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

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

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

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

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

Just two little boys

Two little Boys - DavidSoakellNewsReport

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Zion, for whom no one cares

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

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

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

A view from the Golan Heights

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

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

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

Golan Heights to Damascus

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

Netanyahu still the right man?

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

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

1967 borders - your point is

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

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in the gap for Israel report 18/08

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

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

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

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

What is God revealing today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel strengthening their deterrence & readiness for emergencies

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

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

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

Radical preacher jailed in UK; Hamas official arrested in Ramallah

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

Anjem-Choudary-Sharia

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

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

UK charities funding Hamas?

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

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

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in the gap for Israel report 08/10

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

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

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

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

When sport gets ugly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaza… who holds the keys?

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

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

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

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

Palestine deleted from the map

Google-Map-Earth

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

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

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in the gap for Israel report 08/03

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

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

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

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

The Dead Sea Fishing company

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

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

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

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

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

Israel – the only true democracy with freedom of worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on New Wine

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

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

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

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in the Gap for Israel report 07/21

Please note: I am working for CFI at New Wine over the next two weeks. I will attempt to write a report during this time; however this may not be possible.  See more below.

The Word:  Therefore if you have been raised with the Messiah [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  (Colossians 1:1-4)

This is what everyone faithful should pray at a time when You can be found. Then, when the floodwaters are raging, they will not reach to him. You are my hiding-place, You will keep me from distress; You will surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.  (Psalm 32:6 &7)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we come before the Lord in prayer, specifically for the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, but also the church at large, pray we would be filled with the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), that He would lead and guide us through all the issues relating to this report, and that He would fill us with all needed gifting and grace, but also to be able to discern.  Pray that the Lord would give us all the authority over the enemy, and those people who are influenced by them.

israel flagmovingPlease bring this word before the Lord and test it out – both for the nation of Israel, and for each Believer in the Lord. Sometimes we can focus too much on the negative; on Islam/Palestinian issues; on the problems that Israel faces; upon terrorism; upon even our lack of faith and other troubles. All these issues are highly important to the Lord and I have no desire to ‘belittle’ them, however sometimes I need/we need to be reminded of the Truth of God, and come against any spirit of fear.  “My waters cover the earth (Habakkuk 2:14), and majestic mountains rise up out of the sea, declaring My strength, My glory. The skies and heavens are spread out like a canopy over the earth, and so I cover you this day, this moment. The winds move at My command. The rivers and seas are held within their banks at My word. All things are held together within bounds by My power. I am the beginning and the end of all things (Revelation 21:6). Nothing is hidden from Me, and all is held in the palm of My hand (Hebrews 4:13). Every molecule has My attention. How much more, then, do you have My heart and affectionate attention? In light of this, the circumstances you are experiencing are but drops in the sea of My capabilities. I use them as opportunities to instruct, removing the enemy’s plan to discourage you from the way I have chosen for you to walk.”

Seeking His covering

Hiding Place 2

As I mention above, I will be working at New Wine over the next two weeks (along with other CFI staff and reps – more on this shortly).  I will attempt to write a report during this time; however this may not be possible, so if you do not receive any reports over the next two weeks, this will be the reason.  However I will attempt a report at some stage over this period.

In my last report you received, I stated that some would say, ‘Doomsday is approaching’, and one would think so by all the negative press we have been reading/viewing from the media regarding the recent EU vote of Britain leaving Europe.  Since then, we have seen various terrorist attacks and uprisings, not to mention a new Government in the UK (again more on this later).  Three weeks ago, after sending out my last report, my wife and I took a two week vocation – one that was greatly needed – to recuperate and seek God’s refreshing.  One of the Scriptures I’ve been reflecting on over this period is from Sha’ul’s (Paul) letter to the early Messianic Community in Colossae from Colossians chapter 3.  This was due to a lovely encounter I had at a small cove on Cephalonia (Kefalonia).

I’ve always had a fascination with the ocean and the amazing colours and intriguing shapes of coral and fish still excite me when I get the opportunity to dive in clear warm waters. The wonders of the sea are another testament to me of God’s beautiful creations!  Busy feeding the large variety of fish with bread I’d carried out, the undersea world was awash with an amazing sight.  On these occasions, I love diving as deep as I can, and allowing the buoyancy of the water to slowly allow me to float up through the bubbles and streams of light cascading through the sea.  However on one occasion I realised that the strong current was pulling me into a small cove.  It was the tiniest of beaches under a cave.  As I scrambled to my feet, I was suddenly sitting alone in this small cave as the sea washed up, lapping at my feet.

