Global Christian Persecution Remains High, Media Interest Remains Low

Breaking Israel News - 14 hours 39 min ago

While you might have seen a decrease in mainstream media reporting regarding Christian persecution, there has only been an increase in the persecution taking place against Christians around the world.

According to the Gatestone Institute, persecution of Christians by extremist groups and individuals is continuing to climb, as the persecution has become more systematic than random.

In their latest “Religious Freedom Report,” Aid to the Church in Need warned that around 300 million Christians around the world have been subjected to violence, making Christianity the most persecuted religion in the world.

Raymond Ibrahim of the Gatestone Institute argued that that statistic demonstrates that it is much more difficult for a Christian to live in a Muslim country than a Muslim to live in a Western country.

He pointed to a study done by Voices in Europe where they pointed out that the chances of being killed as a Christian, simply for being a Christian, in a Muslim country is incredibly high.

Voice of Europe explained that because 300 million Christians have been subjected to violence, that means that in a Muslim-majority country, 1 in 70,000 Christians have been murdered for their beliefs.

“This makes the odds of a Christian in a majority-Muslim country being murdered by a Muslim – simply for being what he is – approximately one in 70,000,” Europe Voice pointed out.

“Which means that a Christian living in a majority Muslim country is 143 times more likely to be killed by a Muslim for being a Christian than a Muslim is likely to be killed by a non-Muslim in a Western country for being what he is.”

Persecution is taking place all over the world

A few weeks ago, the archbishop of Irbil spoke about how “political correctness” in Western countries would lead them to become “complicit” in the persecution of Christians all over the world, but specifically in the Middle East.

As reported by Faithwire News, Bashar Warda, the archbishop, made the comments in London a few weeks back when he addressed the failure of Western countries to condone the extremism as what it is “a cancer.”

“Will you continue to condone this never-ending, organized persecution against us?” he asked. “When the next wave of violence begins to hit us, will anyone on your campuses hold demonstrations and carry signs that say, ‘We are all Christians?’”

“Christianity in Iraq,” he said, “one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”

His comments came at a time where the country of Iraq is trying to rebuild in so many different ways. Five years ago, ISIS landed in the region and started to slowly take over.

It didn’t take much time before the whole entire country was under the grip of the extremist group.

Christians who had lived in the Ninevah Plains fled for their lives, some making it to other countries, where they would live for years, others not reaching a destination.

Over the past 9 months, Iraqi Christians have been slowly returning to their homes in the Ninevah Plains, many returning to complete destruction.

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Christian persecution reaching “genocide” scale

The numbers regarding Christian persecution are so staggering that it is nearing the international definition for “genocide.”

Recently a report, commissioned by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, concluded that Christian persecution is climbing so remarkably fast that it will soon be considered a genocide.

As previously reported by Faithwire News: “the study, overseen by Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, discovered that one in three people suffer from religious persecution, with Christians being the most oppressed of them all.”

“The inconvenient truth,” the report reads, is “that the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians.”

“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution but also its increasing severity,” the bishop wrote, noting that the faith “is at risk of disappearing” if Christians and others around the world do not take action.

Whether it is the banning of crosses in China, or the burning of churches in France, or the violent attacks in Nigeria, the goal of the persecutors is clear: to wipe the name of Jesus Christ off the face of the Earth.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

Arabs’ Nightmare: Absorbing Palestinians

Breaking Israel News - 15 hours 38 min ago

Lebanon says it fully supports the Palestinians in their fight against Israel — but would like to see them leave the country as soon as possible.

This is the modern-day version of Arab “solidarity” with their Palestinian brothers: discrimination and apartheid — no jobs, no citizenship, no health care and no social services.

Nor do Palestinian leaders give a damn about the welfare of their people. If they did, it would be hard to justify their impressive efforts to foil an economic conference whose main goal is to lift their people out of the economic hell these very leaders created and vigorously maintain.

The Lebanese are worried that a new law for the management of Palestinian refugee camps will pave the way for the “resettlement” of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon. The prospect of “resettling” Palestinians is a nightmare that has been haunting the Lebanese for decades.

Like most Arab countries, Lebanon has long treated Palestinians as second-class citizens. It has been depriving them of basic rights, including citizenship, employment, heath care, education, social services and property ownership. The vast majority of the 450,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon do not have Lebanese citizenship.

