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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.

This Is a Day of Hope

by Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO, Bridges for Peace

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Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO of Bridges for Peace

Editor’s note: This week BFP International President and CEO, Rebecca Brimmer, spoke at a “Night to Honor Our Christian Allies” held in Jerusalem and sponsored by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress. The goal of this annual event is to provide an opportunity for Israeli leaders and Jewish community leaders from around the world to say thank you to Israel’s Christian supporters. We are sharing the text of her speech to bless and encourage those in the nations who faithfully stand in prayer with the people of Israel during these tumultuous times. Without you, our global partners, we would  not be able to fulfill our mandate from God to build strong and supportive relationships with the Jewish community. Please consider joining us by sending a donation today.

Friday, 27 January 2017 | The past month has been momentous. I arrived in the United States to visit family on Dec 23. Immediately I heard the distressing news of the UN resolution 2334 against Israel. I was deeply disappointed that the leader of my birth nation did not veto this lopsided resolution against Israel.

Next came the Paris Peace Conference—70 nations gathering to discuss Israel and the Palestinians. Of course the number 70 captured my attention, as well as many in the Jewish world. We know that 70 symbolizes the whole world—it seemed like all the nations of the world were coming against little Israel. Many Jewish people were asking if this gathering was leading to Gog and Magog. They recalled the words of Zechariah who spoke of all nations coming against Israel. There were fears about what the final outcome would be.

Then we learned that there would be a UN open discussion on the Middle East on January 17. Many posited that there might be an attempt to recognize a Palestinian State.

It was clear that Obama and many leaders were trying to make facts on the ground that would hinder the ability of President-elect Trump to fulfill his promises to Israel. We will live with the repercussions of Resolution 2334 into the future.

I had the opportunity to speak with many Christians about these threats. I know that Christians all over the world were praying. They flooded social media with information about these events encouraging other Christians to stand with Israel in prayer and action. AND. WE. DID. We prayed with great fervor. Christians went to Washington DC and talked with their senators and representatives urging them to come to Israel’s aid.

We were so pleased that the Paris peace Conference ended with a fizzle instead of a bang. Prime Minister Theresa May in the United Kingdom, a Christian who loves Israel refused to sign the final statement! God used her to play a pivotal role, reportedly blocking an EU Foreign Affairs Council decision adopting the closing statement of the Paris peace conference.

Let me remind you of a story that you all know well. It is written in the book of Esther, and we read it every Purim. A wicked leader, Haman, conspired against the Jewish people. He caused a resolution to be enacted calling for the death of all Jews. When Queen Esther brought it to the attention of the King, he was unable to change a law that had already been signed. President Trump may be in a similar situation—as much as he (and the Senate and Congress) hate the fact that the US under the leadership of Obama allowed the bill to pass, they may not be able to change it.

My mother has a saying for when things seem impossible. She says, “But, God.” By this she means that even if it is impossible for us, God is able. Back to our story in Esther. The King could not change the law, but he was smart and he enacted a second law (a work around law) which said the Jewish people could defend themselves. The Jewish people were saved.

One way that I am praying is that God will give President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu strategic (out of the box, work around) ideas that can safeguard Israel in the days to come.

Yes, the nations came against Israel in Paris, but there are people who have not come against the God of Israel and the nation of Israel.

Today we think of nations as political entities, but in the Bible it often was more about people groups. In the Bible in Exodus 19:5-6 we read this, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My Voice and keep My Covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine: and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” (NASB).

It seems to me that this passage is talking about a holy people—the Jewish people. The nations may all turn against Israel, but there is a nation (a people) that God calls holy. As a Christian this is very interesting to me. Thousands of years later a Jewish man called Peter also known as the Apostle Peter, living here in Israel during the Second Temple period, said something similar to the followers of Jesus calling them a holy nation as well!

Together, Jews and Christians are the people of the Book, and we need to act like holy nations. We can choose to stand with the God of Israel. As Christians we can experience the blessings of God if we will stand with Israel. I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of those called by God to be a holy nation.

Today, we have rays of hope, in the midst of the nations coming against Israel, at least three English speaking countries are turning toward standing with Israel – the US under the leadership of Donald Trump, Australia under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, and the UK under Theresa May. They are not alone, many leaders are standing with Israel. This is a day of hope. But it is not a time when we should stop praying and standing strong with the God of Israel and the people of Israel.

