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Updated: 1 hour 54 min ago

Locust Swarm “of Biblical Proportions” Hits Italy

6 hours 59 min ago

A swarm of locusts enveloped Sardinia off the coast of Italy last week. Local farmers reported it was the worst infestation they had seen since the end of World War II. The Italian agricultural association Coldiretti released a statement on Tuesday saying “We are walking on locust carpet.”

LOCUST INVASION: Sardinia is seeing its worst outbreak of locusts in 70 years.

The infestation, which farmers say is due to recent weather patters, is destroying crops and infesting houses on the Italian Island. https://t.co/1TGrPuGnzN pic.twitter.com/CLsjoKlLcL

— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2019

“We had droughts in 2017 and a lot of rain in 2018, the ideal climate for locusts to emerge from fallow land and then move to cultivated fields to eat,” said Michele Arbau, from Coldiretti Sardinia.

“There is nothing we can do about it this year,” he told Reuters,

“I have never seen anything like it in 53 years of life,” breeder Luigi Puggioni told the Italian newspaper La Nuova, who described the swarm as “biblical.”

Vegetation has been severely hit and the industry fears it may be too late to save this year’s crop.

For the Biblically inclined, swarms of locusts evoke images of pre-Exodus Egypt.

They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)

According to Jewish tradition, the ten-plagues will reappear before the Messiah. Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, explained this aspect of the Messianic process to Breaking Israel News, quoting the Prophet Micah.

I will show him wondrous deeds As in the days when You sallied forth from the land of EgyptMicah 7:15

“All of the miracles will reappear, all of the plagues, the entire story, in all its pain and all its glory,” Rabbi Berger said. “Our job in this generation is to speak about it, to pray for it, even while it is unfolding in front of our eyes.”

A similar plague of locusts covered the Great Mosque in Mecca in December, leading many to wonder if the wheels of redemption were beginning to turn.


Erdogan Expecting Delivery of Russian S-400s in July

7 hours 5 min ago

In a bold move, Turkey announced the purchase of advanced missile defense systems from Moscow. This decision could force America to deny Ankara F-35 fighter jets.

 

Citing Turkey’s NTV,  Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he expects Russia to start delivering  S-400 missile defense systems as early as July.

 

Turkey’s ambitions to purchase the S-400 system has constrained relations between NATO members. The US is concerned that the sale could provide Russia with access to sensitive technical data if it is operated adjacently to US fighter jets. The country could be facing crippling economic sanctions if it carries out the exchange.

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“We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled,” Erdogan said to journalists upon returning from Tajikistan. There, he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

 

“I think they will start to come in the first half of July,” Erdogan explained.

 

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened that they would “respond” if the US enacts sanctions on Ankara over the plan to buy the defense system.

 

“If the United States takes any negative actions toward us, we will also take reciprocal steps,” Cavusoglu told reporters when asked about sanctions. The statement was translated by Reuters of an interview that aired on Turkish TV.

 

US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan penned a letter to his Turkish counterpart saying that the training of Turkish pilots will be halted on July 31. He added that Turkey would not be permitted to take final possession of the F-35 jets it had purchased.

 

Modern day Israeli Pioneers Revive the Field’s of Boaz

7 hours 41 min ago

During the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost), Jewish people worldwide recite the Book of Ruth. Meet the modern-day Israeli pioneers who established a flourishing community in ‘Sde Boaz’ (Boaz’s field).

War on the Way? Saudi Prince Blames Iran for Tanker Attacks

8 hours 26 min ago

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned Saturday that Saudi Arabia “will not hesitate to deal with any threat,” after accusing Iran of responsibility for attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); }); “We do not want a war in the region … But we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” Prince Mohammed was quoted as saying in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese,” he said.

Burning tanker in Strait of Hormuz (Photo YouTube)

Thursdays attacks, on the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, came just a month after the United Arab Emirates reported “sabotage attacks” against four commercial ships off its coast in the Gulf of Oman.

The Thursday attacks caused a major hike in crude prices.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the attacks by saying they had Iran “written all over it,” and Israel’s Channel 13 news reported Saturday night that Israeli intelligence has confirmed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps did in fact commit the attacks, using mines and a torpedo.

Though Iran has denied any involvement, a video released Friday by the U.S. military purports to show IRGC soldiers detaching an unexploded mine from one of the oil tankers, allegedly in an effort to remove evidence.

