Israël vandaag - 24 dec. 2017 tot 2 januari 2018 (Engels onvertaald nieuws over Israël)
24 december 2017: Christians Throng Israel's Capital, Jerusalem.
24 december 2017: Christians Throng Israel's Capital, Jerusalem.
CHRISTIANS THRONG ISRAEL'S CAPITAL, JERUSALEM:
Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims are expected to arrive in the country over the Christmas holiday, capping a record-breaking year that included 3.5 million tourists. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin expressed pride in the record numbers of annual visitors. “Israel invites the faithful from all religions to pray, worship and visit all the holy sites in Israel in freedom and security,” he said. “I am proud to announce that this year we have broken all previous records for incoming tourism, and are set to end 2017 with a record 3.5 million tourists – half a million more than the previous record.” According to the ministry’s statistics, more than half of the 2.9 million tourists in 2016 were Christian. The most visited sites by Christians included the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jewish Quarter, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives, Capernaum, Church of the Annunciation and City of David. (J.Post)
UN VOTES 128-9 TO CRITICITIZE USA DECISION ON JERUSALEM:
The UN General Assembly on Thurs. 21 Dec. 2017, adopted a resolution criticizing the USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The nonbinding resolution was adopted with 128 nations in favor, 9 against, 35 abstained, and 21 countries did not vote. USA Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, "The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What's more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our financial capital is being poorly spent. We have an obligation to demand more for our investment. And if our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our resources in more productive ways." (Politico)
HALEY INVITES COUNTRIES THAT DIDN’T VOTE AGAINST USA TO FRIENDSHIP RECEPTION:
USA Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent an invitation on 21 Dec. 2017 to the 65 countries that didn't vote against the USA in the UN General Assembly vote to denounce President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The invitation invites them to the 3 Jan. 2018 reception "to thank you for your friendship to the United States." (Fox)
TRUMP TO PRESENT NEW DOCTRINE THAT SAYS ISRAEL NOT THE CAUSE OF MIDEAST PROBLEMS:
USA President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and downplays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on the broader world order. The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.
Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.” The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.” (Times of Israel)
HIZBULLAH’S YOUNG ADHERENTS LEARN IDEOLOGY OF HATE:
Anchal Vohra Ali is six, and yet already he fiercely chants "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" at a Beirut rally alongside his family. "At six, he is too old to not be here," his mother Fatima said. On a television screen hanging above the packed market street, Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, announced to a rapturous response, "After victory in Syria and Iraq, we will focus on Israel." Ali has been taught to unquestioningly identify his enemy and call for his death. "Jews and Americans are my enemy," he said. Indoctrination begins early. There were as many if not more women and children as men at the rally. Women like Fatima brought their kids along not because of a lack of nannies or day care centers, but to purposely acquaint them with Hizbullah's self-proclaimed cause - resistance to Israel. "This is the right age to learn about how the Jews took our land," Fatima said. She spoke heatedly about the events of 1948, when the state of Israel was formed on Palestinian land. "America helps Israel regularly and imposes war on us,” Fatima said. (Worthy News)
PALESTINIAN TEEN ARRESTED FOR GOADING IDF SOLDIERS:
A video of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi and two other women harassing troops in the Judea & Samaria village of Nabi Saleh went viral last week, leading to her arrest. The army also confirmed the teenager took part in violent riots in the Ramallah area, during which her cousin reportedly was injured. In the video, Tamimi is seen yelling, hitting and slapping the faces of the soldiers, who refrained from retaliating. Tamimi’s mother was also detained on suspicion of assault and incitement and likewise was held until 21 Dec 2017. Nabi Saleh has been a frequent staging ground for provoked clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, with members of the Tamimi family in particular known for their involvement in highly-publicized altercations with the IDF. In 2012, 13-year-old Ahed - who some refer to as “Shirley Temper” - gained notoriety when a video of her leading a group of children in a verbal confrontation with Israeli soldiers became an Internet sensation. Two years ago, she again made headlines for biting the hand of an Israeli soldier holding down a Palestinian boy who had been throwing stones. Palestinian activists have praised Ahed’s actions, while many in Israel accuse the Tamimi family of using her as a propaganda tool. (Medialine)
This is a mere glimpse of the bad fruit that comes of a society that teaches its children - from babyhood on - that hatred and violence, especially against Israeli Jews is the way to become a hero.
