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Reaching Out in Love to Widows and Orphans

Thursday, March 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.

Please note that our offices will be closed on Friday, March 25. We will, however, resume normal operations, including news articles, on Monday, March 28.

Four Israelis Murdered in Stabbing Spree, Car-ramming in Beersheva

by JNS

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Scene of a car ramming and stabbing attack outside of Beersheva mall

Wednesday, 23 March 2022 | Four civilians were murdered in a terrorist attack in the city of Beersheva in southern Israel on Tuesday in one of the worst nationalistic incidents in recent years.

The terrorist—a resident of the Bedouin town of Houra—ran over a cyclist before leaving his vehicle and embarking on a stabbing spree near the Big shopping center. He stabbed to death a gas-station employee and later two women and a man. Two other civilians were injured.

The terrorist was shot dead by an Israeli bus driver and a second civilian on the scene, video footage posted on social media showed.

The terrorist has been identified as Mohammad Abu al-Kian, 34, a former prisoner, reported Kan news. He was known to be a supporter of ISIS and served jail time in Israel.

Magen David Adom [Israel’s ambulance service] paramedics reported that one woman was pronounced dead at the scene and four people had been taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva with stab wounds: two in critical condition and two in moderate condition. A second woman was later pronounced dead, according to Channel 22.

Eliah Tobol, head of the United Hatzalah [volunteer-based emergency medical service] branch in Beersheva, said in a statement that paramedics found wounded people in three different attack scenes.

The head of Magen David Adom’s paramedic service, Eli Bin, said the injured received treatment on the spot before being rushed to the hospital.

On Saturday, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli civilian in Jerusalem, lightly injuring him. Police fired on the attacker, a resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, seriously injuring him.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for healing for those who were injured and profound comfort for those whose loved ones were senselessly murdered in these recent attacks. Beseech the Lord for His wisdom for Israeli leaders and the IDF soldiers who put their lives on the line to defend Israel’s citizens as they search for ways to bring terrorist activities such as these to an end.

Scripture

Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all their troubles!


- Psalm 25:19–20, 22

Israel Concerned US May Sign Iran Deal ‘At Almost Any Cost’

by Joshua Spurlock

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US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a meeting last year

Monday, 21 March 2022 | Israel this weekend laid out a redline that should not be crossed to achieve a renewed Iran nuclear deal—removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) military group from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list (FTO).

The Jewish state is worried the United States may do it anyway. “We are very concerned about the United States’ intention to give in to Iran’s outrageous demand and remove the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations, the FTO,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office quoted him as saying. The Israeli leader made the unusually strong words about the US, its closest ally, in a Sunday cabinet meeting.

“Even now, the IRGC terrorist organization is trying to murder certain Israelis and Americans around the world,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is still determination to sign the nuclear deal with Iran at almost any cost—including saying that the world’s largest terrorist organization is not a terrorist organization. This is too high a price.”

Israel’s concern stems from a report by Axios that the US is considering the Iranian demand to remove the IRGC—arguably Iran’s most powerful entity and one responsible for terrorism across the world—from the FTO list and the list’s related sanctions as part of a renewed Iran nuclear deal with the major world powers. The US added the IRGC to the FTO list in 2019, having withdrawn from the nuclear accord a year earlier.

Given the IRGC’s extensive activity in the military and proxy militant realm, as well as its expanded influence in Iran’s economy, it’s not surprising that the Islamic Republic would want sanctions against the group reduced. It is somewhat surprising the US might agree.

“The IRGC [is] the largest and most murderous terrorist organization in the world. Unlike ISIS, or other organizations, it is backed by a state,” said Bennett. “This is not just an Israeli problem. Other countries—allies of the United States in the region—face this organization day in and day out. In recent years, they have fired missiles at peaceful countries and launched UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] at Israel and other countries.”

According to Axios, even if the US would make the move, the IRGC would still be on a separate—albeit less significant—terror list and still under sanctions. In exchange for removing the stronger terror designation from the IRGC, the report said Iran would provide a public commitment to cut down its violent activity in the region.

