Does Israel’s democracy even matter anymore?

Aaron Hecht 

Oct 21, 2017

Traditionally, Israel has argued that Western countries should support it because it is “the only true democracy in the Middle East.” That used to garner a lot of sympathy in Western countries, but it’s becoming less and less relevant for several reasons.

For starters, the concept of countries with a democratic form of government sticking together in a standoff against countries which were governed by totalitarianism doesn’t evoke the same positive emotional response it once did. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent end of the Cold War in the early 1990s marked the end of a system in which the world was neatly divided into opposing ideological camps. Since then, things have gotten hazy and confused, with developments including the actual calling into question by some scholars of the continued survival of the nation-state itself, much less alliances between similar but hardly identical nation-states.

The TV show “Game of Thrones” is a good metaphor for this new international system (and that’s the only positive comment I would ever make about that show) and Israel’s status as “the only true democracy in the Middle East” counts for much less in such a system than it used to.

Another development is that the very meaning of “democracy” is becoming very confused. The bedrock of democracy, that “the people” decide matters of public policy through elections and petitions to elected officials has taken a severe beating in recent years on many fronts. Courts have issued rulings which effectively voided the will of the voters while also often ignoring or abrogating constitutions and previous legal, political and social precedents. This phenomenon, often called “legislating from the bench” has become quite popular all over what was once known as “the free world” and has even become a growing issue here in Israel. Those who practice it often speak in lofty yet unapologetically paternalistic terms about “defending universal values” against the hapless unwashed masses who don’t know what’s in their own best interest.

The sad truth is, they have a bit of a point, as the voting public is often heart breakingly ill-equipped to make good decisions. This is because the education they receive in school about how their governments and societies work and what their responsibilities as citizens are, is pitifully inadequate. Political, social and religious leaders know this, and they unashamedly take advantage of it to manipulate voters into supporting things they probably wouldn’t support if they understood them better. The severe dysfunctionalism of traditional media outlets, the rise of social media and the parallel explosion of “fake news” and misinformation has drastically exacerbated these long-standing problems.

In such an environment, the efficacy of arguing that “the only true democracy in the Middle East” should be supported simply because it is in fact “the only true democracy in the Middle East” diminishes.

Finally, there are questions being raised over whether or not Israel really even IS “the only true democracy in the Middle East.” Israeli democracy is extremely messy, with aspects that many citizens of Western European countries would say are not “democratic” at all, including political factions that explicitly represent religious communities, distressingly high levels of public corruption, etc. That is not even to mention questions about equal rights and opportunities for different population groups within Israel, civil rights, etc. Last but certainly not least is the fact that Israel defines itself in explicitly ethno-nationalist and religious terms as “the Jewish State” which is something that most other democratic countries reject for themselves and frown deeply on in Israel’s case (although, oddly, not in the case of the Palestinians.)

So, if the democratic nations of the world can no longer be expected to support Israel simply because it is a fellow democracy struggling to survive in a sea of hostile, totalitarian regimes and failed states, what is to be done?

Israel’s leaders are aware of this problem and are increasingly coming to rely on what they call “faith based diplomacy” which is just a lofty way of saying they’re seeking partnerships with Christian communities around the world who will support Israel not necessarily because it’s a democracy but because the Bible says they should.

This idea, which has been around since the earliest days of the Protestant Reformation but which is still viewed as deeply unconventional by most Jews and quite a few Christians (while being viewed as yet another reason to view Christians and Israel with contempt and disgust by Israel’s casually anti-Christ and anti-Semitic enemies) is rapidly becoming the primary basis of support for Israel around the world, and not only in democratic countries. The recent Feast of Tabernacles (Succot) celebrations in Jerusalem featured large numbers of Christian supporters of Israel from many countries, including some governed by totalitarian dictatorships.

Although the governments of many of the countries represented in these meetings are at odds with each other, these Christian pilgrims worshipped, prayed, ate and fellowshipped together in Jerusalem because they considered it more important to support the agenda of their Father and King in Heaven than any agenda of their earthly political leaders.

It was a wonderful thing to see, but I hope it’s only the beginning.

If only the worldwide Body of Messiah could put our loyalty to God above our loyalty to our earthly governments on other issues. If only more of us could come together around more of the commandments and agenda items of our Heavenly Father and King regarding things like tithing, daily Bible study, prayer and fellowship, being part of a local congregation and actively seeking out the lost and hurting who live in our local communities in order to care for, comfort and minister to them.