This year will be a special year — a year of anniversaries – 100 years since [British General] Allenby rode into Jerusalem, 100 years since the Light Horse Brigade triumphed in Beer Sheva, 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the Nov 29 UN vote for partition which opened the way for a Jewish homeland, and 50 years since the re-unification of Jerusalem.

We must celebrate the goodness of God, and the faithfulness of men and women who He used to bring us to this place in history. God used many righteous Gentiles to help bring about the sovereign state of Israel. I am sure it was not easy. I am sure it was not popular. But they stood firm for their beliefs and their actions were used to bring about God’s plans for Israel.

Today, we also have challenges, when most of the world comes against Israel. Just like those righteous Gentiles of 100 years ago, we can stand for the God of Israel! It may not be easy, or popular, but I know that millions of Christians will stand with Israel because we love the God of Israel. Everywhere I travel Christians tell me that they are praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Let us all join them in praying for two things: the shalom (peace) of Jerusalem and the shilem (wholeness) of Jerusalem. We believe that undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai (the people of Israel live!)

Photo Credit: Rebecca J. Brimmer/FaceBook

Prayer Focus
Pray for peace in Jerusalem as there is a major shift in the spiritual atmosphere. Ask God to raise more intercessors who will pray for Israel and for Christians to have faith and courage as they stand with God and Israel in difficult times.

Scripture

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.


- Isaiah 62:6-7

Netanyahu: “We are Building, and We Will Continue to Build”

by Ilse Posselt

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Neighborhood in Ariel, a city in Judea and Samaria

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 | “We are building, and we will continue to build.” That was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message after the Israeli government gave the green light for the construction of approximately 2,500 homes in Judea and Samaria.

The new residential units are set to go up in Jewish communities and neighborhoods located in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, Israel’s ancestral homeland and the stage against which the majority of the Old Testament plays out.

Last month, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a controversial resolution that condemns all Jewish communities in this region as “a flagrant violation under international law.” Netanyahu responded to the resolution at the time, rejecting it as “shameful” and stating that Israel would not abide by its terms.

The announcement comes two days after a telephonic conversation between Netanyahu and newly sworn-in American President Donald Trump during which the two world leaders discussed future plans for the region. Netanyahu’s office refrained, however, from confirming whether the Judea and Samaria construction approval formed part of the discussion.

Trump is widely considered to be a staunch friend of the Jewish state and has indicated, in the past, that he would be more open-minded regarding Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria than his predecessors. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman denied, however, that the decision to give the new residential units the go-ahead was in any way connected to Trump taking office. “There is nothing new about it,” he said. “We have always constructed, including under the Obama administration.”

Lieberman added that future construction projects would also benefit the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria and that plans were underway to obtain permission to build a Palestinian industrial park close to Hebron. “It will be one of the largest industrial zones in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria],” he explained. “We are planning to set up warehouse and fuel storage infrastructure, along with other elements.”

The Palestinians were, however, quick to condemn yesterday’s announcement. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, called the decision “a provocation and contempt for the international community.”

“We oppose and condemn this move and it will have consequences,” Abu Rudeineh threatened. “This is a provocation and insult to the Arab world…”

Despite a plethora of archeological and historic evidence linking the Jews to Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians claim parts of this region for their prospective state, with east Jerusalem as capital.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 25 January 2017)

Photo Credit: Ori/ Wikipedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Urge the Lord to go before Israel as they are continuing construction of homes and industry in the biblical heartland. Ask the Lord to make their path straight, protect the workers and all those involved and give peace to the hearts of their families as well as those in the opposition.

Scripture

And I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.


- Exodus 3:17

Days after the Inauguration, Trump and Netanyahu have “Very Good” Conversation

by Ilse Posselt

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Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump meet in Washington, September 2016 (illustrative)

Monday, 23 January 2017 | President Donald Trump was sworn in as the United States’ 45th Commander in Chief on Friday, a historic event that many believe signals an era of strengthened ties between the US and Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not go to the ceremony, as leaders of foreign countries typically do not attend US presidential inaugurations.

Yet despite Netanyahu’s absence, the two world leaders appear to be on exceptionally friendly terms and have even spoken at length over the weekend.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu and Trump held their first conversation as world leaders yesterday afternoon. Trump subsequently called the telephonic discussion, which lasted nearly half an hour, “very good.” For his part, Netanyahu’s office described the call as “warm” and said that the prime minister “expressed his desire to work closely with President Trump to forge a common vision to advance peace and security in the region with no daylight between the United States and Israel.”

