Standing in the gap for Israel report 05/11

~ May 11, 2017 ~ (Iyar 15, 5777) ~

Please note: This is an extra report; however, due to time away, hospital appointments and CFI festivals there will be no further reports until June 8, 2017. Apologies for any inconvenience.

The Word: To the faithful You show Yourself faithful, to the blameless You show Yourself blameless, to the pure You show Yourself pure, but to the devious You show Yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make Your saving help my shield, and Your right hand sustains me; Your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. (Psalm 18:25-36)

Pointers for prayer: As mentioned above, due to time away on a short sabbatical, further hospital appointments and CFI festivals at the ‘Big Church Day Out’ and other engagements, there will be no further reports until June 8, 2017. Please do lift before the Lord all the staff at CFI UK and CFI Jerusalem, and please remember our CEO, Jacob Vince, who is in Israel with the Jerusalem conference and tour.

God has a purpose for the nation of Israel. Israel’s enemies also have a purpose. And so we must continue to press in with our intercession to fight this spiritual war in the heavenly realms. As terrorism is always a huge threat to Israel (and indeed the western world), let us battle on in our intercession regarding this issue. Let us pray for great wisdom and discernment too for the times ahead.

Over the past few reports, we have been looking at North Korea, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the PLO etc. – all of whom are threatening Israel or attempting to remove the Jewish people from Israel. As we continue to monitor these events and pray into these situations, may we know at all times that the LORD God is in complete control irrespective of what we see. Even so, please do continue to cry out to God for the situations many Israelis and Arab Palestinians find themselves in.

The Battle belongs to the Lord

Twenty four years ago or so, I had the privilege to hear Dr. Bob Gordon teach on Isaiah chapter 6 (among many other teaching sessions).  His teaching has always remained with me and his legacy lives on.  Sadly, he died far too young and at a time when his ministry was at a peak.  I’ve never understood why, yet I do know God is still sovereign.  As I once again read the words of Isaiah this week, I guess in some ways Isaiah must have felt such pain and questioned God regarding the death of King Uzziah.   King Uzziah of Judah had a long and very distinguished reign, described in 2 Chronicles 26 and in 2 Kings 15:1-7 (Uzziah is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15). Uzziah began his reign when he was only 16 years old, and he reigned in Jerusalem for 52 years. Overall, he was a good king, and 2 Kings 15:3 says, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.  Uzziah also led Israel in military victories over the Philistines and other neighbouring nations, and he was a strong king. He was also an energetic builder, planner, and general. 2 Chronicles 26:8 says, his fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt.  Sadly though, Uzziah’s life ended tragically. In 2 Chronicles 26:16 it states, “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the House of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” In response, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, and he was an isolated leper until his death.  So in many ways, when we read the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 6, which states, “in the year King Uzziah died” is to say a great deal. Isaiah was no doubt greatly discouraged and disillusioned at the death of King Uzziah.  You can almost hear him asking, “Where was the LORD in all this? Where is God?”  This is a question I have asked of the Lord in the last few years of our ministry with Israel.

In many ways, and at many times, I hear a similar question being asked by the Church today regarding the modern State of Israel.  They will ask, “Where is the LORD in all this?”  They will argue that “Israel cannot be part of God’s plan for it is largely a secular nation.  And what about the way its army behaves?  How can God bless them when they kill Arab Palestinians?  And how can Christians possibly support Israel when Jesus taught us to “love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)?”  Yet isn’t the whole of the Bible God’s Word?  What about controversial verses such as Psalm 144:1, where we read, “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle…”?  Or what of part of the Psalm I’ve included above where we read, ‘He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze (from Psalm 18)?

By far, the greatest number of prophecies in the Bible concern the nation of Israel. In fact, many have said that if you want to know what time it is on God’s clock, look at the nation of Israel, for Israel shall be the centre of attention in the fulfilment of Bible prophecies in these last days. Today we live in an age when the entire world is focused upon the tiny strip of land in the Middle East. But could God Himself defend Israel and cause Israel to be mighty in battle?  According to Scriptures He can, He has, and will do so again.  In the Scriptures, God helped Uzziah to lead Israel in military victories over the Philistines and other neighbouring nations.  We can also read of the many accounts where God blessed His people in battle… people like Joshua, Samson, and David etc.  The Word of God also states in Zechariah 12:8, “On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them.”  Taken in context, this verse speaks about God defending Israel in a battle to come in the last days. Have we not seen this miraculously occur several times since Israel became a nation again in 1948? They were greatly outnumbered in key Arab-Israeli wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973. Yet Israel exists! Has not God seen to that?

The Word of God also declares that Jerusalem would be a burden to the entire world. Zechariah 12:2-3 states, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about… And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces.”  Today, Jerusalem is a burden that causes trembling for all the nations just as God foretold. What makes this prophecy even more remarkable is that when the prophet Zechariah spoke these words around 520BC, Jerusalem lay in ruins. But God said it would become the focus of the world’s attention! Today, Israel has 0.01% of the world’s population, yet more than 35% of the United Nations resolutions have been passed concerning her!  In the end, all nations shall come against Israel. Zechariah 14:2 states, “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it…”  One day, the Bible predicts, she will have no allies, and all nations shall be gathered against her. The media news will show you that we are on the road towards that battle.  In this, the 100th year since the Balfour Declaration, let us rouse ourselves all the more to stand firm in our calling, and uphold the Jewish nation before the Lord God – Who called that very nation into being.

When words have no meaning – Hamas and moderation!

According to CNN, Al-Jazeera and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the Islamic Terrorist group Hamas now accepts a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines.  Many other papers including the New York Times called this move “moderation”.  But does this mean that Hamas now accepts the State of Israel?  Ah, well… actually, no!  According to Al-Jazeera, Hamas presented the new political document that accepts the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, without recognising the statehood of Israel, but states that the conflict in “Palestine” is not a religious one.  Regarding Israel, Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas stated, “We shall not waive an inch of the Palestinian home soil, no matter what the recent pressures are and no matter how long the occupation.”

Back in February, Hamas named another top terrorist as their leader.  Yahya Sinwar now leads the terror group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, placing one of the Islamic terror group’s most hard-line figures in charge of operations in its core power base.   Yahya Sinwar was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap –which proves that Israel should think long and hard before releasing these terrorists from prison.  The Hamas military wing, which controls thousands of fighters and a vast arsenal of rockets, has battled Israel in three wars since Hamas took control of Gaza a decade ago.

The armed group is sworn to Israel’s destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks.  Sinwar was sentenced to four life terms by Israel in 1988 for a series of crimes, including his role as mastermind of the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers. During his final years in prison, he was the leader of the hundreds of Hamas prisoners held by Israel.  In 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release Sinwar, along with about 1,000 other prisoners, in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had been captured by Hamas five years earlier in a cross-border raid.  However, apart from Sinwar, Khaled Mashaal has been leader of Hamas and a supporter of violent campaigns against the Jewish state.  After the founding of Hamas in 1987, Mashaal came to lead the Kuwaiti branch of the organization. He moved from Kuwait to Jordan in 1991. Following the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Jordan in August 1999, Mashaal lived in Qatar before moving to the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2001. He returned to Qatar in 2012 as a result of the Syrian Civil War.

In the Guardian newspaper, they wrote, “Hamas has unveiled a new political programme softening its stance on Israel by accepting the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the six-day war of 1967. The new document states the Islamist movement it is not seeking war with the Jewish people – only with Zionism that drives the occupation of Palestine.” See the full report here.  So I guess this is great news, right?  Well maybe not, because as ever, the western media failed to point out certain areas, as the Israeli Prime Minister pointed out, they forgot one small detail, and made it a complete distortion of the truth.  Hamas believes that “no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.” Note – “from the river to the sea” – that means ALL of Israel.  The text of Hamas’ Document can be found here: http://english.alresalah.ps/new/post.php?id=5586&t=Text-of-Hamas’-Document-

Speaking on this, Netanyahu stated in a video this week, “The new Hamas document says Israel has no right to exist. It says every inch of our land belongs to the Palestinians. It says there is no acceptable solution other than to remove Israel. So why does Hamas say there is a consensus for a smaller Palestinian state now? In order to destroy Israel later. They want to use their state to destroy our state. Is moving from calling for genocide of all Jews to calling just for the annihilation of Israel really progress or moderation?  Only if you have no standards whatsoever!  It’s bad enough Hamas lies to the world.  We don’t also have to lie to ourselves.  Hamas murders women and children. They have launched thousands of missile attacks at our homes. It brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps.  So, where does this hate-filled document belong? In the trash.”  To watch Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, click here:

If Hamas are not ‘moderate’ what of Abbas?

It seems painfully obvious that Hamas have no intention of becoming a ‘moderate’ political group, and let’s not forget, Hamas are still officially recognised by the EU, Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom as a terrorist organization.  But what of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority?  Well, this week the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has stated that a “moment of opportunity” could be within reach in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after he met political leaders from both sides during a trip to Israel.  According to a report in The Guardian this week, Justin Welby has held separate talks with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in which both spoke positively about the possibility of reviving peace talks in the coming months. Abbas had just returned from meeting Donald Trump in Washington.  Later, when meeting the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, Welby stated, “It does seem that internationally perhaps the planets are aligning. Perhaps a moment of opportunity is coming that may not repeat itself for a while.” Maybe Welby was just a big fan of 60s band ‘The 5th Dimension’ as his words did sound as if they’d been taken from their new age hit ‘Aquarius’ which states, “When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”

In January 2016, and continuing through February 2016, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn did appear in a straight line in the sky, leaving many to wonder what it would mean when the planets align.  Well if people were looking for some sort of mystical piece of magic, then they will have been disappointed. As a ‘Christian’, and a religious leader, my hope is that Justin Welby’s comments about ‘planets aligning’ was just an expression of hope.  However, I do wish people in positions such as archbishops and other leading roles would actually learn to look at history and learn from it, along with realising the truth regarding Abbas’ real desires. Could the archbishop not have challenged Abbas over the ways in which promotes terrorist attacks perhaps.  Nationalistically, the Palestinian Authority actively elevates violence as a valid and heroic means to achieve political goals, while “religiously” fighting and killing Jews has been presented repeatedly by PA religious and academic leaders as Allah’s will.

