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Friday, March 4, 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.

Israel Joins UN General Assembly to Condemn Russia

by Ilse Strauss

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UN General Assembly meeting

Thursday, 3 March 2022 | Three days after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vowed that Jerusalem will stand on the “right side of history,” Israel yesterday joined 140 other UN General Assembly (UNGA) members states to adopt a resolution slamming the Russian invasion of Ukraine and demanding that Moscow withdraw its military forces from its sovereign neighbor’s soil immediately.

The decree, co-sponsored by Israel and 95 other countries and entitled “Aggression against Ukraine,” received the thumbs-up from an overwhelming 141 of the 193 UNGA member states. Four countries—Syria, North Korea, Eritrea and Belarus, which shares a border with both Russia and Ukraine and which Moscow used as a staging area for the invasion—sided with the Kremlin to vote against the measure. Thirty-five countries, including China, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and South Africa, abstained.

As Assembly President Abdulla Shahid announced the final tally, UN delegates rose to their feet and broke into spontaneous applause. The cheer was so loud that it drowned out Shahid’s voice.

The resolution condemns Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine “in the strongest terms,” describing Moscow’s military operations against its neighbor as “on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades and that urgent action is needed to save this generation from the scourge of war.”

It also demands that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders” and affirms the assembly’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

Yesterday’s vote brought to a close a special emergency session of the UNGA—the first of its kind since 1982 and the 11th since the founding of the UN in 1945—after Russia used its veto power to block a similar resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday. The two-day special session started on Monday and saw more than 110 countries’ representatives take to the podium to declare their position on the conflict.

Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya delivered an impassioned plea, claiming the Russian forces “have come to the Ukrainian soil, not only to kill some of us…” but
“they have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist…The crimes are so barbaric that it is difficult to comprehend.”

Israel’s Deputy UN Ambassador Noa Furman called on Russia to halt aggression immediately, describing the invasion as “a serious violation of the international order.”

Citing footage of Russian troops moving heavy weapons across the border into Ukraine, including cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, both banned under international law, US UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that Moscow’s show of force will only intensify. “Vote yes if you believe UN member states—including your own—have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she challenged. “Vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for its actions.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia presented Moscow’s side of the story. Referencing the resolution, he argued, “This document will not allow us to end military activities. On the contrary, it could embolden Kyiv radicals and nationalists to continue to determine the policy of their country at any price.”

“Your refusal to support today’s draft resolution is a vote for a peaceful Ukraine,” Nebenzia claimed. “This was the aim of our special military operation, which the sponsors of this resolution tried to present as aggression.”

After the votes were tallied and the resolution passed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters, “The message of the General Assembly is loud and clear. End hostilities in Ukraine—now. Silence the guns—now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy—now. We don’t have a moment to lose. The brutal effects of the conflict are plain to see…It threatens to get much, much worse.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also weighed in, tweeting his appreciation for the international support “with a strong demand to Russia to immediately stop the treacherous attack on [Ukraine]. I’m grateful to everyone [and] every state that voted in favor. You have chosen the right side of history.”

The impact of yesterday’s motion remains uncertain. Unlike UNSC resolutions, UNGA decrees are not legally binding and can therefore not be enforced. They do, however, carry political weight in reflecting international opinion.

Toeing the Diplomatic Tightrope

Israel’s yes vote—and its agreement to co-sponsor the resolution, marks a deviation from Jerusalem’s position over the past few weeks. Ever since tensions between Ukraine and Russia started escalating, Israel has made a dedicated effort to steer clear of the conflict. The Jewish state is one of the only countries that maintains close relations with both Ukraine and Russia. Israel is home to significant populations of both Ukrainian as well as Russian Jews who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). Moreover, there are also significant Jewish populations living in Ukraine and Russia that Israel, as the Jewish state, feels responsible for.

But there’s another reason for Jerusalem toeing the diplomatic tightrope between its support for Ukraine while avoiding condemnation of Russia. Israel wants to maintain the freedom to act in Syria against archenemy Iran and its terror proxies. And the decision whether Israel retains or forfeits that freedom lies with Russia.

