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Visa Exemption, Embassies and History Made: The UAE Visit in Review
by Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 21 October 2020 | The phrase “history in the making” has resounded through the Middle East discourse over the past few weeks—and for good reason. Two normalization treaties in under a month and the promise of more to come after a peace drought of nearly three decades, former foes cementing friendships and forging mutually beneficial business deals, open skies and borders that were firmly shut finally creaking open clearly fall into the “events that will go down in history” category.
Yesterday marked another such milestone.
Just after noon, an Etihad Airways flight—proudly sporting the flags of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel—touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport. On board was a senior UAE delegation headed by the ministers of finance and economy about to set foot in the Jewish state for the first time for a whirlwind five-hour trip of bilateral talks with their Israeli counterparts on the implementation of the peace deal the two countries signed last month in Washington.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on the tarmac to welcome the first ever Emirati ministers to visit Israel publically.
“Today we are making history,” the prime minister said, “we are making history in a way that will stand for generations. The enthusiasm for this peace agreement among our people is enormous. It’s real, it’s broad, it’s deep, and it reflects the potential that is realized today.”
Hailing the fruits of peace that both countries will soon enjoy, including bilateral agreements, a visa waiver, direct flights, mutual embassies and a trilateral investment fund, Netanyahu continued, “The visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE, and the agreements we are about to sign, will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful, normal exchanges.”
During the course of yesterday’s visit, Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi inked four bilateral treaties in the areas of aviation, investment protection, science and technology and visa exemption. The latter allows citizens from both nations to visit each other’s countries without going through the cumbersome process of applying for an entrance visa first. It marks the first such treaty between the Jewish state and an Arab state.
“This will offer a huge boost for business, for tourism, for people-to-people contacts,” Netanyahu vowed.
In another milestone development, representatives from Israel, the US and the UAE announced the establishment of a trilateral US $3 billion fund. The development fund—aptly named the Abraham Fund for the Abraham Accords that formalized Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi’s friendship—will be based in Jerusalem and earmarked to ignite prosperity in the troubled Middle East.
“The Abraham Fund investment will go a long way to boost even further the historic change that we’re doing,” Netanyahu announced. “This is an investment in infrastructure. It’s really an investment in the future and in many projects.”
Also during the visit, the Emirati delegations handed Israel Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi an official missive penned by his UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed expressing the UAE’s wish to open reciprocal embassies in Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
The letter, reportedly written in Hebrew, also thanks Ashkenazi for “the efforts you are making to promote cooperation between our countries and I have full faith in your unreserved support for opening diplomatic missions…as soon as possible.”
Israel handed the UAE a similar letter expressing the same wish after the two nations inked the Abraham Accords.
Five hours after touching down in the Jewish state—with four bilateral agreements signed, a regional development fund established, trilateral and the first-ever bilateral meetings between Israeli and Emirati ministers concluded and promises of future cooperation exchanged, the UAE delegation headed home.
“We shall remember this day,” Netanyahu vowed. “A glorious day of peace.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 21, 2020)
Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Praise the Lord for these wonderful steps forward in peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors! Ask for His hand of blessing over the friendship and cooperation among these nations, that they will bear fruit for everyone involved. Pray that more nations will see the blessing that comes from peace with the Jewish state and that they will follow suit.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
Israel’s COVID-19 Vaccine to Start Human Trials by Month-End
by Kate Norman
Wednesday, 21 October 2020 | As Israel and many other countries across the world finish surfing out the second wave of the pandemic, the Jewish state is slated to begin testing its vaccine on human subjects at the end of the month.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the laboratory of the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) on Monday for a status update on their vaccine candidate, which Gantz called “national pride.”
The human trials will begin by the end of October with Phase 1, testing the potential vaccine on 100 volunteer human subjects. If all goes well, testing will move into Phase 2 on 1,000 subjects, which is estimated to take place in the spring, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Israeli research facility announced in June that it had tested successfully on rodents, asserting in a research paper published in bioRxiv that their vaccine “results in rapid and potent induction of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The vaccine candidate is called Brilife. “Bri” is from the Hebrew word for health—briut, while “il” stands for Israel, bookended with the hopeful word “life,” according to Professor Shmuel Shapira, the IIBR director–general.
