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Updated: 1 hour 57 min ago

Evangelical Christian Leader Demands Ilhan Omar’s Resignation Over Antisemitism

7 hours 14 min ago

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations is launching a nationwide campaign to create enough pressure to demand Ilhan Omar’s immediate resignation from Congress.

The move, which includes a petition called “The Million Signature March,” follows at least two separate occasions when Rep. Omar’s tweets have been interpreted as wildly antisemitic. Cardoza-Moore who serves as a United Nations Special Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC) which represents over 44 million congregants worldwide and whose “Focus On Israel” television program reaches a global audience of over a billion, has begun to increase pressure upon Omar to stand down.

“Ilhan Omar is waging an unholy war against the Jewish people from Congress,” said Cardoza-Moore. “She is about to learn that the Jewish people don’t stand alone, millions of people of faith and conscience stand with the Jewish people. We will neither sleep nor slumber as she uses the heart of American democracy and freedom to defame God’s chosen people and God’s chosen land.”

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Cardoza-Moore laid out specific charges against Omar, despite an apology that the Democratic Representative from Minnesota was supposedly forced to give, under pressure from the Democratic Party leadership – including Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

“Ilhan Omar tricked her electorate into voting for her by lying about her support for Israel,” Cardoza-Moore maintained. “She supports the destruction of the State of Israel and is a virulent antisemite with close connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. As American patriots and people of faith, we cannot afford to standby as she continues to sow religious hatred. Proclaiming Justice to The Nations has launched a nationwide petition demanding her immediate resignation. We will continue to act as a firewall around the Jewish people, whenever Jew hatred arises, because their God is our God and their values are our values.”

Omar’s animus toward Israel and Jews has a long germination period. She tweeted in 2012, during the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, that “Israel had hypnotized the world.”

Her latest remarks two weeks ago, referred to an ancient anti-Jewish prejudice about their control of money – particularly in reference to AIPAC and its alleged hold over members of Congress.

The Muslim Who Fights for Israel

7 hours 30 min ago

Despite death threats, Sara Zoabi, an Israeli Arab Muslim, fights for Israel, saying: “I will never stop loving the Jews.”

JUDGES 20:1

8 hours 26 min ago

Be’er Sheva, mentioned in this verse as the southern boundary of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael, was a vital city in biblical times. Be’er Sheva is one of the primary places where Avraham lives and digs a well, be’er (באר) in Hebrew. Yitzchak builds an altar there, and Yaakov passes through on the way to Beit El and later stops to bring sacrifices there on his way down to Egypt. In contemporary Israel, Be’er Sheva is known as “the capital of the Negev Desert.” It is a thriving, multicultural city with a population including many Jews from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, a major hospital and a large university. The city is one of the many ancient cities in the Land of Israel that the Children of Israel have revived and developed.

Jordanians Give Substantial Control of the Temple Mount to Palestinians

9 hours 12 min ago

Jordan has expanded a council that administers Muslim institutions on the Temple Mount, giving Palestinians 40 percent of the seats for the first time in a body previously reserved for trusted individuals close to the monarchy of Jordanian King Abdullah Hussein.

According to a report by Haaretz on Monday, the Jordanian government enlarged the Waqf religious trust to include Palestinians, who will now have a significantly larger say on the sight of two Jewish Holy Temples: the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The seven Palestinians appointed to the council will increase the body from 11 to 18 seats, and includes religious and political leaders from Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

The new members include the Palestinian Authority’s illegal governor in Jerusalem Adnan al-Husayni; P.A. official Khatem Abdel Kader; controversial Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein; President of Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem Imad Abu Kishek; and Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, a religious leader with ties to the ruling Turkish regime.

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The expanded group met on Feb. 14 on the Temple Mount near Sha’ar HaRachamim (“the Gate of Mercy”), which was sealed off in 2003 by Israeli security officials due to illegal construction by the Waqf and management by individuals tied to Hamas that allegedly led to the destruction of rare and priceless antiquities from the time of the Temples. They subsequently entered the restricted area and prayed, without any injunction from Israeli authorities, except for calling Waqf head Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi in for questioning.

The interrogation was subsequently canceled due to pressure from Jordan, according to Haaretz.

On Monday, the Waqf called on Muslims to converge on the building adjacent to Sha’ar HaRachamim for a mass-protest prayer rally. Several Arab men proceeded to kick down the gate and illegally infiltrate the building, upon which Israeli police rushed the building and arrested five people in the resulting clashes.

In response, Israel closed the Temple Mount on Monday afternoon, a move that resulted in a letter from the Jordanian foreign ministry chastising Israel, and demanding the reopening of the gate and the removal of all Israeli security personnel.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas accused “Israeli occupation authorities” of “temporal and spatial division of the mosque,” and said he was “warning it against its continued repressive and arbitrary policies, which will only lead to repercussions and fuel the feelings of the Palestinian people.”

He did not elaborate on which repercussions Israel would face.

80 Gravestones Desecrated in French Jewish Cemetery at German Border

10 hours 25 min ago

As many as 80 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in France were discovered vandalized on Tuesday morning, adding to the latest wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the country.

The cemetery, located in the village of Quatzenheim, near the border with Germany, was desecrated with swastikas painted on gravestones—one of which consisted of the words “Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe,” or “Black Alsacian Wolves,” a group that associated with neo-Nazis in the 1970s.

Jean-Luc Marx, the top security official in the Alsace region, where the cemetery is situated, condemned “in the strongest possible terms this awful anti-Semitic act and sends his complete support to the Jewish community which has been targeted again.”

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit the damage at the cemetery on Tuesday prior to visiting the Paris Holocaust memorial, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told RTL radio.

This development occurred hours ahead of marches nationwide against the latest anti-Semitic trend in France. Former French presidents Franςois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, who is Jewish, joined in solidarity.

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On Saturday, protesters from the “yellow-vests” movement who have been demonstrating over recent months against Macron’s government, yelled anti-Semitic profanities at philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who was targeted with labels such as “dirty Zionist s***,” “Dirty Jew,” in addition to being told, “You’re a hater, you’re going to die, you’re going to hell.” Finkielkraut was guarded by police.

The previous day, two teenagers were apprehended after allegedly firing shots with an air rifle towards a Paris synagogue, injuring one Jewish gentleman. The motive was anti-Semitism, according to prosecutors.

Also part of the latest anti-Semitic wave includes a tree commemorating a young French Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 being cut off, the word “Juden” (German for “Jew”) scribbled on the window of a Paris bagel bakery, and swastikas drawn on Paris mailboxes decorated with a picture of former government minister and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, who died in 2017.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said last week that the number of recorded antisemitic acts soared by 74 percent in 2018.

“It just doesn’t stop, it’s shock after shock,” Maurice Dahan, the regional head of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, told AFP after the cemetery attack. “I don’t know how long we are going to carry on… It makes me feel sick.”

The Elvis Presley of Supernovae

10 hours 57 min ago

Elvis Presley is not the only big star who allegedly “faked” their death. It can happen with heavy stars as well.

Over 99% of stars develop at a very slow pace – over tens of millions to hundreds of billions of years. But there are exceptions whose rate of development is very fast. Every year, dozens of heavy stars explode in other galaxies. These supernova explosions end the star’s active life, causing them to remain neutron stars that are slightly heavier than our sun – or a black hole that is the most dense object in nature.

The last supernova explosion of a massive star in our Milky Way galaxy was observed in the 17th century in the Cassiopea group. A supernova explosion is a one-time event for any heavy star, and the star actually ends its life.

But there are special rare stars – 100 times heavier than the sun – that “falsify their deaths.” These erupt in giant bursts that throw a lot of material into the star’s surroundings and shine in a light almost as strong as a supernova. These outbursts confuse scientists who mistakenly think that it was indeed a real supernova explosion.

