Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, September 25, 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.

Health Ministry: Israel Infection Rate Must Drop to 7% before Lockdown Lifted

by Attila Somfalvi, Roy Rubenstein

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A road block in Israel

Wednesday, 23 September 2020 | Health Ministry Deputy Director–General Prof. Itamar Grotto on Tuesday told legislators Israel must reduce its coronavirus infection rate from nearly 12% to 7% before the recently implemented national lockdown can be lifted.

The nationwide closure has been in place since Friday and is expected to last for at least three weeks.

Grotto briefed the Knesset [Parliament] committee on the coronavirus that Israelis for the most part were observing the lockdown.

Israel on Tuesday reported 3,858 new cases for the day before, with 668 people in serious condition with COVID-19, including 159 people on ventilators. The death toll also reached 1,285 on Tuesday.

“We must consider the rate of infection and not the number of confirmed cases, which is a result of the number of tests conducted,” Grotto told lawmakers.

“The R rate [the number of new people infected by a person with the virus] must be brought down to below 1, while we of course continue to monitor the number of seriously ill cases in hospitals.”

The health official told legislators that when Israel considers an end to lockdown, it must implement a gradual return to normality, using color-coding to indicate the level of morbidity in each area of the country. 

“We will operate according to coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu’s traffic light program, although perhaps initially the entire country would be considered a red zone and under strict mitigation directives,” he said.

“We plan to consider any changes only after two-week periods, and must not be swayed by political pressure,” Grotto said, adding that the next challenge would be tracing those infected in order to cut chains of contagion.

“We are increasing the number of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops assigned to this effort,” Grotto said, “and will also be adding coronavirus wards to the country’s hospitals in preparation for winter and the flu season.”

The professor earlier Tuesday told Ynet that Israel’s system of epidemiological investigation was best in the world.

“We are getting calls from other countries wishing to learn our system,” he said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on September 22, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Micky Rosenfeld/Police foreign press spokesman

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord on behalf of a nation in the throes of a plague. Beseech Him that the hearts of all Israel would be turned to Him during this sacred season, crying out to Him for relief from COVID-19. Pray for healing for those who are ill and thank the Lord that other nations are desiring to follow Israel’s example in dealing with the pandemic.

Scripture

No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.


- Psalm 91:10–11

New Israel–Arab Deal Coming in the Next Few Days?

by Kate Norman

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United States ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft

Thursday, 24 September 2020 | Another Arab state will soon join the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing ties with Israel, according to US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft.

“Our plan is to bring more countries, which we will have more being announced very soon,” Craft told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel. “One in the next day or two.”

The historic Abraham Accords were signed in Washington on September 15, making the UAE and Bahrain the third and fourth countries to sign peace agreements with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Media speculation has narrowed the potential countries down to Oman, Morocco and Sudan. Saudi Arabia—though it has strong ties to Washington, who brokered the Abraham Accords—has applauded the newfound peace but distanced itself as a potential new partner in keeping with the traditional Arab policy of holding off normalization with the Jewish state until the Palestinians have their own state.

The recent developments and shifting dynamics in the Middle East prove that more and more moderate Arab states are willing to overlook the Palestinian issue to join hands with Jerusalem in standing against increasingly aggressive Iran.

“Obviously, we would welcome Saudi Arabia to be next,” Craft told Al Arabiya. “But what’s important is that we focus on the agreement and we do not allow the [Iranian] regime to exploit the goodwill of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates or Israel.”

“We want to bring everyone on board in hopes that this will allow the Iranian citizens to see that people really want peace in the Middle East, and they are part of this peace,” the American ambassador continued.

While Saudi Arabia will most likely not bring its Israeli ties to light anytime soon, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had harsh words about the Islamic regime in his speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The king criticized Tehran for using the 2015 nuclear deal to “intensify its expansionist activities, create its terrorist networks and use terrorism [to produce] nothing but chaos, extremism and sectarianism.”

