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Hail Pounds Saudi Desert, Kills Cattle in Swaziland

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 09:57

Skeptics of the Biblical account of the Ten Plagues will be chagrined to see shocking videos of a recent wave of hailstorms that struck simultaneously around the world in the most unlikely of places. The Saudi Arabian desert was covered in ice and, in precisely the manner described in the Bible, hail in Australia was accompanied by fire.

Critics will claim that the Biblical account of the Ten Plagues that preceded the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt is improbable and could not have happened as described. In the case of the hailstorm in Africa last week, the devastating effect on cattle reflects the devastation the Biblical plague had on the Egyptian. Even the unlikely meeting of the elemental opposites of fire and ice was witnessed by the farmers of Australia, making the claims of a literal reading of the Bible more credible.

Last Tuesday, heavy rain and hail hit Saudi Arabia’s northern province of al-Jawf, causing flooding and hail-related damage. The desert was coated in ice and ice-filled rivers flowed through the streets.

Crazy hailstorm plus flash flooding in northwestern saudi city of Sakakah

— Khalid khi (@khalid_pk) December 5, 2018

Hail pounded Swaziland, South Africa on the same day. One person and at least 18 cows were reported killed by the freak storm that lasted all of 30 minutes.

Hail cloud South Africa (Twitter/Citizen)

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Last Sunday, hail accompanied by lightning created the fire-and-ice scenario described in Exodus in central Wheatbelt, Australia:

So Moshe held out his rod toward the sky, and Hashem sent thunder and hail, and fire streamed down to the ground, as Hashem rained down hail upon the land of Egypt. Exodus 9:23

More than one and a half inches of precipitation fell on the region and lightning strikes set off fires.

Fire and ice raining down on beast and man, mirroring the Biblical account of the Exodus. Prophecy predicts that the plagues of Egypt will reappear before the arrival of the Messiah. Could it be that is what we are witnessing?


Amidst BDS on Campus, Israel Advocacy Trainings Offer a Change of Pace for Israel Dialogue

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 07:44

Amidst rising anti-Semitism and recent BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) campaigns against Israel on US campuses, this winter, advocacy organization Hasbara Fellowships is bringing 70 North American students to Israel to become the next generation of voices for Israel.  

On December 9, students at NYU approved a BDS resolution. In recent weeks, Pitzer College professors voted to suspend its study abroad relationship with the University of Haifa. UCLA hosted the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference and University of Michigan professors denied recommendation letters for study abroad in Israel.

As pro-Israel students and organizations assemble to fight the BDS movement’s mark on higher education, they are also taking the offensive with the help of leading campus activism organization Hasbara Fellowships. Working on more than 80 universities across North America, the fellowship program cultivates the next generation of passionate and articulate voices for Israel. Their 15-day training program features training in on-camera techniques, social media skills, coalition building and role-playing scenarios that are likely to arise in hostile campus environments. Trip participants will also take part in a negotiations seminar and will travel across Israel for insightful briefings and firsthand accounts from top Israeli experts in diplomacy, media and other fields that intimately shape advocacy.

According to Israel Director of Hasbara Fellowships Eitan Rosenfeld, this past year has seen a huge uptake in “straight up anti-Semitic incidents, such as swastikas being drawn,” as well as “more and more anti-Israel propaganda and BDS campaigns.”

For students involved in Israel advocacy, Rosenfeld told Breaking Israel News, “campus is not a comfortable place to be right now.” This, said Rosenfeld, could have consequences not only on Jewish individuals, but on the world as a whole as other students “will go on and become leaders on a global, political and business level in the next 10-20 years.”

“The conversation will affect them in university and we don’t want them to come out with a wrong view of Israel and the Jewish people’s story,” he said. So to ensure that the right stories are being told, Hasbara Fellowships trains students to effectively tell Israel’s story to individuals and campus groups, engaging with anti-Israel allegations head on and even understanding Jewish identity, which Rosenfeld maintains helps to fight BDS and anti-Israel propaganda.

“When you deeply understand who you are, then you can be yourself freely and stand for what you believe in, creating a passionate fire that ignites other people to be proud of and stand up the values they believe in,” he said.

One such example of a Hasbara Fellow who trained to advocate for Israel on campus, only to increase his on self-identity and expression, is Daniel Traub. Traub, now 25, participated in a Hasbara Fellowship training in Israel as a student at Boston University. Although he described the overall anti-Israel sentiment on his campus as “relatively light” due to the “strong Jewish population at BU,” he reported anti-Semitic incidents on campus, including incidents involving anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

In response to anti-Semitic conversations and confrontations, Traub turned to Hasbara Fellowships to attend the advocacy training in Israel to learn how to provide opposition to the rising anti-Semitism on his college campus.

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This coming winter, more than 70 students from 25 campuses will also travel to the Jewish state, hearing from Israeli and Palestinian thought leaders to gain tools to tackle any possible scenario on campus and beyond, and to make the case for Israel in a balanced, reasoned manner that does more than ‘preach to the choir.’

Traub maintained that Hasbara Fellowships effectively taught him how to answer tough questions by providing him with information and techniques that spread a positive view of Jews and Israel. At a public debate on campus between Boston University Students for Israel (BUSI) and SJP, he told Breaking Israel News, “Hasbara was able to provide us with the knowledge to make a proper defense, and the event went well – there was respect and we had a clear victory at the debate.”

In Israel, after hearing from both Israelis and Palestinians, said Traub, “I was able to come to my own conclusions and have decided, without a doubt, on the validity of Israel and her actions.” Through the campus programming he helped organize, Traub worked to spread this conclusion to others at BU. “Through events like Israel Peace Week (a week of programing that showcases positive aspects of Israel, organized by pro-Israel organizations across the country), we were able to show that Israel is a land of peace, tolerance and democracy.”

At one event on his campus Israel Peace Week, he said, the group held an international food festival in which they invited different cultural groups on campus to provide food native to their land. “BUSI even invited SJP to the event to promote peace between our two groups,” said Traub, who is now living in Jerusalem after making aliyah and serving in the IDF as a lone soldier and combat medic in the paratroopers unit.

“Hasbara also gave me a deeper spiritual connection to its land and people,” he said.

According to Rosenfeld, this training is so vital because it is this very connection and identity described by Traub that anti-Israel groups try to undermine. “We have Jewish students on campus who are being denied the right to be themselves – a part of the Jewish people. We are fighting anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism,” he explained. “When people spread ideas that Israel shouldn’t exist, they are saying that the Jewish people do not have the right to self-determination. So now, we are fighting for that right, just as we fought for the right 70 years ago when the State of Israel was established,” he said.

“Campus is the new battleground on an ideological level – that’s why the discussion on campus is so important.”

Tehran Sinking Into the Earth: Divine Retribution?

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 07:25

Scientists warned that Iran, the arch enemy of Israel, is in danger of suffering a fate explicitly described in the Bible as being reserved for the evil: being swallowed up by the earth. Though it is impossible to ascribe divine intentions onto such events, some rabbis emphasized that such a phenomenon requires an attempt to understand God’s will.

Satellite images recently revealed that Tehran, the capital of Iran, is sinking into the earth at a rate of 10 inches per year. Geoscientists Mahdi Motagh and Mahmud Haghshenas Haghighi from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam used satellite data to monitor subsidence across the Tehran region between 2003 and 2017. Their study, reported in Nature magazine, determined that roughly 10% of the city is affected, as well as areas adjacent to the city. Part of the cause is the drying up of aquifers for agriculture and drinking water for the city’s 13 million residents.

