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Bringing The Jewish People Home

Friday, March 26, 2021

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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.

Latest Election Results Suggest Political Stalemate

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An Israel ballot box (illustrative)

Thursday, 25 March 2021 | What happened: With 87% of the votes counted, the results so far appear inconclusive.

  • Initial exit polls [Tuesday] night predicted a narrow win for Likud [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party] and the pro-Netanyahu bloc. However, latest tallies are suggesting a 59–61 swing in favor of the anti-Netanyahu bloc.
  • With 87% of the actual votes counted, the results stand: Likud 30 seats, Yesh Atid 17, Shas 9, Blue & White 8, Labor 7, Yamina 7, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Joint List 6, Religious Zionists Party 6, New Hope 6, Meretz 5 and Raam 5.
  • The Likud will be the largest single party in the next Knesset [Parliament]. Prime Minister Netanyahu said last night that the Likud had achieved an incredible accomplishment but refrained from declaring victory. He said that he would spare no effort over the next few days to form a stable government and said that he would not rule out anyone.
  • Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, said that he was proud of his party’s achievement. He said that Netanyahu does not have 61 seats in the Knesset as of this moment, but the bloc for change does. Lapid said further that he had begun talks with the leaders of the bloc.
  • Yamina leader Naftali Bennett appeared noncommittal as to whom he will support for prime minister. He told supporters, “Now is the time to heal and heal the rifts within the nation. Under the power you have entrusted in me, I will act with only one guiding principle: what is good for Israel.”
  • New Hope leader Gideon Saar said that he and his colleagues had done the best they could under adverse conditions. He reiterated his pledge not to join a government led by Netanyahu.
  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz and leader of Blue and White said that some had eulogized him, but he had chosen to fight to keep serving Israel and to be part of its leadership. Gantz pledged to do all he could to unite the “bloc for change” and to lead to a different government.
  • Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman said that he had not given up on the path and the objective of forming a liberal Zionist government. He suggested waiting until the double envelopes have been counted because it is a close fight, of which those votes could the current tallies upside down.

Context: There was concern how the coronavirus and voter apathy would affect the turnout. In the end, turnout was 67.2%, with 4,420,677 out of 6,578,084 eligible voters voting. This is a 4.3% drop from the last election and the lowest turnout since the 2013 election, which was 66.6%.

  • While we wait for the final results, the Likud party is the largest single party, attesting to the relative popularity of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but this may not be enough to form the next government.
  • Theoretically if the pro-Netanyahu bloc (Likud + Shas + UTJ + Religious Zionists) with the addition of Yamina is able to reach 61 seats, they could form a narrow right-wing government. However, this scenario is not possible with the current tally (at 87.5%), and if the final results were to remain unchanged, Netanyahu would need the support of another party.
  • The pathway for Lapid to form the next government is also complicated by the incompatibility within the anti-Netanyahu camp. For example, New Hope, Yamina and Yisrael Beiteinu will not sit with the Joint List and Raam, both of which will be needed to reach 61 seats.
  • Furthermore, Lapid is not guaranteed to receive enough support to become prime minister. During the campaign, Saar and Bennett both refused to endorse him as a potential prime minister.
  • The provisional results reflect the relative success of center-left parties that according to the polls were in danger of crossing the four-seat threshold. Meretz and Labor combined are on course to win 12 seats, up from 7 last year. Blue and White also faired substantially better than predicted.
  • If Raam, the (Islamist) United Arab List, do make it over the threshold, they could be kingmakers, but it is not clear if they will support Netanyahu or one of his rivals. This morning, Mansour Abbas, the leader of Raam, told Israeli radio: “We are willing to negotiate with both sides, with anyone interested in forming a government and who views themselves as a future prime minister. If there is an offer, we’ll sit and talk.” He has already spoken with Yair Lapid this morning and the pair agreed to meet soon.
  • If Netanyahu does not have a clear path to 61 seats after final results are counted, there will be a flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the parties to assemble a viable alternative.

Looking ahead: Due to coronavirus, there are around 450,000 “double envelope” votes that will take longer to count, and the full results may not be available till later this week.

