Standing in the gap for Israel 09/15

Please note: This is the last report for a few weeks.  The next report will be out on October 6, 2016

The Word: Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2: 1-6)

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, ‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble – burned as they are?’  …But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:1-2, 7-9)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: O that the nation of Israel, along with the true church would sit up and take on board the awesome words from the Word of God in Nehemiah. The Jewish people were in a mighty battle to secure Jerusalem. The enemy mocked; the enemy lied; the enemy fumed and became so angry, and the enemy plotted together to oppose the Jews.  But God’s people prayed! And having prayed, they took action. As you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues.

israel flagmovingDo continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel. Pray too for all those who stand with Israel. There is nothing more that the enemy – Satan – wants than to wipe out the nation of Israel, along with those who stand with her.

israel flagmovingPlease also pray for all ministries standing with Israel – but especially Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) in the UK, and the International office of CFI in Jerusalem. Pray too for the Christian Friends of Israel annual conference due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne. We hope to see you there – details are at the end of this report.

Standing firm on the walls of Jerusalem

walls-of-jerusalem-israel

As I mention above, this is my last report for a few weeks.  The next report will be out on October 6, 2016.

This past couple of weeks, my family have been ‘de-cluttering’ our home.  My mam used to always say, “If you want a job doing, give it to a busy person”.  Well we are currently organising two conferences with CFI, and much more besides, that one has to wonder at our sanity in getting home from the office (late most evenings) to then de-clutter certain areas of our house!  But we simply needed to make space and have too many music CDs, DVDs, books; photographs, and 30 years of other items.  Music CDs of course can be made into MP3s and stored on computers/iPhones etc.  Photo’s likewise can be scanned and stored with the thousands of other J-peg photos on the PC (and back-up systems).  Books… some we like and keep, while many go to charity shops along with many of the DVDs.  The problem that all this brings of course is ‘memories’.  Not that memories are bad – in fact it’s been the opposite.  The photos brought much laughter and expressions of shock at hair styles etc. as we looked back over the years.  I even found treasured memories of our son as a baby, and an old Norwich football shirt from when he was 5 or 6-years-old (he’s 21 now).  But it also caused me to revisit a few books that I’ve not looked at for years, such as ‘Philistine’ by Ramon Bennett – first published 21 years ago (a nice light read – ha) and Lance Lambert’s ‘Jacob I Have Loved’ – one of my favourites.

‘Jacob I have loved’ is far more than a mere biblical overview of the story of Jacob – it is an outstanding illustration of God’s desire to utterly transform our fallen inner nature. Here beholds one of the bible’s great mysteries. The amazing truth is that Jacob’s name has not been lost in the debris or ‘clutter’ of human history, nor has it been forgotten, as have so many other names. Incredibly, it is forever linked with God. Jacob’s (Israel’s) story is an integral part of the history of divine redemption and this book is about the power of God to transform a human life.  And oh how we need God to transform us.  Did you know however that God calls Himself specifically the God of Jacob twenty one times (e.g. 2 Sam. 23:1; Psalm 20:1; 46:7; 81:1; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2)?  Lance Lambert reveals that the name of Jacob is eternally linked with the name of God, with the eternal purposes of God, and forever entwined with the people of God – namely Israel.  And that is why those within society – whether it be the Islamic world or the western world’s liberal thinkers – are in great danger of bringing the wrath of God upon themselves when they persist in opposing the nation of Israel – whether with words, action or violence.  Worse however, are those who profess to be ‘Christian’ and yet oppose and slander the name of Israel.

gustav-bauernfeind-1848-1904

[Above photo is of a painting by Gustav Bauernfeind showing Jews praying at the Western Wall.   Gustav Bauernfeind lived 1848-1904]

In Ramon Bennett’s book ‘Philistine’, he writes, “There is a powerful rallying cry for Muslims – Al Quds – Jerusalem! And down through the ages that cry has been used to rally the “warriors of jihad  – from Mohammed’s use in the 7th century to Saladin’s in the 12th to Arafat’s in the 20th.”  We could of course add Abbas, Hamas and all the BDS supporters to the list. Ramon Bennett continues, “Six days after signing the Peace Accord, Arafat called for a jihad to liberate Jerusalem.  The following extracts are taken from [Arafat’s] speech in a Johannesburg mosque:  “The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation… Our main battle is Jerusalem. Jerusalem – the first shrine of the Muslims. …I have to speak frankly, I can’t do it alone without the support of the Islamic nation… you have to start the Jihad to liberate Jerusalem… What they are saying is that [Jerusalem] is their capital. No, it is not their [Jews’] capital. It is our capital. It is the first shrine of the Islam and the Moslems.”   Bennett states, “Could Arafat’s intentions be made any clearer?”   Of course Arafat’s legacy lives on in Abbas and the statements of many others including Hamas and Hezbollah etc.   And so, as we have been reflecting over the past three weeks from the book of Nehemiah, nothing has really changed since the days of Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites etc. etc. in Nehemiah chapters 1 to 4.  This week however has seen some largely disturbing undercurrents coming from various politicians, as you will see below. With all this in mind then, let us stand firm, with the Word of God as our sword, and continue to be, as Watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6-7, 10-11).

Blowing his own Trumpet?

160913_trump

I was rather surprised to read this week in an ‘Israel Today’ article that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has warned that “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel.”  The article stated, “The Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama Administration “is going to destroy Israel — unless I get elected. Then Israel will be just fine,” Trump said at a campaign stop in Cleveland.”   The article then went on to state that, “While a majority of Israelis still hold fond memories of Bill Clinton, and therefore support Hillary, many fear the Democratic candidate would push Israel to make dangerous concessions to her enemies. And there is little hope that she’d get along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”  But are we not missing something here?

I realise God often uses the most unlikely candidates to achieve His purposes, but the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be emotionally blackmailing the potential Jewish American vote by stating that “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel.” Should Israel or indeed the USA be taking notice of Donald Trump? Or should they take note of Psalm 2 where we read, “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? God terrifies them in his wrath, He rebukes them in his anger and The LORD scoffs at them. The One enthroned in heaven laughs…”!  I do not want to get involved in the American political bandwagon that is vast becoming an ugly war of words between the two leading candidates for president, but surely Trump can’t be serious regarding Israel, right?

Question Time brings unanswered questions

labour-leadership-debate

In a week that brought Donald Trump’s warning “if he is not elected America’s next president, it will spell doom for Israel,” there was also a very interesting programme on BBC’s Question Time last Thursday evening.  The BBC Question Time showdown in Oldham between Labour leadership candidates Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith promises to be a heated climax in the high-stakes election, and indeed it was, though it appeared that neither Corbyn or Smith were able to unite the party.

At 9pm, an earlier time than the political programme’s normal broadcast, both potential leaders clashed on many issues.  I was however concerned over two areas.  The first was when Owen Smith denied he had ever said that he would negotiate with the Islamic terrorists group ISIS, only for David Dimbleby to point out he definitely did.  Smith said he “absolutely didn’t” claim we should negotiate with the terror group.  Smith went on to state: “I didn’t say we should negotiate with Isis. I absolutely didn’t say that.”  He then repeated the words “what I said was… the chances are we’d never be able to negotiate with Islamic State”.  But Dimbleby read out the words Smith had used at an earlier BBC programme which stated: “At some point, for us to resolve this, we will need to get people round the table.” This was met with laughter and boos from the audience.  However Corbyn then said he would never negotiate with the Islamic group Isis. But this left Tweeters with long memories confused, as they recalled Corbyn had said in January 2016 that he would open “diplomatic channels” with Isis.

At the time, Corbyn told The Andrew Marr Show such channels were maintained with groups like the IRA. “The British government maintained a channel through the IRA all through The Troubles. I don’t condemn them keeping a back-channel to the Taliban … I think there has to be some route through somewhere,” he said.  Later, Corbyn also seemed to imply that Isis was a terrorist group but Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t. It was all very confusing.

On anti-Semitism, Smith claimed people around Corbyn were encouraging people with anti-Semitic views to join Labour. He said: “I think Jeremy [Corbyn] has not been strong enough in speaking out against anti-Semitism … Under Jeremy’s leadership we have seen people coming into Labour from the hard left of politics who are bringing in anti-Semitic attitudes … Some of the people around Jeremy are encouraging it. There is absolutely no doubt.”  Jeremy Corbyn strongly objected, saying that Smith’s claim was unfair. “I have spent my life opposing racism in any form, as have you,” he told Smith.  If you have a BBC licence, you can watch the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07vcy7q/question-time-08092016

What I found rather nauseating was that Jeremy Corbyn stated that he thinks anti-Semitism is wrong yet publically has stood with the Palestine Solidarity Campaigners, the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah.  In May 2016, Corbyn vowed to continue talking to terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah. Only four months ago, the Labour leader refused to denounce the terrorist groups in the wake of calls from Jewish leaders, the Israeli Ambassador and members of his own party to distance himself from those with anti-Semitic views. Yet on the BBC Question Time programme Corbyn stated he does not support Hamas.  However he has referred to the organisations as “friends”, despite both Hamas and Hezbollah being declared terrorist groups by the EU and America.

Writing in the Telegraph, Israeli member of Knesset Tzipi Livni warned that Britain must denounce anti-Semitism “for the sake of its own core values“. Mark Regev said: “You’ve had too many people on the progressive side of politics who have embraced Hamas and Hezbollah. Both of them are anti-Semitic organisations, you just have to read Hamas’ charter and it’s like chapters straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I’d ask the following question: if you’re progressive, you’re embracing an organisation which is homophobic, which is misogynistic, which is openly anti-Semitic, what’s progressive about that?” Regev added that the left is “in denial”.  In another article, this time in the International Business Times, UK Edition, it stated, “Israel became a battering ram in the fight for the soul of the Labour Party… The question of Israel and Palestine has always divided the left.  The article, written by the International Business Times’ Dave Rich states, “If today’s Labour Party appears to be reliving the 1980s… then it should be no surprise that attitudes to Israel, Jews and Zionism have become part of the argument about where the party is heading. Support for the Palestinian cause might be relatively common across the left nowadays, but it only made an appearance in Labour Party policy in the 1980s. Labour supported Israel’s creation in 1948 (as did most of the left) and was generally pro-Israel thereafter.  But in the 1980s, the rise of the Labour Left brought with it radical ideas about the elimination of Israel that had previously existed only on the radical fringes of left-wing thought.” The article then goes on to make startling revelations about Ted Knight and Ken Livingstone, respective leaders of Lambeth Council and the Greater London Council. Read the full story here.

On Israel’s northern borders

dave

Apart from the continued threat of Isis being very close to Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights, Israel have proved that they are taking Hezbollah’s threats seriously with Israel performing mass evacuation drills of civilians near the Lebanese Border this week.  The IDF (Israel Defence Force) demonstrated on Tuesday that it takes seriously Hezbollah’s repeated threats to “take over the Galilee” with a massive drill aimed at evacuating civilians under attack near the Lebanon border. Described as “the biggest drill of its kind until now,” Col. Eyal Forman, chief medical officer in the IDF Homefront Command, said the exercise was driven by war threat scenarios involving Hezbollah forces crossing the border and getting to the Israeli communities.  In addition to the rocket and missile threat, Col. Eyal Forman said “the coordinated, cross-border attacks by infantry was something that has become more obvious in the last few yearsThis was definitely a lesson from Lebanon II, because then people mostly evacuated themselves to safe areas. We realized we needed to support them and be more active in this regard,” Forman said.

