Compassion

I want to bless the widows and orphans who are in need, fulfilling the Lord’s call to look after the poor and afflicted.

Friday, April 12, 2019

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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 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

With Majority of Votes Counted, Netanyahu Set for a Fifth Term as Prime Minister

by Jo Sarah Stanford

Exit polls are projecting a victory for PM Netanyahu.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 | Israel is one step closer to knowing who their next prime minister will be, after citizens went to the polls Tuesday for national elections. Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks sets to win a fifth term in office, even though his party, Likud, is currently tied with main rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party.

The Israeli parliamentary system has three distinct phases. The first is the general elections, where citizens vote for the party of their choice. The second entails the presidential appointment, with the president selecting a candidate for prime minister. The third and final phase is the formation of a majority coalition.

After yesterday’s vote, the election process is now at the second stage. Once the remainder of the votes have been tallied, President Reuven Rivlin will select either Netanyahu or Gantz—or a very unlikely third candidate—as the prime ministerial candidate, who will then negotiate with the minor parties to form a majority coalition.

There are 120 seats in the Knesset (Parliament), therefore a majority of 61 is needed.

Ninety-seven percent of the votes have already been counted, but the remaining three percent equals eight seats, and this could tip the outcome. The Times of Israel reported on the figures Wednesday morning.

Netanyahu’s Likud party has won 26.27% of the votes so far, equaling 35 seats. This is Netanyahu’s best result as party leader, and the second best for Likud after Ariel Sharon won 38 seats in 2003.

Gantz’s Blue and White party achieved a close 25.94%, which also wins them 35 seats. This is the first time Gantz has run for parliament, his new party forming earlier this year.

Only about 14,000 votes separate the two parties.

Neither party has the 61 seats needed to form a majority, therefore the chosen prime ministerial candidate must form a coalition with the smaller parties. Even if Gantz gains an extra seat or two, Netanyahu has a stronger chance of forming a majority and is tipped to be Rivlin’s choice as next prime minister.

The parties who received the next highest vote were ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, who both won eight seats.

Favoring the conservative, Netanyahu is likely to include them in his coalition, along with three other right wing parties, giving him a majority of 65 seats.

If Gantz joins with the left-wing and Arab parties, he will have 55 seats, requiring him to find six more to reach the minimum 61.

The wildcard is former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has stated that he will wait until all votes have been counted until deciding who he will join in a coalition. His party, Yisrael Beytenu, currently holds five seats.

The surprises were Labor—historically Likud’s biggest rival—which crashed to its lowest ever result of 4.46% of the vote, gaining only six seats. Current Education Minister Naftali Bennet’s New Right party failed to win any seats when it received only 3.14%, just shy of the required 3.25% threshold.

With the remaining 3% of the votes yet to be counted, Bennet remains hopeful—especially as the votes from the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) are counted last, and Bennet has a strong defense force policy. Bennet is also likely to side with Netanyahu, especially if he is given the defense minister portfolio.

Both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed a premature victory Tuesday night.

“We won!” said Gantz in a statement, reported the Jerusalem Post. “The Israeli public has had their say! Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters.” However, at the time he was referring to a poll that put his party ahead at 37–33.

Netanyahu spoke to supporters in Tel Aviv. “The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won,” he said, according to the Post. “I thank Israeli citizens for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight.”

Though it looks like Netanyahu has the stronger possibility of a coalition, neither can truly claim victory yet.

Once the final votes have been tallied, President Rivlin will meet with the leaders of the parties, who will give their recommendation for prime minister. Once Rivlin selects either Netanyahu or Gantz, they will then have 28 days to finalize a coalition. So while the polls have closed, Israel still has a while to wait for the final answer of who will be the next prime minister.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 10, 2019)

Photo Credit: US Department of State/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel remains a nation where free and open elections are held and the voice of the people is heard. Pray that His will is done in the final choice of Israel’s leader and for the often difficult task of building a coalition that will lead the nation with strength, integrity and fairness.

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; He guards the paths of justice and preserves the way of His saints.


- Proverbs 2:6–8

Hamas’s Big Threats: In Future War, Israel Will Evacuate Tel Aviv

by Jo Sarah Stanford

Hamas’s chief said Israel will have to evacuate Tel Aviv “if the Gaza Strip is dragged into war.”