Maybe support for Israel can be a baseline foundation on which these other things will be built. In the meantime, I urge anyone who is reading this to take an active interest in participating in what the Israeli government calls “faith based diplomacy.” The Jewish State is reaching out to Christian communities around the world, asking for their help and support. It’s an opportunity to be obedient to our King and it’s also an opportunity to gain the friendship of God’s Chosen People.

However, I also urge anyone reading this to remember the Brethren in Israel, the Believer congregations in this Land who need your support, prayers and assistance. It should, frankly, be at least as high a priority for you to support and pray for them as it is for you to support and pray for the secular government, the IDF, and all the rest.

May God give us all the wisdom, clarity and strength to stand in solidarity with God and His Chosen People and His Church as we move forward in this exciting yet difficult season of history.



New edition to be done on “Facts & Myths About the Messianic Congregations in Israel”

David Serner 

Oct 21, 2017

Nearly twenty years ago, the Caspari Center began an empirical endeavor to gather specific information regarding Messianic believers in Israel. Where did they gather? What did they believe? How big were their congregations? How were these congregations structured? How many Jewish believers were there in the Land? The Caspari Center survey entitled Facts & Myths About the Messianic Congregations in Israel was the first book of its kind to be published in Israel.

Since that time, several theological books about the Messianic movement and about various Jewish believers have been released, but no new data has been published regarding the number of believers or the structure and theology of the various congregations. We at the Caspari Center believe that it is time to tackle these questions once again.

Twenty years ago, Facts & Myths received a great deal of attention, both positive and negative. Controversy arose primarily from the fact that some people felt exposed by the publication of the book, as they would have preferred to have remained under the radar. There were other people, however, who found the detailed research helpful, and expressed gratitude for it.

The world is a different place today from what it was twenty years ago. Many congregations now have their own websites. Information about the Messianic body is much more public and widespread. There is also a new openness among the body of believers in Israel, a natural consequence of demographic growth. We believe the number of congregations has increased during last two decades, but without doing formal research, we cannot know to what extent, nor can we provide the kind of data that will assist the body in continuing its work in disciple-making.

We approach this new edition with greater awareness. Conscious of the previous backlash, we wish to be considerate of local sensitivities before embarking upon this project. We reached out to a number of local congregations, Messianic organizations, and local leaders, and secured their support. In addition to compiling all the congregations’ information, we will also survey as many local Jewish believers as possible. We hope to provide solid demographic data about the nature of the body of believers in Israel. We will also gather anecdotal data from local congregational leaders about the structure, history, and key theological beliefs of their gatherings.

We plan to gather the data over the next six months, after which we will prepare the data for publication. Our hope is to be able to publish those findings near the twenty-year anniversary of the release of the first Facts & Myths. We aim to present an accurate picture about believers in the Holy Land, and to provide accurate empirical data so we don’t succumb to wishful thinking or pessimistic views of what is going on in this part of the world. This new study will allow us to reflect on what has worked in the last twenty years, and give us information many can use to prayerfully discern how to move forward in serving our Messiah.

We would appreciate your prayers and financial assistance for this important project, as we seek to dispel myths and present facts about the body of believers in Israel.

This article originally appeared on Caspari Center, October 19, 2017, and reposted with permission.


"Israel bør acceptere palæstinensisk aftale på betingelser"

Af Anders Hjorth Vindum 16. October 2017

Hamas forsøger at fremstå som moderat. Ved at være imødekommende over for forsoningsaftalen med Fatah kan Israel afsløre bluffet – eller få Hamas demilitariseret.

I weekenden blev den aftale, som Hamas og Fatah indgik i sidste uge, lækket på de sociale medier. Den indeholdt ikke noget overraskende ud over det, man vidste i forvejen.

Kort fortalt betyder aftalen, af Hamas og Fatah/Det Palæstinensiske Selvstyre begraver stridsøksen efter mange år med fjendskab mellem de to grupper, som har kontrolleret hver sit område; Hamas i Gaza og Selvstyret på Vestbredden.

Af konkret indhold ved man, at Selvstyret per 1. december overtager den civile kontrol i Gaza. De skal betale løn til de offentligt ansatte, stå for at inddrive skat, sikre infrastrukturen osv. De får også kontrollen med grænseovergangene til hhv. Egypten og Israel. Det sker allerede 1. november. Endelig skal repræsentanter for Selvstyrets sikkerhedsmyndigheder mødes med Hamas og diskutere ansvaret for sikkerheden i Gaza. Dette store spørgsmål hvem skal stå for sikkerheden i Gaza er altså ikke afklaret. Selvstyrepræsident Mahmoud Abbas har for nylig krævet, at Hamas bliver demilitariseret, mens Hamas har sagt, at det ikke vil ske.
Erez-grænseovergangen mellem Israel og Gaza. Hvis Israel tilbyder at fjerne blokaden, mod at Hamas bliver demilitariseret, stiller det Netanyahu og co. i en win-win-situation, siger Ben-Dror Yemini.

