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Rivlin Calls on World Leaders to Battle Anti-Semitism
by Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 23 January 2020 | President Reuven Rivlin welcomed some 40 world leaders from around the globe to his residence in Jerusalem last night for a state dinner to kick off the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which takes place today.
Addressing the presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and top officials who sat down to the gala banquet, Rivlin issued a clarion call to unite in the battle against an international rising tide of anti-Semitic violence: “I hope and pray that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth, that the leaders of the world will stand united in the fight against racism, antisemitism and extremism.”
The forum, which starts at Yad Vahsem Holocaust memorial this afternoon, is entitled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism.” It commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz–Birkenau death camp in a reflection on the largest manifestation of hatred against the Jewish people in history to ensure that the horrors of the past are never repeated. With top dignitaries from 49 countries, including US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles from Britain and German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier in attendance, it is hailed as the largest-ever gathering focused on fighting anti-Semitism.
According to Rivlin, the event not only honors those who perished in the Holocaust and World War II, but also celebrates a “victory of freedom and human dignity.”
“This is a historic gathering,” he said, “not only for Israel and the Jewish people, but for all humanity.”
On a more critical note, the president called for an end to Holocaust distortion and revisionism, referencing the ongoing spat between Russia and Poland over the narrative of the genocide. “Historical research should be left to historians. The role of political leaders is to shape the future,” the president charged. “At a time when more and more survivors are leaving us, this gathering is an expression of our shared commitment, to pass on the historical facts and lessons of the Shoah [Holocaust], to the next generation.”
Over the past month, Putin has made controversial remarks claiming that Poland—which was under German military occupation during World War II—collaborated with Nazi Germany and should shoulder the blame for the atrocities committed during the war. Putin also accused the Polish government at the time of being anti-Semitic.
Putin is one of the world leaders chosen to speak at today’s forum, while Polish President Andrzej Duda is absent from both the guest list and list of speakers. Polish leaders earlier expressed their fear that Putin will use today’s forum as an opportunity for further slander and since Duda would not have the opportunity to respond publically, he opted to snub the event altogether.
Renowned historian and Holocaust historian, 95-year-old Yehuda Bauer took to the podium next with a harsh wake-up call to those considering anti-Semitism a Jewish-only problem. “A central Nazi motivation for the war was a hatred of Jews,” Bauer explained. “World war was a result.”
Some 35 million people perished in World War II, Bauer continued, only 5.6 to 5.7 million of them Jewish. “Some 29 million were non-Jews from Europe and North America, who died in large part because of the hatred of Jews.
“Anti-Semitism is not a Jewish illness, but a non-Jewish one,” Bauer challenged. “It is a cancer that kills and destroys your nations and your societies and your countries. So there are, my friends, 29 million reasons for you to fight anti-Semitism. Not because of the Jews, but to protect your societies from a deadly cancer. Don’t you think that 29 million reasons are enough?”
Spain’s King Felipe VI addressed the gathering of presidents, premiers and royals on behalf of the world leaders in attendance. He began his address by quoting well-known 12th-century Jewish philosopher and Torah (Gen.–Deut.) scholar Moses Maimonides, also known as the Rambam. “All evils originate from ignorance,” Felipe said. The greatest ignorance, the Spanish monarch continued, was not knowing that all human beings are created equal.
Felipe also highlighted the importance of remembering past atrocities to prevent repeating them in future. “Forgetting the Shoah would not only dishonor the memory of millions of victims, but would also be extremely dangerous. Remembrance alone is unfortunately not enough…barbarism can grow when least expected. We are never fully safe from it, and in different degrees, we still see it today hitting hard in different parts of our world,” he said.
Bemoaning the rising tide of anti-Semitism in various nations, King Felipe stressed that the said world leaders had flocked to Jerusalem to both honor those who survived the Holocaust and to guarantee their support to prevent such atrocities in future.