“JEWS IN SWEDEN FEAR INEVITABILITY OF ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS”:
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the President of the Conference of European Rabbis requested an urgent meeting with Swedish PM Stefan Löfven to discuss rising anti-Semitism in the Scandinavian country. Rabbi Goldschmidt sent a letter to Löfven following several firebomb attacks on Swedish synagogues. Anti-Israel protesters threw firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden on 10 Dec. 2017. The attack took place while Jewish students were inside the synagogue. The next day, two burning objects were thrown at a chapel located at a Jewish cemetery in Malmo. According Rabbi Goldschmidt, "Sweden is the only country in Europe that has a combination of rising number of high profile anti-Semitic, as well as public anti-Israel displays that result in violent attacks against the Jewish community and bans on Jewish religious practice including religious slaughter."
Rabbi Goldschmidt noted that "Sweden’s 18,000 Jews live in fear of the inevitability of anti-Semitic attacks," and that "the Government of Sweden’s response has been weak or totally absent,” he continued. “I believe that fear of being accused of intolerance against Muslims, especially refugees, has paralyzed your government from properly addressing deep-seated prejudice against Jews, which has resulted in a persistent rise in anti-Semitic attacks. It is time to stop speaking about anti-Semitism and start doing something about it. These matters are a cause of great distress for me and the Jewish community across Europe." (Arutz-7)
ANCIENT TOMB DOOR WITH MENORAH CARVING REVELED IN ISRAEL: An ancient basalt tomb door with a stunning menorah carving was recently put on display by the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The door was discovered in Tiberias in Israel's Galilee region in 2010, but was only revealed to the public a few weeks ago. The tomb door, likely part of a Jewish tomb from the second to fourth centuries, is ornamented with a depiction of the seven-branched menorah that stood in the ancient Jewish Temple, one of the key symbols of Judaism. (Fox)
26 december 2017 - Winter Shows Up In Israel.
WINTER SHOWS UP IN ISRAEL:
Israel receives two days of much-needed rain as meteorologists predict another dry winter. After a long stretch of dry weather, winter returned to Israel on Sunday 24 Dec 2017, bringing rain to most areas of the country. On Sunday night, five centimeters of snow fell on the Hermon's lowest slopes and ten fell on its upper slopes. The ski site is currently open to visitors, at no charge. On Monday morning ten millimeters of rain had fallen since Sunday in Israel's north and center, with fifty millimeters falling in the Lower Galilee's army headquarters, and 12 millimeters falling into the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Also on Monday morning, measurements indicated that the Kinneret's water level had risen a centimeter and a half, marking the lake's first rise since April 2017. At its current level of 214.38 meters, the Kinneret's water level is at its lowest in nine years. In an effort to save the sinking lake and its ecosystem, Israel recently decided to pump desalinated water into the Kinneret. (INN)
GUATEMALA ALSO MOVING EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM:
Guatemala’s president announced on Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of USA President Donald Trump in ordering the change. Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel last week when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Morales said that after talks with Israeli PM Netanyahu, he decided to instruct Guatemala’s foreign ministry to move the embassy. The Czech Republic has said it is considering such a step, also Honduras and Paraguay are expected to join the embassy move to Jerusalem. Trump upended decades of USA policy with his 6 Dec. 2017 announcement that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though Trump said he was merely recognizing reality and not prejudging negotiations on the future borders of the city, Palestinians saw the move as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked praised Guatemala's decision. "I am certain that this is only the first step towards the transfer of the embassies of other countries," Shaked said. (NY Post/INN)
ISRAEL JOINS USA IN WITHDRAWAL FROM UNESCO:
Israeli PM Netanyahu has instructed the country’s foreign ministry to withdraw from UNESCO. Netanyahu made the announcement that Israel would be joining the United States in withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on 24 Dec. 2017 during the weekly Cabinet meeting. “I think that this is appropriate, given this organization’s biased, one-sided and absurd attitude toward us, and against the background of the USA’s strong stand at the UN, which we welcome,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. In October 2017 the United States announced that it would leave UNESCO, citing as a reason “continuing anti-Israel bias.” Six years ago, the United States cut off more than $80 million a year, about 22% of its entire budget for UNESCO, in reprisal for its acceptance of Palestine as a member. Israel also suspended its funding at that time. Israel’s withdrawal will go into effect at the end of 2018, the same day as the United States. It takes a year for the withdrawal to take effect. The two countries will remain as observer states. The announcement comes after the UN General Assembly last week passed a resolution rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the wake of the pronouncement by Trump two weeks ago. In recent years, UNESCO has passed resolutions that rejected Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and placed the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Old City of Hebron in the State of Palestine - and on the list of world heritage sites in danger. It frequently refers to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic name, Al-Haram al-Sharif. (JTA)
WHAT KIND OF MENTAL ILLNESS IS SWEEPING THROUGH THE UN?
