Israel Prayer Update

Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel's most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 19,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Fill out the form on the side if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

  1. IDF Sets Out Strategy for Defending Israel
  2. Iran, Israeli Counter-Terrorism and Palestinian Rioters
  3. Report: Temple Mount Activist Says Netanyahu Wants Change
  4. Rouhani: ‘Israeli Regime Built on Terrorism’
  5. Russian Jets in Syrian Skies
  6. Report: Iran Amassing Long-range Missiles
  7. Welcome to Anatevka
  8. Aliyah Activist Passes Away at 88
  9. Israel Hosted Important UN Conference
  10. Shanghai Welcomed Jews During WWII
  1. IDF Sets Out Strategy for Defending Israel

    by Ilse Posselt

    Wednesday, 2 September 2015 | When it comes to the plans and tactics for guarding the Jewish state and those living within her borders, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is arguably known for playing its cards close to its chest. Yet in a highly unprecedented move, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot last month released a document highlighting the changing threats facing Israel and the IDF’s evolving approaches in dealing with them.  

    Entitled “IDF Strategy,” the 30-page document offers the public its first glimpse into the IDF’s defense doctrine in over half a century.

    In its introduction, the document clearly states the goals that drive the IDF, The Times of Israel reported. These include “securing the existence of the State of Israel, keeping its values as a Jewish and democratic home for the Jewish people, safeguarding a robust society and economy, and strengthening Israel’s status in the world.”

    The document then highlights the main actors threatening these goals. These not only include countries like Iran, Lebanon and a teetering Syria, but also non-state agents like Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and ISIS.

    According to Eizenkot, the strategy document is geared towards equipping the army for any possible situation that the future may hold, including a scenario where Israel is forced to operate on various battlefronts simultaneously. It also warns against the threat of kidnapping, cyber-attacks, international legal battles and various other non-conventional methods of warfare.  

    Moreover, the document highlights how the IDF is required to adapt and change if it is to avert these future threats and safeguard the Jewish state against an evolving enemy.     

    These changes include improving the efficiency of rapid land maneuvers, diversifying the army’s operational capabilities for facing operations as opposed to traditional wars, enhancing its ability to wage cyber warfare and preserving intelligence, aerial and naval authority.

    To date, the document reveals, the IDF’s main focus was on preparing its forces for traditional warfare, involving a nation facing another nation on the battlefield. Israel’s immediate threats do, however, require equipping its army for dealing with an altogether different enemy: stateless terror organizations, known for their tactics of “spreading out and assimilation into the civilian populated areas to impede the IDF’s fighting ability.”

    Despite the need to adapt to a changing environment and evolving threat, the document reveals that Israel’s military strategy remains based on the “security triangle—a term coined by the Jewish state’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. This triangle comprises “deterrence,” “early warning,” and “decisive victory.” The document does, however, add an additional element to the tripartite approach, namely defense.

    Above all, the document reveals a deep realization of the responsibility that Israel’s army carries. “The IDF has always drawn its strength from the quality of its personnel and the deep understanding that the military guarantees Israel’s national existence,” the strategy states.

    “The IDF will spare no effort to defend and protect Israel under any circumstances, while exhausting the core characteristics of its commanders and soldiers: a fighting spirit, initiative and quality operation, and the uncompromising desire to achieve our objectives.”

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 2 September 2015)

    Photo Credit: Meronim/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_Israel_Defense_Forces.svg

    Prayer Focus

    Offer prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord for the men and women who guard Israel and its citizens. Pray that the Lord will give them creativity and innovative thinking to adapt to the evolving threat of stateless terror organizations and also from cyber threats. Pray for the IDF’s leadership, from Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot down to the frontline commanders, that they will put their trust in God alone.

    Scripture

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

    - Proverbs 3:5–6

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  2. Iran, Israeli Counter-Terrorism and Palestinian Rioters

    Jenin Wednesday, 2 September 2015 | Israeli security forces came under attack by Palestinian rioters during an operation to arrest a high-ranking terrorist in the northern West Bank [Judea-Samaria] city of Jenin on Monday night, The Jerusalem Post reported [yesterday].

    IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, along with a counter-terrorism unit from the Border Police and the Shin Bet intelligence service, identified an “armed and highly dangerous” suspect hiding in a local building. In a statement, the IDF said the suspect ignored repeated calls to surrender to authorities and emerge from the structure, at which point it was demolished.

    The Post reported that the operation sparked a “violent disturbance,” which saw hundreds of Palestinians hurling “rocks and firebombs” at security forces, who retaliated with tear gas. One Israeli officer was shot and moderately injured, and a Palestinian security official said five Palestinians were hospitalized after inhaling tear gas, according to The Times of Israel. An investigation is underway to determine whether the Israeli officer was hit by Palestinian gunmen or friendly fire.

    While the military did not name the suspect involved in the operation, the Times reported that Palestinian outlets claimed the structure targeted by Israeli forces belonged to Islamic Jihad terrorist Bassem Saadi, with conflicting reports about the demolition of a second house belonging to the Hamas-affiliated al-Hija family.

    “The homes encircled by the Israeli forces were reportedly those of Bassem Saadi, a formerly imprisoned senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, and the Hamas-affiliated Majdi and Alaa Abu al-Hija. The Hija brothers are the sons of imprisoned Hamas leader Jamal Abu al-Hija; their older brother Hamza Abu al-Hija was killed in a shootout with the IDF last year.

    “According to reports in Palestinian media, Saadi’s home was demolished by troops during the operation. Other reports said that the al-Hija family home had been destroyed as well.”

    According to The Jerusalem Post, the Shin Bet uncovered around 150 Hamas cells in the West Bank over the past year.

    This June, one Israeli was killed and three more wounded in a West Bank attack that the Shin Bet claimed was orchestrated by a “Hamas military network.” Earlier that month, another Israeli man was killed and a second injured after being shot at point-blank range by Palestinians in the West Bank.

    Bassam Saadi told The Tower in 2013 that Islamic Jihad maintains “warm and positive” ties with Iran. This past Sunday, the Jerusalem Post wrote that the Iran-backed Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah was reportedly working to enlist West Bank Palestinians, including youths, “to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and inside Israel.”

    Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 1 September 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Eyadjarrar.lawyer/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jenin_%D8%AC%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86_-_%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B9%D8%A9_%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%A1_20-%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86-2013.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for the security of Israel’s citizens, especially in Judea–Samaria where so many Hezbollah cells have been discovered. Pray that any terrorist activity that is being planned will be uncovered by the Shin Bet or counter-terrorism unit of the Border Police.

    Scripture

    For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit, which they have dug without cause for my life. Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly, and let his net that he has hidden catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall.

    - Psalm 35:7–8

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  3. Report: Temple Mount Activist Says Netanyahu Wants Change

    by Ilse Posselt

    Temple Mount Thursday, 3 September 2015 | Barely a year ago, Yehuda Glick was a virtually unknown advocate quietly campaigning for increased Jewish access to the Temple Mount. Yet a political assassination attempt late in October 2014 changed the life of the American-born Israeli rabbi forever—and established Glick as an iconic activist for the holiest site in Judaism.

    Glick survived the attempt on his life—and found himself thrust from a life of relevant anonymity to being a household name within Israel. Late last month, Glick met with the Prime Minister for a private meeting to discuss the very topic that nearly cost the rabbi his life—the situation on the Temple Mount.

     In an interview with The Times of Israel earlier this week, Glick described Netanyahu not only as “warm and understanding,” but also as “politically supportive of Glick’s cause.”

    According to Glick, the Prime Minister is “very disturbed” by the current situation on the Temple Mount, where local Muslim activists continue to harass and heckle Jewish visitors. Calling the situation “untenable,” Netanyahu reportedly believes that the activists responsible for enticement should be removed from the site.

    The Prime Minister is, however, not unaware that such a move might have political implications, Glick shared with The Times of Israel. “He told me in no uncertain terms that this situation cannot continue, and that he is facing the State Attorney’s Office and all the security organizations to solve the issue.”