In 2001, the Lebanese Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, and Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in as many as 20 professions. Lebanon continues to ignore calls by various human rights groups to the Lebanese authorities to end discrimination against Palestinians.

A 2007 report by Amnesty International noted:

“We urge the Lebanese to take immediate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against Palestinian refugees in order to enable them to exercise their economic, social and cultural rights on the same basis as the rest of the population of Lebanon. Continuing restrictions which deny Palestinian refugees access to their rights to work, education and adequate housing and health are wholly unjustified and should be lifted without further procrastination or delay.”

Instead of improving the living conditions of the Palestinians, the Lebanese seem to be brainstorming on how to rid themselves of their unwelcome Arab brothers.

Some Lebanese are even concerned about a new law which, they believe, could pave the way for the “resettlement” of Palestinians in Lebanon. The reason for their concern: a report in a Lebanese newspaper about a new law to “administer” Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

The proposed law, drafted by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, aims to ease tensions between the two sides and improve the living conditions of Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon.

Article One of the law states that its goal is to “regulate the management of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon while preserving their Palestinian national identity and affirming the sovereignty of the Lebanese state as a host country in these camps.”

The law will allow a Lebanese “national commission” to determine the geographic scope of each camp, conduct a comprehensive population survey of its residents and manage public services, including water, electricity, sanitation and infrastructure.

The law comes amid continued tensions between the Lebanese authorities and Palestinians, particularly in the aftermath of armed clashes between rival Palestinian factions in Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps. The Lebanese security forces do not operate inside the camps, which have long been the scene of armed clashes between Palestinian groups, including Hamas, Fatah and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

Last month, the Palestinians reached an agreement with the Lebanese authorities to “demilitarize” the Mieh Mieh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, which was the scene of armed clashes between rival Palestinian groups in the past two years. The agreement allows the Lebanese army to operate inside the camp, home to some 5,000 Palestinians.

Yet not all Lebanese seem to be satisfied with the way their government is handling the issue of the Palestinians in Lebanon. The Lebanese fear that the new law to manage the Palestinian refugee camp is nothing but a disguise to “resettle” the Palestinians in Lebanon, thus tampering with the country’s demographics.

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Lebanon’s Maronite League, a private and apolitical organization of Lebanese Christian notables dedicated mainly to defending the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, expressed concern that the Lebanese authorities were about to replace the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in managing the affairs of the Palestinians.

Evidently concerned that the proposed law would result in the “resettlement” of Palestinians in Lebanon, the Maronite League said that it “coincides with the talk about [US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced] Deal of the Century, which seeks to deprive the Palestinians of their right to return” to their former homes inside Israel.

In an attempt to refute the charges of “resettlement,” the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, which initiated the controversial law, denied any connection to Trump’s peace plan.

“The Lebanese and Palestinians are unanimous in rejecting the resettlement [of Palestinians] and confronting the Deal of the Century,” the committee said in a statement. “Any discussion that is based on facts rather than assumptions and fragile scenarios, is a sound and welcome debate.”

The new law may be a sincere attempt to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon. However, each time a plan is presented to improve the living conditions of Palestinians, whether in any Arab country or the West Bank and Gaza Strip, conspiracy theorists immediately do their best to derail these efforts.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has called on Palestinians and Arabs to boycott the US-led economic conference scheduled to take place in Bahrain later this month. The planned conference, as part of the Deal of the Century, is aimed at achieving economic prosperity for the Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders, however, claim that the Bahrain economic workshop is part of an American-Israeli conspiracy to bribe the Palestinians into surrendering their “national rights”.

The Arab states, for their part, hardly seem to care about the Palestinians. Otherwise, they would not have kept them in squalor in refugee camps, decade after decade. Lebanon says it fully supports the Palestinians in their fight against Israel — but would like to see them leave the country as soon as possible. Here is the message Lebanon and other Arab countries are sending to the Palestinians: “We love you and we support you — and stay far, far away from us.”

This is the modern-day version of Arab “solidarity” with their Palestinian brothers: discrimination and apartheid — no jobs, no citizenship, no health care and no social services.

Nor do Palestinian leaders give a damn about the welfare of their people. If they did, it would be hard to justify their impressive efforts to foil an economic conference whose main goal is to lift their people out of the economic hell these very leaders created and vigorously maintain.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

New Book Reveals Bible Cure for Smartphone Addiction

Breaking Israel News - 16 hours 38 min ago

My years researching the interrelationships between digital culture, creative process, and biblical thought at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and as professor at Columbia University and universities in Israel has inspired me to write Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media. The book reveals a Bible cure for smartphone addiction plaguing millions worldwide.

