Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, October 2, 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.

Iran: “We Will Help Any Country Fighting the Zionist Regime and the United States”

by Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

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Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, Brig. Gen. Abolfazi Shekarchi

Thursday, 1 October 2020 | Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, Brig.–Gen. Abolfazi Shekarchi, said on the occasion of the Sacred Defense Week, commemorating the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War, that Iran is willing to contribute its vast experience to its allies in the “resistance front” and even sends advisers to them. However, he added that Iran does not intend to intervene in the internal affairs of countries in the region and has no military presence there.

In this context, and as part of Iran’s preparations to start exporting arms after the expiration of the arms embargo on October 18, Iran’s spokesman said that during a recent visit of the Iranian army chief of staff to Syria, the Damascus regime requested to reinforce its air defense systems. Shekarchi claimed that there is no Iranian military presence in Syria, and as per the Syrian government’s request, there are only Iranian advisors there.

The spokesman added that in addition to Syria, Iran also provides military advice to Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, which are part of the “resistance front.” He said that “any country that opposes the Zionist regime and the bloodthirsty United States will receive assistance from Iran. In view of the economic problems in Iran, this does not mean that we will provide it for free, and it is possible that Iran will receive payment for its assistance.”

He added that Iran provides “defense technology” to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who absorb it and produce various types of weapons “with great talent: missiles, drones and other weapons, including systems in the field of electronic warfare.” He denied that Iran provides missiles to Houthi rebels, insisting that Iran “is only passing on experience and knowledge.”

The Iranian spokesman talked about relations between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian army (Artesh)—a sensitive issue in Iran that is usually not exposed—and said that there was no difference between the two main military forces in Iran and that if there were such a difference, “we would have lost in the Iraq–Iran war…There are blood ties between the two of them.”

According to Shekarchi, various opposition parties, influenced by the United States, try to create a rift between the two military bodies, but the army is endowed with the same revolutionary characteristics as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In practice, the IRGC, on which the regime rests, has a bigger budget and uses more advanced weapons. The IRGC also operates Iran’s missile array and is responsible for the ongoing security in the Persian Gulf and much of Iran’s internal security.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States issued an Executive Order designed to prevent Iran from resuming arms sales upon the expiration of the arms embargo under UN Resolution 2231. The order includes many Iranian companies, entities and individuals related to Iran’s defense industries and nuclear program. On September 21, the US Department of the Treasury issued new sanctions imposed on the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center, which has ties with North Korea for missile development. This week, it was reported that Iran and North Korea had renewed cooperation on missile development.

[Before] and 30 days since the United States enacted the “snapback” clause in Resolution 2231, the US administration announced that it would re-enforce international sanctions on Iran imposed prior to the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal and urged other countries to do so.

The US move is part of [its] effort to prevent the arms embargo on Iran from expiring on October 18, which would mean legitimizing Iranian arms sales to “resistance front” countries in the region and even to Venezuela and other countries. For Iran, this will be the first significant achievement as a result of the signing of the nuclear agreement. Until now, Iran has failed to secure any economic gain from the agreement, and its economic situation continues to deteriorate.

Iran Watches the US–European Rift with Approval

Iran has expressed great satisfaction with the growing disconnect between Europe and the United States due to the almost complete lack of support within the ranks of the UN Security Council for the US position on retaining the arms embargo, as well as the reinstatement of international sanctions on Iran. In this context, foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France (EU3) also issued a joint statement declaring, among other things, “that the United States ceased to be a partner in the nuclear agreement after it withdrew from it in May 2018.” As a result, the EU claimed that the US request to enact the “snapback” mechanism and all possible actions resulting thereof has no legal significance. These countries have declared that they continue to adhere to the authority and integrity of the Security Council and remain committed to UNSC Resolution 2231 that adopted the nuclear agreement of 2015.

At the September 20 government session, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the “ongoing and unsuccessful attempts” by the United States to reimpose international sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council and through new international coalitions.

For now, Iran is focusing its efforts on the international diplomatic scene. It draws considerable encouragement from China and Russia and especially from the European countries that are partners in the nuclear agreement. Iran notes Europe’s weak response to Iran’s stand against Bahrain and the UAE normalization agreements with Israel.