    The rules regulating visitation to the Temple Mount have changed with the turbulent times plaguing Jerusalem. Until 2000, all visitors—regardless of religion or ethnicity—were welcome at the Mount’s religious sites, including the Dome of the Rock shrine, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum. However, with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, the doors to the Temple Mount sites were shut to all but Muslims.

    Today, non-Islamic visitors are restricted to walkways on the perimeter of the Mount and visiting hours are limited to four and a half hours per day in summer and three and a half in winter. Moreover, all non-Muslims are strictly prohibited from praying anywhere on the site.

     Despite Netanyahu’s commitment to find a solution to ease the tensions, Glick acknowledges that the Prime Minister did not commit to “freedom of worship” for non-Muslims on the Temple Mount.

     In recent years, allegations of a change in status at the Temple Mount have often served as a spark to a powder-keg. Just last fall, Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria were embroiled in violent uprisings and terror attacks as rumors ran rife that the Jewish state planned to increase Jewish access and allow Jewish prayer on the Mount.

    The tide of violence only subsided after repeated assurances from Netanyahu that Israel had no intention of changing the status quo.

    The Temple Mount is widely regarded as one of the Old City of Jerusalem’s most important religious sites. Judaism holds it as the holiest place, as it is here where God’s divine presence is said to be manifested more than any other place on earth. Moreover, the Temple Mount is also the location where both the First and Second Temple stood.

     Judaism’s claim to the Temple Mount is vigorously disputed by Muslims. Claiming that the presence of Judaism’s First and Second Temple on the site are untrue, they call it exclusively their own, naming it the third holiest site in Islam.  

    These two claims by Judaism and Islam make the Temple Mount one of the most contested religious sites on earth.

    Source: (Excerpt of article by Bridges for Peace, 3 September, 2015)

    Photo Credit: Godot13/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Israel-2013(2)-Aerial-Jerusalem-Temple_Mount-Temple_Mount_(south_exposure).jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Ask the Lord to give Prime Minister Netanyahu wisdom like King Solomon’s so that he will know how to handle this very volatile situation in a way that brings honor to God.

    Scripture

    And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.

    - 1 Kings 4:29

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  4. Rouhani: ‘Israeli Regime Built on Terrorism’

    by Brian Schrauger

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Tuesday, 1 September 2015 | As the world's foremost sponsor of global terrorism, Iran's active involvement in related organizations is renown. Groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, the Houthis in Yemen and lesser known groups in Iraq are known proxies of Tehran. Inside Israel, the Islamic Republic is a primary underwriter of Hamas in Gaza. It has also offered to arm Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria.

    Regardless its global standing vis-à-vis terror, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani argued yesterday that his country is the victim of terrorism, not its sponsor. Who then is behind it? According to Rouhani, the foremost sponsor is "the Israeli regime that was founded and continues to survive on terrorism." While implying that Israel is the parent of all terrorism in the world today, Rouhani named others too. They included Islamic State (ISIS), the Taliban and Boko Haram.

    Rouhani made the remarks in Tehran. They were part of his keynote address at the so-called International Congress on 17,000 Iranian Terror Victims. The organization's first such conference, held in 2013, was labeled a national, not international, event. All of Iran's news agencies published summaries of Rouhani's speech.

    The Tehran Times reported that Rouhani asserted "that the Zionist regime of Israel has been created on the basis of 'intimidation, terror and occupation' and it is following this [same] 'inhumane' path."

    Press TV said Rouhani called terrorism, "one of the scourges plaguing the human community since old times."

    Notably, in context, Rouhani's reference implied a long-time Jewish "scourge plaguing humanity." It also implied that all of today's expressions of terror are a direct result of that "scourge."

    Fars News reported that Rouhani "blasted" Western hypocrisy, proven, he said, by "powers in Europe and the US which ...support a terrorist regime."

    A "terrorist regime?” Iran Daily clarified what Rouhani meant. The West and the United Nations, Rouhani said, "have never condemned the 'Israeli regime' for committing war crimes and acts of genocide as well as organized attacks against Palestinians."

    Speaking on behalf of the Islamic Republic, Rouhani's essential argument is that Iran's regional and international conduct via proxies like Hezbollah and the Taliban is not terrorism, but a defense against terror; it is not evil, but good. It is a rationale that does not bode well for his country's probable use of nuclear weapons that it could develop, even today, in less than a year.