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015, taking over air operations to help prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Iran remained in charge of ground operations. At the same time, Tehran also exploited the chaos of civil war to strengthen its chokehold on the region, set up a land corridor to funnel weapons and fighters from Iran to Lebanon via Iraq and Syria and construct a war machine in Israel’s backyard.

In a bid to thwart the mullahs’ ambitions, Israel has conducted numerous military actions—mostly by air—against Iranian fighters and weapons convoys in Syria. However, Israel’s operations in Syrian skies happen in close coordination with Russia—and with Moscow’s nod of approval.

Syria is home to a largest concentration of surface-to-air missile batteries. However, the Russians have refrained from using its advanced S-400 system against Israel. Moscow has also not given the Assad regime the green light to use the S-300 system it “transferred” to Syria to shoot down Israeli warplanes.

Will Syrian skies slam shut to Israel now that the Jewish state has spoken out publicly against Russia? Will Iran now have free reign on Israel’s northern border to entrench its military? Jerusalem certainly hopes for a different outcome. But as with everything else in this crisis, it comes down to a matter of waiting to see what the Russians will do.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 3, 2022)

Photo Credit: Basil D Soufi/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the nations of the world are uniting to condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine. Pray that international leaders will have great wisdom and courage as they determine what “urgent action” should be taken to end the conflict and prevent “the scourge of war” from enveloping Europe and beyond. Also pray that the Lord will protect the tenuous relationship between Israel and Russia that allows the Jewish state to take necessary defensive military actions against the Iranian presence in Syria.

Scripture

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”


- 2 Samuel 22:2–4

To Save a Life

by Ilse Strauss

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Ukrainian Jews on their way to their new home in Israel

Wednesday, 2 March 2022 | “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world,” the Mishnah (first postbiblical written recording of Jewish oral tradition) teaches. In the current crisis, Israel is making every effort to rescue Israeli citizens caught in the crossfire and Ukrainian Jews seeking to flee the war-torn nation for the safe haven of the Jewish state, possibly saving thousands of lives.

When the Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border from Belarus on Thursday, marking the start of the invasion, an estimated 8,000 Israeli citizens remained in the country, including 200 families in Uman, near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

These Israelis ignored the repeated pleas from their government in the days and weeks before the invasion to flee Ukraine before the threatened invasion. “We did not believe for a moment that such a thing would happen,” Elisha Shlomi explained the decision to remain to Ynetnews. A number of Arab Israelis studying in Ukraine also stayed put for upcoming exams.

Now the Israelis stuck in the besieged nation look to their government to come to the rescue. Israel has its work cut out for it though. Large swatches of Ukraine have become isolated. Roads are blocked and public transportation has shut down. And with the Ukrainian sky clear of any flights, the only way out is to travel by land to the nearest border crossing, where representatives from the Jewish state will be waiting to help Israelis get back home.

“Ukraine is home to heavy fighting,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday, “but we are obligated to a sacrosanct commitment that we will do everything to not leave any Israeli behind, or any Jew behind. This is why there is a Jewish state. It’s our obligation.

“It’s not simple,” he conceded. “The border crossings are very busy, communication networks are collapsing…Israelis and Jews are part of a wave of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and this wave grows daily.”

Despite the challenges, Lapid said that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has managed over the past five days one of the most complicated operations in the history of Israel…It’s a developing situation that’s very far from ending, but our organizing principle is clear: we are taking care of Israelis, we are taking care of Jews…”

A number of heartwarming stories have emerged from amid the chaos and bloodshed. A student from Gaza fleeing the fighting arrived on the border with Moldova to see the flag of Israel flying from a United Hatzalah (Israeli emergency medical services dispatched to provide humanitarian aid to refugees) post. He approached his Jewish neighbors, who immediately began helping the young man make his way back to Gaza.

Israel’s efforts are not going unnoticed. A Moroccan man fleeing Ukraine spoke to Israeli representatives on the border, praising the Jewish state’s efforts. “It is war,” he said in broken English. “Nobody can go there. But the embassy of Israel goes there and saves its citizens.”

The news isn’t all good. Over the weekend an Israeli citizen, 37-year-old Roman Brodsky, was killed while attempting to escape Ukraine. Brodsky died as he was trying to make his way to the border.

