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[Photos] 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Caesarea, Israel

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 06:00

1.     Jewish settlement in Caesarea dates back to its beginnings, in 20-10 BCE.

Caesarea amphitheater (Eliana Rudee)













2.    Caesarea, located in between the modern cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv, was one of the most important Roman cities in the world. It acted as the capital of Judea during the time of Jesus, as well as a crusader fortress along the road from Acre to Jerusalem.

Caesarea port (Eliana Rudee)













3.     King Herod the Great built Caesarea into one of the largest cities in the Roman world. As a Roman-style pagan city, it acted as the main coastal city of Israel (much like Tel Aviv is today) after Herod built an artificial harbor to bring in ships.

Caesarea Ruins (Eliana Rudee)













4.     A rivalry existed between Caesarea and Jerusalem. The former, a western and democratic influence, and the latter, a Jewish State. Such tensions still exist in Israel today, as Israel must balance its identity between the two influences.

Caesarea amphitheater (Eliana Rudee)













5.     Jewish revolts began in Caesarea in the year 66 CE after the Greeks made pagan sacrifices in a synagogue to mock the Jews.

Caesarea port built by Herod. (Eliana Rudee)













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6.     Herod was an expert builder, but a paranoid egomaniac who thought that everyone was out to get him, including his wife, who he killed, and his son, who he drowned. It was thus said that it is better to be Herod’s pig than his son, as Herod kept kosher, sparing the pigs, but he did not extend the same protection to his family.

Caesarea port built by Hrerod.













7.     In Caesarea, Herod built a large entertainment venue with 10,000 seats, called a hippodrome, where horse races were conducted. Before every horse and chariot race in the hippodrome, the pagans would pray to idols. Because of this, as well as the pagan celebration of death, rabbis were split over whether Jews could attend the chariot races. They determined that Jews are allowed to cheer people on in the races, in hope that the competitors would not be killed.

Holes dug into the rocks in the Caesarea hippodrome where idols were placed. (Eliana Ruduee)













8.     In a Caesarea well, some 60 lead scroll fragments were found, dating back to the 4th century CE, probably execration tablets and binding spells. They had been intentionally thrown as a magical practice. In his dedication address at the Holy Sepulcher in 335 CE, the Bishop of Caesarea firmly condemned these widespread practices and what he called “curse tablets of forbidden sorcery.”

Caesarea well where sixty lead scroll fragments were found. (Eliana Rudee)






















9.     Today, the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea still hosts concerts and shows.

Caesarea ruins (Eliana Rudee)













10. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lives in Caesarea part time.

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Passover Campaign Promises to Feed Israel’s Hungry

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 05:00

As the season in Israel changes from winter to spring, Jews across the holy land are preparing to celebrate Passover, also known as the Festival of Liberation. Passover commemorates the Jewish liberation by God from slavery in Egypt.

“Passover is a time where families come together around the table and tell the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt to the Land of Milk and Honey,” explained Danielle Rubin, Project Director at American Friends of Meir Panim. “But for families without enough food to eat, Passover is a reminder of their continued slavery.”

Slavery to Hunger

Gil and his family live in Rehovot. They have been struggling for the last several years, since Gil had a work accident that rendered him disabled. Last month, Gil visited one of Meir Panim’s restaurant-style soup kitchens for lunch, where he told staff he was considering risking having the electricity turned off rather than forgo a Passover seder.

“We acted swiftly to enroll Gil and his family in our prepaid food shopping card program so that he would not have to choose,” said Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim.





Meir Panim’s prepaid food shopping cards, which resemble credit cards, provide needy families across Israel with the means to observe Passover fully. With the cards in hand, recipients can shop at major food chains and purchase the foods and home goods that they need in order to support themselves and their families, without feeling the embarrassment of collecting handouts.

Netanya has a similar story to Gil’s. Her husband Shlomo lost his job last winter and has yet to find a proper replacement. She doesn’t want her three children to know that they cannot afford to put food on the table, so she frequents a local Meir Panim Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchen and fills plastic containers with food. Netanya then brings those containers home and empties them into her own pots, where she re-cooks the food for her children as if it were her own.

“I am too embarrassed to tell the kids we cannot afford to live anymore,” said Netanya. “I just thank God that we are blessed with Meir Panim, which provides us with a warm meal daily and extra food shopping cards for the holidays.”

This Passover, Netanya and her family will have a seder with food purchased with these prepaid cards.

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Israel has an alarmingly high rate of poverty, according to a 2016 report by the OECD. Some two out of every five Israeli children are hungry. This translates to around 1.7 million poor Israelis (21.7 percent of the population), according to the National Insurance Institute, including 460,800 families and 764,200 children who live below the poverty line.

Hunger has a negative impact on all aspects of a child’s life: physical, cognitive and social. There is a direct link between stunted growth and hunger, and between disease and hunger.

“Kids suffering from hunger often have poorer overall physical health,” said Sternbuch.

Further, children experiencing chronic hunger are more likely to develop learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments, Sternbuch explained. They can also become isolated or anti-social due to feelings of embarrassment or shame about their predicament.

“At Meir Panim, I see the effect food insecurity has on kids. If in 2018, we have 760,000 children suffering from the far-reaching effects of poverty, what could this mean for the future of our country?” Sternbuch asked.

Meir Panim is running a special Passover campaign to fill the children of Israel with hope this holiday season and the entire year. For $1 a day, you can help feed a needy child for a year.

This article was written in cooperation with Meir Panim. Names changed to respect the needy.

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‘It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman’ . . . in Israel

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 01:00

American actor Dean Cain, known for his role as “Superman” in the hit 1990s’ TV show “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” visited Israel on a trip organized by From the Depths, an organization dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education.

On Tuesday, Cain met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu uploaded a video to his Facebook page joking that Cain should have come earlier.

“Superman visited my office this evening. Bad timing though. We solved everything right before he arrived,” wrote Netanyahu.

In the video, the premier is seen greeting Cain and telling him: “Superman, we have already solved everything; now you’re coming?” to which Cain responds, “You are the real Superman . . . well done, sir.”

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“Israel is all I’ve imagined and more! Such a beautiful country, wonderful people and vibrant democracy,” Cain told the British Jewish News.

“I’ve not yet had a chance to see all the country and deeply look forward to the rest of my time here, and I’m sure I’ll be back again soon. For me, the most moving is being able to share this visit with my son, Christopher, to walk the streets that kings and prophets walked, share this history with him as well as show him how much a country can build and succeed in just 70 years.”

On Wednesday, Cain visited the Western Wall, or Kotel, donning a “Superman” kipah at the holy site.

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Saudi Crown Prince Vows To Acquire Nuclear Weapons If Iran Does

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 10:00

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that his country would not hesitate to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran gets a hold of one, in an interview with CBS that will air on Sunday.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Prince Salman said in the interview.

A segment was aired on Thursday, and the entire interview will be shown on the CBS program, “60 minutes.”

As a monarchy that leads the Sunni world of Islam, Saudi Arabia finds itself at odds with Shiite Iran as both are competing with each other over regional dominance. Although both countries have yet to engage in open conflict with each other, they have taken opposite sides from one another in several proxy conflicts in the region such as in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

In the CBS interview, Prince Salman denied that there was any rivalry with Iran.

“Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia,” he told interviewer Norah O’Donnell. “Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.”

Prince Salman however, compared Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Adolf Hitler.

“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time,” he told O’Donnell.

“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

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At 32 years of age, Prince Salman is considered to have a volatile personality. He is new to his exalted position, being named the heir apparent last June by his father, King Salman. After being appointed heir apparent, Prince Salman jailed hundreds of officials including princes, in what he claimed to have been a purge of government corruption but what many understood to be a consolidation of power.

The prince will be meeting next week with US President Donald Trump next week.

Saudi Arabia is not known to have a nuclear weapons program and is a vocal opponent to nuclear weapons in the Middle East. After former President Barack Obama brokered a deal with Iran concerning their nuclear program in 2015, reports surfaced that Saudi Arabia was looking to purchase nuclear weapons from Pakistan.

For the time being, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved a policy for a new atomic energy program this week, which the government claimed is aimed at lowering the dependence on oil.

The new policy stated that “all nuclear activities will be restricted to peaceful purposes, within the framework defined by international legislations, treaties and conventions.”

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Is A Secret North Korean Base In Syria Producing Chemical Weapons And Ballistic Missiles?

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 10:00

The Syrian news outlet, Zaman Al Wasl, reported last week that North Korea has an underground military installation in Syria capable of holding chemical weapons. Some media sources are speculating the secret base may even contain nuclear missiles.

According to the report, North Korea’s underground military base is south of Qardaha, located in the Latakia province. Qardaha is significant in that it is the hometown of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is in close proximity to the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.

Construction of the reported North Korean base apparently began seven years ago at the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria.

“Long tunnels have been built during the last seven years in a deep valley in Qardaha under the supervision of North Korean experts,” Zaman Al Wasl reported. “A part of the base is being constructed inside a large tunnel in the mountainous area that lies on the Mediterranean Sea. Just a small part is located outside.”

The report included satellite photos purportedly showing the base.

“The high level of secrecy and tight guard in the North Korean base raise speculations whether it’s a nuclear facility or overseas depot for North Korean weapons. The military collaboration between the Assad regime came to surface in the last two weeks.”

The report also cited a CNN piece linking North Korea to Syria’s chemical weapons program. An anonymous diplomat from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) told CNN that that North Korea had sent acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers to Syria for use in chemical weapons laboratories.

The same anonymous diplomat also said to CNN that North Korean missile experts visited Syria in 2016 and 2017 and may still be operating in Syria. The CNN report says the Syrian government specifically denied that North Korean missile experts were operating inside the country adding that they were just sports trainers.

The diplomat who spoke to CNN said that they expect the report containing these accusations to be released by the UNSC on March 16.

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Professor Timothy Furnish, an international media commentator and author on radical Islam, believes that military ties between Syria and North Korea military connection may be unlikely but also probable.

“The connection between the two countries has long been rumored but never proven,” Dr. Furnish told Breaking Israel News. “Knowing what North Korea does and how desperate Assad is to stay in power, an alliance of convenience would make sense.”

“Ideologically it may seem strange, since Syria is strongly Muslim,” he continued. “But what it comes down to is cold hard cash. The North Koreans are desperate for money and Syria has access to funds from both Russia and Iran.”

Although no military connection between North Korea and Syria has ever been proven, the rogue East-Asian nation has previously meddled in the Middle East. North Korean experts on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles visited a military research facility near the Iranian capital of Tehran at least four times in 2015. Military cooperation between the two countries is in violation of UN sanctions but was never verified. Rumors of cooperation continue to this day.

Citing Washington officials, the Washington Free Beacon, an American conservative website, reported on the story and said that the US is monitoring the situation.

“We are aware of reports regarding possible DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] assistance to Syria to rebuild its chemical weapons capabilities,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

“We take these allegations very seriously and we are working assiduously to prevent the Assad regime from obtaining material and equipment to support its chemical weapons program.”

“The United States has long expressed its deep concerns about both the assistance the DPRK provides to Syria’s weapons programs and Syria’s ongoing possession and use of chemical weapons—both activities in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the State Department official added.

The report in the Washington Free Beacon suggested that the large base buried under the mountain raised concerns of both nuclear and chemical weapons.


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Thu, 03/15/2018 - 08:18

In honor of Tu B’Shevat, Rabbi Tuly Weisz and Donna Jollay of Israel365 planted beautiful trees outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Biblical city of Hebron. Tu B’Shevat is the time to celebrate the trees and produce of the Land of Israel. Grapes are one of the seven special agricultural products of the Land of Israel and grow in various regions of the country. Grapes offer a valuable lesson. Grapes must be crushed, either by foot or by press, in order to produce wine. Similarly, righteous individuals are often subjected to trials and tribulations in order to bring out their full potential. In this prophecy, Yechezkel (Ezekiel) promises that the inhabitants of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) will be destroyed just like a vine that no longer produces grapes. The suffering that the children of Israel will endure however is not intended as a mere punishment. Rather, Hashem (God) hopes that the pain and anguish that the children of Israel experience will inspire their ultimate return to Him.

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World Embraces the Soldiers of the IDF

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 08:00

Traditionally, the holiday of Passover is the most family-oriented time on the Jewish calendar. However, for the more than 6,900 lone soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who do not have family in Israel, who are orphans or estranged from their Israeli families, Passover can be a challenging time.

Therefore, Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, the only Israeli government sanctioned organization tasked with ensuring soldier welfare, is providing lone soldiers with special holiday gifts and festive Passover seder meals. Passover runs from March 30 to April 7 this year.





Twenty-year-old Daniel B. (name withheld for security reasons), moved to Israel by himself two-and-a-half years ago. He has been serving in the IDF for a little over a year.

“Following the Fogel family massacre in 2011 where five family members – father, mother and three young children – were murdered in their beds by a Palestinian terrorist, I became impassioned to join the IDF,” Daniel told Breaking Israel News. “It was shocking to see the coffin of a baby. I felt that I needed to get my priorities straight and protect Israel so that something like this never happens again.”

However, Daniel explained that it is no easy task to be away from family, especially around Passover.

“Lone combat soldiers are given a place to live,” said Daniel. “But sometimes, we are only there for 24 hours to rest after long, active duty. We don’t have time to prepare properly for Passover. Israeli-born soldiers go home to their families, who have everything ready for them. People don’t really understand how challenging it is to be away from family, especially for Passover.”





Passover is a week-long holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ miraculous exodus from ancient Egypt following 210 years of enslavement in order to become the nation of Israel. Preparation for the holiday includes thoroughly cleaning one’s home of baked flour goods and only eating specially prepared Passover foods, such as matzah and other foods that conform to the holiday’s strict dietary restrictions. All this takes time and is costly, a reality which IDF soldiers cannot meet.

That’s where Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers steps in.

Yahad has been intensely preparing for Passover to ensure that every soldier, especially lone and poor soldiers, have what they need,” said Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. “This includes sponsoring festive, ritual-filled Passover meals [called seders] and gifting lone and needy soldiers with special treats, including a comfortable blanket and prepaid shopping cards.”

