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Italy: “The Party is Over” for Illegal Migrants

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 00:00

An estimated 700,000 migrants have arrived in Italy during the past five years. — International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“There are not enough homes or jobs for Italians, let alone for half the African continent.” — Matteo Salvini, Interior Minister, Italy.

This law [Article 19 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights] effectively prevents Italy and other EU members from deporting migrants to most countries in the Muslim world.

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has vowed to cut aid money for migrants and to deport those who illegally are in the country.

“Open doors in Italy for the right people and a one-way ticket out for those who come here to make trouble and think that we will provide for them,” Salvini said in the Lombardy region, home to a quarter of the total foreign population in Italy. “One of our top priorities will be deportation.”

Salvini, leader of the nationalist League (Lega) party, formed a new coalition government with the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) on June 1. The government’s program, outlined in a 39-page action plan, promises to crack down on illegal immigration and to deport up to 500,000 undocumented migrants.

“The party is over for illegal immigrants,” Salvini said at a June 2 rally in Vicenza. “They will have to pack their bags, in a polite and calm manner, but they will have to go. Refugees escaping from war are welcome, but all others must leave.”

From left to right: Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Labor and Industry and Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio on June 1, 2018 in Rome. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)

On June 3, Salvini visited Sicily, one of the main landing points in Europe for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa. He said:

“Enough of Sicily being the refugee camp of Europe. I will not stand by and do nothing while there are landings after landings of migrants. We need deportation centres.

“There are not enough homes or jobs for Italians, let alone for half the African continent. We need to use common sense.”

Salvini also accused Tunisian authorities of deliberately sending criminals to Italy:

“Tunisia is a free and democratic country that is not exporting gentlemen but often willingly exports convicts. I will speak to my Tunisian counterpart, it does not seem to me that there are wars, pestilence or famine in Tunisia.”

Italy is the main European gateway for migrants arriving by sea: 119,369 arrived by sea in 2017 and 181,436 in 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). An estimated 700,000 migrants have arrived in Italy during the past five years.

Italy has been the main point of entry to Europe since the EU-Turkey migrant deal, signed in March 2016, shut off the route from Turkey to Greece, at one time the preferred point of entry to Europe for migrants from Asia and the Middle East.

In February 2017, Italy signed a migrant deal with Libya to intercept boats and return migrants to Libya. The deal, in which Italy committed to equipping and financing the Libyan coast guard, resulted in a 75% decrease in arrivals during the summer of 2017. Since the beginning of 2018, however, more than 13,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya. Those numbers are expected to increase during the summer as the weather improves.

Meanwhile, Italy deported only 6,514 migrants in 2017, and 5,817 in 2016. The new government has pledged to speed up deportations by converting migrant reception centers into deportation centers. Deportations, however, are expensive and complex.

According to Italian law, for example, at least two agents must escort each deportee in an elaborate operation. The newspaper La Repubblica described a recent deportation operation of 29 Tunisians, who were escorted on an aircraft chartered from Bulgaria by 74 government agents, including doctors, nurses, armed police and unarmed plainclothes officers, at a total cost of €115,000 ($135,000), or €3,965 per deportee.

At this rate, the new government’s pledge to deport 500,000 migrants would cost Italian taxpayers nearly €2 billion ($2.3 billion).

The previous government allotted around five billion euros to pay for expenses related to the migrant crisis in 2018: 20% is for rescues at sea; 15% for health care, and 65% for migrant reception centres, which currently host around 200,000 people.

The new government has said that it wants to divert some of the funds allotted for the reception centers to pay for deportations. In addition to the financial costs, Italy faces legal hurdles that make mass deportations nearly impossible.

Article 19, Paragraph 2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights states:

“No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

This law effectively prevents Italy and other EU members from deporting migrants to most countries in the Muslim world.

The new government has also pledged to negotiate more bilateral deportation agreements. Italy currently has deportation agreements with only five countries: Egypt, Gambia, Nigeria, Sudan and Tunisia. Migrants cannot be deported without approval from the states of origin.

Salvini has also said that Italy will reject proposed changes to the Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. The Dublin Regulation will be the focus of a meeting between the interior ministers of the 28 EU members states in Luxembourg on June 4.

Italy’s geographic location means that it has borne disproportionate responsibility for illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East, but Salvini said that other EU member states are resisting changes that would require them to share the burden: “They want to weigh down the Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Spain, giving us thousands of more migrants for a period ten years.”

EU law currently requires member states to be financially responsible for migrants arriving in their countries for a period of ten years. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, want that responsibility to be reduced to eight years, but Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain want to lessen it to a maximum of two years.

Meanwhile, pro-EU, pro-mass migration and pro-multiculturalism media outlets have gone into attack mode in an effort to undermine the new Italian government.

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The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published a cover which featured a fork of spaghetti with one piece dangling as a noose: “Italy is destroying itself — and dragging down Europe with it.” It wrote, in apocalyptic terms:

“The EU must adopt a united stance on Donald Trump, whose misguided policies threaten both Europe’s security and prosperity. Trump is forcing Europe into a trade war and, worse yet, he threatens to scrap the postwar international order that enabled the Europeans to find their place in the world — through trade and the structures of the World Trade Organization and the security it found in the form of NATO.

“But how can the EU wage a trade war if Italy threatens to spiral into chaos? At a time when the EU could be proving itself as an alternative to Trump’s unilateralism…Europe may instead be facing months, if not years, of squabbling over a possible bailout for Italy…. If this country teeters, it will shake the entire architecture of the European Union.

“The Italy crisis is a convergence of the two greatest challenges facing the EU: the economic threat to the eurozone and the erosion of shared values and norms. If the populists now govern in Italy, the country could steer itself on a course of constant confrontation with Brussels — by for example, expressing its solidarity on key issues with right-wing populists in France, Austria or Finland or with the EU-critical governments in Hungary and Poland.

“Or it could take the side of half or full-on autocrats like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and undermine European unity in the process. Some potential issues where it could do so include the Iran agreement, the trade tariffs imposed by Trump, the extension of sanctions against Russia, climate policy or even the European approach to China.

“The revival of nationalism in Europe, particularly in Italy, is bad news for the Continent. If the EU ever had one great, overarching goal, then it was to counter national self-interest with the vision of a transnational community of values. What will hold Europe together if that foundation is shaken?”

The New York Times wrote:

“The xenophobic League and the out-with-the-old-order Five Star Movement — bring together bigotry and incompetence to an unusual degree. They are a miserable bunch borne aloft on the global anti-liberal tide.”

And again:

“Matteo Salvini — the leader of the League and the incoming deputy prime minister and interior minister — is vowing a crackdown on migration and the expulsion of up to 500,000 migrants already in Italy.

“That could force Brussels to start an Article 7 process against Italy for breaking the fundamental commitments to the rule of law.

“And the new Italian leaders have already expressed their desire to improve relations and trade with Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“That may mean that the European Union is unable to renew economic sanctions against Russia stemming from its behavior abroad, including its annexation of Crimea, violation of the Minsk accords in eastern Ukraine and the assassination attempt on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, which the Kremlin continues to deny.

Enter George Soros, a billionaire Hungarian-American committed to mass migration in Europe, who blamed Russia for interfering in the Italian election:

“I am very concerned about the proximity of the new coalition government to Russia. They said that they are in favor of the cancellation of sanctions against Russia…. There is a close relationship between Matteo Salvini and Vladimir Putin. I do not know if Putin actually finances his party, but Italian public opinion has the right to know if Salvini is on Putin’s pay check.”

After the new Italian government was formed, Soros called for more open borders:

“Until recently, the majority of migrants could move to the countries of northern Europe, their true destination. Then both France and Austria closed the borders and the migrants found themselves stuck in Italy…. This was the main reason why the League did so well in the last election.

“The EU must change the existing regulations and pay a large part of what is needed to integrate and support the migrants that are stuck in Italy in such an out-of-proportion proportion.”

Salvini replied:

“We have never received a lira, a euro or a ruble from Russia. I think Putin is one of the best statesmen around and I am ashamed of the fact that Italy has invited an unscrupulous speculator like Mr. Soros to speak here.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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JOEL 3:1

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 08:34

Like the other prophets of the Bible, Yoel (Joel) prophecies of the final redemption. In the final chapters of the book, Yoel uses pouring rain as a metaphor for an outpouring of Hashem’s (God) spirit among the people as the “day of Hashem”, judgement day, approaches. Jewish tradition believes that Yoel’s prophecy applies only to the Children of Israel who are residing in the Land of Israel. Only in Israel can one reach the spiritual heights necessary to communicate directly with Hashem. The prophet concludes with a vision of the restoration of the Land of Israel and the People of Israel dwelling securely within its borders. With the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel just a few weeks away, the fulfillment of the prophecies of Yoel has never been more obvious. Pictured above is a family of young and old praying together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of the holiest and most revered locations in the Land of Israel.