Jewish economist Ben Stein blasted the UN General Assembly after it overwhelmingly voted against USA President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The body on 21 Dec. 2017 voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, in favor of a resolution condemning Trump's action. “It is a shame and a disgrace that the overwhelming majority of negative votes in the United Nations have been against Israel, and I often wonder what kind of mental illness is there sweeping through the United Nations, sweeping through the whole world, that hates Jews so much?” Stein said in an interview on Fox News. “Israel is so generous, that even when terrorists fighting in Syria are wounded, their fellow terrorists bring them to Israeli medical stations to get treated, and this is the way Israel gets treated? It’s a disgrace to humanity!” he added. (Arutz-7)
IRANIAN – BACKED FORCES MOVING CLOSER TO ISRAEL:
Syrian army forces, backed by Iranian-supported militias, pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon on Sunday night, 24 Dec. 2017. The army and the Shiite forces advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling since a major assault began over two months ago to seize the area. The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved toward Beit Jin amid fierce clashes. The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender. A western intelligence source confirmed rebel reports that Iranian-backed militias including the Hezbollah terrorist group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.
“The Iranian backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border,” said Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group that operates in the area. A recent ceasefire agreement between the USA, Russia, and Jordan left Iranian-backed militias just three miles from the Israeli border. Worried by Iran’s expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of ISIS, Israel has allegedly carried out strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria in recent weeks. (Arutz-7)
Syria, and especially Iran and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group have clarified their goal for the destruction of the Jewish state time and time again. It is vitally important to continue to pray for Israel’s safety and preparedness in the event of unanticipated developments or surprise attacks.
SAUDI ARABIA BARS ISRAELI CHESS CHAMPIONS FROM COMPETITION:
Saudi Arabia confirmed on 24 Dec. 2017 that Israeli chess champions will not be issued visas, effectively barring them from competing in this week's chess championship in Riyadh. Israel had attempted to send seven chess champions to the international speed chess championships in Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudi government has refused to grant the Israel chess players visas, meaning that they will likely be unable to attend the match. Riyadh also refused visas to delegations from Iran and Qatar. Israel Chess Federation spokesperson Lior Aizenberg said, "The event is not a world championship if they prevent chess players from several countries from taking part. Every chess player should have the right to participate in an event on the basis of professional criteria, regardless of their passports, their place of issue or the stamps they bear.” (Times of Israel)
OVER 400 TERRORIST ATTACKS THWARTED IN 2017:
Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman said on Sunday 24 Dec. 2017 that the security agency has thwarted over 400 terror attacks in 2017, including 13 suicide attacks and 8 kidnappings, as well as 1,100 potential lone wolf attacks. Argaman spoke at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Sunday morning and warned that “the period of quiet we are experiencing is misleading; Hamas is hard at work trying to execute terrorist attacks.” Argaman noted that in 2017 only 54 attacks were successfully carried out in comparison with 108 attacks that were carried out in 2016. In 2016, the Shin Bet stopped 344 major attacks, meaning that the total number of thwarted and successful attacks were similar between 2016 and 2017, but the security agency succeeded in thwarting more of them in 2017. The major improvement was from preventing 400 potential lone wolf attacks in 2016 to preventing 1,100 potential lone wolf attacks in 2017. (J.Post)
NETANYAHU PROMISES TO LEAD TOUR OF HOLY SITES IN ISRAEL NEXT CHRISTMAS:
Israeli PM Netanyahu posted Christmas greetings on Facebook. “It’s a pleasure for me, on Christmas Eve, to be here, standing in Jerusalem, the holy city,” Netanyahu said in a video greeting, standing on a balcony overlooking the city. “I’m very proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel; a country that says Merry Christmas, first to its Christian citizens, and to our Christian friends around the world. I’m proud that Israel is a country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive! Because we believe in this friendship among people. And we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me,” the prime minister also said. In the video Netanyahu promises that next Christmas he will lead a guided tour of Christian holy sites in Israel. (JTA)
29 december 2017 - At Least 10 Countries Discussing Embassy Move To Jerusalem.