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One of last-year’s sponsored joint seders for lone soldiers had 480 attendees. Yahad will once again sponsor this special event where lone soldiers gather to praise God for the miracles He performed for the Jewish nation thousands of years ago as well as the miracle of the State of Israel and the honor of serving in its army.

There will be a festive pre-holiday event attended by IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot and other important dignitaries who will personally deliver to the soldiers special Passover gifts funded by donations to Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers by IDF supporters all over the world.

Israeli soldiers eating the unleavened bread, “Matzah” for Passover. (Courtesy: Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers)

In an attempt to show IDF soldiers how much people recognize their self sacrifice for Israel, donors may write a personal note of appreciation that will be included in the gift package.

Gifts and festive seders really make a soldier’s holiday,” Daniel told Breaking Israel News. “These gives an extra oomph to our lives, knowing that people from all over the world cared to make our Passover more special and that people are looking out for us. These special treats make it easier on lone soldiers.”

“Gifts are not just gifts when received by a lone or needy soldier,” noted Gozal. “They bring a deep feeling of comradery and a sense that we are one family supporting the Holy Land.”

To send a Passover gift and personal note of appreciation to an IDF soldier, please click here.





Written in coordination with Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. 



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Israelis Share Dairy-Farm Techniques With Papa New Guinea

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 07:30

Israelis provide Papa New Guinea with its first ever dairy farm helping to provide the country with a lot more fresh milk.

The post Israelis Share Dairy-Farm Techniques With Papa New Guinea appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Explosive Devices Target Israeli Soldiers Patrolling Gaza Border, IDF Responds

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 05:00

Two remotely activated improvised explosive devices (IED) were set off in quick succession early Thursday morning, approximately 100 yards from Gaza border fence within the Gaza Strip.

IDF troops who had been patrolling the Gaza border fence were at a significant distance from the points of explosion, and no injuries were reported.

“Two bombs were detonated within a minute of one another at a distance of 100 meters from the forces,” an IDF official said in a statement to the media.

“Following an identification of an observation post, we are looking into whether a anti-tank rocket was also fired at the soldiers.”

Initial reports claimed there were three or four explosions. The IDF however, is also investigating the possibility that a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) was fired at the IDF troops who were patrolling the fence.

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said there was minimal damage to the IDF vehicle targeted in the attack. “Basically just to the paintwork,” he said.

Nevertheless, the IDF considered the incident to be “very serious” and responded with tanks striking Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip.

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It was unclear when the explosives were planted, but Conricus noted that Wednesday night was foggy and there had been several riots by Gazan civilians this week. If the explosives had been placed by terrorists while using the riot as a distraction, this will be the third such attack in recent weeks in which Gazan civilians acted as cover for terrorists who placed IED’s near the security fence.

In February, two IDF soldiers were seriously wounded and two others, moderately and lightly wounded by an IED placed under a Palestinian flag that was hung on the border fence during one such riot.

This recent series of attacks tasks the IDF with keeping rioting civilians away from the fence in a manner that most effectively avoids civilian casualties. Conricus said the army was still “evaluating best practices” for responding to riots that take place along the border fence.

Last week, the IDF used a drone to drop tear gas on one such riot.

“In response, we attacked five targets in Gaza. We don’t know who is responsible for the attack. We will act sharply against attempts to turn the protesters into a cover for terror activities,” the IDF official said.

It was unclear from reports in Gaza, whether there were any casualties from the Israeli retaliation.

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Tourism In Israel Continues To Soar As Largest Tour Group This Year Bids Jewish State Farewell

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 04:00

The largest tour group to visit Israel this year, comprising over 770 participants from 80 communities all around the United States, finished an eight-day visit on Monday that was designed to be as uplifting as it was enjoyable. The group capped off their visit by parading through Hebron with a very special Torah scroll saved from the Nazis.

With tourism to Israel already breaking all-time records, this group helped boost the tourism industry even further, requiring an impressive 23 busses to operate from March 5-12. So many were interested in the trip that registration had to be closed six months ago with over 300 people on the waiting list. The group came on a trip organized by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), the adult educational arm of the Chabad Hasidic movement and the largest adult Jewish educational network in the world.

The group was composed of participants from many communities, each accompanied by their respective rabbis. One of the special aspects in the trip was the inclusion of in-depth daily study sessions with the rabbis that reflected on the spiritual significance of what they experienced during the trip. The group also met with every-day Israelis, studied about the religious connection to the land and heard from leading politicians and personalities including Yom Kippur War Hero Avigdor Kahalani, Nobel laureate Aaron Ciechanover and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

“Meeting with real Israelis and seeing firsthand the dedication and innovation of the people has been very special,” said Mike Abel, an investor from South Lake Tahoe, California.

Mike had visited Israel with his wife Helen “half a dozen” times in the past, but he said this trip was different than the others.

“Traveling to Israel with our rabbi also brought a spiritual depth to the trip that we never experienced in the past,” he said.

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Rabbi Yankie Denburg, a Chabad Rabbi in Coral Springs, Florida, joined the trip with his wife Chana and eighteen people from his community. He described the trip as “transformative” for his group.

“Experiencing the Holy Land brings home everything we’ve been studying and praying about,” said Denburg.

“Everyone has been deeply moved in their own way. One of the women in our group, Debbie Flaherty, was inspired to take the Jewish name Bracha which we did during the Torah reading on Shabbat in Jerusalem.”

The trip was also an opportunity for the participants to show their appreciation to the brave Israeli soldiers defending the Jewish homeland. On Wednesday, the group visited Yad La-Shiryon, Israel’s official memorial site for fallen soldiers from the armored corps in Latrun. While at the site, participants paid tribute to IDF heroes. Awards were given to two wounded veterans; Dr. Asael Lubotzky, who went on to becoming a practicing physician despite being permanently disabled as a result of injuries in the Second Lebanon War and Yarin Ashkenazi, who was wounded 4 times during his military service and fought each time to return to his unit.

Jewish Learning Institute’s tour group dances with Israeli soldiers. (Courtesy: JLI/Bentzi Sasson)


On Monday, the final day of the trip, the group paraded through the streets of Hebron with a Torah scroll saved by a 14-year-old boy on Kristallnacht, a pogrom carried out against the Jews of Nazi Germany in November 1938. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned on Kristallnacht, but this particular scroll was rescued from a burning synagogue in Hamburg.

The Torah scroll was recently donated to the JLI, which restored the scroll and loaned it to communities around the world.

The Torah Scroll that was given to Hebron’s Jewish community by the Jewish Learning Institute. (Courtesy: JLI/Bentzi Sasson)


Rabbi Efraim Mintz, the founding director of JLI, was very pleased with the results of the trip.

“This trip is not just a tour, it’s an immersive learning experience to explore the soul of the country and to try to understand the deep connection we all have with the Holy Land,” Rabbi Mintz said.

“Our goal is to get to know the country but also the people who live here and the brave young people who protect our cherished homeland.”


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Palestinian Textbooks Teach War Not Peace

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 03:00

If Israel and the Palestinians are ever to forge an agreement meaningful to both sides, Palestinian educational reform must be a linchpin.

Palestinian schools, including those run by UNRWA, model radical Islamic madrassas (religious schools), incubators of violence and terrorism that exploit education to indoctrinate the next generation.