Bennett, in a joint statement on Friday with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, panned the idea of believing Iranian promises in such a trade.

“The attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence. We find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans,” Israel’s top two leaders said in the joint statement.

“The fight against terrorism is a global one, a shared mission of the entire world. We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”

Publicly, the US has been coy about the possible move. In comments last Wednesday in response to a reporter’s question on the matter, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price evaded specifics when talking about the ongoing negotiations to restrict Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“It’s not something I can speak to beyond the fact that there are two key issues at the heart of these negotiations,” said Price in comments published by the State Department. “On the one hand, you have the nuclear commitments that Tehran would need to adhere to were it to resume full compliance with the [nuclear deal]. On the other side of the ledger, you have the sanctions relief…So the issue of sanctions relief is really and has been at the heart of these negotiations, but we’re just not going to speak to specifics at this stage.”

However, Price made it clear that the talks are in an advanced stage with a short timeline remaining. “We are close to a possible deal, but we’re not there yet. From our end, we are not going to characterize the number or the nature of these remaining issues precisely because we are at a very delicate stage,” said Price. “We want to do everything we can to see to it that a mutual—well, to determine if a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is in the offing, and it would need to be in the offing in the short term…We are going to find out in the near term whether we’re able to get there.”

Getting there, at the cost of delisting the IRGC from the top US terror list, is unacceptable for Israel. And they won’t accept it, even if the US does.

Bennett issued this warning on Sunday: “Even if this unfortunate decision is made, the State of Israel will continue to treat the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and will continue to act against it as we do against terrorist organizations. As usual, our future will be determined by our actions, not words.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on March 20, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: The White House/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for wisdom to be granted to US leaders before they make a tragic mistake with far-reaching consequences by removing the IRGC from the FTO list. Pray that they will not be fooled by Iran’s so-called promises and will recognize the duplicity that Iran has displayed from the very inception of the JCPOA in 2015.

Scripture

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.


- Psalm 5:9–10 ESV

Israel Opens Humanitarian Field Hospital in War-torn Ukraine

by Naama Barak ~ Israel21c via JNS

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The Israeli field hospital opened its doors in western Ukraine.

Thursday, 24 March 2022 | On Tuesday, Israel began accepting patients at its humanitarian field hospital in western Ukraine, where it will treat people affected by the war raging in the country.

Situated in the western Ukrainian city of Mostyska and called “Kochav Meir,” the 66-bed hospital is set to be open 24/7 and staffed by more than 60 personnel.

It will be able to serve 150 patients at a time and includes a triage area, an ER ward, men’s, women’s and children’s wards, labor and delivery facilities, imaging and telehealth technologies, mental health services, a lab, a pharmacy and an outpatient clinic.

The hospital is being operated by Israel’s Health Ministry, Sheba Medical Center, the Clalit HMO and medical teams from other hospitals. It will not be manned by the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] medical corps as in previous state missions to disaster areas.

The hospital was launched with an inauguration ceremony that included remarks by the mayor of Mostyska, the district head, the leader of the delegation, the hospital director and Israel’s deputy ambassador to Ukraine.

A day earlier, the hospital delegation was sent off from Israel in a ceremony attended by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“Israel is the first country that is establishing a field hospital within Ukraine to treat victims of the war,” Lapid noted on Twitter. “We are doing it for the sake of Ukrainian children, but our children also need to know that the State of Israel does not stand aside. Where there is suffering and horror, we will extend a comforting hand and do anything to help.”

Multiple Israeli aid organizations are already operating in Ukraine and neighboring countries to aid refugees and the wounded. Magen David Adom, for example, sent four armored ambulances to Ukraine to help evacuate the wounded even under fire. Dream Doctors [professional medical clowns], meanwhile, is treating Ukrainian refugees in nearby Moldova, as is United Hatzalah [volunteer-based emergency medical service].

This is not the first time that Israel has deployed a field hospital in the wake of a disaster. In 2010, Israel set up a field hospital in Haiti after a devastating earthquake, gaining plaudits from around the world.

It also set up a field hospital in Japan in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami, in the Philippines in 2013, and in Nepal in 2015.

