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What Will We Do Now?

Friday, July 15, 2022

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Biden’s First Day in Israel

by Kate Norman

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President Joe Biden visits the Israeli Department of Defense upon his arrival to Israel.

Thursday, 14 July 2022 | US President Joe Biden touched down in Israel yesterday afternoon to a red-carpet welcome from the Jewish state’s top brass.

Biden, in his first visit to Israel and the Middle East in his role as president, stepped down from Air Force One to a welcome by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog. Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several other officials were also present.

The president’s entourage included US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Biden was warmly welcomed by Herzog, who told the newly arrived president that “the people of Israel welcome you to the Holy Land with open arms and joyous hearts, as Joseph son of Jacob who sought out his brothers.”

Herzog continued by calling Biden a “true friend” and “staunch supporter” of Israel and the Jewish people, and his speech highlighted the friendship and cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington.

Lapid echoed the sentiment in his own welcome speech, calling Biden a “great Zionist.”

Both Herzog and Lapid mentioned that Iran would top the list of topics for discussion during Biden’s historic visit as well as increased cooperation between Israel and the US, particularly in the technology sector.

In fact, Lapid and Biden announced in a joint statement that Israel and the US will sign a strategic cooperation agreement during Biden’s visit, the Jerusalem Post reported. The agreement focuses on advanced technology, particularly preparing for future epidemics, climate control, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Biden mentioned in his tarmac speech that “the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep.”

Also highlighting the friendship between Israel and the US, Biden focused on the technological cooperation between the two nations and advancing ties between Israel and her Arab neighbors. The president also reiterated his support of the two-state policy, though it’s not likely “in the near-term.”

At Ben Gurion International Airport, Biden was briefed on Israel’s air defense systems, including the new Iron Beam laser interception system for smaller projectiles, as well as Israel’s Iron Dome for short-range projectiles, David’s Sling for medium range and Arrow for long-range.

The president was briefed by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, the Times of Israel reported. The classified discussion, according to a Channel 12 report, centered on Iran.

Gantz also thanked Biden for Washington’s decision to provide Israel with US $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome defense system last year. Israel’s Iron Dome stockpile had been depleted after the volatile 11-day war with Gaza in May 2021, in which terrorists in Gaza fired over 4,000 rockets toward the Jewish state.

After departing the airport, the president and his entourage traveled to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, where Biden rekindled the Eternal Flame in the Hall of Remembrance and laid a ceremonial wreath. Afterwards he met with two Holocaust survivors.

Before departing, Biden signed Yad Vashem’s guest book, and wrote that “It can happen again unless we remember. That is what I teach my children and grandchildren—Never Forget.”

Last night, Israel’s Channel 12 news aired an interview recorded with Biden before he departed Washington DC for Israel. The interview addressed two of the main topics of the president’s visit: Iran and upgraded ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Biden in the interview addressed his administration’s continued efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, saying that “the only thing worse than Iran now is Iran with nuclear weapons.” He said that he thinks it was a “giant mistake” for former President Donald Trump to exit the deal in 2018, adding that now Iran is “closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before.”

One of Iran’s demands for returning to the deal is that Washington remove its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which the US refused to do.

Biden said in the interview that “we can act against [the IRGC Quds Force] and still have a deal that can curtail the nuclear program. I think it still makes sense.”

The Israeli reporter, Yonit Levi, asked if using force against the Iranian regime was an option, to which Biden answered, “As a last resort, yes,” though he refused to give further details.

Switching to Saudi Arabia, Biden said that normalizing ties between the kingdom and Israel “is going to take a long time, but increasing the relationship in terms of acceptance of each other’s presence and working on certain things makes sense to me.”

On Friday, Biden will depart Israel and fly to Saudi Arabia, prompting speculation that the Gulf state could be the next Arab nation to normalize ties with the Jewish state, following the historic Abraham Accords of 2020, when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed peace deals with Israel, followed closely by Morocco.

Today has a packed schedule, as President Biden is scheduled to meet with Lapid, and then the two will join a virtual meeting with leaders from the UAE and India. The meeting has been dubbed the I2U2 summit.

Immediately following the meeting, Biden and Lapid will hold a joint press conference.

