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Rivlin Honored Guest in South Korea

The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat on Monday when President Reuven Rivlin was received as an honored guest by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Presidential residence in Seoul. The meeting included the signing of memorandums of understanding to advance cooperation in the fields of energy and education, with plans to increase cooperation in many other areas. "Your education system and the famous Israeli chutzpah are a model for us," Moon told Rivlin. "Israel and Korea share common democratic and economic values, and our relationship has grown stronger over the years. Israel is known as a start-up nation, with the most startups in the world, and I look forward to learning about the Israeli success story.”

"I believe that Israel and South Korea can work together to spread the blessings of technology and innovation throughout the Middle East," Rivlin said. "Let us explore the miracles we can make together.”

OECD Report Cites Israel for Low Worker Productivity
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a report recently saying, among other things, that Israel’s economic development is being held back by high income inequality and low GDP per capita growth in the labor force. The report recommended that Israel take steps to improve transportation infrastructure and educational opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups including the Arab and Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jewish communities.

Casspi Heading Back to Israel Following NBA Career
Omri Casspi announced over the weekend that he will be returning home to Israel to play for Euroleague powerhouose Maccabi Tel Aviv after a ten year career in the NBA, including a championship season with the Golden State Warriors. The 31-year old Caspi reportedly signed a three-year $3.2 million contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv and will be given a management position with the team when he retires from playing.

Turkey Takes Initial Deliveries of S-400 System
Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday that an initial shipment components for a Russian-built S-400 air defense system have arrived at the Murted Air Base near the capital, Ankara. Washington has warned its long-time NATO ally that deploying the Russian-built system puts Turkey in jeopardy of violating the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, while also putting at risk Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.

Tourism Report Gives Israel High Marks
he Tourism Ministry released the results of its annual Inbound Tourism Survey on Sunday. The report said, among other things, that 93% of visitors to the Jewish State reported having a good to excellent” experience. The report also said that incoming tourists contributed NIS 21 billion to Israel’s economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Today's video is from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Friday Feature - The Sordid Truth About the ‘Palestinian Jesus’

When Linda Sarsour tweeted out that Jesus was a Palestinian last weekend, some might have thought it was an innocent mistake. But given that this same canard has stirred similar backlashes over recent months, thanks to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and others, chances are Sarsour knew just how mischievous her words were. Based on his Twitter response, Yair Netanyahu certainly thought so!

Indeed, there is nothing innocent about the ‘Palestinian Jesus’. It has ignoble origins, mean-spirited motivations and fraudulent ends.

The fabrication of a Palestinian Jesus has been a core part of the lexicon of Palestinian nationalism since at least the 1960s, as evidenced by news archive photos of a press conference held by PLO chief Yasser Arafat in Amman in June 1970. Over his shoulder hangs a poster of a gaunt, near-naked Palestinian nailed to a Star of David. The message is clear: the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of the Jews, just like Jesus did.

The Palestinians borrowed this hateful equation from several unseemly sources. First, it draws on classic Christian antisemitic motifs imported to the Middle East from Europe in modern times by church clerics and others. Islam has its own embedded antisemitic slurs, but the first blood libel against the Jews in the region came courtesy of Italian clergymen serving in Damascus in 1840. Even among British Mandate authorities stationed in Jerusalem in the 1930s, it was a commonly heard refrain that “the Jews killed Jesus… and they would do it again.”

Nazi propagandists also exported their antisemitic imagery and ideology into the Middle East, both before the war and afterwards, when many received refuge in Cairo and Damascus. Some of the vilest Nazi antisemitic cartoons, especially those utilizing the symbol of the Cross, have been copied like stencils by Arab cartoonists for decades. The Palestinian Jesus is also modeled on the Nazi fiction of an Aryan Jesus: that the pure, noble Christ could never have sprung from the corrupt, evil Jews, but rather was of Roman or Germanic ancestry.

A third source is the Liberation theology which flourished in Latin America in the last century. As Marxist elements started stirring revolutions throughout the region, many local Catholic priests began supporting the cause by portraying Christ as a revolutionary who fought Roman oppression. Although the Vatican would eventually warn that the Scriptures were being wrongly used to justify violence against oppressors, the tenants of Liberation theology were readily adopted by radical black activists in America (e.g., the “Black Jesus” of Rev. Jeremiah Wright), the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (Bishop Desmond Tutu), and by the Palestinian nationalist camp.

