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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Friday, March 18, 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.

Welcoming Them Home: A Firsthand Account

by Ilse Strauss

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Ukrainian families arriving at Ben Gurion airport on March 9, 2022

Friday, 11 March 2022 | A thrill of excitement rippled through our group as the plane rolled to a stop. While the airport crew scurried to get the boarding stairs attached, we fell into place, each waiting with a bundle of blue-and-white flags of Israel in hand. I squinted at the row of tiny plane windows, trying to discern the features of the faces pressed against the glass within.

“They’re coming!” someone exclaimed as the plane door slid open.

And so they were. Some of them had come from Kyiv, others from Lviv, a few from Kharkiv or Mariupol, where Russian bombs had just rained down on a maternity ward, or from villages with names that Western tongues cannot pronounce.

Some of them had come on foot, others by train, a few lucky ones made it out early in cars, getting to the border where Israeli envoys waited to help them on the final stretch of their journey—a flight from Bucharest to Tel Aviv.

Now, all 140 Jewish Ukrainian refugees rescued and evacuated from their besieged nation—with the help of Christians from around the world—were finally coming home to the Promised Land. And we were waiting on the tarmac to welcome them.

The first to descend was a grandmother with her grandson nestled closely by her side. Did they have to kiss her children—his parents—goodbye before they fled? I wondered.

“Welcome to Israel,” I smiled, handing her the flag of her new country. “Welcome home!”

She lifted bloodshot eyes, clutched the flag to her chest, tucked her grandson’s hand safely into hers, and together they took their last steps on the journey to safety—and their first steps on Israeli soil.

A hundred and thirty eight more Ukrainian Jews poured from the plane, each with their own heartbreaking story of loss, shock and terror, each clutching the memory of homes and loved ones left behind. They descended in a steady trickle of mothers cradling babies, siblings holding hands and elderly couples holding on to one another for support as they maneuvered the stairs—the stark absence of men below 60 a grim reminder of the reality they left behind. Fathers, husbands and brothers—pieces of their hearts— remained in Ukraine to stand against the Red army.

A baby boy—bundled from head to toe in blue—wailed pitifully, his chubby fists beating the air. His traveling companions looked equally tired, equally frustrated and equally eager for the flight that for some started two weeks earlier, when the Russian tanks rolled across the border, to be over. Suddenly the image of another baby came to mind, a baby bundled in a bloodstained blanket, killed in a Russian attack on Mariupol.

“The story of what each of them went through is written on their faces,” the pilot told us, and as I watched the 140 refugees file by, I had to agree.

Still, these are the fortunate ones, I mused. Tens of thousands still remain trapped in the war-torn nation. But Israel is committed to helping everyone who wishes to come find a safe refuge in the Jewish state. The Jewish Agency, among others, has operatives on the ground in Ukraine working to help Ukrainian Jews reach the border, where more representatives will be waiting to help them make their way home to Israel. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described this as one of the biggest rescue operations Israel has ever conducted.

It’s a very dangerous and very costly undertaking, says Shmulik Fried from the Jewish Agency. The operatives work under fire in perilous circumstances. Moreover, all transportation has ground to a halt, and finding a way to the border and freedom often requires creative means.

“This is just the beginning,” he said, referring to the ones who have already made it to Israel. According to Fried, the Jewish state expects some 100,000 Ukrainian Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

The fate of the Ukrainian Jews is very close to Bridges for Peace’s heart. That is why we work closely with the Jewish Agency, putting our resources at their disposal to make sure that every Ukrainian Jew can come home safely.

“I am so moved to see Christians supporting us, Christians helping the Jewish people,” Fried said.

As I looked at the group of Ukrainian refugees who have come home to Israel grouped on the tarmac, tears stung my eyes. Despite the tragedy, despite the circumstances and despite the heartbreak, this homecoming is still a fulfillment of the prophecies in which the God of Israel pledged through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah to bring back the Children of Israel He had scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Making our way to the parking lot, we ran into a group of Israeli youth waving the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine. They’d come to the airport to welcome Israel’s newest citizens, so that they would know they are wanted in their new homeland.