The statement from the Prime Minister’s office also revealed that Trump invited Netanyahu for a personal meeting in Washington as soon as next month. The date of the meeting will be finalized in the coming dates, the statement added.

During the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers that there are a number of topics he would like to discuss with America’s new president. The Iran nuclear deal and the threat that the Islamic Republic poses to the region is apparently at the top of the list.

“I want to make clear that, as opposed to some reports that I read, stopping the Iranian threat—first and foremost, stopping the threat forgotten by the signing of the bad agreement with Iran—continues to be the supreme objective of the State of Israel,” he assured.

Another topic that is bound to feature in the discussion between the world leaders is the possibility of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. During his election campaign Trump vowed that he would move the US embassy in Israel from its current location in Tel Aviv to the City of Gold, should he be chosen as the next American president. Since his election two months ago, speculations have been rife that Trump might make good on the promise with a top aide even revealing that the move is a “top priority.”

Moreover, shortly before Sunday night’s telephonic discussion between Trump and Netanyahu, White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters in Washington that the administration had started on talks regarding whether to move the embassy. “We are in the very beginning stages of even discussing the subject,” he said in a statement.

Despite the absence of a time frame or a commitment, Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, sees the announcement as a push in the right direction. “I congratulate President Trump on the White House’s historic announcement that discussions have begun on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said in a statement. “Trump is showing that he is a true friend of the State of Israel who fulfills his promises. The announcement this evening sends a clear message to the entire world that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the united capital of the State of Israel.”

In another positive sign for Israel, Trump’s nominee for American Ambassador to the Jewish state, David Friedman, indicated that he intends to “work and live in Jerusalem” regardless of whether the embassy moves. This marks a break in convention, as former American ambassadors traditionally reside in the Ambassador’s Residence in Herzliya. Friedman owns a spacious apartment in Jerusalem.

According to Time, Trump has until June 1, 2017 to decide whether the US will find a new home in Jerusalem or whether he will continue to waive the Jerusalem Embassy Act, “which required the movement of the embassy unless the President objects on national-security grounds.” Trump’s three predecessors chose the latter route.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 23 January 2017)

Photo Credit: Ashernet/iGPO

Prayer Focus
Glorify the Lord for establishing strong ties between Israel and the Trump administration. Pray for a trustworthy, God-fearing relationship with many fruitful meetings between PM Netanyahu and President Trump. Declare that together they will be an unstoppable force against terrorism worldwide.

Scripture

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.


- Psalm 1:1-2

IDF Changing Tactics for Possible Third Lebanon War

by Yoav Zitun

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Engineers practice destruction of Hezbollah tunnels

Tuesday, 24 January 2017 | Two major changes are shaping the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] preparations for a possible third Lebanon war: First, the army is training designated forces for ground maneuvers to fight entire companies or platoons of Hezbollah fighters that infiltrate Israeli territory. Second, it is training brigades to effectively and proficiently destroy Hezbollah’s tunnel strategy.

The first approach entirely changes the outlook of battalion commanders, brigade commanders and thousands of combat soldiers for the next war. The traditional doctrine of rapid mobilization and entry into enemy territory in order to force surrender or defeat has been adopted by Hezbollah’s battle plan.

The IDF believes that Hezbollah’s Radwan Forces will attempt to infiltrate Israel in the early stages of a future war and attempt to paint a portrait of victory by planting the Hezbollah flag over an Israeli community or an IDF outpost along the border.

In recent weeks, the IDF has conducted several brigade exercises in order to reinforce changes in military doctrine for a fight against Hezbollah. For example, Nahal Brigade infantry forces were integrated into an exercise with the 401st Armored Brigade wherein a defensive war simulation in the north was conducted.

According to commanders, the scenario simulated included a force of Hezbollah fighters attempting to invade Israeli territory and the combined IDF force was to reinforce border communities, conduct ambushes at strategic points, conduct tactical deception, contain and secure the area and eliminate the enemy force.

“The enemy’s offensive capabilities have improved,” said a senior IDF officer with the 162nd Division. “Brigade commanders were defensively spread out with soldiers before they even reached the simulation area. Such a move gives flexibility to the division which is responsible for the defense of the area and allows us to correct defensive vulnerabilities. Today, battalions realize they will immediately be playing defense regardless of fire or approval to maneuver.”