On the social level, the PA leader honours even the most loathsome of murderers, portraying them as heroes and role models.  An example of this is Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis were killed.  Abbas also has schools, summer camps, and many other events and places bearing names to immortalise and glorify Islamic terrorists. The success of the PA’s promotion of violence is readily evident. We need only look at what is being taught in PA controlled schools to see what is at the core of what the PA demand. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=449

Time and time again, the Palestinians have been offered peace.  Arafat was offered peace many times and turned every offer into opportunities to attack Israel with terrorist intifadas.  Likewise, Abbas has also refused every offer of peace.  Meanwhile, Chairman Abbas and numerous other Palestinian Authority leaders have rejected the demands of Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and many other governments and legislators to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.  Following the demand made by Israel and just before Abbas’ meeting with Trump last week, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake announced Abbas’ “absolute refusal.”  Karake stated, “The President Abbas emphasised his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasised his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).’” Yet these are terrorists who targeted civilians. Terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti who built the bombs that murdered 67 civilians at the Hebrew University, in cafés, and on buses.  Barghouti, who is currently leading the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike (though he is actually happily eating – https://vimeo.com/216392757 ), planned several attacks which makes him a cold-blooded murderer. Nonetheless, each has received nearly $200,000 in PA salaries.

Finally… Plan now to celebrate

A major event to celebrate the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration is to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 7th November starting at 7:30pm.  Through music, song, dance and drama the programme captures some of the key moments of early Zionism that laid the foundation for the recreation of the State of Israel in 1948.  Click here to download the flyer with more details.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Standing in the gap for Israel news report (05/04)

~ May 4, 2017 ~ (Iyar 8, 5777)

The Word: Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth… I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you… (Isaiah 46:3-10) 

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old… So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 51:9-11) 

Pointers for prayer: Israel celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut last Tuesday. As the re-birthed state is another year older, may we, who are called to uphold the nation of Israel by our prayer, remain faithful to the God of Israel, and pray for His continued protection for the whole nation.  As Israel celebrate, pray that the nation would have a clear vision of what God has called them to be, and that the strong resolute spirit of the Jewish people would enable them to see the Lord God at work within them.  Pray that the Lord would pour out His Spirit upon Israel – especially upon the young people so that His works can be declared to future generations.  May they stay united, flourish and never forget the One Who holds His hand over their existence.

As I stated two weeks ago, world events appear to be getting out of control. If we look at North Korea, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO etc. – of whom all are threatening Israel or attempting to remove the Jewish people from Israel – then we must realise there is much to ponder on and pray into here. Before we do that however, let us seek the Lord to quieten our heart, so that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon each of us; and that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord might enable us to truly intercede for these complex and difficult issues regarding all who oppose Israel. Pray that we will be in the correct position (spiritually) to know how to intercede, and have wisdom and discernment for when to speak up and when to remain silent.

Yom Ha’atzmaut 2017

Israel this week turned 69 years old.  However, according to the Jewish calendar – it is actually 5777 years young.  After two thousand years of exile, the Jewish nation of Israel was re-birthed on the 14th May 1948, thus fulfilling prophecies in the Word of God from Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah etc.  If only the church at large would truly be like the Bereans in Acts 17, they would be enriched all the more, and would cease from opposing the Lord God! (Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Torah (the Scriptures) every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).  The biblical emphasis on Israel’s ownership does not diminish, but rather increases with the passage of time (See Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 36:24; Amos 9:15.).  Will we see Israel expand further in a time to come? God also promised a second regathering of His people to their land (which has been and continues to be a fulfilment of Scriptures since the 1800s to present day – check out Isaiah 11:11-14 etc.).

Without doubt, this return of the Jewish nation is a miracle which was against all the odds.  From the horrors of watching six million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust, Israel then survived the War of Independence in 1948 that followed as the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the re-birthed Jewish state.  Since the 1948 War of Independence, Israel has had to fight many wars with its Arab neighbours. The Arab nations have repeatedly expressed their objective of destroying Israel.  Last Monday, Israel remembered their fallen soldiers during the Yom Hazikaron ceremonies before celebrating their ‘Independence Day’ on Tuesday.  However, even today Israel wakes up to find their enemies seeking their destruction.  Yom Hazikaron is a poignant reminder of the toll of war. Each year Israel remembers Israeli soldiers and citizens who were killed in defending the State of Israel.  The service, which takes place just before Independence Day includes prayers, songs, poems and other tributes as a reminder of the individuals who lost their lives.  Yet even today, Israel’s cities and land are continually threatened by terror. Even today, farmers working the land face the danger of death from snipers, while boys and girls must flee to bomb shelters fearing rockets and missiles.  Yet even so, Israel is still a land and nation of beauty.  Today, one can travel from the snow-capped mountains in the north, via the beautiful Sea of Galilee, before going across to Netanya on the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv.  One can then journey to Jerusalem and over to the Dead Sea, and finally after a hot trek in the Negev desert, swim in the wonderful clear Red Sea at Eilat.  And all this in a nation the size of Wales!

Without doubt, the re-birth of sovereign Israel astounded the world. Never before had an entire race of people been re-established as a nation. When the Jewish people began to make Aliyah (return) to their Biblical homeland in the 1880s, who could have foretold that the culmination of that homecoming would be too late for millions of Jews?  Who could have foreseen the 6 million Jews murdered during the Nazi Holocaust? Who could have known that three short years after the Holocaust, the 1948 War of Independence would be but the first war within Israel for further wars to come? Who would have thought that Israel would have to fight for its very survival in 1948, 1967, 1973, and throughout the years that followed?

But much has changed in 69 years if one thinks of what Israel has done; how the Land and wilderness has blossomed, and how Israel has changed the world through new inventions such as the mobile phone, computers, gadgets like the memory stick, solar windows and a space camera.  Israelis have invented much of the technology used in the world today such as instant messaging, firewall security software, Intel wireless computer chips, numerous medicines, and miniature video camera capsules to examine internal organs.  One of Israel’s sources of pride is the enormous number of inventions and innovations that have taken root on its soil over 69 years — despite challenges of geography, size and diplomacy. The ever-churning Israeli mind has brought us drip irrigation, the cherry tomato, the electric car grid.  Robotic Spine Assists and other surgical robots are transforming spine surgery from freehand procedures to highly accurate, state-of-the-art operations with less need for radiation.  Indeed, a lot has changed in 69 years… yet really… what has changed?  The world still appears to hate the Jews and opposes Israel for simply existing.

Sixty nine years later, and Israel celebrates her 69th birthday of the re-born nation.  Even as Abbas demands his Islamic state in the heart land of Israel; even as Hamas continues to fire rockets from Gaza; even as Iran and North Korea along with Hezbollah in the north threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map; even as the Middle East continues to rock at the revolt of one Islamic group murdering their own Islam brothers… even in the midst of all this turmoil, Israel celebrates and continues to bless the world with its inventions and humanitarian work.  Sixty nine years of toil and pain… yet we stand as one in saying, “Thank you Israel, for all you have done for our world… may the Lord Almighty bless you and protect you. Shalom Aleichem (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‎) and ‘am Yisrael chai (עם ישראל חי)!  – The people of Israel live!

No apology for Balfour Declaration

The UK have firmly told the Arab Palestinians, along with all who oppose the nation of Israel, that there will be no apology regarding the Balfour Declaration.  Her Majesty’s government slammed the door shut regarding an online petition, and stated that it is proud of the role Britain played in re-establishing the Jewish state of Israel. This is indeed good news.  The British government emphatically refused to apologize for the publication, a century ago, of the document that legitimized the re-creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it is proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.  In February, the Balfour Apology Campaign, run by the ‘Palestinian Return Centre rights group’, launched a petition on the British parliament website calling on Britain to, “openly apologise to the Islamic Arab Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”  The truth of course is that before 1948, the Palestinian people were actually referred to as the Jewish people, for example what is today’s Jerusalem Post was ‘The Palestine Post’ – a Jewish newspaper. The modern day Arab Palestinians are a modern invention after 1964 when Arafat created the PLO, by taking a redundant name ‘Palestine’ (as the land was now referred to its Biblical name ‘Israel’) and applying it to his terrorists organisation.

As for the statement, “The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 leading to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation…” again this is completely inaccurate, as there was no Arab Palestinian Nation ruled by Arabs, and never has been.

As for ‘mass displacement’, it was actually the Arab leaders who told their own people to leave so that when the six Arab nations that attacked the tiny Jewish state had wiped Israel out and won the war, then they could return.  The problem was however, the six Arab nations lost the war.  However, what about the 856,000 Jews that were expelled from the Arab Nations?  Why has there been little concern over these? Out of the 856,000 Jews living in Arab countries in 1948, the overwhelming majority found refuge from Arab persecution in Israel. The remaining Jews, like the ‘Arab Palestinians’, were dispersed throughout the world.  Last week the UK Foreign Office posted a response to the petition, stating. “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologise,” the response began. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”  Signed on November 2, 1917 by the UK’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.