»Israel bør acceptere«

Hvilken grimasse skal man stille op på regeringskontorerne i Israel? Det er et af de store spørgsmål, som diskuteres i de israelske medier.

Yedioth Ahronot-journalisten Ben-Dror Yemini argumenterer i en klumme for, at Israel på visse betingelser bør være positivt indstillet over for den palæstinensiske forsoning.

Ifølge Yemini skal Israel forsøge ikke at ligne nogen, der modarbejder en palæstinensisk forsoning, da en sådan forsoning i manges øjne er et første skridt på vejen mod en tostatsløsning. Israel har endda selv brugt det som argument for at fastfryse fredsforhandlinger: Så længe palæstinenserne ikke engang kan have intern politisk forsoning, hvordan skulle de så kunne indgå en fredsaftale med Israel? lyder argumentet. Og selvom der ikke på nogen måde er grund til at tro, at Hamas pludselig vil ophøre med at planlægge terrorangreb og i stedet anerkende Israel det kommer næppe til at ske så er der trods alt en palæstinensisk forsoning, som man må forholde sig til.

Netanyahu har sagt, at Israel først vil anerkende aftalen, hvis Hamas bliver demilitariseret (det vil sige nedlægger sin militære gren, Izzedin al-Qassam Brigaderne, som tæller 25.000 soldater) og anerkender staten Israel.

Yemini foreslår, at Israel tilbyder at løfte blokaden af grænsen mellem Israel og Gaza, hvis altså Hamas til gengæld demilitariseres.

På den måde undgår Israel af fremstå som nogen, der modarbejder fred. Hvis tilbuddet bliver accepteret, siger Yemini, vil det være et historisk skridt på vej mod fred. Skulle Hamas derimod afslå hvilket er mest sandsynligt vil Hamas fremstå som dem, der forhindrer fred, og forsoningsaftalen vil vise sit sande jeg: Det vil blive tydeligt, at den i sidste ende ikke er stærk nok til at skabe fremgang for hverken den palæstinensiske befolkning eller muligheden for fred med Israel. Og Hamas' forsøg på at fremstå som en moderat og fredssøgende gruppe vil blive afsløret som fup og fidus.

Norsk oljefond gjør riktig, dansk pensjonsfond diskriminerer
Miff v/Conrad Myrland 2017.10.20

Oljefondet må ikke la seg presse av folk som ikke aner hva folkerett er

Skjermdump av NTB-artikkel publisert 19. oktober 2017

En rett som ikke gjelder for alle, er ingen rett. Når noen reagerer på israelske bosetninger på en helt annen måte enn andre lands bosetninger i omstridt område er dette definisjonen på diskriminering.

MIFF slo fast allerede i 2014 at Danske Bank diskriminerer og bryter menneskerettighetene. Nå varsler Sampension, pensjonsfondet i Danmark, at de vil gjøre det samme.

De danske investorene mener de er «ansvarlige» og står opp for «menneskerettigheter» når de trekker sine investeringer ut av israelske storbanker som har kunder i bosetningene på Vestbredden. Men sannheten er at de er uansvarlige og håner menneskerettighetene.

For det første forbyr ikke folkeretten økonomisk aktivitet i bosetninger. Vanlige praksis av vestlige land viser at det ikke er noe grunnlag i folkeretten for å forby økonomisk aktivitet i okkuperte områder. Avgjørelser ved flere europeiske domstoler bekrefter det samme.
For det andre reageres det ikke mot tyrkiske, russiske og kinesiske selskaper som har økonomisk aktivitet i bosetninger og omstridte områder.

Ta for eksempel Telenor. De har et datterselskap som leverer mobil- og internett-tjenester til bosettere. Som for å helle salt på såret til dem som motsetter seg bosetteraktiviteten, leverer Telenors datterselskap en roaming-tjeneste som bærer det historiske navnet til regionen som bosetterne foretrekker.

Nei, det er ikke snakk om de israelske bosetternes «Judea og Samaria». Det er ikke snakk om Vestbredden. Det er ikke snakk om israelske myndigheter. Det er snakk om roaming-tjenesten «Artsakh», levert av det det armenske teleselskapet Armentel som Telenor har eierandel i gjennom VimpelComs (nå VEONs) russiske merkenavn Beeline. Armentel begynte å levere mobil- og internett-tjenester til det armenske okkuperte området Nagorno-Karabakh i 2002.

