Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, May 8, 2020

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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 Records Lowest Daily Coronavirus Rise so Far

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The number of those infected with the coronavirus continues to decrease.

Thursday, 7 May 2020 | As of Wednesday evening, there are 16,310 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, a rise of 0.13% in the last 24 hours, which represents the lowest daily increase of new diagnoses since the onset of the pandemic almost two months ago.

The Health Ministry reported that over the past 24 hours only 21 new coronavirus cases have been recorded across the country. The number of patients who succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, remains at 239.

Of the latest figures, 89 people are in serious condition, with 69 patients needing ventilator support, an additional 3% drop over the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry said there are 5,434 people currently infected with the pathogen, while 10,637 patients have recovered from the disease.

Over the past 24 hours, medical officials conducted 8,931 coronavirus tests.

Jerusalem still holds the dubious honor of the country’s largest virus hotspot with 3,600 confirmed cases so far, followed by the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak with 2,874.

There haven’t been any new virus diagnoses in Tel Aviv on Monday, and the city’s sick tally remains at 537 confirmed cases.

Two new virus diagnoses were reported in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, and the city’s sick tally climbed to 593 confirmed cases.

The ultra-Orthodox communities of Beit Shemesh and Modi’in-Illit have recorded 499 and 409 cases, respectively.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 6, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: fernandozhiminaicela/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for His mercy and faithfulness in keeping the number of infections and deaths at a minimum. Pray for those who are still struggling with the disease, especially those who are critically ill and those on ventilators. Beseech the Lord for His miraculous intervention that would completely eliminate the disease from the nation.You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.

Scripture

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.


- Psalm 91:5–7

The Home Stretch: Israel’s Unity Government to be Sworn in Next Week

by Kate Norman

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The new unity government with Netanyahu and Gantz will be sworn in next week.

Thursday, 7 May 2020 | Israel’s unity government is set to be sworn in on May 13 after operating on a caretaker government since December 2018 and undergoing three inconclusive elections since then. The Knesset (Parliament) voted on Thursday morning to approve the unity deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief Benny Gantz.

Last month Netanyahu and Gantz, pressured by the COVID-19 crisis in Israel as well as the nation’s desire to avoid a fourth election, agreed on terms for a unity government that will see them take turns serving as prime minister. Netanyahu will retain his post with Gantz serving in the newly formed position of “alternate prime minister” until October 2021 when the two will switch roles.

They also divided the ministerial positions between their political parties, with each serving as leader over his bloc.

After political bickering that spanned three elections, the unthinkable happened when Gantz was tapped after the last round of elections to try to form a government—and almost immediately opened talks with Netanyahu to form a unity government. The move outraged Gantz’s Blue and White allies, splitting the bloc into three separate parties.

After several meetings and back-and-forth arguing over sticking points in the unity agreement, the two finally compromised and came to a deal. The nation breathed a sigh of relief—despite the controversial nature of certain clauses in the agreement, such as who would have power over judicial appointments.

The nation watched anxiously as the unity deal went through its last obstacle: legislatures and lawyers petitioning to block Netanyahu from forming a government while under indictment.

The incumbent prime minister has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust—which he has written off as an attempt to oust him from power—and will go to trial on May 24. The petitioners also objected to several controversial clauses in the unity agreement.

After listening to the lawyers argue against the new unity government in several marathon meetings, the High Court rejected the petitions Wednesday night.

High Court President Esther Hayut wrote in the ruling that Netanyahu is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and cannot be barred from forming a government until he is convicted.

The court did express concern over certain aspects of the coalition deal, including clauses that establish an emergency government that was originally set to focus only on virus-related issues and block all other legislation for the time being and could be extended indefinitely. Both parties agreed to limit that phase of the Knesset to no longer than six months after hearing the court’s objections.

The other main objection was a law that would allow for current MKs (members of Knesset) to step down from ministerial roles and allow another MK from the same party to step in.