Billions in foreign aid and numerous past efforts to reform education by the United States, the European Union, and others ended in stalemate. Why?

Two primary fault lines – Palestinian leaders’ economic strategies and military perspectives – are deeply entangled in the Palestinian educational agenda. High youth unemployment – 58% in Gaza alone – is one result. The dismal employment outlook of Palestinian youth helps feed the illusion that an early death is their best hope.

Though the link between strong economies and a modern, knowledge-based educational strategy is well known, Palestinian economic (and social) progress has been sabotaged by over-dependence on massive foreign aid – combined with woefully inadequate oversight. Billions of dollars and euros from the US, the EU, and other international donors have slipped through the safety net and into the pockets and political agendas of corrupt leaders, their families, and cronies.

Foreign aid can energize Palestinian educational reform – but only if divorced from a weaponized curriculum of incitement to hatred, violence, terrorism, martyrdom and falsified history, geography and other subjects masquerading as academia.

In addition to the twisted money trail, Palestinians’ resistance to education reform is tightly bound to their concept of armed forces. Senior Palestinian Authority politician Nabil Shaath vehemently defended government “salaries” to terrorists in Israeli security prisons – including convicted murderers – insisting that halting the payments is the same as “asking Israel to stop paying the salaries of its soldiers.”

Shaath’s remark unmasks the Palestinians’ warped notion of a defense force. The Palestine National Charter defines “fighters and carriers of arms” as “the popular army which will be the protective force” of the Palestinian people. One must question if blowing up babies in strollers and innocent civilians in buses are justifiable goals of a “protective force.” The Palestinian concept of its “army” is undoubtedly a major sticking point that has obstructed previous efforts to curb incitement of children and youth in schools and summer camps.

The murky, conjoined nature of the Palestinian economy, military and education require an integrated approach to reform in these areas under the joint administration and oversight of Israel, Palestinians and the US. Its potential promises to be most effective as a prerequisite – a “phase one” preparatory and developmental stage before any agreement to full-fledged Palestinian statehood.

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The US State Department Archive, 2001-2209, describes “a U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee … to monitor … incitement to violence or terror and make recommendations and reports on how to prevent such incitement. The Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. sides will each appoint a media specialist, a law enforcement representative, an educational specialist and a current or former elected official to the committee.”

“That committee can and should be reestablished,” said Hady Amr, senior fellow for the Center for Middle East Policy. He acknowledged, however, that Hamas, which produces its own militarized textbooks, could “hold the peace process hostage.”

Foreign aid should be contingent on a zero-tolerance policy for incitement to a new Palestinian model. The United States has taken meaningful steps toward this goal, but more international support is needed.

Positive educational reform will also require forward-thinking Palestinian leaders who genuinely want their people to prosper. If all parties are willing, perhaps Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in concert with the oversight committee, could help the Palestinians develop an educational model capable of producing a viable workforce. They have been implementing extensive educational reforms toward knowledge-based economies for over 15 years. Qatar also has made strides in education reform, but its support of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran render it an unlikely catalyst of positive change in Gaza.

While resistance to change is expected, and patience will be required, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the capacity to help the right Palestinian leaders institute educational reforms in an Islamic context – and prepare their youth to become productive, 21st-century citizens who can engage with the rest of the world. Do the Palestinians want war or peace? Their textbooks and their educational system tell it all.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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3,000 Years of Biblical History Unveiled: The Kishle

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 03:00

The walls at the Tower of David Museum’s Kishle exhibit can talk. They uncover thousands of years of archaeological evidence pointing to layers of Jewish continuity in Israel’s eternal capital of Jerusalem.

Nearly 20 years ago, archaeologists believed that Kishle was built in 1834 by Ibrahim Pasha, an Egyptian ruler, as its remains indeed featured bars of an abandoned prison, built by the Ottomans and used by the British to imprison resistance fighters struggling to establish a Jewish state.

Thus, the Kishle was slated for $1 million of renovations to create a new space for children’s activities and a multipurpose space for temporary exhibitions and lectures.

But soon archaeologists found much more than etchings and bars: they uncovered ancient fortifications that tell the story of Jewish Jerusalem long before modern days. Under the Kishle’s narrow narrow 450-meter roof, findings verify Biblical narratives.

As archaeologists began to dig down by hand, they uncovered layers of Jerusalem’s 4,000 year history, showing the continuum of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem for at least 2,700 years and creating a timeline that spans Jerusalem’s history, with major significance to Jews and Christians.

The money was instead directed toward further excavations and at the lowest layer of the Kishle, archaeologists found a fortification wall, built by King Hezekiah, one of the Kings of Judea from the First Temple Period, 8 century BCE. These walls shed light onto the location of Jerusalem’s western boundary in the First Temple Period, as well as the size and dimensions of Biblical Jerusalem.

Above these walls, archaeologists found the remains of Hasmonean walls built 600 years later by the Hasmoneans who ruled Jerusalem after the Maccabean revolt and before King Herod, who built the Second Temple.

Even further above, archaeologists found the very foundations of the magnificent palace of King Herod, built in the 1st century BCE, during the Second Temple period. Many believe the palace may have served as the Praetorium, the site of Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate, along the original route of the Via Dolorosa that Jesus followed to his crucifixion.

After pulling up the floorboards, archeologists descended 33 feet and found continual layers of Jerusalem’s history. They found medieval dying vats that stood at the foot of the Tower of David, as seen and recorded in the diary of Jewish traveler and Rabbi, Benjamin Metudela in 1165. They also discovered the remains of an 11th Century cloth-dying and leather-tanning factory, demonstrating Jewish life in Jerusalem during the Crusader period, also described by medieval Jewish scholars Nahmanides and Benjamin Metudela.

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Other finds include a Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) from the Second Temple period that likely stood inside a large Hasmonean palace, connected to the system of water reservoirs, hewn and preserved into the rock, as well as a quarried water tunnel that stretches from beneath the structure to Herod’s Pool outside the city walls, used as an escape route for the Temple’s Jewish priests upon Roman destruction of Jerusalem.

According to Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David Museum, the Kishle excavations, which “tell the full story of Jewish continuity in Jerusalem from the days of the Judean King, Hezekiah, close to 3000 years ago, and through history up until the very struggle for the independence of the Jewish State,” are especially important “in a time when voices are being heard that deny the connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people.”

But the Kishle also tells the story of modern Israel. According to Professor (Emeritus) at the University of Haifa Ronny Reich, Kishle is “considered a national monument” because of graffiti etchings from Irgun (Etzel) inmates who were held in prison during the beginnings of the fight for Jewish resistance in the holy land, including a map of Israel and the Star of David. The Irgun emblem is also etched in the walls of the cell that held Shmuel Matza, who later returned to the prison for an emotional visit after it was uncovered in the early 2000s.

In the context of these finds, Amit Re’em, the current chief archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, as well as the archaeologist who led the 1999 dig of the site, said, “The Kishle excavations give us a rare glimpse into Jerusalem’s past and enable us to understand the historical sequence in Jerusalem through archaeology.”

