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A Year of Crisis

Friday, June 24, 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.

Knesset Clears First Hurdle in Dissolving Itself

by Kate Norman

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The Knesset Committee will review bills to dissolve the current government.

Thursday, 23 June 2022 | A package of bills to dissolve Israel’s Knesset (Parliament) and send the Jewish state to another round of elections successfully passed the first reading yesterday.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced on Monday that they would dissolve the current government and send Israelis to the ballot boxes for the fifth time in three and a half years.

Both the coalition and the opposition—headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party—presented bills before the governing body yesterday, two bills from the coalition and nine from the opposition.

The bills were packaged together and passed by a vote of 110–0.

In order to be written into law and successfully dissolve the current government, the bills are now being sent to the Knesset Committee—which will either keep them or pass them onto the Law Committee—for review and revision.

The bills must pass through four readings—one of which was cleared yesterday—and the Knesset Committee’s revisions for approval.

The Knesset Committee, however, is headed by Member of Knesset Nir Orbach. A member of Prime Minister Bennett’s Yamina Party, Orbach quit the ruling coalition last week, costing it the majority.

The ruling coalition must have a 61-seat majority over the 120-seat Knesset in order to have a functioning government. After a series of defections over the last few months, Orbach’s departure brought the coalition down to 59 seats, one of the reasons Bennett and Lapid decided to throw in the towel.

Orbach is coming back into play again as head over the Knesset Committee, as the Yamina turncoat is reportedly seeking to stall the dissolution bill’s passage. This reportedly is most likely intended to give the opposition more time for a last-ditch effort to avoid another election by forming an alternative government under the current coalition.

Such a move would only need 61 votes but nonetheless seems unlikely in the current political chess games in play in the halls of the Knesset.

If Orbach’s stalling efforts fail and the bill makes it through the political obstacle course, the government could be dissolved as early as Monday, sending the government to its fifth round of elections since 2019.

Several Israeli media polls taken this week have shown that if the elections were to take place today, the political stalemate would remain the same, with no party or bloc poised to win the majority.

If the Knesset is successfully dissolved, Alternate Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will step in as the interim prime minister, as stipulated in the agreement to form the current coalition.

Coalition whip Boaz Toporovsky lamented the first reading of the dissolution bills as “a sad day for democracy” but nonetheless for the good of Israel.

“We are doing it with a heavy heart but wholeheartedly, because the benefit of the state has always been and will be before any other benefit,” Toporovsky said in a statement, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

Whether the coalition’s efforts to rush the bill to dissolve the government are successful or whether the opposition can successfully delay it and attempt to form an alternate government remains to be seen. Israeli politicians are working around the clock, attempting to shift and cement alliances, and anything can happen between now and Monday.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 23, 2022)

Photo Credit: KDeGagne/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
As parties and role-players jockey and gear up for the next move, ask the Lord to intervene in the political chaos with His perfect order and strategy. Pray for His choice of party, candidate and coalition to stand at the helm and lead the nation He call the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8).

Scripture

Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.


- Proverbs 8:14–16

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Where Is the Biden Administration’s Plan B?

by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh ~ Gatestone Institute

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Does President Biden have a Plan B?

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 | The Biden administration’s nuclear negotiations to revive the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran’s ruling mullahs are going nowhere, all while the administration does not seem to have a Plan B.

The ruling mullahs of Iran defiantly continue to advance their nuclear program. They recently switched off two surveillance cameras that were installed by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and will reportedly remove at least another 25.

According to a report by Iranian state television, the Iranian government deactivated “beyond-safeguards cameras of the measuring Online Enrichment Monitor…and flowmeter.” By turning off the surveillance cameras, the regime is effectively preventing the IAEA from monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities, including its centrifuges and uranium enrichment.

Iran’s ruling clerics continue to claim that their nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes, not for manufacturing nuclear weapons. If this is so, and if Iran’s regime does not have anything to conceal when it comes to its nuclear activities, why is it switching off the IAEA surveillance cameras?