Skal Danske Bank og Sampension nå bryte alle forbindelser med Telenor og VEON? Nei, de skal diskriminere jøder som de mener bor på feil sted, heiet fram av Norsk Folkehjelp og andre eksperter på området.

Den israelske tenketanken Kohelet Policy Forum og NGO Monitor la i sommer fram en rapport (Who Else Profits: The Scope of European and Multinational Business in the Occupied Territories) for FNs menneskerettighetsråd som viser hvordan europeiske og multinasjonale selskaper er dypt involvert i bosetningsaktivitet i Vest-Sahara, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nord-Kypros og Krim.

Noen av verdens største selskaper i sine bransjer er involvert, som for eksempel Siemens, Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Stander, Vodafone, Renault og Turkish Airlines. Flere store selskaper er også involvert i utvinning av naturressurser og utvikling av okkupantens infrastruktur i okkuperte områder.

I oktober 2016 påpekte MIFF at stadig flere nordmenn kjøper seg bolig i bosetninger gjennom et norsk selskap. Den Danske Bank gir nok velvillig lån til slike kjøp, for de norske kjøpernes naboer er ikke israelere, men tyrkere.
– Den omfattende aktiviteten som er dokumentert i rapporten Who Else Profits viser at forretningskontakt med bosetninger ikke er et menneskerettighetsspørsmål, og heller ikke et juridisk spørsmål. Det er en god forklaring på at den massive støtten multinasjonale selskaper gir til okkupasjon og bosetninger over hele verden, ikke har ført til noen protester eller diskusjoner i FNs menneskerettighetsråd eller andre internasjonale organisasjoner: den er helt lovlig og i henhold til menneskerettighetsnormer, heter det i rapporten.

I flere tilfeller har selskapene fått veiledning fra eksperter i folkerett fra utenriksdepartementene til sine statlige eiere som sier at å gjøre forretning under jurisdiksjonen til en okkuperende myndighet som nekter et okkupert folk selvbestemmelse ikke er et brudd på folkeretten eller menneskerettighetene. Verdensbanken, Det internasjonale finansieringsinstituttet (IFC) og et stort antall nasjonale og internasjonale utviklingsbanker har gitt lån på hundrevis av millioner og milliarder av dollar til banker og selskap som gjør forretninger i okkuperte områder rundt omkring i verden. Den fjerde Geneve-konvensjonen gir den okkuperende myndighet anledning til å gjøre forretning i landområder den kontrollerer, og det okkuperte folket har ikke noe vetorett, skriver rapportforfatterne.

Svartelister som retter seg mot bosettere av en nasjonalitet og ingen andre, lukter det av. Det jødiske folket har også tidligere smakt slik grotesk diskriminering. Derfor må Sampension omgjøre sitt vedtak, og Oljefondet må ikke bøye av for press.

I sin melding om Sampensions diskrimerende vedtak kommer nyhetsbyrået NTB med svært gledelige tall for Oljefondets investeringer i Israel:
«Oljefondets samlede investeringer i Israel har økt de siste årene og var ved årsskiftet på nærmere 29 milliarder kroner. Omtrent halvparten av dette var i form av aksjer, mens resten var i rentepapirer.

Fondet satt ved inngangen til 2017 med israelske statsobligasjoner til en verdi av nærmere 11 milliarder kroner, over 50 ganger så mye som seks år tidligere.»

NTB skriver også:
«Det norske oljefondet, Statens Pensjonsfond Utland, er medeiere i alle de fire selskapene som nå svartelistes av Sampension.
Fondet eide ved årsskiftet 1,6 prosent av Bezeq, 1,5 prosent av HeidelbergCement, 0,9 prosent av Bank Leumi og 0,8 prosent av Bank Hapoalim.

Investeringene i de fire selskapene var da verdsatt til drøyt 4,2 milliarder kroner, viser en oversikt fra fondet.» Oljefondet kan trygt fortsette og øke slike investeringer.

What Israel taught me about trust

By Justin Pizzulli

Philos Project 

Oct 10, 2017

Have you ever heard the expression, “I have no reason to trust you until proven otherwise?” That’s a phrase I have certainly grown up hearing and practicing in my own life. Living by that rule is sure to guard us from harm, and to protect our self-interest. Coincidentally, that was the first sentence uttered by the professor on my day back to graduate school this week. But for the first time, I found myself questioning that statement.

Spending a month in Israel with the Philos Leadership Institute, I heard from many speakers regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A common expression and theme was “unless given a reason to believe otherwise, I trust you.” I was stunned each time I heard the phrase. In a country surrounded by enemies and plagued by terrorism, how is it that so many people live by those words?

