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Friday, February 11, 2022

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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.

Bennett, Biden Discuss “Steps to Block” Iran Nuke Program

by Joshua Spurlock

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Israeli and American flags fly side by side.

Monday, 7 February 2022 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday discussed “steps to block the Iranian nuclear program” in a call with United States President Joe Biden, just hours after Bennett indicated that his country retains the right to attack Iran “with or without” a renewed nuclear deal between Iran and the major world powers.

The Israeli leader’s conversation with Biden on Sunday evening covered a range of topics, including “regional challenges, especially the growing Iranian aggression,” according to a summary of the call published by Israel.

That “growing Iranian aggression” was certainly on Bennett’s mind earlier in the day during Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting, when the Prime Minister made it clear that a nuclear deal will make things worse, not better.

“Our position is well-known and clear: An agreement—according to the apparent terms—will damage the ability to deal with the nuclear program,” said Bennett in comments released by his office. “Whoever thinks that an agreement will increase stability—is mistaken. It will temporarily delay enrichment, but all of us in the region will pay a heavy, disproportionate price for it.”

Bennett later issued a veiled threat to attack Iran as needed, regardless of the outcome of the nuclear negotiations. “We are currently closing gaps and building up Israel’s military strength for years and even decades to come. Israel will maintain freedom of action in any case, with or without an agreement,” said Bennett.

The implied warning follows comments last week in which Bennett spelled out some of the ways his country is already working to “weaken” Iran—including “cyber, overt and covert operations”—and as news reports continue to indicate Israel is preparing to launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program if necessary.

In the speech last Tuesday, also published by his office, Bennett laid out the dangerous impact of sanctions relief for Iran as part of a nuclear agreement.

“If an agreement is signed, and the flow of dollars is renewed, we know that their aggressive behavior will only intensify. We in Israel are ready. We will continue to stand against them in every way,” said Bennett.

“No agreement will prevent us from protecting the citizens of Israel. The Israeli strategy remains the same in the case of an agreement, which in any case only buys a very short amount of time until the sunset clause, or in the event that there is no agreement. In both cases, our campaign continues.”

The strong words from Bennett come as the US said they had reached the “final stretch” of talks with Iran. In comments on background last Monday, an unnamed US senior State Department official told reporters that there are only “a handful of weeks left to get a deal” before Iran’s nuclear advances make the old terms of the preexisting deal obsolete.

That deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015, but the US withdrew from the accord in 2018, after a failed attempt to strengthen the restrictions on Iran. In response, Iran walked away from their own obligations under the JCPOA and then some, making disturbing progress towards enriching enough uranium to serve as nuclear fuel for a weapon.

The US and other major world powers have been trying to resurrect the JCPOA for around 10 months without success, as talks continue in Vienna. The Senior US State Department official, whose comments were published by the State Department, claimed last week that “seniormost former Israeli officials” have called the US withdrawal from the JCPOA a “terrible mistake.”

By contrast, the current leadership in Israel certainly does not believe that returning to the JCPOA would be better—and the current Iranian actions only confirm this. “The greatest threat against the State of Israel is Iran,” said Bennett in the cabinet meeting on Sunday. “…In recent weeks, precisely during the negotiations, Iran is increasing its aggression and repeatedly using terrorism in the region, as you all have seen. This is how you conduct negotiations, Tehran-style.”

Despite the obvious disagreement between Bennett and Biden on how to best handle Iran, in the call on Sunday, Bennett thanked Biden for “his steadfast support of Israel as well as the support of his entire administration, especially with regards to American assistance towards the Iron Dome.” He also invited Biden and his wife to visit Israel.

His future outlook for Iran was not so rosy. In the cabinet meeting, Bennett warned, “Every knowledgeable investor knows that investing in the Iranian regime, in the Iranian economy, is an unwise investment in both the long and intermediate terms.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on January 6, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will bless Israel’s leaders with great wisdom as they chart a course of action regarding Iran. Cry out to the Lord for a solution that will stop Iranian nuclear ambitions once and for all while also bringing an end to their support of terrorism in the region.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.


- Proverbs 2:6

Israel, Bahrain Ink Historic Defense Cooperation Agreement

by Liad Osmo ~ Ynetnews

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Bahrain skyline

Friday, 4 February 2022 | Defense Minister Benny Gantz met on Thursday with King Hamad Bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain in his palace during [Gantz’s] first official visit to the kingdom, where he signed a defense cooperation agreement.

