acknowledgement of an existing reality.”

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One of the key points that the letter raised is that every single sovereign nation on earth – with the exception of Israel – is allowed or entitled to define its own capital.

“By acknowledging the reality that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel, the Australian Government sends an important signal to the world that it’s unacceptable to deny the Jewish people’s historical, religious and national ties to Jerusalem over the last 3,000 years,” the letter concluded.

In October, Morrison said that he and his government were mulling moving the embassy; partially in the light of the U.S. Embassy move in May and other countries’ willingness to consider taking the same step.

At the time, Morrison remarked, “We’re committed to a two-state solution, but frankly it hasn’t been going that well, not a lot of progress has been made, and you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

Conference Paves Way for Jewish-Christian Cooperation on Temple Mount

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 06:17

The first Temple Jerusalem Convention took place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Wednesday, aimed toward educating Christians about the relevance of the Jewish Temples to their belief. The focus is not only on the Biblical Temples but also on the future Third Temple written about in prophecies.

In his opening address, John Enarson, the Christian Relations Director of Cry for Zion and co-organizer of the conference explained the ground rules for the conference.

“The conference will be a meeting place of Jews and Christians with different perspectives. This should be done with mutual respect, acknowledging differences, and finding common ground on important issues without signing up for any political or religious position. We ask that all participants show grace toward each other.”

Doron Keidar, one of the organizers and the executive director of Cry for Zion, has high hopes for the event.

“This is like the first Zionist conference which brought people together to talk about their hopes and dreams for a Jewish state,” Keidar told Breaking Israel News. “That led to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. We are bringing people together to talk about the Temple Mount. It is pretty clear what can come from this.”

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, head of Israel365, addressed the crowd, emphasizing that it was powerfully appropriate for such a gathering to be held during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

“Many Jewish holidays are about ‘they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat,’” Weisz jokingly told the crowd. “But Hanukkah is different. The Greeks did not want to kill us. The focal point of the holiday is about the non-Jews preventing the Jews from connecting to the Torah and about the Greeks defiling the temple. It is entirely appropriate to join in with Christians who have come to Israel to honor the Temple, the Torah, and the Jewish people.”

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“If you were the Gentiles back then, there would never have been a need for Hanukkah,” Rabbi Weisz concluded.

The conference focused on a theory that is gaining popularity which claims that the Jewish Temples did not stand on the Temple Mount. According to the theory, both Temples were located further south in an area now recognized by archaeologists as the City of King David. This theory was most recently put forth in a series of books written by Bob Cornuke, a former police investigator with no training in archaeology. Cornuke has also proposed that the Ark of the Covenant was taken out of Solomon’s Temple and has been hidden away in a church in Ethiopia for hundreds of years.

Several of the speakers addressed this theory. Harry Moskoff, the author of the A.R.K. report, discussed the archaeological proof of the Temples’ location as well as the lack of proof for the theory’s claims.

Enarson believes the theory hides an insidious theological agenda.

“Rejecting the Temple Mount is the last stand of Replacement Theology,” Enarson explained to Breaking Israel News in an interview in April. “Replacement Theology, a belief that Christianity replaced Judaism in the covenant between Abraham and God, was a core tenet of Christianity. Subsequent to, and because of, the Holocaust, some mainstream Christian theologians and denominations have rejected Replacement Theology.”

Pre-Bariatric Surgery Info Critical for Long-Term Prediction of Diabetes Remission

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 05:30

Type-2 diabetics develop their chronic metabolic disease – in most cases – from being overweight and even morbidly obese, eating junk food and leading a sedentary life. Until recently it was thought to be irreversible but manageable by taking medications and/or injecting insulin, exercising and observing a restricted, healthful diet.

But the use of bariatric – weight-loss – surgery on obese patients with or without diabetes has put the disease in a new perspective. In some patients, gastric-bypass surgery that reduces the amount of food intake in the stomach can achieve remission of diabetes and even cure it.

The operation has also been linked to a lower incidence of myocardial infarction (29%), stroke (34%), cancer in women (42%) and overall mortality (30–40%). But many patients and their doctors regard bariatric surgery as a draconian last-resort step for obesity and diabetes management, in part due to surgical risks as well as uncertainty about long-term efficacy.

Surgeons and diabetologists have been unable to predict which diabetes patients would benefit from bariatric surgery – a major, costly and occasionally risky procedure – and whose diabetes would not go into remission.

The most common type of bariatric operation is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), which involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting it directly to the small intestine. After the surgery, swallowed food goes into this small stomach pouch and then directly into the small intestine, thereby bypassing most of the stomach and the first section of your small intestine.

Because of the costs, health risks and uncertain long-term results, it is critical to develop methods for predicting outcomes that are applicable for clinical practice. “This calls for institution of effective therapies to deal with the rising trend of complications arising out of this dual menace,” the authors wrote.

Although lifestyle changes form the cornerstone of therapy for both the ailments, sustained results from are far from satisfactory. Half of all obese diabetes patients who diet and take medications bounce back to their original weight and glucose levels within four years. Bariatric surgery, however, can make a lasting difference in about 80% of diabetic patients, but in the rest, it fails to make a lasting impact.  