AT LEAST 10 COUNTRIES DISCUSSING EMBASSY MOVE TO JERUSALEM:
Since Guatemala’s announcement this week that it will follow the USA and move its embassy to Jerusalem, at least 10 more countries are in talks with the Israelis about doing the same, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel Radio. She declined to say which countries were involved, but “noted that several of the talks are just beginning, while others are further along.” Guatemala’s decision to return its embassy to Jerusalem is “no less than the beginning of Israel’s victory,” a leading analyst and author said on 25 Dec.2017. “I believe many countries will follow, and not only Latin American ones,” said Dr. Gustavo D. Perednik, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina and a well-known commentator on Latin American and Israeli affairs. “A few candidates: Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Togo, Rwanda, Uganda, Canada, and then when one or two Western European countries will dare – dozens will follow.” Asked whether the move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had more than symbolic value – Perednik said, “Absolutely! Having foreign embassies in Jerusalem means recognition of Israel as the embodiment of Jewish history and serves to counterbalance the clepto-history perpetrated by the Palestinians over the past decades. (Koenig)
STATE OF CHILD REPORT FINDS 1 IN 3 CHILDREN UNDER POVERTY LINE IN ISRAEL:
More than 880,000 Israeli children lived in poverty in 2016 – meaning one out of every three, according to the National Council for the Child’s annual report released on 26 Dec. 2017. The rate of child poverty has not improved for the past decade, and is more than double the average in the OECD. At the end of 2016 there were 2,851,911 children in the country, comprising 33% of the population. President Reuven Rivlin, upon receiving the report from Vered Vindman, director-general of the National Council for the Child, said: “A poor child is a child who goes to bed hungry. He is a child who comes to school without a sandwich. He is a child who finds it difficult to concentrate in school. He is in danger.” The document, composed of data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, government ministries, and nonprofit organizations, covers a number of aspects including, education, health, poverty, and abuse. In response to the statistics, Vindman said that in many aspects children’s situation in Israel is worsening or at the very least not improving. Vindman called on the government to make the welfare of children a top national priority, something she said has not been the case to date. (J.Post)
USA SAYS IT NEGOTIATED $285M CUT IN UNITED NATIONS BUDGET:
The USA Mission to the United Nations said on 24 Dec. that the UN’s 2018-2019 budget would be slashed by over $285 million. The mission said reductions would also be made to the UN’s management and support functions. USA Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.” She also said that while the mission was pleased with the results of budget negotiations, it would continue to “look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests.” (Washington Times)
RUSSIA ESTABLISHING PERMANENT PRESENCE AT ITS SYRIAN BASES:
Russia has started establishing a permanent military presence at naval and air bases in Syria, the defense minister said on 26 Dec. 2017, as parliament ratified a deal with Damascus to cement Russian presence in the country. The deal will expand the Tartus naval facility, Russia’s only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, and grant Russian warships access to Syrian waters and ports, said Viktor Bondarev, head of the upper house security and defense committee. Russian news sources quoted Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu as saying: “Last week the Commander-in-Chief , President Vladimir Putin, approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim air base. We have begun forming a permanent presence there.” The Tartus naval facility, in use since the days of the Soviet Union, is too small to play host to larger warships. According to the report, the agreement will allow Russia to keep 11 warships at Tartus, including nuclear vessels. The agreement will last for 49 years and could be prolonged further. The Hmeimim air base, from which Russia has launched numerous air strikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad during his war with rebels, can now be used by Russia indefinitely, according to the deal. (Reuters)
This is another potentially dangerous development for the Jewish State, along with the close proximity of Iran’s secret bases in Syria and the presence of the Hizbullah terrorist group on Israel’s northern doorstep.
ISRAELI COURT EXTENDS DETENTION OF PALESTINIAN TEEN ICON WHO KICKED, SLAPPED SOLDIERS:
An Israeli military court has extended the detention of a Palestinian teen who was filmed kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers. Ahed Tamimi, a blonde 17-year-old from the village of Nebi Saleh, has become a national hero since the incident. Tamimi was arrested last week by Israeli troops and faces charges of attacking soldiers. An Israeli military court on 25 Dec. 2017 extended her detention, along with those of her mother and cousin, for four days for questioning. Tamimi was filmed earlier this month outside her family home shouting, pushing, kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers, who fended off the blows without retaliating. Palestinians are celebrating her as an icon of a new generation of resistance to Israeli occupation, while the soldiers' restraint stirred uproar over what some perceive as the army's humiliation. (Fox)
This is another sad example of the children whose minds have been taught to hate Jews and Israel from early childhood by their families, their educators, politicians and religious leaders. Pray for these young people indoctrinated with lies and violence that miracles and knowledge of a better way through Yeshua will come to them and be received by them.
