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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Soakell.

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

 

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

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

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

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

israel-flagmovingPointers for prayer:

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

Through the looking glass or 20/20 vision?

Through the looking glass

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reason to be cheerful

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

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

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

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

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

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[Above photos by D Soakell]

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

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And finally…

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

David and Julia Soakell weekend flyer

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Land of Apartheid?

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[Above picture created by D Soakell]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testimonies of the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Standing in the gap for Israel Report (03/09)

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Please note: Due to a two week gap after next week, there will be an extra report next week

 

The Word:  Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews. And the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king, and said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favour in his sight… let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman… which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.  For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?”  Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. You yourselves write a decree for the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a letter which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” (Esther 8:3-8)

israel-flagmovingPointers for prayer: As I mentioned in my last report two weeks ago, the festival of Purim begins in the evening of Saturday, March 11 and ends in the evening of Sunday, March 12. Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays, a time of prizes, costumes and treats. It commemorates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the story of Esther.  As we approach these festive days may we pray that Israel would know God’s protection over them once again.  Over this festive and joyous time may we rejoice in our King of Kings that He has preserved and blessed the nation of Israel, but may this also be a time of breakthrough when we see curses turned to blessings.

israel-flagmovingThroughout the world there is so much deception and lies spoken out against Israel. Whether it is groups who promote anti-Semitism, areas of the church that promote replacement theology, the media or political campaigns speaking out against the Jewish state. No matter what the issues might be, God is concerned for truth and so should we. Please continue to pray that the truth will be revealed and that lies and deception will be cast down, wherever they are found.

israel-flagmovingPlease also pray for the Arab world. While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression from their own Arab leaders, and many have been tortured and imprisoned and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world has become obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as if the Arab Palestinians (who have rejected one peace offer after another) were the only victims in the Middle East. Please cry out for the Arab people struggling under the heavy restraints of Islamic Pray that they may find freedom in following the Lord God.

Land of Apartheid?

abbas Palestine

[Above picture created by D Soakell]

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

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

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

error

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

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

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

Testimonies of the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-sold

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Branch FM latest interview

Project3

Finally, my latest radio interview on Branch FM is now out. The one-hour talk show in Dewsbury continues to grow and we have had excellent feedback not just from people listening to the show on radio in the local area of West Yorkshire, but also worldwide, as the radio shows can be heard on the internet.  The subjects covered so far have been very challenging to the listener, and Israel and the ministry of CFI have been covered in great detail.   You can listen to the show here: https://www.mixcloud.com/Branchfm/christian-friends-of-israel-march-1-2017/

 

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing in the gap for Israel report 02/23

The Word:  “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”  So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. (Esther 3:8-11)

Then Mordecai send back his answer to Esther… “Do not think to yourself that you shall escape in the king`s house, more than all the Jews. For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but you and your father`s house will perish: and who knows whether you haven`t come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4: 13,14)

israel-flagmovingPointers for prayer: In two weeks’ time, we will be starting the festival of Purim once again. Purim 2017 begins in the evening of Saturday, March 11 and ends in the evening of Sunday, March 12. Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays, a time of prizes, costumes and treats. It commemorates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the story of Esther.  As we approach these festive days may we pray that Israel would know God’s protection over them once again.  As this report was being put together, news was breaking that an Arab-Israeli citizen who was planning a major Tel Aviv bus terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS had been arrested by Israeli security.  Over this festive and joyous time may we rejoice in our King of Kings that He has preserved and blessed the nation of Israel, but may this also be a time of breakthrough when we see curses turned to blessings.

israel-flagmovingPlease pray for Nikki Haley, the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations. She might not be a Jewish Esther, but she has certainly stood up for the nation of Israel after emerging from her first Security Council monthly meeting devoted to the Middle East. Pray that she will make a mighty difference in the United Nations.

israel-flagmovingPlease also pray for the Arab world. While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression from their own Arab leaders, and many have been tortured and imprisoned and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world has become obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as if the Arab Palestinians (who have rejected one peace offer after another) were the only victims in the Middle East (See CFI’s open letter to the Iona Community). Please cry out for the Arab people struggling under the heavy restraints of Islamic Pray that they may find freedom in following the Lord God.