Iran responded to the accusations by charging the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel with trying to “sabotage diplomacy,” further blaming the United States for waging an “Iranophobic campaign.”

PSALMS 147:14

8 hours 27 min ago

While the Bible makes frequent mention of military affairs and speaks often of soldiers, the important principle that emerges is found in this verse: Ha-sam g’vulaych shalom (השם גבולך שלום). Translated here as ‘He endows your realm with well-being,’ these words literally mean ‘He who makes your borders peaceful.’ We must always remember that ultimately, our own efforts do not matter. Rather, Hashem is behind all of our successes. Though the modern Israeli army is one of the strongest in the world, it continuously remembers the true source of its strength. At their swearing-in ceremony, which often takes place at the Western Wall, each IDF soldier is handed a Tanakh and a gun, as a reminder that ultimately the One above is the source of their physical strength and their military success.

Israel Initiates New System to Warn Civilians of Rocket Attacks

9 hours 23 min ago

The new system is touted as being more precise and easier to understand.

Hamas ‘Investigating’ Latest Rocket Attack on Israel

9 hours 34 min ago

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that his organization is “investigating the rocket fire on Israel, as there was no order to any group to do it.”

Haniyeh was referring to Thursday’s rocket fire on southern Israel, which hit a religious school in the city of Sderot.

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The statement was made during Haniyeh’s meeting with U.N. Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov in Gaza. According to Palestinian media reports, the Hamas leader stressed that Gaza’s rulers were “committed to the understandings reached as part of the ceasefire. We want it [the ceasefire] to continue.”

Also on Saturday, Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy of Hamas military leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, said that a delegation of senior Egyptian officials is scheduled to arrive in Gaza in the coming days, in an effort to further understandings between Hamas and Israel, so as to prevent further escalation. A Qatari delegation is also expected to arrive in the Strip, he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians rioted along the volatile Gaza-Israel border on Friday.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said 46 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire. It did not elaborate.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers launched the protests more than a year ago, demanding an end to a crippling blockade Israel and Egypt imposed when the terrorist group seized the territory by force in 2007.

For First Time Since the Days of King Ahab: Israel and Lebanon to Open Maritime Border Talks

9 hours 41 min ago

Israel and Lebanon are readying to open maritime border talks in July, a move which may open up the trade necessary to build the Third Temple.

Israel’s Channel 13 news station cited senior Israeli officials who said the two sides have made significant progress with regard to direct talks. The goal of the negotiations is to demarcate the maritime border between the two states. The initial round of direct negotiations is expected to kick off in July.

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According to the report, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield, who was mediating the negotiations last week, experienced a breakthrough between the Lebanese government and Israel’s Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz. The marine border agreement should impact offshore oil and gas exploration. However, one of the main sticking points is Israel’s demand for a six-month deadline.

According to the report, direct negotiations are to take place at UNIFIL offices in Nakura, giving the UN some say in the discussions as well. Israel has reiterated that the discussions will focus solely on the maritime border and not land borders.

Israel and Lebanon have not yet resolved their longstanding maritime border dispute. The disagreement covers an area that extends 860 sq. km in the Mediterranean Sea. This triangle includes blocks for exploratory offshore drilling that Lebanon would love to get their hands on. Lebanon claims that two of the blocks that are situated in the disputed waters belong to their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Sections of Block 9 run through an area that Israel asserts as its own EEZ.

Oil and gas reserves that have been discovered off the coasts of both Lebanon and Israel are estimated to generate up to $600 billion over the course of the next several decades.

Trade between the two countries is not entirely unprecedented. Cedars were imported from Lebanon and used extensively in the construction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Once a staple in Lebanon, the species is becoming rare.  One of the last vestiges of the extensive forests of the Lebanon cedar is a forest preserve located at Bsharri named Cedars of God.

Netanyahu to Lay Cornerstone in New Israeli Village Named for Trump

9 hours 55 min ago

After President Trump made his historic decision to recognize the Golan Heights region as part of Israel, the Israeli government responded in kind by announcing the establishment of a new village named after the US leader.

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A special cabinet meeting is to take place on Sunday to approve the name of a village adjacent to Kela Alon in Israel’s northern Golan region to ‘Ramat Trump’ which translates to: ‘Trump Heights’. The community is to fall under the jurisdiction of the Golan Regional Council.