The IIBR began developing this potential vaccine on February 2, Shapira said, “and at the end of October, we will be facing the final hurdle.”
The defense minister praised Professor Shapira and his team for their “fantastic work.”
“They are the scientific vanguard of the State of Israel and they have brought the vaccine to the point at which we can soon start clinical trials,” Gantz announced.
“If that process succeeds,” Gantz continued, “it will be wonderful news for Israel and possibly the rest of the peoples of the world.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 21, 2020)
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska/pexels.com
Pray over the research team at the IIBR and their potential vaccine, asking the Lord to bless the team and the fruit of their labor. Ask God to use Brilife and this Israeli team to provide the vaccine that the world needs to tackle the pandemic. Cover their research and testing in prayer, asking that the vaccine will prove itself successful on the people who have volunteered themselves as test subjects.
“Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you…”
Qatar to Keep Funding Gaza through the End of 2021
by Elior Levy
Thursday, 22 October 2020 | Qatar announced Wednesday that it will keep its funding of the Gaza Strip through 2021. It is yet unknown how much monetary aid will be given [and] how it will be used.
Mohammad al-Emadi, Qatar’s envoy to Gaza, has regularly visited the Strip in recent years with Israeli approval, bringing funds dedicated for the purchase of fuel, civil servants’ salaries and cash to help Gazan families in need.
This funding has been critical to maintaining calm along the border.
The decision was made while intensive efforts were underway by Israel, Hamas and international mediators, held in Israel and in Doha, to negotiate a cease-fire that would be in effect for at least one year.
Qatar and the Gaza-based terror group remain at odds over how the funds are to be used, with Doha officials insisting on investments in significant infrastructure projects including building a gas pipeline to supply the only power station in Gaza still operating on coal.
The very costly plan is still in the planning stages, with construction expected to last two to three years.
The project includes the supply of gas from Nobel Energy, which oversees and operates the Leviathan gas rig off the coast of Israel, selling the gas to Israeli Delek company, which in turn would sell it to Qatar, which will deliver it to the private company operating the enclave’s power station.
Whether Hamas and Qatar reach an agreement on the project or not, final approval must be given by the Israeli government.
It is yet unclear whether the project will be conditioned on the release of the Israeli captives and MIAs [Israeli soldiers missing in action] held by Hamas in the besieged enclave.
Sources within the group’s leadership say they would like the monetary aid to be given to families in need rather than to infrastructure projects that could take years to get off the ground.
Hamas would like to see either more money given to families that have been receiving monthly payments of US $100 in cash or alternatively an increase in the number of families eligible to receive the Qatari assistance.
That position may be directly linked to internal Hamas elections scheduled to take place in early 2021, and an effort by members of the organization to gain public support.
Despite Qatari efforts to bring about an understanding between Israel and Hamas that could ensure calm along the border, the Islamic Jihad faction—that opposes Doha’s involvement—is believed to be responsible for the recent rocket fire launched from the Strip on Israeli communities in the south, [which] could disrupt any agreement and bring about a further escalation of hostilities.
Photo Credit: pasja1000/pixabay.com
Photo License: Pixabay
Cry out to the Lord for the civilians in Gaza that are suffering under the oppression of corrupt Hamas leadership. Pray that this influx of humanitarian aid will reach the neediest and vulnerable and not be used for evil plans of terrorists. Also continue to pray for quiet and calm for the Israelis living near the Gaza border, and for the continued protection of Israel from rocket and other terror attacks from the Strip.
“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
The End of the Arms Embargo on Iran
by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
Thursday, 22 October 2020 | The termination of the arms embargo on Iran on October 18, 2020, as detailed by the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will allow Iran to purchase and export arms without restrictions, despite Iran’s blatant and open violations of all its obligations under the agreement.
