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Why Do We Support Israel?

Friday, November 26, 2021

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Every week, we post 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.

One Dead, Three Wounded in Old City Terror Attack

The scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City

Monday, 22 November 2021 | One person was killed and three wounded in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday morning, according to Israeli media reports. The assailant was killed by police officers on the scene.

According to police, at approximately 9 a.m., a man later identified as Fadi Abu Scheidam of Shuafat opened fire near the Chain Gate to the Temple Mount with a submachine gun, wounding two civilians. Border Police responding to the attack shot and killed the assailant, two of them suffering light wounds in the brief gun battle. According to Kan news, the terrorist was also carrying a knife.

According to Israeli media reports, Abu Scheidam is a known member of Hamas.

The Jerusalem District Police commander was conducting a situation assessment at the scene on Sunday morning, and large police forces were operating in the area. The Old City and Temple Mount were closed to visitors, according to Channel 12. Police have ruled out the possibility that the shooter had accomplices, according to the report.

Magen David Adom’s [Israel’s ambulance service’s] Jerusalem dispatch center received an initial report on the shooting at 9:01 a.m., according to the emergency service. First responders provided medical treatment at the scene before evacuating the victims to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. One of the victims died approximately an hour after the incident, reported Channel 12.

On November 17, two Border Police officers were wounded in another terror attack in the Old City. The officers were patrolling near the Ateret Cohanim yeshivah [religious school] at approximately 6 p.m. when they were attacked by a man wielding a knife, police reported. The assailant was neutralized by the officers and a civilian security guard at the scene.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on November 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Prayer Focus
Pray for healing for the wounded and comfort and consolation for the loved ones of the victim who died. Cry out to God for His protection to surround His people so that no more lives are lost to these attacks. Ask Him to stop would-be perpetrators before they are able to carry out their plans, and pray that Palestinian leadership is held accountable for creating a culture that encourages their own people to become murderers.

Scripture

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.


- Psalm 18:30–32

Israel Urges Allies to Stop “Wasting Time,” Says Iran “Doesn’t Want Dialogue”

by Joshua Spurlock

Israeli President Isaac Herzog

Monday, 22 November 2021 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog is done with slow-moving diplomacy when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program—and he thinks his country’s allies should be too. In an unusually strong and public call to action in an editorial in the United Kingdom’s the Sunday Telegraph, Herzog effectively called the renewed nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major world powers “wasting time,” just one day after the United States reminded everyone there are additional options in dealing with Iran if talks fail.

“Iran does not want dialogue. It is exploiting the world’s willingness to negotiate to buy time,” wrote Herzog in excerpts published by Israel from the editorial timed to coincide with his visit to the UK. “Israel cannot allow the fundamentalists of Tehran to acquire a nuclear bomb. The moderate nations of the Middle East need their allies, including Britain, to engage them in an urgent dialogue on how to stop Iran instead of wasting time on its games.”

Israel has long expressed concerns about the nuclear negotiations with Iran, which it sees as being too weak and permitting Tehran to simply delay developing a nuclear weapon rather than stopping them. After months of refusing to talk, Iran is poised to resume negotiations later this month with world powers. This comes against the backdrop of Iran making troubling progress towards weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

Herzog’s strong words stand out even more given the role of president in Israel, which is more of a ceremonial position that acts as a representative for the country. Furthermore, Herzog’s position wasn’t limited to Sunday’s editorial.

Prior to departing for the UK, he promised to be forthright on how Britain and others should respond to Iran. “I shall make clear that Israel cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability, and it expects its allies to be tough and assertive toward the Iranians, including in their dialogue with them,” said Herzog in comments published by Israel’s press office. “Israel makes this position clear to all its friends and of course makes clear that it reserves all options to defend itself.”

Israel isn’t the only country thinking about its options vis-à-vis Iran. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin—in a slightly watered-down version of the “all options on the table” expression meant to threaten military action—warned on Saturday that negotiations aren’t the only way the US can address Iran’s nuclear crisis.