“In recognition of the work of the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump, on behalf of the State of Israel in a wide range of fields, and expressing gratitude for the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights led by President Donald Trump, it was decided to initiate establishment of a new residential community on the Golan Heights called Ramat Trump,” the resolution read.

Usually, cabinet meetings take place at the Prime Minister’s residence but this one will take place 150 miles north in the Golan Heights region, near the Syrian border.

Sources close to the matter told Arutz Sheva that the Israeli premier hopes to be the one to lay the cornerstone for the new village before Israel’s upcoming elections. The ceremony is expected to be a festive one whereby senior figures in the US administration will be invited, possibly even the US president himself.

Recognizing Israeli sovereignty was not only a political move but since the Golan was the region in Israel God commanded to be settled by the tribe of Menashe, Trump’s declaration was also the realization of the Divine plan for Israel.

The Hardest Father’s Day Ever

10 hours 11 min ago

While the people of Mevo Modi’im are struggling to cope with the aftermath of a wildfire that left the entire community homeless, the Illowitz family is having the most difficult Father’s Day of their lives, spent praying that search teams (and Hashem) will return their father to them.

Three weeks ago, Jews around the world celebrated Lag Ba’omer, the 33rd day of the 49-day counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot. Many Jews celebrate the day with bonfires and barbecues. Mount Meron near Tzfat (Safed) is the focus of a mass pilgrimage with up to 250,000 people spending the night, praying and celebrating at the gravesite of the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, known by the acronym of his name “Rashbi”, who passed away on that day. It is a night of great devotion and prayer. Moshe Eliezer Illowitz, a 37-year old father of five and a resident of Mevo Modi’im, traveled to the site the week before in preparation for the holiday.

(Photo courtesy Israel Dog Unit/Mike Ben Yaakov) Poster asking for information about Moshe Ilowitz

On the Friday night before the holiday, Moshe prayed at the Tomb of the Rashbi but did not return to the place where he was staying. The family was supposed to join him In Meron on Sunday, but when his wife called him on Saturday night to finalize their plans, she did not receive an answer.

After three days, the Israel Dog Unit, headed by Mike ben Yaakov, was called in to help with the search, combing the forest surrounding the mountain.  Ben Ya’akov noted that all of Illowitz’s personal items including his cellular phone tefillin (phylacteries), money and passport were found in the place where he was staying in Meron.

On the following Thursday morning, the morning after Lag Ba-Omer, arsonists set fires in the Ben Shemen forest surrounding the town, known simply as ‘the Moshav’. While frantically searching for her husband, Chaya Illowitz was forced to evacuate her home with her children, fleeing with only a few moments notice. They returned on Friday morning to find their home severely damaged by fire. The entire community was left homeless. As a temporary measure, the people are being housed in the dormitories of the Ben Shemen Youth Village in Yad Binyamin.

“We’ve been using Search and Rescue dogs (SAR),” explained Ben Yaakov. “There are still a lot of areas we want to cover. We have certainly not given up hope that we will find him.”

Chaya Illowitz has been coping with keeping her family housed and fed, though she and her son have joined search teams when they could.

“It is all about emuna (belief in God),” Chaya told Breaking Israel News. “Every day I have to push myself to get out of bed. I have to push myself and I do it, all for my children. We have hope that he will come back to us. We believe in Hashem and that everything is for the best but we have to go through whatever we have to go through. My children are amazing. They are very strong but they really miss their abba (father). We want am yisrael (the nation of Israel) to pray with us for him to come back to me and the children.”

According to Jewish tradition, prayers for mercy include the recipient’s name and his mother’s name. In this case, the public is requested to pray for Moshe Eliezer ben (the son of) Pearl Malkah Henya.

(Photo courtesy Mike Ben yaakov Israel Dog Unit)

The Dog Unit is organizing a mass effort on Tuesday of 100 volunteers who will fill in all of the areas that have yet to be searched. The unit is also employing dogs that are specially training to find cadavers for a worst-case scenario.

Despite being hard-pressed after losing their home and all of their belongings, the family is offering a NIS 50,000 reward to anyone who finds Moshe.