Monday, 8 April 2019 | Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, boasted big over the weekend, making the exaggerated claim that in the next war, Israel will be forced to “evacuate its settlements not only in the ‘Gaza Envelope,’ but also in Ashdod, the Negev, Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv.” These threats come despite talks of cease-fire agreements between Israel and the terror group governing the Gaza Strip after Hamas’s latest barrage of rocket fire on Israeli communities less than two weeks ago.

While speaking to representatives of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Sinwar threatened, “Remember this pledge. The fingers of the resistance in the Gaza Strip are on the trigger. We are today ten times stronger than we were in 2014 [Israel–Gaza conflict],” reported Sputnik News. He boasted Gaza was the “shield and sword” of the Palestinian people.

His threats were predicated on an “if”: “if” war was “imposed,” he said—implying that Israel is the instigator in the conflict. However, Israel has proven that it seeks peace at all costs while Hamas remains committed to its stated aim to annihilate the Jewish state.

Ever since the terrorist group violently took control of Gaza in 2007, Israel and Hamas have been in a series of on-again, off-again conflicts and cease-fire agreements with the terror group and its Jewish neighbor facing each other on the battlefield three times. The violence usually ends in a cease-fire, which Hamas invariably breaks.

The threats Sinwar made on Saturday come barely a week after Hamas agreed to an Egyptian-led cease-fire, in which Israel granted many concessions. For its part, Hamas’s only “concession” was to stop their attacks.

The latest round of violence follows Hamas’s usual pattern of attacking and only agreeing to a cease-fire when they need to regroup and “lick their wounds” after Israel responds.

On March 15, nine rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israeli communities—two of them towards Tel Aviv. This is the first time since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 that rockets fired from the Gaza Strip reached so far north into Israel. Hamas claimed that these attacks were “unauthorized” and were fired by rogue militants. Less than two weeks later, on March 25, a rocket fired from Gaza injured seven people when it struck and destroyed a family home north of Tel Aviv. Again, Hamas claimed the rocket was unintentional, this time blaming the “accidental” launch on the previous night’s electrical storm.

In both attacks, Israel responded by striking Hamas targets within the coastal enclave, as per its policy of holding the terror group responsible for all violence that emanates from the Gaza Strip.

Less than 15 hours after the rocket strike north of Tel Aviv—and despite claiming the attack was accidental—Hamas unleashed a barrage of over 60 rockets on Israeli communities next to the Gaza border. Half of these were fired after a supposed cease-fire. Moreover, even though further negotiations continued the next day, Hamas fired a further five rockets at innocent Israeli civilians the following night.

As part of the cease-fire agreement, Israel has agreed to expand the fishing zone around Gaza and reopen border crossings.

In his comments on Saturday, the terror group leader hailed this as a great victory for Gaza. “Together with our people, we have succeeded in forcing the entire world to place the issue of the blockade imposed on Gaza on the agenda.”

The blockade Sinwar refers to is Israel’s limited blockade of Gaza, an essential security buffer, which aims to prevent weapons, fighters and explosives from reaching the Hamas terror organization. The partial blockade was initiated in 2006, when Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. A year later, the Jewish state was forced to strengthen the blockade as the Islamist terror organization seized control of the coastal enclave, turning Gaza into a launching pad for rocket and terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Openly committed to the destruction of the Jewish State, Hamas has spent the last decade stockpiling weapons and waging an ongoing war of terror against Israel.

While Israel’s security measures and blockade on Gaza have eased significantly over the last years, the blockade on Gaza by the Egyptian military is ongoing. Moreover, in an attempt to crack down on Islamist terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula—where Hamas is said to have helped fuel a jihadist uprising—Egypt’s blockade on Gaza is by all accounts much more restrictive and severe than Israel’s.

Hamas, for its part in the Egyptian-brokered peace negotiations with Israel, only had to “end both rocket attacks and the launching of explosive and incendiary balloons, as well as the violent riots held weekly along the Gaza-Israel border,” reported Arutz Sheva. Peace will be answered with peace. Yet continued violence from Hamas would understandably elicit a strong response from Israel.

Following the latest round of back-and-forth attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas that “we will do what needs to be done for the security of Israel.” He was, however, quick to highlight that a full-scale military campaign would only come as a last resort. “I want every mother and father to know that I am not sending their children to war without exhausting all other options,” he said during a World Israel News interview.