Am Yisrael chai! (The people of Israel live!)” they sang as we walked by.

Yes, I thought. The people of Israel live, because the God of Israel lives.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 10, 2022)

Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir

Prayer Focus
Thank God that planeloads of Ukrainian Jewish people fleeing their war-torn country have begun to arrive in Israel. Cry out to the Lord for His protection for the tens of thousands more who are attempting to make their way to safety, and ask Him to give His people courage and peace in the midst of chaos and terror. Pray that husbands and fathers will soon begin to arrive as well, uniting families as they begin the process of adjusting to their new homeland. Pray also for the continuing generosity of Christians around the world who are not only making these incredible rescue operations possible but are also making sure Israel’s newest arrivals will have the necessities of life as they come with literally nothing.

Scripture

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


- Isaiah 43:1–3a

Action
This is what you are part of. Your prayers and your generous donations made this rescue operation and this homecoming possible. We stand in awe of what God is doing in the midst of tragedy. At the same time, tens of thousands more are in urgent need of help. We are committed to coming to their aid. We are committed to help see every Ukrainian Jew in need come to Israel. Will you partner with us to help bring them home?

A Done Deal?

by Ilse Strauss

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Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

Thursday, 17 March 2022 | Reviving the Iran nuclear accord might be a done deal soon. After multiple stops, starts and pauses in the negotiations that started in April, Iran’s foreign minister said yesterday that only two more issues need ironing out before the Islamic state and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—with the US taking part indirectly—can sign on the dotted line, restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“We had four issues as our red lines,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying. “Two issues have almost been resolved,” but “two issues remain, including [an] economic guarantee.”

The ball is now in the US court, he continued. If Washington capitulates, the parties can return to the negotiation table in Vienna and the deal can be sealed.

Amir-Abdollahian’s remarks came ten days after Russia called halt to the negotiations pending a guarantee that the sanctions imposed following its invasion of Ukraine would not interfere with Iranian trade. The Iranian foreign minister subsequently travelled to Moscow early this week, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, who assured him that Russia had received the necessary reassurances from Washington that Iran–Russia commerce will remain untouched, signaling a resumption of talks.

The US confirmed that the negotiations are in the homestretch, but took a more cautionary tone. “We are close to a possible deal, but we’re not there yet,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. “We do think the remaining issues can be bridged.”

Neither Tehran nor Washington specified what the two remaining issues are, but Israeli and international media suggest that they relate to sanction relief for cash-strapped Iran and the US removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its terror list.

Signed in 2015, the JCPOA supposedly presented a win-win situation for all involved. The financially crippled regime in Tehran would see sanctions lifted, while the mullahs would halt their march to the bomb. However, citing its flaws, the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018. In response, Iran began defying the accord’s restrictions, making great strides in its march toward nuclear status.

Now, the talks in Vienna are aimed at reinstating the deal—with the US back on board—but as negotiations drag on toward the 11-month mark, experts fear that Tehran’s nuclear program is becoming so advanced that an accord will be a moot point.

Price reiterated this concern, saying, “There is little time remaining given the nuclear advancements that Tehran has made.”

As Iran and world powers return to Vienna—supposedly to hammer out the final two sticking points before the accord becomes a done deal—Israel will be watching closely.

Iran has made no secret of its desire to wipe Israel off the face of the map, and there is little doubt about who will be in the crosshairs if Tehran goes nuclear.

The powers-that-be in Jerusalem have said that they are not against any deal with Iran, but strongly advocate for an accord that is strict enough to stop the mullahs from crossing the nuclear finish line permanently—as opposed to merely slowing down the march for a few years. And judging by the reports coming from Vienna, the deal currently on the table does not do that.

Regardless of whether Amir-Abdollahian and Price are right and a deal is sealed soon, Israel is not pinning its hopes on the terms of the agreement shutting down Iran’s nuclear program. Jerusalem has said on a number of occasions that it will not allow the mullahs to get their hands on a nuke—whatever it takes.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 17, 2022)

Photo Credit: Hossein Mersadi/ Fars Media Corporation/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to these negotiations that will ensure that Iran does not “cross the nuclear finish line.” But as Israel watches from the sidelines, pray that the leaders will have great wisdom, courage and God’s strength in dealing with whatever the outcome might be.

Scripture

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.


- Psalm 54:4–5, 6b–7

Israel Mediating Peace between Ukraine and Russia

by Kate Norman

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Thursday, 17 March 2022 | Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has served as lead mediator in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine that have led to a document currently under discussion, unnamed sources told the Financial Times.

The Israeli prime minister has maintained frequent contact with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy throughout the conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Several rounds of talks seemed to lead nowhere until recently, when the London-based paper yesterday reported “significant progress on a tentative peace plan including a cease-fire and Russian withdrawal,” citing five unnamed sources who were briefed on the talks.

Negotiators reportedly drafted a 15-page document that would see Kyiv abandon its quest to join NATO as well as barring access for any foreign military bases and weapons on Ukrainian soil or protection agreements with Western allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom or Turkey, according to the report.

Ukrainian officials are reportedly skeptical about Russia’s sincerity and motives, however.

“There’s a likelihood this is trickery and illusion,” a Ukrainian source briefed on the talks told the Financial Times. “They lie about everything—Crimea, the build-up of troops on the border, and the ‘hysteria’ over the invasion.’”

The information from the Financial Times, however, was based on a draft that represents Russia’s demands, “nothing more,” according to Zelenskyy’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak.

“The [Ukrainian] side has its own positions,” Podolyak tweeted yesterday. “The only thing we confirm at this stage is a cease-fire, withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees from a number of countries.”

Jerusalem maintains ties with both Kyiv and Moscow and has held a restrained stance, unlike other nations, in condemning Putin’s aggressive action in Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine have significant Jewish populations, and Israel itself is home to large communities of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. The Jewish state also fears poking the Red bear, as Russia controls much of Syrian airspace which Israeli jets pass through in order to conduct strikes on Iranian terror targets in the region.

Israel’s restrained response has put Bennett in the position to act as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv. Bennett regularly holds back-to-back phone calls with Zelenskyy and Putin, and even reportedly offered Israel as a stage for neutral corner peace talks between the two nations.

Both sides seem open to holding talks in Israel, but no further announcements have been made.

Israel is also in the process of deploying a field hospital to the besieged nation, where Russian shelling continues, firing indiscriminately toward civilians and residential areas.

Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine has all but given up on joining NATO. Nonetheless, the president and his officials are continuing their media blitz—with Zelenskyy most recently giving video addresses to the US Congress yesterday and the German Parliament today—entreating Western nations to either close the sky over Ukraine or provide them with planes and aerial defenses.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 17, 2022)

Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org: Bennett: Avi Ohayon / Government Press Office (Israel), Ukrainian flag: Volks Das Auto, Russian flag: RainbowSilver2ndBackup

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel—the nation that has loved and sought peace perhaps more than any other—will be successful in brokering a cease-fire and implementing a peace plan that will bring the bloody war in Ukraine to an end. Pray that Bennett will have great wisdom as he holds conversations with both Putin and Zelenskyy, and beseech the Lord that the field hospital will be established quickly, bringing desperately needed assistance to the casualties of this brutal conflict.

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

Herzog’s Meeting with Erdogan Represents a Step towards Israel–Turkey Normalization

by Israel Kasnett ~ JNS

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey on March 9, 2022.

Friday, 11 March 2022 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog landed in Turkey on Wednesday for a state visit at the invitation of its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a controversial figure who has gone from hot to cold when it comes to his Jewish regional neighbor. During the visit, the president visited Ankara and Istanbul, where he met with Erdoğan and members of the Turkish Jewish community.

According to Professor Efraim Inbar of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), “Ankara is currently trying to mend its ties with regional powers, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Israel. Energy concerns are at the top of the Turkish agenda in its drive for rapprochement with Israel.”

Herzog’s visit comes at a time when sensitivities exist between the two countries.

Inbar noted that “while Turkey maintains robust trade with Israel, Erdoğan has harshly criticized Israel on the Palestinian issue, with remarks bordering on anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, his country continues to host Hamas terrorists.”