This is where the heavy pair of stars called Carina Nebula (or Homunculus Nebula or Eta Carinae) comes in. It is located in the Carina-Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way, at a distance between 6,500 and 10,000 light years from Earth. The nebula spans about 460 light years in diameter, covering an area of three degrees of the sky. It is one of the largest known star-forming regions in the Milky Way. It is now known to be a binary star system and one of a small class of stars called “luminous blue variables.”

The English astronomer Sir Edmond Halley described it in 1677 as a “star of about fourth magnitude”. Beginning in 1811, the brightness of the star began to rise slowly and reached its peak in April 1843. In 1838, Sir John Herschel observed it as a first-magnitude star. By 1843, it had reached its greatest recorded brightness, as bright as the brightest stars. Unlike the common types of exploding stars called novae and  supernovae, it remained bright for several years. From about 1857 it faded steadily, disappearing to the unaided eye only about 1870.

Since then it has varied irregularly about the seventh magnitude. The nebula around the star was formed during its 19th-century brightening and is an expanding shell of gas and dust, shaped like an hourglass with a disk at its center.

In fact, Eta had a huge eruption, but the star was not “dead” and survived to this day. Today, Eta radiation is 5 million times stronger than the sun. It is 7,500 light-years away, so it is visible in the naked eye, but as a weak star. It  has been known for many years as a “changing blue giant” whose illumination rose and fell, not necessarily in a regular cycle.

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In 2005 astronomers studying far-ultraviolet spectral observations of Eta Carinae made by spacecraft found that it is a binary star system with an orbital period of 5.54 years. Its A component has a temperature of about 15,000 K; its B component, about 35,000 K. The main star in Eta Carinae is about 100 times more massive than the Sun and is eventually expected to become a supernova. Astronomers call it the “star that never dies.”

Dr. Amit Kashi of the physics department of Ariel University in Samaria recently published his findings about the nebula in the journal New Astronomy under the title “Periodicity in the light curve of P Cygni–Indication for a binary companion?”

He says that “like a forensics lab, we have developed special methods that allow us to identify whether what we think of as a supernova is indeed a real explosion or a star ‘faking’ a huge explosion. The main idea is that the cause of a huge eruption is another star in an elliptical orbit around the heavy star.”

The pair of stars undergoes an important development right before our eyes, yet without destroying itself in the explosion, but the supernova explosion is inevitable and will occur in less than a million years.

Heavy stars, Kashi continues, are unstable because the strong radiation coming from them pushes material out against the star gravity that tries to keep it connected to the star. The gravitational forces of the conjugal star as it approaches its oval path to the giant planet can destabilize the delicate balance, causing huge amounts of gas to break away from the heavy star. Some of the material is added to the second star and releases tremendous energy approaching the supernova energy. “This process has unique “fingerprints,” such as the connection between the energy in the process and the time of the eruption, and a typical rate of emitted radiation decay. We have learned to identify these ‘fingerprints,’ and today we know very well how to identify fake outbursts.”

Before moving to Ariel University, he was a research associate in the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics at the University of Minnesota and investigated topics related to massive stars and their evolution. 

PA Deletes Jewish History, Renames Signs in Key Sites in Judea and Samaria

11 hours 22 min ago

The Palestinian Authority is violating its agreements with Israel by trying to redefine historic sites and nature reserves in Judea and Samaria.

The Oslo II Accord, as well as subsequent agreements, grant the Palestinian Authority limited control over certain landmarks and nature reserves in Judea and Samaria at the discretion of Israeli authorities, and only if the P.A. commits to coordinating the administration of the areas with Israeli forces.

The 1995 agreement, which has been only partially implemented, says that “the two sides shall each take appropriate measures in order to protect Nature Reserves, Protected Natural Assets and species of animals, plants and flowers of special breeds, as well as to implement rules of behavior in Nature Reserves.”

But recent steps taken by the Palestinians suggest that P.A. officials have been flouting those provisions.

As part of this rogue behavior, the P.A. has recently placed a sign at Arugot Stream, which runs from west to east in Judea, calling it Al-Kanub Reserve. The sign states that the European Union and the United Nations help support the administration of the site.

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The P.A. has also set up a new website called Mahmiyat (meaning “nature reserves” in Arabic), which provides tourist information on the various landmarks in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The descriptions obscure the Jewish links to those landmarks dating to biblical times.

For example, the site does not mention that the ancient city of Sebastia in Samaria served as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel for two centuries.

Regavim, an organization that works to “ensure responsible, legal, accountable and environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation,” attacked the P.A. for its blatant violation of its agreements with Israel.

“There is a deliberate effort on the part of the P.A. to wipe out the Jewish heritage from the land of Israel and the Bible,” the organization said. “Israel must unmask this hypocrisy and prevent the rewriting of history,” it said in a statement.

Waterfalls in Israel

11 hours 36 min ago

We all know that 60% of Israel is desert – but what does the other 40% look like? Spoiler: It’s pretty green. Check out Northern Israel’s beautiful waterfalls.

 

African Christians Being Called To Support Israel

12 hours 7 min ago

In a burst of creative inspiration, Canada-based Return Ministries is uniting a Christian children’s choir from Africa, Israeli Jews and an existing project that hosts mass public singing events with Jews and Christians together, to create a new source of support for Israel.

Return Ministries focuses its efforts on mobilizing Christians to assist Jews to return to Israel. The vision for their current work in Africa, which is 51% Christian, is based on a question first posed in 2018.

The year 2019 marks the 400th year since the first African slaves were  brought to American soil. On this significant anniversary, Return Ministries wanted to know, “Could singing and dancing African children amongst Christians and Jews in North America work toward helping six million Jews returning home to Israel?”

Inspired by the Israeli mass singing initiative known as Koolulam and by Biblical prophecy that the Nations will ultimately join together with Israel to sing praises to God, Return Ministries established the Sing Together campaign in May 2018. Since then, they have hosted multiple mass singing events around the world.

The most recent one, held last month in Africa, featured hundreds of people in Uganda singing together and waving Israeli flags at the source of the Nile River in Jinja. Breaking Israel News spoke with Daniel Jehuda, who visited Uganda from his home in Israel last month and can be seen in the video leading the singing.

“Sing Together is the first step of three steps towards working together for Israel,” Jehuda outlined. “Sing Together is for people who love Israel and want to learn about Israel.”

He emphasized that the target audience for the campaign is people of faith. They are encouraged, “to go back to the Scriptures and read the prophecies and how they relate to the Jewish people. After Sing Together, we’re hoping to create a conversation of learning,” he said. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage people of faith to work together on behalf of Israel.

Although Sing Together is a worldwide effort, the African initiative has a unique Biblical twist. “The story with Africa is an amazing story. If you ask Africans today where they come from, they believe they are the ancient Egyptians who enslaved Israel. [This is true of Africans from] Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and more,” Jehuda said.

“They believe that they are cursed and Africa is cursed [as a result of] what they’ve done to the Israelites. [They believe that] the ten plagues stayed in Africa. They have a need to support Israel and and are repenting. That’s in the background of the story.”

What does this support from Africa towards Israel look like? On a political level, things are already beginning to change, as relations between Israel and a number of  African countries are warming. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made multiple trips to Africa to strengthen ties. President Idriss Deby of the north central African country of Chad recently visited Israel to garner support for their fight against ISIS.

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Jehuda envisions something more grass roots. Africans are crucial for, “supporting us on the world stage. This changes the way the world looks at Israel.”

According to Jehuda, various African countries send “groups all the time to Israel to learn and to experience. They visit Christian sites. They come to share their love. They visit Judea and Samaria. Business people are coming to gain from our tech and water experience.”

Jehuda is a freelance musician, working to strengthen the Sing Together project in general and ties to Africa in particular. Dean Bye, the head of Return Ministries, has connections with some African ministries in Uganda. Through those connections, he “is trying to use the power of song to help raise money to work together,” according to Jehuda.