Iran also moderated its subversive activities against American interests in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. It appears that Iran seeks to survive the window of time before the US upcoming elections without giving President [Donald] Trump the option of taking actions against it to score points during the race. This, despite threats made from time to time by the commander of the Revolutionary Guards to avenge the assassination of Qassim Soleimani, commander of the Al-Quds Force, and the recent remarks by Foreign Minister Javid Zarif at the Council on Foreign Relations that Tehran had not yet closed the account with the United States over Soleimani’s assassination.

At the same time, Iran believes that the United States’ weakened standing on the international scene is apparent in recent moves in the Security Council and the widening rift with Europe. Meanwhile, Iran continues to advance its nuclear program, violating the nuclear agreement and positioning itself in anticipation of US election results.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Fars News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that US efforts will be successful in keeping the arms embargo from expiring on October 18. Beseech the Lord that Iran would be stopped at every turn as they attempt to provide arms, advisors and military technology to other nations in the region and beyond.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men.


- Psalm 140:1–4a

Israel Posts Nearly 9,000 New Daily Coronavirus Cases

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A police checkpoint in Israel

Thursday, 1 October 2020 | Israel saw nearly 9,000 new daily coronavirus cases after a record-breaking number of tests had been conducted by medical officials, the Health Ministry reported Thursday.

The Health Ministry said 8,919 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday after 68,128 tests had been conducted, putting the contagion rate at 13.6%, a slight drop from the same figure a day earlier.

The figures indicate that one out of every seven tests returned positive.

The number of patients in serious condition now stands at 810, of whom 206 are ventilated. The official death toll has gone up to 1,571.

Since the start of the outbreak, 248,133 were confirmed to have contracted the pathogen. The figure almost doubled over the past month, when only 116,882 virus carries had been confirmed by September 1.

There are 68,811 active patients currently ill with the disease in Israel.

Since the outbreak of the virus in the country, some 2.7% of Israelis became infected with the pathogen at some point (one out of every 37 people), ranking Israel fifth in the world—after Qatar, Bahrain, Aruba and French Guiana.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on October 1, 2020. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Micky Rosenfeld/Police foreign press spokesman

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for an end to this terrible plague and the restoration of all those who have been affected by it. Pray that the hearts of the entire nation will be drawn to seek the Lord for mercy and deliverance and ask the Lord to show Himself strong on behalf of the nation He loves.

Scripture

Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me; for I am poor and needy. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long. But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!


- Psalm 86:1, 3, 15–16a

We’re All in this Together

by Ilse Strauss

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Bridges for Peace continues to care for needy Holocaust survivors during the lockdown

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 | Imagine you’re down to your last bit of money. You’ve lost your job during the first coronavirus lockdown in April, and there will be no paycheck to replenish your empty bank account. Now Israel is heading into a second national lockdown, and anxiety and stress tear at your insides as you think of the weeks of isolation ahead without the means to feed your children.

Imagine you head to your local supermarket to spend the last of what you have on the bare necessities. You’ll have to choose carefully though. The little you have will not go far.

You see the sign as you reach for a loaf of bread: “Take what you need for free!” Your breath catches in your throat, involuntary tears blur your vision. Could it be? Could it be that you will have enough to see your family through this lockdown?

The above scenario may be fictional, but the helping hand reaching out to the needy is not.

In the days before the second national lockdown went into effect last week, the AllStock Supermarket, a small outlet in the town of Harish, located a few kilometers southeast of Caesarea, offered a helping hand to their customers who are unable to make ends. 

The store owners fastened a sign scrawled in big, black letters to the shelves packed with canned goods, sugar, oil and chocolate chip cookies. The sign invited: “Whoever is in need of food during these difficult times is invited to take freely. (No need to inform the staff).”

Customers were quick to share pictures of this incredible act of kindness on social media. Within hours, it went viral, drawing thousands of comments from around the world.   

“This is the most loving, giving, selfless humanitarian gift to the needy people I have seen,” a user noted on Instagram. “I love the way Israel loves those who are in need,” wrote another. 

As Israel steps into the uncertain days ahead, it warms the heart to see acts of kindness and compassion such as this one piercing the dark clouds like small rays of light. We pray that others will follow this shop owner’s example to help see the needy through this time of crisis.  

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 29, 2020)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will pour out His blessing on this lone shopkeeper who is demonstrating the love of the Lord to His neighbors. Pray that others will do the same and ask the Lord to move on the hearts of Christians to help us at Bridges for Peace as we attempt to continue caring for all those who already depend on us for assistance, and to as many others as we can.