“We are also here—perhaps primarily—to show our unyielding commitment in bringing all the necessary efforts of our respective countries in order to fight the ignorant intolerance, hatred, and the total lack of human empathy that permitted and gave birth to the Holocaust,” he said.
“Never again,” the Spanish king vowed in English and then in Hebrew: “Le’olam lo od.”
This afternoon, 48 more prime ministers, kings, crown princes and top officials from Austria to Australia, the US to Ukraine and multiple countries in between will stand alongside the king of Spain, Israeli dignitaries and Holocaust survivors to echo the pledge: Never again.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 23, 2020)
Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Thank the Lord for this amazing forum and the impact that it can have. Pray that the words of scholars, leaders and survivors will pierce the hearts of everyone in attendance, making possible a united, global front against anti-Semitism and extremism. Pray also for a hedge of protection around all the participants, their travel and every venue where they will be hosted.
In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work.
Shin Bet: Israel Foiled 560 “Significant” Terror Attacks in 2019
by Yoav Zitun and Itamar Eichner
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 | Israel’s internal security agency says it has thwarted over 560 “significant” terror plots, including suicide attacks, in the past year.
Speaking Monday at an award ceremony honoring groundbreaking operational and intelligence achievements in 2019, Shin Bet [Israeli internal security organization] Director Nadav Argaman said the attacks were aimed against Israeli civilians and infrastructure.
“This past year was full of security challenges on all fronts,” said Argaman. “We foiled 10 suicide attacks, 4 abductions and over 300 shootings.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the ceremony, in his speech focused primarily on the “Iranian threat,” which he said poses both a “nuclear and terror” challenge.
“We must overcome it just like we overcame the great threat of Pan-Arabism,” he said. “Our determination to fight for our future and to defeat our enemies must be much stronger than theirs.”
Netanyahu went on to say that “life itself” is more important than the “quality of life.”
“The lives of hundreds of Israelis, perhaps more, were saved by your [Shin Bet] activity,” he said. “Quality of life is a sense of security that is projected beyond just the question of who was hurt, and by saving lives you create a sense of security, which is not a given in our country.”
The prime minister added that “many” countries in the world now want to cooperate with Israeli intelligence agencies. “Everyone wants cooperation with Israeli intelligence. We are in a time of unprecedented political, economic, operational and military prosperity.”
A certificate of honor was presented to six groundbreaking operations and several Shin Bet agents who excelled at the job in 2019.
Photo Credit: Spokesperson Unit of the President of Israel/עמוס בן גרשון, לשכת העיתונות הממשלתית/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Thank God for the amazing accomplishments of Israel’s security services and for the fact that the nations are recognizing those accomplishments and seeking Israel’s input into their security needs. Pray that God will be glorified as the nations begin to recognize His incredible faithfulness to His covenant people.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand and hear me.
Israel Concerned over Renewed Violence on the Gaza Border
by Elior Levy
Friday, 17 January 2020 | Gaza factions are seeking to increase cross-border violence, as negotiations for a long-term understanding with Israel stall, a Hamas-affiliated Gaza media outlet reported on Thursday.
The report emerged only a day after a salvo [simultaneous discharge of artillery] of four rockets was fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities and an incendiary balloon was also sent across the border.
The rocket launches were attributed to an independent faction of the Islamic Jihad and came after three weeks of relative calm imposed by the ruling Hamas.
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] carried out strikes against Hamas targets in the northern part of the Strip in response to the rocket fire.
“The IDF regards the rocket attack from Gaza into Israel as grave and will continue to act against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and considers the Hamas rulers responsible,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
Security officials in Israel say they are concerned Hamas allowed the attack to take place in order to exert pressure on Israel and Egypt to resume talks with the terror group.
The Egyptian government had committed to increasing imports from Gaza through the Rafah Crossing if calm on the border is maintained.
Egypt canceled a planned visit by its negotiating delegation to Gaza after Haniyeh traveled to Tehran to attend the funeral of slain Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, though he had assured Egyptian intelligence officials he would not do so. Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike earlier this month.