For more than five years, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to take over northern Israel by force.  In one of his earliest threats Nasrallah said: “I’m telling the fighters of the Islamic resistance to be ready for the day, should war be forced upon Lebanon, where the resistance’s leadership will ask you to take over the Galilee.”  Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel.

Shimon Peres hospitalized after stroke    As I was compiling this report, news was breaking that former Israeli President Shimon Peres, the 9th President of Israel is in a medically induced coma after suffering a severe stroke on Tuesday evening. Peres is 93 years old and had a pacemaker implanted only last week. Shimon Peres has been a leader in the Jewish world since before the modern State of Israel was founded, and is deeply beloved by the Israeli people.  Do pray for Shimon Peres.

CFI UK Conference – This weekend!

annual-conference-2016By way of a reminder, the Christian Friends of Israel annual conference is due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne.  This year the guest speakers are David Pawson, a well-known Bible teacher and Christian Zionist, and Werner Oder, the son of a Nazi war criminal and now pastor of a church in Bournemouth.  My son Matthew (drums) will be supporting the worship team of Paul, Zyg and myself once again, and of course there will be other ministries involved along with an extensive CFI book stall. We hope to see as many of you as possible – do spread the word.  For full conference details click here: http://www.cfi.org.uk/downloads/CFI%20Annual%20Conf%202016%20Web.pdf

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report 9/7

The Word:   When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israeli’s. I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me except the one I was riding on.  By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through… Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2: 10-14, 18-20)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: Once again, as you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues.

israel flagmovingAs I mention in the article below, our eyes are a gate to our hearts. Most people in today’s world receive the news by watching the TV. That makes the media a very powerful tool.  How Israel is reported by the media is often the reason behind many people’s inaccurate opinions on issues relating to Israel.  Please pray that the western media would be held accountable for any misleading reports, and that the media would only report truth.

israel flagmovingDo continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel. Pray too for all those who stand with Israel. There is nothing more that the enemy – Satan – wants than to wipe out the nation of Israel, along with those who stand with her.

israel flagmovingPlease also pray for all ministries standing with Israel – but especially Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) in the UK, and the International office of CFI in Jerusalem. Pray too for the Christian Friends of Israel annual conference due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne. We hope to see you there – details are at the end of this report.

Rebuild the wall, stand firm at the gate

dung-gate

[Above photo: Dung Gate, Jerusalem, Israel]

I’d like to start this week’s report reflecting further on the Scriptures we looked at last week.  Apart from the fact that I have felt led by the Lord to study Nehemiah, I’ve also been challenged by a few comments via Social Media from an independent article I posted after being told “Christians should not take sides, and should certainly have nothing to do with politics – especially politics within the Middle East.”  With this is mind, I referred them to a Scripture that spoke to me regarding today’s situation in Israel.  Since then, many more comments – for and against – have been made.  Now of course, this is fine, as we live in a democratic nation in the UK which should allow ‘freedom of speech’ providing it’s not hate speech of course.  The initial debates came from Nehemiah 2:19-20, where we read about Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab ridiculing the Jews for rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem.

In this Scripture we learn that Sanballat and Geshem the Arab were clearly Israel’s enemies, and they were angered by the fact that the Jews were back in the Land trying to rebuild Jerusalem.  Yet Nehemiah resents their insinuation, and clearly tells those who are not Jews that “they have no right in Jerusalem, nor any interest in its affairs”, in fact, as I stated last week, Nehemiah doesn’t ‘mince his words’ and boldly states, “As for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2:19-20).  How about that for being ‘politically incorrect’ – Nehemiah clearly tells those who are not Jews, “As for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” As I asked last week, was Nehemiah wrong?  No, of course not!  Should this man of God be getting involved in ‘politics’?  Absolutely… in fact, if we study the Bible in its fullness, we see the faith of the nation of Israel (in the One God), and politics interlinking throughout.

Five different times Sanballat and his confederates challenged Nehemiah and the Jews to meet them in battle, but Nehemiah simply got on with the work at hand. Then they send a message stating: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono (located south-east of Joppa).” But, according to the Scriptures, they were scheming to harm the Jews.  So here we see that Nehemiah and his Jewish builders decide that “peace talks” were not the “way forward” and vigorously hurried the work, while the enemies in the land organised their forces to fight against Jerusalem.

So how does this relate to how we should be praying for today’s situation in Israel?  One section of this Scripture really spoke to me. In verse 13, Nehemiah went through the Valley Gate and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem. The Dung Gate from the Second Temple period (538 BC – 70 AD) was on or near the south-eastern corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Hinnom and Kidron Valleys converge. Today, Dung Gate, constructed by the Ottoman Turks, is located near the southern wall, and is the main entrance to the Western Wall and Kotel.  The Hinnom Valley received its name from Hinnom who made his children walk through fire in the worship of the pagan god Molek. Following this, it became the rubbish dump and cesspool of the city. There was constant fire and smoke here from burning refuse which continued on into New Testament times and the teaching of Messiah Yeshua. Hinnom, or Gehenna became a symbol of hell where the fire was never extinguished and where there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, which probably reflected the cries of children passing through the fires. The Kidron Valley was also where idols were ground to powder and burned in the ‘Old Testament’ period.  On the inside of the city wall, the Pool of Siloam provided the fresh water supply for Jerusalem which was located near the Dung Gate. Hezekiah constructed an elaborate system of shafts and tunnels to channel water into the city here (one can still walk through this tunnel today). After disposing of rubbish and dung, the people washed here before returning to their homes.

nehem3

Why were the walls and gates important places and why was Nehemiah so determined to rebuild them?  Well, walls and gates kept the enemy out.  Of course if Nehemiah lived today, he would be highly criticised for building a wall.  I have to admit, I don’t particularly like the wall and fence Israel have built near Jerusalem, but it has certainly dramatically reduced Islamic terrorist attacks.  But there is more importance to the walls and gates than we might realise.  In Nehemiah’s time, the gates of Jerusalem were not just places of entrance and exit into and out of the city; they were also places where authoritative decisions were made. The elders sat in the gates and made decisions that affected the city (Proverbs 31:23). Important agreements and commercial transactions were also made in the gates.

Now think about today…

In many ways, our eyes are a gate to our hearts.  Most people in today’s world receive the news by watching the TV.  That makes the media a very powerful tool.  Our bodies also have gates through which truth and error, good and evil, enter into and exit our lives. We too are “elders” at our own gates and must make wise and responsible decisions for our lives.  We have the ear gate, an eye gate, a mind gate etc. etc. and the enemy is busy using the World’s Media in how they report news specifically from Israel to invade our hearts.  That is why many people oppose Israel today – they have not carefully screened and deemed safe or sound (or Biblically correct) what is permitted to enter. We must guard these gates, lest an enemy try to penetrate our defences, but we must also pray, pray and pray that truth and error is exposed – especially with the world’s media. We must monitor these gates diligently to speak out for truth when the media are in error.  We must also petition our members of Parliament and our Government when they speak unjustly or in error against Israel’s political, legal and Biblical rights to Jerusalem and the whole land of Israel.  Now please forgive me if, rather than being a news report, this is sounding like a ‘preach’, but I really believe we need to press in with our intercession regarding these matters, but also be allowed to speak out the truth – politically or otherwise – regarding our calling, our stand, and our love for God’s people and the land of Israel.

UK to build £2 million Wall of Calais to stop migrants

uk-to-built-a-wall-in-france

As I stated earlier, why were the walls and gates of Jerusalem important places, and why was Nehemiah so determined to rebuild them?  Well, walls and gates kept the enemy out.  However, as already mentioned, had Nehemiah been alive today, he would be highly criticised for building a wall.  Again, I have to admit, I don’t particularly like the wall and fence Israel have built near Jerusalem, but it has certainly dramatically reduced Islamic terrorist attacks.  Needless to say, this wall that Israel has built has always been condemned by the British government and the United Nations.  Back in 2004, the world court branded Israel’s concrete and steel barrier through, what the world classes as ‘the West Bank’ or what should be termed Judea and Samaria, a “political not a security measure, and a de facto land grab”. They then demanded that Israel should tear it down – which understandably Israel completely ignored.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice at The Hague said signatories to the Geneva Convention, such as Britain and the US, are obliged to ensure Israel upholds the ruling.  It condemned what it described as “the widespread confiscation and destruction of Palestinian property, and the disruption of the lives of thousands of protected civilians, caused by construction of what Israel calls the “anti-terror fence”.”  Oh how times have changed!

This week, the UK government has stated that construction is soon to begin on a “big new wall” in Calais following a surge in the number of migrants trying to get across the Channel, the Government has announced.  Many of my sources are now reporting this, however even national newspapers such as The Telegraph are reporting that this 13 foot high (4 metres) concrete wall will be funded by Britain, at a cost of £2 million, and will stretch over a half a mile along the main dual carriageway approaching the ferry port. Work is expected to begin as soon as this month.  Is this not hypocrisy of the highest kind?  How can the UK build a wall – not even in Britain, but in France – yet demand Israel to stop building walls and even houses in their own country?

This news of the wall in Calais, France was confirmed yesterday by the immigration minister Robert Goodwill who stated, “The security that we are putting in at the port is being stepped up with better equipment.  We are going to start building this big new wall very soon. We’ve done the fence, now we are doing a wall.”  According to reports, the wall will be placed on either side of the road to prevent migrants from trying to stop traffic and climb into lorries and other vehicles.  The Road Haulage Association has criticised the measure as a bad use of taxpayer money, which could instead be spent on “increasing security along approach roads”.

On Monday the main motorway into Calais was blockaded by lorries, police, union members, shopkeepers and farmers demanding that the migrant camp be demolished.  The immigration minister Mr Goodwill said, “The security that we are putting in at the port is being stepped up… We are going to start building this big new wall very soon as part of the £17million package we are doing with the French.”  Goodwill also told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that the aim of reducing immigration to the tens of thousands was a “big challenge”.

all-in-all-its-just-another-brick-in-the-wall

Of course, in the USA, the current President Obama has always condemned Israel’s security wall/fence, even though the USA also have a fence right along the Mexican border.  Should Donald Trump become the next President in November 2016, he wants the fence along Mexico tearing down and a concrete wall to replace it.  However, on top of this, as I reported in September of last year, the Saudis are also building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” to separate the country from Iraq to the north? This is due to the threat if ISIS. Many other countries also have security walls such as Kenya.  This wall is however not just any wall, but a “separation barrier”, along sections of its notoriously porous border with Somalia – of bricks, mortar and barbed wire.  Along with this, 64 other nations have also built walls due to security fears and an alleged widespread refusal to help refugees including Spain, Cyprus, Hungary, Greece, USA, Morocco, Turkey and India?  Of course Northern Ireland have an 18-foot-high (5.5 m) wall along Springmartin Road in Belfast and have done so for years, with a fortified police station at one end, to separate Irish nationalist and unionist neighbourhoods. And, of course, as mentioned, US presidential candidate Donald Trump wants an actual wall instead of a fence along the US-Mexican border, and he wants Mexico to pay for it!  So taking all this into consideration, why do the nations rage against Israel’s security wall, knowing full well that terrorist attacks such as bus bombings and blowing up cafes and nightclubs from Islamic Palestinian terrorists have been reduced to almost zero in Israel?  So, will we now see the BDS supporters and palestine solidarity campaigners scrapping their nonsense against Israel and start attacking all these other nations?  I somehow don’t think so!  However the next time you hear a British MP criticise Israel for defending themselves, just remind them of their own actions in France.