IDF assessments today are that while Hezbollah hasn’t dug tunnels crossing the border into Israel like Hamas, they’ve definitely built infrastructure and fighting tunnels in and around Shiite villages in southern Lebanon.

The coordination of infantry forces with armor and engineering units is based on the principle of “location, insulation, destruction.”

“Today, every brigade force includes at least one engineering platoon with heavy equipment such as the D9,” explained the officer. “The best way to deal with a tunnel is to neutralize it without entering it. In the north, we see anti-tank missiles as a bigger threat than tunnels.”

In regards to the amount of changes to brigades in the next war and the new defensive tactics, the officer said, “an operative plan is in the works. We are practicing logic and competencies and short battles. You plan 12-24 hours in advance and not days in advance. I explain to commanders that the war begins defensively and we should practice routine defense before moving attack which is good because it is an intermediate step before people can throw a grenade or fire a shell without permission.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Prayer Focus
Bring the IDF soldiers who are serving on the Lebanon border before the Lord, asking that He give them wisdom, strong hearts, strength and peace of mind. Pray that they will be encouraged by God’s promises of protection as they prepare for a possible war. Also pray for their families and time spent together.

Scripture

Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.


- Psalm 60:11-12

IDF Preparing for Trump’s Embassy Decision

by Alex Fishman

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Current US Embassy building located in Tel Aviv

Thursday, 26 January 2017 | When IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot instructed IDF [Israel Defense Forces] commanders last week not to utter the name Donald Trump in public, it wasn’t just another theoretical reminder of the relationship between a military echelon and a political echelon. It turns out that in recent weeks, the army and the defense establishment have been busy analyzing the meanings and implications of the change of president in the United States.

While they began by preparing papers on questions like where is the Middle East headed in the Trump era and what should Israel do, in the past two weeks the army has been dealing with the implications and required preparations for the possibility that the new administration will implement Trump’s commitment to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

As no one knows what Trump will really do, the defense establishment has created a series of possible scenarios—starting with a situation in which the Americans announced the construction of an embassy building and immediately placed bulldozers on the ground, to a continuation of the current bluff in which declarations are made but nothing is done.

In between, the other alternatives deal with the possibility of a gradual, long-term implementation which will include festive cornerstone laying ceremonies followed by years of engagement in construction and logistics. Each alternative will have a different effect on the magnitude of the response in the Muslim world, and the army is also preparing for different levels of violent outbursts.

The assessment is that any American move—whether declarative or practical—will echo on four different circles. The first circle is Israel’s Arabs. The Islamic Movement’s northern branch which is looking for any chance to inflame the street over the Temple Mount issue will jump at the opportunity. Today, the southern Islamic Movement can be added to this circle as well, taking advantage of the wave of Bedouin riots in the Negev. In general, the fundamentalist Muslims oppose any sign of Jewish or Christian rule in Jerusalem. As far as they are concerned, a Christian American embassy in Jerusalem is a reason for inviting the radical Islamic world to fight the return of the Crusaders. Hamas, which sees itself as a patron on Jerusalem affairs, will join the incitement celebrations as well.

The second circle is the Palestinian Authority [PA] which is in a state of complete panic in light of the change of administration in the US. Its leaders realize that they will have to lead a protest move on the street but such a move could cause them to lose control and collapse.

The third circle is the street in the region’s Sunni countries. Moving the embassy could be the last nail in the coffin of regimes that are already shaky as it is. King Abdullah discovered recently that 10% of Jordan’s population support the radical Islamic movements.

Jordan needs Israel, and it needs the US even more, in order to secure its regime. But as the country in charge of the arrangements on the Temple Mount, it will have to lead the battle against the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy could stimulate the street in Egypt as well where the president’s standing—against the backdrop of the economic situation—is not that great.

The fourth circle has to do with the incitement of Islamic communities around the world which could have implications on international Israeli assets and interests.

Not a single move has been made yet, but the ground is already sizzling, at least on the declaration and incitement level. So before any practical American move is made, the four circles of unrest have to be dealt with in order to soften the blow. Without preliminary American diplomatic and political activity, the implications may fall primarily on the IDF’s shoulders.