However, on top of this, it is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel issue without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution.  As I have written before in these reports, both the San Remo Resolution and the Balfour Declaration charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews in the territory which then included Transjordan, which had already been adopted by the other Allied Powers. As a trustee, Britain had a fiduciary duty (the highest standard of care) to act in good faith in carrying out the duties imposed by the Mandate.  Furthermore, as the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated (repealed, revoked etc.) it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it. It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the Jewish state all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo.  So if anyone (including the United Nations and UNESCO) attempt to renege on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

גְּבוּל (G’vul) – Praying along the borders (part two)

[Above photo: Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader. (photo credit:KNS / KCNA / AFP) ]

In my last report, I mentioned about the need to be praying along Israel’s borders.  Well, lots of issues have happened since then, but for all those of you who have been praying, we are truly grateful.  However the need continues.   Last Friday, Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) reported that members of the PLO/Fatah Central Committee had sent an official letter of congratulations to Syrian President Bashir Assad expressing support for the Syrian people in its struggle against “the terrorist organizations.”  So who exactly is the PLO? And are not Fatah guilty of acts of terrorism? So is this a case of one terrorist group praising another terrorist group for fighting terrorists?  Really… you couldn’t make this up!  However, on Friday 28th April 2017, reports came in that Israel had shot down a Syrian drone over the Golan Heights.  According to sources, Israel fired a Patriot anti-ballistic missile in north Israel, reportedly intercepting a drone that entered Israel’s airspace from Syria. The interception came hours after Israel allegedly struck a Hezbollah arms depot near Damascus International Airport, a move condemned by Russia, which called it a “gross violation of Syrian sovereignty.”

In March 2017, Syria warned that scud missiles would be fired toward Israeli targets if Israel carried out any further air strikes in the war-torn country. Beirut’s Ad-Diyar daily reported that Damascus had prepared four scuds out of their arsenal of 800, which can carry half a ton of explosives, and would launch them without any prior warning if Israel carried out a strike.  Israel’s air defence systems include the Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, the Arrow, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the newly operational David’s Sling missile defence system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles.

Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah has also warned that the terrorist group is able to hit “the entirety of occupied Palestine with missiles,” but according to a senior Israeli Army officer in the Air Defence Command, Israel is now able to protect more territory from enemy rockets or missiles than before. The border with Syria has been tense since the civil war erupted in 2011, and while Israel is suspected of carrying out strikes against Hezbollah weapons convoys in Syrian territory, it rarely publicly admits to them.  On top of all this of course, is North Korea.  You may remember that when Israel destroyed Syria’s nascent nuclear program, it was quickly discovered that North Korea had provided the know-how and hardware to the defiant Arab dictatorship.  It is also known that North Korea is in league with some of the Middle East’s more ‘unsavoury’ players, all of whom want to see Israel annihilated.  As such, few Israeli tears would be shed if Trump followed through on his threats to end the North Korean regime.

Following Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s comments regarding this last week, the North Korean government responded with a stern warning for Israel: “The reckless remarks of the Israeli defence minister are sordid and wicked behaviour and a grave challenge to the DPRK (North Korea).”  The statement went on to threaten Israel and any other nation that damages the “dignity” of the North Korean leadership with “merciless, thousand-fold punishment.”

Finally… pause for thought.

As Yom Ha’atzmaut was starting on Monday evening, I was sat waiting for the ITV programme ‘Little Boy Blue’ to start on the TV. The programme is a crime drama based on a tragic true story of when eleven-year-old Everton fan Rhys Jones was brutally killed by a shooting. I remember that when this incident took place 10 years ago, this senseless killing shocked the country. Now, ITV has turned the story into a four-part drama. Little Boy Blue revisits the murder of the 11-year-old Liverpool boy Rhys Jones, killed by a local gang member while going home from football practice.  On the evening of August 22, 2007, Jones was caught in the conflict between two gangs while crossing a pub car-park. Sean Mercer – a 16-year-old in one of the gangs began shooting at two members of the rival gang, but one of Mercer’s stray bullets hit the 11-year-old in the neck, and Mercer fled the scene. Paramedics spent an hour and a half trying to resuscitate the boy, but were unable to save Rhys Jones’ life.

The programme is hard to watch, but what shocked me before the programme started was an advert for holidays in Israel. I was stunned. The advert stated, “Two cosmopolitan Cities on one unforgettable break. Visit Jerusalem’s breath-taking beauties with a captivating blend of antiquity and contemporary, cultural treasures and world heritage sights. And explore Tel Aviv – the city that never stops: Beautiful beaches, outdoor activities and entertainment.” I thought “WOW”… but then I thought about what was to come… a hard true story of a young boy who was an innocent victim of mob hatred.  I wrestled with the idea of selling holidays before a serious true story this like.  However, I then thought about the whole picture.

Liverpool is a fantastic city, lots of history and it’s a city I love to go to. Yes, they have had their problems and riots and gangs and murders have marred this beautiful city. But that shouldn’t cause people not to come and visit Liverpool.  But how many young kids (and other families) have been shot, stabbed, blown apart etc. in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? Hundreds! In many ways the likeness between the gang thugs of Liverpool and the Arab Palestinian Terrorists trying to wipe out Israelis are similar. It’s a mind-set of hatred and evil. Yet should these gangs cause people not to want to experience to sights and history of Liverpool – a fabulous city? Absolutely not. Likewise… if you’re never been to Israel and experienced Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the many other fabulous places of this awesome country, now is a good time to go!  See the advert here:

David Soakell

(Middle East Correspondent)

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

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‘Standing in the Gap’ News Report (04/20)

The Word: “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. (Exodus 23:31)

…“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say: ‘Our bones are dried up; our hope is lost; we are cut off—by ourselves.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says Adonai Elohim: ‘Behold, I will open your graves. I will bring you up out of your graves, My people. I will bring you back to the land of Israel. You will know that I am Adonai, when I have opened your graves and brought you up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Ruach in you and you will live. I will place you in your own land. (Ezekiel 37: 11-14)

גְּבוּל (G’vul) – Praying along the borders

David on the Gaza border

[Above photo: David Soakell on Israel’s border watching Kassam rockets being fired from Hamas Terrorists in Gaza]

In the lectures/talks I’ve been taking around many parts of the UK recently (see my last report here for details), I have been stating that last year – 2016 – was a year of great uncertainty.   With the Syrian conflict; the Brexit vote, and Donald Trump being elected president of the United States; many were wondering what would come next for international alliances, diplomacy and peace.  At the same time, the United Nations through UNESCO attempted to erase Jewish history in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, and some of the world’s leading forces appeared closer to a world war than any time in the past few decades.  For six years now, I have been reporting on the genocide going on in the Islamic Middle East in general and Syria in particular. Islamic group ISIS have slaughtered Yazidis and Christians, and in Syria, Shia Muslims joined Alawite Muslims to exterminate Sunni Muslims –this genocide reached fever pitch towards the end of December 2016 and continued into 2017.

Two weeks ago, I reported on the fact that up to 100 people had been killed and 400 injured in the latest Syrian ‘chemical attack’, although Assad refused to accept the blame.  This led to US President Trump getting involved with what he called ‘necessary retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that killed civilians and children earlier in the week.’  The US then attacked ISIS tunnels and the complex cave areas in Afghanistan by dropping a ‘Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb – the largest non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal.  The GBU-43 bomb weighed 21,600 pounds, was 30 feet long and contained 11 tons of explosives.  Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry said that no civilians were harmed as Afghan media reported that 82 militants had been killed.  However, ISIS denied suffering any deaths or casualties in the strike.  Enter North Korea.  Kim Jong-un stated that North Korea has “vowed to retaliate in a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive” against the US and its allies if Washington chose to attack them. Kim Jong-un’s commitment to test even more nuclear weapons has led many in the US government to call for new emergency plans in the event of a catastrophic attack.

This week, Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Gatestone Institute, “We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited.  The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we MUST stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores.”  The report goes on to state, “Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the “Big Satan” (United States) or the “Little Satan” (Israel). The late “moderate” leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they “would kill as many as five million Jews,” and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be “a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world.” He concluded that “it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.” Recall that the Iranian mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of “child-soldiers” in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a “suicide regime” armed with nuclear weapons.”

Threats Facing Israel

Now have a look at the above map that was created in August of 2013 – nearly four years ago – and reflect on the dangers that Hamas, the PLO/Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are to Israel’s borders.  Remember, Israel is the size of Wales, 0.1% of the Islamic Middle East.  Remember, that map and the statistics is nearly four years old.  Hamas and Hezbollah have dramatically increased their arsenal.  What of Iran?

And one nation that we shouldn’t ignore is Turkey.  Is Turkey a friend of foe to Israel?  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just narrowly won a referendum to expand presidential powers, which could keep him in office until 2029.  Putting Hamas and Hezbollah to one side, many believe that after Iran’s theocratic Islamist state, the greatest threat to Israel is Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey and Turkey’s Islamist government. This is surprising because Turkey and Israel used to be close allies. However, the rift between the countries is directly linked to the ascendancy of Islamist rule in Turkey.  This is a nation that many within Israel are keeping a close eye on.

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In Hebrew, the word for border, boundary, and territory is G’vul.  I feel now is a good time to really pray and that those who have a calling to stand with Israel, would take up their positions and really intercede, and even see if people couldn’t pray in teams 24/7 along the borders of Israel.  I have no desire to be a ‘false prophet of doom’, nor do I wish to ever jump on the media’s war-glorifying bandwagon of sensational fake news. Far too many news channels today have dropped most fact-checking and critical analysis steps in order to churn out news more cheaply and quicker and as a result untrue stories are appearing in mainstream news more than ever before – especially if it relates to darkening the name of Israel.  I believe we need to pray for great wisdom and discernment in these days.  However, I also believe we need to pray for secure borders around ALL of Israel, and for safety of all who live within the Land.

Why did Fergie use the Balfour 100 year to help Palestinian propaganda?