This afternoon, they will visit the President’s Residence for a ceremony, and then this evening, Biden and Lapid will participate in the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah games in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The president’s visit has caused quite the stir in Jerusalem, as several roads have been closed and over 16,000 police and other security personnel were deployed to the Israeli capital for the president’s visit.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 14, 2022)

Photo Credit: Office of the President of the United States/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for safety and wisdom for US President Joe Biden as he completes his tour of the Middle East with a visit to Saudi Arabia. Pray that his time in Israel will have given him a new appreciation for the relationship between the US and the Jewish state and a deeper understanding of the complexities Israel faces in dealing with the Palestinians. Pray that his time in Saudi Arabia will help to bolster ties between that nation and Israel, building on the groundwork laid by the Abraham Accords. Finally, pray that the president returns to the US with a determination to strengthen American support for Israel.

Scripture

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.


- Proverbs 21:1–3

Israel Keeping Military Option Open as Iranian Nuclear Threat Grows

by Joshua Spurlock

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A map of Iran, showing the key locations where Tehran’s nuclear program is based

Monday, 11 July 2022 | As more headlines are made about Iran’s nuclear program—including the latest revelation that Tehran is producing advanced nuclear fuel in an underground facility—Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid reiterated that his country is keeping its options open in how to confront the threat. The implication is that the military option remains on the table, even as Israeli news are raising doubts about how Israel can respond at this late stage.

“Yesterday, it was revealed that Iran is enriching uranium in advanced centrifuges in complete contravention of the agreements it has signed. The international response needs to be decisive: to return to the [United Nations] Security Council and activate the sanctions mechanism at full force,” said Lapid in comments published by Israel on Sunday.

“Israel, for its part, reserves for itself full freedom of action—diplomatic and operational—in the fight against the Iranian nuclear program.”

With the nuclear threat in the backdrop, Lapid also highlighted the other threats posed by Iran, including the recent terror threat against Israelis in Turkey. “Israel will not stand idly by while Iran tries to attack us. Our security services know how to reach anyone, anywhere—and they will do just that,” warned Lapid.

The comments come as the Times of Israel ominously reported that Israel has determined it is no longer worthwhile to strike Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment facilities, with the report—republished from Israel’s Channel 12—indicating Iran already had enough nuclear fuel for at least one nuclear weapon.

Iran has long been working on uranium enrichment and has escalated those efforts in recent years in an effort to blackmail the world into a renewed nuclear accord that would alleviate sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

On Sunday, Iran’s PressTV reported that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities now include using advanced centrifuges in the underground Fordow facility to enrich uranium to 20%. Uranium is enriched to lower levels for nuclear power plants, to 20% for medical research and to 90% for weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

The current nuclear crisis with Iran has grown even as the world has repeatedly tried to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran that would see it scale back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. This follows the withdrawal of the US under former President Donald Trump from the prior, flawed nuclear deal with Iran, with the US reinstituting sanctions when efforts to enhance the original deal failed. In response, Iran has increased its nuclear activity in an effort to drive the US and other world powers back to an agreement, but so far Iran has appeared unwilling to just restart the old accord, and the negotiations have stalled.

One of the key nations in the talks is France, and last week Lapid visited French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. In comments released by Israel, Lapid urged Macron and others to set up a new, stronger arrangement with Iran.

Noting Israel and France “may have disagreements about the content” of a potential nuclear agreement but not the fact that Iran is violating the old one, Lapid highlighted Macron’s own previously expressed parameters for a new deal.

“A deal that is more efficient and better defined, a deal with no expiration date, a deal with coordinated international pressure that would prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state. You were right then, and you are even more right today,” said Lapid. “The current situation cannot continue as it is.”

Lapid said that, if continued, the current situation will ignite “a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would threaten world peace. We must all work together to stop that from happening.”

Like he did on Sunday, Lapid last week also made it clear Israel would respond to Iran’s terror threats: “Israel will not sit back and do nothing, given these repeated attacks.”

In the end, Lapid pointed out that sometimes, even war is necessary.

“This past year, with the war in Ukraine and the terrorism from Iran, we are reminded that not only does democracy protect us, but we must also protect democracy,” said Lapid.

“Sometimes there is no choice but to use the force of war to protect peace.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on July 10, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Yagasi, translation of the original work by Sémhur/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that Prime Minister Lapid’s warnings to the nations will not be ignored. Pray that a united international response to the nuclear crisis with Iran will indeed be swift and decisive. Also beseech the Lord for wisdom for Israeli leaders as they determine what future actions must be taken to end the Iranian threat and prevent a nuclear arms race. Finally, pray that those actions, whatever they might be, will have the support of the nations.