Will Israel get ‘slammed’ for Gaza wall?

10526188_269588559899565_6974897044670707150_n

Irrespective of how many nations build walls and erect fences, I’m sure once the world sees the ‘finished item’ of a wall on Gaza’s border, there will be further outcries of ‘injustice’, ‘prison camps’ and ‘unjust occupation of Zionists’ from the many pro-Palestinian groups, not to mention the UN etc.  However, the work is now well under way of building a ‘barrier’ both above the ground – and below it – to stop Hamas from terrorising Israel.  The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eisencott has called the project the “largest project” ever carried out in the history of the IDF. The residents of the south are following the project closely, knowing that this is the best solution to prevent against the terror tunnels.

However, this project is already at risk of being de-funded, as no money has been allocated to the project for fiscal years 2017-2018. Yet according to sources, officials from the Ministry of Defence have clarified that the project will not be delayed, and the Ministry of Finance has said that there is in fact a budget for the project.  With a budget of two billion new Israeli shekels, the barrier on the border with Gaza will help defend against Hamas cross-border attack tunnels.  The concrete wall, tens of metres deep underground and above ground is seen as a great need by the IDF.  A senior defence official stated, “A confrontation with Hamas is inevitable, it must be the last one.”

No bookings needed, and it’s free – Israel and the New Covenant

annual-conference-2016

It seems only weeks ago that CFI had their annual conference last year – how time flies – as this year’s conference is happening next week.  The Christian Friends of Israel annual conference is due to take place on Saturday 17th September at Victoria Baptist Church, Eastbourne.

This year the guest speakers are David Pawson, a well-known Bible teacher and Christian Zionist, and Werner Oder, the son of a Nazi war criminal and now pastor of a church in Dorset.  My son Matthew (drums) will be supporting the worship team of Paul, Zyg and myself once again, and of course there will be other ministries involved along with an extensive CFI book stall. We hope to see as many of you as possible – do spread the word.  For full conference details click here: http://www.cfi.org.uk/downloads/CFI%20Annual%20Conf%202016%20Web.pdf

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report (09/01)

The Word:   When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it… Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” …the fifth time, Sanballat sent his assistant to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written: “It is reported among the nations– and Geshem says it is true– that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall… I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” [But I prayed,] “Now strengthen my hands.” (Edited from Nehemiah 6:1-9)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues. Pray that the heart of the nation of Israel would indeed seek the Lord God and hunger after His Word.

israel flagmovingDo continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel, especially the Prime Minister Netanyahu. Pray too for all those who stand with Israel. There is nothing more that the enemy – Satan – wants than to wipe out the nation of Israel, along with those who stand with her. Please pray for all ministries standing with Israel – but especially Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) in the UK, and the International office of CFI in Jerusalem.

israel flagmovingDo continue to pray for the Arab/Muslim people throughout the Middle East and those within the nation of Israel. “Cause them Lord to be blessed, and to be a blessing to their ancient cousin. May they desire to dwell peacefully with the Jewish nation and in reconciliation.”

The ridicule of the Jews for building in Jerusalem.

jerusalem+panoramic+view - Copy

[Photo above: Jerusalem sits in the Judean mountains, part of Judah’s tribe and capital of Israel.  Ancient history goes back to before the early Bronze Age of 3,500 BC;  King David made it his capital, 1010 BC-970 BC.  It was King Solomon’s capital from 970 BC to 930 BC. It fell to the Babylonians by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.  Jews returned in 519 BC.   Romans destroyed it in 70 AD, named it Aelia Capitolina. Population in 1910 was 68,000 with 50,000 being Jews… just so you know.]

Towards the end of last week’s report, I posed the question, “Is Netanyahu still the right man to lead Israel?”  I have had a few interesting emails since from both Christians who are 100% in support of Netanyahu, along with some who believe Israel needs a fresh leader. As I stated, you will all have your own opinion, and I know Israeli’s have a much divided opinion on this.  Yet as I stated last week, under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has managed to stay out of wars that sucked others in; they have managed to improve its diplomatic position while isolating rivals; under Netanyahu’s leadership Israel has remained flexible on policies but firm on red lines, and most importantly, have kept Israeli residents (both Jews, Christians and Arabs) safe (apart from impossible situations where stabbings by Arab Palestinians have brought death and injuries to some of the Jewish people in Israel).

When we compare this to the troubles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and many other areas within the Middle East, Israel’s success is no small accomplishment.  Was I contradicting myself when I stated last week that “since Netanyahu regained his role as Prime Minister in 2009, Israel has faced a multitude of challenges—from Iran’s nuclear program to Turkey’s hostile turn; From Hamas’s cross-border tunnels and rocket attacks on civilians, to the horrific knifings and other attacks from Arab Palestinians”?  No, absolutely not.  Israel could have faced far worse circumstances had any one of these issues been increased by the said countries or terrorist groups. What is more, Egypt and Syria have both collapsed into turmoil during the past seven years, yet none of this has caused major problems for Israel.  Yes, the fall of Mubarak in Egypt meant that a Muslim Brotherhood government temporarily bordered the Gaza Strip and could have supplied more weapons to its Palestinian faction, Hamas. And of course the Golan Heights have become vulnerable to various Islamic terrorists who pledge allegiance to ISIS.  Yet Israel still remains well in control of all these situations.

The biggest threat to Israel’s security and stability hasn’t been from the Islamic nations and terrorist groups, but rather from their biggest ‘ally’ – the United States (even the people of the US who read these reports have agreed with me on this one).  Sadly, through the years of Obama’s leadership, America’s approach to the Middle East changed in drastic ways.  And, as I stated last week, we wait with bated breath to who the new American President will be.  Would you want either candidate as leader?  Without doubt, Obama has indeed been determined to force incredible security issues with Israel by demanding a ‘Two-State’ solution which would radically tear Israel’s heart land – the Mountains of Israel – away from the Jewish state.  Obama has also been determined to build bridges to the Muslim world by claiming Israeli communities (or ‘settlements’ as the world calls them) as the central obstacle to peace with the Arab World.  However, again, as mentioned last week, this is rather ridiculous when one poses the question, “Why was there no peace in 1966?”  One chap (not a supporter of Israel or CFI I hasten to add) who read my report last week went into a rant stating that, “there was no peace in Israel before 1966 due to Israel being created in 1948… and it was all Britain’s fault by implementing the Balfour Declaration.”  Okay… forget 1966… let’s ask the question, “why was there no peace pre 1948?  After all, there were many Islamic terrorist attacks even before the state of Israel was rebirthed in 1948.  Anti-Israel groups appear to forget the Hebron massacre when sixty-nine Jews were murdered by Arabs on August 24, 1929 in Hebron – then part of Mandatory Jewish Palestine – by Arabs incited to violence by false rumours that Jews were planning to seize control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  How strange that here we are, 87 years later, and the Palestinian Arabs (who would not have been classed as ‘Palestinians’ pre 1964) are continuing to incite violence by false rumours that Jews are planning to seize control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

6a0120a610bec4970c01bb08f9a995970d-pi

[Above photo: 19th Century Men and Women praying reverently at the Western Wall, Jerusalem.]

However, I also received a few comments via Facebook from an independent article I posted on my personal blog page declaring that “Christians should not take sides, and should certainly have nothing to do with politics – especially politics within the Middle East.”  With this is mind, I referred them to a Scripture that spoke to me regarding today’s situation in Israel.  It came from Nehemiah 2:19-20, where we read about Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab ridiculing the Jews for building in Jerusalem.  Sanballat and Geshem the Arab were clearly Israel’s enemies. The story picks up the theme of Sanballat being angered by the fact that the Jews were back in the Land trying to rebuild Jerusalem (how annoying).  Yet Nehemiah resents their insinuation, and clearly tells those who are not Jews that “they have no right in Jerusalem, nor any interest in its affairs”, in fact, Nehemiah doesn’t ‘mince his words’ and boldly states, “As for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2:19-20).  Let me repeat that: Nehemiah clearly tells those who are not Jews, “As for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” (Nehemiah 2:19-20).  Wow. Was Nehemiah wrong? What was Nehemiah saying, and should he, a man of God, be getting involved in ‘politics’?

Dwight L. Moody once stated, “I should like to call your attention to the prophet Nehemiah. We may gain some help from that distinguished man who accomplished a great work. He was one of the last of the prophets, was supposed to be contemporary with Malachi, and perhaps his book was one of the last of the Old Testament books that was written. He might have known Daniel, for he was a young man in the declining years of that very eminent and godly statesman. We are sure of one thing at least — he was a man of sterling worth. Although he was brought up in the Persian court among idolaters, yet he had a character that has stood all these centuries. Notice his prayer in which he made confession of Israel’s apostasy from God. There may be some confessions we need to make to be brought into close fellowship with God. I have no doubt that numbers of Christians are hungering and thirsting for a personal blessing, and have a great desire to get closer to God. If that is the desire of your heart, keep in mind that if there is some obstacle in the way which you can remove, you will not get a blessing until you remove it. We must cooperate with God.”  Sadly, many within today’s church have a large obstacle stopping them being blessed.  It’s called replacement theology.

Nehemiah and his Jewish builders decide that “peace talks” were not the “way forward” and vigorously hurried the work, while Sanballat and his mob organised their forces to fight against Jerusalem. Five different times Sanballat and his confederates challenged Nehemiah and the Jews to meet them in battle, but Nehemiah simply got on with the work at hand. In the above reading at the top of this report, we also read of Sanballat and Geshem sending a message stating: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono (located south-east of Joppa).” But, according to the Scriptures, they were scheming to harm the Jews.

Taking all this into account, and the way ‘the world’ perceives Israel, the words of Nehemiah 8 came to mind (to get the full picture, you need to read from chapter 6 through to the end of chapter 8).  What was amazing was the fact that by the time we reach chapter eight, the Jews of Jerusalem are in the month of Tishri, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh.8:14,15).  Why were they fulfilling this command of the Lord?  Simply because, “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read (Neh. 8:8)”.  Oh that Israel today would know the Word of God.  Oh that the leaders of Israel would study the Word of God (indeed Netanyahu does!).  And oh how our leaders here in the UK, along with the Church need to know the Word of God.  However, they also need to know the historical facts relating to the legal background (i.e. the San Remo Resolution) of Israel’s right to build in the Land of Israel, including in the areas of Judea and Samaria. May we pray that Teresa May and dare I say, even Jeremy Corbyn, understand clearly the truth regarding the role Britain had in deciding to endorse the establishment of a Jewish homeland in what was then known as ‘Palestine’ (though nothing to do with the modern Palestinian entity).  The last entity to have domain over Palestine, after the Ottoman Empire, was The British Empire. That’s why the Balfour Declaration – which we will celebrate next year – from 1917 by Arthur James Balfour, and why subsequent Declaration’s and Ratification’s that build on this document, are so vitally important to Israel’s legal right to their land.

cameron - Copy

Today, the world appears enraged at the fact the Israel is building communities in and around Jerusalem.  I am amazed at just how much time and effort is put into political debates regarding this issue.  I’m equally amazed at how much effort the media will take in reporting this issue.  Yet while all this goes on, it would appear that the more serious issues like Syria and Arab oppression under the Islamic leaders of Hamas/the Palestinian Authority and Isis are neglected.  Only this week, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council on Monday that recommendations offered by the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the USA, Russia, the EU and the UN, on the way forward in the peace process have been ignored by Israel, pointing to a surge in Israeli ‘settlement-related’ announcements and continuing demolitions of illegal Arab construction in Area C, which is under full Israeli control. The Quartet’s recommendations include an end to Israel’s settlement policy and a halt to the PA’s incitement to violence.  Mladenov reported that a “major threat to peace is a fact that since the beginning of July Israel has advanced plans for more than 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem.” He pointed to promised new apartments in Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Homa, and Gilo, as well as to 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim and other Judea and Samaria communities as the culprits.