Sinwar’s latest comments prove, however, that any cease-fire deal with Hamas is not to be trusted. Past experience shows that it is only a matter of time before the next barrage of rockets begins.

Ilse Strauss contributed to this article.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 8, 2019)

Photo Credit: Glavo/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for an end to the hateful and false rhetoric coming from Hamas leadership that serves only to incite Palestinians to further violence and to negatively impact public opinion regarding Israel in the international community. Pray that the threats of war will never come to fruition.

Scripture

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.


- Psalm 5:6

US, in “Historic Step,” Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as Terrorists

by Joshua Spurlock

An IRGC Ground Force commando in Tehran. (Illustrative)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 | For the first time in American history, the United States is designating part of a foreign government a foreign terrorist organization, as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] of Iran will carry that label effective April 15. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the unique move to so classify the IRGC—which is part of the Iranian military and has deep ties inside the Iranian economy—is well deserved given the unique range of aggression carried out by the group.

“We’re doing [this] because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government,” said Pompeo on Monday in comments released by the State Department. “This historic step will deprive the world’s leading state sponsor of terror the financial means to spread misery and death around the world.”

Pompeo listed out a litany of crimes done by the IRGC: from responsibility for the Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 American service members in Saudi Arabia to attempted terror attacks in the US, Turkey and Kenya. A separate press release from the State Department noted the IRGC has supported Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and terror groups in Iraq, Bahrain and Syria.

“The blood of the 603 American soldiers the Iranian regime has found to have killed in Iraq is on his hands and on the hands of the IRGC more broadly,” said Pompeo. “Inexplicably the regime has faced no accountability from the international community for those deaths. Far from being an arbitrary attack on Iran, our pressure campaign imposes just and long overdue consequences for the regime’s malign activity”

The top American diplomat encouraged other nations to join in pressuring Iran in line with the terrorist designation, and he noted that the US move will make it more difficult for Europeans and others to do business with entities connected to the IRGC.

“It is absolutely the case that the IRGC amounts to a significant piece of the Iranian economy through pure kleptocracy. And it is also the case that it is sometimes difficult to know whether the IRGC is involved,” said Pompeo. “…I think this will require more diligence be done by every business that is considering doing things that are even now second and third orders removed from what you might think of as a traditional connection to the Iranian economy.”

Pompeo noted that the IRGC isn’t just a threat to others—they’re hurting the Iranian people too. He referenced multiple instances of outright or apparent corruption involving the IRGC or a related entity—including embezzling more than [US] $1 billion from the capital city of Tehran.

“The leaders of Iran are racketeers, not revolutionaries. The Iranian people deserve better than to be governed by this cadre of hypocritical and corrupt officials,” said Pompeo.

While the US pressure is increasing on Iran, Pompeo made it clear that the goal remains the same.

“I think what we’ve said before is we want Iran to behave like a normal nation. We hit on 12 things that they needed to do back in what would have been almost a year ago, May of last year,” he said.

“That’s the mission; that’s the mission of this designation as well. So that’s our purpose. If you said ‘What’s the intent?’—it’s to achieve the outcomes that we laid out back in May of last year to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to do the simple thing like not launch missiles into Saudi Arabia, risking American lives each and every day.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on April 9, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Hossein Zohrevand/Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for America’s action in designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Pray that other nations will follow suit, helping to bring the IRGC reign of violence and corruption to an end.

Scripture

“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Airbnb Reverses Discriminatory Policy Banning Listings in Israeli Towns in Judea and Samaria

Airbnb has reversed a decision to ban listings in Judea and Samaria.

Thursday, 11 April 2019 | In a major defeat for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, home-sharing platform Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will back off of a plan to remove all listings of rentals in Israeli towns in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

Airbnb reversed its policy following a court settlement Monday between the company and a dozen American Jewish plaintiffs who had sued the rental giant after Airbnb announced in November 2018 that it would ban Jewish property owners living in the West Bank from advertising on its website.

“We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement, and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region,” Airbnb said in a statement. Instead, the company explained, any profits from rentals in the West Bank will be donated to non-profits focused on humanitarian aid in different parts of the world.