Nature reported that fissures several miles in length and several yards deep have opened up in the land to the southeast of Tehran. Such fissures endanger railroad tracks, roads, bridges, oil and gas pipelines, high-voltage electricity lines and buildings. It also disturbs irrigation, sometimes making agriculture impossible in previously arable regions. Another sinking zone is threatening to engulf Tehran’s airport.

Though this phenomenon referred to as ‘subsidence’ is a problem in many parts of the world, Tehran is among the worst cases. Efforts to restore the aquifers have been hampered by illegal wells, droughts and large dams which prevent the underground water sources from being replenished. Researchers fear that the effects are irreversible and the ground has lost its porosity.

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of-days author, believes Tehran’s dilemma is clearly divine intervention but added a strong disclaimer.

“Everything that happens in the world is divine intervention,” Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News. “But we absolutely cannot ascribe a specific meaning to it. One day it could be Tehran sinking and the next it could be a city in California. The judgments are for God to make.”

Without usurping God’s role as judge, Rabbi Winston believes that the hand of God can frequently be revealed by a close inspection of history.

“We don’t always know why things happen but when we look back we can frequently see that some events we thought were insignificant were actually small sparks that set off a large explosion,” he said. ‘What is true is that anti-Semitism is always followed by economic depression and frequently by disaster.”

He noted that even without taking into account God’s wrath for Iran’s treatment of Israel, their difficulty could trace to their relations with the Holy Land.

“Iran had a problem with water. In June, Prime Minister Netanyahu offered Israeli water technology to Iran,” Rabbi Winston said. “But they wouldn’t take anything from ‘the Zionists.’ This anti-Semitism clearly made their current problem worse.”

“The Iranian people are victims of a cruel and tyrannical regime that denies them vital water. Israel stands with the people of Iran,” the Israeli Prime Minister said at the time.

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This sentiment of helping the people of Iran, despite the intent of the regime to destroy Israel, was also addressed by Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, an Israeli mystic with thousands of followers. In his weekly sermon last week, Rabbi Ben Artzi emphasized that God operates in the world via nature.

“God is hidden in the world but operates through the natural forces that he created,” Rabbi Ben Artzi said. “Through fire, earthquakes, winds, volcanoes – through every natural force. This is how God operates for countries, but for the individual, he works through his body.”

This was particularly true of Iran, the rabbi said.

“Every time Iran rises up against Israel, it will get hit by Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’),” Rabbi Ben Artzi said. “Hit hard,” he emphasized.

But Rabbi Ben Artzi noted a difficulty with ascribing divine wrath focused on Iran.

“Ninety percent of the people love the Jews and Israel,” Rabbi Ben Artzi said. “They hate the regime that is currently in power in Iran. They want to overturn their government and this will happen. There will be a revolution in Iran.”

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, believes Iran’s current difficulties are a clear message their government should heed.

“It makes me happy to hear that Iran is having this problem,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “Not that I, God forbid, wish the people of Iran harm. There are enough reasons for them to disappear into the ground but the way this is coming into the world, as a gradual process, gives the people a chance to do tshuva (repentance) in order to avert disaster.”

He noted that this was the case with the Biblical story of Korach in the desert, who spoke out against Moses and Aaron.

And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all Korach‘s people and all their possessions. Numbers 16:32

“Since the Holocaust, there has not been any nation that has declared their intention to destroy the Jewish people like Iran has,” Rabbi Berger said. “Anyone who speaks out this way, wanting to wipe out another nation, Hashem will cause the earth to swallow them up. Everything they think that makes them great as a nation will simply disappear.”

PM Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Friedman Light the Hanukkah Candles at the Western Wall

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 04:40

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended a ceremony Thursday evening at the Western Wall to light the 5th Hanukkah candle together with lone soldiers.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “There is a great victory here: The great persistence and continuity of our people, which overcomes all rules of history by the power of our faith and our will. Today we are celebrating 70 years since the revival of the State of Israel. The power of this spirit finds expression across the world in the rising status of Israel, in the special strength that emanates from here throughout the Middle East, Arab and Muslim states, here in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia and in other places, that want our proximity, our peace and relations with us. Here I must add the tremendous support that we receive from the US government and from President Donald Trump. Exactly one year ago he made a historic decision because it has historical importance and because it recognized history. Peace cannot be advanced on the basis of lies and a policy based on lies is doomed to crash on the rocks of reality. President Trump, in a brave and genuine move, recognized what we know to have existed here not only since the Maccabees, but since the time of King David, 800 years before. In the recognition of Jerusalem, of our heritage and the link that that no other people and no other city have, President Trump simply spoke the truth, and truth is the basis for everything and the basis for peace.”

Christian Purchasing Trends Portray a Return to Roots of Hebrew Bible

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 04:12

On one level, the outlook for the religious landscape in the US is bleak. According to trends illuminated in the most recent Pew Study on religious life, over time, an increasing number of American adults say they do not identify with any religion and there are a shrinking number of people who describe themselves as Christians and Jews. Additionally, there is a clear downward trend in the importance of religious life in older people compared to younger people – and this trend is also growing over time.

From 2007 to 2014, belief in God declined from 92% to 89%. Those who pray daily decreased from 58% to 55%. Those who deem religion as “very important to them” decreased from 56% to 53%. And those who attend services at least monthly went from 54% to 50%.

However, if one looks to the purchasing patterns of Bibles and Judaica, the trends paint a different picture of the landscape of religion in the United States. According to Christian media maven Brandon Gaille, 20 million Bibles are sold each year in the United States. “That’s more than double the amount that was sold annually in the 1950s,” he noted.

This figure does not include the number of Bibles that are given out. According to Gideon International, the Bible publisher that popularized the tradition of placing a Bible in hotel rooms, the publisher distributed more than 82.5 million copies of the Bible worldwide in the 2017 fiscal year, including 10.1 million in the United States alone, largely to youth, colleges and hospitals.

CEO and President of the Christian Publishing House, Edward D. Andrews, has noticed an increased interest in Bible inquiries in recent years. In addition to running the publishing house since 2005, Andrews has written 95 commentary books on the Bible. He reports that his clientele has developed increased interest regarding “interpretive translations” of the Bible, books about how to defend the Bible, as well as Hebrew Bibles, he told Breaking Israel News.

“Christians are mostly interested in prophetic works of the Hebrew Bible,” he said. “They want to understand if the Old Testament and New Testament contradicts one another. There is not one single contradiction between the New and Old Testament,” Andrews posed. “Not one iota.”

Perhaps these two parallel trends, seemingly contradictory, are not contradictory at all. According to Donna Jollay, co-founder of educational platform Yeshiva for the Nations, which teaches non-Jewish students about the Hebrew Bible, Jewish history, and Israel, both the trend away from religion as well as Christians returning to their Jewish Biblical roots were prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. “Amos prophesied that there will be a famine, not for food but the word of God,” she told Breaking Israel News.

A time is coming — declares my God — when I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of Hashem.” (Amos 8:11)

“Though the word of God is available, we are very much in that place where we see a falling away of the next generation and ignorance regarding Israel,” she said, arguing that it’s not enough to have a Bible or even read the Bible – we must hear the word of God, and hearing is incumbent upon action. “Within the Hebrew Bible are instructions for non-Jews for how they should be interacting with the Jewish people, provoking a response to wake up to the Redemption that is happening,” she said.