Toward the end of my travels, I spoke with Dr. Gadi Taub, an Israeli historian and writer. “Israelis claim no demands for Palestinians until they see peace, while Palestinians live by no peace until demands,” Taub said. In other words, Israelis want to trust the Palestinians but they can’t, while Palestinians won’t trust the Israelis until they’re given a state. Does this sound familiar? One side trusts the other but can’t, while the other side won’t trust until given a reason.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle suggests that because humans live in groups, we are social beings and must live and function in societies. No man can live alone because we have the want and need to belong to something. The psychologist Abraham Maslow graphed a similar concept known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” The basic need starts at the bottom, but when each need is fulfilled a higher one is desired to form a pyramid. After safety is fulfilled, we desire love and belonging, which includes friendships, intimacy, and family. I would argue that to truly fulfil the human need of belonging and love, there must be a mutual trust between each other. To reap the benefits of belonging and love, it requires real work and effort. Just as to reap the benefits of becoming a better student you must tirelessly study. The trust will only be successful when both parties are equally committed.

I visited the Israeli settlement Arial and their National Leadership Development Center (ANLDC). In partnership with the American owned JH Ranch, the ANLDC combines outdoor learning with a strategic Biblical curriculum, providing a one-of-a kind experience for families and couples who visit the site. Each elevated and unique obstacle requires a group or partner to complete. I found myself, along with my group, balancing several feet high with a safety harness. The second I doubted my partner we were wobbling on the tightrope. To finish the course, we had to lean on each other. If one of us fell, we both fell. This is the perfect analogy to relationships, families, the workplace, and conflicts. We cannot get through life by ourselves, we need others to help us and to trust in us equally as much as we trust in them.

In secular, individualistic Western societies, the needs of the individual are more important than the needs of a group and the family. We see this example every day in America as divorce rates remain high. We view relationships solely as a method to provide happiness and emotional fulfillment for ourselves with minimal effort. We should be able to get out just as easy as we got in, especially if it is no longer fulfilling. Indeed, Americans no longer believe that the purpose of marriage is to have children. Now, 70% want “their spouse to make them happy.” Simply put, today we view others as an item rather than a person to be trusted and cherished. During my travels, I spent time learning about the typical Israeli family. In traditional American society, or in a collective Israeli society, they believe the family is more important than individual needs and happiness. The purpose of marriage is to create a safe and secure space for the nurture of child, extended family, and for society. For that reason, Israeli divorce is much more difficult and children grow up to be successful and stable citizens. By practicing trust, couples surrender their needs for the collective betterment of the family, thus eventually becoming happy themselves.

The strong American family and community is on a decline because no one wants to trust and lean on anyone. We see someone that is poor, sick, or their family is falling apart, so we brush it off because we assume the government will take care of it. No, we must take care of each other. On my trip, for every question answered, several new questions popped up. I don’t have a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the secret to a lasting family, or even building a strong community. But I do know somewhere it begins with trust. If we are constantly working toward trust, peace will follow. Setting aside our individual needs and leaning on each other, a solution will follow.

This article originally appeared on Philos Project, September 19, 2017, and reposted with permission.

Justin Pizzulli is a full-time MBA student attending Marshall University and the former Ohio field director of Generation Opportunity. He attended Shawnee State University, where he led a Christians United for Israel group. After Justin retired from conservative politics, God placed a pro-Israel career on his heart for reasons not yet fully revealed to him. Justin has always had a passion for entrepreneurship and startups, and is a realtor in a small and quite farm community in Ohio, where he currently resides. More recently he has contributed to media outlets such as The Hill.

Philos Project

Philos Project

The Philos Project is the network hub for leaders and future leaders who are committed to promoting positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.


Løvhyttefesten bragte forsoning

Af Anders Hjorth Vindum 12. October 2017

Borgmester i bosættelse havde besøg af lokale israelere og palæstinensere i sin løvhytte. Han kalder de palæstinensiske gæster "helte"

Løvhyttefesten er netop slut, og Israel er igen på vej til en almindelig. Efterårets højtider er desværre ofte forbundet med uroligheder. I år har der dog været relativt roligt, og der har ikke været opblussen af konflikten, som man så for især to år siden, hvor en længerevarende terrorbølge begyndte 1. oktober.

Palæstinensere og israelere i samme løvhytte

Sidste år havde borgmesteren i bosættelsen Efrat lidt syd for Jerusalem inviteret både palæstinensere og israelere hjem i sin sukka, løvhytte. Det endte desværre sådan, at fire af de palæstinensiske løvhyttegæster efterfølgende blev arresteret af Det Palæstinensiske Selvstyre for at have deltaget. De blev tilbageholdt og afhørt i fire dage.