Finally, Islamic culture has always had a penchant for openly tampering with the historic figure of Jesus. As Jerusalem Post op-ed editor Seth J. Frantzman rightly noted earlier this week, Islam acknowledges the links between Jesus and the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as the lawgiver Moses, kings David and Solomon, and even the tribes of Israel. But Islam also completely warps his identity in many other ways which are irreconcilable with the Bible, especially the New Testament. For instance, the Jesus of the Koran was born to Mary, but she just happens to also be Miriam, the sister of Moses. He is considered a Muslim prophet, but his claim to be the Son of God is flatly denied. In addition, the Muslim Jesus was never really crucified but ascended to heaven, from which he will return one day to eradicate Christianity and proclaim Islam as the true religion.

Thus, we find in the Palestinian Jesus a toxic melding of Marxist guerilla and Aryan hero, along with heavy doses of Christian and Islamic antisemitism and Supersessionism. The result has been a morbid competition among Palestinian leaders and elites as to who can come up with the sharpest quip, the cleverest analogy, the most creative, artful metaphor for equating the contemporary Palestinian plight with the sufferings of Christ.

At a press conference at the United Nations in 1983, Arafat called Jesus "the first Palestinian fedayeen [militiaman] who carried his sword."  When Arafat triumphantly took control of Bethlehem in December 1995, he told a throng gathered in Manger Square that he was there to liberate “the birthplace of our Lord the Messiah… the city of the Palestinian Jesus!” During a visit to the Vatican a few years later, Arafat even greeted John Paul II as “the successor of Peter, the first Palestinian pope.”

Arafat’s successor, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has described Jesus as “a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace."

Prominent PA official Saeb Erekat, has referred to Jesus as the “first Palestinian shaheed [martyr].”

His colleague Jibril Rajoub once exclaimed: “The greatest Palestinian in history since Jesus is Yasser Arafat.”

But the real masters at gilding the Palestinian Jesus are Palestinian Christians. Even though they should know better, it seems they have lived so long within a dominant Muslim culture that they too find it acceptable to tamper with the historic identity of Jesus.

Anglican canon Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Palestinian Liberation Theology Center, delivered an Easter message in 2001 in which he lamented: “It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him... Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.”

Sami Awad, an organizer of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, once gave a Christmas message in which he likened Israeli troops searching for terrorists in Bethlehem with “Herod’s soldiers” who slaughtered the infants of the town two millennia ago.

But it was Edward Said, the tenured Columbia professor and Arafat speechwriter, who first popularized the Palestinian Jesus and then perfected it in poetic cadence. In his 1988 BBC documentary film “My Beautiful Old House,” the late Said spoke of the Palestinians having to endure “this endless Calvary… this constant crucifixion.”

So to be sure, there is nothing innocent about the Palestinian Jesus. It is a vicious double-edged sword, in that it: 1) seeks to rob Jesus of his Jewish heritage as part of the Palestinian disinformation campaign to sever the Jewish link to their ancestral homeland, especially in the eyes of the Christian West, and 2) aims to stir up hostility towards the Jewish people by exploiting classic Christian anti-Semitic motifs, most notably that the collective Jews of Israel are still crucifying the real ancestors of Jesus in the land – the Palestinians.

This falsehood is extra devious in that most Palestinians are Muslims who do not even believe Jesus was ever crucified, and they also know the Jewish people are reticent to claim Jesus as one of their own – due to all the atrocities Christians committed against them in his name. Yet if there is one positive coming out of this latest tussle over the Palestinian Jesus, it is that more and more Jews are beginning to reclaim Jesus as a son of Israel. This modern-day trend started with such Jewish scholars as Martin Buber, who always spoke of Jesus as his "elder brother", and Prof. David Flusser, who viewed him as his favorite “rabbi”. Now we can add the son of Israel’s prime minister to that list.

The writer is vice president and senior spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org 

Netanyahu Again Warns Iran and Hezbollah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made public statements on Sunday warning Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah not to test Israel’s ability to defeat them on the battlefield. “The only thing that the terrible (JCPOA) nuclear agreement gave is a strong and sweeping rapprochement with major Arab countries," Netanyahu said during his speech to National Security College cadets visiting the Prime Minister’s Office. "Iran says simply: 'We will destroy you and destroy you first by nuclear weapons…at the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran - this is the Israeli army."