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Rioters in Gaza Resume Arson Kite Attacks Against Israel

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 06:30

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip once again launched burning kites at civilian communities on the Israeli side of the border Tuesday, setting hundreds of dunams of farmland alight adjacent to Kibbutz Nir Am, Sapir College and Netiv Ha’Asara.

Ofer Liberman, the general manager of Nir Am’s farming operation, said the kibbutz has sustained dozens of kite attacks over the past month, in addition to rocket and mortar attacks that have set fire to the kibbutz wheat fields in recent years. He said the attacks have cost the kibbutz more than NIS 1 million in economic damages, but added that the challenge here is far greater than dollars and cents.

“Look at this field,” he told TPS while surveying the damage from the latest attack. “They burned about 50 dunams – that’s about NIS 25,000 shekels in economic losses. But that can be made up with one shipment of wheat from Europe or the United States.

“The far more serious issue is the notion of Israel’s sovereignty here. That’s why the most important thing I do every morning is to raise the Israeli flag onto the tractors. I want the Palestinians to know and understand that we aren’t going anywhere.”

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Despite the community’s steadfast commitment to developing the area – Nir Am is currently building 45 new housing units, and Liberman said the new homes have been completely taken by young families seeking membership in the kibbutz, meaning they see a long-term future here.

Still, the threat posed by the burning kites is unlike the challenge that border communities have faced from cross-border missiles since the year 2000, for the simple fact that they appear to be undetectable until it is too late to stop them: Standing in the community’s garage, just 500 meters from the wheat field, there was no indication of an attack until Liberman looked over the road and saw plume of black smoke rising. When we arrived less than five minutes later, the field was half-burned; 10 minutes later the thriving wheat crop had turned to ash.

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Israel Security Agency Thwarted Attempts on Lives of Netanyahu, Jerusalem’s Mayor

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 05:30

Israel’s Shin Bet security services revealed on Tuesday that they succeeded in thwarting an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in April.

Eastern Jerusalem Israeli Arab Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh from the Shuafat neighborhood was arrested on April 24, and two more suspects were arrested in the following weeks, but the Shin Bet would not identify them.

The Shin Bet accused Rashdeh of plotting with terror operatives from the Syrian-based, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) to murder Netanyahu and Barkat, and to target the US consulate in Jerusalem – which is now the US embassy – as well as a Canadian security delegation who were in Jerusalem to train Palestinian Authority security forces operating in Judea and Samaria.

Security officials said Rashdeh intended to bring another terrorist from Jordan, and had already begun gathering information on his targets.

Rashdeh has been arrested for terror-related acts in the past.

“Our internal security agency is one of the best in the world,” Barkat said in a statement. “Throughout their handling of this threat, I was updated and knew that the Shin Bet was in the picture and that the police were in the field. I could trust in them and sleep soundly and securely.”

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The PFLP-GC is responsible for multiple savage terror attacks. Perhaps its most famous involved the murder of nine Israeli school children and three adults in a school bus in 1970 on the road to Moshav Avivim. The terror group shot two rocket-propelled grenades at the bus and then continued to fire at the vehicle after it crashed, in one of its first terror attacks.

Also in 1970, the group detonated two-inflight airliners. A Swissair flight to Tel Aviv killed 41 people, and an Austrian Airlines flight from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv, which managed to make an emergency landing.

In 1974, the group massacred 18 people, including 9 children, in Kiryat Shemona during the Passover holiday.

The group went underground in the 1980s, but began operating again during the Syrian civil war.

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Preempting Global Warming Before Hurricane Season 2018: Rabbi

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 04:30

As the 2018 hurricane season begins with dire predictions evoking images of last year’s disasters, one rabbi suggests a back door solution to changing God’s will before the storms hit.

“The globe is telling us that we need a global warming of human relations,” said Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, a prominent Jewish educator and bestselling author, to Breaking Israel News. “This may actually affect the weather.”

The 2018 hurricane season began on Friday, leading people on the Atlantic seaboard to turn their eyes skyward and wonder if the next few months will be a repeat of last summer’s near-apocalyptic nightmare. Three major hurricanes made landfall last summer, leaving over $282 billion in damages in their wake and making 2017 the costliest hurricane season in history.  following a dramatic total solar eclipse that transversed the continental US. Last September, Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 people in Puerto Rico.

Although it is impossible to predict weather with any certainty, a taste of things-to-come came last Tuesday when Hurricane Alberto hit North Carolina, killing five people.

Looking forward, the Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) Consortium, a group of three major weather forecasting institutions, predicted an above-average season in 2018 with seven hurricanes, three of them major. Due to recent developments in atmospheric conditions, TSR revised their forecast last week to four hurricanes, one of them major.

But even the optimistic climatologists are concerned about the future with many warning that global warming may already be making storms more extreme.  Scientists have noted a dramatic increase in hurricane precipitation, which they credit with drastically increasing Hurricane Harvey’s already extreme rainfall. Researchers attribute this increased rainfall in tropical storms to human-induced atmospheric changes (global warming).

A study into the effects of global warming on hurricanes published in Science in 2016 predicted that in the future, this phenomenon will be most pronounced in bad hurricanes, making them even worse.

“We thus expect tropical cyclone intensities to increase with warming, both on average and at the high end of the scale, so that the strongest future storms will exceed the strength of any in the past,” the study concluded.

This increase in the intensity of tropical storms is so significant that a group of climate scientists at a conference in New Zealand in February suggested adding a sixth category to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which until now has rated hurricanes on a scale of one to five, topping out at a mere 200 mph wind-speed. New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw, referred to Cyclone Winston in 2016, the strongest on record in the southern hemisphere.

“The international cyclone rankings don’t go higher than category five. The only reason it wasn’t a category-six cyclone is because we don’t have a category six, but we might need one in the future,” Shaw told the conference.

There are currently no scientific methods for influencing the weather, and international conventions have struggled in vain to find solutions for climate change. But Rabbi Apisdorf, suggested a course of action that is within reach and just may influence the course of catastrophic storm systems.

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“Global warming is a surface level headline that is telling us precisely what we really need: a deep spiritual global warming,” Rabbi Apisdorf told Breaking Israel News, explaining that sometimes a tragedy can be God’s way of bringing something out from the human heart.

“The hurricanes, for all their tragedy and suffering, gave us the opportunity to come together, to show a deep level of caring Hashem does not normally require from us,” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “These awful circumstances draw out from us things we didn’t know were there, a warming of our hearts.”

The rabbi cited cases of Israelis flying to Houston to help restore churches, driving across the US to deliver diapers to families made homeless by the storms and IDF medics and rescue teams flying to Mexico after earthquakes.

“We don’t want to see it happen that way, but it is a blessed thing that is does happen,” the rabbi said. “We need to warm up towards each other before the volume is increased to make us hear the message.”

‘Butterfly Effect’ of Prayer

Skeptics may scoff at Rabbi Apisdorf’s suggestion that actions and even intentions can prevent catastrophic hurricanes or global warming. But it has been postulated in meteorological science that tiny and oblique efforts can affect entire weather patterns. Edward Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist, discovered that small factors could have drastic effects on regional weather conditions.

“One flap of a sea gull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever,” Lorenz wrote in his 1963 paper, titled Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. “The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.”’

Lorenz’s theory, known in popular culture as “the butterfly effect,” is generally accepted to be true and has been demonstrated experimentally.

“If this is true of infinitesimal physical forces, how much more so for the human consciousness when expressed in words and actions? This is even more true when we attach ourselves to the divine will,” Rabbi Apisdorf said.

Rabbi Apisdorf emphasized that human will not only had the power to change the weather but also the ability to change the divine will in bringing the final redemption. He the concept of B’Eeta Achishena (I will speed it up in its time) taken from a verse in Isaiah.

The smallest shall become a clan; The least, a mighty nation. I Hashem will speed it in due time. Isaiah 60:22

The concept of B’Eeta Achishena  is used by rabbis and Jewish theologians to describe the tension between God’s greater plan in light of Man’s will and actions. This is especially relevant in reference to the Messiah and Man’s actions affecting when the Messiah will arrive.

“Man can actually change the divine plan by doing teshuva (repentance),” Rabbi Apisdorf said. “It is a spiritual butterfly effect. It just may be that a global warming of our hearts can preempt the effects of atmospheric global warming.”

But Rabbi Apisdorf had a specific vision for what this “global warming of hearts” would entail.

“This doesn’t mean just showing up at synagogue or church,” he cautioned. “It is us, as people, rediscovering our family-ness, our deep essential connectedness to God and to each other.”

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Israel Strikes Back After 100 Rocket Attacks from Gaza

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 04:01

“This is full force terror. Israel will defend itself,” said Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett following an increase in rocket fire from Gaza.

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IDF Faces Continued Violence on Israel-Gaza Border

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 03:30

The Israel-Gaza security fence has been a hotbed of violence since the “March of Returns” riots began on March 30.

Violent clashes between the IDF and Palestinian rioters, though they ebb and flow in severity, have become routine over the past two months. Additionally, terrorist organizations are firing rockets into Israel. A recent rocket hit in the yard of a southern Israeli preschool.