At the same time, the United States believes that following its request for an automatic renewal of all UN [United Nations] sanctions against Iran (“snapback”), the sanctions were renewed as early as September 20, 2020, and, therefore, the ban on arms trade with Iran continued. Iran, Russia, China and the UN Security Council decided otherwise. The United States also threatens to apply sanctions against those who violate the ban, and in recent days has increased the pressure on the Iranian economy through a series of additional sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on October 18, 2020 that the United States would impose sanctions on any individual or entity that aids Iran’s weapons program.
“Any nation that sells weapons to Iran is impoverishing the Iranian people by enabling the regime’s diversion of funds away from the people and toward the regime’s military aims,” Pompeo stated.
On October 19, 2020, the US State Department announced it was imposing sanctions on six Chinese companies for dealing with the Islamic Republic’s Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which transports “proliferation-sensitive items intended for Iran’s ballistic missile and military programs.”
Speaking on October 14, 2020, Iranian President Rouhani said: “I congratulate our people on lifting the cruel arms embargo on us. After ten years of repression, we will have no such restrictions. We have been fighting against the United States for four years, and now in desperation, they are knocking on many doors in their attempt to preserve the embargo.”
“Starting from Sunday,” Rouhani continued, “we can sell weapons to anyone we want and buy weapons from anyone we want. For those who are wondering what the government has done for the people of Iran, this is an unprecedented achievement for the government’s diligence, our hope and long patience.”
The spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvand, described the removal of arms embargoes against Tehran as “a brilliant and glorious moment for the country’s diplomats.”
Why was the lifting of the embargo such an Iranian “diplomatic victory”?
Seyed Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, explained that then-US Secretary of State Kerry insisted on a 10-year embargo during the JCPOA negotiations.
“Due to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s furious tone of voice and his shouts, [US negotiator Wendy] Sherman asked her colleagues to leave the room and leave the foreign ministers alone….Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a ‘stormy meeting’ with the foreign ministers and convinced them to agree to a five-year timeframe.”
Iran has already expressed its desire to purchase stealthy Chinese J-20 fighter jets for its outdated air force and the Russian anti-aircraft system S-400 that could make it challenging to carry out air strikes against nuclear targets in the country. Unverified press reports claim that Iran might try to buy from North Korea, through China, advanced long-range missiles of 4,500 KM (Hwasong-12) or even longer-range missiles.
At the same time, Iran clarified that it is not going to rush to purchase new weapons as it has a broad military industry.
The absurdity of the lifting of the arms embargo lies in the fact that it was adopted as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1747 in 2007 with Russian and Chinese support as a means to force Iran to give up enrichment of uranium, and it is now lifted just when Iran has accumulated large amounts of uranium enriched to 4.5% and operates various facilities in its nuclear program, including the deep underground enrichment facility at Fordow that at the time was still unknown.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on October 21, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: COLIN COOKE/flickr.com
Photo License: Flickr
Beseech the Lord that the eyes of the world—especially the UN, European nations and other governing bodies—will be opened to the truth about Iran and its nuclear and expansionist ambitions. God is in control; ask Him to thwart any plans and efforts by the Islamic regime to purchase or procure weapons and system upgrades that will make Iran a threat to Israel and the rest of the world. Pray that God will raise up more leaders and nations to join Israel and the US in standing against Iran.
O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs—O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud. LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?
The Warming Ties between Israel and Sudan
by Kate Norman
Friday, 16 October 2020 | Sudan is likely to become the next Muslim majority nation to normalize ties with Israel, following an ultimatum from the US government.
Sudanese government sources have told Israel’s i24News that the North African nation has decided to push forward and establish formal relations with the Jewish state after being given a 24-hour deadline by the US to make a decision.
The US reportedly promised billions of dollars in aid to the transitional government as well as promising to remove Sudan from a list of states who sponsor terror.
Sudan is struggling to rebuild after ousting its former ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. It was under his regime that the nation was placed on the US government’s state terror sponsor list. Remaining on that list has made it difficult for the nation to recover financially, due to sanctions and an inability to receive support from foreign nations.
The Muslim majority nation has certainly experienced pushback from a vocal Islamic sector, but journalists and activists are painting another picture of the public opinion.