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Many Christians are doing just that – learning Hebrew and engaging with the Hebrew Bible. Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Director of Israel365 and publisher of Breaking Israel News and The Israel Bible, reported seeing positive trends of Christians studying the Bible and Biblical Hebrew in recent years, as a result of Internet access and growing Christian Zionism. The Israel Bible, Weisz told Breaking Israel News, is the world’s first Hebrew Bible to highlight the special relationship between the land and the people of Israel, published by Jews for a Christian audience. The Israel Bible has been selling at a steady increase since its inception marking Israel’s 70th anniversary in April 2018.

Weisz maintained that this is not only a fascinating trend – it’s prophetic. “Zephaniah predicted that in the end days, all nations would speak ‘pure speech,’ Hebrew. They are learning Hebrew for one purpose – to be able to read the Bible in the language of creation.”

For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, So that they all invoke Hashem by name And serve Him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:9)

“This verse is another incredible example of an obscure prophecy that has come to prominent fruition in our generation, as millions of people all over the world, both Jews and gentiles, are learning Hebrew in order to speak lashon hakodesh (the holy language),” reads the passage commentary in The Israel Bible.

As religious life continues to decline in the United States, Weisz said, not only are Christian purchasing patterns of Bibles a compelling anecdote telling a different story, but the trend is also an antidote to Biblical illiteracy. “The Israel Bible became the top new release on Amazon shortly after its release. There is a thirst for a Bible like this among Christians that explains the importance of the land and the people of Israel in a way that non-Jews can appreciate.”

The same can be said of trends of Christians purchasing Judaica. According to Israel365’s Director of Business Intelligence, Ayal Kellman, Israel365’s web store has “performed steadily over the last several years.” Online store manager Orly Gibson, who has managed the store for the past four years, noted that Christian purchasing of Judaica increase during the Jewish holidays and festivals. “Christians around the world are getting more plugged into the Jewish calendar, buying seasonal products from Israel corresponding to different holidays.” For example, she noted, “natural honey from Israel is always a best seller around Rosh HaShana (the Jewish New Year).”

Gibson attributed the sales to a “Bible awakening among Christians,” maintaining, “Christians are going back to their roots, the Hebrew Bible and connected to Biblical holidays. The Israel365 Store makes it possible for Christians to incorporate Judaica and Jewish ritual items into their celebration of Hanukkah, Passover and other holidays,” she told Breaking Israel News.  

Ordering products from Israel online, she said, is a great option for people who are looking to connect to Israel and the Bible as well as “a wonderful way to support the Israeli economy and small businesses.” Indeed, the trend of supporting Israel through Judaica and further engaging with the Hebrew Bible could offer the perfect remedy for a “famine of the word” within the religious landscape of America.  

A Time For Miracles – True Stories From the IDF

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 03:55

Terror from the Gaza strip has haunted the Holy Land for over a decade. Sporadic outbreaks of violence have tested the patience of Israel’s civilians living in the southern region. The resolve of the government and the Israel Defense Forces has been tested, while they work to balance protecting the people and avoiding war.

The last time the IDF sent ground troops into Gaza was between 2008 and 2009 for “Operation Cast Lead.” Those in Israel at the time testify that every man, woman and child, whether observant or not, joined forces to pray for the welfare and safety of the brave IDF fighters.

Navigating the maze of Gaza cities, which were filled with booby trapped buildings, terror tunnels, road bombs and snipers’ shooting made completing this mission particularly precarious and dangerous. The odds of IDF soldiers coming out alive or even unscathed were slim.

Yet, many miraculous stories started spreading throughout the Land, some, almost too far fetched to believe. Amazingly, these stories have been confirmed by those who actually experienced them and give strength to the power of prayer.

Here are two such stories:

Rabbi Lazer Brody, a former IDF special-unit veteran, shared this story after hearing it from the father of the soldier to whom it happened.

The IDF soldier was part of the Givati Brigade. His unit was tasked with cleaning out terrorists and weapons in and around Gaza city.

This battalion found themselves facing a woman dressed in black, standing in front of one of the houses they were told to check. The woman, named Rachel, started yelling in Arabic, “Get out of here! It’s dangerous!”

The soldiers assumed that she was trying to protect her family. However, not wanting to take chances, their company commander called the regiment commander who advised them to move on to their next target.

Suddenly, the same woman in black appeared in front of them and again gave the danger warning. Assuming she must have arrived so quickly through one of the terror tunnels set up by Hamas between houses, a soldier even yelled at her for interfering with their mission.

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The IDF troops then went to a third house and, lo and behold, the same woman appeared again. By now, all the soldiers froze in place realizing something otherworldly was happening.

The IDF soldiers called the Golani Engineering force, whose job it is to blow up booby-trapped houses. The unit asked them to check the three houses the mysterious woman had warned them about. Sure enough, all three houses were filled with explosives.

Around the time that the story was revealed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Israel’s northern city of Safed and son of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, was teaching in Jerusalem about the plight of the IDF soldiers in Gaza and this miraculous story in particular.

Rabbi Shmuel confirmed that his holy father had been released from the hospital just before the war and went three times to pray at Biblical Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem for the success and safety of Israel’s soldiers and the Holy Land.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu continued, “I told [my father] about this story, and I asked him, ‘Should we believe it? Is it truth?’ And he said, ‘Yes, it’s true.’ I asked him to explain, and he said – in these words: ‘I told her: Rachel, a war is on! Don’t withhold your voice from crying [based on Jeremiah 31,14-16]! Go before God, and pray for the soldiers, who are sacrificing themselves for the Nation of Israel, that they should strike – and not be stricken.’

“I told him, “Well, you should know that she really did that.”

“Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu  asked, “‘Did she mention that I sent her?’”

Another miraculous story from Operation Cast Lead was shared in a video called, “How God Fought in Gaza.” The film features archived footage from the mission along with interviews IDF soldiers and officers who served in the operation. The soldiers recognize the hand of God as they describe “miraculous” firefights where IDF troops emerged without a scratch.

One Godly story follows:

Most Israelis have come to rely on the Iron Dome to protect them from enemy missiles. The Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at civilian areas.

During Operation Cast Lead, a missile was shot into Israel from Gaza and was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or a central Tel Aviv railway station.

The first Iron Dome interceptor was shot but missed the rocket. A second interceptor was shot and also missed, something very unusual. There were only four seconds left until the missile would hit a populated area causing mass-casualties.

The IDF commander shared, “Suddenly, the Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!’ “I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.”

The Bible states, “It is a land which Hashem your God looks after, on which Hashem your God always keeps His eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end” (Deuteronomy 11:12).

For soldiers these prayers can be the difference between life and death.

As such, a crowdfunding campaign has been established to raise money to provide IDF combat soldiers with a proper place to pray and worship wherever they are serving. These unique “mobile synagogues” move with battalions, offering a spiritual place for them to connect with God.

Until December 31, 2018, every dollar donated will be matched by a lover of Israel’s soldiers. Donations are essential to providing IDF soldiers with these mobile synagogues. To donate to this campaign, please click here.

Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes on the Rise in New York

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 03:11

Anti-Semitic hate crimes, including physical assaults, vandalism, harassment and attacks on Jewish institutions, are on the rise in New York City. The worrying trend is particularly palpable in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, home to a large Hasidic community.

Nikki Haley Replacement, Heather Nauert, Helped Further Trump Administration’s Pro-Israel Platform

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 03:02

U.S. President Donald Trump nominated State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Friday as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Nikki Haley, who is stepping down at the end of the year.

Bloomberg News first reported this development on Thursday night.