  • At this point, several parties have stated they will do all they can to avoid a fifth election.
  • The official election results will only be presented to President Rivlin next Wednesday. From then, the president has seven days to hold consultations with all the party leaders and decide on whom to entrust with forming a government, no later than Wednesday April 7.
  • Whichever leader is assigned to try to form a government will have 28 days to enter negotiations and present a viable coalition.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on March 24, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: יעקב/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that He remains in control—regardless of the seemingly unchanged political deadlock and the looming prospect of a fifth election in two years. Pray for His perfect will to be done as the process of trying to form a coalition begins and that His pick of candidates will be selected to fill His chosen positions.

Scripture

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”


- Daniel 2:20b–21

Israel Revokes Palestinian Minister’s VIP Travel Pass amid ICC Controversy

by Ilse Strauss

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Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki

Monday, 22 March 2021 | The Palestinian Authority (PA) accused Israel of maliciously revoking PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s VIP travel documents that allow him and his entourage to pass through Israeli borders unchecked.

According to Ahmed al-Deek, an official at Maliki’s office, the PA foreign minister discovered the revocation on Sunday when heading home from Jordan to Ramallah via the Allenby crossing.

“This is the Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine. He doesn’t represent himself. He represents the State of Palestine, and we regard this as an attack against the State of Palestine,” Deek charged.

However, as with so many of the “Israel abuses the Palestinians” charges in the international media, the Palestinian narrative told only one side of the tale, presenting the incident without its context.

Maliki was indeed returning to Ramallah via the Allenby crossing when his VIP pass was revoked. However, the PA foreign minister was heading home from The Hague, where he met with International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

On March 3, Bensouda announced that the court will forge ahead with a comprehensive investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians, despite widespread international protest over the court’s legal ability to do so.

The investigation comes at the behest of the Palestinians. In fact, according to Israel’s Walla! News, Maliki serves as the driving force behind the Palestinian push for the ICC probe against Israel. Moreover, the PA foreign minister was reportedly in The Hague to petition Bensouda to fast-track the war crimes investigation, charge Jerusalem with “continued violations of Palestinian human rights” and pledge the PA’s full cooperation with the Court’s investigation, Israel National News reports.

The ICC tries implicated individuals as opposed to countries, which means that several Israel military figures, political role-players and soldiers may be persecuted by name. These individuals may then become subject to international arrest warrants as soon as they leave Israel, thus curtailing their freedom of movement.

Within this context, Israeli sources defended Jerusalem’s decision to revoke the PA foreign minister’s VIP pass. “Riyad al-Maliki is leading Palestinian efforts before the International Criminal Court with the purpose of harming the freedom of movement of senior Israeli officials and even to endanger their safety. These kinds of confrontation actions are inconsistent with the established relations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

“Against the backdrop of Maliki’s activities designed to harm Israel, it was decided that there was no basis for Maliki to benefit from ‘special privileges’ for when he crosses borders,” the sources continued. “It is emphasized that these are ‘special privileges,’ whereas any rights he has as a resident of the PA will remain and nothing regarding them was impinged.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 22, 2021)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord to open the eyes of the international community to see the biased, emotive Palestinian narrative for what it is—not only in this particular instance but in so many others too. Ask Him to turn hearts and minds to recognize and identify with Israel’s side of the story. At the same time, pray that God will unravel the unfair charges brought against Israel by the ICC and that He will prove these allegations of war crimes to be baseless.

Scripture

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.


- Psalm 37:3–6

Israeli and Emirati Companies Sign Deal to Bring Greentech Innovation to Region

by Eliana Rudee~JNS

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Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates

Monday, 22 March 2021 | In the footsteps of the Abraham Accords, a recently signed partnership between two Israeli and Emirati entities aims to bring greentech innovation to the Gulf region and to Israel.

The deal between Gulf–Israel Green Ventures (GIGV) and the UAE’s [United Arab Emirates’] United Stars Group aims to expand people-to-people, business and economic cooperation through the exchange of green technologies—solutions that promote sustainability by mitigating the negative environmental impacts of development. These include reducing the use and depletion of resources through water recycling, energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy.