The envoy had nothing to report on efforts to reduce anti-Semitic Palestinian Authority and Hamas incitement, so one presumes he must think that all must be well on that front. However Mladenov did report violent incidents over the past month that included the extrajudicial execution by the Palestinian Security Forces of a man in custody; the firing of two rockets from Gaza, to which Israel responded by directing fire at suspected military installations in Gaza; and the killing by the Israeli Security Forces of an Arab man who was reportedly “under psychiatric care.”  Speaking on the issue of Gaza, Mladenov said, “We need a radical overhaul of how we deal with the problems of Gaza.” However he failed to mention the arrests and indictments by Israel of an international charity administrator and a UNDP employee, both of whom confessed to directing millions of dollars in international funds to the terrorist activities of Hamas.

B1Ce_DnCMAAu1ap - Copy

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement to the envoy’s report, saying, “The UN envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and push peace farther away. Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish People’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there. The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal. The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it.”

So according to the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, it would appear that while Israel’s needs appear ‘frivolous’, the Palestinian needs are the most important thing ever!  Now of course, we shouldn’t ignore the Arab Palestinian needs, and we, as Believers who stand with Israel do need to keep in check our attitude to the Arab Palestinians.  That is why I will often point these issues out in my reports; however, I believe we can do that without jeopardizing the main issue over Israel and the Land covenants etc. Today’s ‘Sanballat and Geshem the Arab’ are again clearly opposing Israel’s presence, and certainly oppose any building within the nation of Israel.  May we pray that we would have ears to hear, and hearts open to the real issues… that of what the Lord God desires, and to see what the Lord has decreed within His Word, be taught in our fellowships, churches, world governments and even in the corridors of our parliament.

Thank You Am Israel

thankyouamisrael-768x315

I’d like to close with two short news items that are heart-warming and inspiring, and both stories have links so that you can read the full report or view the video.  The first story is regarding a Syrian refugee who has created a website to thank Israelis for their help.  Aboud Dandachi says the world should know about ‘the assistance given to Syrian refugees by Israeli and Jewish organizations and individuals.’  The website, which can be viewed here is called ‘Thank You Am Israel’, and highlights the humanitarian aid being given to displaced Syrians but also refutes any reasons why Israelis and Syrians should be enemies.

Dandachi writes, “As a Syrian, I am morally obligated to ensure that the goodwill that Israelis and Jews have displayed towards my people will not be overlooked nor forgotten. The day will come when the conflict in Syria will come to an end, as all things come to an end. On that day, it is imperative that Syrians reciprocate the enormous goodwill shown towards us by Israelis and the Jewish people. Whatever supposed reasons we may have had to be adversaries is dwarfed by the compassion shown to us during our darkest days, a time when we have nothing to give back except our gratitude.”  Dandachi calls himself “a displaced Syrian refugee currently living in Istanbul.” His site chronicles aid, assistance and medical care to Syrian refugees from 2011 to the present.  Some time ago, Dandachi told Ynet News about his childhood anti-Israel education. “I grew up with statements like ‘These people are your enemies. The Jews are evil.’ And then I saw that the Jews are the most humane and generous people of this era. When I see that Hezbollah and the Iranians are coming to kill me and I’m forced from my home by Syrians, and then I hear that Israelis and Jews are helping Syrians, my view of the world changes.”

Thousands of Arabs worshipping Yeshua

In many ways I could have filled another 10 pages with stories of doom and gloom, however this story is really encouraging.  A recipient of my news reports sent me a YouTube clip of some wonderfully refreshing worship from the Cave Church in Egypt. It is a beautiful bright spot of life and hope in the midst of all the terrible things going on today in the Middle East. To hear and witness their worship to Jesus (Yeshua) is such an inspiration. Notice too, the large shofar being blown at the end! What better way of blessing the Jewish Nation of Israel than former Muslims embracing Yeshua and then praying for Israel. Pray for these churches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWYiS8i5RiA&feature=em-share_video_user

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report (08/25)

The Word:   “…All who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil. But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”

‘This is what the Lord says: ‘“I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.  I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honour, and they will not be disdained. Their children will be as in days of old,     and their community will be established before me; I will punish all who oppress them. (Jeremiah 30:16-20)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we continue to look into events in and around Israel and the chaos and instability within the Middle East, please do continue to pray for discernment and spiritual guidance as to how we should be interceding over these events.

israel flagmovingDo continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel, including the Prime Minister Netanyahu. Pray too for all those who stand with Israel. There is nothing more that the enemy – Satan – wants than to wipe out the nation of Israel, along with those who stand with her. Please pray for all ministries standing with Israel – but especially Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) in the UK, and the International office of CFI in Jerusalem. And pray for the Arab/Muslim people throughout the Middle East and those within the nation of Israel.  “Cause them Lord to be blessed, and to be a blessing to their ancient cousin.  May they desire to dwell peacefully with the Jewish nation and in reconciliation.

Just two little boys

Two little Boys - DavidSoakellNewsReport

This week’s report was inspired by two little boys.  One of the boys is called Omran Daqneesh.  Omran is a Muslim Syrian.  The other child is a black American Christian called Zion Harvey.  Both have tough stories to tell, and both stories profoundly spoke to me, reflecting how two people groups need healing due to being battle weary.

As my family and I watched the late news on ITV on Tuesday evening (August 23), there was a moving story about a little boy who was a true inspiration to me.  His name was Zion Harvey, the recipient of the first bilateral hand transplant in a child.  Surgeons at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in America performed this ground-breaking work. Combining the expertise of the Penn Transplant Institute and the Hospital’s Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Division of Orthopaedics, the program aims to improve quality of life for children who may benefit from this procedure.  Zion’s hands and feet were amputated when he was 2 years old as the result of sepsis, a life-threatening infection. He received new hands in July of 2015, during a 10-hour surgery. The surgical team was led by L. Scott Levin, MD, and Benjamin Chang, MD, who direct the Hand Transplantation Program at Children’s Hospital.  There’s a saying: “A smile is worth a million words”… well, nine year old Zion Harvey has every reason to smile, and when he does, the young, bright, heart-warming boy from Baltimore certainly lights up the place.  However, his young life has seen many hardships; many troubles, and without doubt, Zion might not have survived in his first few years.

However, this story really filled me with hope.  In many ways, it reminded me of another Zion – the people and nation of Israel, whose life since 1948 has also seen many hardships; many troubles, and without doubt, would not have survived in their early years without the Lord for their protection and salvation.  But Zion Harvey’s story is also one of profound love and hope.  It proves that if we have faith, we can survive, and not just survive, but live life to the full – which considering what Israel, the nation, has had to put up with – is a hard statement to make.  But also, taking into account what many within CFI have been through, and are still going through, this is also a very hard statement to put into writing, and to put into practice.  Yet God has always been there for Israel, and He will never give up.  And so we too can take comfort in that God will always be there for those who trust in Him and believe. That love of the Lord is forever.  However, Zion Harvey’s life has also shown me that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We never know when the miracle we need will come, so we have to keep our faith, trusting in God. Zion Harvey’s hands are small now but they will grow with him. Zion said on the video below that “When I fall down, I will always get back up.”  What a lesson that is!   This inspiring update shows Zion’s progress in the year since the surgery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLIkNAstgX8

The second boy’s story is of Omran Daqneesh, which so far, hasn’t got a happy ending.  You know, our son Matthew is 21 years old now, but when he was aged 5 we used to go camping, play football, go hiking and fishing, go to football matches to watch Norwich City (in fact we still do), and I would walk him to school until he got too old for that. In fact, we did most things together. Admittedly, when he was 6 years old, he did sit in our car close to the Lebanese Border whilst I was watching Hezbollah Terrorists through my binoculars across the border whilst we were there in 2001- but he was in a safe place and I would never put him at risk. But generally, we did what every healthy Father and son relationship would do – we had great fun – and he was, and is, well loved.

Last week, another Father’s 5-year-old boy sat dazed and bloodied, looking very lonely, as this poor Syrian child sat alone in an ambulance after he was rescued from a destroyed building in Aleppo after yet another air strike from either Russian air-forces or Syrian forces led by Assad – no doubt you saw the story on the news channels.  In fact, images of the boy sitting alone have since been shared widely on social media. He was identified as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was treated for head wounds and shock after yet another attack on Aleppo. This poor soul has known nothing in his short life but war. Has Omran had chance to kick a ball with his Dad? Has he played in tents, sat fishing, or sat on his Dad’s knee whilst watching the stars in the night sky like my son used to? And how much longer will the world sit by and do absolutely nothing for the thousands of children like Omran and allow thousands more to be murdered?

Where is the UN? What use are they really?  Should they not be hanging their heads in shame? What of the other Politicians of the world? Have they no solution?  Even those of us who follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – whether Jew or Christian – maybe we too should be asking some serious questions regarding this – for have we united together in powerful intercession? Or have we forgotten how to pray and expect change (and I include myself first and foremost here)?  Oh that the Lord would have mercy on the poor children of Syria. 470,000 Syrians killed, and the world still turns a blind eye! May we weep for these people; cry out in intercession for these people; demand action from our leaders and government for these people. Let us not just sit idly by watching.  In many ways, this little Arab kid – Omran – is like the Arab nations.  Year after year, month after month, week after week they cause, suffer and live with the chaos and instability within the Islamic Middle East, and yet with no hope, and no true God.  Surely here is a cause to seek the face of God, and to cry out for His intervention.

This is Zion, for whom no one cares

000_FH4V7-635x357

Like the hands of Zion Harvey, Zion (Israel) as a nation, is tiny as well – it’s the size of Wales – 0.1% of the Middle East with a host of Islamic nations surrounding it, wanting its destruction.  Terror attacks have hit the news within Israel again this week, but needless to say, I’ve yet to see any western media reporting on these news items.  In fact, the BBC and the World Media have ignored the recent rocket attacks on Israel, yet have reported on Israel’s army (IDF) responses.  Three days ago, Islamic terrorists based in Gaza fired missiles at the Western Negev and into the Israeli town of Sderot.  According to my sources, one rocket landed near homes in Sderot, and near a college. Residents in Sderot said it was ‘a miracle’ that nobody was injured.  Israeli jets carried out several rounds of fresh airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, hours after rocket fire at southern Israel drew an Israeli reprisal and as Hamas paraded missiles through the streets of Gaza and threatened renewed violence.   The relatively stiff response marks the most intense Israeli reprisal attack on Gaza since the sides fought a bloody war in 2014, and could signal a shift in policy by newly installed Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman.

However, the BBC News (English-language) website did not provide any coverage of the missile attacks against Israeli civilians. The BBC Arabic website, however, produced two reports about the Israeli response to the missile fire. The second report and the website’s homepage both used a photograph of a water tower allegedly damaged during the Israeli response to the missile attack.  However, photographs showing the same damage to the same water tower were published by AFP nearly a year ago.  The latest missile attack from the Gaza Strip is the eighth such incident to have taken place so far in 2016.  The same pattern of reporting has been evident since the end of the conflict between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2014, meaning that English-speaking BBC audiences – including its funding public (that’s you and me if you live in the UK and pay the BBC licence) are not receiving the services pledged to them/us in the BBC’s public purposes.