“Our experience with the Iranian regime has taught us that partial solutions or appeasement will not stop its threats to international peace and security,” King Salman continued. “A comprehensive solution and a firm international position are required to ensure fundamental solutions to the Iranian regime’s attempt to obtain weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile program.”

The Arabian kingdom might not be ready yet to officially join hands with the Jewish state, but they certainly hold the same anti-Iranian stance. So which Arab state will be next?

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 24, 2020)

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the growing relationship between Israel and the Arab world. Pray that He will give Israel’s leaders wisdom as these relationships expand, always protecting Israel’s interests above all else. Beseech the Lord for His constant direction and ask that this growing coalition will indeed bring an end to the Iranian threat to the region and to the world.

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.


- Psalm 121:5–7a

US Activates “Snapback” of Sanctions on Iran to Stop Arms Sales

by Joshua Spurlock

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The United States announced on Saturday that they were enforcing a renewal of a variety of sanctions on Iran. Pictured: The Iranian flag.

Monday, 21 September 2020 | After the United Nations refused to extend the arms embargo on Iran that expires next month, the United States announced on Saturday that they were enforcing a renewal of a variety of sanctions [against] Iran, including those related to weapons sales.

The so-called “snapback” of sanctions was put into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as a response if Iran violated the accord. On Saturday, the US threatened to sanction those who evade the sanctions, which covers arms deals, transferring technologies to Iran related to the nuclear and missile realms, and banning Iran from nuclear fuel enrichment and developing and testing ballistic missiles.

The unilateral move comes after the US announced their intent to effect the sanctions snapback 30 days ago on August 20. The US had previously exited the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), due to problems with the agreement, and Iran has withdrawn from multiple nuclear commitments under the JCPOA in response, moving them closer to nuclear weapons capability.

“The United States took this decisive action because, in addition to Iran’s failure to perform its JCPOA commitments, the Security Council failed to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which had been in place for 13 years,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in comments released by the State Department on Saturday. “The Security Council’s inaction would have paved the way for Iran to buy all manner of conventional weapons on October 18. Fortunately for the world, the United States took responsible action to stop this from happening.”

In a series of Twitter posts, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Asheknazi welcomed the American announcement. After thanking US President Donald Trump and Pompeo for keeping the Iran arms embargo in place, Ashkenazi tweeted, “I call upon all countries to stand alongside the US, in avoiding the sale of weapons to Iran and enforcing the sanctions in their entirety.”

In particular, Ashkenazi highlighted allies in Europe, the so-called E3 nations of Germany, the United Kingdom and France, who are partners to the Iran nuclear JCPOA deal. The top Israeli diplomat’s tweet called upon the European countries to “pullback their opposition and work towards a rigorous implementation of the sanctions regime, both on state level, as well as on the EU level and within the UN bodies.”

However, so far those European nations have ardently rejected the American sanctions snapback. The E3 on Sunday highlighted the US decision in 2018 to end its participation in the JCPOA, arguing in a statement published by the German Federal Foreign Office that this makes the US move under the UN resolution authorizing the JCPOA “incapable of having legal effect.”

The E3 rejection of the US snapback of sanctions comes as the Europeans have so far failed to bring the Iranians back to adherence to the nuclear requirements under the JCPOA. The E3 started efforts under the JCPOA to trigger the so-called “dispute mechanism” back in January with their “hope” to “bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA,” per statement published on January 14 by the German Federal Foreign Office. Yet eight months later, the Europeans have failed to convince Iran to change course.

Instead, Iran was on the brink of receiving a major benefit of the JCPOA with the expiration of the arms embargo. Pompeo, in his comments on Saturday, said, “Were it not for US action to restore UN measures, the Iranian regime would soon be able to buy and sell weapons more freely across the globe.”

The E3 statement on Sunday said they “have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” but the US view is that the deal itself has proven to be a failure.