A recently founded organization called the Sudanese–Israeli Friendship Society held a videoconference meeting on Thursday with a group of Israelis to discuss the Sudanese people’s interest in forging ties with the Jewish state.
The co-founder of the group said that the outside world is being told that the people are against normalization with Israel, but they are seeing the opposite.
“The trend is in favor, and it continues to gain momentum,” El-Sadig Ishaq said. “That’s what we hear and see on the street, especially with young people. That’s why we felt encouraged to create the Friendship Society, because it reflects the will of the people.”
The activist and Friendship Society co-founder added that Sudan’s young people are beginning to ignore what they are taught about Israel in school.
“Especially young people have been able to get their news from alternative sources and have been seeing the true face of Israel for a long time,” he said. “And we do our best to disseminate accurate information about Israel as well.”
Nonetheless, the battle is not over yet for the Sudanese who wish for peace with Israel. They face opposition from Muslim clerics and current government policies that still ban contact with the Israeli people.
A former Sudanese member of Parliament is working to organize a delegation to visit Israel “to break the psychological barrier” and “[encourage] our government to accelerate normalization with Israel.”
Abu Al-Qasim Bortom told the Times of Israel that he has received over 1,000 requests to join his delegation, though none are from government officials—who have yet to give their nod of approval for his trip.
Though the people and government of Sudan have yet to reach a consensus on forging a friendship with Israel, these vocal groups and individuals all assert that the majority opinion in the nation is to push forward. With the added pressure from Washington, Sudan will likely follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who signed the historic Abraham Accords for peace with Israel in Washington last month.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 16, 2020)
Photo Credit: Ola A .Alsheikh
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Praise God for yet another Muslim-majority nation joining in the fold of peace. He answers prayer! Lift up the leaders of Sudan and Israel, that they will be able to negotiate peace terms that will bless both nations. Ask the Lord to bless their conversations, that normalization and cooperation will come about quickly and smoothly.
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Alleged Israeli Air Strike in Syria Targets Iran-backed Militia Base
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 22 October 2020 | Three Hezbollah-linked fighters were reportedly killed in air strikes attributed to Israel overnight on Wednesday, a Syrian war monitor reported.
After midnight, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Israeli rockets targeted a school in the Syrian providence of Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights, where Iran-backed fighters with ties to Lebanese terror group Hezbollah were reportedly staying.
According to SOHR, one of the fighters killed in the strike was Syrian, while the nationality of the others was not confirmed. The war monitor did not mention any civilian casualties or provide any other details.
SOHR chief Rami Abdul Rahman did say, however, that the three former fighters were part of the Syrian Resistance to Liberate the Golan. The group has ties to Hezbollah and was established six years ago to organize and carry out attacks on the Israeli Golan Heights—which Syria still claims as its own.
Israel maintains a long-held policy of declining to comment on its involvement in cross-border attacks. However, in a deviation from the hush policy, Defense Minister Benny Gantz hinted at the Israeli military’s involvement in the late-night strikes.
“I won’t go into who fired what last night,” Gantz told Israeli Kan public broadcaster. “We won’t allow terrorist operatives from Hezbollah or Iran to set up on the Golan Heights border and we will do what is necessary to drive them out of there.”
Gantz’s words of warning are the latest in similar statements made by other Israeli military and political leaders over the years who have asserted that the Jewish state will not allow its enemies—particularly Iran and its proxies—to entrench themselves along Israel’s borders.
Israeli leaders have acknowledged launching hundreds of strikes in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Iran, Hezbollah and other terror groups and sponsors have used the chaos of the war-torn country as an opportunity to get their feet in the door and place themselves within easy striking distance of the Jewish state.
Over the years, strikes attributed to the Israel Defense Forces have targeted weapons shipments from Tehran to their puppet fighters in Syria and occasionally Lebanon as well as fighters and other terror targets.
The most recent Israeli-attributed air strikes in Syria took place on September 14, SOHR said, targeting Iran-backed fighters near the Iraqi border. According to the war monitor, ammunitions depots and Iran-backed militia vehicles were destroyed in the strike, and ten fighters—again, backed by Iran—were killed.