These issues can and likely will come under legal scrutiny later in the game, but for now, everyone involved has compromised in order to finally cement a fully functioning unity government for the Jewish state.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 7, 2020)

Photo Credit: Netanyahu: US Department of State/Gantz: ראובן קפוצ'ינסקי/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: Netanyahu: wikimedia.org

Photo License: Gantz: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s unity government and thank Him that compromises were made that brought the stalemate to an end for the good of the nation. Pray diligently for Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz as they are now tasked with making this government a functioning reality. Ask the Lord to grant them great wisdom and a truly cooperative spirit.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.


- Proverbs 2:6–7

Sea of Galilee Reaches Highest Level in Two Decades

by Ilse Strauss

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The Sea of Galilee

Monday, 4 May 2020 | In a semi-arid country like Israel, every drop of rain is precious. Each year at the onset of the rainy season following the Feast of Tabernacles in October, Israelis—and many Christians around the world—hope and pray that the Promised Land will be blessed with an abundance of showers to soak the land and replenish the water sources, particularly the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest freshwater lake that provides a quarter of the country’s water.

The majority of seasons over the last few years have seen precipitation ranging from highly concerning to barely enough. However, the past two years have been different. Following two seasons of particularly abundant rainfall, the land is quenched and green, multicolored patches of wildflowers carpet the desert, and most importantly, the Sea of Galilee is at its highest level in two decades. In fact, after years of the water level creeping further from the shore and islands appearing in patches on the once smooth water surface, the Sea of Galilee—or Kinneret as it is called in Hebrew—is overflowing its banks, submerging the vegetation along the shore.

When full, the Sea of Galilee stands at 685 feet (208.8 m) below sea level. After years of drought, the water level neared an all-time low of 698 feet (212.95 m) below sea level in April 2017. Three years later at the end of April 2020, the Kinneret was nearly full, prompting authorities to open the Degania Dam gates on the south of the lake to allow surplus water to feed into the Jordan River—and subsequently the Dead Sea—for the first time in 27 years.

Those who have seen the Sea of Galilee in its overflowing abundance call it a spectacular sight. Sadly, not many have had that privilege.

The Kinneret is a year-round popular tourist attraction, with peak season in April and May. The Sea of Galilee plays a central role in the Gospels, with the shores and even the waves setting the stage for key events, miracles, encounters and preaching in Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) ministry. A number of churches dot the shoreline, drawing scores of Christian pilgrims every year, particularly during Easter. Moreover, the warmer weather also means that beaches along the Kinneret are usually also packed with locals enjoying the spring sunshine and splashing in the waves.

This year, beaches, hotels, restaurants, promenades and usually teeming streets are deserted. To curb the spread of COVID-19, Israel’s borders have been shut, barring entrance to the Christian pilgrims. Moreover, lockdown regulations mean that locals are confined to their homes.

The irony is not lost on the Israeli media. The Sea of Galilee, they say, is at the same time full and empty.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 4, 2020)

Photo Credit: Daniel Kirchhevel/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Bless the Lord for the gift of rain! Pray that tourism will quickly be restored, flooding the area with pilgrims once again.

Scripture

God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth”; likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.


- Job 37:5–6

Iran Has Not Halted Plans of Entrenchment in Syria

by Ron Ben Yishai

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Iran is continuing anti-Israel military operations in Syria.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020 | Even after the assassination of the commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, and having been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Iran has continued its entrenchment efforts in Syria, hoping to turn it into a base of operations against Israel and especially Israeli civilians.

Though there was some reduction in activity in March, when April came around efforts resumed in full force with the transfer of precise ballistic missiles, construction of logistical bases on the Syrian border with Iraq to serve pro-Iranian militias based in the Golan Heights region, support for Hezbollah’s operations on the Syrian–Israeli border and improving Syrian air defenses to hamper Israel’s ability to conduct air force raids.

Iran has also continued its nuclear program, but that is not directly related to its activity in Syria.