“The 2015 nuclear deal did not induce Iran to join ‘the community of nations’ as promised. Instead, the mullahs took their newfound wealth and used it to foment death and destruction from Yemen to Iraq to Lebanon and Syria—a predictable outcome,” said Pompeo.

“…Because of the failures of the JCPOA, Iran is nearly five years closer to the expiration of restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment program and reprocessing-related activities, bringing it unacceptably close to a dangerous nuclear breakout capability. However, thanks to the snapback of UN sanctions, Iran is now obligated to suspend enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy-water-related activities. We will never let the world’s leading state sponsor of terror obtain the world’s most deadly weapon.”

Photo License: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on September 20, 2020.)

Photo Credit: Farzaaaad2000 in persian/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that the US has taken this strong stance against Iran’s nuclear intentions and cry out to Him that the rest of the international community will “pullback their opposition and work towards a rigorous implementation of the sanctions regime, both on state level, as well as on the EU level and within the UN bodies.”

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Isaiah 59:1–2

Gantz Heads Home after US Trip

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Washington.

Thursday, 24 September 2020 | What happened: Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz was in Washington yesterday and met with senior US officials amid growing speculation of the US sale of F-35 striker jets to the UAE.

  • Gantz met senior advisor to the president, Jared Kushner, in the White House and expressed his gratitude for the “exceptional efforts and achievements on the part of Kushner and the US government at large in advancing peace and stability in the Middle East, which culminated in the Abraham Accords.” They also discussed potential additional agreements with other countries in the region.
  • He also met with US Secretary of Defense Mark Asper and other senior Pentagon officials to discuss maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME), defense cooperation and procurement. They also discussed their shared concerns over Iran and a strategy for stopping its expansion and entrenchment.
  • Secretary Asper stressed that Israel is America’s most important strategic partner in the Middle East. Asper said the bonds of friendship among the peoples of Israel and the US are “unbreakable.” He added: “I do want to say upfront for everyone, that a cornerstone of our defense relationship is preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. The United States is committed to that, and the Department of Defense is committed to that imperative.”
  • Gantz also met US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. Gantz told him, “We will persist in our uncompromising efforts to halt Iranian aggression and will enlist other countries in the efforts as well.” Gantz reiterated Israel’s support for US policy of applying pressure on Iran in the international arena. He briefed O’Brien on ongoing Iranian aggression and told him that Israel will continue to respond to Iranian entrenchment in Syria and elsewhere.

Context: Following the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the US sought to maintain Israel’s QME and in 2008 US Congress codified this policy into law and approves arms sales to the region accordingly.

  • Israel was the first foreign country to receive the F-35 striker jet. As of July 2019, the Israel Air Force deployed 16 of the advanced jets that have state of the art stealth ability, undetectable to radar.
  • Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Washington without any of his political partners to sign the Abraham Accords with UAE and Bahrain, despite the agreements being signed at the level of foreign minister. The reception Gantz received appears to show the US understands and respects the dynamic of Israel’s coalition government.
  • Netanyahu has faced criticism from the security establishment for not consulting with Gantz or IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi before giving tacit consent for the US to supply F-35s to the UAE, a claim Netanyahu has denied.
  • Away from the domestic political arena where Gantz has struggled, defense cooperation with the US is in his comfort zone. Throughout his military career, he has had a strong US connection. As a company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, he trained with the US Special Forces. As a colonel, he studied at the US National Defense University. As a Maj.–Gen., Gantz also served as Israel’s military attaché in Washington.
  • Gantz had already spoken to Esper by phone to discuss the UAE procurement of F-35s but felt it important enough to travel and request compensation in person. According to Israel media, the Israeli shopping list includes another F-35 squadron, F-15X fighter jets, KC-46 refuelers, Chinooks and V-22 Ospreys. For the requests already in the pipeline, Israel is expected to ask for early delivery. Gantz may have also asked for additional long-range weaponry and radar systems.
  • One option being explored is to make the UAE’s F-35 more visible to Israeli radar systems, either by changing the jet or providing Israel with better radar technology.
  • Beyond the danger of the UAE obtaining F-35s, Israel is concerned of the precedent it sets ahead of other Arab states normalizing relations.
  • Looking ahead: As Gantz arrived in Washington, Reuters reported that the US and the UAE plan to have an agreement on the sale of F-35s in place by December 2, coinciding with UAE’s Independence Day. According to the Jerusalem Post, “the UAE will also get Reaper drones and EA-18G Growlers, which are advanced electronic-warfare planes that can jam enemy air defenses and are flown only by the US and Australia.”