Shurat Hadin [non-profit Israeli law center] filed the suit under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against minorities in the United States. Because Airbnb is based in Delaware, the company must adhere to the act in all its listings worldwide. The plaintiffs argued that Airbnb was discriminating against Jewish home owners, while still listing on its platform rentals by Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the West Bank.

“Airbnb recognizes that there are many other disputed territories around the world,” the company said. “If Airbnb determines homes—the core of our business—are central to ongoing tensions, we will adopt the same approach,” including in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two other disputed regions.

Notably, the company clarified that, “Airbnb has always opposed the BDS movement.”

“Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform,” the company stressed. “We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.”

Shurat Hadin president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, stated, “The rescinding of Airbnb’s discriminatory policy is (…) A powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement. BDS is an anti-Semitic campaign which purports to care about human rights but whose real goal is to completely replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian one.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: TeroVesalainen/pixabay.com

Photo License: Pixabay

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the position Airbnb has taken regarding its activities in Judea and Samaria and for the blow this action has dealt to the BDS movement.

Scripture

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us.


- Psalm 44:6–7

Netanyahu in Moscow for Syria Meeting with Putin

Israeli PM Netanyahu meets with Russian President Putin in Moscow.

Friday, 5 April 2019 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to “discuss events in Syria.” Netanyahu requested the meeting shortly after the United States recognized Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights through a presidential proclamation at the end of March.

Israel has been calling on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from securing a lasting presence in the country. Israeli officials see Iranian forces and their terror proxy Hezbollah as a direct threat to the Jewish state and have demanded that Iran completely withdraw from the war-torn state.

In May 2018, Israeli air strikes destroyed a significant portion of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria, following the firing of 20 rockets toward Israel by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-Quds Force troops located on the Golan Heights.

“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continues to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel—very violent attacks,” US President Donald Trump said when he signed the presidential proclamation at the White House alongside Netanyahu on March 25.

The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan came after a concerted effort on the part of Israeli officials and through bipartisan support in the US Congress.

Ahead of the meeting in Moscow, Netanyahu said he would discuss with Putin the “special coordination between our militaries.” The Kremlin announced earlier this week that the two leaders would “compare notes” during their third meeting in recent months.

As the Israeli and Russian leaders met, Putin revealed that Russian special forces in Syria had found the remains of a US-born Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel. He and two other soldiers went missing in a 1982 battle with Syrian forces in southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu thanked Putin for his country’s efforts that culminated in the finding of Baumel’s remains.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 4, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/PM of Israel@IsraeliPM/twitter.com

Prayer Focus
Continue to pray for the complex and sometimes tenuous relationship between Israel and Russia. Thank the Lord for US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and beseech Him that Russia will use its influence in Syria to further reduce the Iranian threat to Israel and the entire region.

Scripture

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord, to Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel.


- Psalm 68:32–34a

What Is Behind the Opposition to Peace with Israel?

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone Institute

Analysis: Arab leaders who fight against peace with Israel are afraid of Western values loosening their grip on the people.

Monday, 8 April 2019 | Peace with Israel is purportedly a form of surrender and submission that will harm the dignity of Arabs and Muslims.

This is the theme of a massive campaign being waged by Palestinians and other Arabs in preparation for the announcement of the US administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “Deal of the Century.” The plan, according to US officials, is expected to be announced sometime after the general elections in Israel, slated for April 9.

The latest campaign is designed to thwart the “Deal of the Century” and terrorize Arabs and Muslims who may wish to accept the US administration’s peace plan.

As part of an effort to raise awareness to the dangers of the “Deal of the Century,” an increasing number of Palestinians and Arabs are now trying to explain to their people why peace and normalization of ties with Israel is totally unacceptable.

The latest effort came in the form of an online campaign called “The International Anti-Normalization Campaign.”

The organizers of the campaign say they are worried that some Arab states and leaders may cooperate with the “Deal of the Century.” They are concerned because they see that some Arab states and leaders are already engaged in various forms of normalization with Israel.

The campaign clearly aims to send a warning not only to ordinary Arabs and Muslims, but also to their leaders about the “dangerous repercussions” of making peace with Israel.

According to the organizers of the anti-peace campaign, “normalization [with Israel] is the miserable outcome of a culture of surrender and submission”—and concessions and peace are only shameful and degrading.

For them, the words peace and compromise (with Israel) seem associated with extremely negative connotations such as retreat, defeat and surrender.