The community of Mevo Modiin was founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, known as the singing rabbi. His brand of Judaism, based on love and inclusion, attracted many from the hippie counterculture in the 1960’s. Many young Jews came to his small synagogues in New York City and San Francisco called “The House of Love and Prayer.” Many of these people followed him to Israel, settling in Mevo Modiin in 1975 when the region was largely unsettled.  The group is a collection of eclectic individuals, including musicians, artists, organic farmers, wine makers, perfumers, and Torah scholars. Their hand-painted synagogue, itself a work of art, was filled with joyous service based on the songs of Rabbi Carlebach.

The community had an open-door policy and brought many people, Jew and non-Jew, closer to Torah with their unique brand of joyous service to God. This undoubtedly was an approach they learned from their ‘rebbe’ (spiritual teacher), Rabbi Carlebach. Known simply as ‘the Moshav’, the extended family of these very special Jews circles the globe.

Global Christian Persecution Remains High, Media Interest Remains Low

15 hours 37 sec 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

16 hours 34 sec 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

17 hours 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

Terrorist Attacks This Year Tops 1,000

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

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.”

PROVERBS 10:22

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:02

In Sefer Devarim (11:10-12), the Torah describes how the Promised Land is different from Egypt. In Egypt, one could water his crops from the Nile by using his foot to easily direct water to his fields, but in the Land of Israel, the eyes of Hashem are on the land. It is only through His blessings, as our verse says, that the land enriches and provides its fruits. Modern Israel has compensated for its lack of natural water resources and limited rainfall through great technological breakthroughs such as water recycling and desalination. Nevertheless, we must always remember that even with great technology and innovation, “it is the blessing of Hashem that enriches.”

Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism Unanimously Passes Senate

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 05:45

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed on Thursday a bipartisan resolution, introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), condemning anti-Semitism.

“‘In the United States, Jews have suffered from systematic discrimination in the form of exclusion from home ownership in certain neighborhoods, prohibition from staying in certain hotels, restrictions upon membership in private clubs and other associations, limitations upon admission to certain educational institutions, and other barriers to equal justice under the law,’” said Cruz. “This is a shameful legacy, and it makes it all the more incumbent that we as a Senate, speak in one voice and stand resolved that the United States condemns and commits to combating all forms of anti-Semitism.”

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“Right now, we are seeing an uptick in hate crimes against Jewish communities. We have to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is real, it’s dangerous, and it’s growing,” said Kaine. “Those of us in leadership positions need to stand up against it, and I’m grateful that Senator Cruz reached out to work together on this bipartisan effort. I’m proud the Senate came together to unanimously pass our resolution that shows we will do everything in our power to combat this rise in anti-Semitism.”

The resolution briefly mentions anti-Semitism’s history from The Protocols of the Elder of Zion to the Holocaust to the campaign to boycott Jewish businesses to the hatred Jews currently face.

It was co-sponsored by 46 other senators, most of them Republican.

Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) were the only non-Republicans to co-sponsor the resolution.

The Senate passage occurred more than three months after the U.S. House of Representatives was criticized for watering down and passing a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

It was in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who defended her remarks accusing her “Jewish colleagues” for attacking her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for labeling every criticism of theirs as anti-Israel because of the faith of the two congresswomen, in addition to slamming her critics regarding “the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The House nor Senate resolution mentioned Omar by name.

House Democrats Sponsor Resolution Condemning Mideast Peace Plan That Excludes Two States

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 05:37

More than half of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are sponsoring a non-binding resolution, backed by J Street, condemning any Mideast peace plan that excludes two states.

There are 235 Democrats in the lower chamber.

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This comes ahead of the Trump administration releasing the first part of its peace proposal between the Israelis and the Palestinians through at economic summit later this month in Bahrain.

Introduced last month by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), the resolution calls for “a two-state solution that is consistent with the broadly held consensus positions for resolving the conflict’s final status issues as reflected in previous United States proposals.”

Two Rocket Attacks From Gaza in 24 Hours But “Miracle” Saves Men Studying Torah

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 05:07

Red Alert sirens sounded in southern Israel just after 9:00 pm on Thursday night and seconds later, a rocket hit the Lev Ladaat Yeshiva (Torah school) complex in the city of Sderot. The building was damaged but no injuries were reported. The yeshiva was part of the Hesder program which integrates Torah study and service in the IDF. Most of the students had already left the yeshiva to go to their homes in other cities.