A.J. Balfour (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, British Foreign Office) stated that “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”  Formally, this became known as ‘The Balfour Declaration’.  In 1920, the San Remo Peace Conference gave Britain a provisional ‘Mandate for Palestine’ based upon the Balfour declaration. In legal terms, ‘The Mandate for Palestine’ was ‘The Trust’ and Britain was the ‘Mandatory’ or ‘Trustee’. The primary objective of the Mandate was to grant political rights in respect to what was essentially Jewish Palestine to the Jewish people. Initially the Mandate defined “Palestine” as spanning both west and east of the Jordan. In 1922, the British Mandate was formalized in September 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations.

Essentially this body gave unanimous approval for a Jewish national homeland in historic Israel – a land the Romans renamed ‘Palestine.’ Article 25 of this Mandate enabled the Mandatory to change the terms of the Mandate in the territory east of the Jordan River. Britain, under Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, activated this option and cut away 77% of the original mandated area for the Jews and created a new country called Trans-Jordan, later called Jordan (this was to be Arab Palestine). The East Bank was therefore given to Britain’s Arab allies!  This reduced mandated area for a Jewish homeland included the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights, plus Judea and Samaria, today’s ‘West Bank’. According to the Mandate, the Jews could settle anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. To date, this is the last legally binding document regarding the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza. The Mandate did not grant any national political rights to Arabs in what became the rebirth of Israel, but Article 2 did safeguard the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants of what was Palestine, irrespective of race or religion. Political rights were given however to self-determination for Arabs by the League of Nations in four other mandates (for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Jordan).  So why is it that people who should know better, appear to know little regarding this legal document, and wilfully swallow a diet of make-belief and lies from the Palestinian Authority (PLO) leaders?

Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, as a part of her ‘charity and human rights work’, visited Bethlehem (Judea) on Tuesday, where she met with Islamic Palestinian personalities and visited different sites. The visit included a tour of the Nativity Church (Christian not Islamic) and the Old City district of Bethlehem (where the Jewish Messiah was born), in addition to what she described as “the apartheid wall.”  In an interview with the Arab Palestinian Press, the duchess said that her mission in ‘Palestine’ is to support Palestinians and the people in the area to be able to build a hospital.  The Duchess of York stated, “I come as a mother… and if I was suddenly unable to give my girls the right to play in olive trees or to go to school because someone has put a wall there I would be very upset…”   She added, “If my children can’t have a heart operation, but the people on the other side of the wall can have the heart operation, I’d be very unhappy as a mother.” To view the news clip, click here:

Needless to say, there was no mention of her speaking out against the Palestinian Authority’s constant manipulation to teach Arab Palestinians to hate and murder Israeli Jews; there was no mention of why the wall had to be erected to try to stop all the Islamic Palestinian suicide attacks; there was no mention of the thousands of Arab children that have had successful heart transplants and other operations in Israel’s hospitals – performed by Jewish Israeli surgeons and doctors, nor the brilliant work of groups like Shevet Achim (https://www.shevet.org/il).  In a very one sided, Palestinian propaganda campaign, one has to seriously question why Sarah Ferguson chose this specific time and year to speak out against Israel, and who gave her the right to do this?

Rising from the ashes

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[Above photo taken and created by D Soakell]

Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) takes place this year on May 2nd.  However before that can be celebrated, a very thought provoking and sombre occasion happens in Israel.  Although the UK commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th, next Monday (April 24) Israel marks its annual Holocaust Memorial Day, a solemn remembrance of the 6 million Jews who perished in Nazi-controlled Europe. Out of the ashes of Nazi Europe, the Jewish nation was re-birthed, however we still need to reflect just where Israel came from and what preceded the re-birth.  And so, sirens will wail throughout the Land of Israel on April 24, and public life will come to a standstill in honour of the victims of the Holocaust.  Last year when this happened, my wife and I stood on our balcony in Poriya overlooking Tiberias and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) as the mournful, eerie sirens filled the sky (click here to view this: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CFIUK/videos/?ref=page_internal).

When I first got involved with Christian Friends of Israel (some 30 years ago), there was 250,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel.  Today, however this number is significantly less.  One thing that is certain however, these precious people are now very old and in 10 or 20 years’ time, no eye witnesses to that horrific chapter in human history will be left.  This is why we must remember this time.  My eyes were opened to the horrors of the Holocaust through Anne Frank.  As a young boy, I watched a film about Anne Frank.  Following this, and after reading her diary over and over I could not get her story out of my mind… indeed, her short life is engraved in my soul – and so I guess God would end up using me somehow to help those who survived the Holocaust.  Spending many years writing songs and poems around this theme birthed my book called ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ – a gathering of written works originally set to music, which try to reflect something of the horror of the Holocaust and beyond.  To purchase your own copy of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ click here:  http://www.cfi.org.uk/shop.php?product=1104.  In an age when Israel’s enemies are denying the Holocaust took place for political gain, we need to keep the candle burning, and challenge the youth regarding this issue.   Click here if you would like to help us support our work with Holocaust survivors or if outside the UK, click here.

The official events commemorating the Shoah or Holocaust – the systematic slaughter of the Jews in Europe in the course of the Second World War – will begin at the Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Jerusalem).  Then, as it does every year on the 27th/28th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, Israel will come to a standstill at 10 AM on the Monday morning as air raid sirens blare across the country commemorating the massacre of six million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust.

A day of teaching & prayer – CFI Conference

Hawick Conference - May 2017

Finally, I would like to let you know that CFI UK are putting on a teaching & prayer conference in the Scottish Borders on Saturday May 6, 2017 (10 am – 4 pm).  The day conference, entitled ‘Israel – God’s Promised Land’ will be held at Elim Community Church, Fairhurst Drive, Hawick, TD9 8HU, Scottish Borders.  The speakers are Julia Soakell (CFI UK Liaison Support/prayer) and Julie Archer (CFI North East England Regional Link).  The day is being organised and hosted by our Scottish Borders Regional Link, Philip Aitchison.  Contact details are philipaitchison@gmail.com (07443 900244).

  • Pointers for prayer: World events appear to be getting out of control. If we look at North Korea, Syria and of course the US governments response; along with all the activity by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO etc. to attempt to remove the Jewish people from Israel – and specifically Jerusalem, Israel’s capital – then we must realise that these threats have increased dramatically  over the past 10 years.  There is much to ponder on and pray into here, however before that, let us seek the Lord to quieten our heart, so that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon each of us; and that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord might enable us to truly intercede for these complex and difficult issues regarding all who oppose Israel (Isaiah 11:2).  Pray that we will be in the correct position (spiritually) to know how to intercede, and have wisdom and discernment for when to speak up and when to remain silent.
  • In Israel, feasts and festivals can quickly come and go. Passover has now finished, and I’d like to say a huge thanks to all who stood in the gap for Israel and prayed against any terrorist attacks over this period. Do continue to lift the family of Hannah Bladon before the Lord, who was murdered in the Jerusalem terror attack on ‘Good Friday’.  Players of the Football Championship in England’s Derby County and Huddersfield Town bowed their heads during a minute’s silence before the start of their game in memory of Hannah Bladon.  Hannah, 20, was a keen Derby County supporter who was studying for a semester at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Thousands of fans from both Derby and Huddersfield stood in rare respect in the UK, for the victim of a Palestinian terror attack.
  • Next Monday (April 24) Israel marks its annual Holocaust Memorial Day, a solemn remembrance of the 6 million Jews who perished in Nazi-controlled Europe. Please continue to uphold Israel through this time, and continue to pray that the people of Israel will turn to the Lord God. Isaiah 30:19 states, “He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry. When He hears it, He will answer.” Amen, may it be so.
  • Pray that the nation of Israel would have a clear vision of what God has called them to be, and that the strong resolute spirit of the Jewish people would enable them to see the Lord God at work within them. Pray that the Lord would pour out His Spirit upon Israel – especially upon the young people so that His works can be declared to future generations.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Standing in the gap for Israel report (04/06)

~ April 6, 2017 ~ (Nisan 10, 5777)

 The Word: Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs… Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door-frame. Not one of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:7 &22)

The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, “Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

israel-flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we continue to monitor events in and around Israel and the Middle East, and pray into these situations, may we know at all times that the LORD God is in complete control irrespective of what we see. As the nation of Israel prepares for Passover, they could be facing a time when the enemy might try to use terrorist attacks against the Jewish people. Please stand with Israel over this period and pray for Israel’s protection.

israel-flagmovingAs we enter the time of Passover may we pray for truth and God’s revealed purposes. May we be seen to carry Israel on our prayers, asking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for blessings to be bestowed upon Israel, and that God in His mercy, would “cleanse them with hyssop”, that they would know the Passover Lamb in whom they seek.

israel-flagmovingAs you may have seen from the latest news updates, there have been further horrific chemical attacks in Syria. As many as 100 people may have been killed and over 400 injured in Syria’s ‘chemical attacks.’ There is a report with links below. Please pray into this horrific situation.

Praying around Pesach

seder

[Above photo taken by D Soakell]

As often happens, Easter and Passover fall at the same time this year.   Passover starts on Tuesday April 11, 2017 for one week and continues throughout the Easter weekend.  Passover of course marks the Israelis liberation from slavery and their exodus from Egypt around 3000 years ago to their freedom.  For this freedom, a lamb was sacrificed for each family.  Easter on the other hand celebrates the Christians freedom from sins through the death and resurrection in the Messiah Jesus (Yeshua).

The central part to the week-long festivities for Passover is the Seder meal. My family celebrate this meal with our friends at our home. In addition to telling the story of Passover (from the Haggadah), we also read from ‘The Song of Songs’ (Song of Solomon), which is the traditional thing to do.  This is one of the five scrolls that are connected to particular festivals.  But why is Song of Songs read at Passover? Well, what is the Passover all about?  In many ways it’s more than the story of the Jewish people finding their freedom… It’s a love story!  It’s God demonstrating His love for His covenant people, the Jews – or Israel as they are known nationally.  After all, it’s the same God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ~ the ultimate Passover Lamb, so that Believers in Yeshua could also be engrafted into His people Israel, and know God.