If agreed, the sale will take years before the fighter jets are deployed by the UAE. Poland most recently bought 32 F-35s in January but will not receive its first delivery until 2024.

Source: (This article was originally published by BICOM on September 23, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the US will honor all agreements with and regarding Israel, insuring that the Jewish state will maintain its QME. As the atmosphere shifts in light of changing relationships, pray that the military balance that keeps Israel safe will always be protected.

Scripture

The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.


- Psalm 28:7

Hamas, Fatah Meet in Turkey to Discuss Joining Forces against Israel

by Kate Norman

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Fatah and Hamas are set to meet in Istanbul, Turkey (pictured)

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 | After witnessing the historic peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—and the prospect of more Arab states making peace with the Jewish state—the two top Palestinian factions are meeting to mend their own ties and unite against Israel.

Leaders from Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, and a delegation from Fatah, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s party in Judea and Samaria, are meeting this week in Istanbul to discuss burying the 13-year-old hatchet in order to face their common Jewish enemy together.

Their meeting aims toward “ending the division and applying the directives of the conference of Palestinian faction heads,” a Fatah statement said. The conference refers to another meeting earlier this month when Abbas met via videoconference with Hamas chief Ismael Haniyeh and Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah of Islamic Jihad—the second largest terror group operating in Gaza. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders tuned in from the Palestinian embassy in Beirut.

The factions have been at odds since Hamas staged a violent coup in 2007, expelling their Fatah brethren from the Gaza Strip. Since then, there has been a sharp division between the two, with Fatah transitioning from being the main face of the Palestinian people to being relegated to Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank.

Their history of infighting includes Hamas throwing Fatah members off of roofs in Gaza during the 2007 takeover. Aside from competing for complete control over the Palestinian people, the factions also differ on their stances toward Israel. The PA favors a more diplomatic enmity while Hamas advocates all-out war against the Jewish state.

Nonetheless, the threat of an Arab state daring to bypass the Palestinian issue and make peace with the Jewish state is more than the estranged factions can bear.

“We will work to end division, achieve reconciliation…” Abbas vowed at the previous meeting. “Know that we are one people.”

Hamas and Fatah can both agree on at least one thing: the Abraham Accords, the peace between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain—likely to soon include even more of their Arab brethren, are unacceptable.

Few people—both Palestinians and outsiders—however, believe the factions will be truly able to overcome their deep-rooted differences. The Times of Israel cited a recent Palestinian poll that said only 11% of the Palestinian people see a Hamas–Fatah reunion as a possibility.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 22, 2020)

Photo Credit: sulox32/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the recent polls are in fact correct, that a united Hamas–Fatah relationship is not a real possibility. Beseech the Lord that the two factions will never be successful in creating a united front against Israel.

Scripture

“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Israel’s Needy Holocaust Survivors Fear Impact of Lockdown

by Hadar Gil-Ad

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A Holocaust survivor living in Jerusalem

Friday, 18 September 2020 | As Israel prepares for a second coronavirus lockdown and all the ensuing economic woes, many of the country’s elderly are in need and fear that the new restrictions will only make their lives worse.

Volodymyr Kantorovich, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor from Beit Shemesh, spent the war in Stalingrad, where he lost much of his family.