“The weekend’s events are a continuation of Hamas’ repeated attempts to turn the area next to the security fence into a violent zone both above and below ground, conduct terror attacks, damage security infrastructure, and endanger lives of Israel civilians and IDF soldiers,” an IDF Spokesperson said on June 2.


Dr. John A.I Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, explained to Breaking Israel News that the violence on the Israel-Gaza border is ongoing, even if much of the international media does not report on daily encounters.

“Day and night, the IDF is standing guard at one of the most tense and volatile borders in the world,” said Grossman. “Over the past few days in particular, the IDF is working around the clock putting out fires and responding to emergency situations.”

Thousands of Palestinian rioters gathered in five separate locations along the Israel-Gaza security fence last Friday afternoon. In addition to hurling burning tires, fire bombs, and stones towards IDF forces, shots were fired at an IDF vehicle. A terrorist was spotted planting a grenade on the Israel-Gaza border during the riots. The grenade exploded but did not cause any casualties or injuries to IDF personnel.

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On Sunday, the violence was still at a peak. Terrorist groups fired rockets into Israel in the morning. The Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted three projectiles, but sirens sounded in the southern town of Sderot and surrounding areas, forcing thousands of Israelis to seek cover in bomb shelters.

In response to the rocket fire, the Israeli Air Force attacked five terror targets in Gaza.

“This strike was conducted in response to the projectiles which were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel last night, in addition to the acts of terror approved and led by the Hamas terror organization throughout the weekend,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s unit.

The airstrikes destroyed two rocket and weapon manufacturing facilities, an urban warfare training facility and infrastructure belonging to Hamas’ naval unit in the Gaza Strip.


“Kite Terrorism,” in which incendiary kites are flown from Gaza into Israel, has been has become a new and common act of terror over the past few weeks. Burning kites land in Israeli fields and cause significant damage.

Saturday afternoon saw the largest fire in Israel as the result of “kite terrorism” to date. The Karmia Nature Reserve caught fire from an incendiary kite flown from Gaza. The fire required the efforts of 12 firefighting trams and four air tankers to be extinguished.

Some 75 acres of agricultural land was destroyed in the attack.

On Sunday, Palestinian terrorists breached the Israel-Gaza border. The terrorists set fire to IDF military supplies and other equipment used in the construction of terror tunnel barriers between Israel and Gaza. The terrorists managed to return to the Gaza Strip unharmed.

On Monday, two Palestinians were stopped while trying to cross into Israel. One terrorist was killed, and the second apprehended by IDF Forces. The pair of terrorists was carrying an axe, and the IDF is being credited with preventing a terror attack on Israel soil.

“Every day presents a new and difficult set of challenges for our forces on the Israel-Gaza border,” said Grossman. “During these stressful times, we must offer emotional and physical support to the soldiers of the IDF.”

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Israel Pledges Volcano Relief Aid to Guatemala

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:30

In the wake of a deadly volcanic eruption that killed at least 25 people in Guatemala, Israel will send emergency-aid money for supplies.

There is currently no report as to whether Israel will send search-and-rescue and medical teams to the country, whose Volcan deFuego erupted before noon on Sunday, sending lava pouring down streets by 4 p.m. At least 18 bodies were found in the rural community of San Miguel Los Lotes, with homes reportedly burning in El Rodeo, approximately 37 miles southwest of the nation’s capital, Guatemala City.

Dramatic footage showed travelers attempting to escape the volcano fleeing for their lives as lava streamed onto a highway between Sacatepequez and Escuintla.

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Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it would send an initial $10,00 to the country to buy medical supplies, food and blankets for locals affected by the eruption, and would “carry out an evaluation with the Guatemalan authorities” regarding further support.

Israel’s ties with Guatemala were strengthened considerably last month when President Jimmy Morales made good on his promise to move the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem. A festive grand opening ceremony at the Malha Technological Park was attended by Morales alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just two days after the United States inaugurated its own embassy in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu hailed the event as “the beginning of something extraordinary,” with Morales calling the Israel-Guatemala relationship a “love between brothers.”

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Iran’s response: the ‘Strategy of Tension’

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:00

The United States and its allies are currently in the opening stages of the pursuit of a strategy to contain and roll back the Islamic Republic of Iran from a number of points in the Middle East.  This strategy is set to include an economic element (renewed sanctions, a military aspect (involving Israeli action against Iran in Syria, and the Saudi/UAE campaign against the Houthis in Yemen, and a primarily political effort (in Iraq and to a lesser extent in Lebanon).

Iran can be expected to respond with a counter-strategy of its own, designed to stymy and frustrate western and allied efforts.  What form will this Iranian response take?  What assets does Iran possess in the furtherance of this goal?

First of all, it is worth noting what Iran does not have:  Teheran is deficient in conventional military power, and as such is especially vulnerable when challenged in this arena.  The Iranians have neglected conventional military spending, in favor of emphasis on their missile program, and their expertise in the irregular warfare methods of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Qods Force.

In Syria over the last months, Israel has demonstrated that Iran has no adequate conventional response to Israeli air actions.

In Yemen in recent days, as government forces close in on the vital Hodaida port, so Iran’s weakness in this field is once more revealed.  Hodaida, held by the Houthis, is the main conduit for Iranian supplies to the rebels.  It is likely to fall in the period ahead.

Economic sanctions may also limit Iran’s ability to finance its various proxies.  Nevertheless, Iran possesses in the Qods Force of the IRGC a doctrine and praxis for the establishment, assembling and utilization of proxy political-military forces which still has no serious rival in the region.  It will be these assets and these methods which Teheran will be seeking to utilize to strike back at its enemies in the period ahead.

In Lebanon, thanks entirely to the use of these methods, Iran is at its strongest.  There is no prospect in the immediate future for Iran’s opponents to challenge Teheran’s de facto domination of this country through its proxy Hizballah.  Recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggest the beginnings of an acknowledgement by the US that Lebanon  is  effectively controlled by Hizballah.  But it is difficult to locate within the country any mechanism today capable of seriously challenging the Shia Islamist party.

The recent events in Gaza may well offer an example of the kind of options available to Iran in its efforts to counter US and allied moves against it.  Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a wholly owned franchise of the IRGC.  While the apparent ‘motive’ for its commencement of rocket fire was the killing of three of its militants by the IDF after a failed IED attack.  This incident, however,  would not normally have been of sufficient magnitude to generate the largest barrage of rockets since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.  It is probable, therefore, that the escalation in Gaza this week was an example of Iran’s ability to mobilize a proxy on one front to place pressure on an adversary, as a result of events taking place in another arena.

Yet this week’s events also demonstrate Iran’s limitations.  Hamas is not a wholly owned franchise of Teheran.  And the joint interest of Israel, Hamas and Egypt in avoiding a descent to a 2014 style conflagration served to put a lid on the escalation.

As noted above, in Syria, Iran has so far found no adequate response to Israel’s intelligence domination, and its willingness to take air action against Iranian infrastructure.

Further east, however,  in the Kurdish-administered, US-dominated 30% of Syria east of the Euphrates, the Iranians may find an arena more to their liking.  Here, a fledgling, US-associated and Kurdish dominated authority rules over a population of about 4 million people, including many Sunni Arabs.   In this situation, the IRGC’s methods of agitation, assassinations, the fomenting of unrest from below are directly relevant.

Unidentified gunmen are already operating in this area.  A prominent Kurdish official, Omar Alloush, was assassinated on March 15th.  Graffiti denouncing ‘Ocalan’s dogs’ has appeared in Arab-majority Raqqa city.   This week, demonstrations took place at four locations across the city demanding that the Kurdish dominated YPG quit the area.

It is more usual to attribute the guiding hand behind this activity to Turkish state bodies, rather than Iran.  But an IRGC officer looking for vulnerabilities and areas of potential counter pressure on the US and its allies in the neighborhood would surely focus his eyes on this US guaranteed enclave.

More broadly, while Israeli air action may make the Iranians think twice in terms of deployment of heavy weapons systems in Syria, the broader Iranian project of establishing local client militias and stationing proxy forces on Syria soil remains largely untouched and invulnerable to Israeli air action.

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Similarly, in Iraq, the ongoing coalition negotiations and Iran’s domination of the Popular Mobilization Units and their political iteration the Fatah list offers Teheran ample scope for action. Fatah came second in the elections, with 47 seats to 54 for Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon list.  Much will depend on the nature of the government that will emerge from the 90 day coalition building period now under way.

But whatever coalition emerges, the independent, Iran-controlled, armed element is there to stay in Iraq.  For Iran, a controlling influence in Iraq is a necessity, not a luxury. And with Saudi efforts to build influence in the country under way, this looks set to form a central arena for competition.

Again, the evidence of recent years shows that where Iran enjoys an advantage over its rivals in such arenas is in its greater ability to utilize paramilitary and terrorist methods.   There are already some indications of possible targeting of elements linked to the Sairoon list.  Unknown assailants bombed two offices linked to the Sadrists on May 15th.   One was placed at an office of the Saraya al-Salam, the Sadrist militia. The other targeted a religious organization linked to Sadr, Malek al-Ashtar.  In addition, on May 25, a double IED attack on the Iraqi Communist Party’s headquarters in Baghdad took place. No group has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks.