Nauert, a former Fox News personality, was considered the frontrunner after former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell withdrew from consideration. Also touted were U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft, former U.S. Senate candidate John James of Michigan and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

Congratulations to Heather Nauert on her nomination by the President to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. We wish you well and look forward to supporting you through the transition and beyond.

The Mole Inside the Hezbollah Tunnel

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 02:00

This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.

Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise. An underground passage grants attackers protection from Israeli bombs, while it also means that the war begins on the Israeli side of the border, in the midst of areas populated by civilians. That fact allows for sudden forays and kidnapping.

However, the discovery and neutralization of the tunnel that Hezbollah dug into Israel’s sovereign territory is a technological, operational and intelligence network accomplishment, for additional reasons:

1. Hezbollah based its plans for future wars on these tunnels. Nasrallah has not made a secret of his plans to take over the Galilee in the next war, but because Hezbollah has no means of air transport, it cannot land sufficient numbers of armed forces in Israeli territory, and the tunnels were intended as the substitute for an airlift.  By discovering the first tunnel, Israel has eliminated the immediate use of this strategic method, but the IDF believes there are additional tunnels.

2. The discovery of the tunnel has proven to the entire world that Hezbollah is acting in flagrant violation of the Security Council Resolution 1701 which brought the 2006 Second Lebanon War to an end. This resolution forbids Hezbollah any presence in southern Lebanon, but now it has become clear that not only is the terrorist organization in that region, it is also violating Israeli sovereignty. It is obvious once again that UNIFIL has neither the ability nor the interest to carry out the mission it was given by the Security Council and Israel has no reason to assume that the international community will act to ensure its security. This violation of a Security Council decision provides Israel with justification, vis a vis the Israeli public and the world, to attack Hezbollah.

3, Israel has the technological ability to discover tunnels dug as deep as 25 meters (27 yards) down into bedrock, a depth equal to the height of an 8 storey building. And Israeli know-how does not end with the discovery of the tunnel: despite the fact that the tunnel reaches only 40 meters (43 yards) into Israel, Israel managed not only to discover it but to position both a camera and explosive charge inside it without Hezbollah lookouts becoming aware of any activity in the tunnel.

4. Hezbollah suspects that Israel succeeded in finding the tunnel by means of intelligence activity, meaning that there is a “mole” within its ranks, someone with access to its most secret information – the location of its tunnels – who is on such a high level of collaboration with Israel that he can provide it with the relevant information without being exposed.  IDF CoS Gadi Eizenkot said on Tuesday that Israel is in possession of Hezbollah’s tunnel plans.

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In my opinion, from the minute the tunnel’s discovery was made public, internal Hezbollah security forces are working feverishly to discover who the collaborator is. People are being interrogated, an insulting experience in itself that does not make for a pleasant atmosphere. Tension is at a high between members of the organization who had information about the tunnel, as each and every one of them automatically is suspected of working with Israel. Fearing that anyone can be the “mole”, people are refraining from sharing information with one another.

This situation is affecting the organization’s functioning and opens up the possibility that the innocent will find themselves accused. Those falsely accused will not continue as if nothing untoward has happened after they have been suspected of disloyalty, an unforgivable insult to their dedication. No organization can function in a situation of this kind, especially in a case where the organization’s entire strategy has to be altered due to fears that Israel has found other tunnels and booby-trapped them as it did the first.

5. Up until Wednesday morning, the time these lines were written, there has been no reaction from Hezbollah. In my opinion, the organization is in a state of utter disarray, with Hassan Nasrallah expected to explain how this debacle occurred. The Iranians are furious because of Nasrallah’s failure to adequately develop the tunnel strategy and because of the suspicion that there is a Hezbollah member passing on information to Israel.

6. Hezbollahs’ “Radwan” commando unit is the attack force which was to traverse the tunnels, enter the Galilee and conquer Israeli settlements there. Now that the tunnel has been found and booby-trapped by the IDF, both officers and fighters in the “Radwan” unit are afraid that every tunnel they enter is a death trap – not exactly adding to their motivation.

7. The discovery of the tunnel will cause Hezbollah to concentrate on developing its rocket arsenal and especially on honing its ability to pinpoint targets in Israel.

8. The tunnel project cost Hezbollah many millions of dollars, and now all that investment has gone to waste. Hassan Nasrallah is going to have to explain the financial aspect of this failure as well.

9. Despite all this, Israel would be wise not to think that the discovery of the tunnels is a knock-out blow to Hezbollah. That terror organization knows how to overcome difficulties and adapt itself and its operations to changing circumstances. While it is true that the discovery of the tunnel is an impressive achievement, technologically and intelligence-wise, it is not enough to defeat Hezbollah and convince the organization that there is no point in continuing to fight Israel. Hezbollah will remain Israel’s implacable and bitter enemy from an ideological standpoint, and more immediately, because it is the long arm of the Iranian Islamic Republic which has sworn to destroy Israel.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

Europe Beats Iran’s War Drums

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 01:00

Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.

Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”

With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.

Just two days after Rouhani’s Jewish cancer speech, his representatives sat down with senior EU officials in Brussels to discuss Iranian-EU nuclear cooperation in the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal. Following the talks, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini’s office put out a statement claiming that the sides “expressed their determination to preserve the nuclear agreement as… a key pillar for European and regional security.”

As Mogherini and her colleagues were sitting with the Iranians, the Wall Street Journal reported that the French and German governments have agreed to set up a back channel, in the form of a joint corporation, owned by European governments, whose job will be to arrange for payments for Iranian exports in a manner that bypasses and so undermines US financial and trade sanctions on Iran.

How are we to understand Europe’s behavior? What is possessing Germany and France and Brussels and even Britain, (which is reportedly considering joining the Germans and French in their sanctions-busting operations) to stand with Iran against the US?

It isn’t because Iran has proved its good intentions to them. To the contrary, over the past six months, Iran has plotted three terror attacks in Europe. In June, Iranian operatives murdered a regime opponent in Holland. In July, Belgian authorities prevented an Iranian plot to attack a regime opposition rally in Paris. And in October, Danish authorities intercepted an Iranian terror squad en route to assassinate the head of an organization of Ahwaz Arabs, Iran’s Arab minority that suffers from harsh repression at the hands of the regime.

These terror plots are not the only way that Iran is working to threaten European security even as European leaders endanger their ties with the US to enrich Tehran. Ahead of his meeting with the Europeans in Brussels on Monday, Ali Akhbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, warned that if Europeans choose to comply with US sanctions and stop purchasing Iranian oil, Iran will ditch the nuclear deal and restore its activities to enrich uranium to 20% purity, something Iran purportedly suspended in the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Salehi told Reuters, “It is very easy for us to go back to what we were before – even to a better position. We can start the 20% enrichment activity. We can increase the amount of enriched uranium.”

Maybe the Europeans are working to undermine US sanctions and save the Iranian economy because they are afraid of the Iranians. But since Europe’s intense efforts to appease Iran have been met with continued Iranian terrorism, it is irrational to think that repeating this failed policy will protect them in the future.

As Brian Hook, the US State Department’s Iran policy chief put it to reporters when the Denmark terror plot was revealed, “It is very strange to us to see this Iranian regime would spend so much time trying to keep the Europeans on its side, while at the same time conducting bomb plots and assassination attempts in Europe.”

It’s possible that the Europeans are motivated to work on behalf of Iran against the US by an uncontrollable hatred of US President Donald Trump. Speaking to Britain’s Independent, a senior European diplomat said that the Europeans are empowering Iran so that Trump won’t be able to get the satisfaction of seeing them agree with him that Iran is a threat.
In his words, “We want to play it smartly so that Trump doesn’t say, ‘See, I told you these weak Europeans will eventually understand the real nature of Iran.’”