The Sawuti Children’s Choir, comprised of Christian children from East Africa, is currently touring Canada. Jehuda worked with them to teach them some Hebrew songs of faith that they could perform along with English songs of faith.  One of the goals of the children’s choir tour is “to call the children of Israel home” and to raise funds for them to settle in the Galilee.

The Return Ministries Africa Team includes representatives from Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda. Sing Together is only one of Return Ministries Africa initiatives.

Other initiatives include plans to recruit Christian leaders from Africa to serve at the Return Ministries Aliyah Return Center in the Galilee region of Israel. In addition, there are plans to have African Christians dedicate an Israeli Memorial in Entebbe, Uganda in October of 2019.

In partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel, Return Ministries Africa is also working to establish a Prayer Valley in the Jordan Valley, based on the Prayer Mountain in Kampala Uganda. Bye said the goal of the Prayer Valley is that, “The nations, led by Africa, can come and pray and worship at many different natural sites on the east and west banks of the Jordan River.”

All of these efforts spring from Bye’s original vision for the Sing Together campaign, which he explained in 2018. “The Sing Together campaign is being birthed with the vision to teach Christians and Jews their respective parts in a meaningful Israeli song and then come together to sing!

“We believe this will lead to working together for Israel’s return and restoration. The Jewish people have the covenant and prophetic right to live in Israel and the nations are called to help them return home, just as it is written by their prophets. Jews and Christians each have a chosen part in God’s great plan of redemption.

“There is Biblical precedent that nations need to sing together with Israel,” Bye taught.

Praise Hashem, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples, Psalms 117:1

Jehuda concluded by saying, “We’re in a new time, where we can bridge through faith over the love of Israel and it’s creating tikkun olam – a better world.”

If you Can’t Defend Israel’s Right to Exist, Don’t Call Yourself Jewish

12 hours 52 min ago

Having been very active in political activism during my college years, I know firsthand very well what it means to deeply commit to a cause to the point where it becomes an integral part of who you are. It becomes your identity, forms the lens through which you perceive and understand the world and creates the community of like-minded people you feel most comfortable being around. This community supports you, validates you and reminds you that you’re not crazy for having the beliefs that you do. To enter into conflict with this community about almost anything can feel isolating, disorienting and lonely.

This is the unique and serious challenge and tragedy of the rise of intersectionality that we are seeing today as issues that traditionally belonged to separate social or political movements are conjoined to the point where they are presented to seem inseparable. Activists are expected to toe the party line on a menu of issues and those who do not run the risk of having their commitment to other causes questioned and deemed not wholehearted or authentic.

Nowhere do we see this phenomenon happening more than with the splicing of all kinds of issues and causes into the anti-Israel movement.

This was made evident in 2017 at the Dyke March in Chicago where three Jewish women waving rainbow flags embroidered with a Jewish star were told to leave the march because the flags were “triggering to people” and “made them feel unsafe.” When one of the women was asked if she is a Zionist, which let’s remember is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to a sovereign nation of their own primarily so they no longer have to rely on others to protect their basic human right to live, she responded, “Yes.” She was then told that the march was anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian.

Imagine. At a pride march, where inclusivity is the main driving force, where people are demanding to be accepted for who they are and what they believe, Jews who support the State of Israel are not included. They are not welcome. They are asked to leave.

At that same march, one of the chants shouted by the participants was: “From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!”

Huh?? What do Palestine and Mexico and border walls have to do with a Pride March? Twenty years ago, when I was an activist in college, that would have been a very legitimate question. Today, it seems, it’s absurd to even ask. Of course they’re all connected. Everything’s connected, didn’t you know?!?

And then just a few of weeks ago, during the opening of an LGBTQ conference called Creating Change, activists rose uninvited to the stage and for 13 minutes led a protest for Palestinian liberation and against Zionism, screaming well-known chants such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Event organizers were silent, allowing the protest to continue uninterrupted until the activists walked off the stage. (Again, what does Palestine and its potential future borders have anything to do with the LGBTQ cause??)

But the silence of the organizers doesn’t deeply bother me. I, like many others, have unfortunately become accustomed to the rants and raves of the anti-Zionists and the love and support that many in the greater activist community give them.

What does bother me is the silence of members of an organization that were present during this impromptu show of anti-Israel shouts and chants. This organization is called Keshet. As in the Hebrew word for “rainbow”. As in LGBTQ Jews who have formed a Jewish organization based on Jewish values so that they can teach others how Jewish values could and should guide their attitudes and actions towards members of the LGBTQ community. Including extending to them the Jewish values of respect, love and inclusivity.

But in a statement in reaction to claims that the protestors’ actions were anti-Semitic, Keshet had this to say:

“While we believe that criticism of Israel is at times anti-Semitic, we do not believe that it is necessarily anti-Semitic. In the case of this year’s Creating Change conference, we view blanket accusations of anti-Semitism as inflammatory and divisive.”

Inflammatory and divisive??

Calling out activists who scream “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”, a code word for the delegitimization of the very existence of the State of Israel, as anti-Semitic is divisive??

Criticizing them for publicly expressing their ardent disapproval of the mere existence of the Jewish state and their desire to dismantle it is inflammatory??

What is going on here?? What am I missing??

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Keshet, where are the Jewish values of respect, love and inclusivity that you base your work on when it comes to the Jewish state?

How can you remain completely silent when the right to exist of your people’s one country is being completely trampled upon?

Say you don’t agree with the building of Israeli settlements. Sababa.

Say you wish the current Israeli government wasn’t so right wing. Fine. Say you don’t like Netanyahu. Ein ba’aya (No problem). I could deal with and respect all of that 100%.

But to remain silent in the presence of members of your movement openly declaring their desire to see Israel removed from the world map…that is crossing a line.

A major line.

And crossing that line takes you away from the Jewish people.

As a fellow activist, I can understand the fear of being isolated by your activist community, by those who you march with, meet with and dream with to bring about the world you want to see. It would not be easy nor comfortable to enter into conflict with those very same people.

But then again, being an activist, by definition, is not about doing what’s easy or comfortable.  In fact, being an activist is all about challenging one’s self, as well as others, to stand up for what’s right and call out evil when you see it and when you hear it. As is being a Jew.

But in the moment when it was happening right in front of you, you didn’t.

And afterwards, when you were asked about it, after you had time to reflect and maybe react differently, you still refused so see it, to call it out, to call it what it was.

Keshet:

You had a chance to do something that, while not easy, as it would have potentially isolated you from those you stand with and exposed you in front of them as different and possibly as “other”, would have made you Jewish activists in the truest sense of both of those words.

Because there is no greater fight and no greater cause than to stand up for your people. To say to the anti-Israel activists found within your movement that your people, the Jewish people, have the right, like any other people, to self-determination in the form of their own country in their homeland. To explain to them that the same values of love and equality and inclusivity that the LGBTQ movement seeks for themselves should be extended to the world’s one Jewish state as well. To tell them that the establishment of a Palestinian state doesn’t have to, and should never, mean the erasing of the State of Israel.

But you didn’t.

And that’s a choice you made. A choice you have every right to make.

But, Keshet, just understand the consequences of such a decision:

You have crossed a line that, in doing so, distances you so far from the klal, from the kehilla, from the community that is the Jewish people, as to remove yourselves from the Jewish people and from the values and tradition that you call upon to frame and support your own work.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

Thousands March in Paris to Protest Rising Antisemitism

12 hours 54 min ago

Protesters came out in masses in Paris to protest a rise in antisemitism in France over the past few years, including two notable recent incidents. Alain Finkielkraut was shouted at and called a ‘dirty Zionist’ and 80 Jewish tombstones were vandalized.