Even before Soleimani was assassinated by the United States near the Baghdad airport along with the commander of the Shiite militias in Iraq last January, Israel had already been intensifying its battle against Iranian operations in the area, but following the killing, military leaders believed it was time to increase attacks in a methodical manner in the hopes of convincing the Islamic leadership in Tehran to rethink their Syrian policy.

Given Iran’s economic difficulties resulting from prolonged sanctions, the coronavirus and the drop in oil prices along with the void left by Soleimani, who personally oversaw the buildup of capabilities in the area, Israeli leaders hoped the Iranians would find it too costly to continue their efforts of entrenchment in the region.

An understandable position, especially considering the conflicting financial interests with Russia over the large-scale planned rebuilding of Syria and the political tensions with the Assad regime.

Israel, therefore, made a decision to increase its pressure on the Islamic Republic in any way possible.

If, as foreign media reports claim, Israel is behind Monday’s attack near Aleppo, the fifth raid on Syria in the past two-week period, this could be seen as part of the same strategy. 

The target of the attack was a Syrian military base and research complex in Al-Safirah, southeast of Syria’s second-largest city. This is a facility called the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) and is the largest of its kind in Syria, used by the military industry with R&D laboratories for advanced weapons systems and missile production.

It had been partially closed for two years when the Islamic State controlled the area, but with the help of Iran and North Korea, the Syrians have reopened the facility and are mainly producing precise long-range missiles able to carry a payload of hundreds of kilograms.

With Syria’s consent, the Iranians have been developing and refurbishing precise missiles for the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group. Syrian scientists and engineers are on hand to assist.

The missiles and refurbished equipment are transported from the facility to Hezbollah’s storage locations, some on Syrian soil near the border with Lebanon, so that they could be delivered quickly in time of war.

Scud D missiles with a 700-kilometer [435-mile] range are among the weapons produced in the facility. These missiles can target Beersheva in southern Israel carrying a war[head] weighing half a ton.

Some Scud D missiles have already been transported to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but a stock of missiles of that range would enable the Lebanese militia to inflict massive damage to Israel’s crowded home front and to vital military installations in the south of the country.

Monday’s attack was meant, it appears, to damage the SSRC’s production capability.

Syrian opposition sources claim that the plant also produces chemical weapons for the Syrian military, though the Damascus regime and the Russian government deny the report. Russia has pressured the [Bashar al-]Assad regime to halt the production of chemical weapons, with the exception of small amounts of chlorine gas. The Syrians have refrained from using chemical weapons against the rebel forces in the area of Idlib where fighting still continues.

After the eight-year-long IranIraq war that ended in 1988, Iran had suffered greatly from Iraq’s leader Sadam Hussein’s use of such weapons against them, [and] has avoided the use of chemical weapons in their campaign in Syria.

The Islamic Republic’s attention is focused now on precise missile capabilities for its proxies to use in their future war against Israel.

Jerusalem intends to foil such production efforts and is willing to risk an outbreak of fighting in the north to that end.

The Israelis hope to relay to Damascus and Moscow that Tehran’s operations on Syrian soil would be detrimental to them and their planned rehabilitation of the country after years of civil war.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 5, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: קרלוס הגדול/Wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will be successful in eradicating the Iranian presence in Syria. Pray that their military and diplomatic efforts will have the desired effect, causing Iranian leadership to withdraw from their efforts to turn Syria into an Iranian military installation on Israel’s border.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:7

Rocket Fire from Gaza Hits Southern Israel

by Ilse Strauss

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Rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israel.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020 | Life in Israel is slowly inching back to a new normal. Israelis are once again allowed to leave their homes. Thousands of school children are heading back to the classroom. Many stores are back in business, and the deserted streets are slowly filling up.

Early last night, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza contributed to the growing sense of normalcy by firing a rocket on the south of Israel, bringing an end to the coronavirus-induced lull in violence.

The projectile struck a vacant area and caused no injuries or damage. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), code red air raid sirens were not sounded as early calculations detected the missile would hit an empty field.