While the Biden administration continues to rely on “negotiations,” which they are not even themselves negotiating, Iran has enriched a substantial amount of uranium—up to 60% purity, a short technical step away from the 90% purity level required to build a nuclear weapon. Even France, Germany and the United Kingdom recently warned that the Iranian government’s latest action is “further reducing the time Iran would take to break out towards a first nuclear weapon and it is fueling distrust as to Iran’s intentions.”

In addition, the Biden administration recently acknowledged that Iran is only weeks away from obtaining nuclear breakout capability. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the warning last month during a hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Biden administration must know that Russia and China are not going to pressure Iran’s ruling mullahs to cooperate with the IAEA or halt their nuclear activities. In addition, Iran’s leaders have shown during the last few years—and during previous rounds of negotiations—that they have absolutely no desire to scale back their nuclear advancements.

If the Biden administration allows Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, President Joe Biden and his associates, like Neville Chamberlain’s illusory “Peace for our time,” will have as their legacy that it was their acts alone that destabilized global security and set the world at risk.

Iran’s ruling clerics, among other unacceptable offenses, have frequently threatened to wipe a whole country, Israel, off the map. One of the core pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran since the regime took power in 1979 has been the destruction of the Jewish state. Eliminating Israel was not only one of the main religious prophecies of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, it is also a leading policy of his successor, the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Israel will be erased from the face of the earth.

There also exists the dangerous likelihood, if and when Iran’s regime has nuclear weapons, that they will fall into the hands of Iran’s proxies and militia groups, or that the regime will share its nuclear technology with its proxies and allies, including the Syrian regime and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran’s regime has already been setting up weapons factories abroad, and manufacturing advanced ballistic missiles and weapons in foreign countries, such as in Syria. These weapons include precision-guided missiles with advanced technology to strike specific targets.

It is also important to remember that the Iranian regime’s core pillar is anchored in prioritizing the pursuit of its revolutionary ideals: exporting its Islamist system of governance to other countries worldwide, a critical mission the mullahs incorporated into their constitution. “The mission of the constitution,” the preamble stipulates, “is to create conditions conducive to the development of man in accordance with the noble and universal values of [Shiite] Islam.” Iran’s constitution goes on to say that it “provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad.”

It is therefore imperative that the Biden administration let the ruling mullahs know—credibly—that Iran’s regime must eliminate the possibility of its having nuclear arms, period. No nuclear deal, no sunset clauses. Sunset clauses merely pave the way for Iran to resume enriching uranium at any level it chooses. The regime’s ballistic missile program, which is linked to its nuclear program, must also be eliminated.

The Biden administration needs immediately to carry out its Plan B. It has to be made clear to the Iranian regime that, as part of Plan B, military options against the Iran’s nuclear sites are on the table. It must be made unmistakably clear to the Iranian regime that the United States and its allies will not allow the current regime, a state sponsor of terrorism, to arm itself with nuclear weapons and emerge as yet another global nuclear threat.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute on June 18, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Gerd Altmann/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord to awaken world leaders, particularly President Biden, to the urgency of the threat that Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose to Israel, the region and to the world as a whole. Pray against deception and duplicity, and ask the Lord to thrust into the light the Iranian regime’s agenda for domination, subjugation and destruction. Pray that President Biden will indeed formulate a Plan B that will stand as a credible deterrent against Iran crossing the nuclear finish line.

Scripture

It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 21:15

EU Commission President: ‘There Is No Europe Without European Jews’

by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Friday, 17 June 2022 | Europe and Israel have shared values and shared history, but their connection is far deeper than just what they share, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Indeed, Europe wouldn’t be what it is today if not for the Jews.

“As long as I can think, I was convinced of two very simple facts. First, there is no Europe without European Jews. And second, Europe and Israel are bound to be friends and allies. Because the history of Europe is the history of the Jewish people,” von der Leyen said while visiting Israel’s Ben Gurion University on Tuesday.

Von der Leyen went on to list Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Simone Veil and Hannah Arendt as examples of historic Jewish Europeans, and further said that Europe is “the values of the Talmud [rabbinic commentary on Jewish tradition and the Hebrew Scriptures], the Jewish sense of personal responsibility, of justice and of solidarity.”

In her speech, which was published to the European Union [EU] website, von der Leyen even took a personal note in recognizing how former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s leadership inspired her as a young girl. Current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the European’s supportive comments “powerful.”