At the regular cabinet meeting a few hours earlier, Netanyahu addressed a recent threat made against Israel by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah. During an interview on Friday with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV to mark the 13th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah said that “any war will be bigger than the 2006 war for Israel, and it will put it on the brink of extinction.” Netanyahu countered what he referred to as Nasrallah’s “boastful words,” by saying that if Hezbollah “dared to do something foolish and attack Israel, we would impose a crushing military blow on it and on Lebanon…I do not intend to elaborate on our plans. Suffice it to say that for years Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, which we destroyed within days.”

Nasrallah also addressed the threats against his patrons in Teheran, declaring that “Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force. A threat to destroy Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot deter the US from waging a war on Iran, but rather the threat to attack its forces in the region and Israel. When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider. The region will burn in the event of a war on Iran.”

Meanwhile, US and UK military forces in the Persian Gulf have been reinforced, even as Britain joined with France and Germany to issue a joint statement on Sunday lamenting the precarious standing of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, adding that “the risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions. We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialog." 

“The situation is serious. The rise of tensions could lead to accidents," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters when asked about the risk of a wider Middle East war. "The fact Iran has decided to pull back from some of its engagements on nuclear proliferation is an additional worry. It is a bad decision, a bad reaction to another bad decision, that of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal a year ago."

“The conditions in the Gulf are rather volatile, but it does not rise to the level of war in the region, at least not in the near future,” Gulf-based political analyst Ahmad Obaid Syaf told The Media Line over the weekend. “The involvement of new parties helped Iran to challenge the status quo. In the past it was just Iran by itself. Today, it is Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen. Add to that the entry of Turkey.”

Here are some videos that give a closer look at the current situation regarding Iran and Hezbollah



Netanyahu Guest of Egyptian Embassy Celebration

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin visited the Egyptian ambassador at Cairo’s embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to help celebrate Egypt's 67th National Day. "We are celebrating 40 years of peace between Israel and Egypt," Netanyahu said. "Our two countries, and many other countries, are fighting extremism, violence and terrorism. I would like to commend my colleague President al-Sisi for standing firmly against this wave of extremism and terrorism."

Here is a video of his entire statement



Later on Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Samaria Regional Council saying, among other things, that “I will not allow the uprooting of any settlement in Israel in any diplomatic [peace] plan. We simply won’t uproot communities, not of Jews and not of Arabs. We are not uprooting people We are done with all that foolishness…you all know what happened when we uprooted communities, did we get peace, not we got terror and missiles.”

“Judea and Samaria is our homeland. This is our land, We will continue to develop it and to build here. In any diplomatic plan I will not allow the uprooting of a single settlement or a single settler, not a single settler…look what I did in the Golan. Look what I did in Jerusalem. There is more to come.”

Israel Takes Side of Cyprus Against Turkey
Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that “Israel follows with serious concern recent steps taken by Turkey in the waters off Cyprus’ northeast coast and reiterates its full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its maritime areas and its opposition to any attempt to violate those rights.” The statement came following warnings to Turkey from the US, EU and Egypt against attempts to explore for oil and natural gas in the territorial waters of Cyprus.

Israel Strengthens Ties with World
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel suffered more defeats this week, including a visit by a large delegation of Evangelical Christians from Colombia led by Pastor Raul Rubio Garzon and including Senator Edgar Palacio Mizrahi, who is part of a group of Comombian lawmakers dedicated to deepening ties with Israel. Also this week, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was in Japan for meetings with mayors of several large cities. The trip is meant to explore opportunities for deeper collaboration between Jerusalem and Japanese cities in all areas, particularly art, culture, science and technology, and tourism.

PA Increases Stipends to Convicted Terrorists
It was revealed on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is doubling the monthly stipend it pays to Husam Al-Qawasmi, a terrorist convicted of organizing the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel. In related news, PA leaders angrily denounced Monday’s ruling by the Jerusalem District Court that is can be held liable for civil damages from terrorist attacks by Hamas and other groups during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.

Today's video shows yet another way Israel is blessing the world

Tensions Soar After Iran Attempts to Block UK Oil Tanker

The British government announced on Thursday morning that "Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the strait of Hormuz.” The statement added that a British warship, HMS Montrose, was "forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region." Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) denied the accusations.

The incident occurred amidst feverish diplomatic activity by France to save the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement after Iran’s recent decision to violate certain provisions of it, claiming it had a “right” to do so in retaliation for US sanctions. US President Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday that those sanctions would soon be “increased substantially” while Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said during his meetings with French officials that Tehran had “completely kept the path of diplomacy and talks open.” He added an appeal for other parties to the JCPOA to “completely implement their commitments” to prevent it from collapsing.

Meanwhile, a report was released by the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington this week claiming that there are as many as 3 million people in Iran who regularly abuse alcohol and/or narcotic substances. Some analysts pointed to the report as evidence of the deepening internal crisis in Iran which could be driving the regime to desperately seek a foreign enemy to whom they can redirect public anger.

Here's a recent video giving some insight into Iran's foreign policy

Netanyahu Warns Iran Against Aggression

Responding to recent threats by senior Iranian officials, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video Tuesday evening from Nevatim Air Force base. Standing in front of an F-35i “Adir” aircraft, he said “Iran has threatened recently to destroy Israel. It is worthwhile for them to remember that these planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.” The warning came amidst escalating tensions between Iran and Western powers over the Islamic Republic’s violation of the 2015 JCPOA Nuclear Agreement.

"The foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and the [EU] High Representative express deep concern that Iran is pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)," they said in a joint statement on Tuesday. "It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPoA compliance without delay."

Meanwhile, the US is proceeding with a plan to build a military coalition to guard against Iranian threats to close strategic shipping lanes.

"We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab," Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Tuesday following a meeting with acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "This will be scalable. So, with a small number of contributors we can have a small mission and we'll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves.”

Kahlon Represents Israel at New York Stock Exchange
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon visited the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, followed a day later by a joint statement by the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Bank of Israel, the Israel Security Authority and the Insurance and Savings Authority, that an agreement had been reached to encourage collaboration in the development of financial services technology, commonly known as “FinTech.” The announcement was a high point in a week which saw several defeats for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel.

Air Seychelles , the national carried of the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles, announced on Tuesday that it will begin flying non-stop routes to Tel Aviv on 27 November. Also on Tuesday, the European budget airline EasyJet announced it will begin connecting flights between Tel Aviv and the French city of Toulouse on 29 October.

Finally, Israeli defense company Aeronautics announced a $10 million contract on Tuesday to sell their Orbiter 2 and Orbiter 3 UAV’s to an unnamed South American country. 

Israel Blesses the World
Channel 12 news reported on Tuesday that Israel’s Mossad and IDF Intelligence services have prevented 50 terrorist attacks in several countries around the world in the last three years. 12 planned attacks in Turkey were broken up after Israeli officials passed on information to their Turkish counterparts. In another example of Israel blessing the world, a study recently published by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev presents breakthrough research in addressing problems related to climate change and food security.

Palestinian Terror Commander Threatens Gaza Periphery
A commander in one of the terror militias active in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip told the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday that there are plans to conquer and hold Israeli border communities in any future conflict. The commander also said that the terror militias had learned lessons from a previous round of fighting in May and that a future war would involve much higher levels of violence than previous ones.

Court Rules PA Liable for Terrorist Attacks in Second Intifada

The Jerusalem District Court issued a ruling Sunday that the Palestinian Authority is liable for civil damages in several cases being pursued by families of victims of terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. The ruling will allow plaintiffs to move forward with their lawsuits, with total sought damages approaching NIS 1 billion. The judgement was partially based on official PA statements taking credit for all terrorist attacks carried out during the Second Intifada, including those claimed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad factions. In related news, the IDF uncovered a tunnel running under the border between Gaza and Israel on Monday, as well as shooting down a drone sent into Israeli air space from the territory.

Meanwhile, the the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) released a report Monday showing that 46.3% of Gazans and a third of Palestinians living in the West Bank believe that the best way to conclude the conflict with Israel is through military conflict.

Turkish Economy Reels from Central Bank Presidents Dismissal
The Lira, Turkey’s currency, lost over 2% of its value against the US dollar on Monday in reaction to the surprise firing by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the central bank president Murat Çetinkaya on Saturday. The move was just the latest in a string of decisions by Erdogan which analysts said was shaking confidence in Turkey and causing investors to consider pulling out of the country in favor or more stable markets.