In yet another nod to normalcy, Israel did not let the attack on its civilians go unanswered. “In response to the rocket fired from #Gaza at #Israel tonight,” Israeli tanks shelled “3 Hamas military posts in Gaza,” the IDF tweeted.

Although Hamas did not take responsibility for the attack, Israel holds the terror group ruling the coastal enclave accountable for all rocket fire emanating from under its rule.

Last night’s rocket fire was the first in over a month, with Gazans taking a break from attacking Israel to focus on the battle against COVID-19.

Israeli media speculate that the renewed rocket fire may be linked to Israel–Hamas negotiations for a possible prisoner swap reaching a critical stage.

The German Die Zeit news site reported last week that German and Swiss negotiators are hard at work trying to hammer out a deal between Israel, Egypt and Hamas.

Israel’s Channel 12 confirmed the reportquoting Jewish state officials as saying that “important” talks are underway to bring home two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers. The two civilians—Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed—both suffer from mental illness and crossed to Israel–Gaza border of their own accord before being apprehended by Hamas. The two IDF soldiers— Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul—were killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and their bodies were subsequently taken by Hamas.

According to the Times of Israel, negotiations for the prisoner swap that have continued with fits and starts for a number of years seemed to have picked “up momentum recently.”

Whether Hamas believes the battle against COVID-19 won and will now refocus its attention on once again making rockets rain down on southern Israel or whether the terror organization sees the launch as a move in the prisoner swap chess game remains to be seen.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 6, 2020)

Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the prisoner swap negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Ask the Lord to protect Israel from any agreement that would further endanger Israeli citizens while allowing them to restore the captives and the bodies of the IDF soldiers to their families.

Scripture

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man.


- Psalm 31:19–20a

Significant Breakthrough: Israel Develops Antibody that Neutralizes Coronavirus

by Kate Norman

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Israel has developed an antibody to treat the novel coronavirus.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020 | Israeli researchers have found an antibody that neutralizes the coronavirus, which the defense minister called a “significant breakthrough,” though the antibody still needs to be tested on animals and humans before mass production. The antibody will not be used as a vaccine but as a treatment for patients already infected, the Defense Ministry said.

The antibody is undergoing testing by researchers at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) and according to them is the first to meet three significant parameters: it kills the virus, it targets the aggressive strain of the virus (which has mutated into different strains over time) and it is monoclonal, meaning it does not contain extra proteins that would be harmful to patients.

The findings were presented to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday, who praised the IIBR’s efforts.

“I am proud of the Biological Institute staff who have made a significant breakthrough,” Bennett said. “Jewish creativity and ingenuity brought about this amazing achievement.”

The antibody has thus far only been tested in a petri dish, and the process of testing on animals and humans could take up to a year, Israel Hayom reported. The research institute is working on patenting the antibody, and the next step, Bennett said in a statement, is for researchers to “approach international companies to produce the antibody on a commercial scale.”

The researchers at IIBR are also working on research and development of a vaccine for the virus, one of some 100 research groups worldwide who are racing for the same goal.

In a video message to world leaders joining in an effort to battle the worldwide pandemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged US $60 million to the cause.

The prime minister urged the other participating world leaders to team up to improve diagnostics, speed up therapies and develop a vaccine. “I am confident that Israel’s leading research institutions, its world-renowned scientists and our unique culture of innovation can enable us to play an important role in advancing solutions on all three fronts.”

Israel has had 16,289 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 238 deaths as of Tuesday night, Ynetnews reported. Nearly 10,500 Israelis have already recovered from the virus. Worldwide, more than 3.5 million people have been infected with over 245,000 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Netanyahu pointed out Israel’s relatively low casualty count and attributed it to “early action to contain the disease, advance technology to locate those infected, first-rate medical professionals and a disciplined population that largely adhered to the mitigation policies enacted by our government.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 6, 2020)

Photo Credit: Dimhou/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Israel’s success in developing a treatment for COVID-19. Pray that a vaccine will soon be developed as well, allowing Israel’s light of medical research and development to shine worldwide, saving lives and bringing an end to this pandemic.