In addition to saying he could “not agree more” with von der Leyen’s belief that Europe and Israel are bound to be friends, Bennett praised the European Commission President as well.

“The Jewish people in Europe share a long history. Today we can look forward knowing that Europe is in the hands of leaders such as yourself who understand the weight and the responsibility and take firm action in the face of antisemitism,” said Bennett in comments with von der Leyen published by his office.

The two officials not only reflected on the past, but also on the future—including the war in Ukraine and Iran. In von der Leyen’s comments with Bennett, which were separately published to the EU website, she noted the global food supply endangered by the Ukrainian conflict and Israel’s role in helping to protect it on a long-term basis. Noting that 20 million tons of grain are “trapped” in Ukraine and Europe’s efforts to help export the resource and increasing production of the vital food source, von der Leyen said they also need to “look further to the mid- and long-term. And here, Israel can play a tremendously important role. Because you have a unique expertise in innovative, resource-efficient agriculture.”

She continued to note that the founders of Israel “have basically made crops spring up from the driest of deserts. You made the desert bloom. Today, the world desperately needs these technologies to really have a shift what food supply and food security is concerned.”

Bennett acknowledged the food danger as well, with both leaders seeing the threat to Middle East in particular.

“With the ongoing and devastating war in Ukraine come vast global implications. It’s time for the international community to work together,” said Bennett. “We, even in our region we’re seeing a potential for great famine and distress that can have profound implications for the stability and welfare of people, which is why today both of us will be discussing ways where the EU and Israel can cooperate on food security, energy and more.”

In addition to Ukraine, Bennett also highlighted a threat closer to home: Iran.

After thanking EU leaders for censuring Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] due to Iran’s failure to provide complete explanations around traces of uranium in undeclared sites, Bennett turned to Iran’s ongoing malignant actions.

“If hiding information wasn’t enough, the Iranian regime also threatened to retaliate if the IAEA were to vote against them,” noted Bennett. “And when the IAEA indeed voted against Iran—Iran responded by turning off 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites across the country. Essentially, cutting off the international community’s ability to see what Iran is doing. This is a very dangerous move.”

Bennett then looked to Europe and beyond to help provide the solution. “Iran’s belligerent actions should be a wake-up call for the international community and should be met with clear and strong consequences—increased pressure and holding Iran accountable at the UN Security Council. The only way for Iran to be stopped is if we act and stop them.”

While threats from Iran and Russia continue to loom, Bennett also chose to highlight an international relationship heading in the right direction.

Said the Israeli leader, “I’m happy to say that today Israel and Europe are on a very strong and positive trajectory.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on June 16, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: "CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2021 – Source: EP"/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the vibrant voice of friendship and cooperation from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Beseech the Lord to strengthen the ties and deepen the relationship between Israel and Europe, and that the fruit from the bond will be so abundant that it will stand as evidence of the blessing of walking in relationship with Israel.

Scripture

You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.


- Psalm 102:13–14

US Hints at Step Forward in Israel–Arab Relations during Biden Visit

by Ilse Strauss

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Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf

Thursday, 23 June 2022 | More Arab countries may be reaching out a hand of friendship to the Jewish state as early as next month when US President Joe Biden pays a visit to the Middle East, a senior US official said yesterday.

“We are working, in the space that is not in the public domain, with a couple of other countries,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.

“I think you’ll see some interesting things around the time of the president’s visit,” she added.

When asked to provide more details, Leaf demurred, “I really wouldn’t want to step on the president’s toes.”

President Biden’s four-day trip to the region kicks off on July 13 with a stop in Israel. The president will then meet with Palestinian Authority officials in Judea and Samaria, before travelling to Saudi Arabia for a major gathering of regional leaders and an engagement of some sort with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Leaf’s remarks serve as admission from the most senior US official that concrete steps toward normalization between Arab nations and the Jewish state may take place during the president’s Middle East visit.

Two years ago in 2020, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states in nearly 30 years to normalize relations with Israel under former US President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords. Sudan soon followed suit.

Leaf acknowledged that the Israel–UAE relationship “is going like gangbusters,” but added that the Biden administration wanted to add more Arab nations with which it has relations to the Jewish state’s friendship fold.