Scripture

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.


- Proverbs 19:17

Action
Today Israelis enter their fourth day of a second national COVID-19 lockdown, and the atmosphere is fraught with tension and anxiety. The memory of the previous lockdown and its devastating effects on the economy and individual livelihoods is still fresh in the minds of countless Israelis. The poor and the newly poor have not even begun to recover from the blow that left many destitute. Unemployment is at an all-time high and is expected to climb sharply as businesses were once again forced to close their doors and send their employees home—many now without the means to put food on the table. At Bridges for Peace, we are called to come alongside Israel during these trying times, to bless them with food, peace of mind and the comfort of knowing that Christians around the world care for them. While this shop owner is reaching out to the customers in his own community, Bridges for Peace is coming to the help of the needy Israelis from the far north of the country to the desert in the south. God is using us all to meet the terrible need at this time. Will you help us help them?

The Dangerous New Iran–Qatar–Turkey–Hamas Alliance

by Khaled Abu Toameh~Gatestone Institute

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 | Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s continued rapprochement with the Iran-backed Hamas is jeopardizing the Palestinians’ relations with Egypt. Egyptian media outlets have resumed their scathing attacks on the Palestinian leadership in general, and the Islamist movement that has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007 in particular.

The Egyptian attacks came on the eve of a meeting in Turkey between leaders of Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas. At the meeting, held under the auspices of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Hamas and Fatah leaders discussed ways of ending their dispute and holding long overdue Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Fatah–Hamas meeting in Turkey took place in the context of Abbas’s initiative to achieve Palestinian “national unity to confront Israeli and American schemes against the Palestinians.” The reconciliation efforts are also designed to thwart normalization agreements between Israel and some Arab states.

The Egyptian attacks, focusing mostly on Hamas, are aimed at sending a warning to Abbas against joining the extremist camp led by Iran, Qatar and Turkey. In addition, the attacks are aimed at reminding Abbas and the rest of the world that Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, continues to pose a real threat to Egypt’s national security.

Abbas, however, seems determined to ignore the Egyptian warnings and is marching full speed toward forming an alliance with Hamas and its masters in Iran, Qatar and Turkey.

Abbas has already damaged the Palestinians’ relations with some Arab countries by condemning the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain for signing peace treaties with Israel. Abbas and his senior officials have accused both Gulf countries of “stabbing the Palestinians in the back” and betraying the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque by signing normalization accords with Israel.

A sign of the growing rift between the Palestinians and the Arab world surfaced on September 22, when Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki announced that the Palestinians decided to “relinquish” their right to preside over the Council of the Arab League at its current session, in protest of the decision of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel.

The decision marks the beginning of a divorce process between the Palestinians and the Arab world. The Palestinian leadership has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017, when President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians have also suspended their ties with Israel, including security coordination.

The Palestinians have, in addition, lost the support of several Arab countries because of their recurring condemnations of Arab governments and leaders who want to make peace with Israel.

Now it appears that the Palestinians are also headed toward ruining their relations with Egypt because of Abbas’s decision to make peace with Hamas and appease Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

Egyptian journalists and writers have joined the chorus of critics in the Arab world who are accusing the Palestinian leadership of lacking a clear strategy that would serve the interests of the Palestinians. The journalists and writers have also launched a scathing attack on Hamas for its involvement in terrorism and for throwing itself into the open arms of Iran, Turkey and Qatar. According to Egyptian writer Farouk Jweideh: “The Palestinian issue is no longer at the forefront of Arab issues, and it has retreated in international forums and behind the scenes of the United Nations, and even in the Arab League…nobody now knows Mahmoud Abbas’s future, because everyone has abandoned him.”

Jweideh held Palestinian leaders responsible for the “decline” of the Palestinian issue, and in particular the conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

Egyptian writer Abdel Mun’em Said accused Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Hamas of “using history profusely, selectively and tragically to impose appropriate political and strategic choices to maintain a state of tension, hostility and conflict in the region.” According to Said, the goal of the four parties is to infiltrate the Arab countries and obtain material and political gains in the region.