This article was first published by Israel21c.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel21c and republished by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 23, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Sheba Medical Center/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the field hospital’s success in meeting the medical needs of the people of Ukraine. Praise Him for the opportunity Bridges for Peace has had to contribute to this initiative, and ask the Lord to bless every nurse, doctor, medical professional and technician involved in this endeavor with protection, strength and compassion as they share the reality of the God of Israel through their expertise and their very presence in the war-torn nation.

Scripture

He says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”


- Isaiah 49:6 ESV

Jewish Agency Launches ‘Aliyah Express’ to Expedite Ukrainian Move to Israel

by JNS

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Ukrainian refugees crossing the Polish border

Tuesday, 22 March 2022 | In anticipation of a massive wave of immigration from Ukraine, the Jewish Agency for Israel has launched its “Aliyah Express” program to expedite the immigration process resulting in thousands of Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving in Israel.

Since Russia’s onslaught into the country last month, some 4,000 Jewish Ukrainian refugees have come to Israel. That number is expected to dramatically increase, especially as the situation worsens. As such, the express program will significantly reduce the timeline for aliyah [immigration to Israel] eligibility checks, and with assistance from private donors and foundations, those fleeing the country will be able to board flights to Israel faster.

The Jewish Agency will also assist in absorbing immigrants when they arrive in Israel. Dozens of employees are being recruited to assist the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration with housing new immigrants in hotels upon their arrival, as well as working with an emergency program that will enroll young Ukrainians in Masa, a program co-founded by the Jewish Agency.

Following a request from the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency will also help establish a situation room to coordinate organizations working on the ground in the region.

“The Jewish Agency continues to be at the forefront of aliyah mobilization efforts, in particular when it comes to Ukrainian refugees,” said its acting chairman and chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel. “Combining our organization’s forces with other formidable bodies that facilitate aliyah will help resolve this emergency crisis facing Ukrainian Jewry. Now, they can be rescued and absorbed much faster so they can settle into their new home in Israel.”

At the onset of the Russian invasion, the Jewish Agency sprang into action and mobilized humanitarian and rescue operations in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. These facilities have housed more than 8,000 refugees so far.

There are currently 4,500 refugees at overseas facilities along the Ukrainian border who will soon make their way to Israel. To accommodate them are 7,000-plus beds—a number the organization is planning to increase by opening additional facilities in Romania, as well as renting a stadium in Bulgaria.

“Seeing the Jewish world come together the way it has on behalf of Ukrainian Jewry is truly amazing,” said Amira Ahronoviz, CEO and director-general of the Jewish Agency. “Our operations are made possible by donations of tens of millions of dollars from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Keren Hayesod and friends of Israel from around the world.”

Editor’s Note:

Bridges for Peace stands among the “friends of Israel from around the world” who are joining with these organizations to rescue Ukrainian Jews from the crosshairs of the Russian invasion. Your donations to our Project Rescue fund will allow us to continue this important work, saving the lives of countless Jewish Ukrainians and bringing them to safety in their ancient homeland.

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

Photo Credit: Mvs.gov.ua/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Jewish Agency and its Aliyah Express program created to bring the Ukrainian Jews to safety. Pray also for Bridges for Peace and other Christian organizations that are working to support these efforts in keeping with God’s prophetic word. Ask the Lord to profoundly bless Christians around the world for their overwhelming response in this effort, and cry out to Him that such generosity will continue until this crisis has come to an end. Thank the Lord that in the midst of these tragic circumstances, He is allowing the global Christian community to show their true love and concern for the Jewish people.

Scripture

Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; for I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.”


- Isaiah 49:22, 25b

US Ambassador to Israel Calls ‘Settlement’ Growth ‘Infuriating,’ Backs a Divided Jerusalem

by Israel Kasnett ~ JNS

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US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides arrives at his swearing-in ceremony as new ambassador to Israel, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Friday, 18 March 2022 | US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides joined Americans for Peace Now (APN) in a webinar on Tuesday to discuss his new job and what his vision is for the region. “I’m center-left,” he said. “I’m left generally, but I put in the ‘center’ just to make myself feel better.”