Leaf didn’t give any indication which Arab countries might be cozying up to Jerusalem, but speculations have been rife regarding the warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

At present, the US is reportedly working to broker a deal between Jerusalem, Cairo and Riyadh to transfer the ownership of two islands in the Red Sea from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, a process believed to be paving another step in the road to peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, according to Israeli media reports at the time, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Salman sat down together for secret meetings in the kingdom in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords.

In a separate report, Axios also reported yesterday that the White House is working on a “roadmap for normalization” between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Citing four sources familiar with the matter, Axios said the plan was apparently disclosed during a briefing with a think tank last week.

Despite the positive indicators, Jerusalem and Riyadh are not expected to go as far as establishing formal ties just yet. For one thing, Saudi officials have indicated that the kingdom remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates that normalization with Israel hinges on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within pre-Six Day War borders.

This puts all eyes on Biden’s trip next month to see which Arab nations will be next to grasp Israel’s outstretched hand of friendship and cooperation.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 23, 2022)

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

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for more Arab nations potentially joining the fold of friendship with Israel! Bring all the plans, negotiations and attempts to normalize ties taking place outside the public sphere before the Lord. Ask Him to highlight the numerous benefits the UAE and Israel’s other Abraham Accord partners have enjoyed since inking the deal so that the Arab nations considering ties with Israel will use that as their foundation for making a decision.

Scripture

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.”


- Zechariah 2:10–11

How Far Will Hezbollah Take Lebanese Maritime Dispute?

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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Beirut and its port as seen off-shore from the sea.

Monday, 20 June 2022 | In recent days, Hezbollah has stepped up threats to attack Israel’s offshore gas-drilling activities in the Karish gas field, off the coast of Haifa, due to an unresolved maritime border dispute between Israel.

Israel maintains that Karish is in its exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea, while Lebanon claims that the field is located in disputed waters. Israel has repeatedly called for United States-mediated negotiations to resolve the border issue. Talks began in 2020 but ended in 2021 after Lebanon refused to compromise its claim that it is part of the border includes 1,400 square kilometers (540 square mi.) of additional sea territory, which includes the Karish field.

On June 6, Hezbollah warned that it was ready to take military action against Israeli gas-production operations after the Greek–British Energean company sent a gas production ship to the area ahead of expected extraction work.

“When the Lebanese state says that the Israelis are assaulting our waters and our oil, then we are ready to do our part in terms of pressure, deterrence and use of appropriate means, including force,” said Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-general Sheikh Naim Qassem.

“The issue requires a decisive decision from the Lebanese state,” he added, saying that Hezbollah “urged the government to hurry up to set a deadline for itself.”

Qassem said the Iran-backed group would act “no matter the response,” even if it led to a broader conflict, according to the report.

On June 9, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called Israeli gas activities in the area “provocations.”

Nasrallah said Israel should wait for the results of the negotiations and that any drilling that takes place before an agreement will be considered a direct assault on Lebanon, according to the Associated Press.

“All options are on the table,” he warned.

Yet on June 14, Lebanese officials told Reuters that Beirut is “preparing to offer a compromise to US energy envoy Amos Hochstein” to resolve the dispute.

Hochstein landed in Beirut on June 13 at the invitation of the Lebanese government, marking new attempts to reach a diplomatic solution.

Professor Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, told JNS that two key variables need to be examined to ascertain the severity of Hezbollah’s threats: capability and intentions.

“Does Hezbollah have the ability to implement its threat and could the organization have the motivation and determination to hit the rig? The answer to the first question is apparently affirmative. Hezbollah has the proven ability to fire advanced shore-to-sea missiles to strike the rig. But the question of motivation is more complex,” said Ganor.

“I assess that Hezbollah understands that any strike on the Karish gas rig will lead to no less than war, including between Israel and Hezbollah, and the state that grants Hezbollah cover. Israel cannot contain such an attack and would extract a heavy price from Hezbollah. Hezbollah, in turn, cannot contain the Israeli reaction, and from here, the distance to full war is short,” he stated.