Egyptian broadcaster Basma Wahba noted that Hamas has a history of igniting strife in the region, with the help of Qatar and Turkey. “We lived in a great illusion that Hamas aims to fight Israel to liberate Jerusalem,” Wahba said. “It is time for people to know the truth about this movement and its sabotage goals in this region. With the backing of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas has armed militias and plays a destructive role in the region. Erdoğan has used the Hamas leaders to achieve his goals in the region, and many Hamas members have acquired Turkish citizenship.”

Commenting on Hamas’s hypocrisy and corruption, Egyptian writer Hashem al-Fahkrani remarked: “Those who believe that Hamas’s first goal is to resist Israel are mistaken. Its first and only goal is to receive money. Hamas’s slogan is: Loyalty to anyone who pays the most.”

Al-Fakhrani was referring to the Qatari cash grants that have been delivered to Hamas in the past year. “Qatar has provided Hamas with more than a billion dollars since 2012,” he said. “Qatar did not provide these funds out of a humanitarian standpoint and to help the residents of the Gaza Strip. The Qataris did so to help Hamas and its leaders and to enable Qatar to establish a foothold in the region.”

Were these allegations against Hamas published by Israel, they would have been dismissed by many in the West as “Israeli propaganda.” These accusations, however, are coming from Egypt, the largest Arab country that has a shared border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The Egyptians are trying to sound an alarm bell to Abbas and the rest of the world about the dangers of the Hamas–Iran–Turkey–Qatar alliance that poses a threat to security and stability in the Middle East.

Yet the Palestinian leadership and the international community appear distinctly indifferent to the looming danger of this newest axis of evil. For them, the only fate worse than death is normalization between the Arabs and Israel. Abbas has once again pegged his hopes and those of his people on entities that would obstruct the Palestinians and destroy Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute on September 28, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link).

Photo Credit: Arthur Max/Ministério das Relações Exteriores/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord would cause Israel’s enemies to succumb to infighting that would destroy their alliance and render them harmless, much as He did millennia ago.

Scripture

I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.


- Exodus 23:27 NASB

Netanyahu Reveals Hezbollah’s Ticking Time Bomb to UN General Assembly

by Ilse Strauss

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (illustrative)

Wednesday, 30 September 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday exposed a secret weapons depot belonging to Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah located in a residential area near the Beirut International Airport.

Calling it “Hezbollah’s ticking time bomb,” the prime minister warned that the arms cache may well be the sign of another catastrophic explosion, similar to the one that tore through the Lebanese capital on August 4.

Netanyahu’s big reveal came during a prerecorded address to the United Nations General Assembly. Recorded against a backdrop of Jerusalem’s most iconic and haunting sights, the prime minister began with good news: the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain—with the promise of more Arab nations joining the peace fold.

He then turned his attention to grave matters. “We all saw the terrible explosion at the Beirut port last month,” Netanyahu said, pointing out the location of the blast on a large map of the Lebanese capital. “Two hundred people died, thousands of people were injured, and a quarter of a million people were made homeless.”

Pointing to a location further south on the map, the prime minister continued. “Here is where the next explosion could take place…This the Beirut neighborhood of Janah. It’s right next to the international airport. And here, Hezbollah is keeping a secret arms depot.”

Zooming in on the location, Netanyahu pointed out that the weapons cache is situated next to a gas company, a gas station and several gas canisters and gas tanks—the lethal ingredients for a terrible explosion. Moreover, it is surrounded by civilian homes.

“I say to the people of Janah, you’ve got to act now. You’ve got to protest this. Because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy,” Netanyahu said.

A Hezbollah arms depot exploding in a civilian area is not farfetched. Last week one of the terror group’s weapons caches detonated in the southern Lebanese village of Ain Qana, a known Hezbollah stronghold. Both Lebanese and Hezbollah officials have remained vague about the cause and the extent of the explosion, with Hezbollah militants deployed at the blast sight to keep journalists out of the area. 

It is time, Netanyahu held, for the international community to “insist that Hezbollah stop using Lebanon and Lebanese civilians as human shields.” 

The prime minister was, however, clear that Hezbollah ultimately serves as a puppet acting on the say-so of its puppet master.   

“Israel and states across the Arab world not only stand together in advancing peace. We stand together in confronting the greatest enemy of peace in the Middle East—Iran,” Netanyahu explained.

“Iran wantonly and repeatedly attacks its neighbors, and its terror proxies are directly involved in violence throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Gaza and of course, Lebanon.”