The first time I went to this place, I must have sat there for 30 minutes, thanking the Lord for this beautiful isolated location.  And as I sat, reflecting on the beauty, I felt a sense of deep peace, knowing that this is just how the Lord wants to hold each and every one of us – hiding us in His wings (He will shelter you with His wings; you will find safety under His wings. His faithfulness is like a shield… Psalm 91:4), or of being ‘hidden’ in Messiah (Colossians 1:3) – after all, He is our ‘hiding place’ (Psalm 32).  Not that God will keep us from the battle, but that He will be our rest, and or protection – if we allow Him.  As Charles Spurgeon once stated, “The Spirit of God testifies to and confirms the simple, but almighty, security of the life that “is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul continually brought this out in his New Testament letters… It is the most secure thing possible, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live without God.”

Sha’ul (Paul) of course wrote many letters to many different ‘churches’.  Colossae was an ancient city of Phrygia in Asia Minor (now part of Turkey), and was the location of a Messianic community to which the Apostle addressed his letter. Colossae was populated by peoples of Greek and Hebrew origin (according to sources, Antiochus the Great relocated there two thousand Jewish families from Babylonia and Mesopotamia). Phrygia, during the heroic age of Greek mythology, had several legendary kings – Midas who turned whatever he touched to gold and Mygdon who warred with the Amazons (these were mythical woman warriors – nothing to do with online shopping) were just two.  Is there any wonder that when Paul took his Hebraic Christianity to these places, he had to deal with people with a lot of ‘baggage’?

In many ways however, after nearly two thousand years of a Greek/Hellenistic version of Christianity, which never really recovered since Roman Emperor Constantine the Great reigned (306–337 AD), those of us who understand the Hebraic roots (which incidentally has nothing to do with legalism!), have a battle on our hands – and this is just one reason why groups like Christian Friends of Israel need to be at events like New Wine.  As I joked with a friend of mine, after my holidays in Kefalonia, I may need ‘de-greecing’ upon my return – as indeed much of the church does today.  And so, starting Saturday 23rd July 2016, Christian Friends of Israel will be working at the New Wine Festival in Somerset.

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New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, National Gatherings, training events and resources. The vision and desire of New Wine is to see the nation changed through Christians experiencing the move of God in their lives.  The New Wine Team long to see churches renewed, strengthened and planted, living out the Word of God in every aspect of life, serving God by reaching the lost, broken and poor, and demonstrating the good news of the Kingdom of God to all. This vision is what every Christian should desire, and many Christians (approximately 30,000 delegates according to statistics) attend this two week event at Shepton Mallet in Somerset and are really blessed by this. However, approximately 80% of the Church in the UK has no understanding of the importance of standing with the nation of Israel, or just why God is bringing back His Jewish people to the State of Israel.

On top of this, I believe the Church needs to understand that standing with Israel is not about politics… but rather, is about the Word of God and the honour of God’s Name. However the political ramifications are extremely important; relevant, and demanding. The issue with replacement theology; the issue of being uninformed with the truth and the issue of the hallowing of God’s Holy Name (Ezekiel 36) are all crucial issues.  And so, if you are coming to New Wine over this two week period, do look out for the Christian Friends of Israel stand and come and say “hello”. However if you can’t make this event, do pray that we would have an excellent response and pray for revelation of the truth regarding Israel for the 80% of the Christians attending that have no real understanding of this issue. Ultimately, do pray that we would know the Lord’s covering and speak only from His leading. (https://www.new-wine.org/summer-16).

Troubles abound

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As stated earlier, in my last report I mentioned that some would say, ‘Doomsday is approaching’, and one would think so by all the negative press we have been reading/viewing from the media regarding the recent EU vote of Britain leaving Europe.  Since then, we have seen various terrorist attacks and uprisings, not to mention a new Government in the UK.  Yes, it’s amazing what one can actually miss if one switches off all communication for a couple of weeks.  In Turkey, President Erdogan has tightened his grip on power following the unsuccessful coup, raising fears he will take advantage of the situation to further crack down on political opponents. The uprising left at least 290 people dead and more than 1,400 injured.  Other headlines recently have been regarding further shootings in America, and German axe attack with an Islamic State flag found in a teenager’s room.  In the UK, Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May wasted no time in appointing her first cabinet. She entered her official residence at 10 Downing Street and made Philip Hammond the Chancellor and Boris Johnson as the Foreign Secretary (and in charge of MI6).  Boris Johnson immediately attacked the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad stating Assad must go if the suffering of his people is to end.  Few people foresaw the ex-London mayor and lead Brexit campaigner getting such a senior role – however in many ways, it is good news for Israel, as Boris is a strong supporter of the Jewish nation.  No sooner had the new appointments been made when The Commons voted by 472 votes to 117 to renew the UK’s submarine-carried nuclear missile system, Trident. Despite renewal being party policy, Labour had a free vote on the issue. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the plan while 140 of his MPs backed it – which only adds to the blatant obvious issue that surely Corbyn’s days as leader must be numbered.

And of course the horrific tragedy in Nice once again brought France to its knees in a third terrorist attack and proves Isis can strike almost anywhere.  Reports state that those believed to be linked to the man who killed 84 people in Nice are now in police custody.  A news agency linked to the ISIS group, Amaq Agency, said: “He did the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State.