Israel’s efforts do not extend to its citizens alone. As expected, the war in Ukraine triggered a wave of aliyah (immigration to Israel), as Ukrainian Jews flee the destruction in their country for the safety of the Promised Land. And Israel is rising to the occasion.

The Jewish Agency has stepped up its presence and operations in the area, operating from a central aliyah station in Lviv during the first few days after the invasion. Their efforts bore visible fruit when the first group of olim (new immigrants) from Ukraine crossed the border into Poland on Saturday. Bringing these Ukrainian Jews to safety entailed a “complex operation” and a “nerve-wracking 16-hour process.” The immigrants are currently housed in a hotel in Warsaw, where they will stay until they fly to their new home in Israel.

Israel expects numerous groups to follow suit, but coordinating the process is growing increasingly complex. The Jewish Agency was forced to move its operations from Lviv to the Polish side of the border. From there, emissaries will cross the border into Ukraine to continue assisting Ukrainian Jews who want to immigrate to Israel.

The agency has also set up six aliyah check-in stations at Ukraine’s border crossings with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary to provide immediate support to Jewish refugees fleeing Ukraine.

As Israel works around the clock to save Israelis and Jews, they need the help of their Christian brothers and sisters to come alongside them with financial assistance and prayers. The aliyah process, particularly under these hazardous conditions, is extremely costly, covering transport, flights, hotel accommodation and housing once in Israel. Some of these new olim fled with very little and do not have the savings to cover the cost of immigration. The Jewish Agency has reached out to Bridges for Peace for help and we have agreed. Will you help us? Will you help fleeing Ukrainian Jews come home to the safety of Israel? Will you save a life today?

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 2, 2022)

Photo Credit: Shmulik Fried

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for the safety of His people as they flee war-torn Ukraine. Beseech Him for safe journeys to the aliyah check-in stations, open border crossings and the ability to communicate with the Jewish Agency as it facilitates aliyah for thousands. Beseech Him for generosity on the part of Christians around the world as Bridges for Peace strives to provide whatever help is needed for those who are fleeing for their lives. Also cry out to Him that He will put it on the hearts of millions of Christians around the world to join with Bridges for Peace in praying fervently for all who are touched by the horrors of this war and especially for His chosen people who need desperately to come home.

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…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 43:1–3a, 5–6, emphasis added

Israel to the Rescue

by Kate Norman

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Israel sent 100 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine (illustrative).

Thursday, 3 March 2022 | As Russian military forces continue their eighth day of shelling cities across Ukraine, the besieged people and nation are receiving solidarity from around the world, as well as practical support and boots on the ground to help—particularly from Israel.

Israel must maintain a somewhat restrained stance on the Russia–Ukraine conflict in order to maintain good relations with both nations. The Jewish state nonetheless is still sending humanitarian aid, medical teams and even a field hospital to besieged Ukraine.

The field hospital will be manned only by civilians, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told Reshet Bet radio, careful to note that the Jewish state “does not intend to send soldiers to Ukraine.”

Israel has ties to both Moscow and Kyiv due to significant Jewish populations in both nations as well as a sizable number of the Jewish state’s population being immigrants from Russia and Ukraine.

Jerusalem also needs to refrain from poking the bear so that Russia, which maintains a sizable military force in Syria and controls the war-torn country’s airspace, will not shut the Syrian skies to Israeli fighter jets. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) regularly conducts air strikes in Syria, hitting terror targets and weapons shipments from Iran to its terrorist proxies in the region. If Russia blocks access to Israeli jets in Syria, Iran will be able to increase its presence and influence at Israel’s northern border unrestrained.

Nonetheless, Jerusalem has not sat idly by and watched the Ukrainian crisis from the sidelines.

Earlier this week, three Israeli airline El Al planes transported 100 tons of humanitarian aid supplies to Warsaw, Poland, which were then transported on the ground to Israeli diplomats on the Ukrainian border for distribution.

The care package included 17 tons of much-needed medical equipment and medicine as well as emergency water supply kits and water purification systems, winter tents, blankets, winter coats and sleeping bags, the Times of Israel reported.