Recognizing Israel’s right to exist is also seen by many Arabs and Muslims as a humiliation to their values, their culture, their political power and their economic traditions. They have been educated to see Israel as an alien body and a “colonial project” planted in the Middle East by Western powers. They therefore cannot accept the presence of Jews—in what they regard as their own sovereign state—on lands they believe belong solely to Muslims.

Even Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, who is often described by Western media outlets and officials as a “moderate” and “pragmatic” Arab leader, shares the view that Israel is nothing but a “colonial project.” In a speech before PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] delegates in Ramallah last year, Abbas quoted Egyptian intellectual Abdel-Wahab El-Messiri, saying: “The functional nature of Israel means that it was evoked by colonialism in order to fulfill a specific function, and thus it constitutes a colonialist enterprise that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

Abbas added:

“[Oliver Cromwell] came up with the idea of transferring the Jews from Europe to the Middle East…because they wanted this region to become an advanced post to protect the interests and the convoys coming from Europe to the East…He asked Holland, which owned the largest fleet in the world, to transfer the Jews, but the project was unsuccessful. This was in 1653.”

In the past year, Abbas has also repeatedly announced his rejection of the unseen “Deal of the Century.” He has referred to the plan as a “conspiracy” and the “Slap of the Century.” How then can he turn to his people and suddenly accept it—or any deal that might recognize Israel’s right to exist?

“Normalization [with Israel] is tantamount to defeat,” explained Mohammed al-Adloni, secretary general of an anti-Israel group, The International Coalition for Supporting Jerusalem and Palestine.

He went on to warn that making peace or normalizing ties with Israel would constitute a threat to the “consciousness” of Arabs and Muslims. Making peace with Israel, al-Adloni said, would be like “a complete occupation of the consciousness [of Arabs and Muslims].”

Al-Adloni and other anti-Israel activists in the Arab and Islamic countries appear worried that, should they make peace with the “Zionist entity,” their people might be exposed to democratic values and freedom of expression. They seem concerned that Arabs and Muslims wake up one morning and start demanding free and democratic elections like the ones held every few years in Israel.

The anti-peace camp in the Arab and Islamic world appears not to want its people exposed to advanced Israeli technology, including medical care. This camp seems to want its people to continue living in misery and under dictatorships so that it is easier to recruit people to jihad against Israel and the West. Also, if people are lifted from poverty and misery and their living conditions are improved so they begin to enjoy the fruits of modern civilization, there is a chance that Arabs and Muslims will move away from Islam and even start endorsing the inadmissible values of the West.

This camp—extremists—seem not to care about lowering the high rate of unemployment among Arabs and Muslims, improving the living conditions of its people or offering young Arabs and Muslims hope for a better future. They seem instead to want their people to continue living in misery so that their anger, again, can be directed more easily toward Israel and the West.

The anti-Israel campaign in the Arab and Islamic world sees peace with Israel—and not failed leadership, bad economic policies and corruption—as the biggest threat to Arabs and Muslims. The message that the anti-peace activists are sending to their people says: “Peace with Israel is the worst thing that could happen to us Arabs and Muslims because these Jews will invade our minds and our culture.”

Yasser Qadoura, who represents a Lebanon-based group called The Popular Committee for Palestinians in the Diaspora, says his organization is now making a big effort to educate Arabs and Muslims about the “dangers” of peace and normalization with Israel. He said that his followers and he are planning to publish a “list of shame” containing the names of Arabs and Muslims who are caught promoting peace and normalization or trying to make peace with Israel.

Anyone whose name appears on the list will immediately be denounced by Arabs and Muslims as a “traitor.” Treason, in many of the Arab and Islamic countries, is a charge punishable by death. The “list of shame” would therefore be seen by Arabs and Muslims as a license to kill anyone who dared even to talk about peace with Israel.

Last month, a large group of Arab and Islamic activists who met in the Lebanese capital of Beirut ruled that “all forms of normalization with the Zionist entity are an act of treachery.” According to the group, an Arab or Muslim who even engages in sports, cultural and artistic activities with the “Zionist entity” would be considered a “traitor.” In the eyes of the Arab and Islamic activists, including Islamic religious leaders, anyone who plays soccer or attends a cultural event with a Jew would be condemned as a “traitor.”