“The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. And we remain committed to a diplomatic outcome of the nuclear issue,” said Austin in a speech published on the Defense Department’s website. “But if Iran isn’t willing to engage seriously, then we will look at all the options necessary to keep the United States secure.”

Austin’s comments, delivered in a speech in Middle Eastern ally Bahrain, said the US and its partners would be returning to nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna this week “in good faith,” but expressed concerns as well.

“Iran’s actions in recent months have not been encouraging—especially because of the expansion of their nuclear program,” said Austin, who reiterated US Secretary of State Blinken’s warning that Iran’s nuclear activities are “bringing us closer to the point” at which even a renewed nuclear deal “won’t recapture its benefits” because of Iran’s nuclear progress.

“But if Iran comes back with constructive positions, we still think we can quickly resolve our lingering differences to make a mutual return” to the nuclear accord, said Austin.

Ultimately, Austin sought to reassure Bahrain and other American allies about where the US stands on Iran, even as the Biden Administration seeks to resume a nuclear arrangement with Iran three years after previous President Donald Trump scuttled the prior deal due to concerns about its weaknesses.

“Iran should have no illusions that it can undermine our strong relationships in this region,” said Austin. “And we will defend ourselves, and we will defend our friends, and we will defend our interests.”

While the US is touting its support for its allies in facing Iran, Israel is waiting to see if their expectations of how an ally should treat Iran will be met—and making those expectations clear.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on November 21, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Mark Neyman / GPO/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to open the eyes of world leaders to the truth of President Herzog’s words. Cry out to Him that they would recognize that this dogged search for a diplomatic solution is actually a tool in the hands of the Iranian leadership, buying time while they continue to progress toward their goal of developing nuclear weapons.

Scripture

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the LORD.


- Jeremiah 9:3

Israel Receives Year’s First Significant Rain

by Janet Aslin

Winter rains in Jerusalem, Israel

Monday, 22 November, 2021 | The winter rains finally arrived in Israel over the weekend, refreshing the entire length and breadth of the country. Nearly two months after Sukkot (Feast of Booths), when the rainy season is typically expected, the rain fell in varying amounts from Israel’s northern border to the Negev desert in the south.

We had been waiting so long for this event that it was hard to actually believe the weather forecast could be correct when meteorologists announced a four-day storm on Wednesday evening. Thursday dawned clear and no rain fell. Consequently, I did not believe that evening’s renewed forecast for heavy rain, now set to begin on Friday. Leaving for work amid blue skies, I left my raincoat and umbrella behind.

By mid-morning, angry, gray clouds hovered overhead, and by early afternoon, Jerusalem’s streets were awash in water as the rainfall rushed down from higher elevations in the city. Leaving work, it was apparent there was a lesson to be learned: It never hurts to carry an umbrella this time of year.

The actual amount of the country’s first real rainfall varied significantly, with northern and coastal areas receiving the highest amounts. Kabri, a small kibbutz (collective community) in the western Galilee region, received 43.2 millimeters (1.7 in.) on Friday, while Beit Dagan, a coastal community, measured 45.7 millimeters (1.79 in.) on Saturday.

Sadly, two deaths have been attributed to the storm, as well as flooding and road closures in the central and coastal areas. Wet conditions caused several vehicles to skid off the road near the northern city of Tiberias, lightly to moderately injuring nine people in total.

Other areas of the country did not see heavy amounts of rain, although they were measurable and very welcome. For example, Jerusalem’s two-day total was 7.3 millimeters (0.28 in.), while Mitzpe Ramon, in the southern Negev, had 0.3 millimeters (.01 in.) on Friday, with no precipitation on Saturday.