AFTER DEFEAT OF ISIS, CHRISTMAS RETURNS TO NORTHERN IRAQ:
Christians in Mosul and surrounding areas in northern Iraq are openly celebrating Christmas this week after three years under the brutal rule of ISIS. “The last Christmas mass here was in 2013. Now, the cross is lifted again over the Church of St. Paul,” Rev. Martin Banni, a Chaldean Catholic priest, told media sources. “Celebrating Christmas here is a message, that despite all the threats, persecution, killing and what we faced in Iraq, we have hope that this country will change,” Banni said. During its time in control in northern Iraq, ISIS routinely executed, abducted and banished Christians. Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac Christians who live in Nineveh Plain towns now kindle a “Christmas Flame” in the courtyards of their ancient churches – many of which had been desecrated and burned by ISIS. “The young people spent the night decorating our town with lights just like we used to before ISIS came,” said Bernadette Al-Maslob, a 59-year-old resident of Karamlesh, 18 miles southeast of Mosul. (Media Line)
ISRAEL’S BEN-GURION AIRPORT TO UNDERGO $1.4 BILLION EXPANSION:
The Israel Airports Authority announced this week that it plans to significantly expand Ben-Gurion Airport during the next five years in a $1.43 billion project. The upgrade was initiated as a result of an increased number of passengers traveling through the airport, which serves as the primary international gateway in and out of the Jewish state. Since the beginning of 2017, Ben-Gurion Airport - located on the periphery of Tel Aviv - has seen an 18% increase in international passenger turnover, with more than 20 million passengers passing through the airport this year. The Ministry of Transport expects 23 million passengers in 2018 and 30 million by 2024. Tourism to Israel has reached an all-time high in 2017. (Algemeiner/Globes)
VEGANISM TO SET TOP CULINARY TRENDS OF 2018, WITH ISRAEL AT THE HELM:
Plant-based food is slated to be the hottest culinary trend of 2018, according to many food trend lists, and Israel is well ahead of the game. New York-based international food and restaurant consulting company Baum+Whiteman has said that restaurants are way behind the curve when it comes to a rapid consumer shift to plant-based foods, but expect that to change in 2018. “Millennials are embracing 'plant-based' food while still young and will probably be sticking with it. So we’re looking at a food industry divide where plant-based products capture increasing shelf space in supermarkets but so far little space on restaurant menus,” the consultants said. They predicted that in the new year, more and more restaurants will offer vegan dishes, to catch up with the growing number of people who are embracing vegan foods. According to data published by Baum+Whiteman, 83% of USA consumers are adding plant-based foods to their diets to improve health and nutrition, while 62% do so for weight management. The firm also noted that 58% of adults drink non-dairy milk, and Google has seen a 90% increase in vegan searches in the past year. (J.Post)
31 december 2017 - Thousands Pray For Rain At Western Wall.
