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Friday, May 6, 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.

Terror Attack on Yom Ha’atzmaut: Three Murdered, Four Seriously Wounded

by JNS Staff

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Israeli security and rescue personnel at the scene of a terrorist attack on Yom Ha’azmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

Friday, 6 May 2022 | Security forces are searching for the attackers who killed three Israelis and injured at least four people, two critically, in the central Israeli city of Elad, not far from Petah Tikva. The attack on Thursday night came as celebrations for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, were winding down.

“Unfortunately, three people who we performed CPR on have been pronounced dead,” said Moshe Sa’adon, a volunteer EMT with United Hatzalah [Israeli volunteer-based emergency medical services] and head of Elad Hatzalah, who was one of the first emergency-service personnel on the scene. “We also treated two people in serious condition, one person in moderate condition and a number of people lightly injured.”

Also treating patients is Magen David Adom [MDA/Israel’s ambulance service]. Director general Eli Bin tweeted: “At the moment, reports indicate six victims in serious condition. Many MDA teams are at the scene treating the victims at this moment.”

One of the victims who was killed was reported as being a man in his 40s. A witness at the scene heard shouts of “Allahu Akbar [Arabic, “Allah is the greatest”]” during the attack, according to Israeli media.

The suspects, who attacked people in the city’s central park by Ibn Gvirol Street, were believed to be armed with an ax and perhaps a firearm. With the aid of at least one helicopter, security forces are searching the area for the assailants. Elad Mayor Yisrael Porush told residents to stay inside while security forces were operating.

Jewish groups worldwide immediately responded to the news, offering prayers and support.

“When will the hatred and violence end?” said a tweet from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Canada. “We are sickened to learn of yet another suspected terror attack in Israel, which has taken the lives of three people and injured several others. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”

Agudath Israel of America tweeted that it is “horrified by the news of a terror attack in Elad, Israel. We are praying for the victims and their families.” They followed up that tweet with the text of Psalm 130, which many recite in times of trouble.

Stand With Us tweeted: “At least three innocent people were murdered in tonight’s deadly terror attack in Elad, central Israel, #Israel, and at least 3 more are left fighting for their lives, as Israelis were celebrating Israel’s Independence Day. May their memories forever be a blessing.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said: “No current peace partner in Holy Land. Palestinian leadership continues to praise and support terrorists, and reward them and their families for murdering and maiming Jews. It will stop when the world holds [Palestinian] leadership accountable for their incitement and support for terrorism.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 5, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Prayer Focus
Cover the loved ones of the victims in prayer, asking the Lord to heal them of their pain and comfort them in their time of mourning. Cry out to the Lord to bring a swift end to the wave of bloodshed and terror. Ask for His diving hand of protection over the nation and people of Israel, that they will be protected against any acts of terror or hatred.

Scripture

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


- Psalm 23:4

Russia and the Unforgivable “Jewish Hitler” Claim

by Ilse Strauss

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 | “Delusional.” “Abhorrent.” “Scandalous.”

Israeli leaders yesterday lashed out with a blaze of condemnation at the Russian foreign minister over an “unforgivable” insult that boils down to blood libel.

The spark that ignited the firestorm? “I believe that Hitler…had Jewish blood,” Sergey Lavrov said during an interview with Italian news channel Zona Bianca on Sunday. “Some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews,” he added.

Lavrov’s statement came in answer to a question posed during the interview: Explain Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifying of the invasion of Ukraine—or the “special military operation” as Russia calls it—as a valiant attempt to denazify its sovereign neighbor, seeing that the alleged Nazified country is led by a Jew—a democratically elected one, no less.

The Russian foreign minister defended Moscow’s motives by dismissing the possibility that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s ethnicity entailed any kind of Jewish loyalty. “So what if Zelenskyy is Jewish. The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine.”

As proof of his argument, Lavrov offered the conspiracy theory of Hitler’s Jewish roots—a theory that historians have proven false time and time again—and finished off with his belief that the worst atrocities against Jews are committed by Jews themselves.

Peace between Russia and Ukraine is really easy to achieve, Lavrov continued. Zelenskyy merely needs to “stop giving orders to his Nazi forces that border on crime.”

Israel answered Lavrov almost immediately, denouncing his claims and demanding an apology.