Here is a video about other recent developments in Turkey



Religious Freedom in Israel Debated at US Embassy
The US State Department’s newly released International Religious Freedom Report for 2018 was debated on Monday at an event hosted by the US Embassy in Jerusalem, with the Israel Democracy Institute also participating in the event. The report included a line saying that “some Jews continued to oppose missionary activity directed at Jews, saying it amounted to religious harassment, and reacted with hostility toward Jewish converts to Christianity.”

Foreign Affairs Ministry representative Akiva Tor said during the discussion that, “the situation in Israel is imperfect and it always will be imperfect, but we are on a positive trajectory.”

BDS Movement Suffers Another Defeat
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat recently when the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) invited four Israeli artists to join its ranks. The invitations, which came alongside 838 similar invitations to film industry professionals from 59 countries, will give recipients the opportunity to vote for the Oscar awards and gain access to a variety of other professional activities and opportunities.

Today's video shows the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

PM’s Son Affirms Jewishness of Jesus

Islamic activist Linda Sarsour started a Twitter storm on Saturday evening after claiming “Jesus was Palestinian of Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown copper skinned with wooly hair”. One sharp response came from Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted back saying “Are you that stupid? On the cross above Jesus’ head was the sign ‘INRI’ – ‘Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm. Which means in Latin – Jesus of Nazareth king of the Jews! The Bible say that Jesus was born and raised in Judea!”

The original tweet by Sarsour drew both condemnation and praise, and left some analysts speculating that Sarsour was joining a movement which seeks to identify Jesus as a Palestinian Arab and co-opt him for the Palestinian nationalist cause. Meanwhile, some leaders of Israel’s Believer community were saying it could be a blessing that the controversy has prompted so much discussion among Israelis about Jesus.

Tensions Grow Between Iran and Western Powers
Following further breaches by Iran of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal on Sunday and related developments including the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by British forces and a threat by an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps general to seize a British ship in retaliation, a spokesman for the clerical regime in Teheran declared on Monday morning that the regime will continue to do whatever it thinks is necessary to preserve its interests regardless of the cost. Tensions were running high throughout the Middle East as governments consulted with allies and military forces on all sides were on high alert for further developments.

“Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet on July 7. “Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world.”

European signatories to the JCPOA warned Teheran that they could not tolerate its violations of the agreement while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that the steps taken so far were “reversible” if the European countries would simply accede to Iran’s demand that it find ways to circumvent US economic sanctions.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the situation



Israel Blesses the World
Israeli defense and hi-tech firm Elbit Systems Ltd. Announced on Wednesday that its subsidiary, Cyber Intelligence Ltd., has won a contract to provide the Dutch National Police with a cyber intelligence system. Elsewhere, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently released its annual report on agricultural policy in member states which included high praise for Israel’s agricultural technology development sector, which has developed tools used by farmers in many countries around the world.

BDS Movement Suffers More Defeats
In a pair of defeats for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, an Israeli diplomat was elected to serve as Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee and representative of Western European and Others Group of the UN last week and the Israeli national baseball team won an important tournament. The team went 6-0 to claim the top spot at the Confederation of European Baseball’s (CEB) European Championships Pool B tournament in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria over the weekend, a first step towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

Netanyahu Presents Progress in Cutting Regulatory Burden
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a report to the Cabinet Sunday morning on steps that have been taken to date to cut the regulatory burden on Israeli businesses. “I want to be one of the least bureaucratic countries, least regulated countries, in the world, because this means money in consumers’ pockets,” Netanyahu said.

Today's video shows archeological excevations of the Biblical city of Ziklag

Are Arabs Leaving Islam?

It was an eye-catching headline!
 