Such a war would cause Israel substantial damage, but it would be “catastrophic for Lebanon,” said Ganor. “It will also neutralize Hezbollah’s military arsenal that was built by Iran as a strategic deterrent against Israel. This is a price Iran would be unwilling to pay. Hence, I assess that Hezbollah will be very careful to avoid rolling a snowball down the mountain that it can very quickly lost control of.”

According to a report by Walla, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] in recent days have sounded the alert on the risk of Hezbollah “protesting” Israel’s decision to begin drilling for gas in the region, but cited military sources as assessing that “Hezbollah won’t go far at the start. We are ready for provocations.”

The sources said they are preparing for various scenarios—from incidents of small arms fire in the air, an approach by a threatening vessel, to attempts to sabotage the drilling. The IDF is gathering precise intelligence and increasing its unmanned aerial vehicle patrols, as well as continuous patrols to provide early alerts and thwart threats in time, said the report.

‘The Economic Benefit of the Gas’

Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, head of the research department at the Alma Center, a defense research center in northern Israel, said that in theory, Hezbollah has no interest in escalating the military situation with Israel at this time.

“What is holding it back? Its involvement in the Lebanese political-government system, especially during this sensitive post-elections period. Hezbollah is trying to shape the next government and wants this government to be something it can ‘bless,’” said Beeri.

The Iranian-backed terror organization also does not want to be perceived as the entity that pushed away lucrative gas resources from Lebanon’s reach, he added, further harming Lebanon’s battered economy.

“As a result, Hezbollah is constantly emphasizing that it is subordinate to Lebanese government decisions on this matter. It recognized the economic benefit of the gas, and more importantly, it is interested in how this gas can help Hezbollah’s state within a state inside Lebanon,” noted Beeri.

On the other hand, Hezbollah markets itself as the defender of Lebanon, and it recently took a decision to portray the maritime dispute as being on the same level as Hezbollah’s war to push Israel out of southern Lebanon throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he cautioned.

“On June 9, Nasrallah gave a speech that is relatively combative and not part of a trend of moderation,” said Beeri. “Raising the maritime dispute to the level of ‘liberating’ southern Lebanon from Israel is very powerful messaging.”

“The big question is: Did Nasrallah paint himself into a corner with this rhetoric? Or is he only doing this for internal consumption? In all likelihood, Nasrallah expects that there will be a negotiated arrangement to this issue. Lebanon won’t get all it wants, but at least it will earn some revenue, and he will be able to say that ‘only because I threatened Israel and defended Lebanon was Beirut able to reach these objectives,’” he concluded.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 17, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Diego Fiore/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that God will protect Israeli targets both human and infrastructure from attack.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips.


- Psalm 140:1–3

World Council of Churches Promotes Reverend with Anti-Israel Bias

by JNS

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Rev. Professor Dr. Jerry Pillay

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 | B’nai Brith International expressed concern and outrage over the newly elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches [WCC], Rev. Professor Dr. Jerry Pillay, who has a history of making anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments.

Pillay, a Presbyterian and dean at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, will start his new position in 2023.

“If protecting Jews’ basic equality, dignity and security is inseparable from true ecumenism and the pursuit of human rights, Rev. Pillay’s rise risks devastating harm to the cause of social justice,” David Michaels, B’nai B’rith’s director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs, wrote last week in a Medium blog post.

Pillay’s appointment, wrote Michaels, is “not shocking, but astounding and alarming nonetheless.”

“In particular, it demonstrates a deepening threat to decades of progress in Christian–Jewish relations—vital not only to that distinct, historic bond but as a model for interreligious reconciliation more generally,” he continued in his piece, which was also circulated in an official B’nai Brith press release about Pillay’s appointment.

Michaels pointed out that in 2016, Pillay compared Israel and the alleged “exclusionary and violent character of the Israeli Zionist project” to South Africa’s racial apartheid.

He also expressed support for the BDS movement against Israel, writing that “Jewish leadership” helped “influence European nationalism and colonization” with “a common desire to establishing the State of Israel…on the land of Palestine.”

Additionally, the professor has accused Israel of wrongfully acting against “the indigenous people of the land” under “the guise of ‘national security’ or ‘national interest.’” He also asked Christians to “resist the empirical ambition of Israeli Jews.”