    Likewise, his indictment of Israel as the world's ancient source of terrorism does not bode well for the Jewish state.

    Accordingly, Israel continues preparations to defend itself. In such a time as this.

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, 1 September 2015)

    Photo Credit: BotMultichillT/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hassan_Rouhani.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that the false accusations being made about Israel will be clearly exposed. Pray that Iran’s lies will not go unchallenged. As Christians, let’s be ready and willing to confront these lies with truth.

    Scripture

    Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouth speaks lying words, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood—that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style.

    - Psalm 144:11–12

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  5. Russian Jets in Syrian Skies

    by Alex Fishman

    Soviet MIG-29 fighter jet Tuesday, 1 September 2015 | Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.

    According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in an area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base.

    In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.

    Past reports have stated that the Russians were in talks to sell the Syrians a package of MiG-29 fighter jets, and Yak-130 trainer jets (which can also serve as attack aircraft.) The current makeup of the expeditionary force is still unknown, but there is no doubt that Russian pilots flying combat missions in Syrian skies will definitely change the existing dynamics in the Middle East.

    The Russians do not harbor offensive intentions towards Israel or other sovereign states in the area, and their main stated goal is battling ISIS and preserving Assad's rule. However, their presence will represent a challenge to the Israeli Air Force's freedom of operation in the skies above the Middle East.

    Western diplomatic sources recently reported that a series of negotiations had been held between the Russians and the Iranians, mainly focusing on ISIS and the threat it poses to the Assad regime.  

    The Russians are not the only ones coordinating their Middle East policy with the Iranians; the United States has also jumped aboard that train. American government officials have been holding intensive consultations with representatives of the Iranian regime concerning a stronger joint effort against ISIS in Iraq. It seems that the US government currently views Iran as a central and necessary force in the campaign against ISIS within Iraq.

    Western diplomatic sources have emphasized that the Obama administration is fully aware of the Russian intent to intervene directly in Syria, but has yet to issue any reaction. The absence of a vocal opposition from the Obama administration is compounded by its cessation of calls for the dissolution of Assad's murderous regime.

    This and more: the Iranians and the Russians—with the United States well aware—have begun the struggle to reequip the Syrian army, which has been left in tatters by the civil war. They intend not only to train Assad's army, but to also equip it. During the entire duration of the civil war, the Russians have consistently sent a weapons supply ship to the Russian held port of Tartus in Syria on a weekly basis. The ships would bring missiles, replacement parts, and different types of ammunition for the Syrian army.

    Even Turkey, which has so far avoided any action which would strengthen Assad, has had to come to terms with the Russian-Iranian move and the resulting American silence, leading it to launch its own bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria.

    During a recent trip to Qatar, Erdogan reached understandings with the Qataris and the Saudis regarding a program to arm Muslim Brotherhood backed rebels who are fighting against ISIS, de-facto fighting both Assad and ISIS.

    Source: (Excerpts of article originally published by Ynetnews 31 August 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Eric Kilby/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MIG-29.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Intercede for Israel’s leaders, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon. Pray they will seek sound wisdom and understanding from the Lord as there is a shifting of power in the Middle East.

    Scripture

    For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly…

    - Proverbs 2:6–7

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  6. Report: Iran Amassing Long-range Missiles

    Iranian Fateh missile (illustrative) Tuesday, 1 September 2015 | Israel is keeping a “very sharp eye” on Iran’s expanding stock of highly accurate Fateh 313 ballistic missiles, which have twice the range of their predecessor, the Fateh 110, according to an Israeli defense official quoted Saturday in an article published in Defense News.

    “‘We assess that Iran has begun to stockpile them,’ the official said of the 500-kilometer-range [310 mi.], solid-fueled missile, unveiled in Aug. 22 ceremonies for National Defense Industry Day in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. ‘You can be sure we are monitoring any attempt to move these out of the country by air, land or sea.’

    “He added, in a not-so-cryptic reference to the multiple times weapon shipments have either been seized on the high seas or attacked by air, ‘Our red lines are very clear to all and we are obliged to act on them.’”