Following this visit, Egypt began increasing the cost of products entering Gaza across the Rafah border, including cooking gas, which has caused shortages for Gazans. Cairo also raised taxes on other products.
Egyptian intelligence is part owner of the largest company to move products to and from Gaza through the Rafah Crossing and is used by Cairo to exert pressure on Hamas.
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Ask the Lord to bring an end to this current surge in violence and allow calm to settle over the area again. In addition, beseech Him for a long-term solution to this conflict, one that will bring real peace—His peace—to the people of southern Israel.
Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked.
East Mediterranean Gas Forum to Become International Organization
Friday, 17 January 2020 | What happened: The East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) that first met in January 2019, is set to upgrade to an international organization. The seven members—Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority [PA]—held a ministerial meeting yesterday in Cairo.
Context: The Eastern Mediterranean has huge energy potential, much of it untapped until recently. Two years ago a [US] $20 billion deal was signed between US, Israeli and Egyptian companies which involves Houston-based Noble Energy and Tel Aviv-based Delek Drilling, supplying 85 billion cubic yards of natural gas over 15 years from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields to Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings.
Looking ahead: Gas exports from Israel to Egypt are a positive step and take place in the context of improved economic relations in the wider Eastern Mediterranean as signified by the upgrading of the EMGF into a fully-fledged international organization.
Photo Credit: Noble Energy/YouTube/screenshot
Thank God for the economic alliances that are being formed through EMGF and Israel’s gas exports. Pray for ongoing cooperation among the members and for future developments that will bring stability to the region. Ask the Lord to thwart any attempts by Israel’s enemies to sabotage these endeavors.
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Britain and Israel Building New Strategic Partnership
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 | What happened: British trade with Israel is booming and bilateral relations are expanding in defense, science, tech, business and cybersecurity in what amounts to a new strategic partnership between the two countries, according to BICOM’s new report Britain and Israel: The new strategic partnership published today. The report is a major study of bilateral relations with chapters on trade, foreign affairs and defense, education and science, UK public attitudes to Israel and culture.
Context: Bilateral trade was worth [US] $10.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 72% since 2012 and British exports to Israel increased by 132% in the same period.
Looking ahead: Bilateral relations will get an extra boost this week when HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, embarks on his first ever official visit to Israel. Prince Charles will be in Israel from January 22–24, where he will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz–Birkenau. He will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and also travel to the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
Photo Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Pray that bilateral relations between Israel and the UK will continue to strengthen. Thank the Lord for Prince Charles’s visit to Israel and his participation in the Holocaust Forum. Beseech the Lord that this will bring an end to the vile anti-Semitism that continues to grow throughout the UK.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip.
IDF Places “Tunnel-buster” Sensors along Northern Border
by Yoav Zitun
Monday, 20 January 2020 | The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] began Sunday to place special underground sensors along the Lebanese border to detect any tunnels dug by Hezbollah or other terror groups in an attempt to infiltrate into Israel.
The deployment comes almost a year after Operation Northern Shield, during which the IDF detected and neutralized six tunnels [that were] dug by Hezbollah with the intent of sending terrorists through them.
IDF engineers and drills have begun digging along the Israeli side of the northern border near Kibbutz [collective community] Misgav Am.
Army officials said there is no information regarding fresh Hezbollah attempts to dig new tunnels and that the deployment is merely a preventative measure.
The area around Misgav Am will be the first place the new technology will be implemented due to its proximity to the Lebanese border. Other spots will also be considered, subject to security and budget assessments.
The sensor system, which uses seismic and acoustic devices, will alert to any tunnels that are dug close to the border, but in a limited capacity.
“We want to prevent any ‘calculative mistakes’ since the construction work can be seen on both sides of the border,” said IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman.
“This is insurance for the future. We have no intelligence that Hezbollah is renewing their efforts. The construction work will last for the next few months.”