In Jerusalem, a 20-year old man was stabbed on Monday evening on Shivtei Israel Street, not far from where our (CFI) old office used to be.  Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedics who were called to the scene provided the victim with medical treatment and then took him to the Shaare Tzedek Hospital.  At present, the background to the stabbing is unclear.  The Jerusalem District of the Israel Police said that a man with a stab wound in his back arrived at a store on Shivtei Israel Street. Police are still investigating the incident.  Meanwhile, Israeli security forces raided seven illegal Palestinian weapons storage/factories in the Hebron and Bethlehem area on Monday night, in the largest crackdown of its kind over the last year.  The raids were carried out by five IDF battalions, the military’s Judea and Samaria Division, the Shin Bet security agency and the Judea and Samaria District Police in an effort to root out illegal weapons production and trading.  IDF and Border Police troops found 22 lathes in seven separate weapons factories. Dozens of firearms, weapons parts and cartridges were also uncovered in the operation. The lathes and weapons found were seized by security forces.

A view from the Golan Heights

golan1

I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve travelled around Israel; however I never get bored of the place or take it for granted, and always feel it’s a huge privilege to spend time in this awesome place.  Yes, I love Jerusalem, and yes, it’s always special to stop and contemplate life next to the Sea of Galilee.  In fact there are so many places I could write about.  However, two of my favourite places might sound a little extreme to some folks, for my most loved areas in Israel are the empty rugged areas of Samaria, where the air feels to pure, and secondly, the mind-blowing, exhilarating Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights is a mountainous region of volcanic origin in the north-east corner of the country. The northern Golan rises as it culminates into Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel. The summit itself is in a UN Buffer Zone separating Israel from Syria. Mount Hermon is easily the most prominent peak of the region, visible from all across the Golan Heights. Moving south, the Golan is permeated by volcanic rocks, and the further south, the less hilly the terrain is, the more it forms a plateau. The region has wonderful views over the Upper Galilee and the Jordan River Valley on the west, and the Syrian plain on the east. However, strategically, the Golan Heights represents a crucial vantage point.

Although Yom Kippur is still almost two months away, the Yom Kippur war of 1973 is often at the forefront of the minds of the Israeli people.  Of course, in Biblical times, the Golan Heights was referred to as ‘Bashan;’ the word ‘Golan’ apparently derives from the biblical city of ‘Golan in Bashan,’ (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27), and the area was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:29-31).  However, in researching some facts on this region, I discovered that in early First Temple times (953-586 BC), the area was contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based on Damascus. Of course modern day Syria has always contested this area, following their failure to defeat Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.    Before this war, Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. The Yom Kippur War of 1973, the most recent ‘full’ war in Middle East history, is so-called because it began on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar.  But just think… had Israel lost that war, the whole of the Galilee would now be free to ISIS.  When one stands on the Syrian border side of the Golan, one can look through binoculars at quite a good section of Syria.  Indeed the signpost at Merom Golan on the Heights, that points out Aman, Jerusalem, Bagdad and other areas, states that Damascus is only 60 kilometres away (that is only 37 miles away from the Israeli Golan Heights!).  That’s a bit fearful when one considers that prophesy in Isaiah 17:1-3 about Damascus disappearing, and how it will become a heap of ruins.  How far off are we from seeing this prophesy fulfilled?

Golan Heights to Damascus

As I mentioned in last week’s report, Israel remains on high alert in the Golan region.  Problems generated by the Syrian civil war have exploded outward in every direction. To name a few: Refugees have spilled over into Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Europe. Terrorist groups inside Syria, especially ISIS, pose a strategic threat to Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. Additionally, ISIS continues to carry out major terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe.  Yet Israel, on Syria’s western border, remains effectively out of the fray.  Although Syria was long an enemy of Israel, Syria’s collapse has posed a major strategic challenge for Israeli leaders. Before Syria spiralled out of control, Israel had hoped for (and repeatedly tried to attain) a peace agreement with Damascus. With the Syrian state in chaos, this was no longer even a remote possibility. And with ISIS taking the lead in the fight against Assad, it was clear that Israel couldn’t support either side. Plus, Israel had to deal with more immediate threats regarding the terrorist groups fighting Assad that had gained a foothold along Israel’s Golan Heights border with Syria. On top of that, Hezbollah and Iran have tried to take advantage of the chaos to open a new front against Israel in the Golan.  Even this week, after mortar fire landed in the Golan Heights, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck back.  The IAF hit a military target near Quneitra, Syria.  Yet through it all, Israel has stayed safe, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, has been quietly shaping the situation to protect his country’s interests.

Netanyahu still the right man?

This then leads to the question, “Is Netanyahu still the right man to lead Israel?”  Well, you will all have your own opinion, and I know Israeli’s have a much divided opinion on this.  Yet under Netanyahu, Israel has managed to stay out of wars that sucked others in; Israel has managed to improve its diplomatic position while isolating rivals; It has remained flexible on policies but firm on red lines, and keep the Israeli residents (both Jews, Christians and Arabs) safe. In the Middle East, this is no small accomplishment.  Since Netanyahu regained his role as Prime Minister in 2009, Israel has faced a multitude of challenges—from Iran’s nuclear program to Turkey’s hostile turn; From Hamas’s cross-border tunnels and rocket attacks on civilians, to the terrible knifings and other attacks from Arab Palestinians. What is more, Egypt and Syria both collapsed into turmoil during his time in office. The fall of Mubarak in Egypt meant that a Muslim Brotherhood government temporarily bordered the Gaza Strip and could give aid to its Palestinian faction, Hamas. And of course the Golan Heights have become vulnerable to various Islamic terrorists who pledge allegiance to ISIS.  Then there’s the United States.

With the years of Obama’s leadership, America’s approach to the Middle East changed in drastic ways.  We wait with bated breath who the new American President will be.  And let’s face it, would you want either candidate as leader?  Obama has of course been determined to force a ‘Two-State’ solution which would radically tear Israel’s heart land – the Mountains of Israel – away from the Jewish state.  Obama has also been determined to build bridges to the Muslim world by claiming Israeli communities (or ‘settlements’ as the world calls them) as the central obstacle to peace with the Arab World – which is really strange and rather ridiculous when one poses the question, “Why was there no peace in 1966?”

1967 borders - your point is

Do pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report 18/08

The Word:  At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken– that is, created things– so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:26-29)

When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness… “Blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you.”… Balaam answered Balak, ‘Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the commandment of the Lord – and I must say only what the Lord says”? (Numbers 24:1, 9,12 & 13)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: What is the Lord God saying to us today regarding Israel and the nations? God certainly does appear to be “shaking the nations” (Haggai 2:7) ~ see report below. May we pray that the Church awakens to the days in which we live, especially regarding the Nation and future of the Jewish State of Israel.

  • As we look this week into events around the world and the chaos and instability within the Middle East, please pray for discernment and spiritual guidance as to how we should be interceding over these events. Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel, including the Prime Minister Netanyahu.
  • Pray too for the Arab people throughout the Middle East and those within the nation of Israel. “Cause them Lord to be blessed, and to be a blessing to their ancient cousin. May they desire to dwell peacefully with the Jewish nation and in reconciliation.”

What is God revealing today?

blessings

This past week, I’ve felt led to re-read from the Torah – Numbers 22 to 24.  If you get chance, do read the full chapters.  It’s the amazing story of Balaam and Balak.  Balaam appears to have the gift of prophecy, yet in reality Balaam wasn’t a Godly man. He is mentioned in conjunction with the five kings of Midian, and such was his reputation that when the Israeli’s were encamped in the plains of Moab, Balak, the king of Moab, sent for Balaam to curse them. Balaam at first was prohibited by God from going. He was again sent for by the king and again refused, but was at length allowed to go. He yielded to the temptations of riches and honour which Balak set before him; but God used Balaam to bless Israel – even though he was called to curse them by Balak.  Do these blessings still stand today for Israel? I believe they do.  So if God blesses those who will bless Israel (Genesis 12:3) what of those who curse Israel?  And what is the Lord God saying to us today regarding Israel and the nations?

In the Scriptures, we can read many warnings of which could appear quite relevant at the moment.  An example is found in Haggai and repeated in the New Testament by the writer to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews): “This is what the Lord Almighty says: In a little while I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations… removing what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Haggai 2.6 and Hebrews 12.26, 27).  Is this what we are beginning to see in the days we live in?

Speaking on the past nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union, Clifford Hill once said, “The significance of Chernobyl is often missed by political commentators. During World War II it was the scene of a Jewish pogrom. The Ukrainians murdered an unknown number of Jewish people. They dug a mass grave and threw the bodies into it. After the War the Russians built the nuclear power plant directly on top of the mass Jewish grave. It was here that the melt-down took place – as though the innocent blood was crying out from the ground.  A further significant event had taken place three years earlier. In 1983 Chernobyl had been declared a model Communist commune. This meant in effect that only paid-up members of the Communist Party were allowed to live in the town and surrounding area. An area of thirty kilometres around Chernobyl was cleared of all non-Communist Party members. This forced the removal of all those known to be Christians or Jews. When the explosion occurred in April 1986 and nuclear radiation poured down upon the local population bringing slow death to thousands ~ the Christians and Jews had left the region.”  When the Lord states that “those who bless Israel will be blessed, but those who curse Israel will be cursed”, do we take His words seriously? [Numbers 24:9; Genesis 12:3].

Untitled-19

[Above photo: A rather young looking Soakell near Moscow’s Red Square in the 80s]

As a young Believer in the 80’s, I spent time with the Russian ‘Underground’ Churches as we smuggled Bibles into what was then the Soviet Union.  As my colleagues and I walked past the Russian armed guards at the Cosmos Hotel next door to the All-Russia Exhibition Centre and VDNKh Metro Station, little did I realise we were in the midst of change as we walked along the Moskva River near the famous Gorky Park.  Following the Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion, a series of dramatic events began which led to the collapse of the Communist empire.  The fall of the Berlin Wall quickly followed along with the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and the downfall of the USSR that had divided the world into East and West for most of the 20th century.   But is God really “shaking the nations” (Haggai 2:7)?  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union we have seen so much happening, such as many tsunamis, ferocious storms, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and the turning upside down of weather patterns… even the disruption to air travel over Europe at one point when clouds of dust and ashes were being quoted as “acts of God”.

And then of course there is the Middle East!  As was painfully aware as I wandered around the stands of Christian ministries at the recent New Wine Festival at just how hopeless our efforts appear to be to bring some sort of answer to the issues such as ISIS, and to bring some relief and much needed aid to the horrific scenes in Syria.  One particular ministry was focusing on getting signatures to present to the UK government in 2017, as a way of demanding our government did more for Syria.  I told the people that for the past five and a half years I had been reporting on Syria in my CFI reports, yet the nations appear blind to most of what is happening, but did they really believe their campaign would work?  And how many more Syrian civilians would be dead by 2017?  It might have sounded really negative from me, but I was merely being honest and trying to challenge them to think what else could we achieve.