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published in Ynetnews on 24 January 2017 . Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Krokodyl/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for Israel’s security and defense forces as they strategically prepare for the potentially serious situations that may result depending on the decision to move the US embassy. Cry out to God that they will beseech Him for brilliant, unfailing strategies and the wisdom to bring it all together.

Scripture

And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!


- 2 Chronicles 14:11

Israel Introduces New System to Identify Anti-Semitism on the Web

by Itamar Eichner

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Tuesday, 24 January 2017 | The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs presented the cabinet on Sunday with a new system for monitoring anti-Semitism on the internet along with its annual report on anti-Semitism worldwide.

According to a new report released by the ministry, 2016 saw a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, due in part to the refugee crisis and the improvement in the quality of reporting.

Federal police figures show that between January and September 2016, 461 anti-Semitic incidents were reported. That represents an increase of 200% compared to 2015 with the majority of incidents related to the strengthening of far-right extremist movements.

In addition, the report shows that anti-Semitic discourse in Britain has reached worrying levels and entered politics. Fifty members of the Labor Party have been suspended in the last few years for anti-Semitic and racist comments. This includes rank-and-file members and senior officials, such as the former Mayor of London and MP Ken Livingstone who said “Hitler supported Zionism.”

The report pointed to the rewriting of history in Eastern Europe where local authorities are not acting to curb anti-Semitism in their countries. Poland’s Minister of Education Anna Zalewska said in an interview last July that historically documented Polish massacres of Jews during the Holocaust were “biased opinions.”

However, a positive trend was noted in France which posted a 65% decrease in anti-Semitic incidents and a strengthening of the sense of security in Jewish communities. This is largely due to concerted efforts by the French government to “combat racism and anti-Semitism.” However, the report also notes that recent trends of radicalization among both the left and right wing have produced hostile feelings toward Jewish communities.

A large portion of the report dealt with anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian Authority [PA]. According to the report, the PA is systematically using religious anti-Semitic narratives to foster hatred of Jews and Israelis among Palestinians.

One of the statements highlighted by the report was from a speech PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave at the EU Parliament in June in which he said “Israeli rabbis demanded that the government poison Palestinian water supplies to kill Palestinians and force them to emigrate.”

The report also touched on anti-Semitism on college campuses in the United States where there is a hostile attitude toward Israel and Jews. Activities of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) resulted in a 45% increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campuses in the last year. Students and Jewish faculty members were exposed to anti-Semitic harassment, abuse, discrimination, graffiti, swastikas and verbal as well as physical attacks.

The new system

The new system for identifying anti-Semitism on the internet in real time was developed by a company managed and staffed with former members of military technology units and veterans of the IDF Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200. The system displays anti-Semitic discourse on social media networks on an interactive map.

The system is capable of detailing how many anti-Semitic posts and messages are currently being circulated and what countries and areas contain the highest volume of anti-Semitic traffic. So far, the system conducted a successful pilot demonstration and identified over 500 thousand anti-Semitic posts which reached more than 40 million people.

The system is based on artificial intelligence that is capable of analyzing texts and provides significant information on the posts and users who upload them, all according to the definition of anti-Semitism determined by the government.

Anti-Semitism and incitement on the internet has increased exponentially and reaches tens of millions of people all over the world. With the help of this technology, companies will be able to operate responsibly and identify and remove racist content in real time.

The system will also serve as a diplomatic tool for government officials and Israeli envoys all over the world who can use the data to shed light on the situation and extent of anti-Semitism in different countries.

Additionally, research institutes and government ministries will be able to characterize and classify anti-Semitism throughout the world in order to design policy and help combat the phenomenon.

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett said, “I see the uncompromising struggle against anti-Semitism as a goal of paramount importance. The State of Israel has a new tool and one of a kind technology that will bring visibility to the data and the treatment of anti-Semitic incitement. We must expose and turn the spotlight on sources of inciting anti-Semitism. This is an integral part of the mutual responsibility between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 22 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain/ Pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for this exceptional new technology from Israel that can quickly identify anti-Semitism on social media and will help companies combat racism, allowing them to remove content against the Jewish people. Pray for wisdom in our speech and actions.

Scripture

The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.


- Proverbs 15:2

Action
Let’s make sure that we glorify our Lord with our speech, promoting unity and building others up. May we honor the God of Israel by making sure we confront and correct anti-Semitic speech whenever we hear it.