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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers in Beersheba now believe they have changed all that. They developed a pre-operative examination of key health indicators that has proven itself to be an accurate predictor in the medium term and not only short term of achieving diabetes remission in patients who undergo the surgery.

Pre-surgical analysis of a patient’s age, body-mass index, diabetes indicators and treatment can predict the outcome of bariatric surgery, according to Dr. Rachel Golan a lecturer in the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences’ department of public health and Prof. Assaf Rudich of the faculty’s clinical biochemistry and pharmacology department. Their clinical scoring system is called Advanced-DiaRem (short for diabetes remission).

In a comprehensive study just published online in the academic journal for bariatric surgeons Obesity Surgery, using Advanced-DiaRem information was shown to improve doctors’ ability to predict diabetics’ reaction to weight-reducing surgery for up to five years. Ordinary DiaRem, a clinical scoring system designed to predict diabetes remission RYGB, is not accurate for all individuals across the entire spectrum of scores and for many years after the surgery.

The team developed Advanced-DiaRem by using data from a computerized database of 1,459 obese persons with type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery.

“Previously, the DiaRem model was limited to the prediction for just one year, after a single-type of procedure,” said Golan. “We showed that by using our improved predicting score, the Advanced-DiaRem, we were able to predict the long-term probability that the patient undergoing surgery would achieve a remission of their diabetes.”

The “breakthrough,” the authors said, is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in public health debates as obesity rates, considered the most prevalent preventable risk factor for morbidity and mortality in Western countries, continue to soar at epidemic levels.

“On the most local level, the ability to predict an individual’s reaction to surgery will give both doctors and patients the clarity they need to make informed medical decisions. And at the macro level, it will allow healthcare officials to address a major public health crisis that is one of the major contributors to the spiraling cost of health care, and direct specific resources to where they can be most effective in a personalized manner,” said Dr. Golan.

Golan and Rudich were assisted by Israel’s National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev, Dr. Dror Dicker of the Israeli Society for Research and Treatment of Obesity, researchers from the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, Clalit Health Services and Sorbonne University in Paris.

Heal O’ Israel, Non-Celiacs Should not Abandon Gluten Food

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 05:07

The supermarkets are now full of products without gluten. Many of my friends who do not suffer from celiac disease have started to buy and prepare them for the whole family. I wonder whether non-celiacs eating grains without gluten or a reduced amount of gluten could be harmful. B.F., Tel Aviv, Israel

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies:

Indeed, just a few years ago there was very little gluten-free food sold, and whatever was sold was much more expensive, even through the raw materials were no more expensive and often much cheaper than ordinary products. Now, gluten-free products are now cheaper and easily available.

An increasing number of people choose a low-gluten diet even though they are not allergic to gluten, which is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, barley and other grains. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue.

This trend has sparked public debate about whether or not low-gluten diets are recommendable for people without allergies. Most nutritionists do not recommend that non-celiacs abandon gluten completely.


Now, Danish researchers from the University of Copenhagen and colleagues have investigated the matter and recently published their findings in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

They found that a low-gluten but fiber-rich diet changes the community of bacteria in the esophagus, stomach and small intestine and decreases gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating and is linked to a small weight loss. The changes in intestinal comfort and body weight are caused by changes in gut bacteria composition and function.

“We demonstrate that, in comparison with a high-gluten diet, a low-gluten, fiber-rich diet induces changes in the structure and function of the complex intestinal ecosystem of bacteria, reduces hydrogen exhalation and leads to improvements in self-reported bloating. Moreover, we observed a modest weight loss, likely due to increased body combustion triggered by the altered gut bacterial functions,” explained Prof. Oluf Pedersen, the leading principal investigator of the study.

The researchers undertook a randomized, controlled, cross-over trial involving 60 middle-aged healthy Danish adults with two eight week interventions comparing a low-gluten diet (2 grams gluten per day) and a high-gluten diet (18 grams daily), separated by a “washout period” of at least six weeks with an ordinary diet (12 grams of gluten per day).

The two diets were balanced in the number of calories and amount of nutrients including the same amount of dietary fibers, but the composition of fibers differed significantly between the two diets.

Based on their observations of altered food fermentation patterns of the gut bacteria, the researchers conclude that the effects of low-gluten dieting in healthy people may not be mainly due to reduced intake of gluten itself but instead to a change in dietary-fiber composition by reducing fibers from wheat and rye and replacing them with fibers from vegetables, brown rice, corn, oats and quinoa.

A low-gluten diet has previously been proposed to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and irritable bowel syndromes, which occur in up to a fifth of the general Western population.

The Danish study suggests that even some healthy individuals may prefer a low-gluten diet to combat intestinal discomfort or excess body weight. The authors declared that more long-term studies are definitely needed before any public health advice can be given to the general population – “especially, because we find dietary fibers, not the absence of gluten alone, to be the primary cause of the changes in intestinal discomfort and body weight.”

However, the Danish researchers said their study was a “a wake-up call to the food industry. Gluten-free may not necessarily be the healthy choice many people think it is. Most gluten-free food items available on the market today are massively deprived of dietary fibers and natural nutritional ingredients. Therefore, there is an obvious need for availability of fiber-enriched, nutritionally high-quality gluten-free food items that are fresh or minimally processed to consumers who prefer a low-gluten diet.”