Some years ago, he contracted malaria, which has affected his health to this day.

Now he is forced to live in a room at his daughter’s house as he cannot afford the costs of living on his own.

“I live in my daughter’s house because of my financial situation; it is easier to live together,” Kantorovich says.

Thousands of elderly and Holocaust survivors live in poverty in Israel and are in need of daily help with food, especially during the holiday period.

On Monday, the Knesset State Control Committee, chaired by Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, held a special hearing [regarding] assisting Israel’s Holocaust survivors during the upcoming holidays and lockdown.

“As we frantically prepare for the coming lockdown, we must not abandon those [Holocaust survivors] to whom we have the highest moral duty,” Shelah said.

Aliyah Vorenczyk, 91, and his wife Sofia, both Holocaust survivors, are also in need of economic aid.

Living in a one-and-a-half room apartment, they even find it hard to buy the medication they need.

“During the war, we had nothing to eat,” Vorenczyk says. “But now it is also hard to get money to buy groceries.”

“Every month I pay NIS 300 for medication,” he says. “My wife has vision and hearing difficulties. She needs a hearing aid and glasses that we cannot afford. She broke both of her legs and is unable to walk. If we had a wheelchair, she would have been able to go outside.”

Vorenczyk said that every day it is becoming more and more difficult to find what to wear and eat.

“Food aid is their oxygen supply,” says Chasdei Naomi, a charity that helps more than 5,000 elderly and Holocaust survivors.

“This year has been the hardest we have seen. The middle class became poor and the poor became poorer.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on September 17, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord on behalf of these dear souls who have already endured so much pain and suffering in their lives. Seek the Lord for their provision and for comfort and strength in their loneliness. Pray that Christians will respond generously to Bridges for Peace as we fulfill our commitment to provide these survivors with food and other necessities as well as our companionship and love to whatever extent we are legally able during the current lockdown.

Scripture

You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come.


- Psalm 102:13

Action
As Israel enters the second national lockdown this afternoon, Bridges for Peace remains committed to help see the needy Holocaust survivors on our program through this trying time. We will continue our food deliveries, carrying the parcels of food to their doorstep, ringing the doorbell and then moving back a safe distance. Our deliveries are, however, about so much more than sustenance. For our Holocaust survivors, the loneliness—particularly during the holidays—is something terrible. We want to make sure they know we are still here, still looking after them and still loving them—even if only from a distance. Will you help us bless these precious Holocaust survivors with food, company and care during this difficult holiday period?

This Year in Jerusalem: Honduras to Open Embassy in Capital by End of 2020

by Kate Norman

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Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez

Monday, 21 September 2020 | After speaking over the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said his nation will open an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of the year, according to a joint statement released by Netanyahu’s office.

President Hernandez confirmed the announcement in a Twitter post.

“I just had a chat with the Prime Minister @netanyahu to strengthen our strategic alliance and agree to open the embassies in Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem respectively,” Hernandez said. “We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to strengthen the ties between Jerusalem and Tegucigalpa by cooperating on development, tourism, investment, technology, agriculture, education and trade, according to the joint statement.

The statement described President Hernandez as an “active friend of Israel,” noting how Honduras, under Hernandez’s leadership, joined a small number of other nations to vote down a UN resolution condemning the US for moving its embassy to Jerusalem and often sides with Israel in the international body that so often condemns the Jewish state.

Honduras also recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2019 and opened a commercial office in Jerusalem just a few months later.

“Today, with their flags flying over each other’s capital cities, Israel and Honduras wish to announce the intention to complete the plan of action, before the end of this year, with the reciprocal opening and inauguration of their embassies in the national capitals, Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” the joint statement read.

The historic move had its obstacles, however. Israel’s ambassador to Honduras and Guatemala told Army Radio of the struggles she had to overcome to bring about the move.