Half an hour after Netanyahu’s exposé, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) identified two additional underground Hezbollah missile facilities in the Lebanese capital. One is located between four seven-story apartment buildings, home to some 70 families, in close proximity to a church and a medical center. The second site is situated under five apartment buildings that house 50 families, located near a mosque.

According to the IDF, the terror group uses the three locations in its precision-guided missile project, upgrading its mammoth stash of rockets into precision missiles to be launched at Israel.

For its part, Hezbollah vehemently denied all allegations. In a bid to prove their innocence, the terror group invited the local media to inspect the site in the Janah neighborhood for weapons. Following the tour, journalists reported seeing oxygen canisters, machinery and fragments of steel and iron. No missiles were, however, found.

Hezbollah’s popularity among the Lebanese population took a severe knock in the aftermath of the Beirut port blast. The biggest explosion the city has ever experienced and the worst national disaster since the brutal 15-year civil war, the blast was caused by some 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate catching fire.

Although Lebanese officials are responsible for allowing the highly explosive material to be stored in the Beirut port, many blame Hezbollah for bringing it to Lebanon.

The terror group has faced a firestorm from angry Lebanese claiming that Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, played a leading role in the tragedy. The terror group, they charged, has caused more damage and destruction than archenemy Israel.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 30, 2020)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise God that Israel was able to reveal the locations of these dangerous weapons caches before another disaster has struck. Cry out to the Lord that the international community will heed PM Netanyahu’s warning and support the Lebanese people in freeing themselves from the grip of Hezbollah and Iran.

Scripture

“I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:21

IDF Fighting COVID-19: War on The Home Front

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The IDF coronavirus task force (illustrative)

Thursday, 1 October 2020 | In terms of size, Israel is approximately the size of the state of New Jersey. Yet this relatively small country holds great demographic and geographic diversity. Therefore, every region, town and municipality faces very different battles in the fight against COVID-19. As the country [is currently in lockdown], the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] is assisting in a multitude of ways.

The IDF Home Front Command [HFC], under the command of Maj.–Gen. Ori Gordin, has aided civilians for months through a nationwide network of coronavirus treatment centers. However, a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, especially in specific areas referred to as “red zones,” has led the HFC to take on a more intensive role in the national efforts against the virus.

These efforts include assisting isolated elderly populations, opening additional drive-in testing centers and increasing the number of at-home testing kits. The HFC is also using their transportation and planning networks to accelerate the pace at which tests are transported to laboratories and expanding efforts to transport patients to quarantine and recovery facilities.

In addition to these efforts, over 2,000 soldiers have been enlisted to take part in one of the Home Front Command’s most crucial tasks—to break the chain of COVID-19 infections through the operation of an Epidemiological Investigations Task Force called “Alon.”

The Epidemiological Investigations Task Force has a digital system that was developed by Unit 8200 and the Computer Service and Cyber Defense Directorate. This system updates civilians in real time about the condition of their health and the status of their tests, while also providing them with precise instructions on how to keep themselves and others safe.

“Like a delivery from Amazon, each citizen will be updated at every stage, from when they are tested to the date that they finish isolation, directly via their cell phone,” says Maj.–Gen. Gordin, commander of the Home Front Command.

The Israel Defense Forces is also closely collaborating with local authorities all over Israel to enforce quarantine measures. Already, approximately 500 soldiers have been mobilized to assist the Israeli Police in enforcing social distancing. Working locally, soldiers have distributed information leaflets about COVID-19 and held on-site training for employees of multiple businesses.

On September 6, 2020, Maj.–Gen. Gordin visited Kafr Qasim, an Arab Israeli municipality. Together with the mayor of Kafr Qasim and municipality representatives, Maj.–Gen. Gordin conducted a situational assessment to prepare for the possibility of enacting measures to reduce the exposure rate and developed a plan to help the municipality move from a high-risk area, or a “red zone” to a lower risk “green zone.” Since then, the municipality has reduced the morbidity rate of civilians with COVID-19 by 50%.

Adel Badir, the mayor of Kfar Qasim, remarked: “Together with the Home Front Command, we made a plan, and I think it will help Kfar Qasim to reach the status of a ‘green’ city. We’re going in a good direction, and I believe we’ll become a ‘green’ city, but our challenge will be to remain a ‘green’ city.”