The whole world was once again rightly shocked when the Islamic Terrorist, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a lorry into crowds marking Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday before he was shot dead by police. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.  However – there are two issues here that have appeared to be ignored: Firstly, the very style of the Nice terror attack is something that is often carried out by Palestinian Authority ruled terrorists and of which is well known to all Israelis where Arab Palestinians have killed and injured far too many Israeli Jews by using lorries, vans, cars, and tractors by driving them at innocent Israeli civilians. Secondly, although it is right that we hear world condemnation every time we hear of terrorist attacks in every country in the world (barring one)… why oh why is the world silent when the exact same horrific attacks happen to Israelis within their own country?

In July alone in Israel, Palestinian Arab gunmen opened fire on a family vehicle near Hebron on July 1, killing an Israeli man and wounding his wife and two teenage children. The terrorists attacked from a passing vehicle, causing the victims’ car to flip over. The mother remains in serious condition with gunshot wounds to the head.  A day earlier, a Palestinian Arab stabbed two Israelis in the coastal town of Netanya.  This week, on July 17, Israeli security officials thwarted a major terrorist attack when they identified and detained a Palestinian man attempting to board the city’s light rail with a bag full of pipe bombs. The incident occurred along the busy pedestrian mall on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem.  These of course are only a few of the recent terrorist attacks, but why is the world’s media not reporting them?  And why do the Western Media largely ignore the fact that every year, while kids around the world are diving into swimming pools to beat the summertime heat, some 30,000 Palestinian children and teenagers are being brainwashed as they are trained in the ways of terrorism at Hamas’ camps in the Gaza Strip. The 25 different camps located throughout Gaza, all run by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, include a wide variety of activities to keep their ‘campers’ busy such as military training with live fire, combat tactics, and explicit religious indoctrination.

Dear President Abbas

pm

Of course the training of Islamic terrorists mentioned above are all done via Hamas in Gaza, however the Fatah/PLO/Palestinian Authority are no better.  This is the message Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had to give to the PA’s Abbas: “President Abbas, since over the past several years, you have refused to meet me and sit down and negotiate peace, I hope you’ll hear this message. First, your advisor, Sultan Abu al Einein recently called to slit the throat of every Israeli. Three days later, a Palestinian terrorist turned these words into action when he slit the throat of a 13-year-old beautiful girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, as she slept. She was a little, innocent girl. She didn’t deserve this. I ask that you fire this advisor because advocating genocide is not consistent with peace. Second, your party recently praised a terrorist on Facebook who murdered 24 civilians, innocent Israelis in cold blood. I ask that you to pick up the phone and instruct your party’s social media manager to stop praising mass murderers. Impressionable children read these posts. They should be taught harmony, not hate. Such words seriously harm the chances of peace.”

Netanyahu continues, “Third, next week the Palestinian Authority will dedicate a monument to Abu Sukar. Abu Sukar murdered 15 people by detonating a refrigerator filled with explosives on a busy Jerusalem street.  Rather than dedicate a statue to a mass-murderer, I ask that you consider honouring a champion of co-existence.  This will help educate future generations to love peace over war, compassion over violence.  It will also help convince Israelis that they have a true partner for peace.  Fourth, the PLO currently pays a monthly salary to anyone who murders Jews.  This money provides direct incentive to commit terror.  I ask that you stop paying murderers and instead use this money to fund co-existence education, teach tolerance not terror.  Fifth, every Israeli and Palestinian child deserves a life of hope, of tranquillity and opportunity.  I will continue to work tirelessly for peace.  It’s time that you join this effort.”  You can watch the speech via CFI UK’s website here: http://www.cfi.org.uk/news.php?article=166

Finally… breaking news from the Golan

According to reports coming in (Wednesday July 20) the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) on Israel’s northern border are on high alert following an incident in which a border patrol near Metulla came under fire from inside Lebanese territory, lightly wounding one soldier. Hours later, reports surfaced that Israeli aircraft struck Assad regime targets in the Syrian zone of the Golan Heights, but a statement by the regime denied this, saying it was rebel factions which fired on the position.  The Golan is a very strategic area of Israel with the borders of Syria (north east) and the borders of Lebanon (north).  With Hezbollah in Lebanon and Isis / Assad’s forces in Syria, Israel have been on high alert for some time.  Do pray for all who have to protect the nation of Israel, and pray that they would know the promises of Psalm 32:7.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in The Gap for Israel report 06/30

Please note: I’m on annual leave from July 1, 2016.  The next report will be July 21, 2016.