IDF officials stated that no units will be redeployed to the construction sites where the sensors are being placed so as to ensure full defense along the northern border and to avoid disruptions to the IDF operation tasked with strengthening defenses in the area.
In May 2019, the IDF destroyed Hezbollah’s “flagship” cross-border tunnel using 600 trucks and thousands of cubic gallons of concrete.
The tunnel, more than 80 meters [262 feet] deep, was dug from the Lebanese Shiite village of Ramyeh towards the Western Galilee, near the communities of Shtula and Zar’it.
As well the primary tunnel, five other smaller digs were uncovered during Northern Shield—two in the Ramyeh area and three more near the northern border town of Metula, not far from the Lebanese village of Kfarkela.
The IDF says that there are no tunnels remaining.
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Pray for the success of this initiative. Ask the Lord to reveal any tunnels that might remain and for their swift destruction. Also ask Him to sharpen the senses of those who guard the northern border so that any further attempts to create tunnels for the purpose of infiltrating northern Israel will be discovered and destroyed before they provide a threat to security.
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
Heavy Rain, Flood Warnings Continue across Israel
by Ahiya Raved, Raanan Ben Tsur and Itay Blumenthal
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 | The stormy weather continued across Israel on Monday, with warnings of local flooding in coastal cities and the lowlands, as well as snowfall on Mount Hermon.
According to Israel Meteorological Service data, the cities with the most rainfall [on Monday] were Bat Yam with 45 mm [1.75 inches] and Netanya with 44 mm [1.73 inches], while overall the center of the country received the most precipitation.
The Sea of Galilee has risen by 5 cm [1.96 inches] since Sunday, reaching a height of 210,665 meters [691,000 feet] below sea level as of Monday morning. The Water Authority said the Sea of Galilee is now just 1.865 meters [6 feet] below its maximum capacity.
The authorities say that the Jordan River drainage basin has received some 40 mm [1.57 inches] of rainfall, causing a moderate rise in its water level.
The heavy rains caused flooding in various locations on Sunday.
The Nature and Parks Authority announced that the extended hiking route at the Nahal Ayun reservation is closed to visitors due to flooding, along with the Ein Gedi reserve and the extended routes at Nahal David and Nahal Arugot.
Due to fears of flooding, the hiking routes along Nahal Darga, Nahal Og and Nahal Prat and all the climbing and abseiling spots in the Judean Desert will remain closed to travelers until tomorrow at the earliest.
The rain continued throughout Monday, especially in the north and center of the country, [bringing] more fears of flooding in the Judean and Jordan rivers and in coastal cities and lowlands.
Today rain will fall sporadically across the entire country, with accompanying thunderstorms and fears of flooding.
Photo Credit: Austin Wetmore/bridgesforpeace.com
Thank God for the incredible blessing of rain in abundance! At the same time, continue to pray that the rain will come gently, without flooding or endangering property or lives. Pray for God’s blessing on those who have already been affected by flooding and strong winds and for the families and friends of those who have lost their lives because of extreme weather conditions.
For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.
Report: 14,800 Holocaust Survivors Passed away in 2019
by Amir Alon
Monday, 20 January 2020 | The Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority at the Ministry of Finance published a report Wednesday on the condition of Holocaust survivors and victims of anti-Semitic persecution during World War II living in Israel, which showed some 14,800 of them passed away in 2019.
According to the report, compiled ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, there are some 192,000 people living in Israel who have been recognized as Holocaust survivors or victims of anti-Semitic persecution, including Moroccan and Algerian Jews who lived under the French Vichy regime and survivors of the Farhud pogroms [riots directed against a particular group, whether ethnic, religious or other] in Iraq.
About 74,000 (39%) survivors are over the age of 85 and 839 are over the age of 100.
About two-thirds of Holocaust survivors receive a monthly stipend of a few hundred shekels from the state.