In Song of Songs chapter 2:8-13, we read, “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains… My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth… Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!” Here God is calling His beloved Israel, “Rise up My Beloved… Come to Me, I want to love you”.  This is what the Passover is all about, and this ultimately is what the Easter story is also about – God’s love for us – seeking our relationship through His Communion with us.  May we all know this awesome love of God both for His people Israel, and for His Church.

PLO terrorists

However, we also need to remain alert over this period.  Palestinian Media Watch have reported this week that they have had information stating that April 17 will be day of terror and killing (according to Fatah’s student movement).  Fatah have been quoted as saying, “Let us turn April 17, 2017 into a fire that will burn the occupiers and burn the land like an inferno… We declare in a clear manner that splits the sky… We will not hesitate to burn the land under the feet of the tyrants if [Israel] harms the prisoners… Remember the Wadi Al-Haramiya operation (i.e., terror attack, 10 murdered), the Ein Arik operation (i.e., terror attack, 6 murdered), and the hundreds of heroic operations that were carried out by Fatah members and the fighters of our people.” [Source: Official Fatah Facebook page, March 29, 2017].  On April 17, Fatah (Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority) celebrates its annual ‘Prisoner’s Day’ and Fatah’s student movement Shabiba has called for a day of terror against Israel. Fatah encouraged students and other Palestinians to use violence and “escalate the confrontation with the occupier:” A full report from PMW can be found here.

Over the past few days, many sources have stated that Israel is expecting attempted terrorist attacks from both Fatah and Hamas.  Israeli’s residents have been warned, and the IDF (Israel Defence Force) and the Police are on high alert.  Last week, Hamas closed its only civilian border crossing with Israel on Sunday, and Israeli troops were on high alert as tensions continued to rise.  This followed the death of a senior Hamas operative who was mysteriously shot dead at point-blank range in the parking garage of his home.  Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the killing of Mazen Fuqaha, 38, a senior commander in the militant Islamist movement’s military wing. He spent nine years in an Israeli jail for his part in planning numerous suicide bombings that killed multiple Israeli civilians during the second Intifada in the early 2000s.  Fuqaha was eventually one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Upon his release, Fuqaha was barred from returning to the ‘West Bank’ and expelled to Gaza. From there he managed Hamas’s terrorist operations according to multiple sources.

Up to 100 people killed and 400 injured in Syria ‘chemical attack’

For the past six years I have frequently brought updates from the harrowing situation in Syria.  This nation has seen Shia Muslims join Alawite Muslims to exterminate Sunni Muslims – a classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation, yet the United Nations have done very little – if anything – about it.  UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll in Khan Sheikhoun at 72, including 20 children, but other sources state that the current death toll is much higher – even around the 100 mark.  Footage from the scene showed civilians, many of them children, choking and foaming at the mouth. Witnesses said clinics treating the injured were then targeted by air strikes.  Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib Province is half way between Aleppo (to the north) and Homs (to the south) – see map below.

Latest attack in Syria - D Soakell

[Above map by Google Maps – picture created by D Soakell]

The United States have blamed the Syrian government and its patrons, Russia and Iran, on Tuesday for one of the deadliest chemical weapons attacks in the six years of war in Syria.  As I watched the scenes unfolding on the news channels, we were warned that the scenes were horrific, and indeed they were.  A senior State Department official said the attack appeared to be a war crime and called on Russia and Iran to restrain the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from carrying out further chemical strikes.  Britain, France and Turkey joined Washington in condemning the attack, which they also attributed to Mr. Assad’s government. The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to be briefed on the attack on Wednesday – but have made little response in six years of war.  The White House says it is “confident” Bashar al-Assad’s government was behind an apparent chemical attack in north-west Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that strikes on Khan Sheikhoun by Syrian government or Russian jets had caused many people to choke. Later, aircraft fired rockets at local clinics treating survivors, medics and activists.  Syria’s army denied the government had used any such weapons.

I have included footage of the attacks, however these come with a clear WARNING as the footage is disturbing:

As mentioned, the latest death toll could be as high as one hundred people killed and over 400 injured in the apparent chemical attack.  A video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent can be seen here: http://www.itv.com/news/2017-04-04/at-least-18-dead-and-dozens-injured-idlib-gas-attack-in-syria/

A call of God? Challenging churches to intercede

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[Above photo: D Soakell]

As many of you may be aware, my wife Julia and I have been touring the UK speaking at various places for CFI including three dates in the North of England; three days in Norfolk, and another speaking engagement plus a conference on the Isle of Wight.

The main theme of the talks has centred on the issue of Jerusalem.  As Israel’s Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said in Washington recently, “Moral claim to the land [of Israel] come from the Bible, not Google or Wikipedia.”  Tzachi Hanegbi was speaking at an event held in support of placing what are alleged to be ‘West Bank settlements’ or rather Jewish Communities within final borders of the Jewish state of Israel.  Needless to say, as the end days approach, the City of Jerusalem will, and is, becoming centre stage in world history.  Are we nearing the words of Zechariah chapters 12 & 14 coming to pass? (All nations will gather against Jerusalem – Zechariah 12:3).

At the conference on the Isle of Wight, along with a meeting in Norfolk, Julia spoke on a ‘Heart for a Generation’ which included updates and answers to prayer.  In three of my talks, I spoke on how 2016 was a year of great uncertainty.  The Syrian conflict saw the historic city of Aleppo slip further into peril; the Brexit vote initiated the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States, leading many to wonder what comes next for international alliances, diplomacy and peace.  All the while, the United Nations through UNESCO attempted to erase Jewish history in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel.

Throughout 2016, there was and still is, genocide going on (see above report), which has been going on for years and years in the Islamic Middle East in general, and Syria in particular. Islamic group ISIS have killed multitudes of Christian and other minorities; and in Syria, as mentioned earlier, Shia Muslims joined Alawite Muslims to exterminate Sunni Muslims – a classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation, yet the United Nations have done very little about it.  Yet worse was to come.  The United Nations not only appeared to ignore the issue with Syria but focused condemnation on the world’s only Jewish state, Israel – a country the size of Wales that has nearly 2 million Arabs living in complete safety – the only place in the Middle East where Muslims are safe.  All the while, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority demanded the U.N. acknowledge the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City to have no historic ties to Judaism.

In many of my talks, I challenged the Christian audiences that if the U.N. agreed that the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were exclusively Islamic and had nothing to do with Judaism, then they were declaring that the Gospel writers, and therefore by implication all the New Testament is untrue, inaccurate and full of fables, as Jesus could not have done what the Bible proclaims He did in and on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.  Proving through archaeology, and taking the audience on a pictorial journey through the Western Wall tunnels and the Southern Wall’s ancient steps that date back to Herod’s Temple and beyond, I then hopefully enabled the church to see the importance of the truth, and how we needed to act and pray against these actions by the U.N. in dismissing Israel’s biblical history.   All the talks at St Paul’s Church, Newport, Isle of Wight can be heard on MP3 at http://www.stpaulsbarton.co.uk/.

To watch one of the talks from an earlier event, click here:

 

Praise God for answers to prayer

thanking God

Following on from the above report, news has just literally come in that on April 4th, 2017, in Brussels, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has firmly rebuffed any attempts to deny Jewish history connected to Jerusalem. In a unique statement at the ECI policy conference in the European Parliament she said that “in the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant.”  Distinguishing between her role as the highest official of UNESCO and the resolutions passed by member states of the same organisation, she stated, “To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justifies its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The protection of the heritage of Jerusalem is part of a broader vision for peace and the fight against all forms of denial of Jewish history, delegitimisation of Israel and anti-Semitism.”  UNESCO is the United Nations specialised agency for education, science and culture, and their original resolution, which referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of ‘Al-Haram Al Sharif,’ was approved by the United Nations at its 40th session last year, and was the reason that I felt called by the Lord to speak around the country and ask the Church to pray against this.  It appears prayers have been answered!

The statement by Irina Bokova were conveyed by UNESCO Director Genc Seitii and were warmly received by the conference, which included Israeli Ambassador to the European Union, Aharon Leshno-Yaar. Given the official EU policy of supporting a re-dividing of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital, the conference was unique in that it clearly contradicted EU policy and ambitions.  In his keynote speech Dr Dore Gold from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs presented two competing schools of thought that the EU will have to choose between.  “One school of thought teaches that Islam is superior to any other religion while the other school of thought wants to protect all religions. Only Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem can preserve all the holy sites while radical Islam will seek to destroy them”, he said. He illustrated his point by recent examples, such as the blowing up of ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001 as well as the occupation and desecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 by Palestinian militants who were later given free exile in Europe and Gaza. “Which side will Europe chose – the side which protects holy sites or the one which seek to destroy them?” he asked.

The Vice-President of the European Parliament MEP Ryscard Czarnecki gave the Israeli government credit for protecting all the holy sites after recapturing Jerusalem in 1967. In a written statement, he acknowledged that the Jewish people have had a long history in his native Poland but pointed out that no other city can illustrate Jewish identity and aspirations more than Jerusalem.  The European Coalition for Israel’s (ECI) Founding Director, Tomas Sandell, added that “Jerusalem is not only of legal, political and strategic significance but symbolises the very values that our Western civilisation are built on. To abandon Jerusalem is to dismantle these very values.” The conference concluded with the presentation of an open letter in support of a united Jerusalem. In his remarks ECI Legal Counsel, Andrew Tucker, explained why Jerusalem needs to remain the un-divided capital of the State of Israel, adding that even a majority of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem prefer to live in the state of Israel rather than in a Palestinian state.

The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, while not being able to participate in person, had sent a recorded video message to the conference illustrating the diversity in Jerusalem by noting that “in one square kilometre we have more churches, mosques, and synagogues than anywhere else in the world.”   The conference was organised with the support and active participation of MEPs from the four largest party groups in the European Parliament: European Peoples’ Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and Socialists and Democrats (S&D). For more information on this click here: www.ec4i.org.