“I view with utmost severity the Russian foreign minister’s statement,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. “His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong. The goal of such lies is to accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history, which were perpetrated against them, and thereby absolve Israel’s enemies of responsibility.”

Lavrov’s Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, reacted in even stronger terms.

“This is an unforgivable and scandalous comment, a terrible historical error and we expect an apology,” the Israeli foreign minister said. “Hitler was not of Jewish origin and the Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest form of racism against Jews is blaming the Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.”

“We are making every effort to maintain good relations with Russia,” Lapid continued, “but there is a line, and this time the line has been crossed. The Russian government must apologize to us and to the Jewish people.”

He added that the Russian ambassador had been summoned for a “clarification conversation.”

Various other Israeli leaders joined the chorus of outrage, decrying Lavrov’s statement as “absurd,” “delusional,” “abhorrent,” “dangerous” and an attempt at “justifying the terrible things that Russia is doing in Ukraine.”

Dani Dayan, head of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, suggested that Lavrov might benefit from a visit to Israel’s Holocaust museum and memorial to be educated. “He crossed a red line,” Dayan told Army Radio. “Blaming the Jews for the Holocaust is an unacceptable blood libel.”

Zelenskyy also spoke via a video posted to his Telegram channel. “Russia’s top diplomat is blaming the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. No words.”

“After the deaths of ordinary people, who survived the Nazi occupation and Nazi concentration camps, from Russian shelling, such an anti-Semitic expression by their minister means all the lessons of World War II have been forgotten. Or maybe those lessons were never learned,” Ukraine’s Jewish president said.

Then, in an apparent reference to Israel’s policy of toeing the diplomatic line between offering support for Ukraine and maintaining positive relations with Russia, Zelenskyy asked, “The question is, will the Israeli ambassador stay in Moscow knowing their new position? Will relations with Russia remain as usual?”

That is indeed the question.

Israel has made a dedicated effort to steer clear of the conflict—and for good reason. Jerusalem is one of the only countries that maintains close relations with both Kyiv and Moscow. 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, who controls the Syrian skies.

However, in March, Israel joined 140 other UN General Assembly (UNGA) member 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. Moreover, last month Jerusalem said it would supply the civil emergency services in Ukraine with helmets and flak jackets, after months of refusing to assist Kyiv with weapons or defensive equipment. Lapid has also spoken out against Russian action in Ukraine on a number of occasions, notably explicitly accusing Moscow of war crimes. Bennett, for his part, has, however, stuck to more moderate language.

Could Lavrov’s comments spell the end of Israel’s neutrality? Were his claims enough to push Jerusalem off the fence?

Like Zelenskyy said, that is indeed the question.

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

Photo Credit: mid.ru/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray God’s hand of blessing over this difficult situation, that He will deal with the evil libels against Israel and the Jewish people being spread by Lavrov and the Russian government. Beseech the Lord that His truth will shine brightly through the darkness and dispel all evil and slander being spread.

Scripture

I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.


- Psalm 57:2–3

Israeli Start-up to Offer Fast Diagnosis for Cancer Patients

by Alexandra Lukash ~ Ynetnews

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A cluster of cancer cells

Wednesday, 4 May 2022 | A new Israeli start-up seeks to provide medical professionals with a quick and reliable way to diagnose cancerous tumors on the spot and give oncologic patients better, potentially life-saving treatment.

The technology, developed by Israel-based biotech firm Imagene, is based on state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, which can detect a broad range of cancerous biomarkers and genomic insights directly from a biopsy image and tailor a unique personalized treatment for each patient almost immediately, reducing the long waiting time for the decoding of biopsy images at a laboratory.

“For decades, we diagnosed cancer mainly by the organ on which the tumor was located, and similar treatments were given to all patients who suffered from the same type of cancer,” said Imagene CEO Dean Bitan.

“Along with the ability to read the human genome and identify cancerous mutations in DNA, we were able to give customized treatments to those patients and significantly improve their response rates and chances of survival.

“We developed an algorithm that gleans from the biopsy image the presence of those same mutations within two minutes.