Improving Sinai Border Fence

by Edgar Asher

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The border fence that separates Israel from Egypt

Friday, 27 January 2017 | The Department of Engineering and Construction of the Ministry of Defense has now completed a project to raise in places the height of the border fence that separates Israel from Egypt.

The 242 kilometer [150 mi] fence, which stretches from the Red Sea Port of Eilat to the Gaza Strip was completed in 2014. However it was considered that the fence, which is equipped with many electronic warning systems, was still not high enough to prevent illegal immigrants and smugglers being able to infiltrate into Israel, almost at will. Thus a particularly vulnerable seventeen-kilometer [10.5 mi] segment of the fence was raised from five to eight meters [16–26 ft]. At the same time more state-of-the-art electronic devices have been installed. This new device, plus the increasing of the border fence height, has dramatically reduced the number of infiltrations along this long border. In 2016 only eleven attempts to cross the border were deemed to be successful. A year earlier the figure was in excess of two hundred individuals.

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ashernet on 23 January 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Proclaim God as the Protector of Israel! Thank Him for protecting the nation, those fighting for it and guiding all His people every minute. Pray for the Sinai border to become a place of rest, free from illegal entries into Israel.

Scripture

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  


- Psalm 127:1

Israeli PM to Iranian People—”We Are Your Friend, Not Your Enemy”

by Joshua Spurlock

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Israeli Ronny Edry, creator of The Peace Factory, grassroots initiative to communicate with Iranians (illustrative)

Monday, 23 January 2017 | Israel and Iran have been archenemies on a national level for decades, but once upon a time the countries were actually secret allies. Despite the Iranian leadership’s professed hatred of Israel in more recent times, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point to tell the Iranian people that he believes good times of old can be had again.

“By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy,” said Netanyahu in comments published to his office’s website and Facebook page. “We’ve always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime… I yearn for the day when Israelis and Iranians can once again visit each other freely in [Iran’s capital of] Tehran and Esfahan, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu—whose comments were also available via video that included Farsi subtitles—said he hoped that “this message reaches every Iranian—young and old, religious and secular, man and woman.”

Netanyahu repeatedly contrasted the Iranian regime with its people, noting that “you have a proud history. You have a rich culture. Tragically, you are shackled by a theocratic tyranny… The regime is cruel—the people are not; the regime is aggressive—the people are warm.”

He also expressed the desire that the Iranian people someday will live in freedom, noting that the current regime instills fear, censors the internet, restricts electoral freedoms by preventing “thousands of candidates from competing in elections,” and robs funds that could go to the poor to finance the “mass murderer” Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Iran, a long-time ally of Assad, has provided money, training and personnel to help the dictator fight off a revolution sparked by a grassroots civilian effort.

In his comments, Netanyahu recalled the brief Iranian people’s reform effort in 2009, including the bloody means used by the regime to crush the early-stage revolution. He also looked ahead to the future.

“In a free Iran you will once again be able to flourish without limit,” said Netanyahu. “But today, a cruel regime is trying to keep you down… The fanatics must not win. Their cruelty must not conquer our compassion.

“Our two peoples can work together for a more peaceful and hopeful future for both of us. We must defeat terror and tyranny and we must ensure that freedom and friendship win the day.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 22 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/TED talk

Prayer Focus
Request the Lord to bless this hand of friendship and peace being extended from Israel to Iran. Pray that assurance, trust and courage will rise in the people of Iran, enabling them to defeat terror and once again restore ties with Israel.

Scripture

To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.


- Job 6:14

Action
Be reminded of the greatness of God in your daily life as you pray for miracles.

Hebrew Language Day

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Eleazar BenYehuda at his desk in Jerusalem, circa 1912

Friday, 27 January 2017 | Israel marks Hebrew Language Day every year on the birthday of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of modern spoken Hebrew. This year, the Hebrew date fell on January 19. The revival of the Hebrew language is an extraordinary story, unparalleled in history. A language with roots dating back more than 3,000 years, it was brought back to life after centuries during which it effectively lay dormant, and it’s now flourishing in the 21st century. A hundred and fifty years ago, Hebrew was not a spoken language. Today, more than 9 million people speak Hebrew and, for the majority of them, it’s their native tongue.