Smartphones present a paradox of digital culture that is both freeing and enslaving.  They offer links to the whole world resting in the palm of your hand. However, the fear and anxiety of being cut off from those links can lead to a serious disorder that psychologists call “nomophobia,” an abbreviation for “NO-MObile-PHOne phoBIA.”

The intensity of this global epidemic becomes evident in a Google search “smartphone addiction” that yields 42,500,000 sites.  7,450,000 people search for “cures for smartphone addictions.” Scientific papers in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions and other journals of psychology and public health claim that smartphones are the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century.

I wrote Through a Bible Lens in the language of smartphones and social media to reach millennials, the most addicted population, while teaching all generations the most up-to-date thoughts on how the Bible offers fresh insights on the impact of new technologies on contemporary life.

In the Beginning God Created Media Systems

The cure for smartphone addiction is hidden in the Genesis creation narrative that begins: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1). To place this verse in a contemporary context, I translated it from the original Hebrew into the language of digital culture:

“In the network of networks, God created media systems for creating heaven and earth.  When the earth was absolutely empty and dark, God created light and separated between light and darkness (1 and 0).” (Genesis 1, 2)

The Hebrew word for “in the beginning” is beresheet, akin to the word bereshetmeaning “network.”  The media system of heaven, the spiritual realm, is made up of the 22 Hebrew letters that form all the words of the Bible.

The media system of earth, the material realm, is written with electrons and protons that form atoms and molecules. Supersized molecules like DNA contain the code of all life forms written with two pairs of two letters: A-T, T-A and C-G, G-C, on the rungs of double helix ladders revealed in the plants, fish, birds, animals, and human beings created on third, fifth, and sixth days of Creation.

Heaven, Earth and Hidden Light

There is a third media system that has been hidden from us since the Torah was received on Mt. Sinai.  Perhaps it is the hidden light of creation called Ohr Ganuzthat cannot be the light that we see emanating from the sun and stars that was not created until the fourth day of Creation. This light created on the first day of Creation is a media system made up of just two “letters,” light and darkness.

It is the light being simultaneous revealed to billions of people worldwide as they swipe their fingers across their smartphone screens. This global media system, the digital realm, returns us to the primeval binary creation of light and darkness, 1 and 0, on and off.  “God separated between the light and darkness.”(Genesis 1:4)

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Unprepared for this rapid exposure to this addicting digital light, millions are finding themselves drawn away from the spiritual dimensions of living in a material world.  However, humanity is blessed that God has provided the cure on the seventh day of Creation with a plan for rebooting our lives.

Turn Off, Tune Out, Unplug

“On six days do all your work, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of compete rest, holy to God.” (Exodus 35:2)

Adopt the formula instituted millennia ago to free the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt to free you from being enslaved by digital technologies that too often rule all our waking hours.   This verse from the Ten Commandments enjoins us to remember what it was to be a slave who never had a break from the repetitive sameness of life day after day.

Observing a Sabbath day by turning off, tuning out, and unplugging once a week is the first step in curing smartphone addiction.  It was an unprecedented concept in the ancient world with potent relevance in today’s digital culture.

Make every seventh day different from the other six days of the week.  Just tune into God’s creations rather than human creations. Enjoy family and friends, walk in the forest and fields, and watch the sunrise and sunset.

Shabbat is a Divine gift to all people for all time.   You are invited to observe Shabbat as a powerful way to free you from being enslaved by technological wizardry.  On the eighth day, return with renewed energies to being immersed in the amazing technological wonders of our era knowing that you are free to tune out, turn off and unplug on the next Shabbat.

The highly acclaimed book Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media is available at Amazon and other Internet booksellers and bookstores.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Phoneweek

UK to send Royal Marines to Persian Gulf to protect British ships

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 20:53

As the pressure increases after Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers were attacked last week, Britain has joined the US, Saudi Arabia and others in accusing Iran of carrying out the attacks.

Saudi crown prince calls for "decisive stand" on tanker attacks

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 20:24

Bin Salman said the kingdom does not want a war in the region but would not hesitate to deal with any threat to its vital interests, amid heightened tensions with rival Iran.