Initial sustainable development projects, according to GIGV, will focus on reducing emissions while building more environmentally friendly economies and societies. In light of explosive growth in submarkets in the Gulf, the partners have already begun work on several large projects. The development of commercial and residential real estate on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai is but one project in progress for which the two companies are looking to integrate technologies that will make it more energy-efficient, including through the use of renewable energy. The companies are also examining projects in sectors as diverse as hotels and shipping to power plants.

“Israel is known for its cutting-edge startups in many fields, including greentech,” United Stars group founder and president Omar Al Suwaidi told JNS. “We have had our eye on Israeli greentech and cleantech technologies for quite some time and [were] looking for a partner with deep expertise in this sector in Israel,” he explained. “The leadership of the UAE, through such strategic plans as UAE Vision 2021, UAE Centennial 2071 and the UAE Environment Plan, has set clear and courageous goals for making the UAE a leader in sustainability and green technology will play a major role in achieving these goals.”

GIGV CEO Asher Fredman told JNS “while Israel is best known for its advances in water [drip irrigation, for example], Israeli companies are at the forefront of fields such as wastewater recycling, energy-efficient heating and cooling and smart utility grids.”

He noted that is “partly due to Israel’s semi-arid climate,” which extends to the Gulf region, “and water and energy scarcity, and partly due to Israel’s overall innovative start-up culture.”

Vice versa, he continued, the UAE can contribute to Israel through innovation, such as in sustainable construction, and through policy planning, implementation and experience.

“The UAE is a trailblazer in areas such as developing smart sustainable cities, advancing green construction and developing large-scale solar utilities. Israel can learn much from the UAE’s experience and know-how,” said Fredman.

For his part, Al Suwaidi looks forward to working with GIGV, noting “there is a tremendous opportunity presented before us to help promote environmentally friendly and sustainable projects that will stand to benefit future generations. This is the true spirit of the Abraham Accords.”

He added that each company brings expertise and its extensive network of relationships to their respective countries, and shares a commitment to “expanding and deepening UAE–Israel relations, and promoting a sustainable future.”

Source: (This article was originally published by JNS on March 19, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Rejoice before the Lord for the abundant fruit that the peace agreements between Israel and its former hostile neighbors continue to yield. Pray that He will bless this particular greentech initiative that it will prosper and flourish the region so that the world will recognize the blessing of peace and cooperation with Israel.

Scripture

LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us.


- Isaiah 26:12

IDF Hits Hamas Positions in Gaza in Response to Rocket Fired at Beersheva

by Israel Hayom via JNS

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Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel in 2014

Thursday, 25 March 2021 | Israeli aircraft struck several Hamas military installations in the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday morning, hours after Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket at Beersheva in an apparent attempt to disrupt Israel’s general election. There were no reports of casualties.

“Fighter jets and attack helicopters targeted a rocket manufacturing facility and a military outpost belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. The attack was carried out in response to the rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli territory,” the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The rocket was launched just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hitting the campaign trail in the city.

The army added that it holds Hamas responsible for what happens in Gaza and that the terror group would “bear the consequences of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens.”

The IDF earlier said that the rocket had not been aimed at a residential area and thus no specific alert to take shelter was issued.

Despite this, Netanyahu’s security detail evacuated him to a secure area as soon as the launch was identified.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via JNS on March 24, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for His protection over Israel and her people, and that the rocket caused no damage, injury or death. Remind Him of His promise to watch over and keep Israel (Ps. 121:4) from the enemies surrounding her on every side. Also pray that the people of Israel will look to the God of Israel as their Fortress, Shield and Defender

Scripture

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.


- Psalm 27:1–3a

Pregnant Woman Victim of Suspected Anti-Semitic Attack in London

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The Stamford Hill neighborhood in London, where the attack took place

Thursday, 25 March 2021 | Police in London were Monday investigating the brutal attack on a pregnant Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] woman in the Stamford Hill neighborhood as a possible anti-Semitic hate crime.

The 20-year-old woman, who is 27 weeks pregnant, was hospitalized with minor injuries after the brutal attack last Thursday evening, police said.

Security camera footage of the attack shows a man creeping up behind the woman as she walks in a deserted alleyway in the Stamford Hill area, which is home to a large ultra-Orthodox community.