Nides made waves soon after he arrived in Israel when he announced that he would not visit the “settlements” out of fear of offending anyone. More specifically, he said, “the idea of settlement growth, which infuriates me, when they do things that just infuriate the situation both in east Jerusalem and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].”

“We can’t do stupid things that impede us for a two-state solution. We can’t have the Israelis doing settlement growth in east[ern] Jerusalem or the West Bank,” he added, emphasizing that he “cares deeply about the country and the people” and just wants “to do the right thing.”

He continued, saying he doesn’t want to “create anger and disrespect for anyone if I can avoid it, which means I’ll meet with anyone at any point.”

“This is not like I thought this through,” he acknowledged. “It wasn’t like this was going to be my initial ‘go-after-it’ issue. But I just thought inherently, saying ‘I’m not going to go to the settlements’ was the right thing to do. Why upset everyone from me showing up?”

He suggested that people look at his Twitter account to understand how the issue became so central. “I didn’t even have a Twitter account before I took this stupid job,” he joked. “And now, I’m like a Kardashian.”

Nides emphasized that he will “visit with anyone.” But, he added, “why do things that initially just agitate people? There’s no reason for it. It’s symbolic.”

Offering a case in point, he said he has visited the Western Wall “30 times” already since arriving in Israel but declined to visit the underground tunnels because he didn’t want to purposefully “aggravate” people.

Nides said his “north star” is focusing on strengthening the democratic Jewish state. “However, to do that, we must have a two-state solution,” he said. “If we talk about anything but a two-state solution, it is not good for the Palestinians, it’s certainly not good for Israel, it’s not good for the Jews; it’s not good for anyone.”

‘You Cannot Buy off the Palestinians’

Among the “four or five things” Nides has on his agenda to improve life for the Palestinians—a goal he has repeated multiple times since arriving—is providing the Palestinians with 4G cellular service and more control at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Israel and Jordan.

Of course, he made it a point to add: “I don’t do anything that compromises Israel’s security.”

At the same time, he said he doesn’t believe giving money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) hurts the security of Israel.

Clearly aware that he was focusing heavily on Israeli settlements, Nides made sure to point out that “the Palestinians aren’t perfect either.”

He said he “wants to be clear” that “these martyr payments,” which he said “we can debate and talk about” “has caused an enormous amount of problems.” He said he is working with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as well as the Palestinians, to figure out “how to stop it.”

The program is commonly referred to as “Pay-for-Slay,” whereby families of terrorists get financially compensated for attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Nides also said that he seeks to “create the atmosphere of opportunities for new leaders to emerge both in Israel and obviously in the West Bank.”

He also doesn’t agree with the Trump administration’s approach of using an economic incentive to encourage the Palestinians to move forward.

“I know it’s going to sound really crass,” he said. “You cannot buy off the Palestinians. It’s not happening. I’m not saying money isn’t important, but that’s not exactly all the Palestinians want. They want to control their own destiny…their own future. If we think we just lead with our checkbook, it doesn’t work.”

Still, along those lines, he remarked on Wednesday that he was glad to see funding provided for Palestinians in the government’s recent budget, which was signed by US President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

In a tweet, he said that he was pleased to see “lots” for Palestinians in the new budget.

These funds, according to Nides, include [US] $219 million as economic support funds, an increase of [US] $144 million from the previous amount, [US] $40 million for the training of Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, and [US] $50 million to fund the Nita Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act for its second year.

‘Way too Big a Deal of this’

Nides made no mention of Palestinian terrorism and the pattern of rejectionism that has gripped the Palestinian Authority [PA] for so many years. He also failed to acknowledge the Palestinians’ inability to control their own destiny is directly linked to their incitement and terrorism.

He lauded the current government with its left-wing and Arab parties, but also said that “there are some people in this government I would prefer not having dinner with.”

Asked about the political horizon, Nides seemed to suggest Israel should share its capital, Jerusalem, with the Palestinians.