Scripture

Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”


- Isaiah 49:6

International Outrage over Denmark’s Omission of Israel from the Bible

by Petra Heldt~Gatestone Institute

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The Danish Bible Society has nearly eliminated the word “Israel” in their new 2020 Bible.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020 | The misrepresentation of Holy Scripture by the Danish Bible Society (DBS) has been met with a crescendo of international protest demanding the withdrawal of the falsified Bible.

The March 2020 Danish Bible, for the secular Danish reader’s easy reading, has omitted or replaced the word “Israel” in all but two places of the more than 60 Greek occurrences in the New Testament and in 9% of the Hebrew Bible.

Protests started on April 21 with the Danish author Jan Frost, who, in a video, first revealed the changes and took the Danish Society to task.

On April 26, the Bible Society of Israel (BSI) issued a gracious but unambiguous statement asking to “take measures to correct” the translation:

“The local body of believers as well as others in Israel and beyond were very surprised by and disappointed with the approach that the translators took regarding the term Israel and in its implementation in this translation…..We believe that the Danish Bible Society, as our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, will seriously consider our feedback, which echoes the voices of many, and will take measures to correct their translation as necessary.”

BSI said it was “troubled” by what it found when researching the translation. Amongst the analyses it presented were:

Matt. 2:21: “and he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.” [speaking of Mary, Joseph and Jesus’ return from their time in Egypt] ➡ the phrase “land of Israel” is changed to simply “home.”

Another example from the New Testament:

Luke 4:25: “many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah” ➡ “many Jewish widows in the time of Prophet Elijah.” [This is an anachronism: the word “Jewish” was not in use in Elijah’s time, and he was a prophet in the northern kingdom, not in Judah.]

In the Hebrew Bible, BSI counted the term “Israel” 2,521 times, of which in 205 cases the word was omitted/replaced, for instance:

Isa. 43:1: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.‘” ➡ “O Israel” and “O Jacob” have been removed.

Jer. 33:7: “I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel…” ➡ “Judah and Israel” changed to “all my people.”

It is difficult not to see an intentional technique that eliminates the homeland of Israel and replaces it with a home for others; and that replaces the God of Israel with the God of you.

Unlike the Bible Society of Israel presentation, the Danish Bible Society statement of April 22 exemplifies a crafty method of misleading the reader.

“False information about the new Contemporary Danish Bible 2020 has been going around. Some news media state that the word Israel and the words Jew and Jewish have been omitted from the translation and also claim that the reason for this would be political and anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The words Israel and Israelite occur in the translation more than 2000 times and the words Jew and Jewish occur more than 500 times.”

This misleads the reader. Once, the Danish Bible Society statement dodges the truthful assessment that the word “Israel” was omitted or replaced in the Hebrew Bible in 9% of its occurrences and in the New Testament nearly completely. By omitting any distinction between the two parts of the Bible the statement claims that it mentions “Israel” scores and scores of times in the translation. Second, the statement conflates the word “Israel” with “Israelites.” Again here, the analysis of the critique has been side-stepped. The accusation has not been against the replacement of “Israel and the Israelites,” but against the replacement of “Israel.” Conflating one word with a second is an interpretative method to make the first word appear less significant and thus ducking the accusation. The word “Israel” has an extended history of three thousand years, the word “Israelites” of less than one thousand years. These two words are of unequal measure and had not been joined together in the critique.

The second paragraph of the statement, though, has a surprise. Carefully embedded into the elucidation on its translation method, the statement, finally, does admit the omission of “Israel”:

The Contemporary Danish Bible 2020 is a special kind of Bible translation directed at secular readers with no or little knowledge of the Bible and of its history and traditional church and Bible language. This means that many things are translated differently than in traditional Bible translations. For instance, it doesn’t use the usual Danish words for sin, grace, mercy, covenant and many other typically biblical words, which an average Danish reader wouldn’t be familiar with the meaning of. In the translation of the New Testament it uses the Jewish people, the Jews, God’s chosen people or simply the People to translate Israel since the majority of Danish readers wouldn’t know that Israel in the New Testament at large refers to the people of God with which He has made a covenant.”