Michaels summed up the appointment, saying: “Now, the WCC has elevated Rev. Pillay, who is on record with especially strident, simplistic ideological extremism on Jews and the Jewish state…This is sanctimonious and, yes, sinful. It is upon all people of principle—Christians, Muslims and others—to assert that genuine and meaningful peacemaking cannot be founded upon antipathy to the identity, rights and complex lived circumstances of Israelis and of Jews.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: YouTube./JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord against the devastating harm the blatantly anti-Semitic newly elected general secretary of the WCC can inflict on Jewish–Christian relations. Pray that the Lord will protect the ties that individuals and organizations like Bridges for Peace have worked so hard to establish following millennia of hurt and devastation. Also beseech Him for a change of heart for Pillay to see the truth of God’s continued love, commitment and care for Israel.

Scripture

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.


- Psalm 33:8–12

Bennett: Israel, Turkey Have Thwarted Several Terror Attacks

by Ilse Strauss

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Istanbul, Turkey

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 | Prime Minister Naftali Bennett yesterday hailed the close cooperation between Israeli and Turkish security officials, crediting the collaboration with foiling several terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey and apprehending those responsible.

Israel is “working closely with Turkish officials to thwart attempts to strike Israelis and Jews,” Bennett explained during a press briefing. “The operational efforts alongside Turkish security forces have borne fruit. In recent days, in a joint Israeli–Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of attacks and a number of terrorists were arrested on Turkish soil.”

“Cooperation between Turkey and Israel is tight and is being carried out on all levels,” Bennet said.

He also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Ankara’s cooperation with Jerusalem “on all levels.”

The prime minister didn’t go into detail as to the number or type of attacks prevented or the nationalities of the prospective terrorists. He did, however, say that the threat was far from over.

“There’s an ongoing campaign in Turkey and a threat looming over Israelis in Turkey. We are working there on many different angles to keep our citizens safe. We will keep working together with the aim of bringing the situation back to normal and bringing Israeli tourists back to Turkey as soon as possible.”

Turkey—and particularly Istanbul—has recently served as the stage for the latest episode of the shadow war between Israel and Iran. Over the past few weeks, reports have surfaced of Iranian scientists and military officials dying under suspicious circumstances. In a number of instances, Tehran alluded to Israeli involvement in these deaths.

Late last month, Israel’s National Security Council issued a strict travel warning, urging Israelis to steer clear of Turkey—and particularly Istanbul—over fears that Iran might strike at citizens of the Jewish state in its neighboring country to exact revenge for its slain officials.

In the days since, Israeli media has been abuzz with reports of Iranian kidnapping attempts and Israel and Turkish rescue efforts that sound like something from a spy novel.

On Friday, senior Israeli officials warned of “concrete” threats of Iranian terror attacks planned against Israelis in Istanbul over the weekend, and urged all citizens to return home immediately. Those who stayed, they said, should remain in the relative safety of their hotels.

Two days later, President Isaac Herzog telephoned Erdoğan and thanked him for Ankara’s part in keeping Israelis in Turkey safe. A day later came Bennett’s admission.

Perhaps we will never know the details of what exactly happened in Turkey and of the magnitude of the tragedy the cooperation between Israel and Turkish forces prevented, but one thing is for certain: the shadow war between Israel and Iran is slowly coming out of the shadows.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 21, 2022)

Photo Credit: Harold Litwiler/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
We thank the Lord for lives being saved through this cooperative effort. Pray that deeds conceived in darkness will continually be brought to light. Pray that acts of terror will be thwarted before they can cause death and injury.

Scripture

The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 10:29

The War between Israel and Iran Continues in the Shadows

by Ilse Strauss

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Burning of Israeli flag in Tehran

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 | The shadow war between Israel and Iran is nothing new. The covert conflict has raged—mostly behind the scenes—between the sons of Judah and the offspring of ancient Persia for over three decades, with both sides furtively taking swipes at the other on land, by air, at sea and by proxy in a manner that preserves plausible deniability.

Yet every so often, the clandestine clashes slip out of the shadows for a more conspicuous scuffle. This has been the case over the past month.

It started on May 22, when a high-ranking officer in the shadowy elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was assassinated in broad daylight in one of the most secure areas of Tehran in what Israeli media called a carefully coordinated operation.