Israel Today

Finally, I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to my good friend and journalist Charles Gardener.  Charles has in the past used my reports in the Israel Today magazine.  In his recent article in Israel Today Charles writes, “As genocide is being committed against Christians, Yazidis and even ‘dissident’ Muslims across the Arab world, the international finger of criticism continues to point at Israel. The latest example is a UN report urging swift action to oppose and end Israeli “apartheid”.  Thankfully, my Christian Friends of Israel colleague David Soakell has produced an ‘ace’ card exposing all this nonsense with a timely series of testimonies from Arabs which I have aptly titled Apartheid Claims Exposed (ACE). He tells us that Israeli Arabs – both Christian and Muslim – are risking disapproval from their own communities by volunteering for the Israeli Defence Forces in increasing numbers, disproving the lie that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. (Non-Jews are not obligated to serve in the IDF).” To read the report click here: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/31312/Default.aspx  & https://davidsoakell.com/2017/03/09/land-of-apartheid/

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Is one man’s terrorist really another man’s freedom fighter?

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Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, has been under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) since June 2014.  The Battle of Mosul, a military offensive to retake the city that began in October 2016, is the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion by U.S. and coalition forces.

Located 250 miles north of Baghdad, the city stands on the west bank of the Tigris, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh – mentioned in the Bible.  As you may have seen in media reports, this week tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing Mosul as government security forces continue their military offensive to reclaim the city from Isis. 

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Along with Iraq, more genocide has been going on for years and years in most of the Islamic Middle East in general and Syria in particular. Islamic group ISIS have killed multitudes of Christian and other minorities; and in Syria, Shia Muslims join Alawite Muslims to exterminate Sunni Muslims – basically Muslims killing Muslims. This is the classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation. 

As you know, this week, five people were killed and at least 40 – some seriously – were injured in Westminster, London, after an Islamic terrorist ploughed a car into crowds outside the Houses of Parliament and then stabbed a police officer in a major terror attack.

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Israel of course has seen hundreds and hundreds of Islamic Palestinian terrorists killing Jewish Israeli civilians; France has also seen Islamic terrorist attacks in these past few years.  Yet in the wake of the Paris and Nice attacks people immediately stated, “These terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam.”  Many of us rightly feel distress and moral outrage at the attack in London this week, leaving innocent people dead, and others with horrific injuries. That feeling is only human. Such deaths and injuries, much magnified, occur more or less daily in, for example, Israel, Syria, Yemen and Iraq – yet receive proportionately far less distress and outrage from us.  Why?  And why aren’t these terrorists true Muslims?  This needs to stop.  These good intentions towards Muslims are only making the problem worse.

Yes there are thousands and thousands in innocent Muslims that hate these terrorist acts… but to say this has nothing to do with Islam is simply sickening and wrong. 

Today, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May stated, “Regarding the London attack, we will never waver.”  But what will ‘we never waver from?  Islamic Terrorist attacks?  Or Islamic Freedom Fighter attacks?  After all, both Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority both call their terrorist attacks on innocent Israeli civilians as ‘acts of freedom fighters’! 

Today, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has claimed that Martin McGuinness was “not a terrorist” but a “freedom fighter”.  Former terrorist Adams was speaking at the graveside following the funeral of Mr McGuinness, a former IRA leader turned politician.  Earlier, thousands of mourners heard ex-US President Bill Clinton say the people of Northern Ireland must finish the work he started.

So, if Martin McGuinness and even Gerry Adams were not terrorists, but freedom fighters… what of Isis?  What of Hamas, the PLO, Hezbollah, the Paris murderers, and this week’s London murderer?  We can’t have it both ways!   To say that they are NOT terrorists is so wrong.  Equally, so say that Islamic terrorists have nothing to do with Islam and the teaching of Mohammad, are again so wrong.  Let’s get real and stop walking on egg-shells where Islam terrorists are concerned.

David Soakell.

(Middle East News Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout the Middle East, ITV News, BBC News, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

 

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Standing in the gap for Israel report (03/16)

Please note: Due to a speaking tour, the next report won’t be out until April 6, 2017

The Word:  “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”  …This is what the LORD says– the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel– to him who was despised and abhorred by the nations, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”  …I will restore the land and reassign its desolate inheritances.” (Isaiah 49:3-8)

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing …For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water… (Isaiah 35:1-7)

israel-flagmovingPointers for prayer:

  • As we look into the events bringing potential chaos and instability within the Middle East, please pray for discernment and spiritual guidance as to how we should be interceding over these issues.
  • Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel, including the Prime Minister Netanyahu. I firmly believe God is calling Christians to come alongside Israel and cry out to God on Israel’s behalf, to take the deep heart cry of the nation into our own hearts; to intercede against her enemies, and to believe in the promises of God for Israel. Please continue to pray that the Lord God would indeed shelter Israel in the shadow of His wings. (Psalm 17:7–9)
  • As I have mentioned over the past few reports, do also pray for the Arab world. While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression from their own Arab leaders, and many have been tortured and imprisoned and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world has become obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as if the Arab Palestinians (who have rejected one peace offer after another) were the only victims in the Middle East. Please cry out for the Arab people struggling under the heavy restraints of Islamic

Through the looking glass or 20/20 vision?

Through the looking glass

 

In my report land week, I attempted to bring a balanced argument against those who, through their ‘Israel Apartheid Week(s)’ give a very poor case against the Jewish nation.  To all those who wrote in with your appreciation and encouragement, I’d like to say a huge “thank you.”  One reader stated, “Fantastically accurate and detailed article to arm Israel supporters with the information to present to those who claim Israel to be an apartheid state. A big thanks to David Soakell for providing this wealth of information to share!”  I’m not so sure if it was that good, but thank you all the same.  However, I even created a similar report taking out all the Biblical and prayer issues so that I could use it in one of my personal blog posts (which can be read here).  This was purely for advocacy purposes, and I tweeted some on the #IsraeliApartheidWeek Twitter feeds.  I expected a flood of abuse, negative reactions, or at least some questions back, but did I get any?  Not a jot… not a murmuring.   Now of course that’s fine with me as it keeps the old blood pressure down and saves me needing to respond, but it begs the question, do these anti-Israel people even bother to look at the ‘other side’?

As I mentioned last week, the Scriptures declare that Israel is the land of milk and honey.  When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He informed Moses that He would redeem the Israelis and bring them to a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8).  This is the Land of the Bible; the land God gave to the Jewish people as an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:8; 26:3 4; 35:12; Psalm 105:8- 11). Israel is also the only true democracy within the Middle East, with Jews, Arabs and Christians living in this tiny area of land – a land the size of Wales.  And let’s not forget that Israel has nearly 2 million Arabs living in complete safety.  When one considers that in the rest of the Middle East (which is 99.9% of the land mass) there is turmoil and genocide going on in various Islamic nations, the Arabs of Israel should know that they are far better off living under Israeli sovereignty rather than under Islamic Sharia law.

Some time ago, I remember being laid upon my bed in a darkened room with a migraine as I watched an explosion of lights in my eyes which caused my vision to be blared.  At the same time, I was thinking about a report I’d read on the troubled Middle East, and I thought, “that’s it… that’s the problem… the world’s media, politicians, many University students, ‘#IsraelApartheidWeek supporters’ and sadly much of the church must suffer with migraine!   They see the troubles in the Middle East but only through distorted eyes.  They see Israel, but not with clear vision, and generally blame them for everything whether it’s their fault or not.”

To anyone observing the turmoil and upheaval in the Islamic Middle East, there is little doubt that unless the Jewish State is determined to commit suicide, Israel must make some ‘politically incorrect’ decisions that will, no doubt, bring further condemnation from the rest of the world.   Egypt, one of the few Arab nations once willing to be at peace with Israel, isn’t the ‘friendly neighbour’ we thought.  In many areas of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has a strong say and they are closely aligned with the Hamas rulers in Gaza.  Many today are wondering if there is another revolution brewing in Egypt?  Six years after the Arab Spring, analysts say the conditions are in place for yet more conflict in Egypt.  The Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who came to power in a coup that, in its aftermath, resulted in the massacre of more than one thousand Arab supporters of his predecessor, might have a reputation for speaking very softly. This quality often disarms foreigners. Some say “When you talk to him, unlike most Arab generals, he listens.”  But is he dangerous?  Well just look at what happened when he came to power.

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Hamas are still dedicated to Israel’s destruction and, unlike Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, won’t even mince words to gain support from the West.  The problem of course is Fatah and Hamas are now closer to being ‘brothers in arms’ than they have ever been.  Hamas are even, allegedly, according to reports this week, talking about agreeing to ’67 borders.  Long forgotten are the days not too far back when Hamas members were throwing Fatah members off roof tops in Gaza.  For now at least, they might be both singing from the same ‘hymn sheet’ – but no doubt still hate each other.  They happily shake hands with each other whilst opposing Israel.

To the north of Israel, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, has all but taken over Lebanon, and it is armed to the teeth with scores of thousands of rockets and missiles with Israel in its sights.  On Tuesday March 14, 2017, Geologist and former adviser to the Israel Defence Force (IDF), Chief of Staff Yossi Langotsky, stated that it is very likely that Hezbollah have now dug tunnels into Israel.  Langotsky has warned of northern border terrorist tunnel threats and told Israeli News Media that he is very worried about the possibility of a new front in northern Israel which, he says, may include tunnels that Israel’s enemies intend to use to infiltrate Israel and carry out terror attacks against Israelis.  I remember reporting about this in 2016 and am surprised that Israel appears to have done little about it.  Langotsky told the Israel media, “As I warned in the past, there is a high probability that Hezbollah has dug tunnels into our borders. Unfortunately, despite all that I said in the past, nothing was done about this. The rock in the north is supposed to be hard, but believe me that it’s not harder than the granite in North Korea, and the North Koreans, who are involved here in the Middle East, have dug four attack tunnels into South Korea. Every tunnel they dug was two by two metres, big enough to pass through any military vehicle short of a tank. Tunnels like that from southern Lebanon to Israel can be very unpleasant for us.”