IDF soldiers will continue to aid civilians until the threat of COVID-19 has been lowered, as they have since the outbreak began. The IDF has always been responsible for protecting the state of Israel, and a pandemic is no exception.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published on the Israel Defense Forces website on September 16, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray for the IDF as these young soldiers put their lives at risk and work to halt the spread of the virus while helping to care for those in lockdown. Pray that the Lord will intervene, protecting those who are hard at work against the virus, comforting those who are in lockdown and healing those who are ill.

Scripture

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.


- Psalm 121:5–8

Facebook Promotes Holocaust Denial

by Judith Bergman~Gatestone Institute

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“How can somebody really doubt it?” asks Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor. “There are tens of thousands of photos taken by the Nazis themselves. They were proud of what they were doing.” Pictured: Jews undergo a selection on the ramp at Auschwitz–Birkenau.

Friday, 25 September 2020 | Facebook has been promoting Holocaust denial on its platform, according to a recent report by The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), “Hosting the ‘Holohoax’: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media.”

“Holocaust denial has long been one of the most insidious conspiracy theories targeting Jewish communities, with its extremist proponents drawn from across the ideological spectrum, from extreme right-wing to hard left to Islamist,” the report states. “Research has shown that digital platforms have only served to amplify and mainstream this warped strain of thinking in recent years.”

Researchers from ISD gathered posts using the keyword “holohoax” from between June 1, 2018 and July 22, 2020 on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube. According to ISD: “The term ‘holohoax’ is popular among Holocaust deniers. It was selected as it is a particularly explicit means of denying the Holocaust. A significant amount of Holocaust denial content is couched in careful language, codes and tropes, and thus it is highly likely that this analysis only shows the tip of the iceberg of the true extent to which such content is able to spread on social media.”

ISD’s researchers identified at least 36 Facebook pages and groups that were either specifically dedicated to Holocaust denial or that host Holocaust denial content. The Facebook pages and groups had a combined number of followers of 366,068 and an average number of members of 10,168.

The researchers said that as they viewed the Holocaust-denying pages and posts on Facebook, the social media site’s algorithm promoted even more Holocaust denial content to them, such as pages about the Holocaust denier David Irving and sites selling Holocaust denial literature.

In addition, the researchers found 19,000 pieces of “holohoax” content on Twitter, 2,300 pieces of content on Reddit and 9,500 pieces on YouTube. Facebook takes down such posts only in countries such as Germany, France and Poland, where Holocaust denial is illegal.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had already said in an interview in July 2018 that Facebook would not block Holocaust deniers.

According to ISD: “Facebook executives…have explicitly rationalized allowing Holocaust denial on their platform. This was explained by Vice President for Global Public Policy at Facebook Joel Kaplan in a 2019 letter to the chairman of the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The letter explained that Facebook would not remove ‘lies or content that is inaccurate—whether it’s denying the Holocaust, the Armenian massacre, or the fact that the Syrian government has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people.’

“Kaplan explained that ‘this is because we do believe that people should be able to say things on Facebook that are wrong or inaccurate, even when they are offensive.’”

As the ISD points out in its report, however, Holocaust denial is not about people getting history “wrong”: “Holocaust denial is discourse which seeks to deny the reality and extent of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis in World War II. Such discourse has been used since the 1940s as a means of attacking Jews. Contemporary Holocaust denial is propagated by individuals adhering to a range of extremist worldviews including the extreme right and hard left, and has become interwoven with a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories…Due to the intimate intersection between Holocaust denial and hate targeting Jews, such content should be regarded as inherently anti-Semitic.”

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism. According to its definition, one example of antisemitism is: “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).”

Given Facebook’s public commitment to fighting “hate speech” on its site, Facebook’s refusal to acknowledge international guidelines on anti-Semitic hate speech by reducing Holocaust denial to a mere instance of “getting things wrong” is clearly unacceptable.

The effort that Facebook makes regarding all other forms of hate speech can be seen by contrasting it to their attitude to Holocaust denial. In the second quarter of 2020 (April–June), Facebook removed a record number of “hate speech” posts from its pages —22.5 million compared to 9.6 million in the first quarter of 2020. Facebook even now proactively removes most hate speech content (94.5%) before users even report it.