Throughout the millennia of the Jewish dispersion following the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70, Hebrew remained alive in liturgy and religious ceremonies across the Diaspora. Each generation was encouraged to be literate in Hebrew so as to be familiar with Judaism’s foundational texts and life-cycle traditions and rituals. But, during these years, the language ceased to be a living, breathing part of ordinary, secular personal or national life.

Eliezer Ben Yehuda was the driving force behind the revival of the ancient language and its transformation into its modern form. This visionary linguist, who was born in Lithuania in 1858, came to Israel in 1881 with a dream to transform Hebrew into a modern language and to make it the language spoken in every home in Israel. He settled in Jerusalem and dedicated his life to the realization of his dream.

Ben-Yehuda fashioned out of the ancient Hebrew structures over 300 new Hebrew words. Since then, more than 15,000 new words have been added, and we’re still counting. The Hebrew language is a rich, compelling expression of Israeli vitality and, at the same time, of the profound link between the Bible and the latter-day rejuvenation of the Jewish people in their ancient homeland.

 

Source: (Excerpt of article published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 19 January 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Rejoice in the Lord as the vision of one man, E. Ben-Yehuda, brought the Hebrew language back to life. Ask God to bless all who study Hebrew with easy learning and encourage Christians to discover the advantages of studying the Scriptures in the original language.

Scripture

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.


- Psalm 19:14

Action
In Judaism, before a Torah study, a prayer is said to ask God for a sweet tooth for His Word. As you study the Bible, may you find and explore the treasure chest of the richness of the Hebrew language.

“We Remember:” Israel Marks International Holocaust Memorial Day

by Ilse Posselt

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Photos of people around the world holding up the words “We Remember” projected on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Friday, 27 January 2017 | Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day that transcends borders and religions as the world remembers the terrible genocide during which an estimated 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered.

On 27 January 1945, Russian forces reached the ‪Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and opened the gates to the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has since become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of evil, cruelty and deprivation. Today, 72 years later, the date continues to echo as a clarion call to remember that which was lost.

This year, the theme of International Holocaust Memorial Day is “How can life go on?”

“The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations,” explains the official Holocaust Memorial Day website. “What happens after genocide?” it asks, and what are “our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. There are few known answers.”

The theme chosen for 2017 echoes the words of author and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, “For the survivor death is not the problem. Death was an everyday occurrence. We learned to live with death. The problem is to adjust to life, to living. You must teach us about living.”

Nearly 60 years after the terrible days of World War II and its unspeakable repercussions for European Jewry, a number of those who lived through the nightmare drafted a Survivor’s Declaration. 

“The Age of Holocaust Survivors is drawing to a close,” it reads. “Before long no one will be left to say I was there, I saw, I remember what happened. All that will be left will be books of literature and research, pictures and films, and multitudinous testimony. The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people.”

To assist in creating eternal remembrance in the run up to this year’s memorial, the World Jewish Congress launched the “We Remember” campaign. The initiative had hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths, backgrounds and nationalities sharing images of themselves holding up the words “We Remember” on social media. With some 200,000 contributors from as far as Pakistan and Peru to South Africa and Sweden, the project reached nearly 100 million people around the world.

Participants included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as well as high-level European and American law-makers.

Last night, as sunset ushered in the start of International Holocaust Memorial Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “the hatred and intolerance that drove [the Holocaust]” continues to plague the world today. Speaking at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that although anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, the largest threat comes from the Middle East. “The greatest danger that we face, of hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state… comes from Iran,” he proclaimed. “It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning [the] flames [of anti-Semitism] and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

The Prime Minister confirmed that he would do whatever necessary to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. “As prime minister of Israel, I will not be silent,” Netanyahu said. “We will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans.”

Netanyahu also had a word of warning for those who wish the Jewish people harm. “The regime that spawned the Holocaust ended up in the dustbin of history.” That should be “a lesson for Iran [and] every enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently roughly 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. The bureau estimates that by 2020, the population will diminish by 23%.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 27 January 2017)

Photo Credit: World Jewish Congress/Facebook

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving to the Lord for saving many Jews in miraculous ways from the Holocaust. Bring the remnant of the Holocaust survivors, now rich in years, before the Lord for joyous times with their friends and family, comfort when they are lonely and provision when they are needy. Thank Him for blessing those who risked their lives to save Jews and for those who are taking the time to remember today.

Scripture

For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.


- Psalm 102:16–17

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