 The Word:  He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers… He brings princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown… when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal says the Holy One? Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. (Isaiah 40:22-28)

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (I Timothy 2:1-2)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As it states in 1Timothy 2:1-2, and in light of the recent UK vote of pulling out of the EU, let us bring both the UK government and the European countries before the Lord and pray that they would enquire of the Lord God regarding how they respond to this vote.  Pray too that the UK would stay united and desire to hold onto their Judeo/Christian heritage and specifically how they view the Nation of Israel.

israel flagmovingIn the midst of continuing troubles within Israel, which is being provoked from the Palestinian Authority (PA), pray for encouragement, strength and perseverance for the Israeli people in the face of constant physical opposition. Pray that ordinary Jewish and Arab people, whether living in Israel proper or what the world terms as the “territories”, will have a desire for reconciliation and to live side by side in peace and harmony.

Is the world really crashing around us?

End Times

Some say… ‘Doomsday is approaching’, and one would think so by all the negative press we have been reading/viewing from the media regarding the recent EU vote of Britain leaving Europe.  I don’t often take much notice of what Politicians state, however I couldn’t help but smile at the recent comments made by the English journalist and politician Suzanne Evans, best known for being a past spokesperson for UKIP who stated, “As soon as we voted to leave the EU, the Prime Minister resigned; The Pound plummeted; The FTSE 100 lost significant ground. – Not a great start then! But then the pound rallied past February levels, and the FTSE closed on a weekly high: 2.4% up on last Friday, its best performance in 4 months.  President Obama decided we wouldn’t be at the ‘back of the queue’ after all and that our ‘special relationship’ was still strong. The French President confirmed the Le Touquet agreement would stay in place. The President of the European Commission stated Brexit negations would be ‘orderly’ and stressed the UK would continue to be a ‘close partner’ of the EU. A big bank denied reports it would shift 2,000 staff overseas. The CBI, vehemently anti-Brexit during the referendum campaign, stated British business was resilient and would adapt. Several countries outside the EU stated they wished to begin bi-lateral trade talks with the UK immediately. If this was the predicted apocalypse, well, it was a very British one. It was all over by teatime. Not a bad first day of freedom.”  Well, if only it was as simple as that, however I have been shocked at the response from the ‘Remain’ campaigners and their demand for another referendum.  Like a friend of my son’s stated, “Its daft isn’t it. Perhaps England should keep re-playing the football until we win the Euros. It’s only fair because most of us want England to win.”  I thought that was really funny, especially in light of the Iceland result!

However, this whole issue of Britain leaving the EU is a very serious matter, and the Remain campaigners need to accept the result and start pulling together to make Britain strong again.  However there is no room here for the Leave campaigners to gloat.  We all need to unite and as it states in 1Timothy 2:1-2, bring both the UK government and the European countries before the Lord and pray that we would enquire of the Lord God regarding how we respond to this vote.  Of equal importance, I believe the Church needs to stand up and be counted – whether half of the UK church/Christians voted to stay whilst the other half voted to leave, there is no room here for division (Psalm 133).  We need to pray that the UK would stay united and desire to hold onto their Judeo/Christian heritage and specifically how they view and treat the Nation of Israel.

In a similar way, Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice wrote on 27th June 2016, “What a shambles! Brexit has not just upset the political applecart but kicked the apples all around the street. The Prime Minister said he would stay on to ‘steady the ship’ but his comment about ‘why should I do the hard ****’ shows he has turned the engines off and left the wheel. Boris, who never expected Leave to win, thinks we shouldn’t rush into invoking Article 50. Meanwhile, the Opposition is in turmoil after Jeremy Corbyn’s 70% campaign to Remain. What a shambles! Continue to give thanks to God, but take no pleasure in the politicians’ discomfort. Pray for there to be a Government and an Opposition!”  To read more on David Cameron’s statement, click here.

Speaking about ‘The Divine in the human’, Duncan Campbell once said: “In God’s creative plan, man holds a unique place, distinct in this respect that he alone of God’s creation is capable of God-consciousness. This consciousness is as much a part of the human spirit as any other fact of the human beingThe consciousness of man is awakened 100 fold when the spirit of man is born again.”  If this is so, and we have the Word of God as a direct guide to God’s promise for both us as individuals, and as the body of the church, along with the Promises of the Lord of the restoration of Israel… why is it that a large percentage of the church still remains asleep or worse, opposes the acts of God regarding the people and Nation of Israel?  Let each of us seek God’s face, and beseech Him that this ‘United Kingdom’ (Including Scotland, Ireland and Wales) would pull together, remain united, and stand on the Biblical foundation and principles that this nation was built upon.  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary – Isaiah 40:28.  He is the only One we can look to.  He alone is our rock.