Scripture

Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.


- Psalm 27:3–5

Rebuilding a Life

by Ilse Strauss

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Natalia and her son, Artem, tell of what they have suffered in Ukraine.

Thursday, 14 July 2022 | Natalia’s eyes grew wide as a line of Bridges for Peace volunteers filed into her bare apartment. For a moment, she sat in stunned silence, unshed tears clinging to her lashes. Then she smiled—and for good reason. Each pair of volunteer arms was piled high with boxes, parcels and bags overflowing with all the things she would need to rebuild a life after war ripped her world apart and left her with nothing.

The rooms that were starkly empty moments ago began filling fast with Natalia’s new possessions. The new kitchen table and chairs were stacked with towels, cheerful bed linens and the décor to turn the simple apartment into a cozy home. Pots and pans, appliances, cutlery and crockery, a microwave, toaster oven and a refrigerator fought for space in the kitchen. In the bedrooms, our team set to work assembling two single beds and one double to stand alongside matching bedside tables. Groceries and cleaning supplies spilled from the line of bags stacked against the living room wall.

“Mama!” exclaimed 6-year-old Dima, as he raced between kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom, peeking into plastic bags and cardboard boxes and whipping out the ordinary, everyday objects that beckoned him like treasures. “A trashcan!” he would exclaim, hoisting his newest find high for his mother to admire before racing onward to the next item.

Artem was slightly more subdued, hovering close to his mother and brother like a guardian. At 17, he was now the man of the house, a responsibility he carried with all the authority teenage shoulders can muster. Every now and then, he would ruffle little Dima’s hair and share in his excitement before returning to his mother’s side.

As the foundations of a life in the process of being rebuilt took shape around her, Natalia remained rooted in place, her hands wringing uselessly in her lap. She wasn’t motionless by choice though. Months of war, shock and unspeakable suffering have left her body ravaged. Severe PTSD had caused the muscles in her hands and feet to contract and pull inward under the strain until she could no longer walk without support; until she could no longer hold an object between her fingers.

As she watched our team unpack her new home and little Dima race around excitedly, I wondered if Natalia remembered the apartment she had to leave behind, the life she led with her family before the Russians came.

Seven short months ago, Natalia was happy and healthy. Mother to sons Artem and Dima. Wife to Artemas. Small business owner selling fruit and vegetables to friends and neighbors in Mariupol. That changed on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Within days, Mariupol was besieged. Water and electricity were cut off. Russian bombs obliterated 95% of the once-thriving city, reportedly killing 22,000 civilians. Unburied bodies lined the streets. Life became unbearable, a living nightmare. Soon, Russian forces embarked on a reign of terror, roaming from house to house, slaughtering innocent civilians for something as trifle as pro-Ukrainian correspondence on a personal phone.

Natalia and her family weren’t spared. One night, she awoke to Russian soldiers breaking into her home. They grabbed Artem and Dima, pressing the muzzles of their automatic weapons against her beloved boys’ heads. The trauma and helplessness were indescribable. Thankfully, the Russian soldiers left Artem and Dima physically unharmed, but Natalia has never been the same after that terrible night.

When a humanitarian corridor opened, Natalia and her family decided to leave Mariupol. Since the family is Jewish, the Jewish Agency came to their aid, helping the family as they set out from what was once their home to the land God promised would be theirs forever. But before they could reach the safety of Europe, Artemas’s passport was seized and he was forced to remain behind while sending his wife and sons to safety in Israel. Saying goodbye to her husband for what might be the last time added yet another layer of trauma for Natalia. “But when you are a mother,” she explained, “you think of your children first.”

It took Natalia and her sons a month to travel the nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,864 mi.) from Mariupol to Tel Aviv. By the time they arrived, Natalia’s PTSD had morphed to a level where she was no longer able to walk without assistance or complete everyday tasks like button a shirt or make a meal.

For their first month in Israel, Natalia, Artem and Dima lived in a hotel in Jerusalem as refugees, completing their immigration process and trying to figure out how to start rebuilding their shattered lives. They decided to settle in Dimona, a tiny desert town in the Negev where rent and utilities are a fraction of the cost of that in bigger cities. Besides, Artemas’s brother and his family had immigrated to Israel a few years ago and also settled in Dimona, which means that Natalia and her sons will have family close by.