The Authority said that over the past year, more than NIS 5 billion [US $1.5 million] was transferred to survivors in direct payments or in the form of benefits.
About 59,000 survivors, who lived through the ghettos and concentration camps or lived under a false identity or in hiding, receive between NIS 2,420 [US $1800] and NIS 6,078 [US $700] in monthly payments.
Some 17,630 low-income survivors receive increased payments that could reach up to NIS 11,118 [US $3,200] a month and a further 133,000 survivors are eligible for an extra yearly stipend, whose overall cost is up to around NIS 604 million [US $174 million]. Additionally, some 18,000 widows of Holocaust survivors also receive allowances.
Besides direct payments, survivors are also fully exempt from paying for medicine (estimated at a total cost of NIS 415 million [US $120 million]), nursing services (NIS 439 million [US $127 million]), medical treatment and medical equipment (NIS 132 million [US 38 million]).
Editor’s Note: You can help us bring joy into the lives of people who have suffered so much. Partner with us to deliver food and supplies to Holocaust survivors to ensure their basic needs are met. More than providing food, we bring joy and companionship to these precious people, even including special birthday baskets as an extra treat for their special day.
Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com
Pray for the families of those Holocaust survivors who died this past year. Pray as well for those who remain, many of whom are living below the poverty level. Pray that Bridges for Peace will have the resources to provide badly-needed assistance for them, and beseech the Lord that Christians will rise up and tell their stories as their voices become silent.
LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.
IDF: Number of Soldiers Who Fell in 2019 “Lowest in History”
by Yoav Ziton
Thursday, 23 January 2020 | Israeli military said the number of fallen soldiers in the year of 2019 was the lowest since the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] was formed back in 1948, according to an annual report published yesterday.
The IDF’s Manpower Directorate said in the report that 27 soldiers died or had been killed in the past year and 35 troops were critically wounded, which also represents a dramatic decrease when compared to years prior.
According to the report, at least 2 soldiers fell during battle: 19-year-old Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, who was killed last March in a terror attack at Ariel Junction when a Palestinian attacker stabbed him and seized his weapon, and First Sergeant Zachary Baumel, who disappeared in battle during the First Lebanon War and whose remains were returned to Israel last April, after 37 years.
Eighteen-year-old soldier Dvir Sorek was declared by the IDF as having been killed during “hostile terrorist activity.” Sorek’s body was found with multiple stab wounds last August near the seminary where he studied as part of a program that combines Torah [Gen.–Deut.] studies with military service. The army said that the soldier was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found.
The report says at least two soldiers died during military training: Evyatar Yosefi, who drowned during a solo training exercise, and Ron Oved who died when a parked bus rolled over a group of soldiers during tryouts for Paratroopers Brigade.
Additionally, the report claims that 12 of the fallen soldiers took their own life, as opposed to only 9 in 2018, representing a slight increase.
Another five soldiers died in various car accidents, and two others died due to various medical conditions and illnesses.
“The number of fallen soldiers keeps decreasing,” said Brigadier General Michael Yanko, head of the IDF Manpower Directorate. “Between the IDF and its soldiers there’s a unique relationship based on commitment, every fallen soldier is [a] person with a family. Even though we had a positive year, we’re committed to learning additional lessons in order to decrease the numbers even more. Every fatality is one too many.”
According to Yanko, the drop in the number of soldiers killed in traffic accidents is due to the army’s increased efforts to educate the troops.
Yanko added the military is working to decrease the number of suicides among the troops. “We’re continually working to decrease the availability of weapons to soldiers on leave,” said Yanko. “We’re also working to increase the number of military psychiatrics available to our soldiers.”
Photo Credit: Oren Rozen/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Praise God that the prayers of so many are being answered and the Lord is surrounding the young soldiers of the IDF with his protection. Pray that the efforts of IDF leadership to lower the number of deaths even further will be successful. Also ask the Lord to protect Israel from war in 2020, that not one member of the IDF might lose their lives in battle.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
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