“They told me there’s no chance that Honduras will move its embassy because there is a large Palestinian community there,” Mattanya Cohen said, referring to the fact that Honduras holds the second largest Palestinian community in Latin America, after Chile. “I didn’t give up. We started with quiet contacts behind the scenes, with ministers, with parliament members, and the community.”

This is the latest in a series of international diplomatic victories for the Jewish state. Following the US-brokered Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which were officially signed in Washington DC last week, more and more nations have been flocking toward warmer relations with Jerusalem. More Arab states are expected to join the UAE and Bahrain, with potential nations including Sudan, Morocco, Oman, and most recently, Kuwait, after President Donald Trump met with the son of the state’s ruler.

Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and moved the US embassy to the capital in 2019, followed by Guatemala. They will be joined soon by the African nation of Chad, who plans to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem. Serbia also announced an embassy move to Jerusalem, and Muslim-majority Kosovo announced it will recognize the Jewish state and eventually move its embassy to Jerusalem as well, according to Netanyahu.

It seems every day brings a new announcement of another nation advancing peace with Israel.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 21, 2020)

Photo Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for yet another strategic partnership for Israel. Pray that this relationship proves beneficial for both nations and praise God for Honduran support in the international arena. Pray that the embassies will be established in each nation’s capital city as planned, and ask the Lord to pour out His blessing on Honduras in keeping with His ancient promises

Scripture

“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:2–3

Arabs: Israel Is Not Our Enemy

by Khaled Abu Toameh~Gatestone Institute

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Map of the Arab Gulf states

Monday, 21 September 2020 | A growing number of Arabs, particularly those living in the Gulf, say they finally understand that Israel is not the enemy of the Muslims and Arabs. This change of heart manifested even before the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed peace agreements with Israel during a ceremony at the White House on September 15. It is the direct result of the expansionist ambitions of Iran and Turkey in the Arab world and the feeling among Arabs that those two states pose the real threat to their national security.

Until recently, it was unimaginable to see Arabs openly admitting that they had been mistaken in their belief that Israel was the enemy of the Muslims and Arabs. These Arabs now are saying out loud that Iran and its proxies in the Arab world, and not Israel, are the real enemies of Arabs and Muslims.

Until recently, most Arab writers, journalists and political activists avoided any form of criticism of the Palestinians. Such criticism was considered taboo in the Arab world: the Palestinians were considered the poor, spoiled babies who were suffering as a result of the conflict with Israel. Now, however, one can find in Arab media outlets more criticism of the Palestinians and their leadership than in Western media, or even in Israeli media.

Until recently, for most Arabs, the terms peace and normalization (with Israel) were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat and shame. No longer. Many Arabs are openly talking about their desire for peace with Israel. These Arabs are saying that they are looking forward to reaping the fruits of peace with Israel and that it is time that Arab countries prioritize their own interests.

Of course, none of this means that the entire Arab world has changed course and is ready to recognize Israel and establish relations with it. The voices of the Arabs and Muslims who reject any peace treaty with Israel remain vocal and representative of the sentiments of the majority of the people in the Arab and Islamic countries, especially those that have not educated their public for peace.

Yet, it is remarkable to see how an increasing number of Arabs are airing their views regarding Israel and the Palestinians in the public sphere. The message coming from these Arabs: “We helped the Palestinians for many years; we gave them money; we gave them weapons, and some of us even fought wars with Israel because of them. In the end, we discovered that our Palestinian brothers are ungrateful, obstinate, lack good leadership and are refusing to move on with their lives.” The Arabs are telling the Palestinians: “You no longer have a veto on peace with Israel.”

Most importantly, the Arabs of the Gulf are openly admitting that it is Iran, and not Israel, that poses a major threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Gulf Arabs are saying that Iran and its Palestinian and Lebanese proxies—such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah—are destroying Arab countries and dragging them toward more bloodshed, violence and chaos.