    Defense News quoted Tal Inbar, a missile expert who heads the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Strategic Air & Space Studies, as saying that the Fateh 313 missile reflects a growing sophistication in Iran’s aerospace industry. Inbar speculated that the extended range may be the result of lightening the payload, but that the longer range “means that from the farthest point in Lebanon, this missile can accurately hit high-value targets throughout Israel.”

    According to a recent profile of the weapon published on Jane’s Defence Weekly, the extended range allows Iran to strike more targets while making the missile’s launchers more difficult to destroy.

    “A 67% increase in range from 200 km to 500 km [124 to 310 miles] would be a major step forward for Iran’s missile [program]. It would allow Iran to target more military facilities in the Arab Gulf states with solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles, allow targets to be attacked from different angles, and/or increase the amount of Iranian territory from where the missiles could be launched, making their transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles harder to locate and destroy.”

    The accuracy and range of the missile make it essential that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah does not acquire it.

    Uzi Rubin, the founding director of the [Ministry of Defense’s] Israel Missile Defense Organization, told Defense News that if the missile remains in Iran, it poses a threat to much of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

    Defense News further noted that Iranian leaders have been reportedly affirming their commitment to increasing Tehran’s support of regional allies after signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    Former Pentagon official Michael Rubin wrote on Monday that Iran regarded the lifting of sanctions as a means of improving its own arsenals.

    At the unveiling of the Fateh 313 missile last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani declared that Tehran “will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution” in its quest to upgrade its military capabilities. His declaration was thought to be directed at the American interpretation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which implements the JCPOA, as restricting Iran from developing ballistic missiles.

    Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower, originally published this article on 31 August 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: M-ATF, from military.ir and iranmilitaryforum.net

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fateh-110-new-TEL.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Cry out to the Lord on behalf of His people. Ask Him to confront Iran and bring it down; this nation whose leaders have repeatedly called for the eradication of Israel. Pray that Israel will receive clear intelligence should Iran attempt to move any of these advanced missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    Scripture

    Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by Your sword.

    - Psalm 17:13 NIV

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  7. Welcome to Anatevka

    by Edward Docks

    A synagogue in Kiev (illustrative) Friday, 04 September 2015 | Kiev—Thousands of people were uprooted from their homes in eastern Ukraine over the past year, since the beginning of fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops. Among the refugees are also many Jews, and now they have a new home.

    It is unlikely that Sholem Aleichem (the pen name of Jewish author Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich) ever imagined that the fictional village of Anatevka, where “Fiddler on the Roof” protagonist Tevye the Dairyman lived, would become a real Jewish village in Ukraine—a hundred years after his death.

    But on September 1, the same day that students around the world returned to school, an opening ceremony was held near Kiev for the Jewish village of Anatevka where 20 living units have been erected to house Jewish refugees from the violence in the east.

    "Building and singing despite the war"

    Several months ago, Kiev's Jewish community led by Rabbi Moshe Reuven Asman, bought some 80 dunams [approximately 20 acres] of land in a town just ten kilometers [6.2 mi.] west of Kiev. Within three months the first building had been erected.

    The Kiev district governor was present for the opening ceremony alongside Israel's ambassador to the Ukriane, Eliab Byelotserkovski, a representative from the US embassy, local parliament members, and donators.

    "There are people who cry during a war, and there are people who build and sing despite the war, people like Rabbi Asman," said Ukrainian Member of Parliament and President of the Jewish Congress Vadim Rabinovich. "Rabbi Asman is a Ukrainian hero!"

    The keys to their new homes were handed over to 20 refugee families during the ceremony.

    "We left our home over one year ago," said one of the refugees, Ilena Yarichko from Luhansk. "We thought we were leaving for just a few days. We are proud to be Jews. The Jewish people immediately gave us a hand."

    Yarichko continued her story, saying, "For a year we lived in a temporary camp where the Jewish community paid for us. During this time, our kids forgot what it means to sleep in basements and fear the sounds of planes bombing us."

    A total of 500 refugees are expected to be accepted into Anatevka. Male refugees are also taking part in the on-going construction.