“This is a gesture of friendship to the Ukrainian people,” a representative from the Israeli foreign ministry’s aid division told the Times of Israel. “The mission, 100 tons in one day to Ukraine, is without precedent and we should be proud about it.”

More than one million refugees have fled Ukraine since the first Russian tank rolled in last Thursday, the United Nations announced this morning. Most are crossing into Poland, but displaced Ukrainians are fleeing across any land border they can reach.

An Israeli emergency response team arrived in Moldova earlier this week, where they have set up a field hospital and clinic to help treat the worn and weary refugees.

“Many, many people are crossing this border,” one of the United Hatzalah medics told the Times of Israel. “Many are coming with nothing. Most of them are women with children, and grandmothers, elderly, because the men are not allowed to leave.”

The one million people who have escaped the war-torn nation now includes busloads of over 100 Jewish orphans who crossed into Romania last night with the help of an Israeli diplomat on the ground.

“Travel safely and carry on to a destination where you will have a much better life,” Israeli Consul in Bucharest Roni Shabtai told the group of children last night, as they rested before continuing on their journey to safety in the Jewish state.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the Jewish state to act as a mediator between Kyiv and Moscow on Friday.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin, offering Jerusalem’s services as a go-between negotiator. Putin did not jump on the offer.

Ukrainian and Russian officials are set to meet today in Belarus for a second round of talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed this morning. The first round of talks on Monday ended as Zelenskyy said he expected: no progress.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 3, 2022)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the desperately needed aid Israel has provided for the people of Ukraine. Pray that more aid will follow, and cry out to Him for His blessing and protection for the emergency response teams and the field hospitals and clinics they are establishing. Pray that many “worn and weary refugees” will be helped, and ask that His presence accompany the Israeli teams, bringing His consolation to each person they help. Cry out for the wounded and those who have lost loved ones, for families who have been separated and for terrified children. Pray they will experience the power and presence of the God of Israel.

Scripture

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.


- Psalm 46:9–11

Israel, Germany Announce New Strategic Cooperation in a Significant Upgrade in Relations

by JNS

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem

Thursday, 3 March 2022 | Israel and Germany announced new strategic cooperation that is being hailed as a significant upgrade in relations amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the two leaders “have agreed on the creation of a new strategic cooperation between the State of Israel and Germany. This will be in the format of a biannual dialogue on security and diplomatic matters.”

“I think that this is a significant upgrade in our relations,” Bennett added.

The Israeli leader said that Scholz’s visit—which comes amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as Germany and other world powers [being] engaged in talks with Iran over its nuclear program—comes at a “very fateful and sensitive time.”

“We just spoke at length on the situation in Ukraine. Our obligation as leaders is to do our utmost to stop the bloodshed, to bring what is going on from the battlefield to the negotiating table as quickly as possible; it is still not too late,” Bennett said.

Bennett also said Israel is “closely monitoring the talks in Vienna including the possibility that an agreement will be signed that allows Iran to install centrifuges on a broad scale within a few years. This possibility is unacceptable to us.”

“Israel will know how to defend itself and ensure both its security and its future. We also expect our friends in the world not to countenance a massive installation of centrifuges in another two-and-a-half years, and to already prepare for the day after,” Bennett said.

However, Scholz said that a new nuclear agreement with Iran “cannot be postponed any longer.”

“What we would like to see is that an agreement is reached in Vienna,” the German leader added.

The visit by Scholz, the first since he took over as German chancellor from Angela Merkel in December, was planned well ahead of the current situation in Ukraine and still went ahead despite the crisis.

Scholz also said that he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Bennett.

“We are extremely worried about the further course of the conflict. I want to repeat my call for all military action to stop immediately. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must cease. And of course, it’s now about giving diplomacy a big opportunity again,” Scholz said.

Last Sunday, Scholz broke with decades of Germany policy when he announced that he ordered the military to supply arms to Ukrainians, including 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 surface-to-air missiles. Furthermore, Scholz also announced a major increase in German defense spending.

Nevertheless, Israel has been more tepid in its approach to the Russian–Ukrainian conflict. While Israel has provided humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainians, it has stopped short of full condemnation or joining any western sanctions against the Russian regime.