As Saudi writer Mohammed al-Sheikh recently noted:

“For us in the Gulf, Israel is no longer the No. 1 enemy, as it was before the Persian mullahs seized control of Iran in 1979 and began exporting their revolution, or before Erdoğan assumed the presidency in Turkey and worked to restore the Ottoman occupation of the Arab world.”

Praising the prospect of peace and normalization with Israel, the Saudi writer pointed out that:

“Israel is an advanced and superior country in all fields, and by creating a space for peaceful cooperation with it, we believe that we will benefit from its progress and superiority.”

Echoing a common theme in the Gulf states nowadays, al-Sheikh said that peace with Israel would benefit the Arabs as much as Israel. He is saying, in other words, that the Arabs stand to gain a lot from making peace with Israel.

Emirati political analyst Issa bin Arabi Albuflasah expressed outrage and disgust over the Palestinian leadership’s recurring insults and attacks on the Gulf states for daring to seek peace with Israel. “Palestinian leaders are the main cause for the suffering of their people,” Albuflasah remarked. “They have achieved nothing for the Palestinians. They only care about power and achieving personal and partisan gains at the expense of the Palestinian issue.”

Accusing the Palestinians of being ungrateful, the Emirati analyst said:

“The UAE and the rest of the Gulf states opened their doors and institutions to the Palestinians, where they lived as brothers, enjoying everything that the citizen enjoys, and receiving care and attention. The Palestinians are now responding by insulting us and aligning themselves with Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Explaining why Arabs are now moving closer to Israel, Saudi writer Fahd al Degaither commented:

“Geopolitically speaking, new enemies of the Arabs have appeared in the region, with new and very dangerous ambitions that are declared and different from those of Israel. We were told that Israel’s slogan was [to expand] ‘From the Euphrates to the Nile.’ Iran, however, does not hide its expansionist ideological trend, which it is already practicing through its militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Turkey, on the other hand, is seeking to seize new sources of energy in Libya and has sights on Africa along the Red Sea. These developments prompted the moderate Arabs to start reconsidering previous their political positions.”

Saudi writer Osama Yamani concurred:

“Our enemy today is Iran and Turkey, who occupy Arab lands in the name of the Palestinian issue. As for the enemy of the Palestinians at home, they are the corrupt leaders and traitors who rest in the bosom of Iran…”

Saudi writer Saeed al-Farha al-Ghamdi, in an article published in the Saudi newspaper al-Madina, says he can’t understand why the Palestinians fail to read reality, urging the Palestinians to keep a distance from Iran, Turkey and Qatar, “which have agendas that seek to exploit the [Palestinian] issue.”

Saudi writer and researcher Fahd al-Shkiran advised the Palestinians to hold their leaders accountable on two levels:

“The first is political accountability: The reasons and causes of the continued rejection of all realistic deals that were offered to them since the beginning of the problem until today. Second: Opening the files of corruption. The Palestinian has the right to ask about the billions of dollars paid by the Gulf states for the Palestinian cause. All that money has disappeared.”

Judging from the comments of many Gulf Arabs, it is evident that a growing number of Arabs realize that they have been misled about Israel for decades. They were brainwashed to believe that Israel was the true enemy of all Arabs. It is refreshing to see that many Arabs have become aware of the misconceptions and lies they were fed all that time. The Palestinians, however, are unlikely to see similar changes as long as their leaders continue to inform them, in no uncertain terms, that normalization and peace with Israel constitute the high crime of treason.

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 17, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Furfur/Ham105/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God that, after decades of prayer by both Jews and Christians, the eyes of the Arab world are being opened to the fact that they have been brainwashed into believing the false narrative that Israel is an evil occupier and the cause of all conflict in the region. Pray that this realization will spread, bringing peace and stability for Israel and the Middle East. Also pray that the Palestinians will at long last be forced to face the reality of a Jewish state and become a true partner for peace.

Scripture

“And the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.”


- Ezekiel 36:23b

Bnei Menashe Kickboxing Champion to Make Aliyah

by Itamar Eichner

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More than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah to Israel in the past two decades (illustrative).