 
“Arab world turning its back on religion,” claimed the title of an article last week in The Guardian. Very interesting and certainly worth a closer look.
It turns out that in a recent BBC News Arabic survey of 25,000 people across ten Middle East countries and the Palestinian territories, trust in religious leaders is plummeting, including in radical Islamist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, there is a discernible rise in the proportion of people describing themselves as “not religious” – from 11% in 2012-2014 to 18% this year.
Now this is welcome news, especially for Christians who stand with Israel and view Islamic ideologies as a major impediment to peace and normalcy in the region. And the figures do seem credible, as the growing number of young Arabs who identify as “non-religious” mirrors the secularization trend among millennials in the traditionally Christian West. While a seven percent increase over the past half-decade might not seem that large, in context we are dealing here with those living in the heart of the Muslim world, where custom has long held that leaving the Islamic faith is a sin punishable by death. So the real number of Arab-Muslim apostates is likely even higher.
Yet several reputable polling firms (Pew Research Center, Barna Group) have been gauging the long-term trends worldwide, and they are forecasting that the secular, non-religious segments of societies worldwide will actually lose ground to the religious camps over coming decades, and that Islam will remain the fastest growing religion in the world. This is largely due to the higher birth rates among families that belong to the world’s major religions – most notably Christianity, Islam and Hinduism – as well as a projected increase in conversions to Islam.
So what are we to make of all this? Are there a significant number of Muslims in Arab nations who are leaving Islam? Or is Islam still the world’s fastest growing religion and destined to be the dominant faith of the future?
The answer to these questions is complex and elusive, as demographic studies of this nature are an inexact science – the data is incomplete, the methodologies are often flawed, and the trends are fluid. But here are some of the main factors to watch for going forward.
 
 
1) Birth rates among Muslims have been dropping significantly in recent decades.
Islam is growing faster than any other religion, according to the Pew studies, and by 2070 it will overtake Christianity as the world’s most prevalent religion. Yet much of this projected growth for Islam is based on birth rates that are not sustainable. The current fertility rate among Muslims is 3.1 children per woman, compared to 2.7 among Christians, but that gap is closing every year.
For years, academics and commentators have been citing higher birth and conversion rates to predict that countries like Britain and Russia will have Muslim majorities by 2050. But both rates are slowing and should soon level out. Regarding Russia, for over a decade Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes has maintained a running column on the Muslim-takeover debate there, presenting views both pro and con.http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/08/predicting-a-majority-muslim-russia  In one update, he notes the Russian government’s proactive efforts to encourage the native youth to procreate, including mass teen rallies that eerily resemble the Hitler Youth gatherings and ‘Hitler Brides’ phenomenon of an earlier era.
Israel has had its own heated demographic debate over the high Palestinian Muslim birth rate and its possible impact on Israeli democracy and the peace process. PLO chief Yasser Arafat used to boast that the wombs of Palestinian women were the best weapons they had for destroying Israel. Yet today, the demographic trends are turning in Israel’s favor. A report in La Stampa in 2016 even claimed that waves of Jewish immigration combined with a soaring birth-rate among religious Jews has brought an equilibrium with the Palestinians. In fact, the birth rates among Arab women has been halved over the past twenty years, both in Gaza (from 8 children per woman now down to 4) and the West Bank (6 children to 3), while Jewish mothers in the Israeli settlements of Judea/Samaria are now having more children that their Palestinian neighbors.
 
 
2) Many converts to Islam in the West leave the faith after a few years.
It is quite easy to become a Muslim. All one has to do is recite the shahada (testimony of faith) three times before Muslim witnesses: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” But once you have to start rising well before dawn in order to pray the requisite five times each day, or once you are required to observe sharia law by holding infidels in contempt, then Islam is not so easy or attractive.
According to a Pew assessment in 2011, the number of people who become Muslims through conversion seems to be roughly equal to the number of Muslims who leave the faith. Meantime, sociologist Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, a Pakistani-born American Muslim, concluded that 75% of new Muslim converts in the US leave Islam within a few years.
 
 
3) There is a code of silence among Muslims who fall away from the faith.
Once born a Muslim, it has always been a frightful prospect to ever leave the faith, due to the mortal threats against apostates sourced to the Koran itself. The eminent Sunni preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qarqdawi once said on Al-Jazeera that the application of the death penalty for those who leave Islam is a necessity, since “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”
 
 
4) There is growing disillusionment with Islam, and many Muslims are looking for something else.
The sight of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS militants on a beach in Libya in 2015 was repulsive, even to many Muslims. Such atrocities are having a double impact. First, it is turning Muslims off to their own faith, and secondly, to witness Christians refusing to renounce their faith in the face of certain death is a powerful draw.
Besides the barbarism of Muslim extremists, political Islam is also losing its shine. The recent municipal election results in Istanbul show that the Turkish public, for instance, has soured on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s draconian efforts to forge a "pious generation" in his country. And throughout the Muslim world, there is much to indicate that the vast majority of those identified with Islam today are cultural Muslims, rather than fundamentalists or strictly devout Muslims, just as much of the native populations of Europe today are rightly considered nominal Christians.
 