The cry of Fatah, echoes of ISIS

Muslim Palestinians stone Jewish worshippers

If you thought it was impossible for the Palestinian Authority, run by Mahmoud Abbas, to shock me, then you’d be wrong.  I was not only shocked, but fuming after reading a report by Itamar Marcus of the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).  According to this latest report, Abbas’ advisor and Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu Al-Einein is one of the many Fatah leaders who regularly refute the myth that Fatah is moderate and peace promoting. During an interview with an Arab Palestinian news agency about building peaceful and normal relations with Israel, Abu Al-Einein explained that he rejects any “negotiations, meetings, and normalization” activities and believes when a Palestinian meets an Israeli he should kill him.  In language and actions that resemble the hideous Islamic group ISIS, Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor, Sultan Abu Al-Einein stated, “Regarding the matter of normalization [with Israel] and the participation of members of the Fatah leadership and members of the PLO Executive Committee in Israeli conferences, if you would ask me about my personal position, I would tell you – every place you find an Israeli cut off his head. Likewise, I am against talks, negotiations, meetings, and normalization in all its forms with the Israeli occupation.” [Donia Al-Watan (Palestinian news agency), June 27, 2016].

PMW’s Itamar Marcus writes, “Based on his previous statements and Facebook posts it is clear that his statement promoting murder should be taken literally. Abu Al-Einein has stated in the past that killing Jews/Israelis is not merely a Palestinian national goal but is what Allah demands of Palestinians as an Islamic necessity. After a bloody terror attack in November 2014 in which 4 rabbis were murdered during prayer in a synagogue in Jerusalem, Abbas’ advisor posted pictures of the dead rabbis and a picture of their blood on his Facebook page to celebrate the murder. He wrote that the butchering of the rabbis with axes and kitchen knives was “the heroic operation at the religious Zionist institute.””

Following this, the Palestinian Authority continued with its unabated lies by teaching its youth that Israel does not exist and that all of Israel’s land is part of “Palestine.”   To celebrate that the World Organization of the Scout Movement in February 2016 recognized “Palestine” as a full member, PA Chairman Abbas sponsored an event for the Palestinian Scout Association this week at which senior PA officials handed out plaques of honour decorated with the PA map of “Palestine” which presents all of Israel as “Palestine”.  Giving out these plaques were Jibril Rajoub, Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and Head of the Supreme Council and Laila Ghannam, District Governor of Ramallah. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that both of them as policy deny Israel’s right to exist, support terror and glorify terrorists.  This same denial of Israel’s existence was taught to young children on the PA TV program The Best Home, which is entertaining very young children daily during Ramadan. In a quiz, the TV host asked a boy who called in to the program what is “the size of Palestine”. The host and the puppet Ramzi taught that “the size of Palestine is 27,000 sq. km.” However, the combined area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is only 6,220 sq. km. Only by adding the area of the State of Israel, excluding the Golan Heights, does the area of “Palestine” reach 27,000 sq. km.  See the proof via YouTube here.

So what are the fruits of all this?  Well, mayhem ensued on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Sunday morning, when a group of masked Arabs threw rocks, metal objects, and chairs at the Jewish people. According to police, who provided video of the disturbance, the group of 11 observant Jews were targeted in what appeared to be a premeditated attack. At least 100 Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar” (god is greatest), as well as slurs, threw stones at the Jews. Despite being goaded by the assailants, the video shows heavily armed police remaining calm throughout the onslaught and negotiating with imams and Muslim Wakf personnel to restore calm.  Then on Tuesday June 28, Palestinians threw rocks at Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, striking a woman of 73 in the head, on a third day of confrontations involving the adjacent Temple Mount.  Israeli Paramedics said they treated the woman at the scene for head injuries. Police arrested masked protesters they said were involved in the clashes, including the hurling of stones at the Western Wall.  The result? Muslims riot, so Jews are barred from the Temple Mount.  It’s shocking that upon the Temple Mount, freedom of worship is non-existent and Sharia Law rules.

Meanwhile, as you may remember, I reported last week that the PA leader Abbas had stated that a Jewish Rabbi had poisoned what he classed as ‘Palestinian wells’.  Well, one week later and Abbas admitted the reports of the rabbi poisoning the wells were false.  The Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas back peddled on his controversial statements he made during a speech in front of the European Union (EU) parliament on Thursday that alleged Israeli rabbis had incited to poison Palestinian water wells.  A statement released by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) late Friday evening admitted that the reports on which Abbas had based his statements were not true.  Well of course they weren’t true, as the alleged Rabbi he named responsible didn’t even exist!  Following this the Palestinian Authority released a statement that said, “After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world.”

While the main thrust of Abbas’s speech to the EU parliament centred on condemning the international community’s complacency with Israel’s alleged “illegal” occupation, his blatant lies regarding the Israeli rabbis made headlines and sparked outrage in Israel.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the speech, accusing Abbas of spreading a medieval-era “blood libel.” “Israel awaits the day when Abbas stops spreading lies and dealing in incitement. Until then, Israel will continue to defend itself against Palestinian incitement, which motivates acts of terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

Lamenting UN’s hostile stance towards Israel.