Today’s Esther?

purim-early

 

[Above photo created by D Soakell with the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley in traditional Indian dress]

The holiday of Purim, which begins on the evening of Saturday, March 11, 2017 commemorates the survival of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from the threat of annihilation at the hand of the powerful and evil ‘political leader’ Haman.  According to the Scriptures, Haman plotted to kill the Jews on the 13th of Adar (the month of Adar starts this year on February 27), but his plan was foiled and he ended up being hung from the gallows. And so, instead of being murdered, the Jews actually celebrated their freedom and victory the following day, the 14th of Adar.  Today’s countries that include the ancient land of Persia are not only Iran but also the Persian empire which ruled central Asia including: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, parts of Pakistan, India, Iraq, Northern Saudi Arabia and more.  To celebrate this joyous holiday, the Book of Esther is read, which tells the whole story of the events relating to the holiday.

As mentioned, according to the book of Esther, the Persian Haman planned genocide against the Jews.  This is a story that has been repeated throughout the centuries again and again. Where the Persian Haman failed, Iranian sponsored Hamas would love to fulfil Haman’s plans today.  Where Hitler’s Nazi party failed in the 1940s, any of the other Islamic terrorist groups such as Hezbollah or Isis would love to succeed.  However one organisation which might not seem an obvious threat to the Jewish nation appears to be the United Nations.  Speaking on this threat, one ‘member’ of the U.N. stated last year, “Israel has suffered from bias and even discrimination at the United Nations.”  But can you guess who stated this? It was none other than the U.N.’s highest official, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Jerusalem in August 2016. Back at headquarters a week later, Ban Ki-moon withdrew the substance of the comment without denying he had made it. The retraction was less surprising than the original assertion, which was remarkable because of the identity of the speaker.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, “When people criticise Zionists, they mean Jews.”  This appears to be true; in fact we could take it a step further today.  When people criticise the Jews without any substantial meaning, they are not only being anti-Semitic, but anti-Israel. In our world of cultural relativism, calling someone anti-Semitic is usually dismissed as outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour. The usual retort is that legitimate criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism.  At the U.N., it goes much further. Israel is a nation designated for ‘special treatment’; much like South Africa was years ago. Critics use the template of apartheid South Africa for the Jewish state. Because apartheid is beyond the pale of civilised norms, they argue, Israel deserves special treatment. This allows the U.N. to bypass any legitimate defence of Israel and Zionism. No one can defend apartheid, so it must be destroyed.  And with so much criticism against the Jewish State of Israel by the U.N., and even blatant resolutions passed by UNESCO to erase Jewish history as in the Temple Mount and Western Wall etc., we need to pray that changes will be seen and honest upright politicians would intervene.  Well… have our prayers been partially answered?  Enter Nikki Haley.

un-ambassador

[Above photo: Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from Facebook]

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Nikki Haley is a modern day ‘Queen Esther’, but she is certainly a breath of fresh air.  Nikki Haley is the United States Ambassador to the United Nations appointed by President Donald Trump. She was governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, and was the first female and Indian-American to serve in this office.  Nikki Haley was born on January 20, 1972 in South Carolina, to Sikh immigrants. The Republican entered politics at a young age, and served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for several years before becoming governor of the state. In 2016, president-elect Donald Trump picked Haley to become the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and she was confirmed for the position in January 2017.

And so, Nikki Haley had just come from the regular monthly Security Council on Middle East issues and stated, “it was a bit strange.” The Security Council, she said, is [quote] “supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But the meeting was not about Hezbollah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon, it was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists, it was not how we defeat ISIS, it was not how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of thousands of civilians.  No,” she said, “instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East”. The Ambassador went on to state, “I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated month after month for decades. I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore to the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.”