In a recent report in the Guardian Newspaper, it declared, “World heading for catastrophe over natural disasters, risk expert warns.”  The report stated that during 2015 alone, earthquakes, floods, heatwaves and landslides left 22,773 people dead, and it affected 98.6 million others and caused $66.5 billion (£47bn) of economic damage.   Robert Glasser, the special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction, said that with the world already “falling short” in its response to humanitarian emergencies, things would only get worse as climate change adds to the pressure.  Glasser stated, “As the odds of any one event go up, the odds of two happening at the same time are more likely. We’ll see many more examples of cascading crises, where one event triggers another event, which triggers another event.”  And Robert Glasser pointed to Syria, where years of protracted drought led to a massive migration of people from rural areas to cities in the run-up to the country’s civil war. While he stressed that the drought was by no means the only driver of the conflict, he said droughts around the world could have similarly destabilising effects – especially when it came to conflicts in Africa.  “It’s inconceivably bad, actually, if we don’t get a handle on it, and there’s a huge sense of urgency to get this right,” he said. “I think country leaders will become more receptive to this agenda simply because the disasters are going to make that obvious. The real question in my mind is: can we act before that’s obvious and before the costs have gone up so tremendously? And that’s the challenge.”

So what is the answer?  And is there any link between what we read in the Scriptures about blessings and curses?  Now of course we can’t just glibly state, “Oh well, if you don’t bless Israel, then all these disasters are bound to happen.”  However, if we don’t take God’s Word serious, and if large sections of the Church dismiss Israel as having nothing to do with God, then are we not in danger of ‘poking the apple of God’s eye’ (Zechariah 2:8).  Take the United States of America as an example.  The US has always been a supporter of the nation of Israel, until the current Obama administration. Never, in its short modern history has Israel and its leaders been treated with such disrespect; such outright contempt, by a “friend.”  With Mr Trump getting so close to potentially being the US President in November, are we seeing the Lord’s hand of blessing being removed from America?  Certainly a large majority of Jewish Americans are worried.  Many of the US Jewish communities state that Trump has tolerated support from far right groups, where white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations have rallied behind his campaign. Scores of their members have taken to social media to express illiberal and bigoted views of Jews, Muslims, blacks and Hispanics, among other minorities, allegedly under the banner of the Trump movement.   And as I write, 30 Louisiana parishes in America are to be declared disasters.  The U.S. Coast Guard and other first responders rescued more than 20,000 people over the weekend.

And then there is Russia/Iran – still potentially preparing to play out the final scenes of history.  Am I being too defeatist or negative?  I certainly have no desire to be some extreme ‘apocalyptic voice’, however with news just in that the Russian Defence Ministry have announced that it has deployed strategic bombers to Iranian airfields for the alleged purpose of carrying out strikes in Syria, one should question why the sudden close relations between Iran and Russia?  On Monday this week, Russian warships also began large-scale exercises off the Syrian coast.  Along with this, earlier in the week, US Republican Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was ousted last month from her position in the Democratic Party and who is currently fighting to hold onto her House seat, went on record to state that she couldn’t guarantee that the money from the nuclear deal Obama made with Iran wouldn’t end up in hands of terrorists.  When asked by a CBS interviewer, “Can you guarantee that money, the $1.8 billion that’s part of the Iran deal, won’t be used to finance Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban terror groups against Israel? Can you guarantee it?”  Wasserman Schultz answered, “You can never guarantee anything.”

Needless to state, I haven’t even mentioned the huge rise in anti-Semitism throughout Europe and other parts of the world; I’ve not mentioned the hatred and threats that are an everyday occurrence from within the Islamic Middle East towards Israel, nor the fact that this week King Abdullah of Jordan suddenly became very vocal against Israel and has accused Israel of attempting to “violate the sanctity and compromise al-Aksa Mosque,” and added that, “Our responsibility towards the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem is our top priority in the international arena, and we use all means necessary to defend al-Aksa Mosque.”  That certainly sounds like a threat towards Israel from what has been a largely quiet nation of late.

With all that is going on in the Middle East; and with the connection to how we view the nation of Israel, along with the humongous amount of world disasters, what is the answer?  And how many within our churches are crying out to God in prayer?  Worse, how many are even aware?

Israel strengthening their deterrence & readiness for emergencies

MOD_01_DEBKA_July_2016_-_GolanIsrael_military

[Above Map by DEBKA http://www.debka.com/]

Continuing on with this theme, as I’m writing this report (Wednesday August 17, 2016) Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is visiting Israel’s northern border and the Israeli Army northern command.  Lieberman told reporters, “We are strengthening our deterrence and readiness for emergencies.”’ Four months after becoming Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman was accompanied by Israel Defence Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Northern Command Commander Gen. Aviv Kohavi and the Northern Corps Commander Gen. Mamir Hyman. During the visit Lieberman received a comprehensive review of the challenges and developments in the northern region and was given intelligence updates regarding Syria and Hezbollah.

Lieberman met with the main authorities from the northern border, along with leaders of communities in the Golan Heights.  Israel remains on high alert in the Golan region.

Radical preacher jailed in UK; Hamas official arrested in Ramallah

As you may have seen on the National News channels on Tuesday this week, the UKs anti-terror laws are under scrutiny following the belated conviction of the Islamic ‘hate preacher’ Anjem Choudary almost 20 years after his terrorism links first emerged.  The Islamic extremist Choudary is finally behind bars as police revealed he has links to 500 British jihadists fighting with ISIS.  So the good news is that he is finally locked up in prison.  The bad news is UK tax payers will be keeping him there.  The 49-year-old, who has spent two decades radicalising a generation of would-be terrorists, was convicted after swearing an oath of allegiance to ISIS.  But there remain questions over why it took so long to bring a successful prosecution against Choudary after it emerged he has links to 15 terror plots since 2000.

Anjem-Choudary-Sharia

Anjem Choudary famously once stated , “When Sharia law is implemented, maybe in 10 or 15 years’ time, she [the Queen] would be expected like all women in Britain to be covered from head to toe, only revealing her face and hands… By 2050, Britain will be a majority Muslim country. It will be the end of freedom of democracy and submission to Allah.”  He also stated, “We don’t believe in democracy, as soon as they have authority, Muslims should implement Sharia. This is what we’re trying to teach people.”  The father of five, who is a qualified solicitor, could be jailed for up to ten years when he is sentenced next month.

Meanwhile is Israel, the IDF, together with the Shabak (Israel’s Security Agency), arrested leading Hamas member Hussein Muhammed Abu Kawik, a member of the Palestinian election commission, in Ramallah on early Wednesday morning.  Kawik was arrested for “ongoing security activities which endanger regional security.”  Hamas has since issued a statement accusing Israel of interfering with election activities, which have been called for October.  The move comes as the latest in an IDF crackdown on terror, following mass arrests in terror hotbed Al-Fawwar and various disarming operations in Judea and Samaria.

UK charities funding Hamas?

As you may have seen over the past few days in various media reports, the UK charity ‘Save The Children’ have this week been accused of funding a Gaza Employee as allegedly working for Hamas Terrorist Group.  British Charity ‘Save the Children Fund’ said it was looking into Israeli claims that a Palestinian staff member in Gaza had been recruited by the Hamas Terrorist Group days after allegations against another international NGO. “We do take any allegations of this nature very seriously and are making inquiries into this matter,” the Britain-based charity said in a statement.

It comes after Israel charged the Gaza head of major international NGO World Vision Mohammed al-Halabi with diverting millions of dollars in foreign funding to Hamas and its military wing. Part of it was allegedly used to build attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel. According to the charge sheet, Halabi recruited a Palestinian aid worker from Save the Children to join Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2014.  According to a UN tracking service, Save the Children has received more than $17 million from international donors since 2013 for its humanitarian aid activities in the Palestinian territories. Canada, Denmark, Japan and Norway are among its major donors. On Monday 8th August 2016 the United Nations expressed “serious concerns” over the allegations related to World Vision.  Israel has accused a manager working for U.S.-headquartered Christian charity World Vision of funnelling millions of dollars to Islamist militant group Hamas.  Mohammad El Halabi was arrested by Israel while crossing the border into Gaza. He had run the organization’s Gaza operations since 2010. According to Israel’s Shin Bet security service, El Halabi diverted around $7.2 million of World Vision money to Hamas each year. That is the equivalent of 60 percent of the charity’s total annual funding for Gaza.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report 08/10

The Word:  It is not that I have already obtained it or already reached the goal — no, I keep pursuing it in the hope of taking hold of that for which the Messiah Yeshua took hold of me. Brothers, I, for my part, do not think of myself as having yet taken hold of it; but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining forward toward what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize offered by God’s upward calling in the Messiah Yeshua. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.  Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:10-12)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: In the above Scriptures (one from the Hebrew Scriptures and one from the New Testament) we find examples of areas one would associate with sporting events.  Ecclesiastes mentions ‘the race is not to the swift’ and Paul in Philippians states that we must keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize.  In 1 Kings 19:2-4, we find Elijah runs for his life (sorry, couldn’t resist) and in Judges 16: 28-31 – we read of the strength of Samson.  Of course in 1 Samuel 17, David fights Goliath and in 1 Corinthians 9:23-25, Paul again writes, ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?’  In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 we read, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race;’ and in 2 Timothy 2:4-6 we understand that ‘An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.’ And so, in this time of the Olympic Games 2016, let all who are called to stand with Israel ‘run with endurance the race set before us’ (Hebrews 12:1-3). Let us keep battling on in prayer regarding the difficult issues within Israel and throughout the Middle East.

israel flagmovingAs mentioned in the prayer pointers last week, we are living in a sobering moment in history that calls us, as believers in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), to take a stand with Israel. This is not about politics; this is about the Word of God, but the political ramifications are extremely dramatic. God is sovereign – so let us declare God’s sovereign power to accomplish all His purposes in Israel and the Middle East. Stand in prayer against those who would deny Israel’s right to its ancient homeland, and please continue to pray for the complete restoration of the nation of Israel. Pray for a great revelation of Biblical truth to saturate the Arab world – especially with the Palestinian youth – along with those countries that are not ethnically Arab but Muslim – such as Iran and Turkey.  Pray that these Arab/Muslim countries would break free from the bondage of false religion and come to a place where the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Israel – would set them free (John 8:32)

When sport gets ugly

2016-07-01-Venues-thumb2

2016 seems to have been one long year of sporting events.  No sooner had the football league season finished, and a new season is under way.  Football aside, with England failing miserably in the Euros International football this summer by losing against tiny Iceland, the British have exceeded themselves in winning many different sports events.  After all, Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time in his career in tennis; Chris Froome won the Tour de France in cycling, and England appears to be doing very nicely in the cricket.   Along with high expectations from favourites in athletics such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson in Rio’s Olympics, medals will be decided in the final of the women’s 10,000m, where Jo Pavey hopes to become the first British woman to run in five Olympics.  Then there’s the British rowing team and already Britain is doing really well with Adam Peaty winning gold in swimming with Jazz Carlin getting silver.   In the velodrome, Sir Bradley Wiggins begins his bid for a fifth Olympic gold in the opening round of the team pursuit, while swimmer Fran Halsall attempts to win a medal in the women’s 100m freestyle.   If you’re a sports fan, 2016 has been a great year!