After a spectacular denial of the crime of which the Danish Bible Society has been accused internationally, it finally admits to it. But it does not sound like repentance. It comes at the end of some astonishing methodological considerations. While any translation has to wrestle with the transportation of the meaning and culture of the text from one language to another, the extraordinary decision of the Danish Bible Society staff to deprive their readers of some of the key points of the Christian faith is mind-boggling.

Above all, the Danish Bible Society separates Israel from its Land. Apart from other key issues of the faith, it denies the reader the knowledge of the intrinsic connection between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and between Israel and its Land. It falls in the trap of which the apostle Paul warned, “It is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you” (Romans 11:18). Its version of the Bible robs the Christian faith of its Jewish roots. It presents a new story of the Christian faith. Its maker is the Danish Bible Society.

For Christians and Jews, the Bible is serious. Any tampering with its words, above all with the word Israel, is unacceptable and rejected, unequivocally. The attempted murder of Israel, from time eternal until our day, is too real to let people play, whimsically, with its land, its people or its name.

Rev. Dr. Petra Heldt is Director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity, Jerusalem.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute on May 4, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today and the article has been edited for length. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hannah Taylor/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that this falsification will be withdrawn immediately. Also pray that publicity surrounding it will cause any readers of copies already sold to question its contents and look for answers in legitimate biblical sources.

Scripture

A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies. A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.


- Proverbs 14:5–7

Anti-Semitism and the Coronavirus

by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

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Omar Barghouti, the most notable figure in the BDS movement

Friday, 1 May 2020 | Since the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, we are witness to anti-Semitic expressions that denote the Jews in general and Israel specifically as those who have developed the virus and are responsible for its propagation in order to tighten their control of the world and to utilize their resources to harm the populations that resist them, above all, the Palestinians.

Along with smears by known anti-Semites in Turkey, in Iran, and in the West, the anti-Israel BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] community and the Palestinian establishment have been leveraging the coronavirus to defame Israel. BDS activists are holding an unrelenting succession of Zoom webinars that are meant to present the vile character of Israel, and are distributing caricatures of the propagation of the virus by Israel or presenting Israel itself as an even more terrible “virus” than COVID-19.

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh accused IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers of spitting on Palestinian cars in order to spread the virus, and noted that “without a doubt Israel wants its economy to keep running at the expense of the health of the Palestinians.” PA [Palestinian Authority] spokespersons blamed Israel for trying to contaminate Palestinians with the virus by way of Palestinian workers employed in Israel. They also claim that the “occupation” prevents the Palestinians from supplying themselves with the necessities to deal with the pandemic. The Palestinians further warn that Israel will be responsible for any disaster that is caused if the virus spreads in Gaza, the PA territories and east Jerusalem. They claimed that Israel infects Palestinian prisoners with the virus and prevents adequate treatment for Israeli Arabs.

The facts are, of course, unimportant to them. In practice, Israel cooperates with the Palestinians in treating the coronavirus, transfers large amounts of medical equipment for their use and advises medical teams in Gaza and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] on how to treat the disease. Israel has further encouraged international medical aid to the Palestinians, gave a loan to the PA and has delayed the execution of the law that offsets money used to pay salaries to terrorists. Israel also follows the same medical treatment policy among all sectors of its population, including the Israeli Arab population.

Israel’s cooperation with the Palestinians has been praised by the international community, but this does not interest those who hate Israel and the Jews. They have their own narrative.