“I’ve been clear about this, and [Biden’s] been clear about this: He is fully and completely supportive of a two-state solution with a divided…capital,” he said.

“My job is to knock down things that make that possibility impossible,” he said, referring to UN Resolution 242, which calls for two states for two people living side-by-side in peace and security.

He also suggested that the Biden administration could try to produce its own peace plan sometime in the future.

“Could this administration engage in trying to do something broader? Maybe. Right now, my job is to keep all options on the table. We can’t want peace more than [the Palestinians and Israelis] want peace. I can push. I can cajole. I can work. Maybe we come up with a plan at some point.”

Before concluding the webinar, Nides, discussed the hot-button topic of reopening the US mission for Palestinians in central Jerusalem, which Israel is firmly against. “We want to open it,” said Nides. “Both the Israelis and Palestinians have made way too big a deal of this.”

Still, he said, he doesn’t want the consulate issue to distract from the work he is trying to achieve on the ground. Turning to his Americans for Peace Now interviewer, Nides said: “Your agenda is where my heart is.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 17, 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
Pray that the Lord will make crystal clear to Ambassador Nides how imbalanced his perspective actually is and how “imperfect” Israel’s supposed partners for peace are as well. Pray that he will realize the profound inappropriateness of calling the actions of his host country “stupid,” and cry out to the Lord for His ongoing protection of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital.

Scripture

Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.


- Isaiah 31:5

Report: Bennett Considers Ukraine Visit to Promote Negotiations with Russia

by JNS

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking in Tel Aviv, March 2022.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he would accept Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s invitation to visit the country on the condition that it made progress in talks with Russia, Ynet learned on Monday.

Sources said that Zelenskyy and other senior officials have been pushing for a visit by Bennett to Kyiv for the past 10 days, as they think that could speed up cease-fire talks with Russia.

The Prime Minister’s Office asked the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) to make arrangements for securing Bennett’s possible trip to Kyiv on short notice. However, according to the report, some security officials are against such a visit because of the risks involved.

Ukraine has also invited US President Joe Biden to visit during his visit to Europe this week, but for now, the White House has ruled that out.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will make apparent the path PM Bennett should take regarding this invitation to visit Kyiv. Cry out to the Lord for progress to be made in talks between Ukraine and Russia, resulting in a quick cease-fire and eventual peace agreements. Beseech Him for safe passage in the meantime for the tens of thousands of Jewish people who are attempting to make aliyah as war rages around them.

Scripture

“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 43:5–6

New Report Debunking Apartheid in Israel Aims to Change the Discourse

by Israel Kasnett ~ JNS

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Secretary-General of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard (right) at a press conference

Wednesday, 23 March 2022 | A new report by NGO Monitor debunks the accusation of apartheid against Israel and assesses whether apartheid, as previously defined, is applicable to Israel and territories under its military administration.

This new report—titled “Neo-Orientalism: Deconstructing Claims of Apartheid in the Palestinian–Israeli Conflict” and written by legal expert Joshua Kern, and legal adviser and UN representative for NGO Monitor Anne Herzberg—expands on a previous report published in December that sought to rectify the lack of a coherent and legally substantiated definition of the crime of apartheid.

According to NGO Monitor:

“Accusations of this crime against humanity have been historically leveled at the State of Israel and its officials by powerful NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), B’Tselem and, most recently, Amnesty International. The lack of an accepted definition of the crime of apartheid has been harnessed by central actors in the campaign to delegitimize Israel, who apply the term to characterize the political and legal nature of Israel’s government, and in many cases to delegitimize the notion of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.

“Our report is for legal professionals, academics, practitioners and government officials,” Herzberg told JNS, “but it is also for those who are looking for answers to the false and often malicious charges by NGO and UN rapporteurs who grossly misrepresent the history of the Arab–Israeli conflict, the legal basis for Israel as a Jewish state, and the nature of Israel’s democracy and legal system.”

In “A Threshold Crossed,” published in April 2021, HRW accused Israel of “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Not to be outdone, Amnesty International took this accusation further on February 1, when it released its own report, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity.”