Lessons from History are our Legacy for Future

13 hours 51 min ago

Apparently, as Karl Marx once said: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce,” nowadays, we are facing the extremely sad and frightening situation in our postmodern digital civilization, where the lack of interest, knowledge and education, in spite of all available sources, serve as the perfect soil for the growth of revisionism, historical negationism and extreme right and neofascist thoughts, ideas, ideology and political movements. This general and generalized statement may be applied, to some extent, virtually to every, and any western society, traditionally claimed as democratic. What seems to be even more frightening is the fact that the policy creators, the decision makers and the responsible for the society development – the, so-called elites do not seem be frightened at all.

The desperate need for education

In a recent study performed by the Schoen Consulting 1 regarding the awareness and the knowledge of the Holocaust (The Shoah) among young Americans, aged 18 and over, 70% agree that fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to and 58% believe something similar might happen again. A tragedy or a farce? Worse than anyone could expect, 22% of the

1 The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany commissioned Schoen Consulting to conduct a national study of Holocaust knowledge and awareness in the United States. Schoen Consulting conducted 1,350 interviews with American adults aged 18 and over between February 23 – 27, 2018.

millennials have not heard or are not sure if they have heard about the Holocaust and 41% of them believe that approximately 2 million Jews or fewer were killed during the Shoah. The lack of knowledge and proper education reflects in the fact that 49% of the millennials were not able to name one of the concentration camps or ghettos in Europe and 66% of them were not even able to identify Auschwitz.

In his recent text entitled “Why we need to rethink how to teach the Holocaust”, professor Alan Marcus 2, from the University of Connecticut stresses the importance of the Holocaust survivors in education, stating the following: “Without survivors, the Holocaust will pass into being taught strictly from learned memory.” Numerous Holocaust museums, Memorials and their information centers have important role in knowledge dissemination among students of all ages, at least that is what one of their roles is expected to be.

A lesson from Budapest…

There are however cases of severe polemics, as some of the “new” and National Holocaust museums in Europe, instead of stating the facts about the Holocaust tend to hide or even worse, diminish the role and responsibility of the state and the society. A lot has been written about the situation in Hungary about the Museum of the Holocaust. It was already stated that the museum should meet its objective historical standards. Herb Keinon 3 stated that Yad Vashem publicly criticized the museum for ignoring the anti-Jewish laws passed by the Government in Budapest in 1938, for the deaths of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in forced labor, again imposed by the

2 Marcus A. Why we need to rethink how to teach the Holocaust. The Conversation. May 23, 2018

3 Keinon H. New Holocaust Museum in Hungary won’t open without narrative consensus. The Jeursalem Post, December 6, 2018

Government in Budapest and for the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz and the participation of the Hungarian authorities in the deportation. Following the rule, this turns out to be the political issue, where the ruling politicians, particularly the Prime Minister Orban instead of facing the truth and fighting for facts, decided to enter the polemics, which usually contains the most common and recognizable aspects of anti-Semitism.

Warsaw Ghetto Museum polemics

To some extent similar polemics follow the planned Warsaw Ghetto Museum, which is expected to be opened in 2023 commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In a recent text by Ofer Aderet 4, the Isreali appointed chief historian of the Museum, professor Daniel Blatman, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said: “It sounds very strange, but it will be the first Polish museum dealing with the Holocaust, even though Poland had an endless number of Polish commemoration sites”. Professor Blatman was recently criticized for the decision to accept the position. Again, instead of the fight for historical facts, the Polish right-wing authorities were criticized for the tendency to reshape the memory of the nation and minimize the Polish responsibility in the WW2, particularly regarding the persecution of the Jews. The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki 5 in February

4 Aderet O. Wild Card at Poland’s First Holocaust Museum: The ‘Polish Narrative’. Haaretz. December 14, 2018

5 Mateusz Morawiecki (b. 1968) is the Prime Minister of Poland. He is a Polish manager and banker, politician. Morawiecki is an alumnus of the University of Wrocław (MBA at Wrocław University of Economics), the University of Hamburg and the University of Basel. In 2013, he was awarded the Cross of Freedom and Solidarity for his merits for the benefit of independence and sovereignty of Poland and respect of human rights. On 23 June 2015 Morawiecki was awarded Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for extraordinary merits in the area of supporting and

2018, he stated in The Independent 6 paradoxically “there were Jewish perpetrators of the Holocaust”. Such statements coming from the leading political elite of a country led to the rise of the state-supported anti-Semitism. On the beginning of the year 2018, the Polish authorities imposed the law 7 to “defend the good name of Poland”, signed in Febraury by the President Andrzej Duda. The law included the following: “Whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich… shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.” The law was “corrected” following the international reactions to the surprise of the Polish authorities.

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Regarding the museum, the Polish Minister of Culture, Piotr Glinski said: “I would like this institution to speak of the mutual love between the two nations that spent 800 years here, on Polish land.” Could this be the aim of the museum dedicated to the Warsaw ghetto? Could we speak of brotherhood and unity, solidarity and equality in the context of the historical events that preceded the creation and the end of the Warsaw ghetto and the atmosphere created by the right-wing Polish authorities? According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, before the WW2, Warsaw was the major center of Jewish life and culture in Poland. The prewar Jewish population was more than 350,000 (30% of the city total population), considered the largest community in Poland and Europe, second largest in the world only to New York. Could we speak of tolerance during the period of 800 years, promoting Polish culture and national heritage. (source: premier.gov.pl)

6 Oppenheim M. Benjamin Netanyahu attacks Polish PM for saying Jews were among perpetrators of the Holocaust. Independent. February 18, 2018

7 Poland Holocaust law: Government U-turn on jail threat. BBC News, Europe, June 27, 2018 (www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44627129)

which the Minister mentioned, although historical sources speak of 1,000 years? Of around six million Jews persecuted during the Shoah, around 3 million were the Polish Jews out of 3.3 million who lived in Poland before WW2. The major death camps were built on the Polish soil: Auschwitz – Birkenau, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, Chelmno, Belzec, Janowska, Plaszow, Starachowice, Poniatowa, Trawniki, Skarzysko-Kamienna, Budzyn…

The Polish historian Jan Grabowski 8 in his study “Hunt for the Jews 9” stated that under the German occupation at least 200,000 Jews who escaped from the ghettos were murdered or denounced by the Poles. It is also worth mentioning that more Poles have been honored by Israel for saving the lives of Jews during the war than any other nation.

Numerous examples of crimes, from systematic and organized massacres to “spontaneous” pogroms of Jewish population occurred in Poland before and lasted after the WW2, from Lomza, Jewabne and Bialystok to Kielce 1946, with hundreds of cemeteries being systematically destroyed. Even in the frame of the European Union, decades following the WW2, according to the study by the Center for research on Prejudice of the University of Warsaw in 2016 10: 37% of the surveyed Poles expressed negative

8 Dr. Jan Grabowski (b. 1962) is currently Professor of History at the University of Ottawa (Canada). He holds a PhD from the Université de Montréal (Canada) and an MA in History from Warsaw University (Poland). Dr. Grabowski (co- founder of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw in 2003) is a prolific author who has produced over 14 monographs and more than 60 articles in various languages. (https://www.ushmm.org)

9 Grabowski J. Hunt for the Jews – Betrayal and murder in German-occupied Poland. Indiana University press, Bloomington 2013. Dr Grabowski dedicated the book to his father who survived the hunt. He won the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for 2014 (https://www.ushmm.org)

10 Anti-Semitism seen on the rise in Poland. AFP. The Times of Israel. January 25, 2017

attitudes towards Jews and 56% stated they would not accept a Jew in their family, while “only” a third (32%) would not like to have Jewish neighbors. Compared to the previous research, the anti-Semitism was on rise. With the right-wing leading politicians in Poland, the scaring atmosphere and the apparent rise of anti- Semitism, the fears another museum would be (ab)used for the sake of revisionism and historical negationism and relativisation of historical data, are not without reasons. In terms of the education about the Holocaust, what might be the lessons thought?