In other words, according to the quoted diplomat, the Europeans would rather shut their eyes to the reality of Iran’s aggression and empower the terror sponsoring ayatollahs than acknowledge that Trump is right and that Iran poses to danger to Europe that mustn’t be countenanced. And indeed, while the Danes initially recalled their ambassador from Tehran and called on the EU to impose sanctions against Iran in retaliation for the terror plot in Copenhagen, within weeks, the Danish ambassador was back in Tehran and the EU had opted not to impose any sanctions in response to Iran’s terrorist operations in Europe.

Jew hatred is another possible explanation for Europe’s embrace of a regime that calls daily for Israel’s destruction and works directly and through its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies to achieve its murderous goal. CNN’s survey of European Jew hatred, released this week showed yet again that hatred of Jews remains a powerful force for political and social mobilization in Europe today.

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As for antisemitism, according to a senior administration official, although Mogherini is the mouthpiece for the EU’s Iran policy, she is not its author, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is.

Mogherini, like the Germans and French, insist that their continued commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal stems from their conviction that the deal is working to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Ahead of the meeting with Salehi on Monday, EU Energy Commissioner Arias Canete said the deal is “crucial for the security of Europe, of the region and the entire world.”
He said the agreement is working to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and that “we do not see any credible peaceful alternative.”

The mendacity of Canete’s statement, and similar ones by Mogherini, is stunning. At least since April 30, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed Iran’s nuclear archive, which Mossad officers seized from a Tehran warehouse in late January, nothing Iran says about its nuclear program or activities can be taken seriously. The very existence of the nuclear archive, and the great efforts the regime took to preserve it made clear that the Iranian regime has never had the slightest interest in curbing, let alone abandoning its ambition to develop a nuclear arsenal. The archive preserved all of the knowledge that Iran amassed since the early 1990s towards the development, testing and deployment of nuclear warheads.

Salehi himself made clear that the nuclear sword of Damocles is still dangling over the world’s throat. Salehi warned the Europeans that if they fail to protect Iran from US sanctions, the consequences will be “ominous.”
“The situation is very unpredictable,” he warned.

The Iranian nuclear archive, Europe’s willingness to provoke an open breach with the Americans to continue transferring money to Iran, and Iran’s own brinksmanship in the face of US sanctions tell us that much of the discourse about the nuclear deal has been misplaced and the purpose of the deal has been misconstrued.

Unlike what we have been told – and what we have been telling ourselves, the deal isn’t a non-proliferation effort. It isn’t geared toward blocking Iran’s nuclear operations.

The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is nothing more than a payoff. Salehi admitted as much this week when he said, “If we cannot sell our oil and we don’t enjoy financial transactions, then I don’t think keeping the deal will benefit us anymore.”

The Obama administration, in conjunction with the EU, concluded a deal which no one ever signed. It involved the US and Europe, (along with Russia and China) transferring billions of dollars to Iran in cash, providing Iran with billions of dollars of sanctions relief and agreeing to business deals worth additional billions to the Iranian economy.

In exchange, Iran offered them nothing.

It is impossible to credit any of Iran’s purported actions to contain or curtail its nuclear activities because the agreement contains no effective inspections mechanism. Under the JCPOA, Iran can avoid UN inspections of its nuclear installations by simply calling them military installations.

The purpose of the deal then wasn’t to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons at all. This is why then-president Barack Obama, then-secretary of state John Kerry, their underlings and their EU colleagues couldn’t care less when, during the negotiations, Israel provided proof that Iran couldn’t be trusted and that the agreement as concluded wouldn’t prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal. This is also why the Europeans responded to Israel’s seizure of Iran’s nuclear archive with a shrug of their shoulders. They aren’t arms controllers. They are appeasers.

The purpose of the nuclear deal was to enrich and empower the Iranian regime. And in this context, Iran’s determination to leave the deal if the dollars and euros stop flowing is entirely reasonable. So, too, the Europeans are right that to preserve the deal, they must do everything in their power to continue enriching Iran.

Once we understand the actual nature of the deal, we can recognize the true danger of Europe’s pro-Iranian, anti-American actions.

Israel and many Arab states have made clear that they will go to war against Iran if that is the only way that Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The purpose of the US economic sanctions is to achieve the goal of blocking Iran’s nuclear efforts without war. If the Iranian economy collapses, or if the regime is overthrown, or both, Iran will likely abandon its nuclear weapons program without war. If Europe is successful in scuttling US sanctions, the likelihood of a major war will rise tremendously.

In response to the Wall Street Journal report, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal that the US will contemplate sanctions against French and German entities that seek to evade sanctions against Iran.
In his words, “The US will consider sanctions on those entities participating in these tactics.”

Maybe the Europeans are motivated to stand with Rouhani and his fellow genocidal antisemites in the Iranian regime out of hatred for Trump or for America as a whole. Maybe they’re motivated by Jew hatred.

Maybe they simply want to keep paying off the Iranians in the hopes that Iranian regime terrorists will continue to focus their terror efforts in Europe on Iranian dissidents and Jews and leave them alone.

Maybe they are motivated by old-fashioned greed.

Whatever is motivating them, the time has come to make them pay a price for their hostile behavior. Because if they aren’t forced to back down, by US sanctions and other means, then the world will pay a devastating price later, in the form of a war that might have been prevented were it not for European perfidy, prejudice and cowardice.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jerusalem Post

Northern Shield Not Meant to Shield Netanyahu

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 00:00

It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.

It would be fair to say that those who raise questions over the police recommendation to indict the prime minister and the timing of the operation in the north are cynically exploiting the situation, choosing their political interests over the security ones.

Throughout his tenure, the prime minister excelled in one thing—he has never been trigger-happy. Quite the contrary. There were those who accused him of being overly cautious. For instance, Operation Protective Edge only went ahead after multiple attempts were made by Netanyahu to avoid the conflict. “Quiet for quiet,” Netanyahu said repeatedly just days before the operation began, and although it didn’t help, he never wanted that war. He was dragged into it. There are enough good arguments against Netanyahu; there is no need to paint him as a warmonger.

Even during the later stages of the 2011 social justice protest, there were those who claimed that Netanyahu would start a war to put an end to it. It did not happen. These accusations were false back then as well. It happened again a few weeks ago, when it felt like we were on a brink of another war with Hamas, but once again it didn’t happen. Netanyahu, again and again, chooses to reach understandings with the terror group. That’s his way.

Another thing to remember is that for Netanyahu to launch another military operation because of personal interests, he would need the cooperation of the IDF’s top brass, and there is no chance of that happening. Planning a widescale military operation takes years, so no one is going to take a chance on starting a war just because the political timing seems right—that would be disrespectful to the IDF officers.

It just so happens that the preparations for the current operation were only completed fairly recently. In fact, there were signs hinting at an impending operation. But Netanyahu—like Netanyahu always does—was not in a rush to pull the trigger. So even when he talks about a military operation—it’s on a small scale.

In general, if there are any concerns about Netanyahu, they can be put to rest by the rumors coming from former senior defense establishment officials—and not right-wingers—that Netanyahu always makes every effort to avoid a confrontation.