Scholz said that Germany values its ongoing “strategic dialogue” with Israel.

“Germany will always stand fast by Israel’s side,” Scholz said.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 2, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Koby Gideon/GPO/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this “significant upgrade” in relations between Israel and Germany. Pray that Germany will in fact be committed to Scholz’s promise to remain steadfast in its support of Israel, and cry out to Him that the nations of the world will not enter into an agreement with Iran that will imperil Israel, the region and the world.

Scripture

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.


- Lamentations 3:21–22

Israel, US Hold First Combined Red Sea Operation of its Kind against Iran-backed Militias

by JNS

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An American Navy ship seen in the Port of Eilat on the Red Sea

Thursday, 3 March 2022 | Israel and the United States launched the first joint operation of its kind in the Red Sea to thwart threats by Iran-backed militias, Kan reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, an American intelligence-gathering aircraft that detects naval vessels landed at Uvda Air Force Base in southern Israel and is taking part in naval activities together with the Israeli Navy.

“Cooperation with the Americans has been made possible after Israel’s joining of the Central Command’s Area of Responsibility,” the report said, referring to Israel’s move from the US Military’s European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for the Middle East.

The Red Sea patrols aim at uncovering Shi’ite militia activities aimed at conducting attacks at Israel from Yemen, among other missions, the report said.

The development comes after the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, stationed at Bahrain, V. Adm. Brad Cooper, told CNN that Israeli unmanned naval vessels were taking part in American operations in the Middle East.

In February, Kan reported that Israel enabled an American officer to take part, for the first time, in an Israeli Air Force exercise simulating long-range targets, including in Iran. The exercise reportedly involved tens of aircraft and was held as Iran nuclear talks appeared to approach their final round.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on March 2, 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
Praise the Lord for Israel’s strategic partnership with the US and for these joint exercises. Pray that they will serve to bolster the relationship between the two nations and strengthen joint operations to protect Israel and the region. Cry out that those nations that would attack God’s people will see Israel’s strength and retreat in fear.

Scripture

Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.


- Deuteronomy 28:10

Hamas, Hezbollah Leaders Meet in Lebanon to Discuss Israel

by Shahar Klaiman ~ Israel Hayom via JNS

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Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah meet in Beirut in 2017.

Monday, 28 February 2022 | A Hamas delegation met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon on Saturday.

The delegation was headed by the head of the Gaza-based terrorist organization’s political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, and deputy Hamas leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya. According to recent reports, al-Hayya’s standing within the terrorist group is on the rise. Al-Arouri is responsible for Hamas’s terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria.

Hezbollah-affiliated media outlets reported that the sides discussed the recent developments in the Palestinian arena, namely events in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The sides also reportedly discussed the future of the conflict with Israel and the political situation in the Middle East.

Several months ago, Hamas leader abroad Khaled Mashaal visited Lebanon in the aftermath of the December 10 explosion at the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp near Tyre.

Killed in the blast was a Hamas engineer named Hamza Ibrahim Shahine, whose funeral turned into a gun battle between gunmen from Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] and Hamas, reportedly leaving three people dead. Mashaal didn’t meet with Nasrallah at the time, and the belief is that the Assad regime’s animosity toward several of Hamas’s leaders was the reason why.

Two months before the blast, the mosque at Burj al-Shemali was flagged as a main Hamas weapons manufacturing workshop in a detailed report by the Alma Research and Education Center, a security watchdog based in northern Israel.

“Hamas does not just see itself as a guest in Lebanon,” Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, who served for 20 years in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Military Intelligence Directorate and is now the director of the research department at the Alma Center, said at the time.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and republished by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 27, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See the JNS article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hezbollah press office/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will put an end to any unholy alliance between these terrorist organizations that are bent on Israel’s destruction. Ask the Lord for continued disunity and animosity between them that will keep them from joining forces in their efforts to drive God’s people from the land He has given them.

Scripture

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.


- Amos 9:14–15

Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Aims to Bridge Israel’s Political Divide

by Josh Hasten ~ JNS

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Christian community leaders from Israel and around the world attending a session on the Israeli Knesset as part of the Israel Allies Caucus.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022 | In working to strengthen the Israeli legislature’s ties with Israel’s Christian friends, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus will simultaneously strive to transcend the polarization in Israeli politics, according to the caucus’s new co-chair, former Knesset [Parliament] Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud [Party]).