 
5) Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in the Global South.
Based on extensive research, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins has documented the boom in Christianity in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where the faith is experiencing a dynamism and fervency in missions that runs counter to the liberal, secular trends in Europe and North America – once the bastions of the faith. The fastest growing stream of Christianity is Evangelicalism, which now has an estimated 700 million adherents. Nigeria has far more practicing Anglicans than England. The Philippines has more baptisms per year than France, Italy, Poland and Spain combined. By 2025, two-thirds of all Christians are expected to live in the Global South.
China and India, the world’s two most populous nations, are both experiencing incredible growth in their respective Christian communities. China may now have as many as 130 million born-again believers, while India has at least 100 million and rising. Even in Arab and Muslim countries, the churches are growing rapidly, with Iran leading the way as the country with the highest rate of church growth, despite the ayatollahs attempts to suppress it.
 
 
Conclusion
The respected refusenik Natan Sharansky divides the world into free versus fear societies. He challenged the Soviet Communist system, which relied on intimidating people into submission through fear that even your own children would report you to the authorities. But that fear was finally broken, and while Communism has not disappeared from the earth, it no longer has half the world in its iron grip.
Islam, which means “submission,” operates in much the same way. Yet there are hopeful signs that its grip of fear over the Arab and Muslim world is waning. The fact that more Arab youths are not afraid to tell pollsters they are losing their religion is proof that Islam’s hold on the younger generation is slipping in the very cradle of its inception.
 

Netanyahu Says Israel Prepared for War with Hamas

Israel’s i24 News portal reported on Wednesday evening that the Air Force had in recent months launched dozens of strikes on Iranian weapons shipments making their way through the Egyptian Sinai to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Egyptian security forces have also carried out operations to limit the flow of weapons. On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security cabinet meeting at the IDF Gaza Division headquarters, emerging from the meeting to issue a statement that Israel would like to restore calm to the south but is prepared for a large-scale military operation against the terrorist forces operating in Gaza if necessary.

Here is a video of the statement



PA Financial Reports Show Payments to Terrorists
The Palestinian Authority’s published financial expenditure reports for the first five months of 2019 show, among other things, that it has paid over $65 million in stipends to Palestinian terrorists who were arrested by Israeli security forces for their involvement in attacks against Israelis and are currently serving time in Israeli prisons. In related news, US senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday that the PA’s reaction to the recent “Prosperity to Peace” economic workshop in Bahrain was “hysterical and erratic and not particularly constructive.”

“They looked very foolish by trying to fight this,” he added. “Palestinians are starting to see that Israel is not responsible for their problems, it’s their leaders (who) will have to step up at some point and show that they want their people to live better lives.”

Archeologists Find Evidence of Philistine Origins
Archeologists excavating around the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon say they’ve found fresh evidence supporting the theory that the Philistines, mentioned in several books of the Bible as the mortal enemies of the ancient Israelites, came to the Leventine coast from southeast Europe in the 12 Century BC. The findings, which incorporate state of the art DNA testing done on bone fragments discovered during the excavations, were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Meanwhile, a 1,600-year-old mosaic floor depicting the story of Elim from Exodus 15:27 was recently uncovered in the Galilee, and will soon be available for public viewing.

US-Iran Tensions Continue to Fester
U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to statements by Iranian officials that they would enrich uranium as much as they wanted, tweeting “Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!” Several other world powers issued statements urging calm.

Fourth of July Celebrated in Israel
Various picnics and other events were planned on Thursday to help Israel’s hundreds of thousands of American-born citizens celebrate the Fourth of July. In the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, municipal officials unveiled a sign naming a major square in the city after US President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening. “Israel never had a president who is as supportive and helpful as US President Donald Trump,” Mayor of Petah Tikva Rami Greenberg said. “It is only fitting to name a major square in the fourth largest Israeli city after him.”

Today's video shows the Independance Day celebrations this week at the US Embassy in Jerusalem

 

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