Gantz also met with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman Bin Hamad al Khalifa as well as the commander of the Bahrain armed forces and Defense Minister Abdulla bin Hasan Al Nuaimi, who co-signed the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the defense establishments of the two countries.

The MOU comes 18 months after the Abraham Accords formalizing Israel’s relations with Bahrain and the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and will promote intelligence sharing, joint military drills and closer ties between the defense industries in both nations, and was the pinnacle of the visit, along with the successful meeting with the king and the Bahraini leaders.

Sources close to Gantz expressed their optimism that the visit will help advance a close and intimate relationship between Israel and Bahrain.

Gantz, who was received with honors, thanked the king for his hospitality and his support of broadening bilateral ties and the economic and civilian agreements signed thus far, solidifying the defense cooperation.

“The strategic cooperation that we are bringing to a new high point today with the signing of this agreement and with the important meeting with the king is the continuation of the historic Abraham Accords and of the developing relationship between our nations and people,” Gantz said at the ceremony.

“Only a year after the signing of the accords, we are already here signing a significant security agreement, which will allow robust cooperation and strengthen the security of both countries and of the entire region,” the defense minister said.

Speaking at a joint Israeli–Emirati–Bahraini panel during an annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies last month, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif ben Rashid Al Zayani said the country saw eye to eye on many aspects of the Iranian expansion in the region.

“A common regional position on these issues will allow us to have greater influence over the United States,” he said, stressing that the issues were of high importance for regional stability.

“Any future agreement with Iran must reflect the new reality in the region and be acceptable to all states in the region,” he added.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on February 3, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo License: B.alotaby/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the signing of the MOU between the defense establishments of Israel and Bahrain. Pray that this growing relationship will bring stability to the region and will encourage the US to take the new Middle East reality into consideration in any negotiations or interactions with Iran.

Scripture

I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.


- Leviticus 26:6

Israel Launches US $70 Million to Help Propel More Arabs into Tech Industry

by JNS

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Israel is making every effort to include more Arabs in the high-tech industry.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022 | Israel launched a [US] $70 million plan to promote the Arab sector in the high-tech industry.

“We see a change in Arab employment in high-tech in the past years, but it’s not enough,” Karina Rubinstein, director of business development for the Startup Division of the Israel Innovation Authority, told i24News.

“[Arab Israelis] have to compete with other workers, and they sometimes lack the knowledge of how to pass an interview or how to have these ‘soft skills,’” she said.

To that end, innovation centers will be established in Israeli Arab communities to foster communication and consultation, including “investors clubs” to encourage funding for Arab start-ups, said Rubinstein.

Arab Israelis make up about 20% of the population, though only 3.5% of workers in high-tech.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 7, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this innovative program to help Arab Israelis, and pray that it will be successful. Also pray that this type of genuine concern for the Arab sector will help many to recognize that Israel is not the enemy or the purveyor of hatred in the region. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to many through Israel’s actions of care and compassion.

Scripture

The LORD has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.


- Isaiah 52:10

US Hopes to Seal Israeli–Lebanese Maritime Agreement to Unlock Natural Gas for Lebanon

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Israeli navy boats are seen from Rosh Hanikra on the Israeli and Lebanese border in northern Israel.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022 | In recent days, Lebanese President Michel Aoun told a UN envoy that his country is ready to return to indirect negotiations with Israel over the maritime border between the two countries.

Days later, the US envoy to the maritime negotiations, Amos Hochstein, began conducting shuttle diplomacy, involving meetings with Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and scheduled meetings with Lebanese officials in Beirut.

The developments represent an American push to seal a border agreement as part of Washington’s overall desire to get additional gas to Lebanon, Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, head of the research department at the Alma Center, a defense research center in northern Israel, told JNS.

“The Americans are pushing strongly for an agreement,” he said.

Last year, regional Arab states and the United States hammered out the details of a plan designed to rescue Lebanon from its severe energy crisis by transferring Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via pipelines that run from the Sinai Peninsula into Jordan and through Syria to feed Lebanon’s Deir Ammar power plant, which has a 450-megawatt capacity. In addition, according to the plan, Jordan will link its electrical grid to Lebanon’s via Syria to increase the power supply.

Aoun’s announcement comes after Lebanon once again found itself “on the bench” on the issue of underwater gas reserves as other regional actors finalized maritime borders and secured their access to such resources, said Beeri, who served for 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Military Intelligence Directorate.