Heldigvis afholdt det ikke palæstinensere fra at dukke op, da borgmesteren Oded Revivi igen i år indbød til løvhyttefest. Mere end 30 palæstinensere fra nabolaget dukkede op sammen omkring 100 andre gæster. De palæstinensiske gæster var ledere fra nogle af de omkringliggende palæstinensiske byer. Og til festen var sammensat et band bestående af både jøder og palæstinensere. På den måde kunne de lokale møde hinanden på tværs af etniske skel.

»Først må vi have lokal fred«

»Sukkot (løvhyttefesten) er noget ud over det sædvanlige. At skabe fred kræver ekstraordinære skridt og kræver, at man tænker ud af boksen. Først må vi have lokal fred, og så kan vi tale om en national forsoning,« sagde Revivi, som kaldte de palæstinensiske gæster »helte«, fordi de havde mod til at møde op på trods af sidste års anholdelser.

Da Selvstyret anholdt og afhørte de fire palæstinensere, langede Revivi ud efter de palæstinensiske ledere: »Det er absurd, at det i Selvstyrets øjne er en forbrydelse at drikke kaffe med jøder. Initiativer, som fremmer forsoning, burde blive bakket op, ikke bekæmpet.

Taler med to tunger

Præsidenten for Det Palæstinensiske Selvstyre, som er meget tæt knyttet til Fatah, hedder Mahmoud Abbas. Mange i Israel anklager ham for at tale med to tunger. I internationale fora taler han ofte om fred og fremstiller Israel som den skyldige part i, at der endnu ikke er kommet en løsning på konflikten – og han fordømmer terrorangreb.

Samtidig med det betaler Selvstyret penge til terrorister og deres familier. Ja, faktisk går en betragtelig del af deres lønninger til terrorister. Og de hylder terrorister ved at opkalde skoler og veje efter dem.

Der foregår desuden et sikkerhedssamarbejde mellem Israel og Selvstyret om at holde ro på Vestbredden. Men når lokale bosættere og palæstinensere vil mødes, modarbejder de sameksistens.

Abbas er da heller ikke en særlig populær leder, og det er nok en af grundene til, at han ikke har udskrevet valg, selvom hans fireårige periode udløb for mange år siden.

***Israeli Mossad chief***

Israeli Mossad chief: Iran strives to attain nuclear military capabilities

Amir Tsarfati 

Oct 9, 2017

Head of Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at an event, June 27, 2017. (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The Mossad held an award ceremony last week, giving citations to Mossad agents who completed important covert operations.

In the first ceremony of its kind, Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated the recipients, saluting them for “initiative, the daring, the professionalism, the planning and the execution” of Israel’s covert missions, stating the Mossad “works like a synchronized fist. All its parts are recognized and what is no less important, really, is the coordination with other bodies. I salute you, and I salute your families, who are an important part of your action.”

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen then addressed the ceremony, focusing on the ongoing threats posed to the Jewish State, including Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS who “continue to challenge us on a daily basis with attempts to harm us, and no less important, our friends in the world.”

Cohen emphasized Iran as “Israel’s greatest threat” and the Mossad’s main priority as the Islamic Republic continues its military and nuclear efforts. He stated “The objectives of the Mossad are clear: Iran continues to hold onto its vision of attaining significant nuclear capabilities, so that it will attain nuclear military capabilities.”

On the Mossad’s activities, he stated “In the field as well as at our headquarters, we do an immense amount of work to ensure that we will win wars and future battles with our enemies,” referencing the “hundreds and thousands of operations every year… some of them complex and daring, in the heart of enemy countries.”

On the future of the spy agency and its capabilities he stated, “The Mossad is getting stronger, internally, acquiring new capabilities in order to welcome the future with advanced technology, intelligence systems, greater strength and improved human resources. All this is to be prepared for the challenges that stand before us in our mission to carry out covert Mossad operations for many more years.”

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, October 4, 2017, and reposted with permission.

Amir Tsarfati

Amir Tsarfati

Amir is the founder of Behold Israel and lives in northern Israel. He has been invited to churches, prophecy seminars and conferences around the world, to teach on current events in Israel in light of Bible prophecy. Since 2004, Amir has been consultant to various law enforcement agencies and seminars on homeland-security issues.