New “imported” Swedish anti-Semitism

Another Holocaust museum to be, is intended to be built in Malmo, Sweden in 2020, which will be dedicated to the Righteous among nations, the Swedish architect and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1912- disappeared 1945), who managed to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazi persecution during the WW2. The Swedish Minister of Social Affairs and Sports, Annika Strandhall feels that the idea is more important than ever. This statement should also be regarded in the realistic scenario on the spot: in Malmo (appr. 350,000 inhabitants) the 1st and the 2nd generation of the Middle East immigrants make up one third of the population with dozens of anti-Semitic incidents recorded annually and the tiny minority of the Jewish population of only several hundreds.

In December 2017 11, following the numerous dangerous incidents the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, said: “We will not ignore the fact that many people have come here from the Middle East, where anti-Semitism is a widespread idea, almost part of the ideology. We must become even clearer, dare to talk more about it.” It may be important to talk and

11 Neuding P. The Uncomfortable Truth About Swedish Anti-Semitism. Opinion. The Newy York Times. December 14, 2017

educate, but the situation on the spot would require more direct measures to protect the Swedish citizens of Jewish descent on the territory of Sweden and provide them the freedom guaranteed by the European standards. As Neuding writes: “It is also vital for Sweden to adopt a coherent strategy to combat radical Islamism. The country has become one of Europe’s richest recruiting grounds for Islamic State fighters.” Would the Malmo Holocaust museum have the role to educate? Who will be the target-audience? Would the potential visitors feel safe and free to visit the museum?

Croatian relativisation of the Holocaust

Probably the most apparent and obvious example of relativisation, historical negationism and revisionism is the example of the Croatian political leaders, notably the President – Ms Grabar Kitarovic, whose flirting with Croatian fascism symbols and the fascist Ustasha movement with the recognizable iconography and populist narrative fascinating masses, culminated with the demand for the forensic expertise regarding the number of the victims of the largest (appr. 600,000 victims 12 13) and probably one of the most cruel of the death concentration camps in Europe – Jasenovac – surnamed “The Auschwitz of the Balkans” with the special camp for children torture and execution. The annual ceremony of commemoration 14 for the victims is usually celebrated by the Serbian and Jewish community, separated from the Croatian officials, as both communities decided to boycott the Croatian political elite to protest against the

12 The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, 1997

13 Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Gutman I, editor- in-chief. New York: Macmillan, 1990

14 Croatia’s Jews to Boycott Official Holocaust Commemoration. AP / Reuters. Haaretz, April 12, 2016

government’s alleged inaction to curb the surge of neo-Nazi sentiments in the country.” Previous political engagement of Ms. Grabar Kitarovic, including the visit to Canada and Argentine, where she met the descendants of the Ustasha fascist immigrants and got photographed with the Ustasha flag from the WW2 15 and the statements regarding Jasenovac, as merely the “labor camp” are considered inacceptable.

On the OSCE Conference on anti- Semitism held in Rome earlier this year, the Croatian delegation left the room during the speech of the Chairman of the Council of the Yad Vashem Memorial Center, Rabbi Meir Lau 16.

Expectedly, no new Holocaust museums are planned in Croatia, however, the restoration of the fascist “values” from the WW2 become apparent. Both, tragedy and farce! Another lesson for future!

Lessons from survivors

Speaking of disappearing of the Holocaust survivors from the beginning of this text and their educational role, makes me instantly think of the late Marceline Loridan-Ivens (1928-2018), the well- known French Jewish filmmaker and writer, who died this September in Paris and two of her recent books, written based on her own experience, a long-term anguish of surviving death camps “But You Did Not Come Back,” (Et tu n’es pas

15 Croatian president poses with pro-Nazi regime symbol. AFP. The Times of Israel, November 27, 2016

16 Meir Lau, who was Israel’s chief rabbi and is a survivor from the Nazi death camp of Buchenwald, focused his attention on the questions, “Where were you when the crimes were committed, and where are you when hatred is being awaken once again?” (B92 / Vecernje novosti / index.hr), January 30, 2018 (www.b92.net)

revenu 17) a letter to her father who never came back from Auschwitz, from the perspective of a survivor, who witnessed both the cruelty and the absolute negation of the humanity and life in the camp and also the anti-Semitism her father encountered before the WW2, as the Polish Jew who emigrated to France. “I lived because you wanted me to live.” Long- term effects of the traumatic experience are sincerely presented. She did not spare anyone. Her pessimism about the future in Europe is understandable, taking into account the growing anti-Semitism. Like Primo Levi, she never managed to completely rebuild her life, which became even more and detailed elaborated in the other book “Love afterwards.” (L’amour après 18).

So far, the similar clichés are described regarding the lack of the proper education, the abuse of the historical events and museums for political reasons, for history reshaping, relativisation of facts and institutionalism of anti-Semitism. Falsifying the numbers of victims, revising the historical facts, unfortunately seems to be the tendency in European societies together with the anti-Semitism in its very old and new, authentic and imported forms. It is easy to manipulate with the inadequately educated instagram-based masses, whose technical abilities to use and play with electronic gadgets seems to be inversely proportional to the knowledge of history and respect towards the past.

It is our duty to fight against anti- Semitism, against fascism, extremism of all kind, revisionism, and historical negation and we must never forget. This summer in Jeursalem, at Yad Vashem, among numerous strong and extremely important documents regarding the Shoah, I read a message of a victim of the Shoah who was aware that he and his family

17 Loridan-Ivens M. Et tu n’es pas revenu, Grasset, Paris, 2015

18 Loridan-Ivens M. L’amour après, Grasset, Paris, 2018

would perish soon. In his letter, on a tiny piece of paper he only asked not to be forgotten that he was once alive. I saw a photograph of a tortured and humiliated rabbi in front of the dead bodies of the massacred Jews and the laughing faces of the German Nazi soldiers, while he was trying to say Kadish and I saw a doll with the partly destroyed head that belonged to a girl who perished somewhere in death camps… I wrote this text in order to awake and alarm all of those who allowed themselves to forget about those people, even for a minute.

“We Will Displace You, O Worshipers of the Cross” Muslim Persecution of Christians, December 2018

14 hours 51 min ago

The Slaughter of Christians

Egypt:  A Muslim policeman charged with guarding a Coptic Christian church shot and killed two Christians—a father, 49, and his son, 21—on the night of December 12 in Minya.  Eyewitnesses say a verbal quarrel had ensued before the officer pulled out his gun and opened fire on the two men. Video footage of the incident shows the killer-cop brandishing his gun as he stalks around the bloodied but still moving Christians on the ground.  He loudly curses them—or all Copts in general?—as “mother-f*****s.”  Thousands of angry Christians attended the funeral, chanting kyri eleison (“Lord have mercy!), and “One, two—but where are the rights of the martyrs!”  Coptic Solidarity said in a statement:

Whatever punishment—if any!—the killer policeman may end up getting, the real culprit in this heinous crime is nothing but the authorities themselves, as they have allowed impunity to killers of Copts time and again, making it easy for anybody having an argument with a Copt to pull a gun, or knife, and just kill.

Attacks on Christians by Muslim officers are not unprecedented in Egypt.  In 2011 an off-duty policeman boarded a train, identified some of its passengers as Coptic Christians (based on the tattoo of the cross on some of their wrists) and opened fire, killing one elderly Christian and wounding four others —while shouting Islam’s war cry, “Allahu Akbar.”  More recently, a Muslim “policeman tasked with guarding a church from extremists instead aggressively entered the church and hurled insults at the congregation, calling them infidels.”  Coptic Bishop Makarious likened the recent killing of Christian father and son at the hand of an officer guarding their church as having “a fox guard the hen house.”  He added that this incident is worse than the St. Samuel Monastery attacks—where scores of Christians were massacred by Islamic terrorists on two separate occasions, the more recent weeks before this double murder—as it involves, not outlaws, but a lawman.