While the situation in Syria remains deadly turbulent, regardless of who prevails, Israel loses out there as well. The most powerful opposition forces in Syria are, as within Egypt and elsewhere, the radical Islamic machine.  And then of course there is Iran!  No one seems to be talking about Iran at the moment… all appears to be quiet.  Could it be that they are keeping their heads down while happily building nuclear weapons with all the recent cash the former US President Obama blessed them with?

This is the reality confronting Israel today… and all the while, Arab members of the Knesset (Parliament) can argue with their Jewish members of Parliament; Arab justices in the Israeli High Courts can do their work with Jewish lawyers; Arab university students can study the same subjects as their Israeli peers in Israeli universities; Jewish doctors can continue treating Arab patients and Arab doctors can treat Jewish patients… and Jews and Arabs CAN walk down the same streets and get on the same buses – despite the lies that come from the lips of the BDS supporters… and all the while the Israel Apartheid Week/Months campaigns blind the eyes of more innocent young people, who although spend all their time glued to What’s App, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media sites, appear to be unable to ‘google’ the truth.  Meanwhile, Arabs elsewhere in the vast 99.9% Islamic land mass of the oil rich Middle East, long for the freedom that Israel’s own Arab citizens have…not to mention the scores of millions of non-Arabs in the rest of the Middle East who exist under various degrees of deadly subjugation at the hands of their Arab rulers.

With Iran, Syria, Hezbollah’s Lebanon, Egypt, Hamas’ Gaza and Abbas’ Palestinian controlled areas all causing dust clouds due to the uproar in the Middle East, how long we wonder before the dust clouds are caused by the stirrings of armies and tank manoeuvres?  Then of course there is the whole problem with the “West Bank”.  While it will be under continuous pressure to act against its bare minimal security needs, Israel must hold its ground and insist on not becoming some newly resurrected ‘Neville Chamberlain’s offering’ for “peace in our time a la Munich 1938.”  With its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the battle they have had since, Israel must insist there is no compromise in Judea and Samaria.  To rip out the heart and lungs, the body dies… and so too will Israel, if she gives up the Biblical Mountains of Israel.  The nation of Israel must never become the nine to fifteen mile wide sub-state, practically begging to be destroyed, that the armistice lines – not borders – of 1949 left it as after surviving the combined invasion of a five Arab nations armies upon its rebirth in 1948. After the renewed Arab attempt on its life in 1967, Israel was promised more defensible and more secure borders. No amount of arm twisting and PLO tirades can erase the basic justice of this. And any future deal with Syria cannot include the giving up of the very strategic Golan Heights.  Whatever ill-focused views the world may peer at Israel with, one thing is for certain – without the clear vision that Israel had upon her rebirth in 1948, anything but the strong resolute spirit of the Jewish people – may result in something far more serious than a nagging headache.

Reason to be cheerful

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Having written what I have above, it does sound as if I should be wearing a placard with the words ‘the end of the world is nigh’ upon it.  Is it really that bad you might well ask?  Sadly, it could get a lot worse.  With anti-Semitism being at its highest for 70 plus years, which means it’s as high now, if not higher, than in the 1930s, we can expect many battles ahead, and many more Jewish people deciding that the safest place is actually within Israel.  However, as 70s pop star Ian Dury & The Blockheads once sang (of a sort) there are still many ‘reason to be cheerful’.  On each occasion when travelling to Israel, as soon as my feet touch the ground, I feel I’m home.  What is it about this place that I love?  How can this troubled land of Israel bring me such joy and peace, yet cause me to grieve too?  Has it got something to do with my Jewish roots?  Maybe!  Yet I know many Christians feel the same way. Without doubt, God has chosen the land of Israel for His purposes, promises and Covenant people.  It might be a political minefield, yet it is truly an amazing place.

These past few weeks one of our friends from Israel has been back in the UK at our fellowship.  Julie and her husband Marc made Aliyah to Israel over three years ago, and now live in Korazim in Northern Israel.  It was funny listening to her stating that it was “so cold in the UK”.  Well it was the north east of England after all!  Of course in Israel, spring started many weeks ago, but even in the UK, we have seen spring starting to ‘lift our spirits up’.

In the scripture I use at the top of this report – of Isaiah 35 – we read of a time when the Israeli wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose! It even states it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice!  I know I have painted a dark picture in the above article, and without doubt, we need to soak Israel in our intercession… however, I like to think that Israel is not just a disturbing item on the news, mostly wrongly biased in favour of the Arab world, showing them as the victims of Israeli oppression (as in the #IsraelApartheidWeek supporters propaganda). It is not the tragic place of apartheid and hatred of the Arab Palestinian (as I proved in last week’s report).  Yes, the situation is very complex, with both sides suffering at times, and these two different societies and cultures claiming the same piece of land. However, this precious land is also a very beautiful country, not just holy to many religions, but spectacular in its diversity of natural scenes and culture.  And what’s more, when we look at the season of spring, man really has no excuse to proclaim there is no God!  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20).

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Every year around February/March time, flowers start to blossom all around Israel until the end of June, in waves and cycles.  I’ve travelled many times towards the Galilee, and the sight of wild red poppies certainly gladdened the heart.  As one approaches Jerusalem, one can see how it is spread over many hills, and all around it are mountains, and of course there are plenty of Almond trees scattered around the city.  The Jewish people of course carry almond boughs on festival days. Aaron, in the days of Moses, cut his staff from the almond. The Jewish menorah is said to represent the staff of Aaron and its branches are fashioned to resemble almond fruits. According to the Bible (Numbers 17:1), Moses put twelve rods/staffs ~ representing the twelve tribes of Israel ~ into the tabernacle in order to choose from among them which tribe should furnish the high priest. Next day, the almond rod, representing the tribe of Levi, was found to be covered with leaves and blossoms.  As we watch the wilderness bloom, and the Almond trees blossom, not only can we hope and pray for better times for the Nation of Israel, we can look to the faithfulness of the LORD, who despite what we see amidst the troubles, keeps His promises, and will remain faithful ~ both to us – His Church, and His people Israel (“I see the branch of an almond tree…” The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jeremiah 1:11-12).

For those who are blessed to be in Israel during the peak wildflower season of mid-February to late March, Israel offers the most amazing places to see beauty growing wild.  Down in the north-western Negev, one can enjoy the red carpets of anemones in the Reim Recreation Area and the Ruhama Forest, and there is still plenty of colour to see in late March and April.  On the road just south of Beit Shemesh in the Elah Valley, more anemones appear to grow everywhere along with Givat Hatourmasim (Lupine Hill) where purple lupine (along with many other species) are in full bloom.  Along with this, the Judean plains are awash with colourful wildflowers – you’ll even see almond trees and cactus flowers in bloom, and in Misgav in northern Israel, anemone’s bring wonderful colour to the land. To see some beautiful photos of the flowers of Israel click here: http://www.flowersinisrael.com/Anemonecoronaria_page.htm.

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[Above photos by D Soakell]

However, did you know that even around the Dead Sea, life is far from ‘dead’?  In a wonderful short film called ‘Treasures of the Dead Sea’ one can view some amazing wildlife.  The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 423 metres (1,388 foot) below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land.  Yet even here there is life in abundance from Desert Tawney Owls to the Arabian fox.  In the following film, you’ll be amazed as you watch the gazelle, striped Hyena, wolves, Nubian Ibex, Golden Eagles, Mourning Wheatear birds, the gorgeous Little Green Bee Eaters, White storks, Honey Buzzards and much more.  As birds migrate along the Dead Sea shores, be amazed, and see the splendour of how the Lord God indeed upholds all His promises to the Land of Israel.

Click here:

 

And finally…

As mentioned above, Julia and I will be speaking in the Isle of Wight next week.  All details can be found below.  The weekend before that however, we will be speaking in Norfolk. For details of that event email me at david@cfi.org.uk

David and Julia Soakell weekend flyer

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Land of Apartheid?

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[Above picture created by D Soakell]

According to the Scriptures, Israel is the land of milk and honey.  When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He informed Moses that He would redeem the Israelis and bring them to a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8).  This is the Land of the Bible; the land God gave to the Jewish people as an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:8; 26:3 4; 35:12; Psalm 105:8- 11). Israel is also the only true democracy within the Middle East, with Jews, Arabs and Christians living in this tiny area of land the size of Wales.  And let’s not forget that within this Jewish State, when I mention Arabs living there, Israel has nearly 2 million Arabs living in complete safety – and when one considers that in the rest of the Middle East (which is 99.9% of the land mass) there has been and still is genocide going on.  This genocide has been going on for years and years in the Islamic Middle East in general and Syria in particular. Islamic group ISIS have killed multitudes of Christian and other minorities; and in Syria, Shia Muslims join Alawite Muslims to exterminate Sunni Muslims – basically Muslims killing Muslims. This is the classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation.  So when we take all this into account, Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Muslims are actually safe.

So when we sit back and look at the whole picture of the Middle East, why do we have this evil battle raging from various political groups throwing false accusations around, boycotting Israel, and promoting this ongoing ‘Israel Apartheid Week’?  These actions of the BDS campaigners are slanted by those whose only agenda is to denigrate the only Jewish Nation on earth.  Is it a coincidence that as the holiday of Purim kicks in, which is quickly followed by Passover in April (another celebration of the Jewish peoples freedom from slavery and the enemy), Israel Apartheid Week – which isn’t a week at all – takes place?