THOUSANDS PRAY FOR RAIN AT WESTERN WALL:
Thousands gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thurs. 28 Dec. to pray for rain. The mass prayer was initiated by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel in response to the ongoing drought, which will soon be entering its fifth year. Barely any rain fell in November 2017 which is ordinarily a month of substantial rainfall. Israel's Chief Rabbi were in attendance. Also participating were farmers from the north and the south, the president of the Israel Farmers' Union Dubi Amitai, the secretary general of the Moshav Movement and chairman of the Israel Farmers Union Meir Zur. Minister Ariel said that "after four years of drought, so far there has been less rainfall than the multi-annual average, and this winter looks like it will be another drought. I am happy that the public responded to the prayers and brought umbrellas." (Arutz-7)
NEW SYNAGOGUE OPENS UNDER TEMPLE MOUNT:
While there may not be a Third Temple at which Israeli Jews can worship atop the Jerusalem Temple Mount, there is a brand-new synagogue under the foundation of the holy site – and it’s open for prayer. The new center of worship is the result of 12 years of construction at a cost of $50 million, and it is located directly under the Western Wall, where Jews have gathered for centuries to pray at the retaining wall for the Temple Mount. “The unique design of the prayer hall combines rare art and unique lighting, creating a wonderful contrast between ancient and modern,” said the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. In the new synagogue, the altar, and seating are made of wood. The synagogue features dozens of elegant benches, arranged in separate men’s and women’s sections. (WND)
‘MURDERING JEWS IS THE MOST LUCRATIVE PROFESSION’:
The Ofer military court on 29 Dec. 2017 began hearing the defense and prosecution's views on sentencing the terrorist who killed three members of the Salomon family in July 2017. The military prosecution demands 19-year-old Omar al-Abed be sentenced to three life sentences for the murders and a fourth life sentence for attempting to murder the rest of the family. Photos of the al-Abed in court show him smiling widely, possibly because he knows that for every month he sits in prison, he and his family will receive dozens of thousands of shekels in monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority. In addition, al-Abed is aware that as he sits in prison, his colleagues are planning ways to release him. Potential terrorists know that today, the most lucrative occupation in the PA is killing Jews. The more Jews you kill, the more money you'll receive. The Israeli government must understand that the PA's incentives and indulgences, as well as the terrorists' families' visits, must cease. (INN)
A CHILD’S GUIDE TO ROCK THROWING:
Fatah posted on its Twitter account a photo of a young boy hurling rocks with a slingshot, along with an explanation to Palestinian children on how best to throw rocks, watchdog Palestinian Media Watch reported. Fatah's tweet reads:"In order to hit the target, there are three conditions: 1. Stand stable and balance your legs, arms, and body well. 2. Focus your gaze on the center of the target, and do not look at anything else. 3. Keep the desired balance between your body and your weapon; you are the one that controls the weapon, and not the other way around. If you did not understand this, read it again, and if you still have not understood, there is a pictorial example for you." Rocks hurled at moving vehicles have caused hundreds of injuries and many deaths, including infants killed by stones thrown at their family's cars. Yehuda Haim Shoham, aged 5-months; Yonatan Palmer aged 12-months (his father Asher was also killed); Adele Biton aged 3, were killed by rocks thrown at their cars by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The 5 terrorists convicted of murdering Adele were all teen-aged. Palestinian Authority textbooks contain incitement against Israel and Jews, and the PA itself has said that terrorism is "part of the culture." (Arutz-7)
USA ENVOY: PALESTINIAN REACTION TO TRUMP ANNOUNCEMENT IS UGLY, ANTI-SEMITIC:
Some of the Palestinian rhetoric in response to USA President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has been “ugly, needlessly provocative and anti-Semitic,” USA Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israeli media sources. Friedman, a leading force behind Trump’s decision three weeks ago to recognize Jerusalem and move the USA embassy there from Tel Aviv, characterized the Palestinian reaction as “largely emotional,” saying they “unfortunately overreacted” because Trump made clear that the USA was “not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.”
In light of the Palestinians resulting rejection of any USA role in the peace process, Friedman said there will be no process without Washington’s involvement. “There is no path around the United States,” he said. “Israel has made it clear that they will not engage under the sponsorship of any other nation. Moreover, only the United States has the regional credibility to bring forward a historic peace agreement.” Trump, Friedman said, will go down in history “as one of Israel’s greatest friends,” and “we must all recognize and applaud the courage and moral clarity displayed by the president in affirming, against the wishes of so many other nations, the centrality of Jerusalem to Israel and the Jewish people.” (J.Post)
USA AND ISRAEL FORMULATE A PLAN TO STOP IRAN TOGETHER:
Top USA and Israeli national security officials reached an agreement two weeks ago in Washington on a joint work plan to counter Iranian activity, news sources announced 28 Dec.2017. The document, characterized by a USA National Security Council representative as an informal “framework,” follows President Trump’s speech in Oct. 2017 outlining a new American policy approach to the Islamic Republic, where he announced that he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal. “This is a framework document, and not a done and dusted plan,” said a USA official. “It is a framework for future cooperation. It is not the end result of a process, it’s more of a beginning. Obviously, there was a major strategy that was announced a few months ago, and there have been meetings subsequent to that shaped by that new strategy,” the official continued. “And obviously Israel is one of our closest allies.” The Israeli team was led by National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, and the USA team was led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Senior defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials from both sides took part in the meeting. (J.Post)
ISRAEL ANNOUNCES “DONALD TRUMP TRAIN STATION” IN JERUSALEM:
Israel Railways has decided to name the final stop on its soon-to-open high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line after USA President Donald Trump. The much-anticipated rail line was originally supposed to terminate at a new station being built adjacent to Jerusalem's Central Bus Station and the International Convention Center. But an underground extension was added taking the train to the entrance of the Old City of Jerusalem. About a year ago, Transportation Minister Israel Katz proposed another extension, taking the train (again, underground) all the way to the Western Wall. That final station near the Western Wall is the one Israel Railways intends to name "Donald Trump Train Station." That honor is being bestowed in recognition of Trump's decision to finally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Israel Today)
TEL AVIV RESIDENTS BUILD 36-METER LEGO TOWER TO HONOR CANCER VICTIM:
Tel Aviv residents have built a world record-contending, 36-meter plastic brick tower, featuring more than 500,000 pieces, to honor a young cancer victim in the Israeli city. The multi-colored Omer Tower, named after eight-year-old Lego fan Omer Sayag, was completed using cranes in Rabin Square on 27 Dec 2017, after more than a fortnight's construction work by thousands of residents. "It was the idea of his (Sayag's) former kindergarten teacher, and building blocks were donated by residents, companies and some were purchased using municipality funds," a spokesperson for the mayor's office said. There was no Guinness World Records adjudicator on site to measure the Omer Tower, meaning Tel Aviv must wait for approval from the body to confirm they have beaten the previous record of 35.05 meters, built in Milan in 2015. (Reuters)
2 januari 2018 - Iran Protests.
Protests have swept Iran in the last few days leading to clashes with security forces and the first three protester deaths reported on 30 Dec. 2017. The state TV report said 10 were killed during clashes Sunday night 31 Dec. 2017, without elaborating. Videos have emerged from inside the country showing protesters in the streets and the government has sought to shut them down by warning against “illegal gatherings.” Train service and schools were ordered shut on 30 Dec. 2017. The antigovernment protests were sparked by a surge in prices of basic food supplies, such as eggs and poultry. Demonstrations quickly spread to many cities where protesters have been chanting slogans against the Islamic establishment and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They began in earnest on Thurs. 28 Dec. 2017 in a series of cities across the heartland of Iran. They spread on Friday to at least a dozen cities and continued on Saturday, reaching Tehran.
Iran’s regime has alleged that social media has been used to spread the protests. A variety of chants have been heard in videos of the protests. These include “Death to the dictator.” They have called on the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to step down and also spoken out against economic woes and inflation. The protesters have targeted government involvement in Syria, calling on the government to “leave Syria, and think about us,” and also condemned the government’s obsession with supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Videos show protesters ripping down posters of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani who is in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s operations abroad. They have also removed posters of the Ayatollah. At Tehran university they condemned the “oppressive” government on 30 December 2017 and protesters chanted, “Independence, freedom, Iranian Republic.” (J.Post)
PROTESTERS IN IRAN: ‘NEVER MIND PALESTINE, THINK ABOUT US’:
As opposition to the current regime mounts in Iran, protesters in the Islamic Republic urge their government to turn its attention from Israel to domestic issues. On Saturday 30 Dec. 2017, college students and other anti-government protesters gathered to denounce Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. These demonstrations followed gatherings on Friday 29 Dec.2017 in the western city of Kermanshah during which protesters chanted phrases such as “never mind Palestine, think about us,” “death or freedom” and “political prisoners should be freed.” On Thursday, thousands began this wave of protests in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, outraged by inflation, the rising cost of basic necessities, and the current regime’s repressive policies. Social media coverage showed police using tear gas and water cannons on the protesters. (World Israel News)
TRUMP RESPONDS TO PROTESTS IN IRAN:
In response to the protests throughout Iran, USA President Donald Trump tweeted, “Many reports of protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt. should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves.” Trump warned Tehran, “The world is watching!” Following Trump’s message, Iranian state television reported on the protests for the first time, stating that their failure to do so was based on security officials’ orders. State television blamed the unrest on “foreign media” and “counterrevolution groups,” deeming the protests “unlawful gatherings.” Iran lacks a free press and its government has banned citizens from accessing social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. (World Israel News)