Herzog acknowledged Erdoğan’s past hostility towards Israel and emphasized that Jerusalem is willing to move forward cautiously. “We do not forget the past, but we are thinking about the future,” he said.

The two leaders reportedly agreed to establish a mechanism to avoid future diplomatic disputes between Israel and Turkey.

Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak from Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, as well as the JISS, told JNS that “since Herzog has no political responsibility, we cannot speak about a full-fledged normalization. However, it is a good start.”

“The way Herzog was hosted was very warm and respectful,” he added. “In order to tackle future challenges, both countries should enhance dialogue and must open new channels to minimize possible friction in public.”

Herzog is the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey since 2008. The last visit to Turkey by an Israeli president took place in 2007.

When Herzog entered office, Erdoğan called him to congratulate him on his election in a conversation that led to a resumption of dialogue between Israel and Turkey after a disconnect of several years.

Prior to his departure from Israel, Herzog said: “Israel–Turkey relations are important for Israel, important for Turkey, and important for the whole region.”

“Certainly, at a time when the international order is being shaken, it is good and proper that stability and partnership be maintained in our region.”

“We will not agree on everything, and the relationship between Israel and Turkey has certainly known ups and downs and not-so-simple moments in recent years, but we shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states.”

In his public statement with Erdoğan, Herzog said: “This is a very important moment in relations between our countries, and I feel it is a great privilege for both of us to lay the foundations for the cultivation of friendly relations between our states and our peoples, and to build bridges that are critical for all of us.”

Recalling that the Jewish presence in Turkey “is an ancient one, with strong historical, religious, and cultural roots,” Herzog acknowledged to Erdoğan that “unfortunately, relations between our countries have experienced something of a drought in recent years.”

“The baggage of the past never disappears of its own accord, but we—our two peoples, our two countries—are choosing to embark on a journey of trust and respect, which will include an in-depth dialogue in all fields, and I thank you for the in-depth discussion we just held. We are choosing to look forward together.”

Repeating what he had said when departing Israel, Herzog emphasized that Israel and Turkey “must agree in advance that we will not agree on everything…But we shall aspire to solve our disagreements with mutual respect and goodwill…with our sights together on a common future…We want to send a message that we are working in a different direction and creating new hope for our region.”

‘A Slow Process of Mending Bilateral Ties’

Herzog also visited the Anıtkabir in Ankara, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of modern Turkey, and laid a wreath. The president also toured the Anıtkabir Atatürk Museum.

And he met representatives of the Jewish community at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul on Thursday.

Aykan Erdemir, senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish parliament, told JNS that Herzog’s visit “is a landmark development that marks a slow process of mending bilateral ties after a decade-and-a-half of turbulent relations.”

“There are still many unresolved issues,” he said, “such as Erdoğan’s ongoing patronage of Hamas, but these incremental steps could be the foundation for building more cordial relations, including the exchange of ambassadors.”

“Turkey sees Israel as a crucial partner that can help Ankara reverse its growing regional isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Erdemir. “Furthermore, Erdoğan is also hoping that normalization with Israel can burnish his battered image in Washington. Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis—and the country’s desperate need for foreign capital and new export markets—are also driving Ankara’s outreach not only to Israel but also to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

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

Photo Credit: Isaac Herzog/Twitter/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for these initial and somewhat tentative steps toward diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, and for Israel’s strategy of moving forward with caution. Pray that Turkey’s leadership will have a real change of heart, leaving the “baggage of the past” behind and seeking a relationship of true trust and respect.

Scripture

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.


- Psalm 32:8

Alleged Israeli Strike Demolishes Iranian Drone Fleet

by Ilse Strauss

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An Iranian drone (illustrative)

Wednesday, 16 March 2022 | In the latest battle in the shadow war between Jerusalem and Tehran, an alleged Israeli strike on Iranian soil last month demolished a fleet of the Islamic Republic’s drones, Israeli and Lebanese media reported.

Neither Jerusalem nor Tehran made any mention of the incident—until this week.

 Al Mayadeen, a Lebanese television station linked to Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, broke the story on Sunday night. Citing “reliable sources,” the report said the attack—executed via six drones launched from Iraqi Kurdistan—targeted an airbase near Kermanshah in Western Iran in the middle of February.