Nikki Haley went on to say, “Incredibly, the U.N. department of political affairs has an entire division devoted entirely to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favours, and it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us. The double standards are breath-taking.”  The ambassador then went on to criticise the UN for how it dismisses terrorism against Israel and she also spoke of many of the positives Israel bring to the world.  Nikki Haley also warned that it is “the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change,” and said America will not hesitate to speak out in defence of its friend in Israel.  The 4 minute 17 second video of this speech is well worth watching and can be found on YouTube here:

In the Purim story, laying the scene at Susa, a residential city of the Persian kings, the book of Esther narrates that Haman, the vizier and favourite of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I; reigned 486–465 BC), was determined that the Jews living in the Persian Empire were to be slain. Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman whom the King had chosen as queen, was the Lord’s chosen to bring redemption at this moment in Jewish history.  It all sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster, only this is a remarkable true story ~ sadly one that has been repeated on many occasions by evil men attempting to rid the world of God’s people and nation ~ Israel.  The end result is that Haman spitefully tried, and failed, to destroy all Jews within the kingdom.  As we read the story however, Mordecai speaks a message to Esther that we could and should take on board today… “Think not that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Well, could it be that the LORD has raised up Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations for such a time as this?

Ignoring legal historical documents?

Towards the end of January 2017, many supporters of Israel were active at the Westminster Lobby Day for Israel 2017, encouraging politicians to back a ‘Pledge for Peace,’ consisting of three principles that would ‘better facilitate positive, pragmatic and pro-active engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’.  The three principles of the pledge were: 1) Direct Negotiations, 2) Dialogue Not Boycotts, and 3) Support Coexistence.  The Zionist Federation stated, “Endorsing the principles would be an opportunity for politicians to display a balanced and realistic approach to the conflict.” On the afternoon we heard many politicians from various parties sharing their support for Israel.  Even the Prime Minister Theresa May, a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, has spoken out regarding her support for Israel.  And yet at Parliament, a week last Thursday, MPs unanimously passed a motion to condemn Israeli “settlement” buildings.  By this action, are the UK government along with the United Nations ignoring legal historical documents?

In the light of the fact that 2017 is the 100th year of the Balfour Declaration; the fact that we also have the San Remo agreement; along with the Court of Appeal of Versailles who ruled that ‘West Bank settlements’ and occupation of Judea and Samaria by Israel is unequivocally legal under international law (Click here to read), how is it that not one MP is bringing these legal documents to the attention of the house?   The vote by UK MPs against Israel was unanimous and also included support for the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which called on the Israeli government to halt all planned “settlement” activity.

As British MPs debated Israeli settlements or rather housing projects as the main barrier to peace, Israel was once again rocked by terrorism; a Palestinian terrorist shot and stabbed six Israeli civilians before being arrested in Petah Tikva. Despite terrorism (a legitimate barrier to peace) being mentioned in the debate, it was Israeli “settlements” that took centre stage and Israel shouldered the majority of the blame for the ongoing conflict.  Is this really acceptable?  To see the other side of the picture from what the political world are demanding, view an Honest Reporting video here:

If we really want to facilitate positive, pragmatic and pro-active engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then surely we should start with the facts and the historical documents in countering bias and misinformation about the Arab-Israel conflict.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel conflict without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution. Both the San Remo Resolution and the Balfour Declaration charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews in the territory which then included Transjordan, which had already been adopted by the other Allied Powers. Furthermore, as the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated (repealed, revoked) it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it. It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the Jewish state of Israel all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo. So if the British Members of Parliament, along with the United Nations are reneging on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

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It is also worth pointing out that one of the so-called ‘settlements’ is actually the city of Ma’ale Adumim (pictured above), located along Highway 1, which connects it to Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area.  This so-called ‘settlement’ has hundreds of homes, medical centres, 21 schools, 80 kindergartens, and shopping centres.