Rain continued falling gently in Israel’s capital on Sunday, soaking into the parched earth. Monday morning dawned clear with freshly scented air to remind us of the recent rainfall. Hopefully we have just experienced the first of many rainy days to come this winter.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 22, 2021)

Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the gift of rain! Pray that there will indeed be many, many rainy days this winter. At the same time, pray that the rain will fall gently with no more deaths, damaging storms or floods.

Scripture

Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you—the former rain, and the latter rain.


- Joel 2:23

Israeli Security Forces Break up Major Hamas Terror Plot

by JNS

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) broke up a major Hamas terror plot.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 | The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) announced on Monday that it had broken up a major Hamas terror plot and arrested more than 50 operatives of the organization throughout the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]. Raids conducted in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] and Israel Police led to the arrests of more than 50 Hamas operatives, stated the Shin Bet.

Security forces also captured weapons and materials for preparing four suicide bomb belts.

The raids took place in recent weeks, targeting attacks primarily planned for the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“The activity was funded and managed by Hamas senior operatives, headed by Salah al-Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas and head of the “West Bank arena”—a body located abroad that operates to set in motion Hamas activity in Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem,” said the Shin Bet in a statement.

Al-Arouri was joined by other coordinators of the terror infrastructure, said the Shin Bet—specifically Zakaria Najib, originally from eastern Jerusalem and one of the kidnappers of IDF soldier Nachson Waxman, who was killed in a botched rescue attempt in 1994. Najib was released by Israel in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

Palestinian Hamas operatives from Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin were recruited to the cell, the statement said, naming Hijazi Kuawsama—a known Hamas operative from Hebron—as a central field recruiter.

“In order to carry out the attack, Hijazi met with senior representatives of the [Hamas] overseas headquarters and received instructions on carrying out the attacks. He was also offered [US] $1 million by al-Arouri if he implements a kidnapping attack. Later, he received hundreds of thousands of shekels for starting activities,” said the statement.

A senior Shin Bet source said the disruption of a “broad, significant, dangerous terror cell” prevented a series of severe attacks. Its objective was to “undermine regional stability while creating a heavy price tag for local [Palestinian] residents,” said the source.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on November 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that this terror plot was uncovered, arrests made and weapons captured before any attacks occurred. Pray that He will move to stop the flow of funds without which such attacks would be impossible. Also ask Him for a continual, reliable flow of information that will guarantee Israel’s success in keeping ahead of these terror organizations.

Scripture

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.


- Psalm 3:1, 3

Bennett: “Disagreements with the Best of Our Friends could Emerge” over Iran

by JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Wednesday, 24 November 2021 | Ahead of the restarting of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that “disagreements with the best of our friends could emerge—this wouldn’t be the first time.”

Speaking at a conference held by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Reichman University in Herzliya, Bennett said, “If there will be a return to the nuclear agreement, Israel will not be a party to the agreement. Israel is not obligated by the agreement.”

According to a report by Walla news, Bennett stated in his speech that after the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Israel “fell asleep at the wheel” and stopped fighting Iran.

“We dealt then with other things. We will learn from this mistake. We will safeguard our freedom of action,” he said.

“We hope the world does not blink—but even if it does, we don’t intend to blink,” added the prime minister.

Bennett also outlined a new strategy regarding Iran which calls for striking Iranian handlers of proxies directly, rather than targeting the proxies through other means. “The asymmetry is Israel’s greatest strategic mistake,” he said. “They want us to struggle against the emissary, and to wear us down.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on November 23, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel’s new tactics in dealing with Iran will be successful. Pray that the nation will not “fall asleep at the wheel,” and implore the Lord to bless Israel with strategies that ensure their victory.

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. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever.


- Psalm 44:6–8

Luxembourg to Distribute US $1.1 Million in Restitution to Holocaust Survivors

A Jewish-owned shop in Luxembourg before the Holocaust

Friday, 19 November 2021 | The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) announced that the Claims Conference has begun allocating [US] $1.1 million to Holocaust survivors who are currently living in or were persecuted by German Nazis or their allies in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during the years of World War II and the Holocaust.