Two days later, Haaretz confirmed the strike, adding that hundreds of drones have been destroyed, causing major damage to Iran’s drone fleet.

Tehran said Jerusalem is behind the strike. Israel said nothing, sticking to its policy of remaining mum on allegations of operations on foreign soil.

This report of yet another behind-the-scenes clash between the archfoes is but one puzzle piece slotting into a rather eventful month, apparently featuring a number of shadowy back-and-forths.

Early Sunday morning, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired a dozen missiles at Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq. Although the projectiles struck near the US consulate building, an IRGC statement identified its target as “two Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] training centers…”

Sunday night’s Al Mayadeen report elaborated on the claim, identifying the location as the spot from which Israel launched its drone attack on Iran in February. The report also claimed that the IRGC’s pre-dawn strike on the supposed Mossad training centers killed four Israeli officers and wounded seven, four critically.

Once again, Israel neither confirmed nor denied the report. However, a number of sources, including a Kurdish government official, refuted the claim of Israeli sites in the region.

Then, on Monday night, Iran state television reported that the IRGC thwarted a Mossad-run network poised to sabotage Iran’s key Fordow nuclear enrichment site. The report, based on a statement from the IRGC, was fuzzy on pertinent particulars—and perhaps for good reason. Tehran has been known to use the news of busted Mossad cells as a smokescreen, arresting what it deems undesirable elements and local opposition under the guise of national security.

Also on Monday night, in what Israeli media speculate may have been Iranian retaliation, a large number of the Jewish state’s government websites crashed after being hit by a major coordinated cyberattack.

The three incidents taken together—the strike on the supposed Mossad site and the claim of multiple Israeli casualties, the dismantling of a Mossad-operated network before it could strike and finally the large-scale cyberattack on Israeli government sites—combined with Iran’s vocal declarations of the damage inflicted all lead to one conclusion: The Israeli drone strike scored a major blow, prompting Iran to retaliate publicly to save face, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The series of incidents also point to an escalation in the shadow war between Israel and Iran.

In the past, the battleground for the shadowy conflict was confined to four main fronts, Ynetnews argues: foiling the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions; thwarting Iranian attempts to establish a war machine on Israel’s northern border in war-torn Syria; preventing Tehran’s attempts to funnel advanced weapons to terror proxies Hezbollah and Hamas; and gaining the upper hand in international waters.

However, according to the Times of Israel, Jerusalem is now also concerned with the growing threat that Iranian drones pose to the Jewish state and the region, particularly as Tehran works to funnel these deadly UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to its terror proxies perched on Israel’s borders. In fact, last week, Israel mentioned Iran’s “UAV terror” by name, warning that the mullahs utilize their growing fleet of drones to strike both military and civilian targets in the region.

The escalation of the shadow war does, however, go beyond scope.

Military and political powers-that-be in Jerusalem have admitted to striking Iranian targets in Syria. Israel is also reportedly behind a number of acts of sabotage at Iranian nuclear sites as well as the assassination of the so-called father of the Iranian nuclear program—all aimed at pushing back Tehran’s race to the bomb. International sources have also credited the Jewish state with a number of attacks on Iranian vessels reportedly carrying arms.

However, the strike on Iran’s drone fleet kicks the shadowy war between Jerusalem and Tehran up a notch. It brings the battlefield from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the high seas home to Iranian soil.

As befitting a shadow war, the lion’s share of reports at the moment remains merely that: reports, speculation and theory. However, we do know that this was not the final battle in the war between Israel and Iran. And perhaps that war is about to come out of the shadows.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 16, 2022)

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the successes that Israel has had in causing a major blow to Iran’s drone fleet. Pray for the Lord’s protection from any sort of retaliation as Israel takes these and any other steps it deems necessary to defend the nation and its citizens from an enemy set on its destruction.

Scripture

The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.


- Isaiah 59:8

US Okays Funding for Israel’s Iron Dome

by Kate Norman

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Iron Dome launcher at the Israeli Air Force exhibition at Ramat David AFB on Israel’s 69th Independence Day

Friday, 11 March 2022 | The US Senate yesterday passed a spending bill that will provide US $1 billion to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in addition to Washington’s annual $3.8 billion in funding to the Jewish state.