But a low-gluten diet may turn out to be key for alleviating gastro-intestinal discomfort and helping to control weight in the general population by changing the bacteria in the gut, Pedersen concluded.

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My husband and four teenage children are so different in their eating habits. Some prefer to eat a lot in the morning and for lunch, while others prefer to gorge food at night. Why is this, and is there anything I can do to change their biological/hunger clocks? S.S., Toronto, Canada

Dr. Olga Raz, head of clinical nutrition in the nutrition sciences department at Ariel University in Samaria, Israel, comments:

 

People differ in countless things from appearance, character traits and even the eating style and timing. I have found that people can be classified into different types according to how, when and what they eat.

Some “breakfast eaters” eat most of their food by noon; “evening eaters” who don’t mind eating little during the day, but when evening comes, they become hungry and eat whatever they can. Some people eat late into the night. Others insist on having a hot meal at lunchtime; otherwise they are not satisfied.

It is recommended eating every two to three hours during your “hunger hours” and every four hours at other times. You will then feel satisfied at all hours of the day and prevent gorging yourself.

It is also important to eat even if you are not hungry; otherwise, when you are really hungry, you will compensate yourself by eating too much. This will probably result in weight gain, a feeling of heaviness, heartburn and even stomach and chest pain. Small meals like crackers, a slice of light bread with a spread, natural yogurt and the like can be enough. It is advisable to plan in advance the hours of eating and prepare the necessary food in advance.

Night eaters with a problem are divided into two types. The first have “night-eating syndrome,” an eating disorder characterized by a change in the sleep cycle. Unlike those who binge (overeat) at night, such night eaters do not eat very much and don’t lose control. This disorder does have side effects such as a lack of appetite in the morning, an intense need to eat late,  a belief that eating will help them to fall asleep again, depression, anxiety and/or sleep problems. This syndrome is found in both women and men and accounts for 1% to 2% of the general population and about 10% of the population suffering from obesity.

Binge eating is different and characterized by very large amounts of food, loss of control over eating to the point of forgetfulness of what is eaten at night. Women are the majority with such a syndrome.

Clinical dietitians have one recommendation in both cases: Eat in the evening and just before bedtime meals a sandwich with a spread, oatmeal or any other porridge – preferably not sweetened with sugar — baked sweet potatoes, legumes or any other complex carbohydrate. Keep next to your bed a few crackers, sandwich, banana and so on – foods that can be eaten without getting out of bed.

Both night-eating groups are advised to consume complex carbohydrates, some for small meals every three to four hours. Eating like this reduces the desire for sweetness and allows it to be controlled. Keep irresistible sweet foods out of the home. Don’t use the excuses that the treats are for guests and children; it is clear that most sweets are eaten by you. If you want something sweet, eat outside the house – in a coffee shop or even in the nearest pizzeria.


It is important to understand that all snacks are food for all intents and purposes and often also fattening. Plan meals as you plan other things in life, money and work for example. Internalize that snacks contain a lot of salt and/or sugar and lots of calories.  

If you identified have identified you family members as these types of eaters, it was an achievement. They can now start changing. No matter what type of eaters you are, if eating poses a problem for you, there is a solution and everything in your hands. I hope I gave you some food for thought.

If you want an Israeli expert to answer your medical questions, write to Breaking Israel News health and science senior reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at judy@israel365.com with your initials, age, gender and place of residence and details of the medical condition, if any.

Israel Urges International Action Over Hezbollah Attack Tunnels

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 04:21

The Israeli government demanded international action on Hezbollah on Tuesday for building tunnels to infiltrate and launch attacks against Israel.

“These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran. They were built with one purpose in mind—to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. “This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty and a gross violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution #1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”

The IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield” on Tuesday to discover and eliminate attack tunnels constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel.

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BREAKING: We have just launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from to .

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“I have a message for the people of Lebanon: Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger,” said Netanyahu. “They are sacrificing your well-being to serve the aggressive purposes of Iran. Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for all terror activity emanating from Lebanon against Israel.

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Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself. We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran’s efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel.”

Netanyahu added that he mentioned the imposition of new sanctions against Hezbollah during his meeting on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon demanded the world body condemn Hezbollah “in the strongest terms possible” and hold the Lebanese government “responsible for the dangerous destabilization of the region.”

“The Lebanese government must abide by its international commitments and fully implement the above mentioned Security Council resolutions,” he wrote.

“The construction of these tunnels, built by Hezbollah and funded by Iran, alongside the ongoing efforts to transfer arms, convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles and manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon, are a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty and mark yet another stage of Hezbollah’s ongoing efforts to expand its military build-up and further destabilize the already volatile region,” he added.

The United States also condemned the tunnels.

“The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its sovereignty, and we call on [Hezbollah] to stop its tunneling into Israel and to refrain from escalation and violence,” said U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton. “More broadly, we call on Iran and all of its agents to stop their regional aggression and provocation, which pose an unacceptable threat to Israeli and regional security.”