Nigeria: On the day after Christmas, Islamic Fulani tribesmen slaughtered seven Christians.  Rawuru, where the murders took place, was attacked by the Muslim tribesmen six months earlier; then 230 Christians were butchered.  “The size and coordination of those attacks showed that this could not just be another small local clash. It was clearly a well thought out and preplanned attack meant to kill as many people as possible,” the report said.  “These types of attacks are not the normal farmer-herder conflict that the Nigerian government has been trying to claim they are,” the report continued in reference to both domestic and foreign mainstream media reports that habitually portray the murders as a result of clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsmen, who just so happen to be Muslim, and farmers, who just happen to be Christians.

Attacks on Christian Churches

Egypt: Rioting Muslims crying “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater) attacked and caused authorities to shut down yet another church on December 10.  According to the report,

[G]roups of Muslim villagers … waged attacks against the houses of the Copts in the village of Kom al-Raheb, pelting them with stones and thumping at doors and windows. They were livid that the Copts had a day earlier, Sunday 9 December, opened a new church building and celebrated Holy Mass inside. The police arrived and demanded immediate closure of the unlicensed church. The Copts persuaded the police to wait for Mass to conclude before closing the building, which they did and confiscated its keys…. [F]undamentalist Muslims had used the local mosque’s microphone to rally the village Muslims against the Copts.

“It’s a hard time,” said one local Christian.  “We don’t know what we should do. How does the government permit us to open new churches and then force us to close churches? We barely open churches, and the police don’t want to keep us safe!” “They are easily building many mosques, and when we try [to] build a church, all of them try to harm us,” said another. “It’s unfair, the situation has become so ridiculous!” “We are so depressed,” added the local pastor. “It’s not the first time extremists [have done] this; I think it’s government policy toward the Christians. We have nothing to do, just pray… God is good.”

Iraq: On December 1, Shabak, a Shia militia formed in 2014 to reclaim the Nineveh Plain from the Islamic State, opened fire on the St. George Assyrian Church in Bartella, formerly a Christian majority city, and threatened its priest, Fr. Behnam Benoka.  Discussing the incident, Benedict Kiely, a Catholic priest, wrote:

Last week I spoke with Fr. Benoka for over 40 minutes on FaceTime. A few weeks ago, the Shabak militia blocked the road to his church, preventing his congregation from attending. They also strafed the church with gunfire. Fr. Benoka told me that this was the second time his church had been attacked in the last nine months. One of the militiamen held a handgun to the priest’s face when he went out to demand that they clear the street and stop shooting.  Later, in a provocation unreported in any media, the same hostile militia went to Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town on the Nineveh Plain, and menaced the people living there. Fr. Benoka told me that the Shabak want to drive the Christians from the area. “They are the new ISIS,” he told me. “We are really vulnerable.”…

A separate December 2 report concerning the Islamic State’s depredations on the Christian communities found that 120 Christian churches and shrines and thousands of Christian homes were and destroyed in Mosul alone.  An estimated15 billion dinars (over twelve million USD) is required to restore these building.   According to the report,

The damage ISIS wrecked upon Christians was not just physical property damage. ISIS targeted Christians for genocide and many believers reported how their neighbors joined the militants in their violent intentions. Mosul’s Christians in particular are quick to point out that the ideology of ISIS was heavily present in their city long before the militants made it their capital in Iraq. Community trust was broken, lives lost, families separated.

Uzbekistan: Forty police and military personnel raided an unregistered Baptist church in the capital, Tashkent, during Sunday morning worship, November 25.  Police detained 14 Christians, including a 14-year-old boy, and kept them outside in near freezing temperatures and later interrogated some for several hours.  Everyone in attendance was photographed and their details recorded.  Nearly 8,000 pieces of Christian literature and hymn books were seized.  When one woman tried to conceal some songbooks used for worship, an official “screamed at her that you are liars, Christians must not hide anything,” said a witness.  Towards evening, authorities cut off the church’s heat, as temperatures dropped below zero.  “[We] were almost freezing as it is very cold at night,” a member of a family staying in the building explained.  Officials concluded by telling the congregation that “we will come every Sunday and disrupt the church service every time until you give up and stop your activity…. We as the state cannot adjust to you, you need to adjust to our laws.”  As in many other Muslim majority nations, stringent legal requirements make it nearly impossible to register churches in Uzbekistan.

Lebanon: Security officials foiled an Islamic State terror plot targeting Christians and their places of worship: a 10-month police surveillance operation codenamed “Lethal Cheese” uncovered explosives hidden in buckets of cheese smuggled in from Syria.  Although Lebanon was once the Arab world’s only Christian majority nation, Christians now represent about 36% of the population and are quickly dwindling thanks most recently to a large influx of Muslim refugees from Syria . In 2016 eight Islamic State suicide bombers exploded themselves—two in front of a church—in Al Qaa, a predominantly Christian town on Lebanon’s border with Syria.

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Attacks on Christian “Blasphemers”

Pakistan:  On December 13, a court sentenced two Christian brothers to death for allegedly posting blasphemous material on a website in 2011.  The brothers, Qaisar and Amoon Ayub, first got in trouble when the offensive material appeared on a website that was copyrighted to Qaisar’s name.  He testified that he shut down the site in 2009, but that a Muslim acquaintance reactivated it, and kept it in Qaisar’s name.  Regardless, Muslims rioted and called for the Christian’s life, prompting the brothers to flee to Thailand; they were arrested soon after they returned to Pakistan in 2015. “[B]ecause of threats from hardliners lower courts pass their responsibility to the higher court and then it takes years to prove the accused innocent,” said human rights activist Nasir Saeed. “We have seen this in the recent case of Asia Bibi.”

Egypt: On December 22, an appeals court upheld a Christian man’s three year prison sentence for blaspheming against Islam.  Abd Adel Bebawy was arrested six months earlier, in July, after he linked to an article that compared Muhammad to Jesus on Facebook.   On the following day, Muslims rioted in Minbal, where he resided, including by attacking Christian homes and trying to storm the village church. Windows were smashed and some Christians sustained injuries from glass shards.  “The Muslim extremists in our village and the nearby villages incited the Muslim villagers against us …. They began pelting the Coptic-owned houses with stones and bricks, while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ [Allah is greater] and chanting slogans against Copts, such as ‘We will displace you and the priest from our village, oh kafir [infidels], O worshipers of the cross, O defiled people,’” recalled one resident. “We lived very terrible moments while the mob were attacking our homes.  Our children were screaming,” said another: “We spent a painful evening we shall never forget,” remembered another Christian resident of Minbal. “An evening of terror.”  Discussing Bebawy’s recent sentencing, a lawyer involved in the case said, “This is not a sentence based on the law, but it is meant to please the public!” “We were thinking that the appeal will end up setting Abd free, and we were thinking who will compensate Abd for the months detained in prison until we reached the appeal time. Who will compensate his family, who have left the village and his kids moved to another school?” Mona, a family friend, explained.    “Now after the [three-year] prison sentence, there is no justice expected.” “What else is expected by a blasphemy law?” asked Moheb, another family friend. “It is a law meant to be tailored for Christians so anyone can accuse a Christian and no matter what the proof of innocence is, he will be imprisoned.”

Indonesia: According to one report, “On December 2, an estimated 100,000 Muslims dressed in white carrying Islamic flags gathered at the national monument in Indonesia’s capitol of Jakarta. The occasion was to mark the second anniversary of a mass protest that led to the downfall, and inevitably the arrest, of Jakarta’s Christian governor,” known as Ahok.  Two years earlier, “[o]n December 2, 2016, thousands of Muslim hardliners gathered to rallies that demanded him [to] be arrested for blasphemy.” He “was arrested for blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of insulting the Quran. Ahok is still serving his sentence.