When we heard Natalia’s story from an Israeli aid organization we partner with, we knew we wanted to help this precious Jewish family rebuild their new lives in Israel. We asked for a list of things she would need for her new apartment. Her list was short: a kitchen table, chairs, beds, a refrigerator and, if possible, new phones. The Russians had taken theirs, she said.

Natalia rejoices over seeing her sons smiling again.

Thanks to the generous gift of a Bridges for Peace donor in Japan, we were not only able to tick off the items on Natalia’s list, but we could go well above and beyond. As we carried in the gifts she didn’t ask for—a flat screen television; two smartphones, one for her and one for Artem; a generous gift voucher; a brand new laptop; and two state-of-the-art bikes, one for Artem and one for Dima—the entire family rejoiced. “Spasiba, spasiba. Thank you! Thank you!” Natalia murmured over and over again, the laptop cradled in her lap.

After all the gifts had been handed out, we had one final finishing touch to the now overflowing home: a beautiful potted plant. “I love flowers,” Natalia beamed, her eyes instead of her fingers caressing the delicate green leaves. “These are the first flowers I’ve received in Israel. A good sign, no?”

I nodded. A good sign, indeed.

“What are you most excited about,” I asked, imagining an answer like the television, the phones, the laptop or the bikes for the boys.

“The smiles,” she answered. “You came in here today carrying all of this. And it is more wonderful than I can say. But what made my heart so happy is the smiles I see on your faces. It makes me want to smile. And for the first time, I see my children smiling. Thank you for making my children smile.”

I swallowed at the lump in my throat, and watched little Dima pull yet another treasure from a bag: this time a can of baked beans. “Mama!” he exclaimed, his face a picture of ecstatic delight. “My favorite! Beans in red sauce!”

Natalia beamed tenderly at her little boy, the one she had to see in the clutches of a Russian soldier with the muzzle of a gun pressed against his temple a mere month before.

“I felt like I lost all hope,” she admits, shaking her head. “But now, today, I have hope again. You have given me back hope.”

As we made our way back to Jerusalem from Dimona, I pondered what Natalia had said. Yesterday, thanks to the generous gift of a Christian donor, we had the privilege of being the hands and feet carrying boxes, parcels and bags overflowing with all the things a desperate Jewish refugee family would need to rebuild their lives after war had ripped their world apart and left them with nothing. But it wasn’t the laptop, phones, bikes, television or new beds that served as the biggest blessing. Natalia and her family will remember for the rest of their lives that it was Christians who made them smile, who gave them hope.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 14, 2022)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Bridges for Peace was able to share the love of Christians with this shattered and desperate family. Pray for Natalia and her sons as they face the difficulties of building a life in Israel, and cry out to the Lord for a miracle that would allow Artemas to join them in their new home. Also pray that Christians around the world will continue to give liberally as Bridges for Peace faces hundreds of similar requests from Ukrainian refugees who are arriving traumatized and with nothing, and that the Lord will generously bless these donors in return.

Scripture

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.


- Psalm 37:1–4

Action
There are an estimated 30,000 families like Natalia’s who fled Ukraine for Israel with nothing, and now need to start rebuilding their lives. You can be part of that rebuilding. Your gift to our New Immigrant Fund will help us fill their empty apartments. But above all, it will help us to bring smiles and hope to those who have lived through the unimaginable.

Putin Heads to Iran as White House Accuses Tehran of Supplying Moscow with Drones

by Kate Norman

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Iranian and Russian flags

Wednesday, 13 July 2022 | The public enemies of the Western world are joining forces, as Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Iran next week. Putin is due to meet with the Iranian president as well as the Turkish president to discuss Syria and increased economic trade, as both Russia and Iran are hard-hit by worldwide sanctions.

A day before Moscow announced Putin’s trip, the White House issued an announcement of its own: “The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told a press briefing at the White House on Monday.

“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July,” Sullivan added.

Washington is not sure whether any UAVs have already been delivered by Iran to Russia, Sullivan said.

The national security adviser pointed out that “this is just one example of how Russia is looking to countries like Iran for capabilities” that have been used by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia.

Implying that the UAVs will likely be used by Russia in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Sullivan concluded that the US “will continue to do our part to help sustain the effective defense of Ukraine and to help the Ukrainians show that the Russian effort to try to wipe Ukraine off the map cannot succeed.”