Jerusalem Israel UN

Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged the United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to work towards freeing Israeli citizens held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.  Speaking at a joint press conference with the UN chief, who is in Israel on his last tour of the Middle East before handing over to his successor, Netanyahu lamented the UN’s often hostile stance towards Israel.  Starting off rather graciously, Netanyahu stated, “The UN has a noble mandate to protect peace around the world and bring nations closer together.  During his years of service the Secretary General has travelled the globe many times in service of these ideals, ideals which Israel shares.” However, Netanyahu soon cut to the chase by stating, “I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias.  That’s an understatement. But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candour and this clear moral stance… Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting [See last week’s report regarding this subject]. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East. Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate. So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN. I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it’s not just for Israel’s sake. It’s for the credibility of the UN.”

Netanyahu then spoke at length about the injustice of Hamas and the fact that they have still not released Israeli soldiers.  He stated, “I want to thank you Mr. Secretary for agreeing to meet with the Goldin, Shaul and Mangisto families. Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens. It’s a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas and its criminal activities is of course throwing into the winds. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn’t merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the earth a member state of the United Nations.  I hope the UN will highlight Hamas’s crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat and we use judicious force in this regards. I don’t know what any other country, faced with thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at our citizens, at our children, would do differently. Many have done it differently and they have not used the restraint and the responsibility that Israel uses. I know you are aware of all this, we’ve spoken about it many, many times. We’ve had many meetings and many productive meetings and once again I want to thank you for your many years of dedicated service to diplomacy and to the advancement of noble ideals, however distant they are today. Again, I want to thank you and I want to welcome you to Jerusalem.”

CFI back on Branch FM

June Branch FM

Once again I was back on Branch FM Radio, and this monthly radio show continues to grow with excellent feedback not just from people listening to the radio in the local area of West Yorkshire, but also worldwide, as the radio shows can be heard on the internet. The subjects covered this time were Israel’s Independence Day celebrations; the BDS movement; Shavuot (Pentecost); Peace talks; feeding crocodiles in Israel and even the need to live in Caves! We hope this programme will challenge the listening and that you enjoy this.  Simply click here to listen: https://www.mixcloud.com/Branchfm/christian-friends-of-israel-june-2016/ .

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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Standing in the Gap for Israel report 06/22

The Word:  The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us [or take us] up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’  And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’ (Exodus 33: 14-17)

The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with fruit! (Isaiah 27:6)

israel flagmovingPointers for prayer: As we once again approach the Throne of grace in our intercession, may we continue to cultivate absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit.  Let us begin by entering His gates with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4).  Let the high praises of God be in our mouths and a two-edged sword in our hands (Psalm 149:6).

israel flagmovingThe enemy seemingly continually comes against the people and nation of Israel, and those who stand with her, yet God is over all. The late Lance Lambert once stated, “I believe that divinely lead and empowered intercession is the only key to this dark situation. We need to know how to hide in Christ; to have the whole armour of God… and stand within His revealed purpose. May the Lord be with you all, and give us, in His mercy and loving kindness, the victory…” As the enemy does indeed press in, pray for those who stand with Israel, and the people of Israel themselves, that they will not fear but put their trust in God! (Isaiah 41:10-11)

israel flagmovingPray for a hedge of protection around the nation (Zechariah 2:5). Pray that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria & the Golan Heights would remain in Jewish hands, now and until the Messiah returns. But pray too, that the Arab communities would recognise and receive their blessing in wanting to live in harmony with Israel.

israel flagmovingWhatever the outcome of the EU vote, may we pray that we would know the will of the Lord, and we would receive the correct decision regarding this. However, do pray that the general public would realise just how much the nation of Israel blesses the UK – specifically with the technology it produces. And do continue to pray regarding those who support BDS and oppose Israel.

Knowing the will of the Lord

in or out

I’d like to continue on this week with an area I covered in last week’s report regarding the ‘mind-set of denial.’  But first, I felt led to ponder the following.  In Exodus 33, we find Moses pleading with God regarding Israel’s departure from the place where the Lord had given Moses the Torah (Exodus 31:18).  Of course, since Israel had left Egypt, the only thing the majority had done was belly-ache about wanting to return to Egypt – even though they were slaves to the Egyptians.  Even as Moses was on Mount Sinai, the people had made a golden calf to worship. It appears obvious that the people did not know the will of God, yet even Moses appeared not to grasp all that God was going to do for them. He pleads with the Lord, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us [or take us] up from here.”

Depending on when you read this report, we could at this point of the week be only hours away from the all-important day of ‘Brexit,’ or we could be in the middle of voting.  As everyone must now be aware of, the in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is taking place on Thursday June 23. Polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm.  The local results for the EU referendum will come in overnight with the national declaration expected at about breakfast time on Friday June 24.  David Cameron announced the referendum date in February after he secured a deal on revising Britain’s membership of the EU at a crunch summit.

Supporters of Brexit argue that EU countries have every incentive to keep trading with the UK, which is a large importer of goods and services.   But there is still uncertainty over what would happen if the UK leaves the EU and needs to develop new trade agreements with the rest of the world.  However, for many, the decisions and desires to leave appear to have little to do with the origins of why Britain joined the common market in the first place, and fall into the category of simply being ‘fed up’ with European politicians, who the British public neither voted in nor want, deciding on how Britain spends our money, while large sections of Britain, such as the NHS are seemingly falling apart.