Attacks on Muslim Apostates to Christianity

Uganda: “In 24 hours earlier this month, a [Muslim] convert to Christianity … lost his livelihood, wife and children to irate relatives and other Muslims,” reads one report.  On December 7, a mosque leader “led a mob to Muhamud Gusolo’s banana plantation and destroyed it after Gusulo’s father objected to him leaving Islam for Christ.”  According to Muhamud, 28, a month earlier,

My father [had] confronted me for being a disgrace to the family as a result of my conversion to Christ.  Since my expulsion from the community, no one in my community has come to my aid. My father has openly denied me as his son, and the community has openly threatened me, saying, “No burial rites for you, a kaffir [infidel]”….  My wife and children also turned against me….  I am a very frustrated man with no family. After being ostracized from my community, I have appealed for help to the government administration, but this has fallen on deaf hears. I am very far from my family and reside in a lonely environment in another village.

In a separate incident in Uganda, a former Muslim wife and mother of four between the ages of five and nine was beaten, strangled, and threatened with death by her Muslim husband for embracing Christianity.  Shakira Wanyenze, 31, converted six months earlier and managed to conceal her new faith from her husband, Ismail.  One night, however, “My husband arrived home at around 8 p.m. on the 30th [of November] and heard me concluding the prayers using the name of Jesus,” she explained.  “When he interrogated me to give reasons why I was using the name of Jesus, I kept quiet.”  On the following morning he resumed questioning her; again she kept silent.  He repeatedly began to slap her, successively harder with each strike. When she screamed for help he struck her hand with a wooden board, causing her fingers to bleed. “I fell down, and he started to strangle me.  Fortunately, neighbors arrived and rescued me and took me to a clinic at Buyaga town council for treatment, and I was discharged after two days.”  Shakira soon learned that her husband had purchased a coffin in preparation of killing her.  She and her children took refuge at a pastor’s home.  Last reported, Ismail was sending threatening message to the pastor, such as, “If you continue housing my wife in your house, then let it be known to you that soon I will be coming for your head.”

General Hostility for Christians

Saudi Arabia: America’s close friend and ally failed to live up to its promise to eliminate extremist content that promotes hostility for and violence against religious minorities from its 2018-19 school year curriculum.  According to a December 1 report,

Saudi Arabia had previously pledged to remove all incitement content from its textbooks by 2008 and the government continues to allege that this issue has long since been resolved. However, other reports say otherwise. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a study this past March which says that the curriculum contains incitement content which had been thought removed. Examples of this content include demeaning non-Muslims and encouraging jihad against them. The execution of apostates is prescribed and children are encouraged not to associate with non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia not only continues to use these textbooks domestically, but exports them to other parts of the Middle East.

Iraq: A Christian leader asked the Ministry of Education to review statements within public school curriculum that contributes to hostility for non-Muslim minorities.  For instance, one fifth grade textbook teaches that women who do not wear the veil—which includes virtually all Christian women—are “sick.”  A separate report that appeared on December 9—one year to the day since Iraq’s former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State—found that Christians continued to be persecuted and discriminated against.  Majid, a local Christian, said, “I think before we celebrate ISIS’s defeat anniversary, we should go back to our history. We never experienced a stable situation during the past six decades… ISIS 2.0 is something possible.”

Indonesia: Local Muslims sawed off the top of a cross from a deceased Christian’s tomb—so it does not resemble a crucifix—and prevented mourners from meeting and saying prayers in the deceased’s home.   Although there was an uproar on social media, local Christians said they were fine with the occurrence.  Of the 150 families in the village, three are Christian and 147 Muslim.  “There is no grudge between the family and neighbours,” Hans Supatman, an activist for religious dialogue, explained. “Everything is fine and even the funeral service was done quietly.” The cemetery “uproar occurred on social media and outside the village,” the activist noted. “Everything is fine here and everyone is happy. Church authorities in Yogyakarta offered psychological assistance to deal with the emotional stress experienced by [the deceased] Albertus Slamet Sugihardi’s family.”

Christmas Time Hate

Iraq: The nation’s highest Sunni authority and grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, issued a fatwa (or Islamic decree) against Christmas.  He said it is haram (forbidden) for Muslims to participate in any celebrations “of the cross” or even acknowledge the Christian holiday. “It is not acceptable to take part in the New Year celebrations or to congratulate Christians during Christmas,” he announced during Friday prayer at a mosque in downtown Baghdad, as doing so “means that you believe in their doctrine.”

Indonesia: Authorities arrested two Islamic terrorist who were plotting to massacre Christians during Christmas and New Year celebrations.  Both men belong to the Islamic State-linked organization Jamah Ansyarut Daulah, which “has launched several terrorist attacks, some targeting Christians and claimed dozens of lives,” in recent years, notes the report. “The two come from one terrorist network, and we are now investigating the movement of this network in Java,” added a police spokesman. Hopefully, [we] can reveal the network so the atmosphere of Christmas and New Year celebrations will be conducive.”

In the days leading to Christmas, security forces arrested about 20 more would-be terrorists.   According to the report,

These detentions were made as preventive measure under a revised anti-terrorism law approved in May, after Islamic State followers attacked churches and police with suicide bombs, killing more than 30 people in the city of Surabaya….  radicalized Islam is growing inside the country and scores of Indonesians have travelled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State group.  Attacks on churches in the nation’s capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, claimed the lives of nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots during the holiday season.

Iran:  Although it is common for the number of arrests of Christians to increase around Christmas time—when the Islamic republic seeks to deter interest through intimidation—beginning in November and into Christmas week, 2018, over 150 Christians were arrested, some, including two sisters, brutally beaten in detention.   “The current situation has been described by some as unprecedented,” said a spokesman for the human rights group, Middle East Concern. “There are a huge number of arrests and detentions…. Recently it seems there is definitely a coordinated and determined campaign to decimate the Christian community and to spread fear and intimidation…. There is no doubt that it’s the Christian faith of these individuals that is the reason behind their arrests and detentions.”

Pakistan: As in other Muslim nations (see Indonesia above), security for churches is often ramped up during Christmas and Easter in Pakistan.  Due, however, to the widespread outrage following the announced acquittal of Asia Bibi—a Christian woman who had been on death row for nearly a decade for allegedly “blaspheming” against Muhammad—church security had to be redoubled around Christmas.  According to the report,

Churches have previously been the target of suicide bombers and this year, police have trained hundreds of Christian volunteers in an effort to see the season through peacefully. More than 1,500 police have been deployed across Islamabad and Rawalpindi to protect churchgoers over Christmas… CCTV cameras have also been installed at entry points and parking restrictions have been put in place to keep cars at least 100m away from church buildings.  In Abbottabad, a district north-east of Islamabad, police were sweeping churches with sniffer dogs and bomb disposal units ahead of Christmas celebrations. Christians have been fearful of retaliatory attacks since Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy, for which she had received a death sentence.  She was freed from prison in November but immediately forced into hiding as Muslim extremists hunted her down.”