Meanwhile, Putin is jetting off to Iran for a trilateral summit with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss Syria, according to the Kremlin spokesman, as all three leaders have vested interests in the war-torn nation. Iran and Russia have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime while Turkey has backed the rebels. All three nations have also entrenched their forces there.

Iran’s Parliament economic committee chief told Iranian media that one of the goals of Putin’s trip is to boost economic ties between the countries, the Times of Israel reported.

Russia has been drowning in sanctions since the start of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Iran has been hard-hit by renewed US sanctions when then-US President Donald Trump exited the Iran deal in 2018 and reimposed what he called “maximum pressure” sanctions against the regime.

When President Joe Biden entered the White House in 2020, he set out to revive the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—though little progress has been made in the negotiations.

Israel has vehemently opposed a return to the nuclear deal, arguing that it does not do enough to prevent Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapon. Leaders of the Jewish state have thus said that Jerusalem is not bound by any international agreement with Iran and can operate on its own to thwart the regime’s nuclear ambitions.

Israel’s relations with Russia have also become increasingly strained amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Israel has worked to maintain a state of neutrality, as both Russia and Ukraine have significant populations of Jewish people and as Israel has large populations of both Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.

However, as the war rages on and Russia continues firing at Ukrainian civilians, Israeli leaders have issued stronger statements against the Kremlin.

Moscow has not taken the criticism well, and has indicated that it may close the skies to Israeli military jets. Russia maintains control over the Syrian skies, where Israeli warplanes often cross to conduct strikes against Iranian and proxy military targets in Syria.

The Jewish Agency announced last week that Russia had ordered it to halt its operations in the country, the Jerusalem Post reported. Though the Kremlin denied the report as “speculation,” it could put the ability of Russian Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) in jeopardy.

President Biden, meanwhile is visiting Israel for the first time as president before heading off to Saudi Arabia on Friday—which has sparked speculation that there could be an impending announcement about upgraded relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The world is watching as the next few weeks of meetings could further entrench old alliances while sparking new alliances and agreements amid the increased aggression from Iran and Russia.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 13, 2022)

Photo Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images/pixabay.com

Photo License: Pixabay (Iran)

Photo License: Pixabay (Russia)

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord for an outcome of this trilateral summit that will not mean strengthened ties among the three participants and will not threaten Israel or create instability in the region. Pray for a change in policy for both Russia and Iran that will enable the lifting of sanctions against both nations.

Scripture

I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid.


- Leviticus 26:6a

Ahead of Biden Visit, Lapid Speaks to Presidents of Egypt, Turkey

by JNS

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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Monday, 11 July 2022 | Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as the region gears up for US President Joe Biden’s July 13–16 visit.

Lapid and el-Sisi discussed bilateral ties and developments in the Middle East, and emphasized the importance of the peace agreement between the two countries, according to a statement from Lapid’s office.

The two leaders also discussed Biden’s upcoming visit, as well as the Palestinian issue and the “need for calm,” and agreed to hold a meeting “soon,” according to the statement.

In his call with Erdoğan, Lapid highlighted the two countries’ cooperation in thwarting attempted Iranian terrorist attacks in the country last month.

The two also commended the civil aviation agreement between Israel and Turkey signed just days ago, and expressed hope for additional improvement in bilateral relations, according to the statement.

Lapid’s calls on Sunday followed discussions over the weekend with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

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

Prayer Focus
Lift up Israel’s relationships with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, all of which are critical to Israel’s security and the future of the region. Pray that Prime Minister Lapid’s meeting with el-Sisi will happen soon, and that there will be additional improvement in bilateral relations with Turkey. Pray also that Israel’s relationship with Jordan will remain friendly and that Saudi Arabia will soon join other Arab nations in the region in establishing relations with Israel.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 29:11

Israelis Fear Russia May Halt Jewish Immigration 

by Sivan Hilai, Attila Shompalvi, Alexandra Lukash ~ Ynetnews

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New immigrants arriving in Israel (illustrative)

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 | Israeli activists said on Monday that the dispute between the Russian government and the Jewish Agency, may halt immigration of Russian Jews to Israel.

Speaking in an interview to Ynet, social activist Alex Rif said Russia is a dictatorship and is not kind to foreign agencies operating within its borders.

The Jewish Agency said last week that it was considering a halt to its operations in Russia after the Kremlin sent a sternly written letter to the Jewish Agency, demanding that it stop collecting information about Russian citizens.