“The development also makes it possible to assess the chances of the patient’s response to a specific treatment…The result [is] very fast diagnosis, which allows the best treatment for each patient according to their individual condition,” Bitan explained, adding that the development and treatment of cancer are contingent on many variables, including gender, ethnicity, and genetics.

“We don’t contract cancer like we contract COVID or other diseases. We develop it slowly under the influence of various variables. However, we are still trying to simplify the illness and divide the patients into very large subsets,” he said.

“We want to give a diagnosis that allows maximum accuracy and addresses all the relevant variables to that specific patient. Artificial intelligence does this extraordinarily, and allows us to see things that are not visible to the naked eye and that we did not know about until now.”

Imagene’s technology is already in use at Sourasky and Sheba medical center in central Israel, albeit in an experimental capacity, and has already largely proven to be as accurate as existing tests considered the gold standard of current medicine.

“But our advantage is that we provide a better picture of the tumor so that the patient receives accurate treatment that is appropriate for the tumor in question, and at much lower cost,” Bitan said.

“If genetic flooring costs today several hundred dollars, our test is at a minimal cost of a few shekels because it eliminates the process of laboratories and researchers.”

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

Photo Credit: Annie Cavanagh/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this marvelous step forward in cancer detection and treatment. Praise His name that His people and His nation are bringing Him glory and honor through the many ways they are blessing the world—through medical, technological and countless other advancements.

Scripture

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:3

Yom HaZikaron: Israel Remembers its Fallen

by Kate Norman

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Israeli service members at a ceremony at the Western Wall on May 3, 2022, for Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror

Wednesday, 4 May 2022 | Last night ushered in another somber day on Israel’s calendar, Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, when the Jewish state stops to remember those who have fallen in service of Israel and in terror attacks.

Starting at 8 p.m. last night, a siren wailed across the nation, bringing everything to a stop. Traffic halted and people got out of their cars, families having dinner exited their homes and hung their heads, people on the streets paused, remembering their dead. And in Israel, just about everyone knows someone who has died, either a soldier, service member or a terror victim.

“The siren that sliced through our lives a few minutes ago is the purest moment in the Israeli calendar,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said last night at a ceremony at the Western Wall, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “A moment that plucks the cords of our souls. A moment of mighty, bitter grief. A moment that speaks to the essence of this week, the essence of the State of Israel itself: from the deepest grief to the miracle of independence and rebirth.”

Since the last Memorial Day, 177 people—both security personnel and civilians—were killed or died from injuries incurred in past attacks, according to Israeli media.

In the past year, 33 Israelis were killed in terror attacks, the Times of Israel reported—15 alone since the end of March in Israel’s recent terror wave—bringing the total count of terror victims up to 3,199 since the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948.

Also in the past year, 56 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and service members— including police officers, security and intelligence agents, and prison wardens—have fallen in service. In addition, the Jerusalem Post reported, another 84 IDF veterans died from past wounds incurred while serving the nation. That number brings the total dead up to 24,069 since 1860, according to the Jerusalem Post, which includes pre-state militias.

“This day calls on all the people of Israel to unite in memory and identification,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi wrote in a statement published on the IDF website, as translated by Google. “This day is slowing down the routine and taking time for all the citizens of the country to stop and think about the fallen and their families, to stop and reconcile with the immense pain they carry on a regular basis.”

The tombstones and memorials to the fallen across the state of Israel, Kochavi said, “remind us that thanks to the price of blood, the State of Israel has become a safe and protected place.”

Last night a large ceremony was held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, attended by Israel’s top political and military leaders, including President Herzog and Kochavi.

Before the ceremony began, sirens blared across the nation beginning at 8 p.m. and lasting for a minute, pausing the hustle and bustle and crying out for the nation to stop and remember.

“Our sons and daughters,” Herzog said, “who fell in defense of our state, fought together and fell together. They did not ask, nor did anyone ask them, who was right-wing and who was left-wing, who was religious, who was secular, who was Jewish and who was not Jewish.”

“They fell as Israelis, defending Israel,” the president continued. “In cemeteries, arguments fall silent. Between the headstones, not a sound. A silence that demands that we fulfill, together, their single dying wish: the resurrection of Israel. The building of Israel. United, consolidated, responsible for each other. For we are all sisters and brothers.”

Kochavi also addressed the crowd, honoring the fallen soldiers killed in service of their state.

“They won’t return, but thanks to them, many returned,” the chief of staff said. “Thanks to them, ten thousands of civilians were saved.”

This morning at 11 a.m., another siren called out remembrance for each and every fallen Israeli, just before the traditional ceremony at Mount Herzl and many other smaller ceremonies across the country.

Entertainment venues across the country are shut down, and stories of the fallen are being broadcast on every available platform to ensure each person is remembered.

The somberness of Holocaust Remembrance Day last week and today’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims are paired together before the joy and celebration of Independence Day for a purpose. Remembering the Jewish people who have fallen, whether murdered senselessly or in defending the nation, serves as a reminder for why the Jewish state is so important. It is a safe place for the Jewish people to live and worship in freedom and peace.

“In Israel, it was decided in accordance with the law that the Independence Day needs to begin the moment that Remembrance Day ends,” the IDF website said. “This is because the State of Israel wouldn’t be able to celebrate its existence if it weren’t for those who gave their lives for it.

“We wouldn’t be able to have one of those days without the other one,” the defense army’s website concludes. “We honor their memory and everything they fought for, so that today, we can celebrate our independence.”

At sunset, as the new day begins on the Hebrew calendar, the mourning and solemn atmosphere will give way to one of joy and celebration as Israelis begin celebrating Israel’s Independence Day.

But first they remember.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 4, 2022)

Photo Credit: Autumn Groat/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for all the Israelis who have lost a loved one, whether in service of the nation or in a terror attack. Pray for healing for the countless Israelis who have suffered loss. But also thank the Lord for the continued existence of the Jewish state as a safe haven for the Jewish people.

Scripture

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand…Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”


- Deuteronomy 7:6–8a, 9

Jordan Demands Total Control, Reduced Jewish Presence on Temple Mount

by Israel Kasnett ~ JNS

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Palestinians celebrating al-Quds Day at the Temple Mount, April 29, 2022

Monday, 2 May 2022 | Jordan fears it is losing its recognized status as official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy [Islamic] sites, including the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, as Palestinians incited by Hamas, other terror groups and the Palestinian Authority [PA] continuously held riots during the Muslim month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed].

In at least one incident, rioters nearly set the Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire. Jordan has blamed Israel for the violence and for violating the status quo there. And now, it is demanding total control over the Temple Mount, with worrying consequences. But experts say the story goes deeper.

Moshe Albo, a senior researcher in the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Reichman University in Herzliya (formerly the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya), told JNS that in order to understand what’s happening in Jerusalem, it’s important to understand the broader context.

He explained that Jordan is currently experiencing “huge” domestic economic and political crises. With soaring energy and basic food prices, in addition to visible cracks within the royal family, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is losing his image of stability.

The country is also worried that Hamas is replacing it as custodian and “gatekeeper” of the Temple Mount.

Responding to criticism that Israeli Police used heavy-handed tactics to quell Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, earlier this week Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Hamas of orchestrating the riots. At this point, Palestinian rioters seem to be listening to instructions from Hamas—not the Jordanian Waqf [Muslim religious trust].

On top of that, Jordan is worried about Gulf states replacing it as the custodian of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim sites.

Jordan did not participate in the recent “Negev Summit,” and according to Albo, it sees the United Arab Emirates, the Saudis and Moroccans as contenders for custodianship over Al-Aqsa—a message that has recently been voiced a number of times.

On Friday, Israeli journalist Yoni Ben-Menachem tweeted that there is a “disagreement between the UAE and Jordan over the Temple Mount.”

He wrote that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, “demands that the status quo on the Temple Mount allow freedom of worship for members of all religions, as stipulated in the standardization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. King Abdullah opposes that and claims this violates the existing status quo and the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.”

That is a groundbreaking statement by an Arab leader to make, especially given the timing, and suggests regional elbowing for control of the Temple Mount.

According to Albo, the Jordanian reaction to what is taking place on the Temple Mount is a result of its desire to secure its responsibility over the mountain and to ensure that no other regional player replaces it as custodian.

“The Jordanians do not like the Gulf states talking about the mountain,” said Albo, “but [Jordan] is hardly in a position to secure its position.”