IRAN PROTESTS: HOW TRUMP CAN STRIKE A FATAL BLOW AGAINST A DANGEROUS, TYRANNICAL REGIME:
President Trump should take decisive action in 2018 to support the ouster of the virulently anti-American theocracy that has ruled Iran with an iron fist and threatened its neighbors for the past four decades. The president’s first step should be to throw American support behind the brave anti-government protesters who have taken to the streets in mass demonstrations across the Islamic Republic since 28 Dec. 2017. In a good first step, the USA State Department announced Friday 29 Dec. 2017 that America “strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.” The United States should next impose crippling economic sanctions targeting key institutions that act as a lifeline for the Iranian regime, in particular the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The USA should also make it clear that Iran will face serious consequences if protesters are suppressed violently. Slogans targeting the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, show that resentment is giving way to anger and that the regime is more vulnerable to losing the consent of the governed than many Western analysts may have thought. The latest nationwide demonstrations are indicative of fierce discontent and growing frustration with the Iranian regime’s corruption, incompetence and badly misplaced priorities. The demonstrations have proven that the welfare of Iranians was never going to improve after the 2015 agreement that lifted worldwide economic sanctions against Iran in return for actions designed to halt the nation’s development of nuclear weapons. (Fox)
ISRAELI MINISTER: DEMONSTRATIONS NO SURPRISE AS TEHRAN WASTES BILLIONS FUNDING TERRORISM:
Three demonstrators were shot dead by the Revolutionary Guard Corps as protests spread across Iran for a third night on Saturday 30 Dec. 2017, intensifying their calls for an end to the government’s costly expansionist projects across the Middle East, the corruption within its ranks and the Islamic Republic itself. The state TV report said a further 10 people were killed during clashes Sunday night 31 Dec. 2017. While the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office had no comment on Saturday night regarding the protests in Iran, Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said they were no surprise. “Iran is wasting billions of dollars funding Hezbollah, Hamas, the Assad regime and terrorism throughout the world, rather than investing in the Iranian people,” Erdan posted on his Twitter account. “It’s no wonder that many Iranians are bravely standing up and speaking out against the Iranian leadership,” he said. Video clips have shown riot police clubbing and arresting protesters. (J.Post)
NETANYAHU SLAMS TEHRAN FOR MISTREATMENT OF CHRISTIANS:
With demonstrators taking to Iranian streets in a series of rare protests that have continued since Thurs. 28 Dec. 2017, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video clip on Facebook on Friday blasting Tehran for its treatment of Christians, and underlining the hypocrisy of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s tweeting of a Christmas message last week. “Get a load of this,” Netanyahu said in the video showing Zarif’s tweet. That tweet, posted on 23 Dec. 2017 reads: “The angels said, Mary, God gives you glad-tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Christ, Jesus, [Yeshua] son of Mary; highly honored in this world and the next’ Quran 3:45. A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all. May Christ’s universal message of peace be embraced in the coming year”. In his video, Netanyahu said: “I wonder what the Christians, jailed this month in Iran, would say about that tweet. I wonder what Iranian youth would think about that tweet. But sadly the regime bans Twitter, unless of course you are a high-ranking official.” Earlier this month, according to Persian media reports, Iranian security forces arrested four Iranian converts to Christianity and raided six houses they used as home churches.
The Iranian government’s official news agency, IRNA, defended the arrests, saying that “elements of a devious Christian cult who were promoting it and attempting to disrupt the market and economic order have been arrested.” Netanyahu made reference to these arrests in his video. “Imagine you are praying quietly in your homes, surrounded by your family, and all of a sudden, armed thugs burst in and drag you away to prison. They torture you merely for practicing your Christian faith. Welcome to Iran,” he said. Netanyahu added that, “saying Merry Christmas while jailing Christians in your own country is the height of hypocrisy. Say a prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering at the hands of this cruel Iranian regime,” he said. “We stand with you, brothers and sisters – the world stands with you.” (J.Post)
Even though persecution has threatened to wipe out the Church in Iran, the Church’s growth in the Islamic Republic has actually become one of the fastest in the world. In the last 20 years, more Iranians have become Christians than in the previous 13 centuries.
AT LEAST 10 PEOPLE KILLED IN CAIRO CHURCH ATTACK:
Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman said at least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, had been killed in a shootout outside a south Cairo church. Khaled Megahed said Friday’s 29 Dec. 2017 attack took place when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside Mar Mina church. One gunman was shot dead as was a security officer, he said. The other assailant, reportedly fled the scene and was being pursued. The spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church said that at least six people were killed in the attack: five Copts and a policeman. He also said there was a separate attack on a store in the same neighborhood of Helwan that killed two Copts. Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic terrorists in a series of attacks since Dec. 2016 that had left more than 100 dead and scores wounded. (NY Post)