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For example, there are those who claim that Israel must preemptively strike the Hezbollah infrastructure used for the conversion of inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles. The argument is that Israel should make the most of the current window of opportunity, because Hezbollah is weakened—not only because of the political crisis in Lebanon, but also due to the losses sustained in Syria while fighting alongside the Assad regime. But Netanyahu, they claim, is once again hesitant to launch an operation. It is unclear whether these claims are true, but it is clear that Netanyahu is in no hurry to get bogged down in a military conflict, neither in the north nor in the south.

The current operation, despite being conducted on Israeli territory, could potentially deteriorate into a military confrontation with Hezbollah. That is why Israel needed to coordinate it with the US, because its forces are still in the region. Also, because Hezbollah is defined by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization. After all, this is a strategic threat initiated by Iran’s regional ambitions.

Therefore, the claims that Netanyahu cynically exploited the operation on the Lebanese border for his political interests are the kind of claims that Hezbollah’s spokespeople would make—and so they did after the news first broke. It’s regrettable that the terror group’s sentiments were echoed by some in the Knesset.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet


Sat, 12/08/2018 - 20:59

The “ingathering of the exiles,” known in Hebrew as kibbutz galuyot (קיבוץ גלויות), is promised in multiple places throughout the Bible. Although they are scattered throughout the four corners of the earth, Yechezkel (Ezekiel) declares that one day, God will gather the People of Israel and return them to their ancient soil, the Land of Israel. For centuries, Jews have been praying three times daily for the fulfillment of this prophecy in their central prayer, known as the amidah. With the establishment of the State of Israel and the many waves of immigration that have taken place in recent history, we are fortunate to witness the beginning of the fulfillment of this tremendous miracle.

UN Fails to Adopt First-Ever Resolution Censuring Hamas

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 06:54

The United Nations rejected a resolution on Thursday that required a two-thirds majority to pass condemning the terrorist group Hamas for launching rockets from Gaza into Israel in addition to its infrastructure such as building tunnels to infiltrate and attack the Jewish state.

The final vote was 86 in favor, 57 against, 33 abstentions.

Although the vote was expected to pass through a simple majority, Kuwait proposed a motion to require a two-thirds majority to pass the resolution, dimming its chances for success. The motion was adopted with 75 votes in favor, 72 against, 26 abstentions.

“The very fact that there is a vote against Hamas in the General Assembly is an achievement for Israel. We succeeded in creating discussion and enlisting support from around the world against this murderous terror organization,” said Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon. “This has never before happened at the U.N., and now there has is an historic opportunity to condemn it publicly and decisively.”

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By securing support from all of the European Union’s 28 member states, the resolution’s fate was all but sealed.

Danon told reporters on Tuesday that “we will get a majority, no matter what.”

In remarks just before what is one of her final acts as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told her fellow members that the resolution could mark “a historic day” or just “another day.”

Additionally, Haley rhetorically asked: “Is the hatred that strong? Is the hatred against Israel that strong that you will defend a terrorist organization that does more harm to the Palestinian people? Isn’t it time to let it go?”

This development came on the heels of six anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the world body last Friday.

Do You Believe In The Mountain of God? Sign the Petition!

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 06:20

If successful, a new petition will persuade the Israeli government to enforce the laws requiring equal rights for people of all faiths to pray on the Temple Mount.

Cry for Zion, a multi-faith NGO advocating equal rights for all religions on the Temple Mount released a petition calling for Jewish sovereignty at the site. On their website, the organization stated their motives for initiating the petition:

“The Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth to the Jewish people. As of 1967, the State of Israel holds full, legal rights to the Mount, but handed over administration to the Muslim religious Waqf. The Waqf now attempts to monopolize the site.”

“Today on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims are discriminated against and are not even allowed to move their lips in silent prayer. They are routinely harassed and abused — forbidden from bringing a Bible or prayer book, and even their access is severely restricted. At the Western Wall, which is under Jewish sovereignty, everyone can respectfully pray.”

It should be emphasized that Jews and Christians are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, carrying religious books, or displaying religious symbols. Also prohibited are symbols of the state of Israel. The statement continued:

“The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Jews must be allowed to pray there. Yet, the Police have a legal loophole to discriminate as they wish. Israel has an obligation to uphold international human rights on the Mount, including freedom of worship (UDHR). The decision now rests in the hands of the Government of Israel, the people of Israel, and your support!”

“We are the voice from the international community that supports the Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty over Mt Zion — the Temple Mount. We appeal to the ruling bodies of Israel to exercise their full, legal sovereignty, guaranteeing Jewish rights on their most holy place.”

The petition declares the following:

“We, the undersigned, hereby declare that:

  1. The Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people. It was here that King Solomon built the First Holy Temple 3,000 years ago. Here, the Jewish Temples stood for centuries, before the Al Aqsa mosque
    became the third holiest site for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina.
  2. The State of Israel has an obligation to uphold Jewish sovereignty and international human rights on the Temple Mount, which include freedom of worship. At present, non-Muslims are discriminated against and are not even allowed to move their lips in silent prayer, contrary to numerous Supreme Court rulings. At the Western Wall, which is under Jewish sovereignty, people from all over the world are welcome to respectfully pray.
  3. More than 1,000 experts from thirty countries around the world have acknowledged that East Jerusalem is not an occupied territory under international law and the State of Israel has officially declared its sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
  4. Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount is in the best interest of the human, civil, and religious rights of all people groups in Israel, including the Arab minorities. We, therefore, appeal to the ruling bodies of Israel to exercise their full, legal sovereignty, guaranteeing Jewish rights on their most holy place.

We, therefore, appeal to the ruling bodies of Israel to exercise their full, legal sovereignty, guaranteeing Jewish rights on their most holy place.”

“For on My holy mountain, on the lofty mount of Israel—declares the Lord God—there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve Me in the land.” Ezekiel 20:40

Inside a Multimedia Experience of Israel’s Holy Sites

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 05:15

A new Christian center on the outskirts of Jerusalem is hoping to help pilgrims deepen their religious experience while visiting the Holy Land. Multimedia displays help bring history alive.

UN Fails to Adopt Fist-Ever Resolution Censuring Hamas

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 04:25

The United Nations rejected a resolution on Thursday that required a two-thirds majority to pass condemning the terrorist group Hamas for launching rockets from Gaza into Israel in addition to its infrastructure such as building tunnels to infiltrate and attack the Jewish state.

The final vote was 86 in favor, 57 against, 33 abstentions.

Although the vote was expected to pass through a simple majority, Kuwait proposed a motion to require a two-thirds majority to pass the resolution, dimming its chances for success. The motion was adopted with 75 votes in favor, 72 against, 26 abstentions.

“The very fact that there is a vote against Hamas in the General Assembly is an achievement for Israel. We succeeded in creating discussion and enlisting support from around the world against this murderous terror organization,” said Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon. “This has never before happened at the U.N., and now there has is an historic opportunity to condemn it publicly and decisively.”

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By securing support from all of the European Union’s 28 member states, the resolution’s fate was all but sealed.

Danon told reporters on Tuesday that “we will get a majority, no matter what.”

In remarks just before what is one of her final acts as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told her fellow members that the resolution could mark “a historic day” or just “another day.”

Additionally, Haley rhetorically asked: “Is the hatred that strong? Is the hatred against Israel that strong that you will defend a terrorist organization that does more harm to the Palestinian people? Isn’t it time to let it go?”

This development came on the heels of six anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the world body last Friday.

Profiling a Killer in Warm Blood

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 03:54

When just one abnormal plasma cell in the bone marrow – the soft, blood-producing tissue that fills in the center of most of the bones – suddenly begins to multiply rapidly, multiple myeloma results.