According to NGO Monitor, “Amnesty’s 280-page report largely echoes those of the HSRC [Human Sciences Research Council] and HRW. It does, however, express (while HRW and HSRC only did so implicitly) a thesis that the establishment and maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state institutionalized apartheid.”

The Amnesty report accused Israel not only of apartheid in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza, but also in Israel proper, and having been institutionalized since the founding of the Jewish state.

Adding to Israel’s troubles are the three reports forthcoming this year from UN bodies (the March 2022 Report of Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk to the UN Human Rights Council; the June 2022 Report of the UNHRC United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, and Israel; and the expected report from the CERD Conciliation Committee)—all of which are highly likely to rely on the debunked Amnesty and HRW reports, as well as other anti-Israel NGOs, for information.

Arsen Ostrovsky, chair and CEO of the International Legal Forum, which has played a leading role in combatting the apartheid charges in the international legal arena, told JNS: ​​“It is unfathomable, that with all the major human-rights crises around us—from Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine and China’s ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs—that some in the international community, such as the United Nations and NGO civil society, should choose to prioritize and single out Israel for opprobrium at this historical juncture in time.”

“However,” he continued, “that is also highly revealing, indicating that these false and malicious aspersions of apartheid and distortions of truth are not grounded in law or motivated by desire to advance peace, but rather by intellectual dishonesty and the simple refusal to accept Israel’s very right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Ostrovsky debated Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, on Israel-based i24News shortly after Amnesty released its report.

‘An Ahistorical and Decontextualized Narrative’

NGO Monitor’s analysis found the definitions of apartheid’s elements commonly used by the NGOs to be “unreasoned by reference to principles and instruments of international law; consequently, we found the legal basis upon which accusations of apartheid against Israel rest to be invalid.”

The main findings of NGO Monitor’s report are disturbing.

Among others, it found that “apartheid discourse is not merely criticism of or an attempt to improve Israeli policy. Rather, it is used by NGOs and UN officials to construct a narrative that presents Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state as illegitimate.”

It also found that reports by NGOs and the United Nations “present an ahistorical and decontextualized narrative to press the case of apartheid. The publications erase the international community’s endorsement of the creation of a Jewish state, alongside Arab states; Arab military aggression and the ongoing Palestinian rejection of any final settlement to date; Palestinian political divisions and the root causes of fragmentation; and how the ongoing armed conflict has shaped policy in the region.”

Additionally, it found that NGO and UN publications “overwhelmingly adopt a neo-Orientalist approach towards Zionism and Judaism. Their claims rest on anti-Semitic caricatures and stereotypes, which trivialize how Jews have, for thousands of years, defined their peoplehood and their religion.”

NGO Monitor insisted in its own report that “any reasonable assessment of Israel’s policies must be viewed through the lens of its security dilemma and the context of armed conflict within which they are implemented. NGO and U.N. reporting consistently fail to address these issues.”

According to NGO Monitor, its analysis “has demonstrated that there is no reasonable basis to support the charges of apartheid against Israel and its officials. Every country across the globe struggles to protect the principle of equality and rooting out racial and other forms of discrimination. Israel is no exception.”

It recommended in its report that the Israeli government establish a “National Human Rights Institution” to tackle the issue of discrimination affecting the population, including the Palestinians.

According to the organization, such measures, if implemented, could “blunt attacks made by those NGOs and UN rapporteurs” who might use the discourse of apartheid to attack the legitimacy of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

“Israel is never going to prevail in UN spaces any time in the near future,” said Herzberg. “The UN is institutionally anti-Semitic and due to politics, the deck is completely stacked against the country. Officials who could do something about this dynamic, like European officials, refuse. In addition, the NGOs and UN rapporteurs responsible for inventing and disseminating the apartheid charge wield tremendous influence at the UN.”

“Nevertheless,” she said, “it is imperative that we do not cede the legal and factual space to these actors. We have to take the fight directly to the places where the political war against Israel is being waged. They cannot be allowed to monopolize the debate, even though it is difficult and we may not be successful. It is also important to expose the motives of those promoting the apartheid slander, and name and shame their funders—which, in this case, is the European Union, Ireland, Scandinavian governments and UN agencies.”