***Søn af Hamas***

«Sønn av Hamas» skapte sjokkbølger i FNs menneskerettsråd
Norge idag 2017.10.07

Sjokkerte FN-delegater lyttet til «sønn av Hamas», Mosab Hassan Yousef

"Sønn av Hamas" Mosab Hassan Yousef

Blant de rutinemessige fordømmelsene av Israel, dukket det 25. september opp en stemme som fikk mange av menneskerådets medlemmer til å sperre opp øynene.

FNs menneskerettighetsråd har nylig avholdt sin regelmessige sesjon der de setter fokus på palestinernes situasjon. Dette årlige møtet har tradisjon for å være et forum der medlemmene kommer sammen og vedtar fordømmelser av Israel.

25. september ble et annerledes innlegg holdt fra rådets talerstol. Etter at PLO hadde greid ut om «okkupasjonsmaktens daglige overgrep», «etnisk rensing», «tyveri av land» og «jødifisering av Jerusalem», kom det anklager mot Israel om rasisme fra Qatar, om menneskerettighetsbrudd fra Nord-Korea, om apartheid fra Pakistan og om krigsforbrytelser fra Venezuela og Iran.

Utfordret PA
Tonen fikk en annen lyd da Mosab Hassan Yousef entret talerstolen og uttalte seg på vegne av organisasjonen U.N. Watch, en NGO som har talerett i FN.

Mange i Norge kjenner Yousef som «Sønn av Hamas», som er tittelen på boken han har skrevet om sin historie. I vinter var han i Norge som taler på Oslo Symposium.
–  Jeg vokste opp i Ramallah som medlem av Hamas, sa han da han introduserte seg selv for menneskerettighetsrådet.
– Mine ord er til de palestinske selvstyremyndighetene, som hevder å være den eneste legitime representanten for det palestinske folket. Jeg spør: Hvor kommer legitimiteten deres fra? Dere er ikke valgt av det palestinske folk, og de har ikke utnevnt dere til å representere dem. Dere er selvutnevnt, sa han.

Misbruker FN
– Dere handler ikke ansvarlig ovenfor deres eget folk. Beviset er deres totale brudd på menneskerettighetene. Faktisk er dere ikke det minste bekymret for palestinerne og deres utvikling. Dere kidnapper palestinske studenter fra universitetsområdet og torturerer dem i deres fengsler. Dere torturerer politiske rivaler. Det palestinske folkets lidelse er resultatet av deres egoistiske politiske interesser. Dere er den største fienden av det palestinske folket, tordnet han.
– Hvis Israel ikke eksisterte, ville dere ikke ha noen å klandre. Ta ansvar for utfallet av deres egne handlinger. Dere holder flammene vedlike i konflikten, for å opprettholde deres egen brutale makt, anklaget Yousef.
– Dere bruker denne plattformen til å villede det internasjonale samfunnet og til å villede det palestinske samfunnet til å tro at Israel er ansvarlig for problemene dere skaper, avsluttet han.

U.N. Watch har publisert video fra sesjonen, som viser hvordan flere av rådsmedlemmene snur seg med vidåpne øyne mot ham og blir urolige i salen mens han taler.

***British Police seek***

British Police seek counter-terrorism advice from Israel 

Karen Faulkner 

Sep 27, 2017

City of London Police Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland speaks at a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya in September 2017. (Screenshot: IDC Herzliya)

In the wake of a spate of severe terrorist attacks in England this year, a senior City of London Police Commissioner came to Israel this month to seek advice on counter-terrorism measures.

“We have to look to world experts in the realm of protective security, and Israel would be in that realm,” Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland told reporters.

This was Sutherland’s sixth visit to Israel.

Sutherland met with Israeli government officials during his stay, and also with security technology companies as the London police force aims to upgrade its monitoring and surveillance systems.

The City of London force is responsible for protecting the “square mile” of central London which houses the financial district and major sites like London Bridge. Indeed, the City of London police cover the Westminster and London Bridge areas, where two separate horrific terrorist attacks took place earlier this year.

Sutherland said he wanted the City of London police to have “the most technologically smart control room and camera system in the world. That’s our ambition.”

In addition to consulting with Israeli experts, Sutherland was a key note speaker at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s (ICT’s) 17th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya in central Israel. This was the second time he had accepted an invitation to address the annual conference.




***Hans øjeæble***

Apple of his eye

Wendy Halloun 

Oct 3, 2017

I was blind. A little piece of grit in my eye was enough to cause irritation and demand immediate action. Eyesight is precious and needs to be protected. In the Bible there is a phrase to describe this sensitive part of the body: “the apple of the eye.”

For the LORD’ s portion is his people,

Jacob his allotted inheritance.

In a desert land he found him,

in a barren and howling waste.