If and when US President Donald J. Trump’s administration finally publishes its plan, it will discover that many Arabs and Muslims have already launched a campaign of intimidation to stop their leaders from making peace with Israel. If an Arab or Muslim child is prohibited from playing soccer with a Jew, how can the Trump administration expect the Arabs and Muslims to recognize Israel’s right to exist?

The Trump administration will soon discover what every child in the Arab and Islamic world already knows: that the Israeli–Arab conflict is not about a settlement or a checkpoint or a security fence, but about Israel’s very right to exist in the Middle East. The Trump administration will also learn that peace with Israel is seen by many Arabs and Muslims as nothing but an unacceptable threat that must at all costs be stopped.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute on April 6, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/flickr

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that this outrageous “anti-peace” initiative will invoke the ire of the nations of the world as it becomes increasingly apparent that the end game of the movement is the elimination of the state of Israel. Pray that their campaign of propaganda and threats will be brought to an end.

Scripture

Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You daily. Do not forget the voice of Your enemies; the tumult of those who rise up against you increases continually.


- Psalm 74:22–23

Oman Calls on Arab World to Ease Israel’s “Fears for its Future”

Omani Foreign Minister: “We want [Israel] to feel that there are no threats to their future.”

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 | The Arab world must take initiatives to make Israel overcome “fears for its future” as a Jewish state in the Middle East, Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs said Saturday at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

“The West has offered Israel political, economic and military support and it now holds all the means of power…but despite that, it fears for its future as a non-Arab country surrounded by 400 million Arabs,” Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah observed.

While bin Alawi stopped short of advocating for the recognition of the State of Israel, the minister said: “I believe that we Arabs must…try to ease those fears that Israel has through initiatives and real deals between us and Israel.”

“[W]e want them themselves to feel that there are no threats to their future,” he added. Bin Alawi previously remarked that “maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as other states in the Middle East].”

Oman has no diplomatic relations with Israel, but the relationship between the two countries has been gradually strengthening. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic trip to Oman in October—the first official visit by an Israeli leader to the Gulf nation in over two decades.

The meeting between the Israeli leader and Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said was hailed as groundbreaking and as a sign of warming ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab world. The two discussed “ways to advance the peace process in the Middle East and discussed a number of issues of mutual interest for peace and stability” in the region.

In February, Netanyahu met one-on-one with bin Alawi at a conference in Warsaw that attracted officials from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. “This is an important and new vision for the future,” the minister said. “People of the Middle East have suffered a lot because they are stuck to the past. This is a new era for the future and for prosperity for every nation.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 9, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo License: U.S. Department of State/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for strengthening the relationship between Israel and Arab nations that have traditionally been their stated enemies. Pray that the words of Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs bin Alawi will be heard and heeded by other Arab leaders, bolstering Israel’s position and bringing much-needed stability to the region.

Scripture

Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


- Psalm 34:12–14

British Labour Party Failed to Investigate “Hundreds” of Anti-Semitism Cases

Over 50% of more than 850 recorded complaints of anti-Semitism against Corbyn’s Labour Party are unresolved. (Illustrative)

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 | An explosive report in the Sunday Times [British national newspaper] revealed that the British Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has failed to investigate hundreds of cases of anti-Semitism by party members, despite more than 850 recorded complaints.

The newspaper detailed a disturbing pattern of “delays, inaction and interference from the leader’s office,” based on leaked emails from a hard drive last updated on March 8, 2019. The hard drive also contained a confidential database and party documents.

Of 863 complaints overall, 454 (53%) are unresolved, including 249 which the party has not yet begun to investigate. One hundred and seventy-six investigations are ongoing. In 409 cases where a verdict was reached, 191 members received no further action, 145 received a formal warning and only 29 were expelled from the party. Others left the organization by choice.

Some members investigated for posting comments online such as “Heil Hitler” and “Jews are the problem” have not been expelled from Labour, despite complaints being made a year ago. The Times reported that Jeremy Corbyn’s office blocked or delayed at least 101 such complaints, despite previous assurances that the process was free from political interference.

In one specific case, a party member from Manchester was readmitted to Labour after he shared material online that claimed “Jewish Israelis” were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States.

A spokeswoman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to rooting it out of our party. All complaints about anti-Semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 8, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: YouTube/RevolutionBahrainMC/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for a public outcry against the very obvious anti-Semitic predisposition among members of the British Labour Party, pressuring the party to deal with outstanding complaints of anti-Semitism among members and purging such bias from their ranks.