Confusion over House of Commons UNESCO exhibition

There was further confusion this week on where the UK Government stood regarding Israel by reports in the JewishNews.com that the UK Parliament is to host an exhibition on the Jews’ 3,500-year-old ties to the Holy Land.  According to a report in the JewishNews.com, the House of Commons will run a UNESCO exhibition looking at “Jewish links to the land of Israel ahead of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.”  The travelling exhibit, created by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, is called: ‘People, Book, Land: The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land.’  It has already toured Paris, New York, Israel, India, the Vatican and several smaller European states, such as Montenegro and Albania.  The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, is the exhibition’s patron, but the creator was the late Hebrew University Professor Robert Wistrich, the award-winning author and former chair of Jewish Studies at University College London.

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So… the House of Commons will run a UNESCO exhibition looking at “Jewish links to the land of Israel?” But hang on, isn’t this the same United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who voted to approve a resolution tabled by no other than Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, declaring that the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City has no historic ties to Judaism?  Isn’t this the same people who state that other areas such as Rachael’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarch’s in Hebron are also ‘irrelevant to Jewish history’?  Indeed it is.  In fact, UNESCO originally cancelled the exhibition about the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel just before its scheduled opening in 2014. The cancellation followed Arab pressure.  However, following this, the situation did improve slightly as the exhibition opened at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.  Naturally things had changed – including the name.  Gone was the word “Israel”.  This was deleted from the exhibition’s title and replaced by “Holy Land.”  The exhibition that was initially called “The 3,500 year relationship of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel” is now entitled “The 3,500 year relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land.”  But by erasing the word ‘Israel’, one might as well also erase the word ‘Jew or Jewish.’  For where does the term Jew come from?  It comes from Judah!  Where is Judah?  Oh yes… Judea – the area UNESCO insist on calling ‘The West Bank’.

CFI’s Open letter to the Iona Community

Earlier this year the Iona Community released its ‘Position Statement on Israel/Palestine’ which can be read by clicking here.   I personally have been to the Scottish island of Iona as it was always a desire of mine having heard of the history of the gospel arriving there.  It’s a beautiful peaceful island.  As we crossed the short stretch of water to the island, dolphins were leaping out of the sea.  The sand is beautifully white and it was a place I had always hoped to go to for a retreat – at least that’s what I thought until I learned of the Iona Community.  How sad this alleged ‘Christian’ community takes this strong stance of being so opposed to the Jewish nation of Israel.

The following is an Open Letter by Christian Friends of Israel UK, written in response to the position statement of the Iona Community.  Simply click here to read it: http://www.cfi.org.uk/news.php?article=192

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

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

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Israel cannot remain both a Jewish state and a democratic nation?

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President Trump appears to be getting slammed by the British press at the moment. So how is it that the former US President – Mr Barack Hussein Obama – didn’t get the same criticism? Was he just “too nice” or too “politically correct” or just not controversial – unlike Trump? Not controversial??? Really??? Remember, this is the same Barack Obama who told reporters in his final press conference as president that Israel cannot remain both a Jewish state and a democratic nation. Isn’t that statement anti-Semitic? Why can’t Israel remain both a Jewish state and a democratic nation?
If they didn’t allow nearly two million Arabs to live in their Jewish State of Israel I would understand. If Israel didn’t allow Arabs to be politicians in the Government; or allow Arabs to work with Jews in their hospitals; or didn’t allow Arabs and Christians to serve in the Israel Defence Force; or allow women to drive; or allow Arabs to play in the Israel national football team etc. etc. I could understand it… Yet in every one of these issues – and many more left out here – Israel does allow. Unlike Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and 11 more Muslim countries who ban Jews – Israelis – and have done so for years from ever entering their countries, Israel allows Arabs to work, drive, and live their lives in this Jewish State. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia not only ban all Jews from entering the country, one is not even allowed to enter with any clothing made by a Jewish firm. Yet Obama was loved by the Media and the United Nations! And you wonder why Trump states that the media are full of “fake news” and can’t be trusted? Lord come quickly.

David Soakell

(Middle East News Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel.

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Arab Palestinian lives matter

I support Israel 100%, but that doesn’t mean I hate Arabs. I have many Arab friends and Arab Palestinian lives matter!

 

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