As mentioned last week, Britain is currently consumed about leaving or staying in the European Union. The Leave campaigners firmly set out a “roadmap” for the UK to “take back control” if it votes to leave the EU.  Parliament should act to end free movement and curb the power of EU courts, Vote Leave said. However, the government has warned of a “decade of uncertainty” as the UK attempts to disentangle itself from Brussels and form new trade deals. But Vote Leave said a new settlement – including a UK-EU free trade deal – would be possible by May 2020.  The issue I’d been pondering on however is, why are we being all-consumed by the EU debate, when there is a much bigger international organization that we should possibly ask each other whether we would like to remain within, or vote to leave.

unhrc

With thousands upon thousands of Christians, Yazidis (Kurdish community) and even Muslims being killed by Isis (Daesh), why isn’t the United Nations demanding more action?  Well, last week, we looked at the problem that is the United Nations, and asked just why the U.N.’s top human rights body recently declared Israel as the world’s worst human rights violator- beating Iran, North Korea, Russia and China for the number 1 spot.  The last time the U.N. Human Rights Council wrapped up its session of judgement in Geneva, it adopted four more resolutions condemning Israel.  That’s four times more than any of the other 192 UN member states. If you didn’t read last week’s report, then you can do so by clicking here.

Regarding the European Union (EU) and Israel, the EU diplomatic Chief Federica Mogherini recently stressed that the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the annexed territory would “forever” remain in his country’s hands. Mogherini stated, “The EU recognizes Israel within its pre-1967 borders, whatever the government’s claims on other areas, until a final settlement is concluded, and this is a common consolidated position of the European Union and its member states,” Mogherini stated at a meeting in Brussels for international donors supporting the Palestinian economy.  Of course, for Israel to give up the Golan Heights (as indeed Judea and Samaria), would be suicidal.  We would have ISIS flooding into Israel and the results would be far more extreme that what we have experienced since giving Gaza over to the Arab Palestinians/Hamas.  But of course, Israel isn’t even part of the EU. Although Israel is not geographically located in Europe, it is a member in many European transnational federations and frameworks and takes part in many European sporting events. Various Israeli ministers have however expressed that they would like to see Israel in the EU.  But, in reality, Israel are not members of the EU, which, taking into account what David Cameron stated in a news item on Monday June 20, makes a bit of an awkward moment for the UK Prime Minister.

Boulby PotAsh

David Cameron was very selective when he paid a visit to Redditch on Monday, June 20 to visit car interior giant Grupo Antolin’s facility in North Moons Moat. The Spanish-owned company employs 600 people in Redditch and the PM was on a tour to emphasise just how important being a member of the EU is to Great Britain and for British jobs and opportunities.  The facility specialises in making door panels for BMW’s Mini, and the German giant’s Oxford factory was the next stage of Mr Cameron’s automotive supply chain journey to bring home the message that Britain must remain in the EU so that the UK will be able to continue to trade as the ‘in – out’ referendum nears.  However, not far from our home lies a huge complex called Boulby Mine, a 200-hectare (that’s 490-acres) site located on the north-east coast of the North York Moors and is owned by a non EU Israeli company.  The mine has 1,001 employees and can produce up to one million tonnes of potash each year. At 1,400 metres deep, it is the second deepest mine of any kind in Europe, and has a network of underground roads extending under the North Sea, totalling 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) in length.

Today we all know the story of Israel the start-up nation. News of its technological prowess and incredible innovation has spread far and wide. But what many people don’t know is that Israel is exporting far more than just technology. It is also sharing its experience and skills in a whole range of humanitarian and environmental fields to help people everywhere live better, fuller and healthier lives. On top of this, Israel also produce an awful lot of modern technology in many areas of Britain, including our hospital machinery, however Israel are not in the EU, so this won’t change.  So as you can see, there does appear to be quite a large amount of ‘fear-mongering’ or deliberate use of fear based tactics including exaggeration to influence the public in order to achieve a desired outcome – however that has been the case on both sides of the argument.

Looking at the ‘remain’ argument, Israeli policymakers have studiously avoided comment, desiring not to be seen as interfering in the UK’s internal affairs (which is more than can be said for many other nations). Israeli analysts nevertheless stress that Israel has a definite stake in the outcome, though they differ on whether a British exit would be good or bad for its interests.  Recent polls show that the race is too close to call, with the latest surveys pointing to a resurgence in support for remaining in the EU. An opinion poll for the Mail on Sunday taken June 17-18 showed 45 percent in favour of remaining and 42 percent in favour of leaving.  The stakes for Israel became greater on Monday when all 28 EU foreign ministers decided to endorse the French peace initiative, which began with a meeting in Paris earlier this month and which, according to French President Francois Hollande’s plan, will culminate in an international peace conference dedicated to relaunching Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to be held before the end of the year.