This is the Israeli method of war-between-wars in which it conducts covert strikes on terror and military targets in order to prevent Iran and other anti-Israel groups from stockpiling weapons and troops along Israel’s borders.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 22, 2020)
Photo Credit: Christian Koehn/wikimedia
Lift up Israel’s military and defense leaders before the Lord in prayer, asking for His protection over them as well as His provision of wisdom, strength and discernment as they face the heavy task of defending Israel’s borders. However, thank the Lord—the ultimate Defender—for His continued protection over Israel’s land and borders. Pray against any plans of Iran, Hezbollah or other enemies of Israel to harm her.
Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth…Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Israel Moves ahead with Construction in Judea and Samaria
by Ilse Strauss
Friday, 16 October 2020 | Construction is set to resume in Israel’s biblical heartland after the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria gave the green light for thousands of new housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The council, which oversees construction in the highly contested area, met this week for the first time in seven months to approve and advance plans for 4,948 new or partially developed homes during the two-day meeting, the Times of Israel reports.
While the council usually meets four times per year and approves thousands of construction plans in Judea and Samaria, this week’s meetings elicited a particular firestorm of condemnation among the Palestinians and the international community.
This is the first council meeting—and the first go-ahead for construction—since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty over the pockets of Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria. The land in question amounts to 30% of Israel’s biblical heartland, or the so-called West Bank, in line with US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan for the region.
The remaining 70% is set aside for a future Palestinian state—provided the Palestinians meet a set of conditions.
Perhaps more to the point, this is the first council meeting and the first go-ahead for construction since Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain inked the Abraham Accords, an agreement that includes a pledge by Jerusalem to either take sovereignty off the table for good or simply put it on ice—depending on who you ask.
The decision to reconvene the council came from Netanyahu, who remained adamant—even on the day the deal with the UAE was unveiled—that sovereignty was only a matter of time.
Leaders in Judea and Samaria applauded the council’s approval, while the Palestinians and world bodies offered their customary chorus of condemnation.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov issued a stern warning that the construction would harm hopes of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Such moves undermine the prospect of achieving a viable two-state solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous and independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel,” he said.
While Mladenov painted Israel as the big bad wolf that destroys the Palestinians’ aspirations of a state, he remained conveniently mum about the fact that the Palestinians repeatedly shot down the prospect of a state on up to 70% of the land they claim as their own—during this year alone.
Both Netanyahu and President Trump have hailed this as a new era for the Middle East. They are spot on. Two Gulf states have already come to the conclusion that Israel is friend instead of foe—with the promise of more following suit. Yet it seems that some things never change. Perhaps casting Israel as the scapegoat has been too convenient for too long.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 16, 2020)
Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com
Thank the Lord for imbuing the council and Israel’s decision makers with holy boldness in their decision to forge ahead with construction on the very land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—particularly in the face of international condemnation. Consecrate the process to Him and intercede for His perfect will to be done as the construction moves ahead.
“Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
UN Taps Ben-Gurion University to Monitor Environmental Crises from Outer Space
Thursday, 22 October 2020 | The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs [UNOOSA] has chosen the Earth and Planetary Image Facility at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev [BGU] as its partner for a crisis management center in Israel.
The Regional Support Office for Disaster Management and Emergency Response collects data from space, working alongside experts from other UNOOSA partner countries in order to reduce risks and emergency situations worldwide.
BGU’s Earth and Planetary Image Facility [EPIF], which focuses on the use of remote sensing, is responsible for multi-disciplinary scientific research collected from satellite data for environmental purposes.
The lab also serves as a regional NASA lab for planetary imaging and will be the 25th center to join the organization, adding expertise in the field of satellite technology to the UN-SPIDER (Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) network.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “I am delighted to see the UN-SPIDER’s network of RSOs [resident space objects] continuously growing, adding diverse, top-class expertise to its resources and allowing the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. Through the RSOs, our work to help countries leverage space tools to counteract disasters is scaled up to improve the lives of more people worldwide.”