The most visible figure in the BDS machine is Omar Barghouti, who said in a Zoom webinar that the Palestinians should continue their muqawama—that is, their struggle against Israel and all its components—even during the period of the coronavirus, in parallel with the struggle against the virus. Yet he explains that if Israel discovers a vaccine for the coronavirus, it would be permissible for those who struggle against Israel to use it. It is worth noting that Barghouti is a graduate of Tel Aviv University, which he calls to boycott within the framework of the academic boycott against Israel. At least he is consistent in his cynicism.

What stands behind the fervor of those who hate us today is, of course, not new. It has characterized many generations of anti-Semites, especially whenever the world must deal with adversity and fear. Firstly, it seems that they identify the virus as an opportunity to promote their familiar messages regarding the awful character of the Jews in order to hurt them and mainly to deepen Israel’s negative image for the audiences to whom they are directing their messages. These include the Palestinian public, the Islamic world and Western extremists—either on the far right or the progressive left—that have turned hatred of Israel into a central issue to which they have become committed since the fall of the Soviet Union and the bankruptcy of communism.

But more than the dissemination of vilifications, anti-Semitism reflects the beliefs of those who stand behind these slanders that their accusations are real, and their target audiences tend to believe these fabrications. Anti-Semitic brainwashing throughout history has brought a large public to believe in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the blood libels and the responsibility of Jews for plagues and for all the other troubles in the world.

Hitler, Stalin and the anti-Semites of our times have made cynical political usage of Jew-hatred, but believed that Jews control the world and specifically its economics. They believe that Jews are condescending, greedy, sly, xenophobic, plot against those who surround them and are warmongers. The Palestinian leadership has regularly repeated these claims and they deal in continual incitement of the Palestinian public and forced brainwashing in order to advance the assimilation of these perceptions about Jews in the public’s thought and belief and turn them into acceptable diplomatic rhetoric.

The Hamas charter contains these claims, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas repeats them in the lessons of historical narrative he presents at Palestinian conferences. He even noted them in writing in his book about cooperation between Zionists and Nazis (based on his doctoral dissertation) and in his book Zionism—Beginning and End, that presents what he calls the (Ashkenazi) Zionist fraud. Whatever the theme, Prime Minister Shtayyeh, BDS activists and Hamas leaders all repeat the same mantras.

Especially after commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, the new attempt to disseminate Israel-hatred cannot be taken lightly. While continuing cooperation with the Palestinians, we must denounce the brainwashing, the libels and their disseminators. And we must demand from the international community to condemn them, loud and clear, which has not yet happened. Similarly, we should urge the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which clarifies which manifestations of hatred of the State of Israel are to be considered anti-Semitic.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on April 28, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kevin Van den Panhuyzen/intal/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism will quickly be adopted by the international community, clearly identifying the current wave of accusations against Israel as anti-Semitic hate speech. Pray that the nations will clearly and loudly denounce these false indictments of Israel and work toward eliminating the sources of such rhetoric.

Scripture

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him.


- Psalm 32:10

Israel: ICC Prosecutor Reassertion of “Palestine” Statehood “Typical of Her anti-Israel Stance”

by Joshua Spurlock

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The International Criminal Court at the Hague

Monday, 4 May 2020 | The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at the Hague (ICC) last week reiterated her view that “Palestine” is to be considered a “state” for purposes of the court’s review, making the territory claimed by the Palestinians in scope for a war crimes investigation. Yuval Steinitz, the leader of Israel’s taskforce for the ICC hotly rejected the argument, saying prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s position “continues to espouse her typical anti-Israel stance.”

The current legal debate before the ICC doesn’t even consider whether or not war crimes were committed in the Palestinian–Israel conflict, as the first step is to determine if the ICC actually has jurisdiction over the territory. Unless a case is referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council [UNSC], a state covered by the ICC must self-report its own territory to the ICC.