Israel is also currently competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. This is the nation’s sixteenth appearance at the Summer Olympics. Israel sent 47 athletes to the games, breaking the previous record of 43 in 2008, and also setting a new record in participation with athletes competing in 17 different sports at 53 different events. The 2016 games is also the first Israeli delegation to feature more female competitors than men. On August 3, two days prior to the start of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee officially honoured the eleven Israelis killed during the Munich massacre, for the first time.  And there was joy to come as Yarden Gerbi claimed a bronze medal in the women’s under-63 kilogram judo competition at the Rio Olympics. She became the fourth Israeli judoka to take an Olympic medal, however this is the first Olympic medal Israel have won since 2008.

gerbi-medal-c55-635x357

However, there is often an ugly side that rears its head in the world of sport.  We only need to look at the corrupt underhand dealings of Joseph “Sepp” Blatter – the Swiss football administrator who served as the eighth president of FIFA from 1998 to 2015.  He was finally ‘given the boot’ recently, yet even today is challenging his six-year ban from football.  Then there was Lance Armstrong bringing shame to the world of cycling in his drug induced Tour de France victories.  Of course since then, there has been the drug scandal that has appeared to involve the majority of the Russian Olympic team recently, which almost cost Russia any place at this year’s Olympics.  Yet there is now an even darker cloud that has descended on the sporting arena that should ‘stop play’.

The Olympic Games are supposed to be a celebration of the best in sports within the framework of a none political event. But guess which mind-set is trying to use this sporting event as a continuation for their hate filled lust against the Israeli team in these Olympics? Yes, the Islamic Palestinian delegation (note: a ‘delegation’ and not a ‘nation’) is being led by a renown terrorist who even today incites to violence against Israel. Even at the highest level, it seems, sport cannot free itself from politics and hatred.

Terror-promotion-by-Jibril-Rajoub-Chairman-of-the-Palestine-Olympic-Committee

Many of my sources are venting their anger that even before the opening ceremony, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics have left a bitter taste in the mouths of most Israelis. Jibril Rajoub, who is a contender for the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA) after Mahmoud Abbas’ time is up, is a strong supporter of terrorism and has incited to murder even during this most recent wave of terrorist violence against Israelis.  Yet this man was chosen by the Arab Palestinians to head their Olympic committee.  In many ways, this is almost as bad as the farcical decision to award PLO Terrorist Yasser Arafat with the Nobel Peace Prize some years ago.

The International Olympic Committee, and the Olympic Committee of Israel, have refrained from taking any action against Rajoub, given the importance of the Arab vote on the IOC. But bereaved families, the terrorist victims advocacy organization Almagor, and the Palestinian Media Watch organization, which has for years documented and translated Rajoub’s statements in the Palestinian press, are finding it hard to stand by quietly in the face of such absurdity.  How can it be that the man who openly supports terrorism and this year congratulated murderous terrorists on Palestinian television broadcasts – and this is the same man who swore only a few years ago that if the Palestinians ever had a nuclear weapon, they would use it immediately against Israel – how is it he can today walk around in a suit and tie during the Olympics, smiling at cocktail receptions during this sporting event that symbolizes unity among nations and bridges to peace?  Surely this must be a sick joke?

The harrowing terrorist information on Rajoub, which researchers from Palestinian Media Watch have spent the last few weeks compiling, was recently placed before Israeli decision-makers. The unprecedented decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under its German head, Thomas Bach, to hold the first memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Arab Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games in 1972 stands in contrast to the IOC’s refusal to do a thing about Rajoub.

palestinian-incitement-on-social-media-2-638

Now of course, the IOC generally does not interfere in politics, even when it uses them for its own purposes. Some well-known historical examples of that include the Berlin Olympics in 1936, which were opened by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler; and on the other end of the spectrum, during the Cold War, the decisions by the U.S. to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and by the former USSR to boycott the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.  However, to appoint a renowned terrorist onto an Olympic committee is simply not acceptable, not only for the reason he is a terrorist, but also due to the fact that he is not representing a country – as there is no country called Palestine – rather a political-national entity, and he is a classic example of how ‘politics’ – if I can use that word loosely – can influence sports.

Rajoub was of course once sentenced to life in prison, but was released under the Jibril deal in 1985. He participated in the First Intifada (Arab Palestinian uprising), was deported to Lebanon in 1992, and returned to Israel in 1994, after the Oslo Accords were signed. Over the past few years, he has once again been backing terrorism, or “martyrdom,” as he calls it. The Arab bloc on the IOC, comprising 46 Muslim countries, gives him a political screen. Rajoub, 63, is effectively unimpeachable. His roles as chairman of the ‘Palestinian’ Olympic Committee and the ‘Palestinian’ Football Association have raised his status. In the past, he threatened to keep Israel out of the Olympics, but his efforts were stopped.

So why haven’t Israel done more to have Rajoub banned?  Well, Israel is convinced that any attack on Rajoub could cause immediate harm to the status of Israeli athletes in the Olympic Games and other athletic bodies, too, such as FIFA, the international football federation.  Rajoub, who also serves as undersecretary for Fatah, marked his path in the latest terrorism wave very clearly on the day Israel released the bodies of 17 Palestinian terrorists for burial. The head of the POC noted that the terrorists’ actions had been a source of “pride for us all…acts of heroism by individuals, a crown of glory on the heads of the Palestinians.”  The terrorist attacks, Rajoub clarified on the official PLO television station, are “acts of heroism by individuals and I am proud of them. I congratulate everyone who carried them out.”  Rajoub, who worked alongside PLO founder Yasser Arafat in Tunisia, has continually sponsored athletic events in the memory of terrorist killers, such as the “Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Tournament.” Mughrabi led a terrorist attack on an Israeli bus in 1978, in which 37 civilians, including 12 children, were killed.

5cda60_c847dff961174c4298f17e74260adcab.png_256

Needless to say, with the backing of terrorist leaders comes deception in various other areas.  Take for example the Arab ‘Palestinian’ swimmer selected to compete in the Rio Olympics who told the world that she was unable to train properly since there were no Olympic-size pools in the Palestinian territories and the Israeli “occupation” had cut off her access to such facilities.  In fact, as Tablet Magazine points out, this was an outright lie as the Palestinian territories boast several Olympic-size pools. There’s even one in Gaza, built “with some of the leftover cement Hamas could spare after squandering billions on its terror tunnels,” the Tablet Magazine report said. Another exists in the so-called ‘West Bank’ town of Nablus. And there’s even an Olympic-size pool in Beit Sakhour, the very town that the athlete, Mary al-Atrash, hails from.  Furthermore, the report pointed out that had the 22-year-old al-Atrash applied for a permit to train in Israeli pools, her request would have likely been granted. Last month, the Israeli government office for coordinating activities in the ‘West Bank’, or COGAT, issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that al-Atrash had refused to apply for such a permit but wished her the best of luck anyway. The full report by the Tablet Magazine can be read here.

Gaza… who holds the keys?

A few years ago, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron went on record to state that “Gaza was a prison camp”.  Speaking with a friend regarding this last week, I was stirred by my friend’s comment stating, “Yes, Gaza is a prison camp, but who is holding the keys?”  His meaning was clear: It is Hamas who have control on the people of Gaza and it is they, with their tyranny and terrorist actions that hold any unfortunate Arabs within Gaza to poor lifestyles.  It is Hamas who hold the keys.

However, in the Western Media, the British public (and indeed all in the Western World) are continually given either biased reports against Israel, or ill-informed information regarding Gaza.  In the UK, the BBC and ITV News appear to want to paint a dark picture regarding the people of Gaza.  Take for example a recent report from ITV News reporter Rageh Omaar.  Two years after the last Gaza war, Omaar reported on how hard life was, showing a video report of one Arab Palestinian woman bemoaning her tragic circumstances.  Actually, had he interviewed the many homeless women on the streets of London, I’m sure the outcome would have been similar.  Yet because this is Gaza, the report made one feel angry that Israel could have caused such devastation.  After all, on August 1, 2014, ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reported from Gaza stating, “Gaza district’s destruction ‘almost post-apocalyptic’.”  But two questions need to be asked, and actually should have been addressed by any balanced media correspondent.

The first question to be asked should have been, “Who is really to blame, Israel or Hamas?”  I believe the following report by IDF Maj. Gen. Mordechai might have been helpful. Major General Mordechai spoke in a video to the people of Gaza and stated, “I want to speak to you today about the terror organisation Hamas, which has been stealing your money to advance their terror agenda … This money was intended for construction projects, financial aid, and even food donations for Gazans in need. Hamas stole this money and passed it to its military wing to build bases, provide salary bonuses, and dig the tunnels of death that have brought destruction upon you and the Gaza Strip.”  Mordechai also clearly laid part of the blame at the feet of charities such as World Vision, who have been accused for giving funds to Hamas.  You can watch his interview here.

The second question to be asked relates to Gaza itself.  Is Gaza really as bad as the Western Media want its viewers to believe?  Well, I’ll leave you to decide.  This is a video of Gaza today that was filmed by Hamas! The title says “Thank you Hamas” previewing Hamas’ achievements in the last few years (with thanks to my friend Elias for the translation) https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=LR-qrSvncLc&app=desktop .

Palestine deleted from the map

Google-Map-Earth

I had to smile when I read this next and final section for this week’s report.  Normally, it would be me, or some other Israel supporting organisation, who would be complaining regarding Palestinian groups removing Israel off the map of the Middle East.  But this time the tables have been turned as Internet giant Google have come under fierce attacks from around the world, after replacing the name of Palestine on its maps application with Israel.  The Palestinian Journalists Front (PJF) slammed Google for the move, stating that the removal of Palestine’s name from the maps was an attempt by the “Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come while obliterating Palestine forever.”  The facts are of course that there is no official Country or State called ‘Palestine’ and there never has been.  Yet this didn’t stop PJF claiming the move was part of an effort to “distort history and geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland,” and “a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs.”

A search for “Palestine” in Google Maps does yield a proper reference to the entity, but with a blank map of Israel, with the areas of Gaza, Judea and Samaria marked with a broken borderline but not mentioned by name.  Click here to view: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@31.5327258,35.414449,7.77z

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report 08/03

The Word:  He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.  When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand along the shore; from Ein Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. (Ezekiel 47:6-10)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we come before the Lord in prayer, and as CFI continues working at New Wine in Somerset, pray that the team would have great success and fruitful conversations.

israel flagmovingWe are living in a sobering moment in history that calls us, as believers in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), to take a stand with Israel. This is not about politics; this is about the Word of God, but the political ramifications are extremely dramatic. God is sovereign – so let us declare God’s sovereign power to accomplish all His purposes in Israel and the Middle East. Stand in prayer against those who would deny Israel’s right to its ancient homeland, and please continue to pray for the complete restoration of the nation of Israel.

israel flagmovingPray for a great revelation of Biblical truth to saturate the Arab world – especially with the Palestinian youth – along with those countries that are not ethnically Arab but Muslim – such as Iran and Turkey.  Pray that these Arab/Muslim countries would break free from the bondage of false religion and come to a place where the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Israel – would set them free (John 8:32)

The Dead Sea Fishing company

dead sea 1

One of the joys (amongst many) over this past week and a half at New Wine has been telling people about the amazing country that is Israel.  You’d be amazed at just how many Christians have no real understanding about the Land of Israel.  To help people to understand this subject, we have been playing a DVD called ‘Israel Aerial Odyssey’ a beautiful panoramic movie of Israel from the air. The DVD, which is filmed from a helicopter, takes the viewer on a wonderful journey that brings the story of Israel to life.  Stunning aerial photography uncovers the vast diversity to be found in Israel’s landscapes, history and archaeology.  This film conveys the experience of soaring through Israel’s sky, giving you an exciting new view of this fascinating, old-new land.