“Lebanon has been out of the economic waters game for a long time. The Syrians have ‘taken a bite’ from gas reserves to the north—and the maritime border between Syria and Lebanon has never been finalized,” noted Beeri.

Instead, Lebanon demarcated its maritime borders independently in 2011, causing a rare complaint from Syria in 2014 to the United Nations over the issue.

According to the current situation, Syria’s Block 1 zone overlaps with Lebanon’s Block 2—meaning that Syria has taken 750 square kilometers [290 sq. mi.] of maritime territory and began searching for gas using Russian company Capital Oil.

Since then, “no one in the Lebanese government has dared confront the Syrians,” said Beeri. “The Syrians have conducted gas searches, and no one in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, has said a word. The only exception is the protest over the matter by the head of the [Christian Lebanese movement] Lebanese Forces, Samir Gaegae, in 2021,” he stated.

Syria and Russia are not the only winners from this situation; Hezbollah is likely to receive “gas coupons” from discoveries in the area from [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s] regime in the event of a discovery of a gas field.

‘Not a Green Light to Normalization with Israel’

Meanwhile, Lebanon has found itself shut out from other regional arrangements as well due to its paralysis. In 2010, Israel and Cyprus reached a former maritime border agreement, giving Cyprus access to the Aphrodite gas reserve.

“Lebanon did not want to take part in this due to Israel’s involvement; hence, it stayed outside of the talks,” said Beeri. Now, Beirut finds itself able to complete for only one maritime area—the sea zone to its south, in which the Karish gas field exists.

Beeri noted that the country “decided that in order to avoid losing again, it had to make its stance extreme.”

That approach has resulted in Lebanon demanding a southern maritime border in 2021, which is far south of the line it presented in 2010. The line “just happens” to run halfway through the known Karish gas-field zone—meaning that if the demand is expected, Lebanon can hire companies to simply arrive and begin drilling, skipping over the lengthy search stage, pointed out Beeri.

Hezbollah, for its part, has allowed the Lebanese government to take part in indirect talks, primarily for economic reasons.

“It is clear that some of the gas profits will ‘drain’ into Hezbollah’s accounts,” said Beeri. “In addition, politically, it does not want to be remembered as the side that blocked Lebanon from reaching gas. Hence, suddenly, it strikes ‘moderate’ stances and allows negotiations after Lebanon has faced years of economic crisis that is directly influenced by Hezbollah’s activities.”

Although Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah routinely accuses Israel of stealing Lebanese resources, including gas, the Lebanese terror organization has left the issue under the portfolio of the Lebanese government.

Its chief concern, Beeri said, is to make it known that it is not a side to the negotiations with Israel and to market itself as the defender of Lebanon’s borders.

“Hezbollah always stresses that the negotiations are part of a national Lebanese requirement, but are not a green light to normalization with Israel,” said Beeri. “Hezbollah is telling itself a story that this is purely a military-technical issue, not a normalization affair. That there are no political ties between Israel and Lebanon.

“When Lebanon’s former Foreign Minister, Jubran Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement and the nephew of President Aoun, offered in April 2021 to speed-up talks by investing together with Israel in a third-party company to search for gas, he was strongly reprimanded by Hezbollah,” noted Beeri. “Hezbollah wants to dance at two weddings—to say that it is present on this issue, but also that it is absent.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 8, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jamal Awad/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will be successful in negotiating its maritime border with Lebanon, which may help lessen the economic crisis that has plagued that nation for years. Pray also that Lebanon will accept Israel’s other offers of assistance, bringing relief to the beleaguered country and weakening the stranglehold that keeps Lebanon in a state of chaos through Iranian proxy Hezbollah.

Scripture

The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:11

Anti-Semitism Soars to Record High in UK

by Ilse Strauss

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Anti-Semitism reached record highs in the UK in 2021.

Thursday, 10 February 2022 | Anti-Semitism in Britain soared to a record high in 2021, Community Security Trust (CST) revealed in a report published yesterday.

According to the UK-based anti-Semitism watchdog, British Jews and authorities reported 2,255 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK during the 12-month period, the highest number in recent history anywhere in Europe and the highest number in a single calendar year since the CST started recording anti-Jewish hate occurrences nearly 40 years ago.

The 2,255 incidents mark a 34% increase from the 1,684 recorded in 2020 and a 24% spike from the previous record of 1,813 offences in 2019.