As part of its concern over losing control, Jordan reportedly submitted a letter to the Biden administration, demanding the Waqf (Muslim religious guards) be given total control over the Temple Mount. It wants to institute a dress code for non-Muslims, as well as limit visitors to groups no larger than five people. Jordan is also demanding that Israel Police no longer be allowed on the Temple Mount, even if rioters attack Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall or visitors to the site itself.

Its demands also include giving the Waqf the authority to severely restrict non-Muslim visits to the Temple Mount; requiring non-Muslims to apply to visit in writing in advance; and setting restrictive tour routes of no more than 500 feet (150 meters) in each direction for non-Muslim visitors.

Netanyahu ‘Was only Part of the Problem’

Israeli media reported on Friday that Israel has so far rejected Jordan’s demands.

According to Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Jordanian request “is almost certainly a non-starter.”

He said Israel is not likely to change the status quo in the Old City, and Jordan’s “aggressive push for more control could even spur tensions with Israel.”

Schanzer noted that Amman’s ties with Israel were expected to improve after the departure of longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who “was said to be the primary obstacle to warmer ties.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz all made state visits to Jordan in recent months—a sign that Israel’s ties with Jordan are strong and cooperation is at its highest level in years.

However, with this most recent flare-up in Israel-Jordan ties, Schanzer suggested that “it is clear now that [Netanyahu] was only part of the problem. The other problem appears to be Jordan’s policy of siding with the Palestinians in just about every instance. This approach is not sustainable if the goal is to build stronger ties with Israel or to help guide the Palestinians toward reform and eventual statehood.”

Albo also said he doesn’t believe Israel will allow Jordan to expand the Waqf’s responsibilities since it would change the existing status quo. It is this status quo that has everyone so agitated and on edge.

Jordan and the Palestinians insist on reinstituting the status quo as it was agreed upon before the year 2000 when non-Muslims required Waqf permission in advance to visit the Temple Mount. They maintain that the status quo has been violated since then.

Israel insists on maintaining the status quo after 2000, when non-Muslims were given freer access to visit—though not pray on—the Temple Mount without requiring Waqf permission.

According to Hillel Frisch, a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and an expert on the Arab world at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, the Waqf in most Arab states “are Muslim Brotherhood adherents. They are co-opted by the state and closely monitored. Here, the situation is much more complicated and hence Jordanian custodianship much more problematic.”

But it is not only the Waqf that is problematic. According to Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the PA also “played a major role in incitement to demonstrate on the Temple Mount, spreading fabricated claims that Israel is seeking to change the status quo there.”

Israeli and Jordanian officials are expected to meet after Ramadan to discuss the Palestinian violence and a perceived change to the status quo there, but now Israeli officials say they are refusing to meet due to incendiary remarks made by Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh.

At a Parliament meeting last week, Khasawneh said, “I salute every Palestinian, and all the employees of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, who proudly stand like minarets, hurling their stones in a volley of clay at the Zionist sympathizers defiling the Al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation government.”

Israel said it will wait to meet with Jordanian representatives until after a number of dates that may see Palestinian incitement and rioting pass. Those dates include Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha’aztmaut) on May 5, Nakba Day [“Day of Catastrophe” when Arabs commemorate the day when Israel declared independence] on May 15 and Jerusalem Day on May 29.

‘Palestinian Terror Groups Inflaming the Holy Sites’

Meanwhile, King Abdullah is in Washington to discuss these issues with the Biden administration. His trip comes after PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Jordan on Wednesday, where Abdullah reaffirmed Jordan’s full support for the Palestinians.

The Biden administration, notably US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has consistently called for “calm on both sides.”

But Israel has pushed back against such unfair and inaccurate representations of the reality on the ground.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan told the UN Security Council on Monday that this demand is “completely detached from reality. The very notion that mobs of violent rioters motivated by radical Islamic terror groups could be placed on the same moral scale as a law-abiding democracy making every effort to keep the peace is ludicrous.”

He added that “the only ones breaking the status quo on the Temple Mount are the Palestinian terror groups inflaming the holy sites.”

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland agreed with Israel’s version of events when he addressed the UN Security Council, saying “Palestinians threw stones, fireworks and other heavy objects toward Israeli security forces…Following a standoff with those inside, Israeli police entered the mosque and arrested those barricaded inside.”