The money comes from the Luxembourg Fund, a direct support payment program for Holocaust survivors that is the result of an agreement on Holocaust-era restitution. It was signed in January by WJRO, the State of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Jewish community of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Foundation for the Remembrance of the Shoah [Holocaust].

Holocaust survivors from 11 countries who applied by the initial deadline of October 15, and who have been approved, will each receive a first installment payment of [US] $5,657 by the end of November. The second and final payment is expected to be made in March.

The deadline for new applicants has been extended to January 31.

Gideon Taylor, WJRO’s chair of operations, noted that “the compensation program is an important acknowledgment by the government of Luxembourg of how the Holocaust was carried out under Nazi occupation and of the suffering endured by Jews in Luxembourg. These funds provide a small measure of justice and will help survivors live their lives with the dignity they deserve.”

Claude Marx, 87, a Holocaust survivor living in Luxembourg, said “the symbolic gesture that this payment program represents will never heal the wounds that I and other Holocaust survivors have suffered as a result of Nazi crimes in Luxembourg and elsewhere, but it is an important chapter in our journey to find a measure of justice.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on November 18, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this gesture that is an acknowledgement of responsibility on the part of the government of Luxembourg. Pray that it will be a blessing to those survivors who receive it, and cry out to the Lord that other nations will follow Luxembourg’s example.

Scripture

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.


- Psalm 138:7–8a

US Abstention on Anti-Israel UNRWA Vote Marks “Dangerous Backslide” in UN Policy

by Sean Savage ~ JNS

A wide view of the 30th plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly

Friday, 19 November 2021 | The United States voted last week to abstain on a resolution concerning the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the UN’s agency that handles Palestinian refugees—part of several resolutions put forth in the UN General Assembly concerning the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that largely targeted Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

The text, called “Assistance to Palestinian Refugees,” demands “compensation” for descendants of Palestinian refugees who lost property when they fled their homes, as well as an unlimited “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to a sovereign Israel.

Israel was the sole country that opposed the text, which passed the General Assembly on November 9 with a vote of 160–1, including nine abstentions from the United States, Canada, Cameroon, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papa New Guinea and Uruguay.

Nevertheless, the decision by the Biden administration to switch to abstention on the UNRWA vote marked a shift from the Trump administration, which had uniformly voted against such anti-Israel votes at the United Nations.

“This is basically a regression going back to the Obama administration’s policies,” Asaf Romirowsky, executive director for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and UNRWA expert, told JNS. “UNRWA hasn’t changed any of their policies or behaviors; in fact, since the Gaza conflict in May, their terrorist activity and incitement to violence has increased.”

Romirowsky said he believes this is part of the Biden administration’s goal to undo many of the previous policies of the Trump administration without any thought to the ramifications of such moves.

“I believe this in tandem tied to push to reopen the consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, appease the Palestinian Authority [PA] and reverse [former President Donald] Trump’s policies,” he said.

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed the Biden administration’s decision to abstain.

“[US President] Joe Biden has no opinion about the only Jewish state in the world ceasing to exist. This is not how you treat your friends,” she said.

“We are watching a dangerous backslide of American policy and principle at the United Nations,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS. “From rejoining and legitimizing the UN Human Rights Council to this latest punt on UNRWA, it would appear that the Biden administration has chosen the path of least resistance at Turtle Bay. And that path is most easily described as appeasement.”

‘Continuing to Single out Israel’

Political leaders and watchdog groups have long accused UNRWA of promoting educational material that contains anti-Semitism and incitement to violence. In July, Republican lawmakers introduced a bill to block taxpayer money from being sent to the agency unless certain requirements are met, such as verifying no employees are members of terror organizations or promoting anti-American or anti-Israel rhetoric.