Amit Re’em, Jerusalem’s Chief Archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, standing on top of the Kishle Exhibit at the Tower of David (Photo credit: Eliana Rudee)

Reich lauded the excavations under the floor of the Kishle building as a “unique phenomenon, not found in the other archeological sites in Jerusalem which are open to the public.”

“Several sites show remains from ancient Jerusalem, but each one shows only a limited chapter of the city’s history,” Reich said. “The excavations carried out under the floor of the Kishle building, and which descend considerable depths, give the longest sequence of strata, from the 19th century down to the 8th century BCE.”


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Trump’s Win is the Reichstag Fire of Internet Censorship

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 02:00

Trump’s election victory was the Reichstag fire of internet censorship. The fury and conspiracy theories that followed were not just about bringing down President Trump but ending free speech online.

It’s no coincidence that the central conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election involves free speech or that the solution is internet censorship. The claim that Russian trolls and bots rigged the election has zero actual evidence behind it. But it’s a convenient tool for not only delegitimizing Trump but the very idea of a free and open internet where anyone can say anything they choose.

Senator Ben Cardin, Rep. Jerry Nadler and other members of Congress compared the election influence conspiracy to Pearl Harbor. Rep. Jim Himes went even further, suggesting that it had eclipsed 9/11 by claiming that it, “is up there with Pearl Harbor in terms of its seriousness as a challenge to this country.”

What they’re really saying is that Democrats losing an election is worse than the murder of 3,000 people. It’s why they will oppose a terror state travel ban until Islamic terrorists start voting Republican.

And what did this greatest attack since Pearl Harbor consist of? Speech. On the internet.

The central Russiagate conspiracy theory isn’t really about hacking: it’s about fake news sites and bots. The new Pearl Harbor comes from too many people saying the wrong things and the need to make them stop saying them. If they go on saying those things, it’s worse than the murder of 3,000 people.

If this was the new Pearl Harbor, does that mean we should be at war with Russia?

Democrats have little appetite for military conflict with anyone except Nevada ranchers. Trump has put more Russian fighters into the ground in one day of fighting than Obama did in eight years in office. When it comes to Moscow, the Democrats want to slap on some meaningless sanctions, before pushing the Reset Button once they get into the White House. It’s not Russia they want to crack down on, it’s us.

The accusations of treason and the cries of wartime emergency are pretexts for a domestic crackdown.

The election Reichstag fire manufactured a crisis that had to be urgently addressed. Alarmist wartime rhetoric justified civil rights violations from eavesdropping on Trump officials to internet censorship. The “collusion” effort to impeach Trump and imprison his associates through everything from eavesdropping to the Mueller investigation has been the loudest part of the campaign. Internet censorship has been the shadow campaign. Its implications aren’t as obvious but extend far beyond this election.

The bulk of the remedies (beyond going back to paper ballots which are a lot easier for local lefty activists to stuff) involve internet censorship. The campaign began with alarmists warnings about Fake News. President Trump successfully seized the phrase and turned it against CNN, but the program to purge conservative material from Facebook, Google, and other services and sites is still going strong.

Before the election, Obama had urged, “We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function.” The talking point that the internet has become a dangerously unregulated environment is at the heart of the internet censorship campaign. The First Amendment prevented direct government action, so the regulation had to take another form.

The “curating” was managed by pressuring Facebook, Google and others to embed a middle layer of lefty non-profits, from media fact checkers to activist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, to determine what belonged and who didn’t belong on their services. The middle curation layer would promote “trustworthiness” and curtail “divisiveness”: Orwellian euphemisms for political censorship.

This middle layer allowed Google and Facebook to outsource censorship by curation to “trustworthy” organizations. Or at least those organizations considered trustworthy by the left. The same media echo chamber which had manufactured the speech crisis had put itself in charge of imposing the solution.

And the solution was restoring a media monopoly by turning the internet into a gated community.

Putting the left in charge of determining the “trustworthiness” of content is political censorship. And Google and Facebook’s control over huge swathes of the internet meant that the censors would gain control over the eyeballs of more people than any single government could possibly manage.

Without the banner of “Fake News”, the censorship is harder to track. Some of it gets reported. And much of the rest is anecdotal. It’s the shadowbanning, demonetizations and suspensions that have become part of life for vocal conservatives as part of the political repression after the 2016 election.

Some of the results were obvious. Others were algorithmic. Visits, hits, views, and retweets dropped. Some users and sites were banned. Others vanished into the shadowban twilight. The many grades of censorship ranged from full bans to demonization. But all shared a common leftist political agenda.

After a year, the left has made significant inroads in banning and restricting conservatives. Some battles were temporarily won. Facebook is pulling back from its reliance on the left’s “fact check” sites, Google’s knowledge panels no longer roll Snopes smears into search results for conservative sites and Guidestar’s defacing of the non-profit listings for conservative sites with Southern Poverty Law Center ratings was also rolled back. But the left is still winning the censorship war as the internet is reshaped away from an open marketplace of ideas to a “trustworthy” source of ideas “curated” by non-profit lefty partners.

Political censorship, no matter how it’s disguised, might be hard to justify if there weren’t a “serious threat to our democracy” or if we weren’t facing the “worst attack on America” since Pearl Harbor.

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In wartime, only selfish people would insist on unrestricted freedom of speech on the internet.

In December, the activist left went to war for what it called, “Net Neutrality”. The war was fought with fake comments, death threats and calls to action by some of the biggest monopolies on the internet.

If you believed them, freedom on the internet was about to be wiped out by cable companies.

There are a handful of big companies that provide cable or satellite internet access in the United States. But there’s nothing like Google, which controls 88% of search and 42% of the digital ad market, or Facebook, which has a comparable grip on social media. Between them, they control 70% of the digital ad market. No cable company enjoys an internet monopoly remotely comparable to that of Google.

Should we be more worried about a cable company with 20 million subscribers or online monopolies which act as the gatekeepers to the internet, shaping how we experience it for their own reasons?

The new internet censorship has emerged as a partnership between the media, allied non-profit groups, and the huge gatekeeper monopolies and it bypasses conventional government censorship. And yet its origins lie with the Reichstag fire conspiracy deployed by Barack Obama and his intended successor.

The new censorship may not be implemented by the government, but it originated with government. It is the action of the private arm of a public-private leftist coalition monopolizing political power. The same coalition that unleashed a new Watergate by eavesdropping on Trump officials is also changing what you see on Facebook. And both the public and private arms are doing it under the same pretext.

The accusations of treason and calls to limit freedom of speech as an act of social responsibility for the public good are familiar totalitarian responses to wartime conditions. The left manufactured a war. And it imposed wartime restrictions through public organizations like the FBI and private ones like Facebook.

The private side of the campaign is based on the talking point that the big monopolies have a social responsibility to emphasize trustworthy information and to censor divisive misinformation.

The pressure came first from the media and activist groups. Now it’s spreading to politicized companies like Unilever whose chief marketing officer issued an ultimatum warning sites that if they don’t clean up “divisive” content and replace it with a “positive contribution to society”, they will lose Unilever’s ads.

Euphemisms like “trustworthy” or “divisive” are markers for the left and the right. A Washington Post editorial or CNN tweet, no matter how abrasive, will never be seen as divisive. Lefty organizations that advocate for illegal aliens are making a “positive contribution” and conservatives ones that oppose them are “divisive”. The ability to determine what is “positive” or “divisive”, will not only drive viewers and money to left-wing sites while destroying conservative sites but create red lines for conservative sites.