Qatari envoy expected to arrive in Gaza with funds on Sunday - report

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 16:10

According to the report, Emadi will join the Qatari delegation in Jerusalem on Sunday morning in order to conduct talks with Israel before heading to the Gaza Strip.

Israel joins U.S. in accusing Iran of oil tankers attack - report

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 16:05

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador after British government accused Iran of the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran summons UK envoy over 'unfounded' tanker accusations

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 14:42

"During the meeting with Iran's foreign ministry official, Iran strongly condemned the unfounded allegations and criticized Britain's unacceptable stance regarding the attacks in the Gulf of Oman."

Iran renews nuclear pact ultimatum amid tensions with U.S.

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 14:22

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018.

Rouhani: Iran will continue to scale back nuclear deal commitments

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 04:04

During a meeting with leaders of Turky, China, and other Asian countries the Iranian president said Teheran doesn’t see “positive signals” from other nations.

Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidant, insists on two-state solution

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 20:15

That puts him at odds with his party platform, the Trump administration and Israel’s government.

Turkey seeks jail terms for two Bloomberg reporters

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 19:04

The indictment, seen by Reuters, was in relation to a Bloomberg story published in August 2018. The article was about the effects of a sharp decline in the Turkish lira.

What was Iran’s plan behind tankers attack?

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 18:23

Iranian media falsely reported that the country rescued all the crew of the tankers, that one sank and even showed fake video. Why?

Fatah expels mayor for ‘inviting’ settlers to son’s wedding

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 16:53

Fatah said it has also formed a commission of inquiry to investigate Radi Nasser, the mayor of Deir Qaddis, 16 kilometers west of Ramallah.

Iran sees Japan's Abe as mediator for easing U.S. sanctions

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 13:30

Tehran threatens new measures if additional parties exit nuclear agreement, but one analyst thinks that’s a bluff.

Terrorist Attacks This Year Tops 1,000

Breaking Israel News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:15

In their weekly terror report, Boomerang reports that 19 firebombs and 15 arson attacks brought the total number of terrorist attacks since the beginning of 2019 to a total of 1029. And IDF soldiers receive the gift of 100 pizzas to give them the energy to fight the enemies of Israel.

Jerusalem Conference Addresses Recent Spike of Jew-Hatred in US

Breaking Israel News - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:02

Moderating a panel in Jerusalem this week titled “The Mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism: The Media, BDS and Celebrated Bigotry,” David Hazony, executive director of the Israel Innovation Fund, analyzed the issue right off the bat: “What you are seeing on [North American college] campuses is only a thin slice of the anti-Semitic beast that has emerged in our public life around the world in the last six months, in the last year.”

The event was hosted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), in partnership with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Hazony’s organization.

Hazony added, All of a sudden, The New York Times’ editorial-page cartoons; all of a sudden, columns; all of a sudden, valedictory addresses, commencement speeches, congressional convocations, politicians—all of a sudden in America, you’ve got synagogues being shot up, synagogues being torched. All of a sudden, what we thought had been hidden, gone away, has come roaring back.”

He went on to ask: “Is it possible that anti-Semitism and assimilation—the two great crises facing the Diaspora today—are really two sides of the same coin?”

“At a time when the next generation of Jews feels less connection, has less knowledge, has less commitment to our collective than any generation in the past,” he continued, “is it any wonder that this monster that’s been lurking in the deep smells blood, smells weakness and chooses this time to rear its head?”

Whether or not Hazony’s anti-Semitism/assimilation theory is correct, the numbers don’t lie. During his comments, Dan Diker, a fellow and senior project director at the JCPA who is heading their program to counter political warfare and BDS, cited a study indicating a 70 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City in the first six months of this year compared to 2018, with another study showing attacks on Jews up 57 percent nationally in the United States.

Diker, who displayed the recently published anti-Semitic New York Times’ political cartoon on a screen behind him, which depicted a blind U.S. President Donald Trump wearing a yarmulke being led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his guide dog, wearing a Star of David on his collar, said a Hudson Institute study that just came out showed that 45 percent of 18-to 65-year-old likely American voters in 2020 could not or would not determine that the cartoon was anti-Semitic.

That cartoon caused a social-media uproar after the image was shown to mirror caricatures in Nazi publications of the 1930s and 1940s in Germany.

Diker says that the Hudson study results shows that perhaps “we have been living with the new normal—the normalization of the demonization of Jews and the Jewish state. And I would argue that the ongoing decades-old long demonization and dehumanization of the Jewish state has been misunderstood as political criticism when in truth, it has been the new virulent form of anti-Semitism.”