The agency in its process of granting immigration papers to Jews requesting to leave Russia for Israel, investigates their claims and background.

Russia’s move was seen in context with its demand that information gathered by the agency be transferred to Russian authorities—which could result in a danger to Jews in that country.

Attempts by the agency to reach an understanding with the Russians have so far been unsuccessful and Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano Shate appealed to Prime Minister Yair Lapid to intervene.

Rif said the Jewish Agency must expedite Russian requests before they are prevented from leaving.

“I am very concerned because senior Russian officials have not denied the content of the letter,” she said. “How long can the Jewish Agency operate like that?” she asked.

“The Immigration processes must be digitized. It currently take months and involves a great deal of bureaucracy. Should Russia decide to stop Jewish immigration, leaving Jews stuck in Russia, it will be on our conscience,” Rif said

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some 15,000 Jews immigrated from Russia. Rif says there are 30,000 who have already begun the immigration process and could arrive quickly.

“Israel must prepare for a wave of immigrants,” she said.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on July 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit:  bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Jewish Agency will be able to reach an agreement with the Russian government that will leave the door open for immigration for Russian Jews. Thank the Lord for the 15,000 Russian Jews that have made aliyah in the past months, and cry out to Him for safe passage for all those remaining in Russia. Thank Him that Israel is already preparing for a wave of immigration from Russia, and pray for Bridges for Peace as we prepare to welcome and provide assistance to these newcomers to the Land.

Scripture

“Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you…Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.”


- Isaiah 43:4a, 5–6

Former Kuwaiti Minister: Responsibility for Palestinian Suffering Lies with Leadership

by JNS

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Sa’ad Bin Tefla Al-Ajmi, Kuwait’s former Minister of Information

Thursday, 14 July 2022 | Sa’ad Bin Tefla Al-Ajmi, Kuwait’s ex-information minister, penned an article in the Saudi daily Independent Arabia titled, “If a Palestinian state had been established.”

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he wrote that the Palestinian leadership bears more than its share of responsibility for the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people and the fact that no solution to their problems are in sight.

He said the fact that not a single Israeli Arab has given up Israeli citizenship in favor of a Palestinian one, added to the fact that so many Palestinians are eager to obtain a work permit in Israel and even willing to work in the Israeli communities in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], reflects their dire situation under the rule of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

“The Palestinians experience oppression and injustice first of all because of the occupation. But they also understand that their leadership bears the secondary responsibility for their ongoing suffering and oppression,” said Ajmi.

“Despite the occupation and oppression,” he added, “the main wish of every ‘realistic’ Palestinian today is to obtain a permit to work inside Israel, even to work on building new settlements on his soil.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 13, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Independentarabia.com via MEMRI/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for an Arab Muslim leader who has the courage and wisdom to speak out against the Palestinian leadership and its callous disregard for the needs and future of the Palestinian people. Pray that his comments will reach the grassroots Palestinian population, helping them to understand the reality of their situation and recognize that Israel is not the cause of their difficulties.

Scripture

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.


- Proverbs 16:7

Millionth Tourist of 2022 Touches Down in Israel, Four Months after COVID Restrictions Lifted

by JNS

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Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov welcomes Israel’s one millionth tourist of 2022 at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Monday, 11 July 2022 | Israel on Sunday welcomed its millionth tourist of 2022, just over four months since pandemic-related travel restrictions were lifted on March 1, according to a statement released by the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The tourist, Belinda Desoyo Lee Marcelo, 53, a resident of the United Arab Emirates, was greeted by Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov and ministry representatives, according to the statement.

“At first, we thought and hoped that the president of the US, Joe Biden, would be the millionth tourist to arrive in Israel in 2022, but once again, we have beaten the forecast. Here we are, welcoming the millionth tourist to enter Israel this year,” said Razvozov.

Biden is slated to visit Israel on July 13 as part of a regional trip.

While severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s incoming tourism figures are now exceeding forecasts, the ministry said. Incoming tourism reached 244,500 entries in June 2022, only 33% less than the record set in June 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic, the statement continued.

“Last year, our skies were closed, there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism,” said Razvozov. “Despite the situation, we did not give up, at any stage. We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges,” he added.

“To my joy, in contrast to all the pessimistic forecasts, we can see today that tourism has returned to Israel. A million tourists inject money into the Israeli economy, create job opportunities throughout the country and provide a livelihood for whole families. Now we look forward to the objective I have set for the industry: 10 million tourists in 2030.”