Those conservative sites that remain within the red lines on gun control, illegal aliens or Islamic terrorism can go on benefiting from search and social media traffic, those that don’t will be purged.

Dividing Americans by escalating the political conflict also escalates the crisis that justifies the censorship. The NFL protests, Antifa violence, shootings, and riots all maintain the sense of urgency. As society explodes, the need to limit the “divisive” content increases. Once again, the left creates a crisis and then imposes restrictions on its political opponents to resolve the crisis that it created.

The left exploited Trump’s victory to manufacture a sense of crisis. The anger and fear it unleashed stampeded liberals into agitating (or at least remaining silent) on serious abuses of power from deploying national security organizations against political opponents to silencing them on the internet. By depicting them as representing an unacceptable domestic extremism and traitors in league with a foreign enemy, it justified any possible domestic abuse of authority.

Anyone who disagreed was in league with either the Nazis or the Russians. In a great historical irony, the left had deployed the Reichstag fire strategy against its opponents while accusing them of being Nazis.

There is a plot against America. It’s just not the one that the plotters keep using as their plot’s pretext.

It’s a plot against our election, not by the Russians, but by the left. It’s a plot against freedom of speech, not by the Russians, but by the left. The plotters took a Russian propaganda and influence operation and turned it into a pretext for the greatest assault on democracy and freedom in American history.

The Russians created some Facebook posts. The left is using that to end free speech on the internet.

If the left succeeds in reversing the outcome of the previous election, it will be a catastrophe for our age. If however, it succeeds in censoring the internet, the catastrophe may last for generations.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

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Foreign Ambassadors Break Matzah in Israel Two Weeks Before Passover

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 02:00

More than 70 ambassadors and senior foreign diplomats sat down to a festive “model seder” dinner in Tel Aviv, organized by the Israel Project and the World Jewish Congress.

The pre-Passover seder, taking place for the third year in a row, was led by former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom Daniel Taub, who provided the guests with a small taste of the holiday’s traditions. Among the diplomats attending were ambassadors from Rwanda, Belgium, Argentina, Angola, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines, as well as senior diplomatic representatives from the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, Great Britain and China.

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Israel’s Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant greeted the ambassadors minutes before heading off to vote on the state budget in the Knesset. He reassured the group that “as you know, things in Israel don’t always go smoothly or easily, but I promise that this budget will be approved.”

Gallant said the “Jewish people marks its freedom during the holiday of Passover, and that Israel, celebrating 70 years of independence this year, takes pride in its ability to defend itself by itself.”

Said Lior Weintraub, vice president of the Israel Project: “This pre-Passover dinner has become a tradition, in which we take pride hosting foreign ambassadors and distinguished guests, while exposing them to the unique culture and Jewish tradition.”


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Ivanka Trump Keeps Framed Copy of Father’s Jerusalem Speech On Office Wall

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 01:00

A framed and dedicated copy of U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is kept up on the White House office wall of his daughter, Ivanka.

The Dec. 6, 2017 speech—“Remarks Regarding the Capital of Israel,” signed by the president, “To Ivanka, Love Dad”—is positioned alongside the handwritten lyrics of the band Journey’s rock classic “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” and pictures of her children, according to a report in Sunday’s Washington Post.

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Ivanka underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner. The couple joined the president in a visit to Israel in June, where Ivanka noted how meaningful it was for her to have the opportunity to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“It was deeply personal for me as you note standing at the Western Wall in a moment of privacy, because it was really just us, it was our family that was there,” she said. “It was beyond special—for each of these moments it’s hard to find the words to adequately describe them.”

Earlier this month, the United States announced that its embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

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Why Jerusalem is Not Islam’s 3rd Holiest Site

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 01:00

You’ve undoubtedly heard that Jerusalem represents the third holiest city in Islam.

That is provably untrue.

Or, perhaps you’ve read in Wikipedia or heard on CNN that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place of worship in Islam.

That, too, is a provable lie.

Or, maybe you heard about the vote by UNESCO in 2016 that denied any Israeli connection to the Temple Mount, referring it only by the Islamic name, “Haram al-Sharif.”

Before I get to the history of these myths, these aberrant legends, these anti-Semitic fictions from hell, let me tell you why anyone with a clear head and objective, rational mind can see the truth in spite of the powerful delusion that has cast a spell upon the world – deliberately, with political purpose and very recently, too.

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Everyone should recognize the No. 1 holy site in all Islam is Mecca, the Qaba, which draws millions of pilgrims annually – perhaps more than any other religious shrine in the world. For instance, while some 5 million visit the Vatican City every year, 18 million Muslims visit Saudi Arabia and, almost all of them, go to Mecca, which doesn’t allow non-Muslims to enter the city. The annual five-day Hajj, alone, attracted more than 2 million in 2017.

Spiritual pilgrimages are a big deal in Islam, and the No. 2 holy site in all Islam is probably Medina, where Muhammad is buried.

But after Mecca and Medina, there is actually much dispute, even among Muslims, as to which would be Islam’s third holiest city. Why? Because while Mecca and Medina are considered holy to all Muslim followers of Muhammad and Allah, not all of them are Sunni. Sunni Islam adherents represent about 80 percent or roughly 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. But another 20 percent are Shia, representing as many as 300 million. And Shia Muslims revere shrines in two other cities in Iraq – Najaf, and Karbala.

How many make the pilgrimage from Najaf to Karbala annually during the Shia Arba’een Pilgrimage? Hold on to your burqa or keffiyeh. Some accounts put it at 30 million from as many as 40 countries, often braving attacks from Sunni terrorists and usually traveling barefoot. That’s right. This Arba’een Pilgrimage is a much longer one than the five-day Mecca Hajj and, according to many sources, much larger in the sheer number of participants.

How many Muslims make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem? Israel hosts a total of about 2 million tourists from all over the world every year, but only a tiny fraction are Muslims. Israeli tourists are diverse ethnically but almost all Jewish and Christian. And please don’t tell me Muslims are not welcome because they are. In 2014, the latest statics I could find showed 26,700 tourists from Indonesia; 23,000 from Turkey; 17,700 from Jordan; 9,000 from Malaysia and 3,300 from Morocco. And those were the biggest numbers.

And maybe you think Muslims stopped coming to Jerusalem, their “third holiest city,” after Israel reunified it in 1967. Quite the opposite. There was scarcely any interest in Jerusalem when Jordan controlled Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Even King Hussein never visited Jerusalem during the time he controlled part of the city for two decades.

If you want to go back further, before the first Zionist Aliyah, you can see what the Dome of the Rock circa 1875 looked like – abandoned, in total disrepair, unvisited. In fact, it didn’t get its famous gold-plated roof until the 1950s under Jordanian control, and it had to be redone in 1993 under Israeli authority.

While we’re starting to travel back in history, let’s look for Jerusalem in the Quran. Let me save you some time. You can stop looking. You won’t find it. It’s not there, though a passage we read in the Quran did indeed inspire the building of Al-Aqsa.