    Editor’s Note:  We rejoice with the Jewish families who have found a safe haven from the violence in eastern Ukraine. However, there are thousands who are waiting to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel, the home that the Lord has given them. If you would like to be a part of the effort to bring them to Israel, click here to donate to our Project Rescue.

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 3 September 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: יודל/wikipedia.org

    Prayer Focus

    Intercede for the Jewish families who are still caught in the fighting that is taking place in Ukraine. Pray for the thousands who are desperately trying to leave this war-torn country and come to Israel, the Land of their inheritance. Pray also for the “fishermen” who put their own safety at risk to go into these areas to locate the Jews who want to flee.

    Scripture

    For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

    - Psalm 27:5

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  8. Aliyah Activist Passes Away at 88

    by Gilad Morag

    Eduard Kuznecov, organizer of the Leningrad plane hijackers Friday, 04 September 2015 | "Mark Dimshitz was a hero of Israel for our generation, who together with his brave friends, challenged the cruel Soviet regime in an attempt to raise to international attention the issue of Soviet Jewish freedom to make aliyah."

    These were the words used by Immigration Minister Ze'ev Elkin in his August 26th eulogy for aliyah activist Mark Dimshitz, who passed away at the age of 88.

    Dimshitz was a Jewish pilot in the USSR, and one of the organizers of "Operation Wedding"—a remarkable attempt to draw international attention to the plight of Soviet Jewry by hijacking a plane and flying to the West. The hijack attempt ultimately failed: On June 15, 1970, 16 Refuseniks arrived at an airport near Leningrad. The group noticed that they were being followed, but chose to continue anyway, and were arrested by KGB agents before getting on the plane.

    Soviet authorities decided to charge the group for treason, a charge that carried the death penalty. A showcase trail was held, and was later referred to as the "Leningrad Trial," which stirred unrest in Israel and brought international attention to the plight of the Refuseniks.

    As a result of the operation Dimshitz was sentenced to death, and only after great international pressure was the sentence commuted to 15 years in prison.

    Dimshitz did not serve the entirety of his sentence and was released in a Soviet-American prisoner swap. On April 29, 1979, Noah Klinger and Aryeh Tzimuki published an article in Yedioth Ahronoth, which stated that Dimshitz had arrived in New York after being traded for two Russian spies captured by the Americans.

    Dimshitz said at the time that "during the flight to New York, we were surrounded by 20 guards who prevented us from speaking to one another. I tried to explain to the guards that there was no point in guarding us as I had zero intention to jump from or hijack the plane, but I couldn’t convince him." After his release, Dimshitz made aliyah to Israel.

    Immigration Minister Ze'ev Elkin said Wednesday [Aug. 26]: "While risking his life, Dimshitz along with Yosef Mendelovich, Eduard Koznachov, and others, managed to shake the Iron Curtain and pushed forward the global battle for Soviet Jewry's right to make aliyah to Israel. It is symbolic that this hero of Israel left us this year, a year in which Israel marks 25 years since the major aliyah of Soviet Jewry, which changed the face of the nation. We all owe him a huge debt, and his personal story deserves a place in the national ethos. May his memory be blessed."

    Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 27 August 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Photo Credit: Eduard Arzunyan/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eduard-Kuznecov.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Bless the name of the Lord who is faithful to keep His word and has been re-gathering His flock from the nations for many years. Pray for Jewish people who are currently in the process of making aliyah. Thank the Lord for His promise that they shall be fruitful and increase in the Land.

    Scripture

    But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

    - Jeremiah 23:3

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  9. Israel Hosted Important UN Conference

    Friday, 04 September, 2015 | This week Israel hosted the 28th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This is a precedent-setting event, as Israel's first global UN conference of this magnitude.

    This is a precedent-setting event, as Israel's first global UN conference of this magnitude. The project was initiated by the Israel Foreign Ministry's Division for the UN and International Organizations together with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). Over 200 scientists from more than 40 countries attended, as well as representatives of UN agencies and NGOs. A reception was held at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, September 1.

    Among the issues discussed were the hunting of sharks, the smuggling and trade in elephants and rhinoceros, maintaining the wild populations of monkeys and rare parrots, the sale of snakes for the fashion trade, and the very lucrative practice of illegal hunting.