Israel’s Iron Dome defense battery supply was left depleted after the volatile 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls last May, in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel. The Iron Dome had a 90% success rate for intercepting incoming projectiles, the Israeli military said.

After being passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday and approved by the Senate yesterday, the bill is heading to US President Joe Biden’s desk for final approval. The deadline is Friday at midnight, or the government will go into an automatic shutdown—although President Biden is expected to sign the bill without any pushback.

The 2,741-page omnibus bill establishes a US $1.5 trillion government spending budget, which also includes a special fund to expand on the Abraham Accords—the normalization agreements signed in 2020 by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, later joined by Sudan and Morocco.

The $1 billion Iron Dome funding is in addition to a separate $500 million also for the Jewish state’s defense as part of an annual defense budget allocated for Israel.

Additional provisions of the spending bill include, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): funding for joint agricultural cooperation, cooperative energy programs, security, technology cooperation and joint efforts on several other fronts.

The bill passage received fanfare from Jewish groups and Israel’s top brass.

“Thank you to the US Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security [and] for passing the critical security package—including the replenishment of the life-saving Iron Dome,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you, [President Biden] for your leadership [and] friendship. Together, we are stronger,” the prime minister added, along with emojis of the United States and Israeli flags side-by-side.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also posted a video thanking the House of Representatives after their initial approval of the bill on Wednesday.

“Iron Dome replenishment and missile defense funding will ensure Israel’s military edge, contribute to regional security, and strengthen US–Israel cooperation,” Gantz said in the video.

Gantz specifically thanked Biden for “his leadership and support for the security” of Israel and thanked US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “for his steadfast commitment to the ironclad US–Israel bond and excellent defense cooperation.”

“Once again, we witness the unique bond between the US and Israel, a relationship that spans both sides of the aisle and that is based on shared values, strategic interests and a common vision for a more peaceful and free world,” the defense minister added.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 11, 2022)

Photo Credit: Oren Rozen/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the relationship that exists between Israel and the US, and the American commitment to Israel’s security. Pray that the bond between the two nations, based on shared values and strategic interests, will go from strength to strength. Pray that President Biden will sign the spending bill quickly and without any pushback.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.


- Psalm 133:1

Denmark Announces Anti-Semitism Action Plan that Boosts Holocaust Education

by JNS

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The national flag of Denmark

Thursday, 17 March 2022 | Denmark announced earlier this month that it is launching an action plan to better tackle anti-Semitism in the country.

The country’s new plan includes 15 initiatives, five of which aim at increasing knowledge about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism among children and the youth.

The initiatives include making Holocaust education obligatory in primary and lower secondary schools and general upper secondary education; continuing and developing education about the Holocaust and other genocides; expanding dialogue among different religions; providing youths with more information about Jewish life and culture in Denmark; and preparing teachers on how to avoid students feeling excluded in schools.

“The action plan obligates the educational institutions to ensure that pupils obtain knowledge and skills, which remove prejudices and myths and call for tolerance and mutual respect between people,” [the plan was described] on the European Union’s website. “This includes working systematically with critical thinking, in relation to for example propaganda and fake news, and challenging extremist and xenophobic attitudes and values.”

“The action plan also encompasses other initiatives to prevent anti-Semitism, including more research on anti-Semitism, prevention in specific environments, protection of Jews and Jewish institutions, improved instruction regarding anti-Semitic incidents and a focus on the fight against anti-Semitism in foreign policy.”

In 2019, 80 gravestones were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in the western Danish town of Randers; in 2021, a Jewish cemetery in the northern Denmark town of Aalborg was vandalized over Passover.

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

Photo Credit: Photology1971/Shutterstock/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the significant steps Denmark is making to tackle anti-Semitism. Pray that its plans for revamping its education system will be implemented quickly and successfully, and that its steps to provide protection for Jews and Jewish institutions will bring anti-Semitic attacks to an end within Danish borders. Pray further that other nations in Europe and around the world will take note of Denmark’s courage and commitment and take similar actions.

Scripture

“I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:21