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 | An Indian–Jewish MMA [mixed martial arts] and kickboxing champion who has won a host of prestigious competitions is set to make aliyah [immigrate] to Israel where he hopes to compete for the Jewish state.

Obed Hrangchal, 26, has already won two gold, seven silver and two bronze national medals in wushu, kickboxing, Muay Thai and karate. But what makes Hrangchal’s story unique is that he is an observant Jew and part of the Bnei Menashe community.

The Bnei Menashe say they are descended [from] Jews from a lost biblical tribe, banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century [BC].

Together with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister Lucy, Obed is set to fulfill his lifelong dream shortly after the Jewish High Holidays and immigrate to Israel, where they want to settle in the city of Nof HaGalil in [the] northern part of the country after they complete their absorption process.

“I have always dreamt of making aliyah to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so. If possible, I would certainly like to join the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and kickboxing competitions,” Obed said.

The athlete hopes to complete the immigration process with the help of Shavei Israel, an Israeli-based Jewish organization that encourages people of Jewish descent to strengthen their connection with Israel.

“We are very proud of Obed and his impressive accomplishments and we look forward to welcoming him and his family here in Israel along with the 700-plus other Bnei Menashe, whom we will be bringing in the coming year,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Obed is another outstanding example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society and I hope that we will soon see him ascending the stage and winning medals for Israel worldwide,” he added.

Originally from the village of Thinghlun in the Indian state of Mizoram, the Hrangchals were the only Jewish family in town. In 2013, they sold their home and farmlands to move to the capital city of Aizawl in order to join the local Jewish community while awaiting the opportunity to make aliyah.

Without the family farm, Obed’s father was left without a job, and being Jewish makes it more difficult to find steady work since Jews do not work on Shabbat [Sabbath] or Jewish holidays.

Despite the difficulties, Obed has succeeded in garnering widespread recognition in the sporting world and has won awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sport Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Association, which are affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

“I started practicing martial arts from a very young age, about six years old, but without proper instruction,” reports Obed Hrangchal. “As I grew up, I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014, when I competed in Chinese kickboxing or wushu and won second place. That same year, I began to study Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) under an instructor.”

Thus far, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah to Israel in the past two decades, thanks largely to Shavei Israel. Another 6,500 remain in India, all of whom wish to make the Jewish state their home.

Some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, Israel’s prophets spoke of a day when God would return the Jewish people to their own land. As we see the prophecy being fulfilled, Bridges for Peace partners with God to help bring His people—including the Bnei Menashe—home.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on September 21, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: M Freund/shavei.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the Bnei Menashe are at last coming home! Thank the Lord for Shavei Israel, its founder Michael Freund and the work they are doing to insure the aliyah of these Children of Israel. Pray that the remaining numbers will make their way to Israel soon, and pray that Christians will give generously to help make the dreams of this “lost tribe” to live in the land of their forefathers a reality.

Scripture

Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.”


- Isaiah 49:22

Action
Over the past months, we have been praying with Rabbi Michael Freund of Shavei Yisrael for a breakthrough to allow the Bnei Menashe to come to Israel. We rejoiced together when that breakthrough came, with the new Minister of Immigration and Absorption MK (member of Knesset/Parliament) Pnina Tamano-Shata vowing to bring home the members of the Bnei Menashe community in India. Rabbi Freund asked for our help to make the homecoming a reality. “I would be grateful if you would pray over this request and consider partnering with Shavei Israel in this historic return of the Lost Tribe of Manasseh to its ancestral homeland. More than 25 centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah (11:12 NIV) foretold that the Lord ‘will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel.’ We are now witnessing those words come to pass.” It costs US $1,000 to bring one person home to Israel, and thousands are waiting. Do you want to be part of God's plan to bring them home? Your gift, no matter how large or small, will help us accomplish that.

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