ההסלמה בדרום: תיעוד מהפגיעה בשדרות@Itsik_zuarets (צילום: מנדי ריזל) pic.twitter.com/0mnAE7FJwg

— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) June 13, 2019

Due to its proximity to Gaza, Sderot residents have just 15 seconds or less to seek shelter when a rocket alarm sounds. It is believed that the rocket malfunctioned and did not explode. Had it detonated, the damage to the building would have been far greater. It is unclear why the Iron Dome system did not intercept the rocket.

The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi David Fendel, spoke to the media, calling the outcome of the rocket attack “a miracle.”

“A miracle happened to us. We thank the Creator for saving the young men who were sitting and engaged in Torah study,” Rabbi Fendel said to Israel National News. The rabbi explained that there were several men learning Torah just a few meters away from the point of impact.

The IDF released a statement saying that the IAF launched aerial attacks targeting “several terror targets, including terror infrastructure in military compounds.”

Last night, a rocket fired from Gaza struck a school and synagogue in Israel.

A short while ago, we struck Hamas terror targets in Gaza.

Terror targets civilians,
Israel targets terror. pic.twitter.com/Jp67TvsucN

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) June 14, 2019

One target was described as belonging to the Hamas terror group’s naval commando unit.

This was the second attack against Israel on Thursday. Just after midnight on Thursday, the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza towards southern Israel. Red alert air raid sirens went off, giving advance warning of the rocket attack. Israeli air-force jets responded by attacking military targets in the al-Rayyan neighborhood east of Rafah and another on in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

In the beginning of May, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired approximately 700 rockets at Israeli cities, killing four civilians and injuring close to 80.

US Blames Iran for Attack on Two Oil Tankers in Sea of Oman in Potentially Explosive Situation [WATCH]

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 04:27

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for an attack against two oil tankers, the Norwegian-owned  Front Altair and the Singapore-owned ship Kokuka Courageous, in the Sea of Oman as part of their plan to cut off the vital oil shipping route through the Straits of Hormuz. No casualties were reported.

It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran. pic.twitter.com/cbLrWNU5S0

— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 13, 2019

The Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond, has been at the heart of regional tensions for decades.

“This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests,” Pompeo told reporters on Thursday. “On April 22, Iran promised the world it would interrupt the flow of the oil through the Strait of Hormuz. It is now working to execute on that promise.”

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, and North America. It has been the focus of regional tensions for decades. 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, the shipping lane is just two miles wide in either direction and is highly susceptible to attack. About one-fifth of the entire global consumption of oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. It is also the route used for nearly all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced by the world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting the commercial ships in the area.

#BREAKING: @US5thFleet official statement regarding shipping vessels in #GulfOfOman. #USNavy‘s #USSBainbridge rendering assistance – https://t.co/2bhOXQxO5z pic.twitter.com/V74UV2awBP

— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) June 13, 2019

Iran claimed that it rescued the crews of the tankers after the attack but that claim has been debunked. A spokesman for the US Central Command said the 21 crew members from the Singapore oil tanker Kokuka Courageous, which was en route from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a shipment of methanol when it was attacked, were on board the US Navy ship USS Bainbridge.

Another statement this evening from CENTCOM, this time w/ a timeline attached+pics of the Kokuka Courageous:

One key line: “Today’s attacks are a clear threat to int’l freedom of navigation & freedom of commerce.”@CENTCOM also sent a video, but my computer can’t/won’t load it pic.twitter.com/EbyxFuhE0e

— Ben Watson (@natsecwatson) June 14, 2019

A U.S. defense official told CNN that sailors aboard a US naval destroyer spotted an unexploded mine on one of two tankers. A limpet mine is a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets. The Pentagon released photos and a video taken from the USS Bainbridge that they claim shows Iranian forces removing the unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous.

Iran has been known to use Limpet mines against tankers in the past most notably during the “Tanker Wars” in the late 1980s.

On May 12, four oil tankers — two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati — were damaged in still unexplained attacks in the Gulf of Oman off the United Arab Emirates (UAE). U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Iranian naval mines were almost certainly behind those attacks but declined to provide specific evidence that Tehran was involved.  A UAE investigation into the incident concluded that the explosions were mostly caused by Limpet mines attached by highly-trained divers deployed by small, fast boats.