The man then covers his victim’s head [with] a pillowcase, tries to strangle her and repeatedly punches her in the stomach before she manages to get away and he flees the scene.

The assault took place close to a normally busy street, but the assailant apparently waited for an opportune moment when there was no one around.

The police were appealing for any witnesses to the attack to come forward.

Video of the attack was released by Shomrim, a Jewish community defense group, which has asked the public for help in identifying the man. The group later deleted the video, which they said could prove distressing for viewers.

The group referred to the man as extremely dangerous and encouraged its volunteers to increase their patrols in the local area.

The London-based Jewish Chronicle quoted a source in the local community as saying that the woman was “ok but traumatized.”

The source told the paper that there had been a recent increase in physical assaults of Jewish women in the area, but that the latest incident was the “most severe.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews also condemned the “vile attack,” urging anyone who might recognize the assailant to contact the police.

“We hope that the perpetrator is swiftly caught and faces justice,” the organization said on Twitter.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Scully Hitchcock/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Intercede for a full and complete recovery for the injured woman and her unborn baby. Pray that the heinous crime will not go unpunished, but that God will unmask the perpetrator to face the consequences of the attack. At the same time, cry out to the Lord to bring to the light the ancient evil lurking behind crimes such as these so that anti-Semitism cannot be swept under the rug or ignored any longer.

Scripture

Perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.


- Proverbs 6:14–15

Study: Israel Tops Resilience Index among Middle East Countries

by Ariel Kahana~Israel Hayom via JNS

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Israel ranked first for social strength

Friday, 19 March 2021 | Israel is the most resilient country in the Middle East, according to a study published on Wednesday by the Institute of Economics, Society and Peace in the Middle East Studies at the Western Galilee Academic College.

The study ranked Middle East countries based on six main criteria—economic, social, gender equality, the degree of openness to globalization, ethnic variance and religious variance—using quantifiable figures from sources such as the World Bank.

Based on these criteria, researchers from a wide range of fields found that Israel is the strongest country in the region, followed by Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. The countries at the bottom of the list are Jordan, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. The strength index does not account for military might, [but] rather reflects the degree of overall welfare among the people of each country.

In terms of economics, Israel ranked fifth, behind Qatar, Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, in descending order. Israel also ranked fifth in the degree of openness to globalization, behind Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Iran. Economics might take into account factors such as total Gross Domestic Product [GDP], GDP per capita, population size, the ratio of children and elderly relative to the size of the civilian workforce and other measures.

As for social strength, Israel, as one of the only democracies in the Middle East, ranked first by a wide margin over the other countries, the vast majority of which are ruled by totalitarian regimes or monarchies.

Another variable examined by the researchers was the degree of religious variance in the respective populations. In this category, Israel ranked sixth out of 33 countries, showing religious variance to a considerable degree.

The study also explored the correlation between levels of violence and militancy and the six aforementioned measures representing the countries’ strength, and they examined which variables indeed influence violence and militancy. The main factor impacting the degree of violence and militancy, the study indicated, is the degree of religious variance, while ethnic variance was shown to moderate violence.

Western Galilee Academic College President Professor Nissim Ben-David said: “The present study is the first of its kind and is unique, because it helps us identify the balances of power and the strengths and weaknesses of the countries in the Middle East, Israel among them.”

According to Ben-David, this initial study lays the groundwork for future research seeking to gauge Middle Eastern countries’ readiness for peace, and that will identify the factors facilitating and blocking the implementation of sustainable peace between Israel and its neighbors.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via JNS on March 18, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Sing praises to the Lord for blessing His people with prosperity, strength, fortitude, skill and ingenuity, allowing this tiny, young country to shine as a light to the nations, just as He has promised. Pray that Israel’s success—against all odds—will stand as proof to the rest of the world of the God of Israel’s faithfulness and care.

Scripture

“Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel…”


- Ezekiel 37:25—26, 28a

Israeli Navy Plays Significant Role in Anti-sub Warfare Drill

by Yaakov Lappin

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The American, French, Cypriot and Greek navies joined Israel as part of the Noble Dina exercise southwest of Cyprus.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 | After being canceled last year due to the coronavirus, an annual international naval drill in which the Israeli Navy played a highly significant role was held this month near Cyprus, and for the first time, also saw four other nations take part in the training.