‘Outside the ballpark of legitimate criticism’

But what is considered legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, and when does that cross over into anti-Semitism?

Diker tells JNS that “legitimate criticism is defined by the criticizer having the facts, and asking questions about facts and fact-based policy, having researched the context of the question.”

However, he explains that if critics engage in demonization, delegitimization or double-standards—the “3 Ds” developed by Natan Sharansky, former deputy prime minister of Israel and longtime prisoner of Zion in the former Soviet Union, and which are the founding principles of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) international definition of anti-Semitism—then “they are outside the norm and the ballpark of legitimate criticism.”

He added that “without any doubt, BDS is a demonstrably anti-Semitic in substance, in intent and in implication.” He noted that Israelis especially have an obligation to unmask the anti-Semitic roots of the BDS movement.

While he believes that defining BDS as anti-Semitism is the consensus in Israel, it was Germany’s parliament last month that became the first country in the European Union to pass a resolution designating BDS against Israel as being anti-Semitic.

Diker noted that the only two groups to condemn the German parliament’s censure of BDS were the terror group Hamas, and 240 Israeli and Jewish academics in Israel and abroad, the latter of which have mistaken the campaign for legitimate criticism of the Jewish state.

He did, however, conclude with some positive news, saying that “the major leaders in Europe and the United States have clearly stated that BDS is anti-Semitism.”

‘Willing to speak up about it’

Ricki Hollander, senior media analyst at CAMERA, discussed anti-Semitism in the media, first describing the Times’ reaction to the political cartoon. The newspaper originally released a statement calling it “an error in judgement,” and only much later issued a formal apology, essentially blaming an “unsupervised editor” for allowing its publication.

As a result, however, she noted that The New York Times this week banned political cartoons.

Still, Hollander posed, “How is any editor at all of the ‘paper of record’ incapable of recognizing classic anti-Semitic imagery?”

She went on to cite numerous articles in the paper that portray Israel as the aggressor in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, who are over and over again shown to be the victims of brutality by the Israel Defense Forces, while at the same time whitewashing violence and terror by groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Hollander said that when CAMERA tried to set the record straight after several articles implied that Israel was targeting civilians at the Gaza border during this past year of “return marches”—articles that referred to violent rioters as “peaceful protesters”—the corrections’ editor defended their choice of terms and said a correction was not warranted, saying they were demonstraters across the board, even if some were violent.

Hollander explained that “when journalists use double standards or distort, conceal and revise the facts in order to maintain their rigid narrative of Israeli guilt, they’re not relaying legitimate criticism of Israel. And when a newspaper standards editor twists herself into a pretzel to defend their biased reporting, we see how deeply entrenched is this anti-Semitism that masquerades as criticism of Israel.”

Aviva Rosenschein, International Campus Director for CAMERA, detailed growing anti-Semitism on college campuses, saying that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters across the United States have shared anti-Semitic literature, trying to hide it under the guise of anti-Zionism. But she said their mistakes have, at times, “revealed their true colors.”

While the Times’ cartoon used Nazi-like imagery, Rosenschein gave examples of SJP using actual Nazi imagery in materials meant to be critical of Israel and its political policies.

According to Rosenschein, collaboration between SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), another radical anti-Israel organization, is also fueling anti-Semitism at universities.

“Neither SJP nor JVP represent mainstream Jews,” she said, “yet both groups somehow think that they are in a position to decide what constitutes discrimination and bigotry against Jews.”

She added that the anti-Semitic agenda of groups like SJP and JVP are often glossed over and misunderstood by university administrations.

Rosenschein told JNS that it is also surprising that many instances of anti-Semitic activity take place at schools with high Jewish student populations.

On the positive side, this means “we have the numbers to do something about it,” she said.

At those campuses and others, “there is no reason why we should be sitting back and taking it, and feeling intimidated. So though it is difficult for the Jewish students, as long as they have the support and the backing, they will stand up, and that’s the main thing we are trying to get across—that people need to feel strongly about their views and willing to speak up about it.”

She told the audience: “The more chancellors, administrators, university donors, faculty and students understand the real goals of these extremist organizations, the more allies we will have to stand up against their hate. We cannot expect the average American to know about these difficult issues; we must be willing to educate others.”