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The Muslim “claim” to Jerusalem is based on what is written in the Quran in Sura 17:1, which says, “Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the Sacred Mosque to the Furthest Mosque.” How did this “Furthest Mosque” become the one visited by Muhammad in a dream in which he rode a flying camel or horse?

In Muhammad’s lifetime, Jerusalem was occupied by the Byzantine Empire. While Muhammad died in 632, Jerusalem was captured by Muslims in 638. When they came, of course, there was no mosque and no Dome of the Rock anywhere in Jerusalem, only churches. One of those churches is believed to have been built atop the Temple Mount. It may have even been converted into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In fact, both the dome and the mosque display undeniably noticeable Byzantine architectural influences.

When rivals of Muhammad’s successors captured Jerusalem from the Christians, they first built the Dome of the Rock, a shrine the conquerors believed to have been the site of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 A.D. The dome was completed in 691 and the Al-Aqsa Mosque some 20 years later, or some 80 years after the death of Muhammad. The “ascension” of Muhammad from the rock under the dome is believed to have been conjured during this period by Khalif Omar, who sought to construct a new holy site to rival the one in Mecca.

Nevertheless, the idea of establishing this shrine and the Al-Aqsa mosque atop the old Temple Mount as permanent Islamic holy places did not catch on, as we can see by comparing them to others in Mecca, Medina, Najaf, and Karbala.

In fact, not through the entire time of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, which controlled Jerusalem until World War I, and not until 1929, did the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque stir any passionate interest in Islam. And that was thanks to Adolf Hitler’s Muslim friend, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who reminded his radical followers of Muhammad’s “Night Journey.” He stoked the myth to initiate riots that year.

Then, another dreamer, after the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel reunified Jerusalem under its control, Yasser Arafat, used the shrines to stir Islam’s claim to the city, which he called “Al-Quds.” Arafat also launched the lie that no Jewish Temple ever rested atop the Temple Mount, though that is precisely why both the dome and the mosque were built there on what Omar believed to be the Temple’s very foundation.

On one level, the propaganda coup has fooled most of the world – to such an extent that most Muslims believe the Al-Quds myth. They riot for it all over the world. They commit terrorism in the name of “liberating” it. They boycott, divest, impose sanctions, throw stones, launch missiles, start intifadas and more.

But, one thing they don’t do? They don’t visit. They don’t do pilgrimages. Go figure.

Reprinted with author’s permission from WND

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‘No Cessation of Hostilities’ in Syria Despite Ceasefire Push: UN Secretary-General

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 00:00

Addressing the United Nations (UN) Security Council, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that there has been no cessation of hostilities in Syria despite a demand for a 30-day ceasefire in the war-torn country.

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Christian Beliefs Help Drive American Support For Israel To Record Highs: Gallup

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 11:00

A Gallup Poll published on Tuesday showed that support for Israel among the American population is at an all-time high, equal to the previous record reached in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.

“Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend,” the polling research company said in the report titled, “Americans Remain Staunchly in Israel’s Corner.”

Sixty-four percent of respondents said that in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, their sympathies lie more with the Israelis while just 19 percent said they sympathize more with the Palestinians instead.

The rising support for Israel was primarily fuelled by the increase in support for Israel from the Republican electorate.  In February 2001, only 59 percent of Republicans favored Israel. By the onset of the 2003 war in Iraq, that statistic rose to 77 percent and continued to go up until the current level of Republican support at 87 percent.

Gallup attributes this trend to Christian beliefs and principles that are held by many Republicans.

“Republicans have consistently shown greater support than Democrats for Israel, partly because of conservative Christians’ beliefs about the biblical significance of Israel,” the polling organization wrote.

“Another key factor in the especially wide gap since 2002 is likely Israel’s strong backing of the United States at the start of the Iraq War in 2003 and the strong support that Republican President George W. Bush showed for the Jewish state.”

Other parts of the American electorate also saw a bump in support for Israel, though nowhere near that of Republicans.

While 42 percent of Democrats supported Israel in 2001, it now stands at 49 percent. Political Independents experienced one percentage jump higher than Democrats, with 51 percent supporting Israel in 2001 with the current level standing at 59 percent.

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The percentage of Americans that included all those who sympathize with both sides, refuse to sympathize with either side or who have no opinion at all is at a low of 16 percent, which indicates that more Americans are becoming invested in adopting a position on the conflict.

Almost twice as many Americans (50 percent) felt that more pressure should be put on the Palestinians in negotiations than on Israel (27 percent).

Israel’s reputation among Americans far outweighs that of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Seventy-four percent of US adults view Israel favorably, and 23 percent view it unfavorably. In contrast, 21 percent view the PA favorably and 71 percent, unfavorably.

While support for the PA remains at very low levels, the current polling results show an improvement for the PA. This marks the second consecutive year in which the PA’s favorability ratings have been above 20 percent, following six years of being below that percentage.

The poll also showed that Israel received higher favorability ratings from adults aged 55 and older (80 percent) than those aged 35-54 (72 percent) and 18-34 (65 percent). Conversely, the PA received better ratings from adults aged 18-34 (31 percent favorable) than those aged 35-54 (15 percent) as well as those 55 and older (18 percent).

The poll was conducted between February 1 and 10 and included a random sample of 1,044 US adults in all 50 states and Washington, DC. It has a margin of error of four percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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Kurdish Christians Facing Forced Conversions in Syria’s Afrin Province

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 09:00

Armed Syrian militias allied with Turkey have reportedly been demanding that Kurdish Christians in Afrin province convert to Islam or face execution. In a video circulated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a militia fighter described the Kurds as “infidels” and offered them a choice between converting to Islam or facing decapitation.

“By Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers,” said the man. “But if you refuse, then we see.”

“The video is 100 percent authentic,” Rami Abdulrahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization that released the video told The Independent. Abdulrahman adding that he is also concerned about the fate of some Yazidi villages in Afrin captured by the advancing Turkish forces. Abdulrahman said he had seen videos of militants interrogating passersby, asking them how many times a day they pray.

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Such declarations and actions have often preceded mass killings in the region, and Christian groups worldwide have been frantically trying to raise awareness for the issue so that the world can take action before it’s too late.

“Turkey has invaded Afrin with its militias and a big part of the city is under siege, and inside are anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people who are surrounded and in danger,” Johannes de Jong, Director of Sallux (Formerly Christian Political Foundation for Europe) told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “We have footage of jihadists on the front line, plundering Christian houses and threatening to behead anyone who will not convert.”

De Jong stressed that Israel must do what it can in order to prevent what he could only describe as a genocide, saying that “the Kurds are Israel’s allies against ISIS. Israel should not appease Turkey by keeping silent and allowing half a million people to be slaughtered.”

On social media, footage of masses attempting to flee Afrin began circulating, alongside reports that Syrian army roadblocks on the main routes have been demanding bribes of up to $4,000 per family in order to let them pass.


Footage shows thousands of people from the Kurdish enclave of #Afrin fleeing from the ongoing Turkish military operation. #TwitterKurds

— Goran Shakhawan (@GoranShakhawan) March 12, 2018

TPS was unable to contact persons in the region as Turkish forces have reportedly shut down communications in the area.

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2017: The Year of Idolatry

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 09:00

One year ago, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi made a startling prediction that witchcraft and black magic would make a comeback in the world. A look back at the headlines of 2017 reveals a disturbing trend: the rabbi was undoubtedly correct.

In a sermon in February 2017, Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, a mystic with a strong following in Israel, warned that dark powers are re-emerging in the world, seeking to usurp God’s rule. He compared the spiritual condition in the world to Egypt just before the Exodus of the Jews.

Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi (Photo: Facebook Page of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi)

“After every plague, Pharaoh, his warlocks, and all of the idol worshippers consulted with their false gods and asked them to remove the plague. This did not help them at all until they turned and cried out to Moses and he stopped the plague in one moment. Then they understood that there was one power above which is God, and it is Him that rules the world and not the power of impurity: serving false gods, idol worship, and fortune telling.”

Remarkably, his predictions seem to be coming true. Witchcraft and idolatry are appearing with increasing frequency, sometimes in insidious manners that present this ancient evil under a multitude of guises that make it appear benign, innocent, or even a positive cultural element.

Below are examples of idolatry appearing in the world in the past year.

Witches Cursing President Trump (Shutterstock)

Just a few weeks after the rabbi’s prediction, a call went out on social media to use black magic to curse newly inaugurated President Trump. A small group gathered at midnight in front of several of the more prominent Trump-owned buildings around the country, but the organizers reported that tens of thousands participated from their homes, using arcane objects and burning candles while reciting a prearranged incantation to cast a “binding spell”. The call to action requested that the ritual be repeated every crescent moon until President Trump leaves office.

Burning Man Festival Temple of Galaxia, Burning Man (Photo via architect’s Facebook page)

What began over 30 years ago as a small campfire gathering of California artists evolved into a massive annual festival bringing almost 70,000 people to the middle of the desert in Nevada. The upcoming festival in August will feature a structure described as a Temple of the Greek goddess Gaia, who also appears prominently in paganism.

Billed as a cultural gathering, the festival attracts artists and celebrities. Touted as a secular event, many of Burning Man’s major elements are rooted in idolatry. Regular Burning Man installments are a Temple to the Hindu goddess Shiva and a bus decorated in the form of a seven-headed dragon which, in the New Testament, represents Satan. The massive camp is set up to form a massive pentagram in the desert.

Named for a massive wood effigy burned at the end of the festival, the burning man is actually a Celtic custom based on the original pagan human sacrifices. This pagan reference came true last year when a man died after running into the flames.

Catharsis on the Mall Brings Paganism to Washington DC A paper-mache sculpture of “Lord Shiva Natarja”, a Hindu god, featured during the Catharsis on the Mall festival. (Facebook)

A Burning Man-inspired event brought paganism to the heart of democracy: the Washington Mall. The three-day event was held in November. It featured all of the pagan trappings of its desert counterpart but the organizers also proposed a 45-foot tall, 16,000 pound, steel sculpture of a naked woman titled “R-evolution” that would stand in front of the Washington Monument, deliberately facing the White House. A permit was issued for the sculpture but, blessedly, later revoked.

The Re-Appearing Arch of Palmyra Connecting New World Order With Ba’al A model of the arch from the Temple of Ba’al was erected in Dubai for the World Government Summit. (Screenshot)

After the Islamic State (ISIS) destroyed the famous archaeological site in Palmyra Syria, the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a Harvard-based organization for the preservation of archaeological structures, used 3-D printing technology to recreate the 15 meter tall stone arch that had stood at the site for over 1,800 years. The arch was built as a Roman Victory Arch in front of the temple of Ba’al, a pagan god mentioned frequently in the Bible.

The replica arch first appeared in April 2016 in London’s Trafalgar Square for UNESCO’s World Heritage week, which coincided with Beltane, the major festival for pagans who worship Ba’al. It reappeared in New York City in September of that year.

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The arch was erected once again to inaugurate the World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2017. The summit brings together leaders in business, technology, and politics from around the world.

The arch was then erected in Italy in May for the G7 Summit, a meeting of the leaders of the seven largest economies in the world representing more than 64 percent of the net global wealth.

UNESCO: Spreading Paganism to the World UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. (Novikov Aleksey /

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was formed to promote peace and security through science and education. Nowhere in its charter does it say the organization should deal in idolatry but last year, pagan gods featured prominently in two of its exhibitions.

A statue of the Roman goddess Athena on display in Nashville, Tennessee. (Ron Cogswell/Flickr)

In November 2017, The United Arab Emirates, now a sponsor of the Palmyra Arch reproduction, inaugurated the Digital Archaeology Exhibition, “The Spirit in the Stone”, at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City. The IDA, creators of the arch, used the same 3-D printing process to reproduce a statue of the Roman goddess Athena, which they described as symbolizing the UNESCO values of “reason, refuge and the rule of law”. Athena was, in fact, the Roman goddess of war, as shown by the statue holding a spear.

Lion of al-Lat (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

In January, UNESCO-funded reconstruction of the Lion of al-Lāt, an ancient statue from the Palmyra site partially destroyed by ISIS, was completed with the help of the Institute of Digital Archaeology. The ancient statue, almost 11 feet tall and weighing 15 tons, also stood in the Palmyra Temple and now stands in the National Museum of Damascus.

Biblical scholars associate Al-Lat with the goddess of jealousy and fury despised by the Prophet Ezekiel.

And He said to me, “O mortal, turn your eyes northward.” I turned my eyes northward, and there, north of the gate of the mizbayach, was that infuriating image on the approach. Ezekiel 8:5

Satanic Fashion Show

In September, a Muslim fashion designer decorated a 1,000-year-old London church in a Satanic motif for her show featuring transvestite models dressed as the devil. The Turkish designer, Dilara Findikoglu, is an up-and-coming star in the fashion world with many celebrities wearing her creations.

New AI Religion (Shutterstock)

A new form of idolatry was added this year, supplementing the myriad forms of sinful worship described in the Bible. Anthony Levandowski, a high-tech millionaire, filed “Way of the Future” with the Internal Revenue Service as an official religion. The new religion is dedicated to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

Levandowski’s new religion should not be confused with Jediism, a religion based on the fictitious Jedi beliefs as portrayed in the Star Wars movie series. Jediism was established in 2001 and has hundreds of thousands of adherents worldwide.

Iceland’s Dedicates First Pagan Temple to Norse Gods in 1,000 Years “Thor’s Fight With the Giants”, Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872. (Wikimedia Commons)

The year ended on an idolatrous note with the Asatru Society, the religious organization that worships the Norse gods in Iceland, announcing the imminent completion of construction of the first temple to the Norse gods in 1,000 years. The pagan Norse religion has been making a comeback in recent years, fueled at least in part by its acceptance of homosexuality. A minor tourist industry has cropped up for foreigners who come to Iceland to have Asatru priests perform their same-sex wedding.

The Norse religion, based on Germanic paganism, is now a part of mainstream American pop culture. in 1962 when Marvel Comics began publishing a comic book series featuring the god Thor and other characters from the Norse pantheon. In 2011, Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures released the movie “Thor”, based on the comic book. That was followed by two more movies, the most recent, “Ragnarok”, based on Norse eschatology.

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