Prof. Dan G. Blumberg, vice-president of BGU for Industrial and Regional Development, said the institute’s technology was being used to help with a range of crises, including natural disasters.
“This is an exciting moment where we will be making our long-term scientific knowledge available to support relief efforts when needed,” he said.
“Our ability to observe earth from space and rapidly analyze complex imagery is being put to good use worldwide, mitigating disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, drought and others,” he said.
“We wish our university and UNOOSA a fruitful collaboration on capacity building and training in this very important field.”
EPIF Laboratory Director Dr. Shimrit Maman, who will manage the new office, said the venture would not be the last of its kind.
“We have additional agreements in the field of disaster management, such as one with South Korea, and we expect more in the future to further our efforts towards this important goal,” she said.
Photo Credit: Photographs ©Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Photo License: Wikimedia
Magnify the Lord for orchestrating this expression of trust and goodwill from the UN—a body that is notorious for its anti-Israel bias. Pray that God will utilize this collaboration to remove the prejudiced-colored glasses from the world body’s eyes, and that it will serve as the launching pad for future partnerships through which Israel can continue to bless the world.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
TikTok Vows in Knesset to Tackle Anti-Semitism
by Itamer Eichner, Tal Shahaf
Friday, 16 October 2020 | Representatives of the popular social media app TikTok vowed on Wednesday to tackle anti-Semitic posts shared by their users.
The Knesset [Parliament] held a series of discussions in recent months over the surge of anti-Semitism on the internet, inviting representatives of several prominent social media networks—namely Facebook, Google and Twitter—to discuss different ways to tackle the phenomenon.
After not sending any representative to speak on its behalf in previous meetings and facing accusations of ignoring the spread of anti-Semitic content on the platform, a TikTok official joined a meeting of Knesset’s Aliyah [Immigration to Israel], Absorption and Diaspora [the Jewish population outside of Israel] Committee on Wednesday.
During the discussion, Blue and White MK [member of Knesset] Michal Kotler-Wunsch spoke of a disturbing trend on the app called the “Holocaust Challenge,” in which young people pretend to be Holocaust victims in heaven, wearing makeup that imitates burns or bruises while explaining how they died in Nazi-run death camps.
Kotler-Wunsch implored TikTok to adopt and apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism—which includes the use of Holocaust denial, as well as delegitimization, demonization and dual morality towards Israel and drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis—and mark anti-Semitic content accordingly.
Following the accusations, TikTok Director of Policy and Government Relations Elizabeth Kanter suggested that the app be used as a tool to increase awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust and Holocaust studies.
“Anti-Semitism is a heinous thing, and anti-Semitic content that expresses hatred has no place on our platform,” Kanter said. “We have zero tolerance for organized hate groups and those associated with them. Our community rules reflect our values—and we act when they are violated, including removing content and closing accounts.”
Kanter stressed that TikTok’s hate policy is reviewed regularly to identify trends or activities that violate the rules in advance.
“TikTok collaborates regularly with nongovernmental organizations and leading bodies in Israel and the European Union, such as Yad Vashem, the World Jewish Congress and the Holocaust Educational Foundation, to proactively promote educational content about the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism,” she said.
Knesset Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee Chairman David Bitan praised the platform’s initiative and called on more companies to adopt a similar stance against anti-Semitism.
Twitter Director of Policy in Israel, Ronen Costello, said that the company initiated talks with several Israeli government officials and international organizations regarding monitoring anti-Semitism on the platform and training volunteers to spot such content.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Monday the company will ban posts that deny or distort the Holocaust and will start directing people to authoritative sources if they search for information about the Nazi genocide.
Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa/unsplash.com
Sing praises once again to the Lord for His display of faithfulness to answer prayer. Last week we celebrated His hand orchestrating the shift in Facebook’s policy regarding anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying posts, and this week we can praise him for yet another social media platform’s commitment to join the fight against anti-Semitism. Continue to stand in prayer against the evil of anti-Semitism that seems to permeate every nook and cranny of society and ask the Lord to shine His light to expose and expel the darkness.
“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
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