The Trump administration had previously cut all aid to UNRWA over these concerns. The United Kingdom recently announced that it would cut funding to UNRWA by half as well. UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini warned last month that the group is facing a “severe funding crisis” as a result of these cuts.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration has pushed to restore funding and reform the organization.

Speaking before a congressional committee last June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was “determined that UNRWA pursue very necessary reforms in terms of some of the abuses of the system that have taken place in the past, particularly the challenge that we’ve seen in disseminating in its educational products anti-Semitic or anti-Israel information.”

In his address to the United Nations this week, Ambassador Richard Mills, US Deputy Representatives to the United Nations, explained the decision but criticized the world body for “continuing to single out Israel” through a series of resolutions targeting the Jewish state.

“For this reason, the United States strongly opposes the annual submission of a package of resolutions biased against Israel. And while we do appreciate the modest efforts that have been taken to reduce the numbers of these resolutions, if the problematic and biased language remains, this effort is, well, moot,” he said.

However, regarding the resolution pertaining to UNRWA, Mills explained that America is returning to the position of abstention, which had previously been done during the Obama administration.

“As many members know, under President Biden, the United States announced it would restore its financial support to UNRWA, which we do believe is a vital lifeline to millions of Palestinians across the region,” he said, noting that the United States has provided [US] $318 million to UNRWA since April.

“We were pleased to see language included in several of the resolutions that reflect our priorities in line with strengthening UNRWA,” he said. “The United States will continue to work with UNRWA; work to strengthen the agency’s accountability, its transparency and its consistency with UN principles.”

Romirowsky dismissed claims that the Biden administration can reform UNRWA.

He said agency officials “haven’t done anything on their end to prove trustworthiness or prove they are ready for the money. In fact, they have actually become worse, and the Gaza war in May only proves that.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on November 15, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that this preposterous resolution will be rescinded and UNWRA recognized for the destructive force that it is. Cry out to the Lord that the pro-Israel voices in the UN be heard over the clamor of her enemies, and pray that the US Ambassador to the UN will step up and be heard as a true friend of Israel as she claims.

Scripture

Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.


- Psalm 25:19–20

Herzog Calls on International Community to Designate Hamas a Terrorist Organization

by JNS via Israel Hayom

Israeli President Isaac Herzog boards a plane for his trip to the UK.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 | The fact that the terrorist who carried out the attack in Jerusalem on Sunday, in which South African–Israeli Eliyahu (“Eli”) Kay was murdered “came from Hamas’s political wing requires that the entire international community recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog, shortly after landing in London for a two-day visit in the UK.

On Twitter, Herzog posted that he had been updated on the attack in Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning.

“I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Eliyahu David Kay, may his memory be a blessing, in their time of mourning and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded,” he wrote.

Earlier in the day, the president said that he was “thankful for the British government’s decision to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization and all that that entails. This is an incredibly important step in the war on terror. Israel cannot allow Iran nuclear capability and it expects its allies to be decisive and uncompromising toward the Iranians in their dialogue with them.”

Upon departing Israel for London, Herzog said, “I am leaving today together with my wife, Michal, on an official 48-hour visit to Britain, one of Israel’s closest and strongest allies. I will meet with the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and I will surely hear from him of his visit a few days ago to Jordan and Egypt, and we will discuss the climate crisis. Likewise, I will meet the British prime minister, a true friend of Israel, Boris Johnson, whom I have known for many years.”

While in the UK, Herzog is also set to meet with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, members of Britain’s parliament and Jewish community leaders. In addition, he will be the guest of honor at a special Genesis Prize event honoring the late UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on the anniversary of his death, to be attended by Jewish community leaders and senior UK government officials, both past and present.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate via Israel Hayom on November 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Facebook/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the relationship between Israel and the UK will remain strong. Praise the Lord that the British government now recognizes Hamas as a terrorist organization and beseech Him that the entire international community will follow suit.

Scripture

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!


- Psalm 31:19

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