Edelstein told JNS on February 28, when the caucus held a relaunch conference at the Knesset after numerous postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that “my role is to further strengthen relationships between the representatives of the eight different political parties who are part of this caucus.”

The caucus, Edelstein believes, can be an effective forum “to demonstrate that we have common denominators when it comes to security and other issues.”

Monday’s event was held in the presence of members of Knesset representing political parties both in the government coalition and opposition. Twenty MKs [members of Knesset] are members of the caucus.

Also in attendance were Christian community leaders from Israel and around the world, as the goal of the caucus is to open direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives.

The event began with the recitation of the “Shechiyanu” blessing by Josh Reinstein, director of the caucus and president of the Israel Allies Foundation, who expressed his gratitude to G-d* for being able to host the gathering.

Edelstein and fellow caucus co-chair MK Sharren Haskel (New Hope) addressed the room; Haskel had chaired the caucus on her own in the previous Knesset.

Israel’s “hearts and prayers are with Jews and non-Jews alike in the midst of the bloody conflict going on in Europe,” Edelstein said, referring to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, where the former Knesset speaker was born.

Edelstein drew a connection between the Russian invasion and threats by Iran against Israel, saying “that when push comes to shove, we [Israel] will have to rely on ourselves—our IDF [Israel Defense Forces], Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] and other security forces” to neutralize the threat.

Haskel also commented on the situation in Ukraine, saying that various Israeli governmental bodies are active in supplying humanitarian aid to the Jewish community under fire in that country.

“As Christian friends of Israel and as Jews from all over the world, you understand the trauma of seeing Jews fleeing their homes,” she said. “At this time, we stand together for all people and our shared values of freedom.”

Similar to Edelstein, Haskel invoked the Iranian threat, saying that the new deal currently being negotiated by Western powers in Vienna “will not prevent Iran from having nuclear capabilities in the coming years.”

She added that Israel “has maintained the right to defend itself,” stressing that Iran “is also a threat to its neighbors and the entire world.”

Turning to the Christian friends of Israel in the room, Haskel said: “Your voice and support of Israel is greatly appreciated. There is a clear moral voice coming from our Christian friends around the world in the face of accusations by groups like Amnesty International. They want to delegitimize the existence of the State of Israel.”

Haskel told JNS that “building face-to-face bridges” between Jews and Christians was challenging during the pandemic as a result of travel restrictions. “There is nothing better than being in Jerusalem and picking up the stones and experiencing that personal connection to the land and its people…to come with the Bible and walk around the country and feel it,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of Israeli MKs visiting Christian communities abroad “and feeling that embrace,” as she has experienced.

“Our community should feel that love and support after experiencing disappointment for so many years,” said Haskel, adding, “We have to work together to target anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Semitism around the world.”

Reinstein said that faith-based diplomacy—entailing Jews and Christians joining together to defend Judeo–Christian values, standing up for Israel, and combating BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and anti-Semitism—is the most effective tool in achieving progress in support for Israel.

He attributed faith-based diplomacy as the driving force behind America’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as well as for Israel obtaining observer status at the African Union.

Reinstein told JNS that the caucus has many issues on its agenda in the coming months, including “the implementation of IHRA (the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism). A lot of countries have adopted it but haven’t implemented it.”

He added that “we will be working in Europe to stop the labeling regulations on goods from Jerusalem, the Golan, and Judea and Samaria.”

Reinstein said that the caucus is also working to have other countries move their embassies to Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, including the African nation of Malawi.

*Orthodox Jews do not spell out the Lord’s name in order to show reverence to Him.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 28, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Josh Hasten/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the work it is doing to strengthen the relationship between Israel’s political leaders and Christians in Israel and around the world. Thank Him for the crucial role Bridges for Peace plays in this endeavor, and cry out to Him for the ever-increasing success of faith-based diplomacy, building support for Israel and bringing the blessing of God’s truth to the nations.

Scripture

“Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation: for law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples.”


- Isaiah 51:4