Based on the figures, the ministry expects as many as 2 million tourists to visit Israel by the end of 2022.

Source:   (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 10, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit:  Israeli Ministry of Tourism/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that the tourism industry is again flourishing in Israel. Pray for hotels, restaurants, biblical sites, guides, bus drivers and the many others who are involved in creating a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip for every tourist. Pray for all those who have come already this year as well as for those who are yet to arrive. May their lives be changed by their experiences in the Land where God has chosen to place His name forever and may they return to their nations as supporters and advocates for that Land.

Scripture

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem…Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.


- Psalm 122:1–2, 7

UK Chief Rabbi Pushes back against Methodist Church’s Anti-Israel Stance

by JNS

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United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 | Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Ephraim Mirvis called on the Methodist community not to support boycotts aimed at Israel after it had demonstrated support for the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement.

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened to learn that the Methodist Church Conference has again voted in favor of BDS, a move which further seriously erodes relations with the Jewish community in this country and abroad,” he posted earlier this month on social media.

“BDS does not in any way advance the cause of peace,” he said. “I call on the Methodist community to invest its efforts instead in constructive engagement with Israel and its society.”

In its 2022 conference booklet, the Methodist Church stated that “the conference therefore invites the Methodist people to support the above measures in relation to boycott, divestment and sanctions until such time as Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on July 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: ITS/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the leadership of the Methodist church and its deception regarding the BDS movement. Pray that the Lord will reveal to all Methodists the truth that Israel is in fact complying with international law and that the BDS movement is a political undertaking whose thinly veiled objective is the delegitimization of Israel. Ask the Lord to encourage and empower them to raise their voices in protest so that the policies of the Methodist church are changed to come into alignment with God’s plans for His nation.

Scripture

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.


- Psalm 121:7–8

‘Stereotypes Shattered’: Delegation of young European Muslims visits Israel

by  Dana Ben-Shimon ~ Israel Hayom via Jewish News Syndicate

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A crowded street in downtown Jerusalem

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 | Eighteen-year-old Sofia Swidi, a Belgian Muslim living in the suburbs of Brussels, visited Israel this week, and found that none of what she had heard about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back home corresponded to the reality on the ground.

“What we see in our media is Israeli soldiers with rifles beating Palestinians. The other day we went on a tour of Jerusalem and I happened to see an Israeli soldier at the bus stop, and she looked like a regular person, just in uniform. She was very sweet, like any other girl, no matter where you come from or your religion,” she said.

Sofia lives in Molenbeek, one of the municipalities that has become known as a place of refuge for extremist Muslims. Its members have perpetrated terror attacks in Belgium and other European countries.

“We feel a little bit safer today, terrorism in Europe has diminished, but the stereotypes against us still exist,” she said. “The attacks and terror hurt us as well, it gives us a bad name. There is a fear of being labeled as ‘Muslims, the terrorists.’”

Sofia arrived in Israel as part of a 40-member delegation of young Muslim community leaders from France and Belgium. The trip was organized by Israeli education NGO LNET and led by French imam Hassen Chalghoumi, who holds moderate views and opposes anti-Semitism. The participants also got to meet with President Isaac Herzog.

Abd al-Hamid Benishu, who worked as a Belgian policeman in the 1990s, also participated in the trip. He has long warned against the growing extremism among Molenbeek youth.

“It comes from the mosques. There’s brainwashing. They preach in a more sophisticated manner today, but the messages are clear and the extremism in mosques still exists,” he said. “A Muslim person doesn’t see himself as a citizen of Belgium first and foremost, but as an immigrant, part of the Muslim collective. Belgium was too tolerant with Muslims for many years. There is a need for boundaries.”

Born in Algeria, Benishu moved to Belgium at the age of 22.

“I don’t see Algeria and Israel signing a peace accord in this generation, definitely not before the Palestinian issue is resolved,” he said.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via the Jewish News Syndicate on July 11, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God that these 40 participants were actually able to experience Israel, meet the people and see for themselves the facts on the ground. Pray that their experiences will indeed be life changing as they recognize that they have been lied to throughout their lives. Beseech the Lord for protection, encouragement and empowerment for these young people as they spread the message of truth about Israel throughout their spheres of influence. Pray that many such delegations will visit Israel in the coming months, having a significant impact on their nations.

Scripture

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.”


- Isaiah 54:17a