Scripture

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”


- Psalm 2:1–3

In the Latest Blow to BDS, Movement Suffers Legal Setback in Spain

Cadiz, Spain, where an Israeli film cycle was canceled halfway through the screenings due to BDS pressure.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 | In the latest legal blow to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a court in Spain has ruled that a city council that canceled an Israeli film festival in support of boycotts violated fundamental principles enshrined in the Spanish constitution.

The Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo reported that in a March 22 ruling, Judge Carmen Beardo of the No.1 Administrative–Contentious Court of Cadiz found that the council had breached “the free development of freedom of expression and teaching,” as well as “the right not to be discriminated against for their opinion.”

The judge ruled that, in total, the council had violated four basic rights that protect freedom of speech and academic freedom and forbids discrimination “on account of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.”

In September 2017, the City Council of Cadiz canceled an Israeli film cycle at a municipality-owned venue after only two of four scheduled films were screened. Officials justified the suspension on grounds that the films were “in contradiction with the agreement to join the Apartheid Free Zones campaign”—a pro-boycott initiative adopted by City Council of Cadiz in August 2016.

The cancellation—authorized by Mayor Jose Maria Gonzalez, a member of the far-left Podemos party—was denounced by the Israeli Embassy in Spain as a “cultural censorship based on political criteria.” The party has been accused of receiving funds from Iran and Venezuela.

The ruling marks the latest in a series of legal setbacks suffered by the pro-boycott movement in Spain, which has pushed through multiple anti-Israel municipal-level resolutions in recent years.

The High Court of Justice in the northwest principality of Asturias ruled in June that a boycott resolution passed by the City Council of Castrillón violated rights enshrined in the Spanish constitution. In a separate incident in August, the cities of Villarrobledo in Castile-La Mancha and Sagunto in Valencia voted to repeal pro-boycott resolutions after facing legal challenges.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 5, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: OrcaTec/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the recent decision of the Administrative Court of Cadiz, as well as other recent high court rulings in the country, which have created a series of setbacks to the pro-BDS and anti-Israel movements in Spain. Pray that this momentum will continue. Ask for the Lord’s blessing on Spain as that nation blesses Israel.

Scripture

The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 10:29

Israel’s Tourism Triumph—Luxury Hotels Beckon

by Edwin Black

The Tel Aviv Hilton, one of Israel’s most luxurious hotels.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 | The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has taken particular aim at Israel’s tourism industry. Tourism accounts for about 11% of global GDP and 350 million jobs worldwide—more than 10% of employment on the planet. In Israel, tourism is more than just sun, seashore and spirituality; it infused Israel’s economy with [US] $6 billion in 2018. Tourism is also the geopolitical inhalant that allows Israel to sustain its diplomatic and sovereign niche in the world.

For all its efforts to isolate Israel—including convincing Airbnb to remove Jewish listings in Judea and Samaria—BDS has failed to even dent Israel’s triumphant tourism growth. In 2018, a record 4.1 million visitors streamed into Israel from all over the world. Massive tourist influxes are now seen from the Chinese and Indian travel markets, as well as America’s Christian community.

The escalating global demand has created an increasingly acute hotel room shortage. Year-round occupancy—with many seasonal and situational carve outs—now averages some 70% nationally for the country’s approximately 55,000 rooms. But on many days, Nazareth achieves 85%, Jerusalem hits 83%, Tel Aviv tops 79%, Haifa reaches 75%, and Eilat scores 72%. About half those rooms are taken by overseas visitors, not domestic tourists. An estimated 20% of all foreign visitors aren’t even using hotels, opting to stay with friends and family, rent apartments or utilize alternative short-term boarding.

At times, the sheer volume can overwhelm capacity. One tourism insider indicates that a single American company, not of Jewish ownership, will be bringing 6,000 individuals to Israel in fall 2019 as part of a corporate incentive program. That one program is so large that no single city can host it. The company’s travelers are being split between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Industry experts warn that Israel needs as many as 15,000 hotel rooms to keep up with the current growth demand. This is especially true in the north, where Christian pilgrims want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth and dip into the Sea of Galilee. Hotel operators complain it can take five to ten years to build a hotel due to Israeli bureaucracy. Translation: rooms are getting scarcer and more expensive. This trend will only intensify, as Israel is seeking to double its current levels to 10 million tourists annually, competing with other Mediterranean basin nations, such as Greece, which attracts more than 30 million annually, and Spain, which enjoys more than 80 million per year.