With so many powerful actors actively seeking to delegitimize Israel, it’s easy to lose hope that Israel could ever win this battle.

Nonetheless, Herzberg remained optimistic, telling JNS: “We believe our report can change and is changing the discourse. Our first report already has placed HRW and Amnesty on the defensive by exposing the 1948 agenda underlying their reports and their invented legal standards, and we have seen other NGOs and activists engaging with our work, albeit trying to attack it.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that NGO Monitor’s report is widely disseminated and taken very seriously by those who read it. Pray that the Lord will open the minds and hearts of world leaders to recognize the anti-Semitism that lies at the very heart of the apartheid accusation against Israel and will deal accordingly with those who refuse.

Scripture

Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back.


- Psalm 129:5

Bennett Makes Surprise Visit to Egypt for Trilateral Summit with UAE, Egyptian Leaders

by JNS

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Israeli PM Naftali Bennett meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2021

Tuesday, 22 March 2022 | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is currently on a previously unannounced visit to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Plans for the summit were finalized over the last several days as part of an effort to forge a coalition, with US support, of countries, including Egypt, the Gulf states and Turkey, to stand together against Iran, Haaretz reported. Additionally, it was reported that Israel is interested in convincing the UAE and Saudi Arabia to boost their oil production to offset Russian oil. Israel is also interested in helping assist Egypt in finding alternative sources of wheat amid the Russia–Ukraine conflict.

An Egyptian official told Haaretz that the three leaders would focus their talks on Iran, Syria and Ukraine. Prior to arriving in Egypt, al-Nahyan met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Abu Dhabi last week, which drew US condemnation.

Bennett and el-Sisi met in September in the Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, which was the first formal public meeting between the leaders of Egypt and Israel in a decade.

Despite having formal relations for decades, ties between the two neighbors have largely remained cold. However, with the institution of the Abraham Accords, coupled with ongoing regional threats such as Iran and terrorism, there appears to be a renewed push towards the warming of ties.

Last week, the two countries announced the opening of a new direct flight route between the countries.

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

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the outcome of PM Bennett’s meetings in Egypt will be the strengthening of ties between Israel and both Egypt and the UAE. Pray for further cooperation as these nations stand against ongoing regional threats. But also pray that all Israel will be intensely aware of the fact that ultimately, its safety and security lies with the God of their fathers.

Scripture

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil.


- Psalm 121:1–4, 7a

Israel Is the 9th Happiest Country in the World

by JNS

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Israel officially has the 9th happiest citizens in the world.

Monday, 21 March 2022 | Israel is the ninth happiest place in the world to live, according to this year’s World Happiness Report.

The 158-page listing for 2022 was published on Friday. Israel is two spots higher than last year and five spots higher than in 2020, when it was ranked at No. 14.

Finland came in first for the fifth year in a row, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. New Zealand was on the heels of Israel at No. 10.

Afghanistan placed last at No. 146.

The report largely focuses on the countries’ management of the coronavirus pandemic and citizens’ trust in their government and other institutions throughout the crisis.

“COVID-19 has also demonstrated the crucial importance of trust for human well-being,” noted the report. “Deaths from COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021 have been markedly lower in those countries with higher trust in public institutions and where inequality is lower.”

For the first time, the index also evaluated the happiness content of printed text, including on social media, through the use of machine learning.

The report analyzes several factors to rank countries. These include a country’s GDP; citizens’ life expectancy; trust in institutions and perceptions of corruption; the ability for people to exert their freedoms; and the overall experience of balance and harmony.

This is the 10th anniversary of the report, a program of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It is written by a group of independent experts.

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

Photo Credit: Naassom Azevedo/unsplash.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that He is not only fulfilling prophecy by bringing His people home, but also by filling them with happiness in the land of their forefathers. Pray that the nations will begin to realize that Israel’s happiness is the result of the blessing of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as He reveals Himself through His faithfulness to His chosen ones.

Scripture

So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away. “I, even I, am He who comforts you.”


- Isaiah 51:11–12a