‘Israel Apartheid Week 2017’ happens during March and April in dozens of cities across the world.  According to the official ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ website, they describe themselves as an organisation who offers, “An international series of events that seeks to raise awareness of Israel’s settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”  They state that they are, “Inspired by the popular resistance across historic Palestine and struggles worldwide, IAW 2016 included a wide range of events, from lectures, film screenings, cultural performances, BDS actions, to postering in metro stations, setting up apartheid walls on campuses, and many more. These actions took place in more than 225 cities across the world.”  The anti- Israel organisation go on to state, “The coming year (2017) will mark 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration. IAW will be an opportunity to reflect on this resistance and further advance BDS campaigns for the continued growth and impact of the movement.

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As you will see from the above quotes from the ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ website, there are many serious errors.  First of all, do any of their actions and protests actually help the Arab Palestinians?  No, they offer no help to the Arab Palestinians – only hatred towards the Israel. In fact it’s worse than that, they actually cause suffering to the Arabs such as when the Israeli Soda-Stream had to make the Arab Palestinians redundant due to the BDS movement.   They mention a “historic Palestine”.  The only historic Palestine was a Jewish Palestine – a land given by God in an eternal covenant that was changed from Israel to Palestina by the Romans.  There never has been an Arab country or State called Palestine run by Arabs.  And of course the biggest error is regarding apartheid in Israel.  If apartheid was in Israel there wouldn’t be Arab members of the Knesset, or Parliament; If apartheid was in Israel there wouldn’t be Arab justices in the Israeli High Court; If apartheid was in Israel there wouldn’t be Arab university students studying the same subjects as their Israeli peers in Israeli universities; If apartheid was in Israel, there wouldn’t be Jewish doctors treating Arab patients and Arab doctors treating Jewish patients; If apartheid was in Israel there couldn’t be suicide bombers on buses or knife attacks on Jews or attacks in cafes, as the Arabs would not be allowed in these places.  The simple truth is – as you will see from the rest of this report – there is no apartheid in Israel and any allegations by these BDS/anti-Israel haters that there is, is a wicked lie!

The good news however, is that we are seeing breakthroughs, so do keep praying.  Very recently, a UK university cancelled an Israel Apartheid Week event because it was deemed to have contravened the government’s newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism. The University of Central Lancashire blocked an event scheduled to feature prominent anti-Israel activists after deciding it was “unlawful” under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism.  The panel session, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, was to include anti-Israel activist Ben White, who once said he could “understand” why people are anti-Semites.  Other universities, including Essex, Liverpool and Sussex, are also giving active consideration to similar bans, with numerous events scheduled to take place on campuses over the next two months under the annual ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ banner.

As mentioned, on the evening of Saturday, March 11, 2017 the Jewish people commemorate the survival of their own people in ancient Persia from the threat of annihilation at the hand of the powerful and evil ‘political leader’ Haman.  Through prayer and the actions of brave people, these plans against God’s people were turned on their head. Let’s pray that we will have more victories against these anti-Semitic events, and that people would know the truth.

Testimonies of the truth.

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[Above photo: David Soakell interviewing a young IDF soldier in the Negev]

As I state above, if people can declare that Israel is an apartheid state, why are Arab Christians and Muslims serving in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF)?  Disproving the lie that Israel is a racist, apartheid state, Israeli-Arab Christian and Muslims are joining the IDF in increasing numbers, wanting to serve their country in a meaningful way. IDF service is only mandatory for Israeli Jews.  But what of the soldiers who make these decisions to serve their country in the IDF; is it difficult for them?

One female soldier, a Christian Arab serving in a sensitive operational unit, had to overcome social challenges in her home community. After enlisting, she said, “I was walking around the [Arab] neighbourhood where I live in uniform. When people saw me they deleted me from their Facebook and erased my number from their telephone. It was very hard, but a few friends still supported me, and I have made a lot of new friends in the army.”

Another female soldier stated, “I have never been ashamed of my Muslim faith, not even in the army… I wanted to enlist because it is my duty to serve and protect my country. I want to serve in a way that makes a significant contribution.”  What I felt was equally important was the fact that this Arab Muslim soldier faces no difficulties practicing her religion while serving within the IDF.  She explained, “They allow me to go home during the Muslim Ramadan fast, once a week to be with my family.

On my many travels throughout Israel, I’ve witnessed Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, Druze and Bedouins who serve in the IDF, and who support Israel and are proud of being Israeli citizens. On one of my recent trips for ‘reporting purposes’ I was taken to the Negev and onto an army base where there were many Druze and Bedouin Arabs training in the IDF. I had many opportunities to interview the young soldiers.  The majority of the soldiers at this base were Druze; however I also met Christian Arabs in the army. You might wonder why this is.  Well, the reason is due to the fact that the majority were born in Israel. It is their own nation, and they are proud to protect it. I realise for some outside of Israel that this might be hard to grasp, but it proves yet again that Israel is not an apartheid state.

Here are a few short testimonies of people who have gone public with their names and want their stories to be told.  Ibrahim Bari is an African Muslim refugee.  He went public and stated, “It was in the army that I started to feel Israeli I learned the culture and history and that made me love the country. In the army, I made friends for life [and] would do everything to defend Israel.”

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Elinor Joseph, an Arab Christian serving in the IDF states, “I do not image myself living anywhere else.  This is my country.  When I see the [Israeli] flag waving in the wind I get excited.  My heart beats stronger.”

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Monaliza Abdo, an Arab Israeli Soldier, states, “I came to serve my country and my home.”  One testimony that the International non-profit Israel education organization, ‘StandWithUs’ use, is that of Maj. Ala Wahib – the highest ranking Muslim in the IDF.   Maj. Ala Wahib states, “Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today?  Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too?  Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences?  I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people.  When Hamas fires rockets, or Fatah encourages stabbings, we are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.”

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One final testimony with the soldiers comes from Adam Ram.  This soldier states, “My name is Adam Ram, I come from the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, and I’ve decided to break the silence!  I’ve decided to break the silence and stand against the slandering and constant defamation of Israeli soldiers and the IDF that’s going on in Israel and around the world.  I am a Bedouin, and a combat soldier in the Nachal infantry unit serving in Hebron. This post is not about left versus right or Jews versus Arabs; it’s about our everyday reality! …Anyone who’s served in Hebron knows how intense the tension between us soldiers and the Palestinian population can be.  The war is against all Israelis, regardless of who you are, because when a terrorist leaves their home with a knife, planning on murdering a soldier or a civilian, they do not care if their victim is a Jew, a Muslim, or a Christian. They do not know if you are religious, or what religion you believe in. They do not care if you voted left or right, as long as you hold a blue Israeli ID card – you are a fair target.”

Adam Ram continues, “You hear people talk about the “occupation army”, but what’s actually going on is the polar opposite, because when I saw a nine-year-old Palestinian child in the streets of Hebron and asked him if he hates us, he said that the reverse is true. No, he said, he prefers the IDF to the Palestinian police because we have values, we have respect for people’s lives, and we do not go around killing people and chopping off heads. As opposed to Daesh and other Islamic regimes, Israel is democratic and extends rights even to those who are not citizens of the state.  And when you hear the same thing from another kid, and another man, and another woman, you realize they see the IDF as their protector, letting them sleep more peacefully at night in a sense, and quite the opposite to what you might hear, they prefer you there than to be left to the failure that is the Palestinian Authority.  We do not murder or pillage, we chose to be combat soldiers and to contribute to the State of Israel. (I personally am a volunteer and wasn’t obligated to join the IDF.) We serve so that all of Israel’s citizens, our parents brothers and sisters, everyone can live peacefully and in security, without being stabbed on the street, or get blown to pieces in a bomb attack on the bus while on the way to school or work.”  If you are on Facebook, you can read his full story here.

If space allows, I’ll try and share more on these stories next week, however, here’s another ‘large hole in the argument’ for those who proclaim Israel is an apartheid state!  Over 100,000 Palestinian Arab patients were treated in Israel in 2015 – and the Israelis pay for their treatment!  Yes, in 2015, Israeli hospitals treated over 97,000 Arabs from the area the world calls ‘the West Bank’ (allowing over 100,000 people to accompany them). In addition, over 31,787 Gaza patients and escorts arrived in 2015.  At any given time there are 60-70 Gazans receiving care at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv alone.  Only 10% of the cost to care for these patients comes from the Palestinian Authority. The rest is paid for by the Israeli taxpayer.  This is while the Arab Palestinian leadership continues to pay full salaries to terrorists and their families. But they can’t be bothered to pay for medical care of their regular populace – because the Israelis will.

Israel – an apartheid state!  Really?  While the Israel Apartheid Week organisation churn out their anti-Semitism against Israel, and while the United Nations appear to do little but argue regarding Syria; Amaliah, an NGO founded by Moti Kahana in 2013, has delivered humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians along Israel’s northern border, and provides transportation for Syrian women and children into Israel for urgent medical care.  One of the projects of Amaliah is committed to building a “Safe Zone,” a designated territory in Southern Syria, which would allow Syrian civilians to have access to schools for their children and much needed medical treatment. A safe zone makes it possible to provide relief to those in need inside the country so they will not be forced to flee as refugees.  Ultimately, their objective is to create a stabilised environment that will catalyse the rebuilding of Syrian civil society, and pave the way for friendly and supportive relations with Syria’s neighbours.  In the following video, you can view a bus picking up Syrians who need help and taking them to Israel for medical care.

As mentioned, the ‘Israel Apartheid Week 2017’ website describes themselves as an organisation who offers, “An international series of events that seeks to raise awareness of Israel’s settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”  They state that they are, “Inspired by the popular resistance across historic Palestine.”  I think you can clearly see that that statement is a total nonsense.  As for an historic Palestine?  Well let’s hear what Danny Ayalon, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the United States has to say.  Here he explains the facts about Jerusalem and the Jewish People in just 4 minutes:

 

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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