The evidence suggests that Iran’s methods are at their strongest where it can take on its opponents within a populated area, in a mixed political and military context, and weakest where it faces conventional resistance and a hard border separating it from its enemies.  This means that in the emergent contest, Iran is strongest in Lebanon and regime-controlled Syria, powerful and dangerous in Iraq and potentially in the Kurdish controlled, US guaranteed part of Syria, and weaker and with fewer options in Yemen and Gaza.

Iran enjoyed and benefited from the moment when the Arab world was at its most fragmented, and the west at its most rudderless.   That period may now be coming to an end. The ‘strategy of tension’, utilizing political and paramilitary means, eschewing conventional ones, remains the IRGC’s preferred method of struggle.  The period now opening up in the region will determine its continued efficacy.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jonathan Spyer

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Knesset Hearing Reveals EU Efforts to Increase Arab Control in Biblical Heartland

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 01:30

In the past three years alone, at least €42,000,000 (nearly $50 million, or NIS 175 million), half of which was contributed by the European Union, has been donated for the express purpose of facilitating Arab control over Area C. (This includes only sums reported publicly by the Palestinian Authority, the Union of Agricultural Work Committeesand/or the foreign governments and organizations involved. In fact, the undisclosed sums that have been donated for this purpose most likely far outpace the reported sums.)

On Sunday, Regavim presented hard, shocking data to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in a hearing convened by the Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria headed by Knesset member Moti Yogev. The hearing—attended by Knesset member Sharen Haskel, Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, and representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the National Security Advisor, and other key government and security personnel—was dedicated to a problem highlighted for quite some time (see for earlier discussions of the problem).

Said Yishai Hemo, field coordinator for Judea and Samaria at Regavim: “In light of the scope of the P.A.’s activities and the massive funding that enables this program, the Civil Administration must treat agricultural land seizure as a phenomenon of strategic importance, and not merely as a localized violation of law. Any other attitude toward this extensive activity means that either the authorities are burying their heads in the sand, or they are guilty of dangerous negligence.”

At the hearing, some very serious charges were leveled regarding implementation of government policy: Despite the government’s unequivocal policy regarding Area C in Judea and Samaria as being under full Israeli jurisdiction, in practice this policy has not been implemented by the body responsible to do so: the Civil Administration.

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Knesset member Moti Yogev, Subcommittee Chairman, noted that “in the last few years, we have raised the alarm in the Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, but have received very sparse practical response. For the most part, the defense establishment, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Civil Administration have ignored the issue.”

“Civilian bodies such as Regavim, which is dedicated to the preservation of State land in the Galilee, the Negev, the Jordan Valley, and Judea and Samaria, have brought the problem to the attention of the Committee, and have acted, for all intents and purposes, as the information-gathering arm of the Committee,” he continued.

“Enforcement and preventative measures, as we have reported in the past to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as well as the government’s efforts to regulate and organize Bedouin settlement, have been extremely limited, to the point of being devoid of practical results, including the failure to carry out the Supreme Court’s order to evacuate the school at Khan al Akhmar in the Adumim Bloc. Similarly, the activities of the State’s Attorney for Judea and Samaria have been limited and one-sided in terms of issuance of delimiting orders, orders regarding obstructive utilization of land and more to the detriment of Israel’s interests in Judea and Samaria. The ineffectuality of the judicial system, and its support for non-enforcement of the law, has been a critical factor in the loss of Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria.”

“The policy of the Israeli government is clear: Area C in Judea and Samaria is under the jurisdiction of the State of Israel. In practice, however, this authority has not been exercised or actualized by the body responsible to do so: The Civil Administration has turned a blind eye, failed to collect data, failed to enforce the law and even granted ex post facto approval for illegal structures, contravening the policy and interests of the State of Israel in these regions. This may be a very serious accusation, but unfortunately this is the reality,” stated Yogev.

After pressure exerted by Regavim, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs both admitted that these illegal activities are part of an organized, systematic phenomenon and not random infractions of the building code.

The Committee, which intends to involve Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this issue, demanded that the Ministry of Defense, which is responsible for and directly oversees COGAT, the Civil Administration and the IDF’s Central Command, present a program, supported by the Ministries of Justice and Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office, to block Palestinian efforts to establish control over Area C—efforts that violate the Oslo Accords, as well as Israeli law.

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Who Leads Israel?

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 01:00

Israel has a problem with its security brass. And this week we received several reminders that the situation needs to be dealt with.

Since the Hamas regime in Gaza announced in March that it was planning to have civilians swarm the border with Israel, through this week’s Hamas-Islamic Jihad mortar and rocket assault on southern Israel, the IDF General Staff has been insisting there is only one thing Israel can do about Gaza.

According to our generals, Israel needs to shower Hamas with stuff. Food, medicine, water, electricity, medical supplies, concrete, cold hard cash, whatever Hamas needs, Israel should just hand it over in the name of humanitarian assistance.

Every single time reporters ask the generals what Israel can do to end Hamas’s jihadist campaign, they give the same answer. Let’s shower them with stuff.

The fact that the Palestinian Authority is blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza makes no impression on the generals. For months now, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has refused to pay salaries to Hamas regime employees or pay for Gaza’s electricity and fuel. Hamas, for its part, destroyed the Kerem Shalom cargo terminal two weeks ago, blocking all transfer of gas and food to Gaza. And this week it blew up its electricity lines with a misfired mortar aimed at Israel.

Hamas’s determination to use civilians as human shields for its terrorists is a pretty clear message that it does not care about the people it controls. But for whatever reason, it didn’t register with the General Staff. As residents of the South were rushing to bomb shelters every 10 minutes or so on Tuesday, generals were briefing reporters that Israel must give them medicine.

When Hamas then refused to receive medical supplies from Israel, the generals doubled down and said that the only card Israel has to play is to give Gaza humanitarian aid. And they told reporters that their job at the next security cabinet meeting will be to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers that Israel needs to give the Hamas regime stuff.

Then there is the issue of terrorist bodies.

Hamas holds the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Hamas also holds Israeli civilian hostages Avra Mengistu and Hisham a-Suwaid.

In January 2017, the security cabinet decided that Israel will retain the bodies of terrorists rather than transfer them to Palestinian authorities for burial. The purpose of the decision was to pressure Hamas to release the Israeli hostages and remains of the IDF personnel it holds.

Despite the cabinet decision, since the cabinet made its decision, Israel has transferred to Hamas the bodies of five terrorist murderers. Each time, the IDF General Staff stood behind the move.

Currently, the government is holding the body of Hamas terrorist Aziz Awisat who just died in prison.

Media reports indicate the IDF is pushing for the government to appease Hamas again and transfer his body to Gaza for burial. To block the move, Goldin’s parents petitioned the High Court on Monday and demanded the government inform them 72 hours in advance of any transfer of a terrorist’s body to Hamas. The government agreed to the Goldin family’s demand on Thursday morning.

It is inarguable that these bodies of terrorists are valuable bargaining chips in the government’s efforts to repatriate its hostages and the remains of its soldiers. The fact that the IDF General Staff repeatedly undercuts the government’s efforts to secure their release, by surreptitiously transferring the terrorists’ bodies to Hamas, is of a piece with its irrational belief that it is Israel’s responsibility to ensure a quality of life for denizens of Hamasland.

If the IDF General Staff’s chronic insubordination on behalf of Hamas terrorists weren’t enough, there’s also Iran.

In 2012, former Mossad director Meir Dagan first revealed to celebrity leftist reporter Ilana Dayan that in 2010 he went behind Netanyahu’s back and informed then-US defense secretary Leon Panetta that Netanyahu had just ordered the IDF and the Mossad to prepare an attack against Iran’s nuclear installations.

In 2016, after Dagan passed away, Dayan released a tell-all interview with Dagan where he detailed precisely how he blocked Netanyahu’s order; Dagan told Dayan that he used both the Obama administration, and an appeal to Israel’s legal establishment, to block Netanyahu from ordering the IDF and Mossad to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.

On Thursday morning, Dayan was at it again.

Her show, Uvda, released a preview of an interview set to air that evening with Dagan’s successor, recently retired Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. In his interview, Pardo relates that a year after Dagan scuttled Netanyahu’s order to prepare an attack against Iran’s nuclear installations, it was Pardo’s turn.

Pardo told Dayan that in 2011, Netanyahu again ordered the Mossad and the IDF to prepare the security services to attack Iran’s nuclear installations within 15 days. Pardo told Dayan that as he saw it, he had two choices: comply or resign.

So he chose a third option: legal subterfuge.

Dagan insisted at the Jerusalem Post Conference in 2015 that Netanyahu did not have the legal authority to order an attack against Iran. Only the security cabinet had the authority, he said. Dagan said he demanded that Netanyahu receive the approval of the security cabinet for the attack.

Apparently, Dagan based his legal position on a unique interpretation of the law regarding authority to declare war.

Under the law, the security cabinet is authorized to declare war. Dagan decided that Netanyahu’s order to strike Iran’s nuclear installations constituted a declaration of war. And so he said Netanyahu lacked the authority to order the attack. Perhaps afraid that he wouldn’t have the votes, perhaps afraid his plans would leak in the larger forum, Netanyahu stood down.

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Pardo told Dayan that like Dagan, to get out of his dilemma of obeying Netanyahu’s order or resigning, he applied Dagan’s radical interpretation of the law to Netanyahu’s order.

Instead of resigning, or preparing the attack, Pardo said he went behind Netanyahu’s back to then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, to get him to sign on to the Dagan-Pardo legal theory of what constitutes a declaration of war. And just as Pardo assumed would happen, Netanyahu stood down again.

Thanks to Pardo and Dagan, Iran’s nuclear expansion went on unimpeded. Thanks to Pardo and Dagan, then-US president Barack Obama had a clear path to negotiate his 2015 nuclear deal with the mullahs that gave them an open path to a nuclear arsenal by 2025 and $150 billion to finance their regional aggression.

Early last month, the media and opposition lawmakers expressed outrage when the Knesset amended the law for declaring war. Under the amended law, under certain extreme circumstances, the prime minister and defense minister are empowered to declare war without security cabinet approval.

The media and opposition lawmakers presented the amendment as an arbitrary move. Netanyahu, the commentators and opposition lawmakers insisted, was giving himself dictatorial powers.

Cabinet ministers were embarrassed into action.

Last week, they voted to freeze the amendment and retain all power to declare war, even in extreme circumstances, in the cabinet’s hands.

Given that the normal interpretation of the phrase, “power to declare war,” would not include “power to order a strike against an enemy state’s nuclear installations,” no one made the connection between the amended law and the subversive behavior of two Mossad directors. No one realized that the purpose of the amendment was to prevent insubordination at the top levels of the security community. No one realized that the move was a means to ensure Israel’s elected leaders have the minimal authority they require to order the military and the intelligence services to take actions they deem necessary to ensure the national security of Israel.

But now, with Pardo’s interview, and recalling Dagan’s subversive actions, the need for the amendment is obvious.

It is past time for Israel’s political leaders to rein in our generals. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Israel’s civilian responsibility for Gaza ended the moment the last soldier shut the gate.

Hamas is not Israel’s enemy because it lacks money or electricity. It is Israel’s enemy because it is a jihadist terrorist group committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people. No amount of free electricity or medicine will change this basic truth.

Hamas will not transfer the bodies of Israel’s fallen soldiers or release the Israelis it holds hostage because Israel gives it money or concrete. Hamas will not embrace Israel if Israel purifies the Gaza water supply which Hamas deliberately polluted by over-drilling.

The fact that the IDF General Staff hasn’t figured this out does not speak well of our generals’ cognitive capabilities.

In response to Pardo’s revelations, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio on Thursday morning, “It seems problematic to me that the head of the most secret security organization we have is describing the [national security] decision- making process. And the fact that he placed doubt in the legality of the orders he received from Israel’s prime minister seems deeply problematic to me.

Erdan added, “If security or intelligence officials began questioning their orders, I assume they did great damage to Israel’s deterrence. Everyone who undermined Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability to advance his policies toward Iran over time has been deeply wrong.”

Over the past several months, the IDF General Staff’s handling of Hamas’s offensive along the border, like its handling of this week’s rocket and mortar offensive, has been marked by a lack of creativity.

Rather than consider new ways to handle old threats, the IDF repeated the tactics it has used to inconclusive ends for the past decade.

As for Iran, Netanyahu’s revelation of the Mossad’s stunning capture of Iran’s nuclear archive makes clear that Mossad officers have the capacity to do the impossible. Had Dagan and Pardo unleashed those capabilities in 2010 and 2011 rather than subverting Netanyahu’s authority, there is every reason to believe that Iran would not constitute the multidimensional threat to Israel it poses today.

Lt. Goldin’s parents, Simcha and Leah Goldin, told reporters this week that if the cabinet would simply implement its own decision to hold terrorists’ bodies, they would have had no need to petition the High Court against it.

They are right, and not just about the bodies of terrorists.

The cabinet – and the Knesset – must take ameliorative action against the security brass to end their subversion of our duly elected leaders. A first step in that direction would be to unfreeze the amendment to the war declaration law and give the prime minister and defense minister the ability to stand up to insubordinate commanders.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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’70 and Sababa!’: Tens of Thousands in New York Celebrate Israel’s 70th Anniversary

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:30

Beautifully crafted and decorated signs were in full display on June 3 at “Celebrate Israel” parade, many of them paying homage to this year’s theme of “70 and Sababa!” Others held by the tens of thousands of people from the New York and elsewhere focused on Israel’s unity, strength and freedom. One sign read “Israel @70: Still Putting Its Stamp on the Future,” while another said “70 Years a Free People in Our Own Land.” Some marchers held signs that said “70” or “SABABA” in big, bright letters, while others held posters that depicted Israel’s innovations, such as the navigation app Waze. Another group of marchers held a banner that featured pictures of Israel’s popular sites, such as the Western Wall, Dead Sea and the open-air Middle Eastern marketplaces known as “shuks.”

The America China Public Affairs Institute had a float that boosted Israel’s friendship with China by featuring an enlarged photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and China’s President Xi Jinping. Another banner held by marchers read “70 years of turning desert land into green land,” and one group towards the end of the parade held signs with the pictures of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul—two Israel Defense Force soldiers killed in action by Hamas during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014. Written on the same signs was a popular Jewish phrase that translates to: “All of Israel is responsible for one another.”

The America-China Public Affairs Institute float that boosted Israel’s friendship with China by featuring an enlarged photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and China’s President Xi Jinping. (Credit: Shiryn Solny)

The five-hour procession, which went up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street, included a number of special guests, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James (who is running for attorney general), Israeli chef Eyal Shani and Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan. Earlier in the day, Israeli Consul General of New York Dayan, said that outside of Jerusalem, New York is “the capital of the world.”

New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for reelection, served as the parade’s honorary grand marshal.

“Too often today diversity is seen as a weakness, but we know it’s our strength. NY wouldn’t be NY without the Jewish community,” Cuomo said in tweet.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade as the honorary grand marshal. (Credit: Twitter)

American Friends of Magen David Adom, one of the sponsors of the parade, noted that the organization works alongside the Israel Defense Forces, saving lives 24 hours a day. The parade is important, an MDA spokesperson told JNS, because it helps New Yorkers feel connected to that same mission, “even when we’re thousands of miles away.”

Jewish rapper Kosher Dillz and singer Lipa Schmeltzer were among the event’s performers. Many of the groups that marched in the parade played popular Israeli songs, including the now ever-present “Toy,” the song performed by Israeli Netta Barzilai that won this year’s Eurovision.

Parade marchers featuring pictures of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul—two Israel Defense Force soldiers killed in action by Hamas during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014. Written on the same signs was a popular Jewish phrase that translates to: “All of Israel is responsible for one another.” (Credit: Shiryn Solny)

Security was tightened at this year’s event, with double metal barricades placed on each block down the path of the parade—something not done in previous years. The New York City Police Department said that more than 1,000 officers, bomb-sniffing dogs, sharpshooters on rooftops and radiation-detection devices were used to secure the area surrounding the event, according to the Associated Press. Sanitation trucks filled with sand-blocked streets were stationed to prevent vehicle attacks. NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison noted that precautions were taken in response to threats of terrorism in Israel, the Middle East, Europe and around the world.

Anti-Israel protesters at the parade were confined to a small area on Fifth Avenue, south of Central Park. At the end of the parade, they were escorted by police officers to a nearby parking garage, where many of them had left their vehicles, to avoid any violence that may have ensued with Israel supporters. No incidents were reported.

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Rachel, 75, a native New Yorker who lives a few blocks away from the site of the parade, said she has been attending the parade every year, and it always makes her emotional. She told JNS: “I started to cry just now [watching the parade]. Every year, I get so enamored. What we go through in life, and yet we survive. My dad was a Holocaust survivor. You realize the chutzpah and courage we have to survive anything that we’re going through.”

“We have survived all these attacks that we’ve had,” she added. “Hashem is taking care of us. We are his people. His chosen people.”

A young man proudly displaying the Israeli flag. (Credit Shiryn Solny)

Lior Arussy, also a New Yorker, said he is proud of Israel’s innovation and how the country is making a change in the world. He told JNS, “I think Israel has made a lot of impact on the world, and the fact that such a small tiny place can do that, it’s cool. … It’s all about the lax way in which Israel just makes it happen, even though it’s not disciplined and rigid. I think the country has shown a lot of flexibility in order to survive both the threats and the opportunities.”