United Kingdom:  Authorities decided to deport a Christian man back to Pakistan, where he was previously beaten and threatened with death, “despite UK playing host to [Muslim] hijackers, extremists and rapists,” to quote from one report headline.   Asher Samson, 41, “first arrived in the UK in 2004 to carry out his theology training in order to become a pastor, but later applied for asylum after receiving threats from Islamic extremists during visits home,” says the report: “His asylum claim was rejected earlier this year and Mr. Samson is now being held in Morton Hall Detention Centre in Lincoln where he has been told he will be deported.”  “They told me they had booked me a flight and I refused to go,” Samson said. “They said next time they will take me by force.”  He said he has “no one and nowhere to go” in Pakistan: “If they do send me back my life will be really in danger. I’m so scared….  People know who I am, they know I am a Christian and they have seen me on social media.” Revered Lorraine Shorten, the pastor of Samson’s church of 10 years, confirmed that he was a “well-thought-of” member of the community….  It’s shameful—we are a Christian country yet we can’t help them [Samson and his brother]. It’s terrifying to send him back there with the situation for Christians in Pakistan.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

tips on writing boren essay

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 22:58

Sea of Galilee Rises by Nearly 5 Feet, More Prayers Needed

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 08:35

The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) rose just over 4 inches over the weekend according to the Israel Water Authority. This latest rise means that the level of the Kinneret has risen 4.6 feet so far this winter and is expected to rise even more in the coming days as recent rains flow down from the Golan Heights. This will raise the water above the lower red line for the first time in two years.

Israel had been suffering from a five-year drought and 2018 was one of the driest in the last 100 years.

The Kinneret is still 14.5 feet below its record highest level

During the summer, the Sea of Galilee evaporates at the rate of a 0.4 inches per day, meaning it will again drop below the lower red line.

Despite current rainfall and the lake’s increased water levels, the Kinneret is still more than 16 feet below the level that is considered full. The Kinneret is 5.3 feet above the black line at which irreversible ecological damage begins to take place. The problem came to a head last year when the Water Authority extracted about 17,000 tons of salt.

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This year has a built-in extra month of prayer for rain. A prayer for rain is inserted into the thrice-daily prayers during the autumn holiday of Sukkoth and extends until the springtime holiday of Passover. This year is a leap year and as such, an extra month of Adar is added to the Hebrew calendar before Passover. In effect, this means that there will be an additional month to pray for rain.

Rain in Israel is a reflection of the relationship between the Jews and God.

If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving Hashem your God and serving Him with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. Deuteronomy 11:13

In an interview last month, Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, head of the Noahide Court of the Sanhedrin, explained that prayers for rain in Israel benefited all nations.

“The entire world receives its sustenance, spiritual and physical, via the land of Israel,” Rabbi Schwartz told Breaking Israel News. “Not only is this written in Jewish sources but we see this today; Israel is a tiny country yet we produce more than enough food for our needs, a beautiful bounty that we even export. We have technology that allows other countries to increase their food production.”

Israel’s role as a leader in water technology is clear but it may be interesting in the spring to look back and see whether the extra prayers for rain had any benefit for the world’s bounty.

US Congressman Andy Barr and Rabbi Tuly Weisz Plant Trees in Judean Hills

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 07:50

US Congressman, Andy Barr, and Rabbi Tuli Weisz, of Israel365, planted trees, at Oz V’Gaon, in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, the Judean Hills!

7 Israeli Agricultural Technologies

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 07:14

Farming in Israel is not an easy task, but we have found creative ways to make the desert bloom. Here are 7 Israeli Technologies that are making farming more efficient and sustainable – drip irrigation, water recycling, biopesticides, biofertilizers and so much more

Is Outbreak of ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ a Pre-Messiah Replay of Fifth Plague?

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 07:00

Experts are concerned that an outbreak of an affliction nicknamed “zombie deer disease” might jump species and begin to infect humans.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) infections in deer have been on the rise in the last decade and cases have been discovered in more than two dozen states as well as two provinces in Canada. Outbreaks have even been documented in South Korea and Europe, most notably among Norwegian reindeer.

The disease infects the brain, eroding it and causing the animal to be listless, interact less with other deer, shake uncontrollably, walk repetitively in set patterns, and to be nervous. CWD is always fatal and experts have yet to find a vaccine or a cure.

Although there are no known cases of people contracting the disease, but research suggests it poses a risk to humans. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that as a precaution, hunters should avoid eating deer meat known from areas where CWD has been identified.

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“It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told USA Today. “It’s possible the number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events.”

CWD is similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), more commonly known as ‘Mad Cow Disease’. Public health officials did not think vCJD could infect people but it has since been confirmed that a cureless variant of the disease can adversely impact humans. CWD and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease belong to the same family of diseases known as prion diseases, according to the CDC.

Diseases that affect animals are common, although it is interesting to note that the fifth plague that struck Egypt focused on their livestock, highlighting their dependence on their animals.

Then the hand of Hashem will strike your livestock in the fields—the horses, the asses, the camels, the cattle, and the sheep—with a very severe pestilence. Exodus 9:3

According to Jewish tradition, the ten plagues will be replayed in the final days leading up to the Messiah.

JOSHUA 12:6

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 06:34

In this chapter, which summarizes the wars fought by the Children of Israel to take possession of the Promised Land, we are also reminded of the wars Moshe fought. Moshe led the people against Sihon and Og, and captured the Gilead and the Bashan. This area became the inheritance of the tribes of Gad, Reuven and half of Menashe (see Numbers 32:33). The Bashan is now known as the Golan Heights, which Israel conquered in the Six Day War from Syria. Towering over the north of the country, the Golan Heights provides an essential strategic perch that is vital for Israel’s security. Coupled with its biblical significance, the Golan Heights remain an important part of the State of Israel. In his final interview before suffering a massive stroke in 2006, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Japanese reporters, “I am a Jew, and that is the most important thing for me. Therefore when it comes to the security of Israel I will not make any compromises…I don’t see any situation where Israel will not be sitting on the Golan Heights.”

At Election Crossroad, Livni Quits Politics and Party Ahead of April Elections

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 05:30

Hatnua Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni is leaving politics, she announced at a press conference at Sokolov House in Tel Aviv on Monday afternoon.

“I am standing aside, and Hatnua will not run in the Knesset election under my leadership,” said Livni.

Livni said that “20 years ago, I was elected to the Israeli Knesset. The same Zionist values I learned in my parents’ home have been with me throughout my years in public life.

However, she continued, “Obvious values have become controversial. ‘Peace’ became a bad word. The idea of separating from the Palestinians to achieve peace was replaced by the idea of annexing territories.”

Livni spoke about how she envisioned the role of the leadership of Israel: “The role of leadership, is to defend the right of expression of those with whom we do not agree. This is a battle for Israel. I think it’s terrible that today one needs courage to espouse the basic values that form the basis for the State of Israel,” she said.

“Anyone who thinks that the struggle for a state that is both Jewish and democratic is a mark of Cain, is wrong. I paid a price for that. All throughout my public life, I was willing to pay it,“ she said.

“I know I did everything I could,” Livni said, before thanking Knesset members who have supported her. “I am leaving politics, but not the hope for peace in Israel.”

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The announcement came less than a week before the Feb. 21 deadline for parties to submit their final lists for the April 9 election.

Polls showed that Hatnua was unlikely to pass the minimum electoral threshold, and Livni was not able to broker a merger with any other party.

Livni, who was trying to establish her diplomatic credentials and launched a campaign featuring pictures of herself with world leaders, was well-aware of her critical political condition.

Throughout her career, she has found her way to senior positions, including justice minister and opposition leader.

On Sunday, some officials in Hatnua said Livni still appeared determined to succeed in the election and prove to everyone that she was “the only one who can defend democracy,” as her campaign slogan claimed.

Livni would have liked to run on a joint list with Yesh Atid. But Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said that he had no desire to strike a merger deal with her, apparently because he did not consider her an asset. Members of Yesh Atid said negotiations “never existed and never will.”

At the start of the year, Livni suffered a humiliation at the hands of Labor chairman Avi Gabbay, who blindsided her by announcing at a press conference—as she was sitting beside him—that he was dismantling the Zionist Union (the joint Labor-Hatnua list formed in 2015).

Livni said at the time that all she had ever heard from Gabbay was “me, me, me.”