“These record levels of anti-Jewish racism, reported by our Jewish community to CST and police, show how difficult last year was for Jews across Britain. These hatreds boil away, taking any excuse to publicly burst out against Jews,” Mark Gardner, CST chief executive.

The CST ascribes the record escalation to the “huge rise in anti-Jewish hate and extremism during and following the escalation in violence in Israel and Palestine last year.”

May 2021, the month in which Operation Guardian of the Walls—the 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups flared up, saw a record of 661 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, while 210 events were logged in June.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the landscape of anti-Semitism in the UK in 2021 is largely defined by responses to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, as indeed is the unprecedented annual figure,” the report states.

Nearly 200 of the 2,255 incidents last year were violent, three of which involved grievous bodily harm or endangering a life. There were also 502 occurrences where far-right or Nazi themes were used and 90 incidents of celebrating the Holocaust.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 10, 2022)

Photo Credit: Beny Shlevich/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His protection to surround the Jews of the UK as anti-Semitism continues to soar to record numbers. Pray that the government of the UK will take a strong stand against this heinous racism, criminalizing such actions and punishing all perpetrators. Pray also that many Jews in the UK will choose to make aliyah, taking refuge in the land of their forefathers.

Scripture

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.


- Psalm 32:7

Erdoğan: Turkey, Israel to Discuss Energy Cooperation, Transporting Gas to Europe

by JNS

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Tuesday, 8 February 2022 | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a discussion over energy cooperation with Israel would take place in March and that on the table for discussion is a plan to work together to transport natural gas to Europe.

“We can use Israeli natural gas in our country, and beyond using it, we can also engage in a joint effort on its passage to Europe,” said Erdoğan on January 4, reported Reuters.

“Now, God willing, these issues will be on our agenda with Mr. Herzog during their visit to Turkey,” he said, as reported by Turkish media.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog plans to visit Turkey next month, Erdoğan said on Thursday.

Tense relations have existed in recent years between the countries as Erdoğan has repeatedly put Israel in the crosshairs on a number of issues, as well as hosted members of the Hamas terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 7, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Turkish Presidency/Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the relationship between Israel and Turkey, which has been strained in recent years. Pray that energy cooperation will be a first step in restoring diplomatic and cooperative ties that actually began in 1948.

Scripture

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.


- Deuteronomy 31:8

Rocket Sirens Wail as Syrian Antiaircraft Missile Explodes over Northern Israel

by Kate Norman

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The Syrian missile triggered sirens in the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022 | An antiaircraft missile was fired from Syria into northern Israel in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning, prompting a responsive strike from the Israeli military.

The Syrian missile triggered sirens in the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm and part of northern Samaria. The missile exploded midair, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported, so no interception was necessary.

In response, the IDF said it struck “surface-to-air missile targets in Syria, including radar and antiaircraft batteries.”

“The IDF will continue to protect the skies of the State of Israel and its security,” the Israeli military said on its website this morning.

The Syrian antiaircraft missile was reportedly launched just after an alleged Israeli air strike near Damascus.

The IDF launched an air strike from the direction of neighboring Beirut just before 1 a.m. and fired another round of surface-to-surface missiles from the Golan Heights around 1:10 a.m., killing one Syrian soldier, wounding five others and causing material damage, state-affiliated Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

The target of the alleged Israeli strikes remains unknown, but they may have been targeting sites of the Syrian regime as well as Iranian militias, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel did not comment on its involvement in the early morning strikes in keeping with its longstanding policy. The Jewish state has vowed, however, to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in the region and has acknowledged that it has conducted some hundreds of air strikes in Syria over the past decade, often targeting Iranian weapons shipments to its proxies in the region, particularly the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror organization.

Last week another air strike outside of Damascus was attributed to Israel. The target there too was ambiguous, as Ynetnews reported it was a Hezbollah warehouse, while the Jerusalem Post, citing Syrian opposition media, said it was Syrian regime sites.

That strike took place just a week after a joint Russian–Syrian flyby along the Israeli–Syrian border.

The Jerusalem Post also pointed out that independent flight trackers have logged multiple cargo flights shipping weapons from Iran to Syria over the past few weeks.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 9, 2022)

Source: Moataz1997/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that the IDF will, in fact, continue to protect the skies of the State of Israel and will be successful in keeping Iran from becoming further entrenched in Syria. Pray for the safety of the citizens of northern Israel as the enemy sits on their doorstep.

Scripture

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”


- Isaiah 41:10

African Union Divided over Israel’s “Observer Status”

by David Isaac ~ JNS

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The heads of state in the Africa Union in 2016

Thursday, 10 February 2022 | The African Union pushed off debate on a vote over Israel’s observer status at its meeting on Sunday. Instead, it set up a committee to examine the matter, which will report its findings at next year’s summit. Reports say the issue has proved divisive in the 55-member bloc.

The African Union granted Israel observer status in July. However, opposition to the decision only gained momentum recently, coming to a head at the day-two summit this weekend in Addis Ababa, which also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the member organization’s founding.

Although observer status in the African Union is not unusual and many non-African countries and groups hold observer status (“Palestine” being one of them), offering it to Israel created a stir—so much so that despite more pressing problems, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, felt compelled to mention the issue in his opening address and put it on the agenda.

“South Africa and Algeria are the dominant countries trying to change this decision. South Africa, a very important member of the African Union, has since the 1990s taken a very hardline, anti-Israel stance,” Irit Back, head of the Inter-University Program of African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS.

She said the two countries paved the way for Palestinian [Authority] Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh to address the summit on Saturday. He called for the African Union to reverse its decision, saying “Israel should never be rewarded for its violation and for the apartheid regime it does impose on the Palestinian people.”

Israel has been trying to win back observer status for 20 years, ever since it lost it when the Organization of African Unity was disbanded in 2002 to make way for its replacement organization, the African Union. Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was behind Israel’s original ouster, said Back, “and since then, we’ve been trying to regain our status.”

Back described observer status as “mainly symbolic,” a “stamp of approval.” Nevertheless, she noted that it comes with practical economic and diplomatic benefits. For instance, as an observer at the African Union, Israel has a greater ability to influence the bloc to change its generally anti-Israel voting record at the United Nations.

“So this can be a turning point. I’m not sure it will happen even if Israel is an observer, but it’s better to be inside than outside,” she said.

‘An Instrument in the Service of Peace’

Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), expressed reservations about Israeli efforts to join the African Union. “Africa is not as strategically important as other places,” he said. “The Horn of Africa is important for us. Morocco is important for us.”

Inbar says that if Israel wants to fight efforts to strip it of its newfound status, that’s fine as long as it doesn’t mean expending political capital. Israel should focus more on bilateral relations and less on seeking influence in multilateral organizations, he said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry sees it differently. In a statement on Sunday, it said that “Israel attaches great importance to expanding the dialogue and cooperation with the African Union in line with changes in the Middle East and views it as an important expression of our shared activities for the continent’s next generation.”

Israel’s history with Africa goes back to the early years of the state when the country’s founding father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw friendship with African countries as a way to break Israel’s diplomatic isolation. However, with the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Arab countries successfully pressured most African countries to sever ties with Israel.

That breakdown still casts a shadow over Israel–Africa relations. “It was a traumatic event from Israel’s side, and it still affects Israel’s attitude towards Africa. There is this kind of suspicion that it could happen again,” said Back.

She said a major milestone was Sudan joining the Abraham Accords. “Sudan is really important in this context because it’s part of the Arab League. It sometimes identified itself as an Arab country as well, not just an African country,” she noted.

Back said it was surprising when Israel gained observer status over the summer, and it’s equally surprising now that it might be taken away.

In his opening speech, Mahamat gave no indication of which side will eventually win. He both reaffirmed the group’s commitment to “the cause of the Palestinian people” and defended the decision to give Israel observer status, calling it “an instrument in the service of peace.”

Whatever happens, Back emphasized that Israel should invest more effort in forging ties with African nations and that the Foreign Ministry isn’t doing enough in this regard. “Israel actually needs to be more active and increase the importance of Africa in its foreign policy,” she said.

Inbar, however, maintained that Israel should not put too much store in the African Union, saying “Israel is doing quite well internationally, and we have some excellent relations with African countries.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 9, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Paul Kagame/Flickr/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that South Africa will be unsuccessful in influencing the African Union with its anti-Semitic views, especially since Israel has established relations with so many African nations in the last few years. Pray that Israel will maintain its observer status in the union, successfully leveraging that relationship to change the bloc’s anti-Israel voting record at the United Nations.

Scripture

Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions.


- Psalm 5:10a

UAE Textbooks Teach Tolerance as Palestinian Curriculum Calls for Violence, Anti-Jewish Incitement

by Israel Kasnett ~ JNS

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United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education

Monday, 7 February 2022 | The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) has uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material produced by the Palestinian Authority [PA] that directly calls for violence and promotes anti-Semitism, even after promising European Union donors it would implement changes.

IMPACT-se found that rather than publishing revised textbooks as promised, the PA reprinted last years’ criticized textbooks for use in the current school year. In parallel, it produced thousands of pages of new material, roughly equivalent in size to all the textbooks in the curriculum. The new material contains content that has been determined as worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt anti-Semitism.

For example, the material demands that students die as martyrs to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and explains that those who die as martyrs killing infidels (Christians and Jews) will receive grace and be greatly rewarded.

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said the PA “seems to have gone to a great deal of effort to hoodwink its donors. Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and anti-Semitism, the PA simply reprinted the old ones, then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves.”

IMPACT-se presented its findings to representatives from the EU Commission, as well as to Parliament members in Brussels, who had no knowledge that the old textbooks were still being used in Palestinian and UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] schools, or that a set of new, hate-filled materials had been produced in 2021.

In contrast to students in the PA, those in the United Arab Emirates related to the school curriculum have been updated to teach values of peace and tolerance. In what can be viewed as a sure sign of change in the region, many examples of anti-Semitism or incitement have been removed from the curriculum.

IMPACT-se also released a report on January 20 examining 220 Arab-language textbooks in grades 1–12 from the UAE’s national curriculum, printed between 2016 and 2021.

Still Some Room for Improvement

Niclas Herbst, a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union and a member of the European Parliament who is familiar with the issue, told JNS the improvements in the UAE curriculum “are a step in the right direction” as they “promote tolerance and trustful interfaith relations.”

Notably, much of the anti-Israel material has been moderated. Passages that previously demonized Israel, presented anti-Semitic conspiracies and blamed “the Zionist enemy” for seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people have been removed. Passages focusing on tolerance towards Jews are widespread throughout the textbooks. Especially noteworthy is the removal of a passage that presented the Palestinian issue as “the basis of conflicts in the Middle East.”

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff told JNS, “Emirati textbooks are reflective of the assessment made by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed over a decade ago that the West is a potential ally and not a colonial threat; that radicalism is categorically wrong and self-defeating, and that Emirati prosperity in a competitive global marketplace will be built on a tolerant and peace-loving workforce.”

This report examined 220 textbooks, as well as older editions of the textbooks, to conduct a comparative analysis and establish trend lines.

Some outstanding issues still remain in the textbooks, and there is certainly more room for improvement.

For instance, IMPACT-se notes that the State of Israel is still not displayed in most maps. They do, however, show the Green Line, portraying Palestinian territory as confined only to the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza. This delineation is a step beyond maps taught in textbooks in almost all other Arab and Muslim countries in the region.

While students still do not learn about the Holocaust or the long history of Jews in the region—two important subjects that should be covered extensively in the next version of textbooks—the curriculum does take the view of a changing Middle East.

Now, for instance, the curriculum avoids blaming foreigners for domestic issues and promotes taking local responsibility.

Eighth-grade students are taught that “Islam is a peaceful religion that rejects all manifestations of violence and terrorism.” The curriculum also teaches students to value the principle of respect for other cultures and encourages curiosity and dialogue.

According to Sheff: “Respect for the other, curiosity towards other cultures and experiencing happiness are taught as fundamental values for leading a rich, fulfilling and healthy life. In this changing Middle East, the crown prince is a trailblazer in identifying what success for his kingdom should look like. One wonders who will follow.”

The PA, with pressure from the European Union and the United States, which claim to review Palestinian textbooks thoroughly, could bring similar hope to the region and implement changes that would directly benefit the next generation.

“The majority of the EU’s donation to the PA goes to its education sector, so one has to ask what the EU delegation to Ramallah actually knows about what goes on in PA schools,” said Sheff. “At a time when the PA is facing a major budget crisis, they’re doubling down on teaching the hate that donor nations said they could no longer tolerate.”

Herbst added that the improvements in the UAE curriculum “are a positive example for all school textbooks, especially for the Palestinian Authority.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 4, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Arnold O. A. Pinto/Shutterstock/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the sincere efforts of educators in the UAE to teach peace and tolerance with an eye toward changing the hate-filled climate of the Middle East. Also pray that the PA will be exposed for their treacherous behavior and held accountable by the international community. Pray that Arab young people all across the region will at long last be taught the truth.

Scripture

Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them according to the work of their hands; render to them what they deserve.


- Psalm 28:4