Israel strongly opposes the French initiative – especially as they weren’t even at this so-called ‘peace initiative’, seeing it as a bid to impose a solution on it against its security and interests. “International conferences like those that the EU’s foreign ministers welcomed push peace further away because they enable the Palestinians to continue to avoid direct talks and compromise,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.  Israel’s hopes of staving off the initiative and its standing vis-à-vis the EU could be set back if Britain exits the body, according to Oded Eran, senior analyst at the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. “It is preferable for Israel that Britain remain in the EU, where it is a voice of moderation in favour of Israel,” Eran told reporters.

Whatever the outcome, may we pray that we would know the will of the Lord, and we would receive the correct decision regarding this EU vote.  And so, as the pop group The Clash once sang, “should we stay, or should we go”?  And if we should go, what about getting out of the United Nations too?

Dealing with the ‘mind-set of denial.’

Open Doors Map 2016

As already mentioned, last week we looked at the problem that is the United Nations, and asked just why the U.N.’s top human rights body recently declared Israel as the world’s worst human rights violator – which is simply a gross lie.  Yet it is amazing why so many people believe that Israel is some type of monster, when in fact the opposite is true.  One question many supporters of Israel want to know is “why does the Green Party constantly target Israel?”

In many countries including Scotland, Wales and Canada (plus many others), the Green Party appear to constantly attack Israel on their policies – yet Israel is one of the ‘greenest’ countries in the world.  Take Canada for an example: Of 13 resolutions to be debated at the upcoming Green Party of Canada’s convention in August, only two deal with foreign policy – and both target Israel.  The first would make it Green Party policy to blacklist the Jewish National Fund – one of the world’s most successful environmental charities – by revoking their charitable status. The second would endorse the discriminatory, fringe Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Now I can’t believe that everyone in the Green Party are so biased that they haven’t bothered to check out the facts.

Now we know there are many political groups opposing Israel, and then there are those such as Palestine Solidarity Campaigners, who quite frankly, are not worth taking serious, but for intelligent people to take to the political table, like those within the United Nations, one has to wonder at the underlying spirit that motivates them.

Take for example the recent issue that Israel has been poisoning the Arab water supply.  How many people would honestly believe this mumbo-jumbo?  But how many people would go to the trouble of finding out the truth? Yes, the good old Palestinian Authority (PA) has revived the medieval blood libel that Jews are poisoning the wells. The PA even named a non-existent rabbi and rabbinical council as being responsible for this call to poison all Palestinian water sources.  An Official PA TV reporter stated: “An Israeli human rights organization has exposed a religious ruling issued by Rabbi Shlomo Melamed (sic), Chairman of the Council of Settlement Rabbis (sic), that gave the settlers permission to poison the drinking water and the natural wells in the [Palestinian] villages and towns throughout the West Bank.” [Official PA TV News, June 20, 2016]. Palestinian Media Watch has researched different sources to demonstrate how this libel has evolved and expanded since its beginning just a week ago. You can read their findings here: Click to view on PMW’s website.

Another lie that is often doing the rounds, especially on social media, is that apart from being an alleged ‘apartheid state’, Israel is also terrorising and killing the Palestinians.  Again, total lies, in fact the opposite is true.  Many years ago, in the late 80s, I used to take Bibles to what was then the Soviet Union, and I’ve always supported Open Doors, the international Christian persecution charity providing Bibles, training, community development projects and support for persecuted Christians.  In their World Watch Map 2016 (WWL) they list 50 countries where the most oppressive regime in contemporary times, North Korea, tops this year’s WWL for the 14th consecutive year. Eritrea and Pakistan rise to their highest levels yet, namely, number three and number six respectively, and lawless Libya also enters the Top 10 for the first time in WWL history.

Islamic extremism continues to constitute the main driving force of persecution in 35 of the Top 50 countries with Religious Nationalism and Dictatorial Paranoia also rising sharply as driving forces of persecution.  So where is that awful hate-filled ‘apartheid state’ that the U.N.’s top human rights body recently declared as the world’s worst human rights violator, and of which every ignoramus wants to boycott, cause divestments, and bring sanctions against – yes ISRAEL?  Oh hang on… they aren’t on the list!  Surely this must be a mistake?  No, there is no mistake because all these accusations against Israel are about as real as the tooth fairy!  But guess who is on the list at number 24?  Yes, the Palestinian Terror-tries (Territories… sorry, my mistake).  Yes, the very areas where the Palestinian Authority are ruling and subjecting Christian Arabs to all kinds of trouble.  Many Christians have already left, pressured by the growing influence of radical Islam within the PA and Hamas.  Those who remain stay because they cannot afford to leave or feel called to share the Gospel. In Gaza and the ‘West Bank’, Christians share in the desperate economic situation.  Yet in Israel, Christians are free to worship and follow their faith.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)  Tweet me @David_CFI

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

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