The added participation of Cyprus and France meant that five countries with fleets in the Mediterranean took part in the “Noble Dina” exercise, held 150 nautical miles [277.8 km] southwest off Cyprus, with the Israel Navy playing a major part in terms of command and planning.

The result is a boost to Israel’s Mediterranean naval standing.

Rear Adm. Eyal Harel, head of Operations in the Israel Navy, said the large-scale exercise saw the navy implement “capabilities in underwater warfare, search-and-rescue, convoy escort and surface combat. These exercises are of paramount importance in strengthening the Navy’s connection with foreign fleets who share common interests.”

Two Israeli missile ships, a submarine and a helicopter joined vessels from the United States, Greece, Cyprus and France for the five-day exercise.

“The Key Word is Coalition”

Speaking to JNS, Lt. Rony Gankin, Israel Navy exercise planner, said that the purpose is to deepen the cooperation between the fleets and develop a common dialogue.

“Now that the whole of the Navy’s operational units have been vaccinated, we can conduct the exercise without concern,” he said.

Gankin described that in the anti-submarine [phase] of the exercise, vessels practiced jointly detected underwater threats, and that ships with advanced counter-submarine warfare technology took part.

He explained that “the goal was to promote three objectives: interoperability at sea, mutual operational learning—we shared our working techniques and learned from others—and showing a presence in the Mediterranean.”

With regards to the latter objective, added Gankin, “one of the best ways to improve security and quiet in the Mediterranean is when everyone sees lots of forces [working together]. This boosts deterrence.”

Detecting submarines is a complex and challenging mission due to the physical properties of water, he said, adding that they are a potent threat due to their ability to carry almost any kind of munition onboard—“almost all states face this challenge.”

One of the submarines taking part in the drill simulated an enemy vessel with the remainder of the ships practicing responses. One of the surface ships played the role of the vital responder to the underwater threat with the remaining ships needing to defend it.

“They had to create a structure around this ship,” said Gankin.

A surface ship is capable of attacking and destroying submarines using torpedoes and underwater mines, even though in most cases, it’s the submarine that has the advantage.

Communications systems onboard all of the responding ships were connected together, said Gankin, creating a joint awareness.

He emphasized that “the key word is ‘coalition.’ When working together in this scope, it presents very close cooperation.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 23, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for opportunities and open doors that enable Israel to strengthen ties and alliances with other countries—particularly in the defense arena. Ask the Lord to bless and enhance the cooperative ventures and relationships. Also pray that these joint drills will sharpen and enhance Israel’s defensive ability and increase its deterrence.

Scripture

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


- Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, 12

Most Iranian People Are Pro-Israel, Expatriate Says

by Itamar Eichner

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A firing squad during the Iranian revolution

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 | Ahmad Obali may not be a household name in Israel, but in Iran, especially among its large Azeri minority, which constitutes about a third of the Islamic Republic’s population, he is regarded as a prominent voice for over 30 million people.

From his Chicago home basement, the 59-year-old Iranian émigré operates a satellite TV station that broadcasts in the Azerbaijani language to tens of millions of Azeris living in Iran and the diaspora.

“The perception that if you’re Shiite, you’re against Jews and Israel is completely wrong. The perception that the entire Iranian people are against Israel is even more wrong,” Obali told Ynet in an interview. “I believe most Iranian people do not see an enemy in Israel.”

“The Azeris in Iran see a friend in Israel. There is no reason for our people to consider the State of Israel an enemy. We, the Azeris in Iran, have a common enemy, and that is the mullahs,” he said, referring to Iran’s Islamist leadership.

In the eyes of the Iranian regime, Obali is considered an enemy—but Tehran has failed in preventing millions of citizens from watching his broadcasts via satellite, Skype, WhatsApp groups and other social networks, and countless Iranian Azeris go on air without fear.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Obali, who then was a high school student, was arrested on suspicion of sedition. He managed to flee the country and found work at the UN Human Rights Council collecting reports of human rights violations in Iran. After four years, he arrived in the US, where he found asylum.

“After the revolution, we realized that what they were doing was not what they had promised. We were considered enemies of the regime and therefore they arrested me and my friends,” he said.