Proof of the economic gleam in Israel’s tourism increase is the quality of the hotel room growth. Israel is witnessing nothing less than an explosion of high-end luxury hotels.

Although terms such as “luxury” have been bandied about by Israeli hoteliers for some time, the apex of true world-class luxury in Israel is arguably now occupied by Hilton International, one of Israel’s most venerated hotel names. The Tel Aviv Hilton, dominating the north of the city in its own seaside compound, has long hosted glitterati and accomplished world travelers fed by Hilton’s worldwide reservation system. For years, the Tel Aviv Hilton gave stiff competition to the Dan Hotel, which always boasts a lobby graced by diplomats and statesmen.

Now, the Tel Aviv Hilton has soared ahead by creating new peak luxury quarters within its existing hotel. The top floors of the hotel have been set aside as “the Vista at Tel Aviv Hilton,” featuring private concierge check-in, expansive unobstructed floor-to-ceiling room views of the coast and a club floor with stunning gourmet food service. The Vista is unmistakably the platinum address in Tel Aviv for seasoned travelers and expense account-endowed businessmen who stream in from across the globe. While more costly than the regular Hilton, the unending gastronomical offerings of the club floor are worth it for food value alone. What’s more, the Vista club floor is ringed by an unparalleled outdoor balcony where guests can sip espresso and munch on savories as eagle-level wind currents swirl about.

Outclassing even the Vista is arguably Israel’s number one luxury hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, also Hilton-managed. The former Palace Hotel was built by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to outclass the King David. The Palace opened in 1929 but closed in 1935. The British converted it to drab government offices—it even hosted the Peel Commission [a British Royal Commission of Inquiry to monitor Arab unrest in British Mandated Palestine]. The Haganah [Jewish underground defense force] bugged the rooms to monitor progress.

In 2005, the disused structure was purchased, renovated for a reported sum of [US] $150 million, and imbued with inspiring Moroccan, Arab and Romanesque architectonic motifs. These include a breathtaking atrium lobby dominated by a majestic clock tower emblazoned with Roman, Hebrew and European numerals. Every angle of every view of the interior reveals a different visual sweep. Hilton broke with tradition and hired outside the native Israeli hotel industry, bringing in its finest staffers from the great hotels of the world to augment its local force. Located just steps from the Mamilla Mall and ensconced on its own entry street, the Waldorf is centrally located. Style and joie de vivre [joy of life] almost hypnotically envelop guests with an urge to return and make the Waldorf their must-stay Jerusalem address.

New luxurious hotels have appeared from Eilat to Akko in the north. But none is more compelling than the Beresheet in the Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon, sprawling at the edge of the great Ramon crater. The Beresheet is nothing less than the eighth hotel wonder of the world. It single-handedly made obsolete the notion that Negev tourism is ipso facto a tent or hostel experience. Booked far in advance at a premium price, the Beresheet offers 111 private villas, 39 with private pools, sprinkled across 12.5 desert acres [50 dunams]. Visitors are carted to their villas up steep stone runways while feral Nubian ibexes saunter nearby in comfort. Every visitor to Israel should set aside three days to stay at the Beresheet and enjoy its fabulous spa.

The Beresheet’s architectural triumph is emblematic of Israel’s determination to meet its astonishing tourism growth, employing all its most creative and environmental assets throughout the nation. By the end of this decade, thousands of additional luxury offerings will catapult the Jewish state to the pinnacle of world destinations. The torch of tourism ignites peace. The greater Israel’s tourism triumph, the more irresistible is the concept of peace with its neighbors.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on April 8, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Cccc3333/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the tourism industry in Israel will remain strong and focused on providing pilgrims with the best possible experience as they tour the land of the Bible and return home as Israel supporters and advocates. Pray for the rapid development of affordable hotels as well as high-end luxury hotels so that interested people from all economic strata will be able to make their dream of visiting Israel a reality.

Scripture

For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. Strangers will be joined with them, and will cling to the house of Jacob.


- Isaiah 14:1

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