It seems that Wennesland agrees that the idea that “both sides” are creating violence is nonsense.

Israel is consistently called on by the international community to protect freedom of worship at all holy sites. Yet Jordan, as well as the international community, has long insisted that Israeli authorities restrict Jewish freedom of worship on Judaism’s holiest site in the name of maintaining the status quo.

According to Frisch, “just as no other country in the world compromises its sovereignty in its capital, so should Israel have maintained its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the most important site in its capital [when it liberated it in 1967]. Conceding to Jordanian control over the Temple Mount, when the real powers behind the scenes are the PA and Hamas, has compromised this sovereignty evermore to the detriment of the security of Jerusalem’s citizens, both Jews and Arabs.”

He noted that “most Arabs want to pray in peace on the Temple Mount just like the Jews, but the Waqf, presumably under Jordanian control but in reality manned by Hamas adherents, turn the Temple Mount into an arena of increasing violence.”

For its part, Israel has been working hard to control events on the ground as well as in diplomatic circles.

Israel’s foreign ministry led significant efforts to influence the narrative in recent weeks amid the wave of terror attacks targeting Israelis and efforts by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other extremists to hijack the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem and from there, a violent conflict across the country.

Lapid held a briefing for the foreign press and the ministry to confront fake news meant to inflame tensions in real-time on social media networks and in the media. The ministry also used its digital platforms to express Israel’s desire to calm the situation in more than 50 languages to some 10 million followers. In Arabic alone, the ministry’s social-media efforts reached 8 million viewers over the last two weeks, according to the foreign ministry.

Albo was optimistic. He said the big test will be after the Eid al-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of the month-long Ramadan.

On Thursday, a reported 200,000 worshipers attended prayers on the Temple Mount for Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr in Arabic), a significant date on the Islamic calendar during the month of Ramadan. Friday drew huge numbers to the mount as well for the last Friday prayers of Ramadan.

“If these pass peacefully,” he said, “then overall, the incitement did not succeed. If you look at the strategic picture, the world was focused on Ukraine and not focused on Jerusalem. The Palestinians did not succeed in transferring the events in Jerusalem to the whole Palestinian issue.”

“Until now,” he said, “Israel succeeded in maintaining stability.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on April 29, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jamal Awad/Flash90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Lift up the Temple Mount—the holiest site in Judaism, the site where the first and second temples once stood, now the flashpoint of violence and religious tensions in Jerusalem—in prayer. Ask the Lord to once again restore His holy hill to the hands of His people so that anyone, not just Muslims, will be able to ascend the mount in prayer and worship.

Scripture

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.


- Psalm 43:3–4

Iran, Hezbollah Mark Annual Al-Quds Day

by Ilse Strauss

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Burning Israeli flag in Gaza (illustrative)

Monday, 2 May 2022 | Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran and other cities across Iran on Friday to mark an annual event that the Islamic Republic celebrates with relish each year. The special occasion is known as Al-Quds Day, borrowing the title from the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

In theory, it a day dedicated to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause. In practice, it is 24 hours set aside to flag burning, Israel and US bashing and death threat-chanting rallies and demonstrations taking place across the length and breadth of the country.

Al-Quds Day was instituted in 1979 when then Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a rallying call: “I invite Muslims all over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the…Muslim people of Palestine.”

Millions answered the call, and for the past 40 odd years, Muslims around the world have set the last Friday of Ramadan aside as an annual anti-Israel day to rally against the Jewish state.

Al-Quds Day is particularly popular in the Khomeini’s home country. Each year, the event sees thousands of Iranians take to the streets to gawk at parades showcasing the country’s military prowess and to partake in popular Al-Quds Day activities, such as burning Israeli and American flags, evoking the Jewish state’s destruction, watching effigies of Israeli and American leaders go up in flames and chanting “Death to America and Israel.”

This year was extra special, though. After a two-year COVID-induced hiatus, attendees were once again free to gather and spew vitriol in the first state-sponsored hate-fest since 2019.

All the rallies in the Iranian capital headed to Tehran University, where attendees concluded the anti-Israel activities with Friday noon prayers. Similar rallies took place in 900 other cities and villages across Iran, as well as in Syria, Pakistan, Bahrain and Israel.