    The State of Israel signed the CITES Convention in 1979 and appointed the INPA as the sole government agency in charge of implementing the Convention.

    Israel is a small country that is very concerned with conserving its nature and as an active member of the CITES Convention it helps conserve wildlife populations across the world. Israel is situated in the Near East at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. While Israel's unique location has given rise to a rich variety of flora and fauna species, the growth of densely populated cities has severely reduced the amount of natural areas. In light of these threats, the INPA has implemented a strict policy which helps preserve the fauna and flora in Israel including rehabilitation and reintroduction of species and restoration of habitats, as well as strict supervision over trade in species protected under the CITES Convention.

    CITES was negotiated in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction. It entered into force on 1 July 1975 and now has a membership of 151 countries. These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered.

    The Animals Committee of experts is composed of individuals from the six major geographical regions—Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Oceania. It provides scientific advice to the Conference of the Parties, and undertakes periodic reviews of species.

    Source: (The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally published this article on 30 August 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Prayer Focus

    Give thanks that the nation of Israel is so committed to the protection and preservation of endangered animal species, part of the “fullness of the world.” Pray that this active care and concern will be a witness of our Creator God to the rest of the globe.

    Scripture

    The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them.

    - Psalm 89:11

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  10. Shanghai Welcomed Jews During WWII

    Friday, 04 September 2015 | During World War II, Shanghai was one of the only places in the world that opened its gates to Jewish refugees. It was an “open port” and a place where Jews could find refuge and safe haven.

    The Jews who arrived in Shanghai came from various countries, of all ages and from different backgrounds. They resided mainly in the Hongkou District, living peacefully and in friendship with their Chinese neighbors. Together they went through the war ordeals but also shared happy events. Jews and Chinese invited each other to family celebrations and supported one another in tragedies.

    The Jewish refugees did their best to enrich their communal life and their surroundings. They opened schools, synagogues, theaters, and coffee shops. They also started a newspaper and established various sports teams.

    At the end of the war, most of the Jews left China and immigrated to Israel, the U.S and Australia. Among the Jewish refugees in Shanghai are such notable people such as former U.S Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal, renowned businessman Shaul Eisenberg and composer Otto Joachim. 

    This year, marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War, the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai has created this film as a symbol of friendship and cooperation.

    The Consul General of Israel in Shanghai, Mr. Arnon Perlman, former head of media and communication division at the Israeli Prime Minister's office and personal chief advisor to former Prime Minister Sharon stated about the film:

    "This film is a token of appreciation to Shanghai and to the Chinese people from the people of Israel. The Israeli people will never forget how the Chinese people came to our help during our darkest hour. It is here, in Shanghai, where Jewish refugees could find shelter from the Nazi regime. It was here, in Shanghai, where Jewish refugees were received in open arms by the Chinese people. It is only logical that we should express our gratitude.

    “We created this film in hope that as many people in China and around the world can see it and feel our deepest wishes of gratitude to them. We sincerely hope that this film will help to strengthen the friendship between our two nations. This is a friendship that was forged not only at good times but also at the Jewish people's hardest hour, the Holocaust."

    In the film Israelis say "thank you" to Shanghai and to the Chinese people for their friendship and hospitality. The participants in the film are all holding signs saying "Thank You" in one of three languages: Chinese, Hebrew and English. The video was filmed in Israel, and portrays its beautiful scenery along with its people. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally expresses his gratitude.

    Among the Israelis featured in the video are former refugees who grew up in Shanghai, Mayor Yona Yahav of Haifa (sister city to Shanghai), Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Robert J. (Yisrael) Aumann, high tech professionals, famous magician Hezi Din, students and artists.

    Source: (The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally published this article on 30 August 2015. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

    Prayer Focus

    Offer prayers of praise and thanksgiving that the leaders of Shanghai chose to open the gates of their city and offer a place of deliverance to Jewish refugees at a time when there were not many options available to them. Pray that in these days of increasing anti-Semitism, the Jewish people today would also find places of refuge open to them.

    Scripture

    Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.

    - Psalm 82:3–4

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