We also pointed out areas on a 3-D raised-relief map of Israel.  Children specifically enjoyed feeling the mountains and the valleys and finding the main towns and Cities which make Israel’s history.  This of course helped both children and adults get a better knowledge of the geography and landscapes of Israel.  It also helped them in understanding the geo-political problems of the region and the strategic importance of the topography.  You can buy the map from Christian Friends of Israel here.  However, it also provided me with the wonderful opportunity to talk about prophecy being fulfilled.  For those who haven’t been to Israel, and even those who want to return, a visit and even overnight stopover at Ein Gedi is a must.  Nestled between the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, this desert oasis is one of the most fascinating places to visit due to its biblical references, historical roots stretching back over 5,000 years, and the Dead Sea itself.  Though I’ve been back to Israel many times in the last three years, Ein Gedi is one of my favourite places and the area successfully mixes modern tourism with the exciting historical surroundings to provide any visitor with a truly unique adventure. Ein Gedi dates back some 5,000 years to the first settlers who came to the area; archaeological remains from that time can still be found throughout the area and further afield.

There are many references in the Bible regarding Ein Gedi. It was named in Joshua 15:62 as one of the cities of the Tribe of Judah. Other Biblical mentions include King David, who took refuge there from King Saul (1 Samuel 24:1) and Song of Songs 1:14 mentions the vineyards of Ein Gedi.  Three years ago, I took my family to spend three nights at Kibbutz Ein Gedi.  This is one of Israel’s nicest kibbutzim and is located on a nearby hilltop overlooking the area.  The kibbutz has a botanical garden with plants and trees from all over the world.  Ein Gedi also has an international reputation as a health spa. Tourists from all over the world come there to take advantage of the hot springs, mineral waters, and mud baths, and to enjoy the desert climate, bathe in the healing waters of the Dead Sea, and breathe healthful bromide-filled air. But what many people don’t realise is that these Dead Sea waters could be about to disappear.

Ezekiel dead sea

Not only is the Dead Sea shrinking, but amazingly fresh water pools are forming around the Dead Sea.  This was one of the most popular conversations I had at New Wine with many Christians, and as CFI’s Robin Lane asks on the CFI Facebook page, “could this be Ezekiel’s prophecy coming true?”  Samantha Siegel posted on YouTube on July 21, 2016 a short film about the Dead Sea shrinking, along with the 5000 sinkholes that have opened up along it shores. But in fact life is stirring and new worlds are being born and fish are living by the Dead Sea.  So could this be prophecy by Ezekiel starting to unfold?  Check out the video here.

Back in September 2011, researchers sent a diving expedition into the Dead Sea, where they uncovered freshwater springs issuing from massive craters in the seafloor, along with a menagerie of microbes. Both finds were a first for the world’s saltiest body of water, which is also the lowest spot on earth.  The Dead Sea lies between Jordan and Israel, and its salt-heavy waters allow humans to float effortlessly on the surface — a phenomenon that makes the Dead Sea a popular resort destination, yet notoriously challenging for divers attempting to swim down into the water.  A research team from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University managed to dive down into the salty waters to confirm their suspicions that freshwater springs jet up from deep fissures in the seafloor.  So are we heading towards the days that Ezekiel prophesied?  According to the Scripture at the top of this report, there will come a day when a very great multitude of fish will swim in these waters, for they will be healed, and fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi and spread their nets (Ezekiel 47).  I’m not stating these days are now starting to happen, but it is certainly interesting.

Israel – the only true democracy with freedom of worship

13731494_522718334590625_2777362381709880295_n(2)

As I’ve mentioned above, Christian Friends of Israel UK have been (and still are) working at the New Wine Festival in Somerset.  It started on Saturday 23rd July 2016 and goes on for two weeks.  New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, National Gatherings and resources. The vision and desire of New Wine is to see the nation changed through Christians experiencing the move of God in their lives.  The New Wine Team long to see churches renewed, strengthened and planted, living out the Word of God in every aspect of life, serving God by reaching the lost, broken and poor, and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom of God to all.  As I wrote in my last report, this vision is what every Christian should desire, and many Christians (approximately 30,000 delegates according to statistics) attend this two week event at Shepton Mallet in Somerset and are really blessed by this. However, approximately 80% of the Church in the UK has no understanding of the importance of standing with the nation of Israel, or just why God is bringing back His Jewish people to the State of Israel.  Many also have little understanding to the fact that Israel is the only true democracy within the Middle East.

The past week, we have had a good response with people coming on board to support our ministry; however it’s also good to chat with other organisations sharing their ministries at New Wine. Two Middle Eastern Ministries I personally support are Elam Ministries (http://www.elam.com/insight/reaching-iran) who’s stand is next to ours (their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ElamMinistries/?fref=ts). The mission of Elam is to strengthen and expand the church in the Iran region and beyond. Elam’s vision is that all the people of the Iran region would have the opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him as a disciple, and that Iranians would be instrumental in taking the Gospel to other Muslims. To achieve this vision, they train leaders for fruitful, effective ministry in the Iran region; Equip the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and discipleship, and send the Gospel into the Iran region through trained evangelists, church planters and Christian media. Such is the openness of the Iranian people that wherever there is a witness to the Gospel, individuals, families and even communities are coming to know Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as Lord.  One thing we have noticed however is that when Iranians come to know the Messiah as Lord, they do not have any replacement theology within their doctrine and the majority support Israel. We have had lovely fellowship with the team from Elam, and their stand is next to ours in the marketplace.

The other ministry is SAT-7. SAT-7 seeks to fulfil Jesus’ command to “make disciples” among the troubled nations of the Middle East and North Africa. Through satellite television it enables the Church in the region – isolated, often small and facing many restrictions – to make known the love of Christ, to teach and encourage believers, and share a positive Christian vision for life and society – and this is done in the privacy of people’s homes.  SAT-7’s five TV channels cover the whole of the Middle East and North Africa, broadcasting in the major languages of Arabic, Turkish and Farsi, sharing God’s love with millions 24/7. Do pray for these two ministries.  However, as the world’s only Jewish state — also the only state with close to a majority-Jewish population — Israel is the only true democracy within the Middle East, and the only nation within the Middle East that allows freedom of worship – no matter what your faith is.  Despite its Jewish majority, Israel protects minority rights.  An important element of a free country is how it treats its minority citizens. Jews, who are a minority in every country but Israel, are particularly sensitive to this issue.

Israel has a multi-party political system in which numerous political ideologies are represented. Both Jews and Arabs serve in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and on the Supreme Court.  All Israeli citizens are eligible to vote. According to a report by Freedom House they state, “After Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, the Arab residents were issued Israeli identity cards and given the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship, though most chose not to seek citizenship for political reasons. These non-citizens can vote in municipal as well as PA elections, and remain eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship.” So not only do Israeli citizens vote, including the over 1.8 million Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, but non-citizens are also able to vote.  And talking of politics, with Mrs May becoming the second British Prime Minister (the first of course being Margaret Thatcher), the Brits might feel proud regarding this… however they weren’t the first nation to have a female Prime Minister, as Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, which proves Israel supports minority rights for women — it is ranked as the only free nation for women in the Middle East.

Israel also has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic, and Israel legally recognises 13 non-Jewish religious communities, the largest being Muslims with the second largest minority population being the Christian population.  In 1984 and again in 1991, Israel airlifted 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk in their native country to safety in Israel.  Now we can’t proclaim that Israel is a society with perfect harmony — there is some racism — but what country is perfect?  And at least Israel is addressing this issue through public policy and education/awareness.   And of course, freedom of worship is a high priority issue within Israel. Prior to Jewish control of Jerusalem in 1967, Jews were forbidden to pray at their second most holy site, the Western Wall of the destroyed Temple. The Temple Mount, which is the foremost Jewish holy site in the world, is currently controlled by Muslims and Jews are forbidden from worshiping there. Additionally, Jews are banned from visiting Saudi Arabia or living in Jordan. When Jews are accused of pursuing racist policies in Israel, the opposite is actually true: It is others who have pursued racist policies against Jews.  And so for those who bang the drum to boycott Israel with their BDS movements, maybe someone should tell them that actually, the following countries refuse to accept an Israeli passport, so Israeli citizens (including Arab Israelis) cannot visit Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Again, when we think of the outrageous lies that the ‘Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaigners claim, and the fact that they state Israel is an ‘Apartheid State’, it becomes even more outrageous nonsense when one considers the religious freedom within Israel.  But on top of this, today neo-Nazi parties are currently rising in Greece, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Poland and Denmark recently outlawed Jewish kosher meat. Bulgaria, France, and Hungary have seen large anti-Jewish protests recently. And the Scandinavian countries are working diligently to outlaw Jewish circumcision.  Also, with Europe currently being saturated with refugees fleeing Islamic countries, the majority of people don’t even realise that Israel has absorbed a great many persecuted minorities from around the globe, always welcoming them with open arms. These include refugees from former Soviet states, African refugees, and people with Jewish ancestry from countries all throughout the world such as India and Peru.  So without doubt, Israel remains the only free nation in the Middle East.

More on New Wine

13645078_525539304308528_5657488596545228261_n

In closing this week’s report, I asked Julia to give her thoughts on CFI’s time at New Wine.  Julia Soakell writes, “New Wine was a place of divine appointments along with having loyal supporters meeting faces and names from the CFI publications they had read of and prayed for over the years.  Many were really pleased to see the CFI stand.  Some of the highlights included meeting up with Church of England ministers who had been on the last CFI clergy tours with CFI’s CEO Jacob Vince, and shared what a profound impact it had had on them in every sense, one sharing it had “transformed his thinking”. This shows that the prayer strategy of praying for key leaders and ministers is the prayer strategy God asks us to follow and wants to answer. The other key thing was that there are teenagers and young adults who have been brought up with sound Christian families, and great churches who really do have an understanding of Hebraic roots and the importance of Israel on God’s heart.  These are young people readying themselves for university life and potential teachers, politicians and parents in this next generation that need our prayers too (See the latest In Touch article ‘A Heart for a Generation’ (http://www.cfi.org.uk/intouch.php ).”

Julia continues, “There was great opportunities to chat with delegates who had been suspicious of Israel and ministries supporting her, fearful of being sucked into politics and wrong thinking and bias, who were able to chat without pressure or bias and went away willingly and with greater insight able to delve into literature about the scriptures supporting the ministry and mandate which CFI have – to teach the church and bless the Land and people of Israel.  Conversations also covered ways of established supporters becoming Church Links and Area Reps, and others who were encouraged that prayer groups would be available in their home towns where they could share and have fellowship with others with a heart for prayer for Israel.  It was also great to help people find books and resources from the stock we took that would help those who were so enthusiastic to learn more about the roots of our faith, the stand against anti- Semitism and other related subjects. These are books that are rare in Christian bookshops around the UK but regulars at New Wine know they will be able to browse from the CFI stall each year.”

Julia concludes, “One image that will stay in my mind is the young children approaching the stand and being “glued” to the TV screen showing Israel by helicopter – a little girl completely transfixed to the images of nature reserves and archaeological sites, beautiful vistas of the Dead Sea and the country where Jesus lived… this will stay in my memory a long time.   New Wine truly is a great annual opportunity for the message of the CFI ministry to be seen and clearly understood – a place of fun and family and excitement but also of believers who meet together and want to move on in their walk with God and many of whom saw as Divine appointments and an understanding growth of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob as a promise keeping God.”

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment