Compassion

I want to help put an end to the cycle of hopelessness and give hope to survive.

Friday, February 22, 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.

Iranian Cleric: Iran Possesses “Formula for Nuclear Bomb”

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Ahmad Khatami, Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader, said Iran has the formula for nuclear bombs.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 | Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of the Assembly of Experts [Iran’s council to appoint or dismiss the supreme leader] and Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader, referred to Iran’s possible usage of nuclear weapons when he said (on February 8, 2019) that Iran had no intention of building nuclear bombs. “The formula exists, but there is no intention of using a weapon of mass destruction.”

Nuclear Agreement Is Considered Dead

Khatami, who was speaking in honor of the 40th anniversary of the “heavenly” victory of the Islamic Revolution, stated that the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and six world powers in July 2015 had impaired Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but after the United States withdrew from it, it was considered dead. What now remains for Iran under present conditions (as part of the agreement) is its ability in the field of weaponry. In this regard, he praised the Revolutionary Guard for revealing the new surface-to-surface Dezful ballistic missile, which has a range of up to 1,000 kilometers [620 mi.] and can be fired from underground silos. He said, “Iran’s ballistic missiles will land on the head of the attackers like thunder.”

The Nation Is Sunk in Great Suffering

Khatami admitted that the economic situation of the Iranian people is “not good at all.” “It is not possible to deny the problems that the people are dealing with…The nation is sunk in great suffering, and without the directives of the leader, Ali Khamenei, the situation could be much worse than under existing conditions.”

Iran Will Test Very Advanced Models of Centrifuges

Ali Akbar Salehi, vice president and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), reiterated that Iran has begun mass-producing IR-4 and IR-2 centrifuges and is testing the more advanced IR-6 and IR-7 centrifuges. He said that Iran is currently enriching uranium with more than 5,000 IR-1 centrifuges. He added that according to the nuclear deal, Iran could manufacture three of the more advanced IR-8 centrifuges, and the first centrifuges of this kind will be tested within half a year. Salehi warned the European countries that if they did not continue nuclear cooperation with Iran, it would continue to make progress by itself, and it is already prepared for the worst-case scenario. Salehi admitted that the agreement placed certain limitations on Iran, but “it does not affect the pace of the development of the (Iranian) nuclear industry.”

Salehi, who took an active part in the nuclear talks with the Obama administration, stated in an interview that the secret discussions held between Washington and Tehran reached their peak in 2013 due to the initiative of the United States, which pushed to advance them, and the emirate of Oman played the role of mediator between both sides. Salehi did not answer directly the question of whether Iran would be prepared to return to the negotiating table with the United States and under what conditions.

Iran Will Push the United States back to the Negotiating Table

Hashmatollah Falahat-Pisheh, director of the Council for National Security and Foreign Policy of the Iranian Parliament, stated on February 7, 2019, that after the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution celebrations, Iran would be able to adopt a policy of dragging the United States back to the negotiation table. Earlier, President Hassan Rouhani stated in a speech to foreign ambassadors in Tehran that if the United States expressed any regrets for its policy toward Iran, the Islamic Republic would accept it and would be prepared to return to talks with it.

Former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi stated in an interview with the Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel that he is aware President Trump wants to visit Iran to hold direct talks with Tehran, in the same way that he is advancing talks with North Korea. According to Mousavi, President Trump has approached five countries to mediate between Tehran and Washington. He said that these included Arab, European and Asian countries. Mousavi also claimed that in these approaches, President Trump had rescinded the 12 conditions raised by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the summer of 2018 with regard to Iran.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on February 19, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to open the eyes and the ears of the world to Iran’s sinister nuclear ambitions to establish hegemony in the region. Pray that the admission and the clear commitment to forge ahead with nuclear testing will serve as a wake-up call to rally world leaders behind Israel to ensure that Teheran’s ambitions are not realized.

Scripture

Plead my cause O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”


- Psalm 35:1–3

Hezbollah Threatens Attacks on Israeli Passenger Aircrafts, Ben Gurion Airport

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A video released by Hezbollah threatens Ben Gurion Airport and El Al planes.

Monday, 18 February 2019 | The Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, which exercises complete political and military control over Lebanon, appears to have threatened to attack Israeli passenger flights and popular tourist destinations in the Jewish state in a video circulated on social media, JNS reported Thursday.

The video marked the anniversary of the death of former Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed on February 12, 2008 by a car bomb blast in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus. Hezbollah attributed the assassination to the Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] and the CIA.

In the video, shared by Mughniyeh’s sister, Zeinab, the group vowed to take revenge for Israeli air strikes on weapons stockpiles belonging to Hezbollah and Iran in Syria and Lebanon. The footage included images of El Al Israel Airline planes, as well as pictures of Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

Hezbollah, so far, has not officially claimed credit for the video.

Mughniyeh was the mastermind of attacks on the United States Embassy and Marine barracks that killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon in 1983. He subsequently engineered the hijacking of TWA Flight 847, as well as the kidnapping, torture and murder of Americans in Lebanon throughout the 1980s, including the CIA’s Beirut station chief William Buckley, who was eventually slaughtered after 15 months of being horrifically tortured on film by Mughniyeh and Iran’s terrorist army, Hezbollah.

Mughniyeh also orchestrated the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29 people.

In 2014, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laid a wreath at the grave of the assassinated Hezbollah military commander within hours of inking an agreement with the US and members of the P5+1, the group that eventually negotiated the 2015 nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic.

Throughout the week, Hezbollah targeted senior Israeli politicians and other public figures online via messages the terrorist group sent on WhatsApp and Telegram. One of the messages included a photo of Mughniyeh with the caption: “Revenge is inevitable, and the goal is clear, specific and precise—removing Israel from existence.”

The United States and Israeli militaries completed a joint exercise on Thursday, code-named Juniper Falcon drill, which tested coordination capabilities between the two countries in the event of a ballistic missile threat against Israel from Lebanon, Iran, Syria or Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on February 15, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Oyoyoy/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Bring Hezbollah’s threat of terror, death and destruction before the Lord, praying specifically for the infrastructure and landmarks in the crosshairs of the terror organization. Ask Him to draw a dome of protection over the land, skies and people of Israel.

Scripture

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”


- Psalm 91:2, 4–6

IDF Soldier Injured as Tensions on Gaza Border Soar

by Jo Sarah Stanford

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Thousands of Palestinians rioting and throwing grenades at the Gaza border. (Illustrative)

Monday, 18 February 2019 | An Israeli soldier was rushed to hospital over the weekend after an escalation of violence along the Israel–Gaza border. Tensions are soaring as Hamas pushes for a full-scale confrontation following violent weekly riots that have taken place for almost a year.

On Sunday night an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldier was moderately wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near him. He sustained shrapnel wounds to the neck and was evacuated to a hospital in Ashkelon where he underwent surgery. As of Monday morning, he remained under anesthesia in a moderate condition. During the violence, Palestinian rioters threw explosives at Israeli security forces and hurled burning tires towards the border fence.

This is the 48th weekly protest since the beginning of the “March of Return,” which demands the resettlement of Palestinian “refugees”—and all their descendants—within Israel, which would make the Jewish people a minority in their own country. The violence has been ongoing for almost a year.

Last week, 11,000 Palestinians rioted at the border, many attempting to breach the fence. An undercover Israeli border police officer was injured by shrapnel to the leg when a pipe bomb exploded near his team. The week previous, two Palestinian teens were killed while participating in the riots—including the 14-year-old grandson of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s sister. Every Tuesday, attempts are also made to sail Gazan vessels across the maritime border.

Despite the death and injuries of its own people, Hamas terrorists continue to incite violence, regularly sending women and children to the front lines as a shield between themselves and Israeli security forces. Hamas knows the death of women and children creates international headlines, furthering their cause to delegitimize Israel’s right to existence.

Where in recent months, Hamas has toed the line, only pushing the IDF so far and then abating under the pretense of a cease-fire, authorities believe that the terrorist group is now pushing for all-out war. I24 News reports that Hamas “no longer opposes full scale conflict.” Hamas sees this as a way to garner international sympathy and support and to “bring in reconstruction funds for the coastal enclave.”

The increase in violence comes as Israel begins the final stages of construction on a 19-foot (6 m.) high galvanized steel fence connected to an underground concrete barrier, designed to stop terror tunnels. The fence will span the entire 40 miles (65 km.) of the Gaza border and prevent infiltration of terrorists into nearby Israeli communities.

In comments made last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again reiterated Israel’s determination to protect its people, but also to pursue peace. “If we defend our nation with all our strength, then it will be unnecessary to set out on a full campaign,” he said, reported Haaretz. “And if it is necessary—the Israeli army will rise to the challenge.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 18, 2019)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the brave men and women of the IDF guarding Israel’s southern border with Gaza. Praise Him for protecting the young soldier from more serious injuries, and pray for complete and speedy healing. Cry out to the Lord to bring the ongoing violence on the Gaza border to an end.

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.


- Psalm 33:20–22

Israel Freezes US $139 Million for Palestinians over Terror Payments

by Joshua Spurlock

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An M16 and an Uzi sub-machine gun seized by the IDF in Hebron in December.

Monday, 18 February 2019 | Financially supporting terrorists is going to cost double for the Palestinians, as Israel on Sunday froze over 500 million shekels (roughly [US] $139 million) in tax monies owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—which mirrored the exact amount the PA paid to terrorists and their families in 2018. The move follows passage of a law by Israel’s government in July 2018 authorizing the financial seizure, according to a press release from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

“Security officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred the aforesaid amount to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners,” said the press release. “Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered increased checks on Palestinian Authority payments “linked to terrorism”—which includes the so-called “pay-for-slay” program of paying money to terrorists and their families. The press release noted the total amount of funding due the PA that will be frozen could be updated as more information on the terror payments is uncovered.

“This is an important law which we have advanced, and today we will pass it exactly as I promised,” Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, per comments released separately by his office.

The Palestinian Authority has long made payments to terrorists imprisoned by Israel, as well as families of terrorists killed by Israeli security forces, as part of a broader program paying to prisoners and families. The Ma’an News Agency reported that the Israeli tax money accounts for 7% of the PA annual budget.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in comments included in the Ma’an report that noted the payment program for prisoners and families, said “scenarios” had been implemented to “deal” with the Israeli freezing of funds. He restated PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s support for the payments to prisoners and families of so-called “martyrs”—which includes terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians—calling the payments a “duty and debt owed by us.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on February 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s decision to withhold the money earmarked for rewarding Palestinian terrorists and their families, thus taking a firm stand against terror. Pray that the PA will be forced to amend its ways, which will, in turn, remove a strong incitement to terror.

Scripture

Whoever rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house…He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.


- Proverbs 17:13,15

Hamas, Islamic Jihad War Crimes against Children and Women

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone Institute

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Terrorist leaders in Gaza send women and children to violent riots on the border.

Friday, 15 February 2019 | When Hamas launched its weekly demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel 10 months ago, it first sent its men and their family members to participate in the protests. A few weeks later, however, Hamas instructed its men to stay away from the border after many were detected and killed by the Israeli army. Most of the Hamas men who were killed during the violence belonged to the group’s military wing, Izaddin al-Qassam. Others belonged to the military wing of another terrorist group, Islamic Jihad.

It is worth noting that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were killed while participating in the violence near the Gaza–Israel border did not come there dressed in military uniforms or carrying their weapons. Instead, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad men participated in the weekly protests dressed in civilian clothes. They pretended they were ordinary and innocent civilians protesting against the economic crisis in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Later, however, Hamas was forced to admit that dozens of its members were killed in the first three months of the protests near the border. Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, revealed in May 2018 that at least 50 Hamas members were killed during the violent demonstrations, which had begun two months earlier.

Hamas was also forced to admit that most of the victims were “fighters” after their identities were revealed by their families and by hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Hamas was probably hoping that the identities of its men would remain a secret so that the group and other Palestinians could accuse Israel of targeting innocent and defenseless civilians.

After the Hamas ploy was uncovered, the group and its supporters in the Gaza Strip resorted to a different tactic: sending children and women to the Gaza–Israel border. This, of course, is an old tactic that Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups have been using for decades. The Palestinian terrorist leaders know that when women and children get wounded and killed near the border, that draws the attention of most foreign journalists and international human rights organizations. Hamas’s goal: to depict Israel as a state that deliberately targets Palestinian women and children.

In recent weeks, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups have been sending thousands of women and children to the border with Israel to participate in the violence. The groups have been encouraging the children and women to throw rocks, explosive devices and firebombs at Israeli soldiers. They have also been encouraging the women and children to try to infiltrate the border by damaging the security fence.

The latest victim of Hamas’s cynical exploitation and brainwashing of children took place February 8, during violent demonstrations along the Gaza–Israel border. Hassan Shalabi, a 14-year-old boy from the Gaza Strip, was among thousands of Palestinian children and women who were dispatched by Hamas to the border to participate in violent attacks against Israeli soldiers.

Like the thousands of other Palestinians sent to the border, Shalabi was told by Hamas that the goal of the so-called “March of Return” is to pave the way for millions of Palestinians to move into Israel. The “March of Return” is not about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It is called the “March of Return” because its main objective is to force Israel to allow Palestinian refugees and their descendants to enter and turn it into a country with a Muslim majority where Jews would be allowed to live only as a tiny minority under Islamic rule.

Like most Palestinian groups and leaders, Hamas lied to the boy when it told him that throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers would facilitate the “right of return” for millions of Palestinians supposedly to return to their homes from which they fled after five Arab armies attacked on the newly born State of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The boy believed that by trying to destroy the security fence and infiltrate Israel, he and his friends were helping Palestinians achieve their “right of return.”

The naive women and children did not know that any army that is confronted with thousands of rioters trying to infiltrate the border would be forced to use all available means to defend its soldiers and civilians. One can only imagine what would have happened had thousands of Palestinian rioters managed to cross the border and reach one of the nearby Israeli towns.

Last week, a 43-year-old woman, Amal al-Taramsi, also fell victim to the Palestinian terrorist groups’ exploitation of women and children. The woman, who was among thousands of Palestinians dispatched by Hamas to the border to engage in a violent confrontation with Israeli soldiers, was also killed when rioters tried to infiltrate the security fence.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they have noticed in recent months that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were no longer sending their men to the sites of the clashes. The terrorists prefer to keep a safe distance from the view of the Israeli soldiers, evidently preferring to hide behind women and children. The leaders of the terrorists are also cowards. They often briefly show up at the site of the demonstrations to give statements to the journalists before going back into hiding in their villas and offices.

When Shalabi was killed last Friday, the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were visiting Cairo, where they always stay in five-star hotels. They are in Cairo to talk with Egyptian intelligence officials about reaching understandings with Israel concerning a long-term truce along the Israel–Gaza border. While they are in Cairo, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders continue to send thousands of women and children to engage in violent attacks on Israeli soldiers. These leaders do not care about the safety or welfare of their women and children. On the contrary, the more dead women and children, the better. That way, they can blame Israel for killing innocent civilians and incite more Palestinians to join the jihad [struggle or war with unbelievers] against Jews.

Needless to say, these leaders always make sure that their own wives and children stay away from the combat zone.

What is disturbing is not that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are exploiting women and children as human shields. Rather, what is outrageous is the continued silence of the media and the international community. International human rights organizations and journalists are falling into the terrorists’ trap by parroting the blood libel that Israel is “deliberately targeting innocent civilians, especially women and children.”

If anyone is to be condemned, it is those who are sending women and children to die on the border with Israel.

Those who are encouraging women and children to take part in a violent confrontation with the Israeli army should be held accountable for war crimes. It is time for the international community to call on Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to stop hiding behind women and children and to stop using them as human shields in their jihad to eliminate Israel.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Gatestone Institute on February 12, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to bring Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s despicable practice to the light. Pray that the evil mindset that sends women and children to the frontlines will be exposed and condemned internationally. Ask Him to give wisdom to the civilians in Gaza to see through Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s vile plots.

Scripture

Your hand will find all Your enemies; your right hand will find those who hate You. You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; the LORD shall swallow them up in His wrath…For they intended evil against You; they devised a plot which they are not able to perform.


- Psalm 21:8–9, 11

Islamic Trust Demand Sparks Fears of Fresh Temple Mount Clashes

by Elior Levy, Yishai Porat

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New tensions between the PA and Israel surrounding the Temple Mount threaten to erupt into violence.

Thursday, 21 February 2019 | A year and a half after the crisis over using metal detectors at the Temple Mount compound, new tensions are developing at the Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims, which threaten to erupt into violence.

In recent days, the Waqf—the Islamic trust tasked with maintaining the Muslim structures at the site—has been trying to reopen a small compound in the eastern part of the Mount, on the inner side of the Golden Gate entrance. The compound, called Bab a-Rahema, has been closed in recent years because the banned Islamic Movement used it as a meeting place.

[Last] Thursday, the Waqf held prayers in the area, violating the court-ordered closure of the site. In response, the police locked and chained the gates of the compound. On Monday, several Palestinian activists tried to tear down the gate into the compound and held another prayer service there, led by Waqf chief Raed Dana.

As a result, police arrested Dana and several Palestinians suspected of trying to break down the gate.

The break-in attempt and the prayers, which had the Waqf’s blessing, appear to be a calculated act by the Islamic trust aimed at reopening the compound by exerting public and Arab pressure on Israel, including a threat of possible violence.

These actions are based on the assumption that Israel does not want to see the area around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the Temple Mount, become a flashpoint before the April 9 elections in Israel.

Senior Waqf official Akrama Sabri, who is considered to be the organization’s most radical figure, said Sunday that Muslims have full rights to the compound and that the Waqf does not recognize the Israeli court’s decision to close the compound on the grounds that the area is not bound to Israeli court rulings.

The Palestinian Authority [PA], Hamas and even Jordan have already joined condemnations against Israel in order to open the compound. Mahmoud al-Habash, a senior advisor to [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, warned that the closure of the compound is a declaration of war on Islam and that Israel is playing with fire.

“The Palestinian presidency strongly condemns Israel’s actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its gates, in particular the chaining of the Golden Gate,” Abbas’s office said in a statement. “We call on the government of Israel to take full responsibility for the tensions and the deterioration in the situation, and warn it against continuing with this insulting policy in such a way that will lead to reactions on the ground.”

Hamas is also trying to take advantage of the tensions, saying the recent chain of events is a warning before an imminent eruption over the site. Past experience has shown that campaigns carried out by the PA and Hamas with regard to the Al-Aqsa Mosque have often led to violent outbreaks.

On Monday night, Hamas-affiliated sources issued a call for Muslims to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday for prayers at the Bab al-Rahema compound and to demand that the site be opened on a regular basis.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on February 19, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: gunthersimmermacher/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the Lord protection of the Jewish people from the incitement of violence and hatred that has so often followed disagreements surrounding the Temple Mount. Pray that He will guide Israel and its leaders through these newly surfaced tensions with wisdom in order to stand its ground without sparking a new wave of violence.

Scripture

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”


- Isaiah 43:1, 2b–3a

Netanyahu: We Look Forward to Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Peace Plan

by Joshua Spurlock

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PM Netanyahu met with US Vice President Mike Pence last week during the Warsaw Conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East.

Monday, 18 February 2019 | The United States and Israel seem to be speaking each other’s language in a lot of ways when it comes to peace in the Middle East. On Thursday, while at the US-sponsored Warsaw Conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed enthusiasm for the anticipated “Deal of the Century” peace plan by the Trump administration during a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence.

Just hours earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a line from Netanyahu’s talking points when he said during a meeting with Netanyahu that “you can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.

“It’s just not possible,” continued Pompeo in comments released by the State Department. “They’re a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, the three H’s: the Houthis, Hamas and Hezbollah. These are real threats; there are others as well. But you can’t get peace in the Middle East without pushing back against Iran.”

During the conversation between Netanyahu and Pence, the Israeli leader fielded a question from reporters asking if he supported Trump’s peace plan for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Responded Netanyahu, “I look forward to receiving the plan, and we’ll look at it once it’s presented.

“I have to say that I know that the Trump administration seeks to ensure the security of Israel for generations,” he continued in comments published to the White House website. “And even though I always say, based on the experience that we endured here, that Israel must always be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat, it’s comforting to know that we have such a strong ally in the United States of America.”

Defending Israel particularly means addressing the threats from Iran, and the conference in Warsaw—which brought together Arab nations, Israel and Western countries—was largely focused on the Islamic Republic. Netanyahu appreciated the American initiative to put the event together.

“This conference—in which you’ve brought together some 60 foreign ministers, and Arab foreign ministers with an Israeli prime minister, for the first time to stand together against Iran in such clarity, such unity—I think this is something that we deeply appreciate,” said Netanyahu to Pence. “We have no better friends, and we know it.”

As for the Trump peace plan, the full details may be made public in the near future. Pompeo, in an interview with Michel Ghandour of Alhurra [a US-based Arabic language satellite TV channel] that was republished by the State Department said that senior American officials at the Warsaw conference “shared a little bit of the outlines of the deal, really the central tenets of what we’re hoping to achieve.”

Looking forward in his own words to the plan, Pompeo said they “hope we are able to roll out the full plan, all of the details of that plan, in the weeks ahead.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on February 14, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Netanyahu@netanyahu/Twitter

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for President Trump and the United States' bond with Israel and the willingness to stand with and stand up for the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Pray for President Trump and his team of advisers who are working on the anticipated peace plan, that they will follow God's mandate to bless Israel and stand up for what is right.

Scripture

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.


- Isaiah 62:1

Thousands Rally Against Anti-Semitism Across France After Jewish Graves Defaced

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Nearly 100 graves were desecrated in a Jewish cemetery in France.

Thursday, 21 February 2019 | Following a series of anti-Semitic incidents, including the desecration of Jewish graves in the northwestern state of Alsace, thousands of people across France joined rallies opposing anti-Semitism, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

The show of concern over anti-Semitism comes a week after France’s Interior Ministry released a report showing that last year, anti-Semitic acts rose 74% over 2017.

In Paris, former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy participated in a rally that was led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. President Emmanuel Macron and parliamentary leaders attended a vigil at the Shoah [Holocaust] Memorial in the French capital.

At a news conference, Macron said, “Every time a French person, because he or she is Jewish, is insulted, threatened—or worse: injured or killed—the whole Republic is attacked.”

His sentiment was similar to one expressed by former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said in a 2015 interview that if Jews leave France due to anti-Semitism, France “will be judged a failure.”

In two separate incidents earlier this month, portraits of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil were stained with swastikas, and a bagel shop had the German word “Juden” [Jew] sprayed on its front window. Veil, who died in 2017, was a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president.

Sociologist Danny Trom, who wrote the book France without Jews, said thousands of Jews are leaving France annually out of fears of anti-Semitism.

Trom described the situation as “a low-intensity war,” referring to the 2012 killing of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

“It is without equivalent in the history of France,” Trom added. “Jews have been present in France since the dawn of time. Now, the pressure is such that they are led to consider their country inhospitable.”

The increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in France prompted 300 celebrities to write a letter last year calling on the nation to counter what they called the “new anti-Semitism.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on February 20, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English/YouTube/Screenshot

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to awaken the nations—especially the European nations—to the threat that anti-Semitism poses to the Jewish people and the world at large. Pray that leaders and laymen everywhere will take a stand for God's Chosen People and fight against anti-Semitism.

Scripture

For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.”


- Zechariah 2:8–9

In Wake of Warsaw Conference, Arab Officials Call Iran Biggest Threat to Region

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Following the Warsaw conference, representatives from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain called the Iran deal a mistake.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 | The Arab world vowed to intensify its confrontation with Iran at a Middle East summit in Poland, the Times of Israel reported Monday. Senior Arab officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran was a mistake and that the Islamic Republic’s aggression is the most urgent issue facing the region.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said in a tweet over the weekend that “everyone” at the conference in Warsaw agreed that the leading challenge confronting the Middle East was “the Iranian role in destabilizing security and stability in the region.”

“Look at the Palestinians: Who is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority? Iran,” al-Jubeir asked during a panel discussion in the Polish capital. “We cannot stabilize the region without peace between Israelis and Palestinians [but] wherever we go we find Iran’s evil behaviour.”

The Saudi minister also lashed out at the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. “One of the biggest jokes is when you say Hezbollah has a political wing and a military wing. There is no such thing,” he remarked.

The comments made by al-Jubeir, who was Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister until late last year, widely confirmed what other Arab leaders, as well as Israeli and American officials, reported during the summit.

“We grew up talking about the Israel–Palestine issue as the most important issue” that has to be “solved, one way or another,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa observed. “But then, at a later stage, we saw a bigger challenge, we saw a more toxic one—in fact the more toxic one in our history—that came from the Islamic Republic.”

If it wasn’t for Iran’s regional aggression, “we would have been much closer today in solving this issue with Israel,” Khalifa continued, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other delegates from 60 countries looking on.

Meanwhile, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan defended Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression in Syria, saying, “Every nation has the right to defend itself when it’s challenged by another nation.”

In May 2018, Bahrain made similar comments following Israel’s military response to attempted Iranian missile strikes on an Israeli army base. “As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, so any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister said at the time.

The Warsaw summit appeared to be the first time an Israeli leader and senior Arab officials were attending an international conference centered on the Middle East since the 1991 Madrid peace summit, which led to the Oslo Accords.

However, the Palestinian leadership boycotted the summit in Poland, dismissing it as “an American conspiracy intended to get the participants to adopt the US’s views on issues of the region, particularly the Palestine question.” The PA [Palestinian Authority] also boycotts efforts by the Trump administration to draft a regional peace plan, set to be released after the Israeli elections in April.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project in its publication The Tower on February 19, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State/flickr

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for opening the eyes of a few of Israel's Arab neighbors to the threat that Iran poses to the region. Pray that they will take concrete steps to combat Iranian aggression and that more nations in the Middle East and across the world will recognize the threat and work together to put a stop to it.

Scripture

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.


- Psalm 23:4–5

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