He shielded him and cared for him;

he guarded him as the apple of his eye.” Deuteronomy 32:9-10

Keep me as the apple of your eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8

Just as the apple of my eye is sensitive and needs to be protected, so God takes care of his people. By extension, the phrase means something that is precious, that is treasured above all else. Deuteronomy teaches that the nation Israel is the apple of God’s eye. David used the same phrase to pray for personal protection in Psalm 17.

But there is a parable hidden within the phrase in the original Hebrew “ishon bat ayn”. A literal translation would be “the little man of the eye.” The English word for the black part of the eye, pupil, can also mean a school student. I had erroneously assumed that these two meanings were unrelated but both refer to a little person coming from the Latin word “pupilla.” The Hebrew “little man of the eye” and the Latin “pupilla” are references to the reflection of ourselves that we see in another’s eye. And so the phrase, “Israel is the apple of God’s eye” takes on another meaning; Israel is the reflection of God’s character on earth. When God looked at Israel, he expected to see a growing likeness of himself.

Jesus used the same concept to highlight how we look at others:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’  when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

If we consider the proportional size of a person to the “little man of the eye,” the speck of sawdust could have been the reflection of the plank. We judge one another on issues that we ourselves are guilty of. We need the Holy Spirit to shine his light on our lives and reveal thoughts and attitudes that are not like God’s.

When God looked as Israel as a nation, he expected to see a nation of justice and mercy, righteousness and grace, integrity and generosity. A source of blessing to the nations and a blueprint   so that his character and blessings could be spread throughout the earth. Yet God also knew that this reflection of himself was impossible until the barrier of sin was removed. He sent his son, the exact likeness of himself, to redeem everyone who believes in him.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3

The sinful nature and the guilt of sin were destroyed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was now able to dwell inside all who believed in Jesus. Each individual is transformed gradually into the likeness of Jesus as the Holy Spirit teaches us to turn from sinful thoughts and actions. The church as a whole, the body of Christ on earth is also transforming into his likeness.

But what of Israel? God’s desire is also for nations. When he established his covenant with Abraham, he swore by himself, saying I will surely bless you and give you many descendants” Hebrews 6:13. After Abraham demonstrated that he had the same love as God through his willingness to offer up his son Isaac, God confirmed this covenant:

I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:16-18

God called the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to demonstrate his character on earth. He led them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them his law. Through the tabernacle and later the temple sacrifices, he provided a temporary means of deliverance from sin until the time for Messiah came.

But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” Hebrews 10:12

Rather than shine as an example for the Gentiles, Israel chose to copy the surrounding nations and demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:5), adopted pagan gods (1 Kings 11:4-8) and evil religious practices such as the offering of children to appease these deities (2 Kings 3:27, 16:3, 21:6). In many ways Israel rebelled against being the chosen nation but God’s covenant was founded on his own name and character not on their actions. Throughout the stories of the Old Testament there is a thread of righteousness; an unfolding of the true salvation that would come through the Messiah.  

God is still looking for a nation that will fully reflect his image. The spread of the good news to all nations allowed many more nations to come to partial reflection. Just as the individual believers are saved and yet still being saved, so also the nations of the earth are still works in progress. The gospel has gone out into the nations and is still going out. Israel also needs to hear the good news about her Messiah. There are not two bodies nor two separate images of God on earth; rather there is the Kingdom of God which is being established on earth in individuals, communities and nations. God’s desire is for one new man formed out of Jews and Gentiles coming together in love and acceptance. Both are important, both are significant. The Apostle Paul explained in Romans 9-11 that God’s plan has not failed. Throughout the generations there have been both Jews and Gentiles who believed in Messiah. Before Jesus came to earth, the emphasis was on Israel and Judah. After Pentecost, the emphasis moved to the Gentiles.

The Gentile church messed up and persecuted the Jews. We let the lies of antisemitism blot out the truths Paul set out in his letter to the Romans:

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Romans 9:1-5

Today, within the nation of Israel there is a growing body of Messianic believers: Jews who have found their Messiah in Yeshua. There are also many Arabic churches: traditional churches that have endured through the centuries of Turkish rule as well as the more recent charismatic and evangelical churches. There are Armenian, Greek and Ethiopian churches with roots going back to the first centuries. There are also modern congregations of too many nationalities to mention. How can we all be one?

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

God created humans in his own image. He also made each one unique. Each human being is a masterpiece. We can appreciate our differences and still come together in love and honour.

Jesus’ last prayer was for unity (John 17). His glory will fully manifest in our unity. And his glory will be reflected in us as we together form the “apple of his eye” – the little image of the “one new man” that we shine back to God.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18