President Ebrahim Raisi took time out of his busy schedule to march in the Quds Day rallies in Tehran and address the teeming crowds.

“This great movement that we are witnessing today…is a symbol of the solidarity of the Muslim people that will lead to the destruction of the Zionist regime,” the state-run news outlet ISNA quoted him as saying.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hossein Salami echoed his president’s sentiments regarding Israel’s fate. According to Salami, the Quds Force—the international arm of the IRCG—was established to “expand the Islamic revolution in other Islamic countries, with the aim of pressuring the Zionist regime…and in the near future, the regime’s elimination from the world’s political geography.”

For his part, Quds Force commander Gen. Esmail Ghaani pledged Iran’s allegiance to anyone willing to take on Israel. “We support any front that is formed against this criminal regime, and we will support any community that is ready to fight this criminal regime,” ISNA quoted him as saying.

In a deviation from his normal rhetoric, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not call for Israel’s demise. Instead, he slammed the Arab states who went from enmity to friendship with the Jewish state as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

“We condemn the treacherous move to normalize relations,” he said.

As usual, Iran also used the rallies to showcase its military might. This year, a number of IRGC-developed missiles, including the Khaibar Buster missile—dubbed the “Israel hitters”—were on display throughout Tehran.

Meanwhile, dozens of supporters of Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah, gathered on Israel’s northern border to mark Al-Quds Day, protesting, waving Hezbollah and Iranian flags and chanting vows to liberate Jerusalem. More Hezbollah fighters spent the day rallying in the terror group’s strongholds in the Lebanese capital.

Addressing his followers from an undisclosed location, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah lauded the string of terror attacks in which 15 Israelis have been murdered as well as the recent rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon.

Another Iranian terror proxy, Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, celebrated in the coastal enclave a day early with a ceremony added by hundreds of followers. Salami addressed the gathering all the way from Tehran via satellite, assuring Iran’s terror puppets of their puppeteer’s unwavering support as they continue launching rockets on Israeli civilians and do everything else in their power to annihilate their Jewish neighbors.

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

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

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray against the hatred and evil plans streaming out of Iran and its proxies, particularly Hezbollah, against Israel and the Jewish people. Pray that the world will see these evil intentions and declarations and take action. Above all, ask the Lord to thwart any and all of their schemes for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Scripture

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD.


- Isaiah 54:17

Online Platforms Fail Test When it Comes to Tackling Anti-Semitism

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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Political and Jewish leaders in New York City on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center released its 27th annual Digital Terrorism Report in partnership with Speaker of the New York City Council Adrienne Adams (at podium), on April 28, 2022.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 | While New York City is seeing a new surge of Jew-hatred, the breeding ground for the violent ideology behind it is stewing online. And social media and gaming sites are receiving failing grades in their efforts—or lack thereof—to stop it.

Coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 28, the Simon Wiesenthal Center released its 27th annual Digital Terrorism Report in partnership with Speaker of the New York City Council Adrienne Adams. The yearly report card from the Jewish human-rights organization serves as a comprehensive audit of social media and online communication platforms.

“The release of the 27th annual Digital Terrorism Report demonstrates that hate spreads online in social-media and gaming platforms, which often reaches and influences our young people,” Adams said. “We must continue to root out hate in all of its forms to make our communities safer.”

“We are seeing a significant rise in anti-Semitic activity. The ADL [Anti-Defamation League] just released a report saying that violent incidents are up 200% in the city, that acts in schools are up over 100%, that there is an increase on college campuses,” City Council member Eric Dinowitz, the chair of the council’s Jewish Caucus, told JNS.

It comes at a time of unprecedented Holocaust denial and distortion on global platforms by Nazis, racists and conspiracy theorists.

“I was heartened to see the full support given by the City Council, not just from Jewish members, but from black, Hispanic, Asian and all representatives. It’s a sign that we’re not in this fight alone,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), told JNS.

This year’s Digital Terrorism Report exposes widespread Russian disinformation and fake news sites connected to the invasion of Ukraine, along with conspiracy theories; virulent anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic hate messaging; the targeting of minority communities; and, perhaps most concerningly, the infiltration of children’s gaming platforms by neo-Nazis and other extremists.