The mullahs in Tehran didn’t officially accuse Israel of killing Colonel Hassan Sayyad Kodayari and the powers-that-be in Jerusalem have offered no official comment on the hit. However, reports revealed that Iran holds Israel responsible. Fearing revenge attacks, the Jewish state raised the security alert level at international embassies and consulates and prepared for the possibility of assaults on Jewish targets abroad as well as strikes from Syria or Lebanon.

Yet Kodayari was only the beginning. In the month since his assassination, the Iranian armed forces and military research centers have suffered an unprecedented number of violent deaths. Apart from Kodayari, another IRGC colonel died under suspicious circumstances. Then, an engineer at the Parchin military site—supposedly a hub for the development of missiles and drones as well as military nuclear research—was “martyred” late last month. Finally, two scientists died mysteriously two weeks ago.

Befitting the element of plausible deniability in a shadow war, Israel never claimed responsibility of the death of any of the “martyrs,” and neither did Tehran accuse Jerusalem outright of killing them.

However, a CNN report published yesterday accused Israel by implication when it claimed that Jerusalem keeps Washington out of the loop when planning and executing its covert operations to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The report, which cites multiple anonymous sources, explains that Israel has stepped up its efforts in recent weeks, and that the Biden administration largely turns a blind eye.

If media reports are accurate, Iran did launch a revenge plan against Israel, supposedly in its neighboring Turkey. However, thanks to the close cooperation between Israeli and Turkish security officials, these plans came to naught, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. The fact remains: Iran did try to strike at Israeli targets—and continues to try. In recent days, Israeli media has been abuzz with reports of Iranian kidnapping attempts and Israel and Turkish rescue efforts that sound like something from a spy novel.

But why the uptick in Israel’s covert efforts against Iran? Tehran has been forthright about its desire to see the Jewish state annihilated and the leading role it hopes to play in that destruction. Negotiations between the Islamic State and world powers for a return to the Iranian nuclear deal is dying a slow death and the mullahs are racing towards the nuclear finish line instead of toeing the line. Israel is loath to see a nuclear weapon in the hands of the very people who vowed its destruction. And speculations are rife that Jerusalem is taking matters into its own hands to see that the mullahs never get their nukes.

So what does it all mean? Perhaps the one certain takeaway is that we probably know very little of what happens behind the scenes. Maybe the recent clandestine clashes slipping out of the shadows is but the tip of the iceberg, something thrust into the public eye unintentionally. Perhaps we’ll never see the armed forces of Israel going head-to-head against those of Iran on a battlefield somewhere in the Middle East. But that doesn’t mean a very real war isn’t raging on in the shadows.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 22, 2022)

Photo Credit: Amin Ahouei/Fars Media Corporation/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that God will continue to watch over Israel, keeping her safe from Iran and her proxy groups. Pray that Iran’s efforts will be confused and sabotaged at every turn. We know that ultimately God will destroy the armies of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39), which includes Persia (modern-day Iran).

Scripture

Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”


- Psalm 83:1–4

Behind the Scenes of the IDF’s War Drill: A Digital Revolution

by Yaakov Lappin ~ JNS

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The Athena system

Friday, 17 June 2022 | The Israel Defense Force’s [IDF] recent “Chariots of Fire” exercise was the largest war drill the Israeli military held in decades, and it also served as a test for all of its most important capabilities.

Behind the scenes, the drill also featured some new capabilities that are the product of an ongoing digital operational revolution that the Israeli military is undergoing.

Digital technology is becoming an ever-increasing feature of IDF functions, such as rapidly directing firepower at targets, ground maneuvering and logistics. Digital technology is making the IDF more efficient, lethal and better at both offense and defense.

The IDF’s Digital Operational Processes Department—under the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate—has been leading the change. The department has spent recent years taking strategic projects and figuring out how to inject technology and software into them, and working to make them more efficient.

The department is made up of officers from the Israeli Air Force [IAF], Israeli Navy and infantry brigades from across the military that have command experience in operational units. It identifies gaps in capabilities, analyzes needs and initiates projects, and enjoys a budget from the IDF General Staff.

The department has initiated multiple projects that have boosted military capabilities over the past two years, with a particular focus on an area known in military circles as the sensor-to-shooter cycle. This is a cycle that begins with the detection of a target and ends when firepower is sent towards it. The amount of time that this is taking to do has drastically been reduced.

In the past, the IDF’s branches—the ground units, air force, navy and military intelligence—each looked at their own targets separately from one another until the department created an agreement among them over how to regulate the detection and sharing of targets.

Now, the IDF has a standardized “language” to describe targets, and it is one that all branches can speak on their digital command networks.

This creates new opportunities when it comes to striking the enemy. The IAF can hit targets instantly detected by the Military Intelligence Directorate, for example, or ground forces can share targets with the IAF in seconds.

The targets are uploaded onto the IDF’s “cloud” (what it calls its operational Internet) and in little time, the data arrives at the “edge”—the weapons system designated to fire.

Many of the processes involved in this decision are automated, such as choosing who will fire, what ammunition they will use and what is the best type of weapon for decreasing harm to noncombatants, if they are nearby, while still hitting the target precisely.

Today, all of the targets pass through the IDF’s digitalized “fire cycle.”

In addition, a battalion maneuvering through enemy territory and in need of rapid assistance can directly interface with the IAF, rather than go up through a lengthy chain of command by radio. A battalion commander’s headquarters can communicate directly with fighter jets through a new program called “Hail for the Battalion Commander.” The program involves linking up the ground forces battle management system—Elbit Systems’ Torch 750 model—with the IAF, allowing for targets to skip over unnecessary relay stops.

The IDF is now focusing on linking the Israeli Navy and others to the integrated network.

Taking Smarter Decisions, Monitoring How Commands Are Carried Out

In addition, headquarters that serve field brigades and divisions are receiving a new toolkit—known as Digital HQ—that enables them to make smarter decisions based on data. The headquarters will have access to dashboards enabling commanders to make rapid, accurate assessments and send down instructions while seeing what is happening across the IDF as well.

The Digital HQ system was also tested during “Chariots of Fire” and had a considerable impact on the performance of units. The creation of a unified picture also means that the General Staff can follow what tactical field units are doing and that more efficient, structured commands can be sent down, creating a more coherent use of military force.

It’s somewhat like an electricity company that has many power stations, seeing what is happening at each one while also having all data fused into a single picture that the CEO can see and respond to.

Many of the IDF’s digital process concepts come from the civilian technology world and undergo adaptation to make them suitable for the military.

In the world of training, the “Chariots of Fire” drill was the first to use a new integrative simulation system that links up the air force and ground forces together. This means that in the past when the IAF simulated a drill on its computer systems, it had to also “imagine” what ground forces were doing in the simulation whereas now, both branches can hold battle simulations at the same time and see one another represented in one another’s simulations of the battle.

This enriches training considerably. Some training is done using only simulations, some physical and some hybrid—meaning forces are both in the field and responding to simulated developments. Today, all options can be used in the digital simulation network. Physical forces in the field training can be represented in the simulator of another branch that is holding its training session.

Bolstering Operational Chat Systems

Meanwhile, IDF units across the military are increasingly using the operational chat system that is being made available to them—a kind of IDF WhatsApp. During the recent month-long drill, the chat system was used in a broader manner than its planners expected, and in new ways.

The chat enables anyone in the military to initiate a dialogue and share data with someone else based on mission topics without the restraints of unit and rank differentiation. The IAF and Military Intelligence can enter into a chat, together with a unit in an armored personnel carrier, instead of relying only on radio communications. The chat became available two years ago but is now reaching new scopes of use.

These changes motivate the Digital Operations Process Department to continue promoting new projects. These include even getting involved in the IDF’s daily roll call, creating an application that enables every soldier to report their status every morning and generating insights for commanders, as well as automatic red-flag alerts when a soldier has been sick for too long, for example.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on June 16, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Israel Aerospace Industries/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel’s shields against cyberattacks would be constantly strengthened and that they would serve as effective counterterrorism weapons against every onslaught of Israel’s enemies. Pray that the IDF would use digital tools wisely to make for a stronger, safer military force.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.


- Proverbs 2:6–7