Holocaust survivors have now launched an online campaign, #NoDenyingIt, calling on Facebook to remove Holocaust-denying material from its website. “How can somebody really doubt it?” asked Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor. “Where are the six million people? There are tens of thousands of photos taken by the Nazis themselves. They were proud of what they were doing.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute on September 22, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Facebook will be held accountable for this grossly hypocritical injustice. Beseech Him that anti-Semitism will be recognized as the vile hate speech that it is and ask Him to move on the hearts of Facebook users to demand that this policy be changed.

Scripture

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.


- Proverbs 12:18 ESV

Czech Republic to Buy Israeli Air Defense System

by Joshua Spurlock

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SPYDER air defense system launcher (illustrative)

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 | Europeans will be safer because of Israeli technology, after the Czech Republic selected Israel to provide them with the SPYDER air defense system. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz appreciated not only the decision from the Czech Ministry of Defense to buy the system at an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars, but also what the approach means for Israel’s international standing.

“We thank the Czech government for their partnership and for the decision to equip their military with Israeli air defense systems,” said Gantz in an Israeli Ministry of Defense press release about the Czech purchase. “This is another significant step in strengthening security relations between our two countries, and it is also great news for Israeli defense industries during such a complex period.”

The SPYDER air defense system, which stands for Surface-to-Air Python & Derby, was described by the Israeli press release as a “quick reaction, low-to-high surface-to-air missile system designed to counter attacks by a variety of aerial threats including aircraft, helicopters and UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles].”

The press release said the SPYDER air defense system provides “effective protection of valuable assets” and “first-class defense” for forces located in combat areas.

The Czech Republic Ministry of Defense told their Israeli counterparts last Friday that they would be purchasing four SPYDER batteries, which followed an international tender process that spanned several years.

Israel will be the only supplier of the SPYDER system to the Czech Republic, which is developed and produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and includes radar produced by the Elta subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Rafael EVP of Marketing and Business Development Ariel Karo was quoted in the press release as saying they are “very proud to have been selected to provide SPYDER systems to the Czech Republic.”

Karo said the decision to select SPYDER is a “significant vote of confidence in our proven air defense capabilities demonstrated over the years through a variety of solutions that span from Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the SPYDER air defense system, in service and combat-proven in different countries around the world.”

The Israelis may be entering their second lockdown due to the coronavirus, but their defense establishment is still making connections and making the world a safer place.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Mideast Update on September 27, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Tal Inbar (טל ענבר)/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this technology developed by Israel to help keep the nations safe. Thank Him for this partnership which will help to strengthen the Israeli economy during these difficult times and pray for the Lord’s blessing on the Czech Republic as they continue to partner with Israel.

Scripture

And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath.


- Deuteronomy 28:11–13a

Israeli Cover of Emirati Hit Earns Fans across Arab World

by Itamar Eichner

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The Firqat Alnoor Orchestra comprises Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze musicians (illustrative).

Thursday, 1 October 2020 | An Israeli ensemble has won praise across the Arab world for a recently released instrumental rendition of an Emirati hit song celebrating the peace accord struck between the two countries.

Firqat Alnoor’s musical director, Ariel Cohen, produced the instrumental arrangement of the song “Aheibak” by Emirati musician Hussain al-Jassmi in honor of the newly signed bilateral agreement between Israel and the UAE.

Israeli artistic director Ronen Peled Hadad also created a music video to accompany the rendition of the song, filmed with a drone atop Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Tower skyscraper. 

The video is filled with shots of the Tel Aviv landscape and shows the orchestra’s Arab and Jewish members flying both the Israeli and Emirati flags while white doves are released to symbolize the peace between the countries.

The video has garnered hundreds of thousands of views across different social media platforms and was shared thousands of times on Twitter and WhatsApp groups across the UAE and Bahrain, which has also recently normalized its relations with Israel.

Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi also shared the performance with her followers on Twitter.

The Firqat Alnoor Orchestra was established in 2013 by Hana Ftaya and comprises Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze musicians.

The group aims to bring classical Arab and Oriental music to the forefront of Israeli culture covering songs from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Maghreb countries.

“As a temporary language capable of connecting peoples, beliefs and religions, the orchestra seeks to represent the State of Israel and classical oriental music in Israel and on international stages around the world,” Firqat Alnoor says in its mission statement.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on September 29, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Julio Rionaldo/unsplash.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this lovely effort to share the hope for peace through music. Pray that the song and accompanying video will help to insure a peace not just between governments but between people as well, a peace that will allow Israel’s light to shine across the entire region.

Scripture

The LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:11b

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