Cooper pointed to SWC’s “Tools for Tolerance” program training, with cutting-edge courses on how to identify the varied strains of anti-Semitism festering across the globe and on social media, as an asset for law enforcement and the general public. Notably, SWC has partnered with the New York City Council over the past few years to deliver workshops on combating digital hate to thousands of middle- and high-school students.

“The hate is reaching a new generation. The battleground is online, and that’s where our children are. We’ve got to hold these platforms accountable and to educate parents on what they should be looking for,” said Cooper, who credited Adams, the council’s first black speaker, for her leadership on the issue.

The City Council is calling on the mayor’s office to pledge [US] $5 million for community hate-crime prevention and response work.

Dinowitz told JNS that the council is sponsoring a number of initiatives that address hate, and is pushing for more funding for community organizations for their hate-crime prevention and response work. He said he and a non-Jewish member of the council introduced a resolution calling on the state to pass legislation to review Holocaust education in the public schools, while another resolution supports the creation of a Jewish Heritage Day in the city. He also noted that Council Member Nantasha Williams (District 27 in Queens) is holding a hearing on hate crimes in the city and is reaching out to Jewish organizations to testify.

“I think we need to lean into education in terms of digital literacy, understanding what is fact and opinion, and what is hateful. But also, how it relates to what we are teaching in school about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, about how we’re bringing communities together to learn about each other’s cultures. Because ultimately, in the absence of these interactions, you’re going to have the hateful rhetoric online take hold,” he said.

Adams says the Jewish community in New York is still the most targeted for hate crimes, which can be fueled by misinformation and anti-Semitism, as well as conspiracy theories online.

“Across the country and in our city, communities have sadly witnessed and experienced the alarming uptick in hate crimes and violence,” said Adams at last week’s event. “When hate content is disseminated and allowed to spread in mainstream online platforms, it irresponsibly allows for hate to grow and turn into potential violent action.”

“I thank Rabbi Cooper and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for their work to shine a light on digital hate, and I look forward to continued partnerships with our diverse communities to support holistic safety solutions,” she said.

‘It Is Not Normal to Perpetuate Stereotypes’

Cooper said the SWC report names and shames social networks and gaming sites for failing to prevent online hate before it manifests into violence. Grades range from a C for Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to an F for Gab and Brighteon—two lesser-known networking and video sites that, nevertheless, still have millions of users.

Other outlets such as the popular Roblox gaming platform are included, but not rated, in the 2021 report.

As for Dinowitz, he explained that “it’s important that the digital aspect of anti-Semitism was discussed. It’s much easier to see a video of violence and have that go through Twitter. It’s pretty easy to see a swastika spray-painted on the side of a highway. It’s a little more insidious when it’s a 9-year-old playing Roblox talking to another young kid, and those messages are coming through. It’s a little more insidious when someone is alone on TikTok looking at videos and seeing anti-Semitic videos and propaganda, which leans into anti-Semitic tropes.”

“That’s why,” he said, “this support and this work is so important because it’s harder to identify very often, as this type of hate lives below the surface.”

The networking site Reddit received a B on the report card, while Google/YouTube got a B-, which were the best grades this year. Reddit was the only networking platform to have received a grade above D. The report card ranked 23 of the most high-profile, popular sites in gaming, memes/music, networking and video, along with the Big Five of Facebook/Instagram (C), Google/YouTube (B-), Telegram (D-), Twitter (C+) and VK.com (D+).

“It is really important that we continue to elevate this issue because we cannot become complacent,” said Dinowitz. “We cannot sit on the sidelines. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander. We must call out anti-Semitism each and every time.”

He continued, emphasizing that “every time you elevate the issue, it reminds people that no, it is not normal to rebuild the death camps in online games. It is not normal to trivialize the Holocaust by wearing a Star of David because you disagree with a vaccine policy. It is not normal to use stereotypes, tropes and propaganda used in the Holocaust nonchalantly today online. It is not normal to perpetuate those stereotypes and that hate, and to glorify the murder of Jews online.”

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

Photo Credit: Courtesy/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray against the spreading evil of anti-Semitism and hatred, that it will be rooted out and cut off before it matures into violence.

Scripture

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.


- Proverbs 8:13