In 2004, Obali realized he had to raise awareness of the regime’s atrocities among Iran’s Azeri minority and established Günaz TV.

“We have been on the air 24 hours a day since 2005. Our broadcasts are in Azeri–Turkish, but every Saturday we also broadcast in Farsi. I give a lot of air time to the various minorities in Iran,” he said.

“Nobody has a majority in Iran, as it is a multinational society. There are Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and others. Not only is Iran a multi-ethnic country, but it is also multi-geographical. Each ethnic group has its own geographical area such as Kurdistan for Kurds and Arabistan for Arabs.”

According to Obali, the Azeris in Iran are perceived by the Iranians as Jews who had converted. “The Azeris are mostly Shiites, but they are definitely not against Jews. There is no reason to have problems between the Jews and the Azeris. There is a historical connection between them. In fact, the Azeris are the most tolerant group in Iran toward other religions and not only Jews. The Azeris in Iran see a friend in Israel.”

Obali himself has never been to Israel before but hopes to visit the Jewish state once COVID-19 travel restrictions allow him to do so.

“Throughout history, there has been an Azeri national movement in Iran. The Azeris wanted more freedom, more secularism. There is also a movement that calls for the unification of the Azeris in Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, demanding the capital be in Tabriz and not in Baku. Hundreds of activists calling for independence have been jailed. They are being tortured in prison.

“There are demonstrations by Azeris in Iran but unfortunately they do not receive media coverage in the West. Foreign media in Iran sits only in Tehran and is not allowed to leave. The media can’t interview Azeris, which is a problem because when there is a demonstration, they do not know about it and that is where we step in with our TV station,” Obali said.

“We are the voice of the Azeris. Azeris have no representation even though they make up more than a third of the Iranian people. In the past, there was a faction in the Iranian parliament made up of Azeris. Out of 290 members of parliament in Iran—109 have joined a group representing the Turkic-speaking regions in Iran. Iran sees these regions as a threat to its national security.”

“I can tell you that most Iranian people are pro-Israel. But for Azeris, it is a fact. There are also Hezbollah representatives among the Azeris, but they are a minority. I would estimate that more than 90% of the Azeris are pro-Israel.”

Obali’s TV station, which is watched by an estimated one million people a day, reports extensively on the excellent cooperation between Israel and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Günaz TV brought on air about 40 Azeris from Tehran who showered Israel with warm words, calling the Jewish state “a friend” or a “sister nation” while labeling the Islamic Republic “an enemy.”

“Iran has complex problems. The lack of opposition keeps the mullahs in power. This is the main problem. The main opposition to the Iranians must unite and understand that everybody has rights. Unfortunately, the Persian opposition thinks that if Azeris and Kurds get rights, the country will split and therefore they are not willing to unite with ethnic minorities. Without unification, it will be very difficult.”

“I think the sanctions [imposed by the US’s Trump administration] should not be lifted anytime soon and even when they are lifted, they should be partially lifted, because Iran is on its knees. Iran must surrender, stop sponsoring terrorism, give up its dangerous nuclear and missile programs. Iran has to give up a lot of things and if [US President Joe] Biden presses them, they will do it.

“Internally, they are in a very difficult situation. But they will never abandon their ambition for nuclear weapons, no matter what agreement they reach with them, Tehran will cheat. In a sense, I think there will be no real change as long as the mullahs are in power. Sanctions should continue because this is the best solution so far but the ambition should be to establish a new government.”

“I’m neither for nor against Israeli or other military attacks, I will leave it to the countries. One thing I know for sure, that if there is an attack against the Iranian government, there is no reason for the people to unite behind the government. This is another misconception of the West.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on March 22, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Etelaat Newspaper/w:Jahangir Razmi/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for the sentiment of standing with Israel among the Iranian people, despite the government’s ardent anti-Israel stance. Pray God’s protection over those who are brave enough to defy the powers-that-be. Cry out that He will make a way for their voices to be heard and deliver Iran from the malicious regime that has (instead of have) taken the country hostage.

Scripture

Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with You? They gather together against the life of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood… He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; the LORD our God shall cut them off.


- Psalm 94:20–21, 23