This is a dangerous cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell that, when healthy, help you fight infections by making antibodies to recognize and attack germs.

Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Instead of producing antibodies, the cancer cells manufacture abnormal proteins that can cause complications. Doctors know this, but they don’t know why the plasma cells go wild.

If the patient is not showing any signs or symptoms, treatment for multiple myeloma isn’t always necessary. These signs include bone pain, especially in the chest or spine; nausea; constipation; appetite loss; mental confusion; frequent infections; fatigue; weight loss; weakness or numbness in the legs; and excessive thirst, medical treatment is needed to help control the disease.

Because cancer cells don’t mature and then die like normal cells do, they accumulate, eventually overwhelming the production of healthy cells. In the bone marrow, myeloma cells crowd out healthy white blood cells and red blood cells, leading to fatigue and an inability to fight infections.

The myeloma cells continue trying to produce antibodies like healthy plasma cells, but the cancerous cells produce abnormal antibodies that the body can’t use. Instead, the abnormal antibodies (monoclonal proteins, or M proteins) build up in the body and cause damage to the kidneys and the bones (even raising the risk of broken bones). It can also lead to various type of organ failure and death.

Deciphering the “blueprint” of cancer cells – outlining how cancer cells hijack specific pathways for uncontrolled proliferation – will lead to more efficient ways to fight it.

A combined effort by scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and physicians from major hemato-oncology departments in this country succeeded in creating detailed profiles of myeloma cancer in both pre-cancer stages – in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients as well as after treatment and relapse. These detailed blueprints will help in future precision diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Multiple myeloma is the second-most common type of blood cancer. Despite many years of research and a significant recent improvement in the survival of myeloma patients with new immunotherapy treatments, many patients do not do well; all relapse.

A major stumbling block, in diagnosing myeloma disease is the fact that each patient is unique and current blood tests are incapable of identifying early disease onset and classifying which patient should receive which treatment. For example, patients whose routine blood tests reveal some hallmarks of the disease in an early and pre-cancerous stage are followed closely with a “watch and wait” strategy. However, every year, 1% of them will lose in this “Russian roulette” and develop the full-blown myeloma disease.

Until recently, there had been no way to discriminate between those that will develop the full-blown disease and those that will not.

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Dr. Guy Ledergor, a physician who also earned a doctorate, and Dr. Assaf Weiner in Prof. Ido Amit’s group from the Weizmann Institute’s immunology department, thought that a highly sensitive method developed by the group known as single cell RNA sequencing may provide a new approach to understanding the makeup of multiple myeloma and develop new and more effective approaches to diagnose and treat this devastating disease.

Their study and the sensitive method that has been used for the first time in the world was just published in  the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. It is hoped that it will help dvance Israel in the forefront of myeloma patient diagnosis and treatment.

Working together with Prof. Amos Tanay of the biological regulation and computer science and applied mathematics departments and Prof. Gabi Barbash of the institute’s Bench to Bedside Program, the team carried out a nationwide effort to recruit all of the hemato-oncology departments in Israel.

The new method sequences the RNA in thousands of individual cells from the patient blood or bone marrow, making it possible to capture the specific gene program that is active in each individual cell. To understand the myeloma cancer blueprint, the scientists first generated a high-resolution model of normal plasma cells by sequencing tens of thousands of cells from healthy individuals undergoing hip-replacements who served as a control group.

The plasma cells of the control patients were very similar within and across individuals, basically showing a single, common blueprint of normal plasma cells. Comparing the normal blueprint to the blueprints of patients showed that the blueprint of myeloma cancer cells is extremely heterogeneous, with every patient showing its own, unique blueprint and with some patients demonstrating several tumor clones displaying more than a single blueprint in one patient.  

The team showed that it’s possible to identify even a very small number of malignant cells in the blood at very early (pre-cancer) stage. This allows for much more precise diagnosis and informed choices about treatments for each patient based on his “personalized” disease. As a result, it will also be possible to follow and monitor these patients with significantly less painful blood tests, replacing today’s painful bone marrow biopsies.

Eventually the method might help multiple myeloma patients receive earlier and more precise treatments, and possibly prevent the relapse that often follows chemotherapy.

Barbash noted that their findings are just the beginning for applying single cell RNA-seq technologies to clinical-genomic research. “We are now developing similar collaborations between hospital-based researchers and basic-research scientists to advance diagnosis and treatment for other illnesses.”

Single-cell genomic analysis until now was confined to a small number of research labs, he continued. “We are constantly pushing the boundaries of the technology in ways that will make it a major clinical discovery and diagnostics tool,” added Amit. “Such tracking may be useful for diagnosing early signs of many malignancies in the precancerous stage or post-chemotherapy relapse, thus becoming part of a personalized approach. It will enable decisions to be made based on the individual profiles of each patient’s cells at every stage of disease. These profiles are already used to create targeted therapies against the cancer cells.”

The researchers used a machine-learning approach for automatically identifying malignant cells out of tens of thousands of cells. “We are entering an era in which measuring big-data and using machine learning will provide clinicians new insights and understanding into devastating diseases like multiple myeloma.” said Weiner.  “In the future, physicians will hopefully be able to track the disease in real time and treat each patient according to a personalized disease profile, possibly even before symptoms appear,” concluded Ledergor.

BIN Exclusive: Campaign to Construct Messianic Golden Royal Crown

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 03:35

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, has initiated a special project to create a golden crown to be presented to the messiah-king upon his arrival in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Berger, a direct descendant of King David, explained that the founding of the State of Israel and the Six-Day War were overt miracles and that we are today living in the beginning of the messianic era. Creating such a crown, he said, and uniting the 70 nations of the world around the project, will hasten the arrival of the king.

“For 2,000 years, Israel has waited for the moshiach (messiah),” Rabbi Berger said. “As a symbol of our belief that this period of waiting has ended, we should prepare a crown, since the first act of the moshiach will be to restore the Davidic Dynasty, which will be visibly unlike any other kingship that has ever existed.”

Berger has a strong personal interest in the project. He is the son of Rabbi Shalom Berger, the spiritual leader of thousands of members of the Mishkoltz sect of Hasidic Jewry. Rabbi Yosef Berger can trace his family lineage, from father to son, directly back to King David.

To illustrate the special nature of the Davidic Dynasty, Rabbi Berger cited the Prophet Zechariah.

And Hashem shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Hashem with one name. Zechariah 14:9

“The rule instituted by the moshiach will unite all 70 nations, bringing them in joy to Mount Zion to serve Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’),” Rabbi Berger said.

The rabbi emphasized that a king of Israel would ensure that the exile would end, the ingathering of the exiles would be complete, the Temple would be rebuilt and the Temple service reinstated.

“We are commanded to anticipate this, to pray for it, at all times until we merit seeing it with our own eyes,” Rabbi Berger said. “It is written in the Midrash (homiletic teachings) that the generation that anticipates and yearns for God’s kingdom is redeemed immediately. But this anticipation, like every mitzvah (Torah commandment), is made stronger when accompanied by a physical action.”

Rabbi Berger told a story to illustrate the point concerning a specific tzaddik (righteous man) that many people visited to request blessings. One time, two couples approached him, both requesting to be blessed with a child. The tzaddik complied. The next year, the couples returned. The blessing given to one couple had materialized but the other couple remained childless. When they asked why their blessing had gone unanswered, the tzaddik gave a simple answer.

“After I blessed them, they went out and bought a carriage for the baby,” he said.

Rabbi Berger explained the lesson illustrated in the story.