Bensouda, in her official response to the numerous briefings filed by dozens of nations and international actors in the case that was posted to the ICC’s website, argued that while the Gaza Strip and territory in Judea and Samaria that the Palestinians claim as the “West Bank”—which includes the eastern portion of Jerusalem—is not universally considered a “state”, the ICC should nonetheless treat it as such because it was allowed to join the ICC’s Rome Statute that includes jurisdiction for ICC war crimes reviews. The ICC’s pre-trial chamber—which asked for the prosecutor’s views following the submission of briefings by other parties—is expected to issue a final ruling on the question of “Palestine’s” applicability for war crimes investigations later this year, according to The Times of Israel.

Steinitz, in a press statement response to prosecutor Bensouda’s continued assertion that “Palestine” is effectively a “state” and therefore eligible to bring war crimes accusations against Israel, slammed the position. Steinitz said as a result of developments he has been “forced to conclude” that Bensouda has been “influenced by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation” and the global movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS).

“The Prosecutor’s disregard for the opinions of some of the world’s leading experts on international law points to her determination to harm the State of Israel and tarnish its name,” said Steinitz. “In the name of this objective she has reformulated the rules of international law, inventing a Palestinian state while the Israeli–Palestinian peace process has yet to be concluded.”

The lack of a negotiated solution to the Israel­–Palestinian territorial dispute makes a critical component of statehood—the definition of a state’s actual territory—undefined, and that isn’t the only reason why “Palestine” is not legally considered a state. The UNSC, the most powerful global entity, has so far refused to label “Palestine” as a state either, although some UN entities have granted it state-like status.

Bensouda claimed the ICC’s view on Palestinian statehood is not tied to the official legal approach but rather to the UN allowing the Palestinians to accede to the ICC’s mandate in the first place, which took place in 2015. In her view, the ICC must treat any entity allowed to join the ICC as a state, in spite of the fact that most of the most powerful nations in the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, have so far refused to accept the statehood of “Palestine.”

While the case remains unsettled, Steinitz said Israel will “continue to be proud of the fact that it is the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East—and to vigorously reject baseless attempts to tarnish its name and harm its soldiers and civilians.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on May 3, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: OSeveno/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His intervention in this travesty of justice. Pray that the ICC will rule against treating “Palestine” as a state, following the lead of major players on the international stage rather than being influenced by the anti-Semitic beliefs of one individual and propaganda from Israel’s enemies. Pray that such a ruling will put an end once and for all to attempts on the part of Palestinian leadership to cast Israel as a perpetrator of war crimes.

Scripture

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.


- Psalm 5:9–10

Organization Supporting Families of Fallen IDF Soldiers Unveils New Platform

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The Yad Labanim monument in Jerusalem

Friday, 1 May 2020 | Yad Labanim, Israel’s leading support network for the families and friends of fallen IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, has unveiled its revamped website that it says will improve the quality of the service it offers to the bereaved.

Yad Labanim says it works to help bereaved families “to turn their loss into an engine for social change, advising and providing funding to projects that strengthen our country and our people.”

The non-profit was created in 1949 in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence. It offers counselling and support to bereaved families from across Israeli society, irrespective of faith of ethnicity, operating 64 branches across the country and holding hundreds of events each year.

The organization also works to preserve the legacy of the fallen, building an interactive monument to the soldiers who gave their lives serving their country and offering scholarships and mentorships to young people who have lost a sibling.

“We are the first address for families who lose a loved one in the line of duty,” the organization says. “We do all we can to ease their pain as they adjust to a new reality, and we stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The new website details the organization’s activities across multiple platforms and offers a vital link between the bereaved and support networks.

The organization is today headed by Eli Ben-Shem, who lost his son Kobi in the 1997 helicopter disaster that claimed the lives of 73 Israeli soldiers.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on April 30, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hanay/wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for organizations like Yad Labanim that work to care for the needs of families that have lost loved ones in the fight to keep Israel strong, free and safe. Pray that they will be able to continue providing counseling and other services that are so badly needed by those who are suffering the pain of such loss. Also, pray that the Lord will keep Israel safe, neutralizing her enemies and ensuring that no additional Israeli families will need Yad Labanim’s services.

Scripture

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.


- Psalm 33:20–22

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