Menachem Jacob, a father of two, said he believes Israel’s greatest accomplishment in the last 70 years is bringing democracy to the Middle East. He added that Israel provides safety net for those seeking refuge. He explained, “My parents are Holocaust survivors. So just to feel safe that my kids and their kids can grow up knowing that they have a country they can go to if they get in the same kind of trouble my parents got into … that’s my favorite part about Israel.”

Although the parade ended at 4 p.m., additional celebrations were held in Central Park, with festivities continuing in the evening in Times Square with music by Israeli singer Shiri Maimon and DJ Omri Anghel. There was also a display of Israeli innovation and a recap of the country’s first 70 years across the screens of Times Square. Dayan addressed the hundreds of people who gathered there, talking about the significance of taking over the Manhattan hotspot and covering it “in blue and white” to celebrate Israel’s 70 years of independence.

And Danon said on Sunday: “It’s gratifying to see the support that Israel receives in New York, throughout the United States and from all over the world.”

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Contact Populist Government Takes Power in Italy

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:00

The new government has pledged to pursue a host of populist policies, including reclaiming national sovereignty from the European Union over issues ranging from border protection and immigration to economics and finance. For now, however, it has abandoned previous plans to hold a referendum on whether Italy should abandon the euro.

“The EU Budget Commissioner the German Oettinger says the markets will show Italians the right way to vote. If that isn’t a threat…” — Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega party

The continued patronizing by EU officials has contributed to the rise of populism in Italy and feeds popular support for the euroscepticism embraced by M5S and Lega.

Italy’s rival anti-establishment parties — the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the nationalist League (Lega) — have formed a “eurosceptic” coalition government.

The new government has pledged to pursue a host of populist policies, including reclaiming national sovereignty from the European Union over issues ranging from border protection and immigration to economics and finance. For now, however, it has abandoned previous plans to hold a referendum on whether Italy should abandon the euro.

The viability of an M5S/Lega government initially was thrown into doubt after Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed their eurosceptic choice for finance minister: Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake.”

M5S/Lega reached a compromised by nominating Giovanni Tria, an economics professor who holds politically correct views on the euro, to head the finance ministry. Fittingly, Savona will become Italy’s new Minister for European Affairs.

The new government, which was sworn in by Mattarella on June 1, will be headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor with no experience in politics, and two deputy prime ministers: M5S leader Luigi Di Maio, who also becomes minister for economic development and labor; and Lega leader Matteo Salvini, who also becomes minister of the interior. The cabinet will have 19 ministers in all.

Italy’s new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, whose government’s program closely resembles U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter.” Photo: Wikipedia.

The government’s program is outlined in a 39-page agreement called “Contract for a Government of Change.” A two-page synthesis closely resembles U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter.”

The new program pledges: a flat tax; pension reform; a basic income; increased retirement and maternity benefits; a crackdown on government corruption; swift deportations of illegal migrants; increased defense spending; making Italy a “privileged partner” of the United States; and a renegotiation of the EU treaties involving monetary policy.

In the past, M5S leaders have repeatedly stated that they would like to hold a referendum on eurozone membership, but the current program does not call for a unilateral exit from the euro. Di Maio has said that for now, he simply wants to renegotiate EU budget regulations that he says are crippling the Italian economy.

Italian GDP is forecast to grow by just 1.5% in 2018, the same level as in 2017, making it the worst performer in the 19-nation euro zone.

Italy also holds the world’s third-largest public debt, totaling €2.3 trillion ($2.7 trillion). Italy’s current debt-to-GDP ratio is 130% of GDP, the highest in the eurozone after that of Greece.

During its campaign, M5S pledged to raise the budget deficit to fund welfare spending and tax cuts aimed at boosting growth. This, coupled with the prospect of having a eurosceptic finance minister, sent financial markets into a frenzy and self-righteous European officials into attack mode.

On May 29, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said that financial markets would teach Italian voters a lesson not to pick left-wing or right-wing populists:

“Even now, developments on bond markets, the market value of banks, and Italy’s economy in general have darkened noticeably and negatively. That has to do with the possible government formation. I can only hope that this will play a role in the election campaign and send a signal not to hand populists on the right and left any responsibility in government.”

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Lega leader Salvini lashed out on Twitter:

“Crazy, in Brussels they are without shame. The EU Budget Commissioner the German Oettinger says the markets will show Italians the right way to vote. If that isn’t a threat…I am not scared!”

M5S leader Di Maio wrote:

“Markets will teach you to vote. The words of the European Commissioner #Oettinger are absurd. These people treat Italy as a summer colony where the come to spend their holidays…. a government of change will [soon] be born and in Europe we will finally be respected.”

Oettinger apologized: “I did not mean to be disrespectful.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement: “Italy’s fate does not lie in the hands of the financial markets…. The Commission is ready to work with Italy with responsibility and mutual respect. Italy deserves respect.”

Two days later, at a conference in Brussels, Juncker said that Italians should stop blaming the European Union for its economic problems and instead work harder and be less corrupt: “Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work, less corruption, seriousness.”

Salvini responded on Facebook: “Italians corrupt and lazy? Shameful and racist words, with the next government we will see we get the rights and dignity of 60 million Italians respected. They expect collaboration, not insults from Europe.”

The continued patronizing by EU officials has contributed to the rise of populism in Italy and feeds popular support for the euroscepticism embraced by M5S and Lega.

Although financial markets have reacted positively to the appointment of Tria, who has said that he does not want to quit the euro, further spats between Brussels and Italy’s new populist government loom large.

In addition to its deficit-busting pledges on spending and tax cuts, the new government is likely to clash with the EU on border control and immigration.

The M5S/Lega coalition has promised to improve border security, build more detention centers and accelerate the deportation of up to 500,000 illegal immigrants. The coalition has also called for renegotiating the so-called Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. Italy’s geographic location means that it has borne disproportionate burdens with illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East, but other EU member state are likely to resist changes that would require them to share the burden.

Prime Minister Conte vowed that his government will complete a full five-year mandate and implement its program: “We will achieve the objectives of this contract.” The new government is the 67th in Italy in the last 70 years.

The creation of a M5S/Lega government is certain to inspire populist parties elsewhere in Europe. “You are the first guys who can really break the left and right paradigm,” Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of President Trump’s populism, toldSalvini. “You can show that populism is the new organizing principle.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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In Germany, Netanyahu Says ‘Iran Must Leave All Parts of Syria’

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:00

During a press conference on Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained why Iran’s military aggression in Syria is also a major concern for Germany.

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Mon, 06/04/2018 - 07:36

The prophet Hoshea (Hosea) prophesied to the last generation before the Assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE. In the above verse, Hoshea describes how the nation’s troubles stem from the bloody manner in which the ruling dynasty, the house of Yehu, achieved power. The Yizrael (Jezreel) valley runs through the northern hills of Israel, from Megiddo to Beit Shean. The ancient city of Yizrael, located on the western edge of the Gilboa mountain range, was a very important city for the northern kingdom of Israel. It was strategically located and its spring provided ample water for the city residents. It was at Yizrael (pictured above) that Yehu overthrew the house of Achav. Hoshea promises that Yehu will be punished for his actions. This prophecy reminds the people that even when beginning with good intentions, power and authority can easily corrupt.

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Inbal Dance Theater’s Israel Festival Performance Pays Homage to the 70th Anniversary of the State of Israel and its Founding

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 06:30

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, so too does the Inbal Dance Theater, marking their anniversary with a performance at the 2018 internationally-renowned interdisciplinary festival, Israel Festival Jerusalem.

This year, the festival, which started May 23 and runs until June 9, has a unique focus on dance, bringing to the stage dancers from across the genres to explore the then, now and future of the State of Israel. The performances, according to Israel Festival CEO Eyal Sher, are part of how the festival will celebrate and explore Israel at 70 years.

What Sher is calling the “triangle of Israeli dancers” is comprised of three performances, including the Inbal Dance Theater’s “As the Fireflies Disappear,” a contemporary work inside an original production that was given its world premiere at the festival.

The Inbal performance was presented on June 2 by the young, contemporary choreographer, Mor Shani, continuing the legacy of Inbal founder and Israel Prize laureate Sara Levi-Tanai, whose goal was to highlight local traditions, to preserve and build upon the rich cultural tradition of Yemenite Jews, who Shani says “are considered to be original Hebrew people.”

Levi-Tanai, who in the company’s early years worked with dancers of Yemenite descent, weaved together Mizrahi Jewish culture with modern dance through “authentic body movements, looking at each dancer’s body as a specific individual and finding an integrative way to use it on stage,” Shani told Breaking Israel News.

“She was not trying to make everyone look the same, but rather using characteristics of the average Yemenite person. She gathered Yemenite people who had never danced before and turned them into dancers.”

During the early years of the State of Israel and the company, Shani explained, the Inbal functioned as a national company, whose purpose was “telling stories and performing for the sake of a Zionist ethos through Israeli folk dance.

“Israeli folk dance was commissioned work to create an Israeli folklore so the people would have a feeling of togetherness. It’s a sensitive and social dance, which highlighted the ability to intuitively move together in a synchronized way. It was this art that was in service of the state, and it had a specific esthetic in the time it was needed,” Shani said.

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Often, Levi-Tanai made use of Biblical tales within the dance performances.

“We don’t do that anymore,” Shani said. “Now that we already have a state, and the Biblical ethos and state-building function isn’t relevant anymore, so we make art.”

But even so, remnants of the traditions of Israeli folk dance remain as homage to the Levi-Tanai.

“We still need togetherness and we need to know how to move together, but not for the sake of the state, rather, for the sake of the people who practice it and watch it,” Shani said.

According to Shani, art is all about deconstructing past values and traditions for the purpose of constructing new traditions, both as a form of creation and a gesture towards the past.

Amidst this fascinating process of renewal for the Inbal Dance Theater, Shani invited the audience to reimagine Levi-Tanai’s legacy and distinct choreographic language in a contemporary cultural context.

The show revisited the dance and movement foundations established by Levi-Tanai, which are intrinsically linked to tradition, localism, and grassroot culture, juxtaposing them with notions that resonate with the global zeitgeist.

Through modern dance, sound and costumes that tell the story of a culture lost to the homogenizing effects of capitalism, the performance evoked a nostalgia for the traditions and unique cultures of the past.

“These dissolve in the blinding light of consumer culture, the tangible light that chases the fireflies (a metaphor for local cultures) out of our duplicated cities, and their faint light with them,” said Shani, who was influenced by Georges Didi-Huberman’s book Survival of the Fireflies while working on this piece.

While the cities are lit by capitalism and globalism, Shani explained to Breaking Israel News, the “real light” of culture disappears.

Thus, building on the company’s glorious past, Shani wishes to preserve the delicate, flickering light of the “vanishing dance traditions” while drawing on the new potentialities they hold.

“Nostalgia is driving global forces of society today,” Shani said. “For example, people wish to ‘make America great again,’ which reflects a yearning for the past.

“So we do this with dance, but in a critical way. Art is a great comfort, and especially in times like today. It offers a new ways to look at a given situation.”


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Israeli-American Team May Have Found Cure For Mesothelioma

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 06:30

An Israeli-American team is determined to find a cure for mesothelioma in humans after stopping the cancer in animal models.

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An End-of-Days Guide to the Palestinians and Gaza

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 04:30

As Israel’s southern border is threatened by rockets, mortars and incendiary kites, End-of-Days experts weigh in on the prospective roles that Palestinians in Gaza play in the Messianic era.

Palestinians: Spiritual Roots in Israel’s Biblical Enemy

Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, a Torah codes expert, believes that the modern day Palestinians have their spiritual roots in the Biblical Philistines.

“We can see this in the name they choose for themselves and we can also see this in their attraction for Gaza,” Rabbi Glazerson told Breaking Israel News.

He emphasized that not only was Gaza a military stronghold but it was also a major center for the Philistines’ idolatry and temple. “Their hatred for Israel is so great that it is clearly an ancient conflict and not just one from the last few decades. Their recent kite attacks, burning the fields in Israel, are precisely a desire of revenge for Samson burning the Philistine fields in a similar manner.”

He lit the torches and turned [the foxes] loose among the standing grain of the Philistines, setting fire to stacked grain, standing grain, vineyards, [and] olive trees.Judges 15:5

In a recent video on the subject, Rabbi Glazerson used a computer program that searches for equidistant letter sequences in the Bible to find the word “Palestinian” in the Torah. He found it in the book of Deuteronomy, which he explained is the section of the Bible that corresponds to the current era. The word “Palestinian” intersected with a verse that described God giving the land of Israel to the Jews.

Hashem your God will bless you in the land that Hashem your God is giving you as a hereditary portion Deuteronomy 15:4

“The Zohar (the seminal source for Jewish mysticism) states that this conflict that began in the Bible will continue until the Moshiach (Messiah)” Rabbi Glazerson said. “This is a spiritual battle which will never be solved by politics. It has to be fought on spiritual terms by learning Torah and keeping the Sabbath.”


Palestinians: A Nation That is no Nation

Rabb Levi Sudri, an award-winning Bible expert who is well-versed in esoteric sources, believes the appearance of the Palestinians is a final attempt to fix a nation that was flawed from its Biblical beginnings.

Reincarnations are an attempt to fix things and this era, the time preceding the Messiah, is the final chance to fix problems that have their sources in the Bible. What we are seeing in the Middle East is the entire world focused on the final fixing of the Philistines. We first saw this in the Bible in Ham, the son of Noah, who was cursed for gazing on his father’s nakedness.

He said, “Cursed be Canaan; The lowest of slaves Shall he be to his brothers.” Genesis 9:25

“Abraham and Isaac tried to fix Ham by making a covenant with Abimelech the King of the Philistines, Ham’s descendants. But the language of this Biblical agreement is important today”, Rabbi Sudri emphasized.

And Abimelech said, “Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” Genesis 20:15

“This covenant was broken by the Philistines in the days of Joshua, and again in the days of Saul,” Rabbi Sudri said. “It is precisely this agreement that is being broken again today.”

Rabbi Sudri noted that despite Israel’s clear military superiority, the Palestinians are succeeding in creating a challenge Israel cannot defeat.

“How can it be that Israel, with such a strong military, cannot cope with the Palestinians?,” the rabbi asked. “If there is a clear enemy, even a strong enemy, we can fight them. We cannot defeat them because the fight is on a spiritual level, the angel of one nation against the angel of another nation. Every nation has an angel but the Zohar explains that the Philistines do not have an angel.”

Rabbi Sudri referred to the Philistines as a “nation that is not a nation.”

“Every nation has a patriarch but the Philistines did not have a patriarch,” Rabbo Sudri said. “The word ‘Philistine’ is derived from the Hebrew word meaning ‘wanderers’ or ‘foreigner.’ With a real nation, you can make war or peace. Since they are not a nation, we cannot do either, neither war nor peace, with the Palestinians.”

According to Rabbi Sudri, this confrontation with the “nation that is not a nation” has a corresponding negative effect on the Jewish Nation.

“Israel is the most ancient nation, with the clearest claim to being a nation. But by entering into relations with the Palestinians, by agreeing to that definition of what is a nation, we shed doubt on our identity as a nation which is explicitly outlined in the Bible, a stronger claim to nationhood than any other nation in existence. By calling the Palestinians a nation, we have brought into doubt our claims to nationhood and our claims to our land, a claim that is clearly seen in the Bible, in archaeology and in every history book in existence.”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); }); The Battle for Prayer

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, believes the spiritual roots of the Palestinians goes back to Ishmael, the brother of Isaac.

“As such, his fate is to be in conflict always,” Rabbi Berger said, quoting the blessing given to Ishmael by an angel.

He shall be a wild ass of a man; His hand against everyone, And everyone’s hand against him; He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.” Genesis 16:12

“His warring nature will continue until the very last moment before the Messiah,” Rabbi Berger said. “It will be the spark that brings the Messiah.”

“But the name ‘Ishmael’ means ‘God will hear,” Rabbi Berger pointed out. “By the merit of Ishmael, God heard Hagar praying in the desert. The real battle is over who God will listen to. That is why the Palestinians are concentrating on the Temple Mount, and specifically on prayer. They want to be the only nation that God listens to, and they think they can do that by preventing the Jews from praying on the Temple Mount.”

“Prayer has much more power than people realize, especially prayer in our times just before Messiah, and especially on the Temple Mount,” Rabbi Berger said. “We see this in the fact that since only Muslims are allowed to pray there, Islam is getting stronger in the world. It isn’t Islam that is getting stronger, it is the angel of Ishmael. The Temple Mount is where the final battle between Ishmael and Israel is going to be, and it is going to be a battle of prayer, a battle of the angel of Ishmael against the angel of Israel.”


‘Run for the Ship’

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of-days author, believes the Palestinians are a prophesied wake-up call to motivate the Nation of Israel to focus on Messiah. To illustrate his point, he related a midrash (homiletic teaching) from the Talmud (Tractate Baba Batra 73b). According to the Talmud, Rabbah Bar Hana was traveling on a ship and went ashore to cook some food. The island turned out to be an enormous fish covered in sand. Feeling the heat of the fire, the fish turned over, sending Rabbah Bar Hana scrambling for his ship, which fortunately was ready to sail.

Rabbi Winston cited Rabbi Yaakov Lorberbaum, the rabbi of Lissa Poland in the 1800’s, known as Rabbeinu Yaakov.

“Rabbeinu Yaakov taught that this peculiar story in the Talmud is actually an allegory of what will happen in the days before Messiah,” Rabbi Winston said. “He explained the Talmud as teaching that the Jews will return to our land but we will end up ruling over another nation. The other nation will appear weak and small but they will actually turn everything upside down.”

“If the ‘boat is ready’, if the Jews are ready for Messiah, everything will be fine and we will enter into the Messiah,” Rabbi Winston explained.  “If the Jews are not ready, we will ‘drown from the problems this small nation will cause us.”

Rabbi Winston sees this allegory as a perfect description of the Palestinian Intifada.

“The Intifada started in 1987, precisely 40 years after Israel became a nation,” Rabbi Winston explained. “40 represents is a complete period of gestation. A woman is pregnant for 40 sabbaths.”

“After Israel became a state, we were given a period of 40 years to show what was really conceived when Israel first became a state,” Rabbi Winston said. “We weren’t ready to ‘run for the boat’, to bring the Messiah. Since we hadn’t prepared for the Messiah, the Intifada was sent to wake us up, to push us to do what we need to bring the Messiah. In this case, the wake-up call came from a small nation that succeeded in overturning the entire nation of Israel, making us ‘run for the ship’.”

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Spirituality is Universal at Rambam Hospital

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 03:30

“Connectedness, love, hope and meaning belong to everyone,” said chaplain Michael Schultz, who leads a first-of-its-kind spiritual care team at Rambam Health Care Campus. “Spirituality is universal.”

Rambam is commemorating its 80th anniversary. While some are touting Rambam’s eight decades of medical and technological innovations, from its 2,000-bed fortified underground emergency hospital to its forthcoming collaborative Helmsley Health Discovery Tower, Schultz is reveling in the hospital’s success at spiritually serving its constituents.

Rambam, Schultz said, regards spiritual care on the same level as all caring professions. The spiritual care team is integrated into the general medical team and enjoys the administration’s support. Schultz said spiritual care in Israel as a field is still young and growing and Rambam is playing a key role in creating this new field.

For example, Rambam helped create a forum to advance and explore multicultural spiritual care to ensure that the spiritual needs of the underserved Muslim and Christian Arab populations are also attended to. Specifically, Schultz runs a two-year, 800-hour chaplain training program that takes an innovative, multicultural approach to spiritual care, which has influenced the way spiritual care training is provided throughout the country. Schultz said he prepares a team of spiritual caregivers to “make a bridge through faith between the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel, and between Christians, Muslims and Jews.”

Michael Schultz (Rambam Hospital)

Schultz brings several guest lecturers to his training course and multiple sources “so everyone in the group can get to know a variety of spiritual languages,” he said.

“It is not just Hebrew and Arabic, but learning to speak the language of the spirit,” Schultz explained.

Schultz moved to Israel from Boston nine years ago. While in America, he received his rabbinical degree and was trained as a chaplain. He said he sees his role as helping sick patients connect to themselves, others, their community and/or faith tradition, and something larger than themselves: God.

“I try to create a supportive space for a person to share, however deep they want to go,” said Schultz. “The spirit and the body are connected. I help them find hope.”

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The work can take on several different forms, from spiritual counseling or just listening to reading faith-based texts or singing. He recalled a story of an older, Arabic-speaking Christian woman in the oncology unit for whom he served as a spiritual guide.

“One thing we would do is sit and sing Psalms together,” Schultz said. “Connecting through faith made our communication possible… Psalms are so deeply rooted in both Judaism and Christianity.”

Schultz said Israeli patients, like patients around the world, need someone to provide a listening ear and to help them “touch the spirit” for strength and support. In Israel, formal religious leaders are not generally expected to take on that role. As such, Schultz and his team of Rambam chaplains “are blessed to be able to support the spiritual lives of all the residents of the Holy Land.”

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Jewish Authors Respond to Christian Calls for Torah Teaching

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 03:30

“There is currently a surge in the publication of books that convey Torah teachings to the non-Jewish world, and such literature is being published at an ever-increasing rate, for one good reason.

“There is clearly a massive appetite and yearning among the Nations to understand what the Jews are really about, and to hear from them and understand what the Torah has to say about God’s unfolding plan for the geula – the imminent redemption of the entire world.

“This remarkable phenomenon of the awakening of so many holy souls among the Nations to get closer to God and discover His Torah, is both mysterious and wonderful, and strongly suggests that these stirrings are directed from above and are signs of the arrival of the geula.” So says Nachum Shaw of Promised Land Publishers.

Shaw spoke to Breaking Israel News about his unique publishing house. “To help reveal and spread the wisdom of the Torah and its uplifting and enlightening message to the widest possible readership, both Jewish and non-Jewish, I formed a new publishing house called Promised Land. Promised Land just published five books by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, the world-renowned author of over 25 books on Jewish spiritual teachings.”

Shaw told Breaking Israel News that one of Rabbi Greenbaum’s new books, The House on the Mountain, contains, “Jewish spiritual teachings that are destined to be taught to all the inhabitants of the world. It explains all aspects of Judaism and the central role that the soon to be built Third Temple will have in bringing balance back to nature and our environment, and peace, happiness, spiritual fulfilment and goodness to the whole world, with the coming of Moshiach (Messiah).”

There’s also a fulfillment of a prophecy directed to the Jewish people in this trend of publishing Torah books expressly for non-Jewish readers. “If we look at Exodus 19:6, we are told that the Children of Israel will be to God, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Yisrael.” Exodus 19:6

“As the Jews’ role is to be priests to the Nations, it follows that spreading Torah literature to the Nations greatly helps the Jewish people to accomplish this role,” Shaw argued.

Connecting these two ideas – the publication of books containing Torah concepts intended for people from the Nations and Redemption – is echoed in the comments of Rabbi Lazer Brody. Rabbi Brody translated The Universal Garden of Emuna, written by Rabbi Shalom Arush. Emuna is the spiritual principle of unshakeable belief that God runs the world. The Universal Garden of Emuna was adapted from a similar book originally written for a Jewish audience.

Speaking to Breaking Israel News, Rabbi Brody invoked a prophetic sentence from the Jewish prayer Aleinu. “We say thrice daily in Aleinu, ‘And all of living flesh shall call Your Name.’ The closer we get to Moshiach, the more humanity will realize that emuna is the only path to peace and happiness. That’s what the world is hungry for.” The Universal Garden of Emuna was written to bring this redemptive message to non-Jews.

Yisrael Rosenberg, author of a forthcoming commentary on the Book of Isaiah which he wrote for Christian readers, meets many Christians who are interested in books like his. Rosenberg told Breaking Israel News, “My personal experience is that many Christians are hungry for knowledge about the Jewish roots of their faith. I wrote my upcoming book, ISAIAH: End Times and Messiah in Judaism ​in response to the interest that many Christians, both clergy and laypeople, have shown for these issues. On one level, I seek to meet the growing demand for the Jewish ‘take’ on faith-related topics.”

Rosenberg echoed Rabbi Brody’s emphasis on emuna when he continued, “On a deeper level, I am convinced that the simple, practical approach to emuna (faith in God) as presented by the 19th-century Hasidic teacher Rabbi Nachman of Breslov could serve as a source of universal teachings that might help non-Jews grow closer to Hashem (God).”

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Both Rosenberg and Rabbi Tuly Weisz, director of Israel365 and the publisher of The Israel Bible and Breaking Israel News addressed themselves to what’s behind this trend.

Rosenberg credits the Internet with changing the relationship between Christians and traditional Torah teaching. “One of the key drivers is the Internet, which allows curious people to dig in and find basic information about Judaism, in a way that has never been available before.​ All of humanity is becoming more and more connected with every passing day,” he said.

Rabbi Weisz shared a longer historical perspective. “The big picture goes back 500 years to the Protestant Reformation and even a little bit before, to the invention of the printing press. That was a major transition, where all of a sudden, Christians started reading the Bible. Everyone had a Bible in their home.

“Christians are realizing that the Bible is a work that’s all about the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and it’s taken a long time for this all to crystalize. It’s clarifying and crystalizing in a significant way that there’s a plan for the Jewish people that’s spelled out in the Bible.

“The Bible describes the history of Israel in the past and the present-day situation of the Jewish people in the exile, as well as the future promise of the restoration and the ingathering of the exiles. It was always some kind of mythical, mystical idea that is obviously coming to fruition in front of our eyes, in front of their eyes.

“These are the big factors leading to this growing interest in the Jewish perspective, in the Hebrew Roots of Christianity and in the Torah,” he argued.

Rabbi Weisz continued, “To me what’s so exciting is the passage in Isaiah 2.

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

“That’s like our foundational scripture for Yeshiva for the Nations and The Israel Bible – this idea that in the end of days, the non-Jews are going to say, ‘Teach us the Torah, for from Zion shall come forth the Torah.’

“It’s so exciting to be a part of that. It’s so exciting to see that actually happen. The ingathering of the exiles we’ve seen. The rebirth of the Land we’ve seen. The last promise is this idea that the non-Jews are going to say, “Teach us the Torah.” And that’s particularly what drives me, what drives Yeshiva for the Nations and what drives The Israel Bible.”

Shaw ties it all together. “If we look at Isaiah, we see the prophet talking about the (future) Temple in Jerusalem.

I will bring them to My sacred mount And let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices Shall be welcome on My mizbayach; For My House shall be called A house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

How will this be possible unless the Nations are first introduced to and know what is in God’s Torah?  The wide distribution of Torah literature can help to facilitate this knowledge,” he clarified.


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