“True belief leads to action,” he said.”And action strengthens the heart to believe even more. It is the strength of the belief that makes the blessings come true.”

The rabbi noted that amazing efforts have been made to prepare for the Third Temple and all of the utensils stand ready, but no preparations have been made for the messiah who will build the Temple.

“Creating a crown for the king is unprecedented,” Rabbi Berger said. “When all 70 nations unite in an act of love expressly intended for the king in Jerusalem, this will surely be answered by Hashem.”

Rabbi Berger described rabbis throughout the generations who would go to great lengths to express their anticipation of the messiah in a material fashion: designating a room for the messiah with special furniture or setting aside a special suit of clothing in which to greet the him. These rooms and clothes would remain untouched, waiting for their appointed purpose.

“In this generation, when it is clear that the messiah is imminent, merely waiting to reveal himself, we need to prepare our hearts by performing acts that strengthen our belief,” Rabbi Berger said. “By preparing an actual crown, we are taking the first step toward bringing the inner vision of a king into reality. The beauty of a true king has not been seen in the world since the exile began and the prophets assured us that it would return.”

From Missiles to Menorah

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 02:00

On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.

What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.

The people of Sderot live under constant threat of incoming rockets from Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Literally thousands of rockets have been launched by the Palestinians at this small Israeli farming community. It’s an understatement to say that living under the constant threat of terrorism is challenging and stressful. Imagine that it’s 3 a.m. and the Red Alert siren blares out a warning that rockets are incoming. Being so close to the Gaza border, people have only 15 seconds or less to reach the safety of a bomb shelter. How do you get your entire family, small children, babies and the elderly and handicapped, out of bed and into a bomb shelter in only seconds?

This frightening scenario can – and does – occur at any time of the day or night, yet the citizens of Sderot refuse to live in fear, anguish, despair or defeat. In fact, they have literally turned the darkness into light. The town’s menorah, crafted by artisans in the community, is made from Kassam rockets that landed and exploded in Sderot. This item stands tall and proud as a testimony to the resilience of the Jewish people. The evil that was meant to destroy property and harm and kill innocent Israelis has instead been turned into a symbol of the light of the Torah.

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The citizens of this beleaguered town have turned “swords into plowshares.” The leadership and the citizens of Sderot have become symbols for true grit, bravery, determination and courage that are so characteristic of Israelis. While the rockets may blacken the sky, they cannot dampen or darken the Jewish spirit, which has figured out a way to turn the evil of terrorism into a source of light – and where there is light, there can be no darkness.

As we enter this holiday season when we sing songs about peace on earth and goodwill toward men, let’s remember our Jewish brothers and sisters in the land of Israel – a people and a place that are special in God’s sight. God says we are to pray for the “peace of Jerusalem.” May we be ever faithful to do so, not only this month but each and every day throughout the year. All Christians have a responsibility to Israel and the Jewish people. After all, Jesus was a Jew and we can’t love Him if we don’t embrace His family. So as we prepare to celebrate the season when God’s light came into the world, let us also remember our Jewish brothers and sisters as they fulfill their destiny of being a light unto the nations.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

Palestinians: No Difference Between Hamas and Fatah

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 01:00

It is supposedly fine for Mahmoud Abbas and his officials to condemn Hamas on a daily basis. It is supposedly not fine, however, for the US administration to condemn Hamas for its terrorist attacks against Israel.

“The proposed [unseen] US resolution is harmful to the Palestinians’ right of resistance.” — Emad Omar, Palestinian political analyst.

This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)

Has Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas changed his position toward his rivals in Hamas? This is the question that some Palestinians have been asking in the wake of Abbas’s opposition to a US-sponsored draft resolution that asks the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets at Israel and instigating violence.

Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. For years – and until today – Abbas has used every available platform to launch scathing attacks on Hamas.

He accused Hamas of foiling Arab efforts to end the dispute with his ruling Fatah faction.

He accused Hamas of masterminding a series of explosions targeting the homes of some of his senior Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip.

He accused Hamas of staging a coup in 2007 against his Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip and seeking to establish a separate Palestinian there.

He accused Hamas of standing behind the botched assassination attempt on his prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. He even made a metaphoric remark that, “shoes will be pouring on the heads of Hamas leaders.”

In his last speech at the UN General Assembly, Abbas repeated his charges against Hamas and threatened to impose new punitive measures against the Gaza Strip unless Hamas allows his government to assume full control over the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

In the past few days, however, the rhetoric of Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah toward Hamas has made a 180 degree turn. What is behind this sudden change? Has Abbas discovered that he was mistaken about Hamas all these years and that its leaders, Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud Zahar and Yeyha Sinwar are actually his good buddies?

The US-sponsored UN draft resolution condemning Hamas seems to have brought Hamas and Fatah closer to each other. Just last week, it seemed that Egyptian efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rivalry had once again belly-flopped.

The Palestinian Authority and Fatah are strongly opposed to all the policies of the US administration. They have already rejected US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, widely known as the “deal of the century.” They have rejected Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They have rejected and condemned Trump’s transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They have rejected and condemned Trump’s decision to cut financial aid to the PA and UNRWA.

Now, in line with their refusal to accept anything that emerges from the Trump administration, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah have also found themselves in the awkward position of needing to reject and denounce the US initiative to condemn Hamas for firing rockets at Israel.

It is supposedly fine for Abbas and his officials to condemn Hamas on a daily basis. It is supposedly not fine, however, for the US administration to condemn Hamas for its terrorist attacks against Israel. This is the logic of the Palestinian Authority, which has also been imposing financial and economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the past year. The sanctions include, among other things, the suspension of salaries to thousands of civil servants, cutting financial aid to needy families in the Gaza Strip, and refusing to pay for fuel and electricity supplied by Israel to the residents living under Hamas.

Abbas and Hamas have been working separately to thwart the US draft resolution at the UN General Assembly. Abbas has instructed his envoy to the UN to make an effort to foil the anti-Hamas resolution, while Hamas leaders have been urging Arab and Muslim leaders and governments to help thwart the US initiative.

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“Despite all our differences with Hamas, we are categorically opposed to the American and Israeli attempt to label Hamas a terrorist group,” explained Osama Qawassmeh, a senior Fatah official. We will fight to thwart the US resolution.”

Another senior Fatah official, Abbas Zaki, was even more adamant in his defense of Hamas. “Hamas belongs to us and we belong to Hamas,” he said. “If Hamas, which is practicing resistance, is considered a terrorist organization, this would mean that all Palestinians are practicing terrorism. Hamas, like all Palestinian factions, is a national liberation movement.”

Abbas and Fatah are defending Hamas not out of love for Hamas, but because they despise the Trump administration to the extent that they are willing to go to bat for their arch-rivals in Hamas. Judging from the statements of some of Abbas’s top officials, it is nevertheless clear that they fear that a condemnation of Hamas would pave the way for similar moves against other Palestinian factions, including the Palestinian president’s own Fatah.

As Palestinian political analyst Emad Omar put it, “The proposed US resolution is harmful to the Palestinians’ right of resistance. As president of the Palestinians, Abbas is forced to defend Hamas and any other Palestinian faction.”

Hamas, for its part, has expressed gratitude to Abbas and Fatah for their strong opposition to the US-sponsored draft resolution.

Does all this mean that Fatah and Hamas have agreed to patch up their differences and open a new page in their relations? The answer, of course, is no. This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. Abbas wants to score points on the Palestinian street by showing that he is capable of challenging the US administration at the UN. For now, Abbas is prepared to swallow the bitter pill of defending Hamas. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute