April 2021 Edition
4. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 News 4 Marilyn Stern n Communications Coordinator | Middle East Forum Rafael Bardaji, executive director of the Friends of Israel and Spain’s former national security advisor, spoke to participants in a 15 February Middle East Forum webinar about the persistent “clash of interests ... between the European Union (EU) and the Israeli government” likely to endure for the foreseeable future. According to Bardaji, three points of friction between the EU and Israel are prominent this year. The first is the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision by its former prosecutor, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda, to “accept the Palestinians as a national state ... able to ask for an investigation, prosecution and indictment of a non-state- member of the ICC,” namely Israel. “The Europeans are very well attached, by heart, to the ICC despite all violations of international law regarding this decision.” Bardaji suggested that the most effective way to counter the ICC’s illegal action is to approach those European powers opposed to Bensouda’s decision and persuade them to defund the ICC. The second point of friction concerns Iran. Despite Tehran’s violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the EU is eager to ‘keep it afloat’ and press the U.S. to lift its sanctions imposed under Trump in order to resume their own trade with Tehran. The Biden administration’s clear desire to reach out to Iran for a new agreement will encourage the Europeans to ‘offer even more concessions to Iran’ to hasten a deal. The third point of conflict is European eagerness to “pull the Palestinians back into the centre stage” of the Middle East peace process, despite the fact that the Palestinians’ longstanding belief that “without them, nothing can be done in the region” has been proven wrong. The Abraham Accords established as a result of Trump’s ‘thinking out of the box,’ bore results, but the Biden administration has expressed “doubts about nurturing new countries” to join the accords. That stance will cause the Europeans to stiffen their own resistance. Bardaji discussed several factors giving rise to these and other clashes of interests between the EU and Israel. Culturally, there is a clash of values between a “pacifist continent ... [where] nobody wants to kill or die for anything,” and Israel, “defined as a Jewish state for the Jewish people” committed to defending its borders and people. Europeans “reject defence as a tool of the state” and perceive Israel as a framework foreign to its embrace of a multicultural European identity. “We [Europeans] despise ourselves, and we embrace everyone else coming from every country in the world, even if they don’t want to integrate, like Muslim radicals.” Furthermore, “a state that is defined by religious belief – the state of the Jewish people” is seen as an ‘anachronism’ given the “radical secularisation of Europe.” The average European, ascribing to a ‘post-modern world,’ cannot comprehend a people defined by a religion other than Islam surviving in the hostile environs of the Middle East. Further contributing to Europe’s hostility towards Israel is that it has evolved from its beginnings as a socialist experiment, which appealed to the left in Europe, to become the ‘pro-capitalist ... start-up nation,’ where the European left ‘cannot see itself ... represented.’ The irony is that the Europeans, in their embrace of secular values while exhibiting hostility toward the Jewish state, see no contradiction between these sentiments and their tolerance of Muslim migrants who ascribe to “a religion that is hostile to our values and our way of life,” and who are becoming more radicalised. Indeed, the ‘new left’ in Europe has established a ‘symbiotic relationship’ with Muslims that is “making [the continent] more fertile for anti-Semitism ... [and] anti- Israeli criticism.” Bardaji questioned whether the emergence of the new right in Europe is an antidote to the hostility towards Israel because, excluding what Daniel Pipes calls ‘civilizational parties’, there are elements of anti- Semitism there as well. With the far left and far-right “emerging as the only two poles determining the political dynamics in the EU and the European continent,” Bardaji is pessimistic about the future of EU-Israel relations. This article was originally published by The Middle East Forum on 14 March 2021. www.meforum.org Why Europe Remains Hostile to Israel European Union and Israel flags together. | Photo: Shutterstock Israel & Christians Today Staff n Israelis spent a total of 139 days under lockdown – more than any other nation in the world, according to the Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker. In the autumn of 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the Jewish state had the highest rate of new infections per capita of any country in the world. About 6,000 Israelis have died of Covid-19, and at the pandemic’s peak, one in three Israelis was out of work. Financial Times reported: “The lockdowns hit businesses hard. Even though gross domestic product shrank only 2.4% in 2020, thanks to an unexpected leap in diamond exports, private consumption fell 10 per cent. And while high-tech companies quickly transitioned to working remotely, small businesses did not.” Israel has also led the world in vaccinations. According to The Guardian, “Israel is the first country to have vaccinated more than half its population, which it has done with the collaboration of Pfizer/BioNTech and an agreement to monitor the results. As of 9 March, about 55% of its 9 million population had been given at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to health ministry data, and 43% had received a second dose, which in Israel takes place three weeks after the first.” The Guardian report continues: “The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to give high protection against asymptomatic Covid-19, according to data from Israel – a finding that will boost hopes that mass vaccination can stop the spread of the virus. The top line of the real-world results, issued by the Israeli ministry of health and the companies but not yet peer-reviewed by scientists, is efficacy of 97% against disease and death and 94% against infection without symptoms.” By mid-March, Israel’s third national lockdown was being eased. The government has launched a ‘Green Passport’ system that grants the vaccinated special access to concerts, gyms and other once-routine parts of life. There is also opposition to these policies. Anshei Emet (People of Truth), a group against coronavirus vaccination, even filed a suit against the Israeli government with the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this month, arguing that Israel’s administration of the coronavirus vaccine and policies to encourage vaccination are considered ‘crimes against humanity’. A recent poll showed that three-quarters of Israelis were still wary of declaring the pandemic over. Israel’s Covid-19 Policies Showing a Green Passport before attending a concert of Israeli rock singer Shalom Hanoch in Tel Aviv. | Photo: Flash90
29. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 13 Historical Israel Bryce Turner n Executive Director | Christians for Israel NZ During Shavuot, 24-25 May 1991, a record-breaking operation took place, under a shroud of military secrecy, to bring 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to safety. In just 36 hours, a mixture of Israeli Air Force aircraft and El Al passenger jets operated non-stop in one of the largest airlifts in living memory. Flying over 40 sorties, with up to 27 aircraft in the air at one time, less than 24 hours separated the first take-off from the last. One El Al 747 holds the Guinness World Record for carrying at least 1088 people, including two babies who were born during the flight. Operation Solomon was overseen by the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Yitzhak Shamir, and was kept secret by military censorship. Due to the petite and often malnourished stature of the Ethiopians, and the ability to remove seats, considerably higher numbers of passengers were able to be accommodated within the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft. Also, few passengers had luggage - nothing but the clothes they were wearing. 24 May also happened to be a Friday, when the Jewish Shabbat begins, during which transportation is not normally used. Jewish religious law, however, permits breaking Sabbath traditions for saving lives. This meant that more vehicles were available for the mission. It is believed that a Jewish community was already established in Ethiopia around 587BC. Although the exact origin of the Ethiopian Jews is unclear, there is widespread belief that they are descendants of King Solomon and Queen Sheba. There are many other theories as to their origins and the path that brought them to Ethiopia, but the name given to them ‘Beta Israel’ - ‘House of Israel’ – illustrates the Ethiopian Jewish community’s deep connection to the Torah. Whilst there is still debate as to the Jewish heritage of the Beta Israel, the Israeli government were sufficiently convinced as to authorise the use of the IDF. The immigration of Jews from Ethiopia into Israel began in the early 1980’s, following the death of some 2500 Jews in the aftermath of a violent coup. Immediately after the coup the Ethiopian government legislated to prohibit the practice of Judaism and declared the teaching of Hebrew illegal. This sparked a number of operations conducted by Israel to rescue Ethiopian Jews. Operation Solomon was the third Aliyah airlift mission from Ethiopia to Israel, following Operations Moses and Joshua. In 1991, the government of Ethiopia was very close to being brought down by rebel forces after a long and bitter civil war, and North Africa was in the grips of a massive famine. Jewish organisations around the world were very concerned for the safety of the Ethiopian Jews. The Ethiopian government had made it nearly impossible for the Beta Israel to emigrate, so by 1990 the Israeli government and the IDF had already begun making covert plans to evacuate the Jews to Israel by mass airlift. The United States also became involved in the planning of Operation Solomon after American Jewish leaders made the US government aware of the danger facing the Beta Israel population. Following numerous diplomatic negotiations, final approval for the airlift was gained following a letter to the Ethiopian government from President George H.W. Bush. The Acting Ethiopian President approved the airlift. As a part of the arrangements to allow the Jews to come to Israel, the Jewish Community raised some $35 million to present to the Ethiopian government, to cover ‘airport costs’ in Addis Ababa. The American Association of Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ) contributed considerably to the speed at which Operation Solomon was mobilised. One significant challenge facing the Beta Israel was the logistics of even getting to Addis Ababa. The AAEJ was instrumental in organising buses and trucks to help transport evacuees from Gondar; many more travelled hundreds of miles by car, horse and even by walking, facing many perils along the way. Numerous robberies, assaults and even murders took place along the route as the Ethiopian Jews desperately sought safety. By 1990, some 2000 Ethiopian Jews had even walked all the way from their village in the Gondar highlands to the capital Addis Ababa. As the passengers disembarked, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and other government officials greeted them. Approaching the 30th anniversary of Operation Solomon, it is clear that the welcome received by the Beta Israel hasn’t always been so warm. The vast difference between the largely illiterate culture of rural Ethiopia and high- tech, professional, urban Israel hasn’t always been easy for the tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who ultimately made Aliyah to Israel, many only just now settling into employment and truly fitting into Israeli society. The struggle has been very real for the Beta Israel, but now more and more we can hear stories of those who have overcome the odds and now make vital contributions to Israel. Soon, Jews and friends all over the world will commemorate that bold, brazen and record- breaking mission of 30 years ago, and the countless lives that were inevitably saved. th 30 Anniversary of Operation Solomon IDF officer helping Ethiopian immigrants out of the Hercules jet, Air Force Base, Operation Solomon. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, GPO Shira Shares her Experience of Operation Solomon Danielle Mor n Jewish Agency. Abridged by Managing Editor Since the day the Jewish Agency established the State of Israel in 1948, the borders of Israel have always been open for Aliyah. Can it be that the pandemic will change this? Indeed, it has. Thousands of olim who were all set to arrive, that sold their property, left their jobs etc, were held back. Our work revolved around finding ways to care for and assist them and to reverse this government decision. I am overjoyed to share, that although not a complete reversal has been achieved, we have succeeded in bringing home to Isra el some 1,000 olim from countries such as Ethiopia, France, Russia, Ukraine and Latin America. I’d like to share with you a beautiful story. It is that of a six- year-old boy named Benjamin and a woman named Shira who arrived together on the first flight from Ethiopia. Six-year-old Benjamin was born in Ethiopia with a heart condition that went undiagnosed until recently... he urgently needed open heart surgery. This surgery is not available in Ethiopia, but it is in Israel. As a member of the Ethiopian Jewish community, his family has long awaited Aliyah. Everything seemed to be in place – his visa and the hospital waiting to receive him in Israel – but then found out the Ethiopian government wouldn’t issue his mother a passport in time so she couldn’t go with him! We knew that if we didn’t get Benjamin on the flight, he could die. Without his mother, how could six-year-old Benjamin board the flight on his own? So we struggled to find a legal guardian but we did. Benjamin parted from his mother in tears and yet boarded the flight with a hopeful heart. What he didn’t know was that mid-flight, the guardian changed her mind. She would not accept the role of guardian. This is where Shira comes into the story... Shira is a dear colleague working at the Jewish Agency. Thirty years ago, she made Aliyah from Ethiopia as a six-year-old child with her own family on Operation Solomon. Over two months ago, she left Israel on what was meant to be a three-week mission to assist with Aliyah from Ethiopia. She left behind her husband and four children, sharing with them that she was on a mission to bring members of their community home to Israel. Due to the civil war in Ethiopia and the lack of flights, this three-week mission grew longer and became over two months long. Her family was desperate for her return, so were overjoyed to learn she was coming home on a special Aliyah evacuation flight. When the legal guardian of Benjamin changed her mind, Shira realised Benjamin would have to return to Ethiopia immediately. She remembered herself at his exact age, coming on the ‘metal bird’ of Operation Solomon, and immediately knew what she must do. Shira volunteered herself to be guardian of Benjamin (pictured right) and came off the flight holding his little hand, being taken directly to spend 14 days in quarantine with him at the hospital. Calling her family, her eight-year-old boy asked her: “Mommy, you landed? You’re coming home?” Shira replied with tears: “Honey, I am in Israel, but it wi ll take a little while longer. You see, a little boy here needs me, his heart is not as strong as yours, he needs urgent surgery, and his mother is not with him. I must be with him in her place.” And indeed, Shira stayed with little Benjamin who is now preparing for life saving open heart surgery.
14. 6 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Pastoral Insights Keith Buxton Former National Director of Bridges for Peace Australia Purim and Pesach—Bookends to the Month of March “A short summary of every Jewish holiday: They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” (Comedian Alan King) This year the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Biblical feast of Pesach formed as it were “bookends” enclosing the month of March. Purim this year began at sunset on Thursday 25 February and ended at sunset on Friday 26 February. The word Purim is Hebrew for “lots”, referring to the plot of the Persian king’s advisor Haman to draw lots to determine when all the Jews would be destroyed. Esther, the king’s wife and queen who replaced Vashti when she was thrown out of the kingdom, was secretly a Jew, and saved her people from Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews by risking her life and courageously revealing it to the king. It is a well-known story found in the Biblical book of Esther. On the occasions when I have led a tour group to Auschwitz- Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps, I have read out to everyone on the bus from Krakow to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in southern Poland, the whole book of Esther—a reminder both that God is still watching over His people, and that we are called to do all that we can to ensure that “never again” will there be another Holocaust. About Purim the Jewish website ‘ Judaism 101’ says this: “The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll.... It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers (rattles or noisemakers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to ‘blot out the name of Haman.’” In the Torah, a commandment instructs the Jewish people to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek” (Deuteronomy 25:19), which includes Haman. Amalek, a tribe descended from Esau, were the first to attack the Jews as they were fleeing from Egypt. One of the favorite aspects of Purim for children is that they are encouraged then to make as much noise as they can! Costume parties are held, usually with outlandish costumes. “We are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry.... In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity.” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Now about the Biblical feast of Pesach. The well-known and in Jewish history pivotal story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt after generations of slavery is recounted in Exodus 1-15. Pesach (Passover) is one of the three Jewish pilgrimage festivals with both historical and agricultural significance, when in Biblical times all the men of Israel according to the commandments of the Torah were required to come up to the Temple in Jerusalem. The other two pilgrimage festivals are Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Pesach is celebrated during the Hebrew month of Nisan, this year from sunset on Saturday 27 March to sunset on Saturday 3 April (4 April outside Israel). It is a holiday extending over eight days during which the Jewish people commemorate the Exodus, the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Most of the Biblical feasts are celebrated in the synagogue, where there are special readings for each day of the festival, the story from the book of Exodus being recounted on the first day. For the most part however Pesach is celebrated at home with friends and family. The seder is a service held at home that features storytelling, songs, and a festive meal, the items on the plate guiding Jews in retelling the miraculous Exodus story. This makes Pesach the most popular Jewish holiday, and families may travel great distances to be together at this special time, often taking the opportunity for week-long holidays. It is also a popular time for Jews from around the world to visit Israel. Very few Israeli Jews do not participate in one way or another in the celebration of Pesach, a time when there is a very real focus on God’s protection and provision. Writes Rabbi Yehudah Prero: “Purim celebrates our deliverance from the hands of those who oppressed us, those who plotted our destruction. This is a theme seen in the celebration of Pesach, as well. On Pesach, we celebrate our exile from Egypt, from those who enslaved and persecuted us. Both Purim and Pesach share the theme of salvation and deliverance to freedom.” ( www.torah.org ) And so both Purim and Pesach are powerful opportunities for Jewish people worldwide to remember and recount God’s miraculous action on their behalf in delivering them from their enemies. At the same time Christians rejoice in the freedom made available through Jesus (Yeshua), whose self-sacrificial love we remember with deep thanksgiving. Together—Jew and Christian—may we never cease to marvel at the greatness and mercy of our God, who acts so powerfully on our behalf! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * And now for a lengthy and fascinating insight from a young Jewish seminary graduate called Aliza, which I came across A crowd and their Rabbi, part of a celebration of the Jewish Holy day Purim, in the ultra-orthodox neighbourhood Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel. Credit: RnDmS / Shutterstock.com Passover Seder plate. Six foods (symbols) make up this passover meal: haroset, zroa, hazeret, egg, maror, karpas.
19. 11 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Faith-Based Tours in Australia The following is an extract from Dr. Paul Roe’s 80+ page thesis on how Australia was instrumental in the foundation of the modern State of Israel. Used with permission: In essence, the thesis is a case study in Australian policy as ennunciated and practised during the 1940’s initially the Curtin and then the Chifley Labour Governments. The basic contention is that Australia’s active and ultimately decisive involvement in the Palestine problem, was framed in terms of Labour’s evolving policy in external affairs which was composed of three basic ingredients: nationalism , internationalism and socio-economic concerns. More particularly it will be argued that the chief protagonist and initiator of this policy, Dr. H. V. Evatt, provided the dynamic which pushed the partition scheme through the United Nations and in effect sponsored the nation of Israel. Further, it will be contended that Evatt’s motives for urging the partition solution were rooted in his deep personal commitment to the ideals of the United Nations. It is Evatt the idealist who is prominent in solving the Palestine problem, an aspect somewhat neglected in the study of this enigmatic man. It should be emphasised at the outset that the thesis deals with one facet of Evatt and his approach to foreign policy; and in particular his concern with justice. Ancillary issues will be considered in an attempt to isolate the operant factors in Australia’s approach. Above all it will be shown how the central Zionist concern to gain international recognition, coincided with the aspirations of Australian foreign policy to play an effective role on the international stage, particularly within the framework of the United Nations which Australia and pre- eminently Dr. Evatt had laboured so hard to construct. In sum, it will be posited that Australia’s championship of the partition plan and eventually of the Jewish state of Israel was the outworking of “Evattian idealism”. l’ve added, Dr. Evatt is revered in Israel because he played such a big part in getting Israel admitted to the U.N. 24 Amongst a number of honours granted Evatt, was a forest planted on the slopes of Mount Carmel overlooking the Bay of Haifa, sponsored by the Australian Zionist Federation. Thus, a unique chapter in Australian history came to a close. The words of Rabbi Brasch perhaps capture best the incongruity of the connection between Australia and lsrael. The Rabbi wrote: Jews throughout the world are forever in Australia’s debt in relation to two dramatic episodes in modern Jewish history. The first... when alone among the peoples of the world Australia offered free entry and thus a chance for life to many thousands of Jews who were groaning under the yoke of Nazi savagery. The second... was the vital lead given by Australia through its Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H. V. Evatt – at the crucial stage when the U.N. General Assembly had to vote for or against the creation of the state of Israel. Strange that one of the world’s youngest nations played so vital a role in recreating one of its oldest nations. 25 24. S.M.H July 22, 1949. p. 3. 25. Brasch. Op.cit., p. 261. ******************************************** Evatt was acclaimed universally by the Jews. The First Israel Council General stated on arrival in Australia that: “Israel regards Australia as one of its greatest friends because Australia had played a strenuous past in the establishment of the State of Israel.” ******************************************** Graham McLennan opened the ‘His Story Tour’ with a Reading from Psalm 78:1-7 and “Historical” Prayer: Thank you Lord for your story of the hand of God on our nation, for your sovereignty over our beginnings and the settlement here by the British bringing with them the Gospel. We thank you Lord that your word says that all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before you, for dominion belongs to the LORD and you rule over the nations and we thank you for those that came before us, including our Indigenous brothers and sisters. We thank you for the prior voyages leading to the European Discovery of Australia, for people such as Christopher Columbus who said: “You put into my mind—I could feel your hand upon me—the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies- All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me... There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because you comforted me with rays of marvellous illumination from the Holy Scriptures... For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. It is simply the fulfilment of what Isaiah had prophesied... No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy service... the fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time—this is what convinces me.” And Lord we know South America become mainly Catholic because of the Spanish influence and as we know the Protestant English later settled North America at Jamestown and placed a cross at Cape Henry, Virginia Beach on April 29, 1607, claiming America for God as your vehicle for spreading the gospel to every nation. Also we are thankful for the Portuguese Catholic, Magellan who opened up the South Seas to the Europeans and helped found the Catholic nation of the Philippines as his purpose was to convert the barbarous nations to Christ. It was his faith that sustained him through terrible deprivations after he found a strait into the Pacific. His Story Tour’ in Sydney reveals Aussie connection to Birth of Israel Dr Graham McLennan Chairman of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL) Evatt in 1948 with UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie. Wikipedia. Evatt (left) and Ben Chifley (middle) with Clement Attlee (right) at the Dominion and British Leaders Conference, London, 1946. Wikipedia. Jews throughout the world are forever in Australia’s debt... Strange that one of the world’s youngest nations played so vital a role in recreating one of its oldest nations. Continued Overleaf...
16. 8 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Opinion Piece from the Jerusalem Watchman He Who Keeps Israel Never Sleeps; Neither Dare We! What a balagan (Hebrew for “mess”) this is, on the face of it. Israel’s 4th general election, held in March, left the country even more stuck than it was under the previous three governments that came in, and collapsed, in just two years. It is hard, at present, to see the way forward. But even as this morass has been solidifying, Israel’s enemies have been busy; racing with on-the-ground efforts towards establishing Palestine on the Mountains of Israel, with a defiant, deeply anti-Semitic, European Union in the lead. But first, for the unacquainted, a brief explication of this country’s electoral system. Israel is a multi-party democracy; its citizens vote for their chosen party (not for the prime minister). They elect 120 lawmakers to the unicameral parliament (only one house)—the Knesset. A working government needs 61 seats, but no single party gets close. The election outcome is always fragmented, and the leader considered most likely to succeed is tasked with cobbling together a coalition with some of the smaller fragments. On March 23, 39 parties ran the race; 14 won enough votes to enter the Knesset. The interests represented by these 14 parties criss-cross Israel’s political playing field on multiple levels, diverging and intersecting at every turn: Right and left; secular, religious and ultra-religious; Zionist and anti-Zionist; religious Zionist and secular Zionist; Jew and Arab; Muslim Arab and Christian Arab; socialist and free market... Significantly this year, dividing this conglomeration into two blocs—whatever their differences, and albeit that no votes are actually cast for the prime minister— is the matter of who wants Binyamin Netanyahu to remain versus who wants him gone for good. Worryingly, it is apparent that only of secondary importance is the extremely critical question of whether Israel will have a right wing government, or a left wing one; that is to say, a government that opposes the creation of Palestine on the Jews’ ancestral national land or a government supporting this “Two State Solution”; a government that fully rejects any engagement with Iran, willing to go it alone and forcefully confront this nuclear threat, or a government that is more concerned with currying American favour by agreeing to dealings with the mullahs, and so forth. The outcome of the election debacle, again, is gridlock, against which the following resolutions are being proposed: • That New Hope P arty leader, Gidon Sa’ar, be persuaded to renege on his promise never to sit under Netanyahu, and that he enter the coalition to ensure a right-wing government. • That a 5th election be held later this y ear or early in 2022. This is universally seen as a bad idea. • That Netan yahu step aside, vacating the Likud Party leadership and so enabling the “Never Bibi’ers” to join a right-wing coalition. By the time you read this, we will know if one of these solutions, or perhaps another, has been pursued. For the people of Israel, the situation is distressing and perplexing. They are experiencing a heaving, uncertain present. But, while most attention is fixed here, it is not the worst of it. Let me be very clear about how serious this is: While Israel has been tangled up in political disarray; and as the world (including the Christian world) has been almost entirely focussed on the new realities brought to bear by Covid-19 and the outcome of the last US election, the European Union has—with utter disregard for the Israeli authorities—been investing huge amounts of money to systematically aid and abet the Palestinian Authority in robbing the Jews of their land. The EU’s verbalised goal—by open, brazen, unrepentant theft—is the creation of a State of Palestine on the mountains of Israel. Billions (and I do mean billions) of euros have been earmarked by Brussels—with hundreds of millions already spent—to fund the illegal construction of hundreds of thousands of homes and other infrastructure for Arabs in Area C of the land Israel’s foes call The West Bank. (This is the EU whose leading nations, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands on March 24 signed on to a UNHRC resolution that condemned Israel for “possible war crimes and crimes against humanity” —an authentic blood libel on the very eve of Passover. This is the EU whose condemnation lends credence to the intent of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for war crimes.) It is widely said that the Abraham Accords nullified the ‘Palestinian veto’, that the PA has lost the power to hook its demand for statehood on the gateway to Middle East peace. That may look so for now, but the hard, cold reality is that the ongoing effort to physically forge Palestinian statehood without diplomacy is making extremely good headway—and is not being stopped. We must stay informed, and weaponise our prayer to target this threat, this illegal land grab that is attempting to white ant the matter of Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. As we do, let our eyes stay fixed on this nation’s Bible-guaranteed, Bedrock-solid future. This is not to hold, as the Australian saying goes, that “she’ll be right, mate”. That is not a stance that the Lord will bless. Israel’s battle is ours. At the same time, let us not forget amidst all the unknowns, as we gear up for, and engage in this fight, the things we do know for sure: That the LORD God is actively accomplishing all that He has set Himself to do concerning the only nation that is called by His name. That He is committed to the complete and irreversible restoration of Israel. That He will do it, no matter what or who tries to oppose Him. His calling on Israel is irrevocable. The advance of their divine destiny is unstoppable. For over 140 years, God has been gathering the Jews from the four corners of the earth. From all sides, to no avail, storms have raged and pounded against this, trying everything to prevent it. No one could or can stop it. Not the Turks, not the British, not the Germans, not the Arabs, not the USSR, not the The plenary hall of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. Photo: Roman Yanushevsky / Shutterstock.com Stan Goodenough Journalist and an Israeli-accredited tour guide ...the hard, cold reality is that the ongoing effort to physically forge Palestinian statehood without diplomacy is making extremely good headway...
21. 13 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Biblical Commentary Through Jewish Eyes Enoch Lavender Pastoral leader of Shalom Israel and Assistant Pastor at Living Way Christian Network. Having been a Christian for most of my life, I was until recently feeling quite assured that I had the Bible’s teachings about heaven all sorted out. My understanding, like that of most Christians, was that Heaven is our goal and our ultimate home for eternity. Therefore, the central message of the Gospel is that people need to believe in Jesus so they can enter heaven. But there is one striking problem with this view, and that is the fact that no-where in the Bible does Jesus or the disciples present a Gospel message along these simplified lines. Could it be that the first century Jewish understanding of life after death was quite different from ours? D. Thomas Lancaster’s brilliant book ‘Elementary Principles: Six Foundational Principles of Ancient Jewish Christianity’ sheds important light on the ancient Jewish understanding of eternity, and with its help this article will attempt to provide fresh insights on this topic. A More Jewish Understanding of ‘Heaven’ Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Bible encyclopedias list verse after verse like the above under the topic of ‘heaven’. Lancaster explains that it was common practice of first century Jews to use the word ‘heaven’ as a way of referring to God while avoiding taking His Name in vain. So, a Jewish understanding of this and similar verses is that they are speaking, not of an eternal dwelling place for spirits, but instead of the kingdom of God coming to earth and what we must do to enter the kingdom. The Kingdom of God Christians today have many different views on what the ‘kingdom of God’ means, however the expectation and understanding of the first century Jew was that there was coming a day when the Messiah would rule a literal kingdom of Israel from Jerusalem. While Jesus’ did not establish this physical kingdom on His first coming, if He is to fulfill every Word spoken about Him, then they will have to be fulfilled in His second coming. These prophecies include sitting on the throne of His father David (which is not in heaven but in Jerusalem, 2 Sam 7:13, Luk. 1:32), Israel finally having the larger borders God promised (Gen 15:18), all nations being subservient to Israel and coming up yearly to the Feast of Tabernacles (Is. 60:12, Zec. 14:16). While some will dispute that this view, I believe that just as the prophecies of Jesus’ first coming were so literally and physically fulfilled, so it is fair to expect the remaining unfulfilled prophecies to come to pass as literally and as physically as at all possible. What about the Dead? Ancient Gnosticism viewed heaven as a place for our spirits to ‘float around’ for eternity. In their view the body is a cage to be escaped and mankind is essentially viewed as spirit beings. Over time, this perspective crept into Christianity, clouding our view of eternity and God’s plans for us. In contrast to Gnosticism, the Bible presents man as being ‘body, soul and spirit’ (1 Thes 5:23), and when God first created mankind, He said it was ALL ‘very good’. Furthermore, the role of the body isn’t over after death, rather it is placed in the grave with the expectation that it will rise at the end of the age. (John 5:28-29). At the time of Jesus, many pagan societies would just burn or discard a dead body. In contrast, first century Jews treated dead bodies with great respect. They would wash them, clothe them and prepare them for burial (as did the early disciples in Acts 9:37 and John 19:40). For cleansing, those who were involved in this process, would undergo ritual immersion in a mikveh (Jewish baptismal pool). Paul refers to these customs in 1 Cor. 15:29 when he exclaims, “if the dead do not rise at all... Why then are they baptized for the dead”? In other words, what is the point of all this fuss over a dead body—unless there truly will be a resurrection of this physical body here on earth? Interestingly, Judaism to this day counts belief in the resurrection as a core part of their faith (as did Paul in 1 Cor. 15:16-17). Furthermore, Judaism teaches that you will be raised with the same body—yet healed. In other words, your body would carry the same scars as now— but without the pain or disability associated with it. This view is particularly interesting when we consider Jesus’ resurrection body, which was physically recognisable, could touch and eat, and also carried the same scars as before (while being able to walk through walls!). Paul describes Jesus’ resurrection as the ‘first fruits’ (1 Cor. 15:20)—meaning that we can likewise expect to be raised according to the pattern He set and with a similar body. While many Christians today speak about heaven, the resurrection was central to the teaching and hope of the early church (Acts 4:2, 4:33, 23:6, Heb 6:1-2). In fact, Roman persecutors remarked how fearless the Christians were because of their faith in the resurrection (see esp. persecution at Lyon in AD 177). Summary We have seen that the resurrection was a core part of the message of the early church. The resurrection is the time when God’s promises will literally be fulfilled here on earth and peace will finally come to this beleaguered planet. With a bodily resurrection to come here on earth, we can look forward to a very different future than that presented by mainstream Christianity. Instead of just meeting our loved ones in spirit form somewhere above the clouds, we can expect to one day meet them again face to face — in their resurrected bodi es—here on earth in the Messianic kingdom. What a glorious day it will be when God himself finally dwells among us here on earth! In essence then the Gospel message is as both John the Baptist and Jesus preached ‘repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’ (Matt 3:2, 4:17). In other words, get ready for the life that is yet to come, and live today to prepare for that Great Day! ________________________________________________________ Ps. Enoch Lavender Enoch is the Pastoral leader of Shalom Israel and serves as Assistant Pastor at Living Way Christian Network. Sarah is a graduate of the Caleb Company training program and has led a ministry tour to Israel and been involved in many aspects of local church ministry. A Surprising Messianic View of Eternity The resurrection is the time when God’s promises will literally be fulfilled here on earth...
10. 2 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Something to thinc. about with our new C4I strategic ministry partner The Australian Federal Labor Party has indicated that—should it come to power— it intends to recognize “Palestine” as a state. Should Australia “recognize” Palestine as a state? What is the problem? First, we need to define the problem we are trying to solve. Let’s assume for the purposes of this article that— • the Israeli military administration in the W est Bank that has been in place since June 1967 cannot and should not continue indefinitely; • the Palestinians deser ve independence and political autonomy; • a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO is needed; and • all UN member states have an obligati on to support Palestinian self- determination, and to help solve the political stalemate. In this article I argue that recognizing “Palestine” as a state before it is in fact a state will not help resolve the issues. In fact it will probably worsen the problems. There are three main reasons: (a) recognition as a state of an entity that is not a state conflicts with international law; (b) it does not address the true causes of the conflict; and (c) it makes a peace agreement less, not more, likely. The importance of statehood The first point is that the conventional criteria of statehood matter. It is true that an increasing number of people argue that the modern, Euro-centric international legal order is no longer relevant, that traditional concepts of statehood and sovereignty are outdated and need to be replaced. They often point to the many examples of less-than-states acting on the international stage (e.g. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cook Islands). But, at least for the time being, the international legal order is built on the foundation of sovereign states meeting the traditional criteria of statehood. And for good reason. The criteria of statehood are reflected in the ‘Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States’ (1933). Arguably the most important requirement for statehood is independence. An entity cannot qualify as a state if it is subject to the authority of any other State or group of States. Put another way, an entity is only a state if it has an independent government that is both willing and able to govern the people in its territory. This is important, to ensure stability in international relations. Effective & independent government In 2012 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution granting Palestine “non-member Observer state status”, and the International Criminal Court recently decided that it sees Palestine as an ICC State Party, and thus a “state” for the purposes of the Rome Statute. The fact is, however, that most UN member states, leading jurists, and the ICC itself, acknowledge that “Palestine” is not (yet) a state in the traditional sense. Most importantly, “Palestine” does not have effective government exercising independent authority. First, the PA is not an ”effective” government. This is not, as often claimed, the fault of the occupation. Israel is not responsible for the fact that the Palestinian Authority has (despite massive financial support from the EU and many other states) failed to build an adequate educational or health infrastructure despite billions of dollars given annually by mainly Western states; that Palestinian elections have not been held since 2006, mainly due to the ongoing, internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah; or that the Palestinian leadership continues to devote significant resources to incitement to terror, such as payments to the families of terrorists (“pay to slay”). Second, the Palestinian Authority does not have “independent” authority; it was created by Israel and the PLO under the Olso Accords as an interim solution. It has limited powers, and remains dependent on Israel. The Palestinians agreed to this interim arrangement, on the full understanding it would endure until such time as a comprehensive agreement has been reached dealing with all outstanding issues. Only states can be recognized Recognition is only meaningful in relation to a State that already exists. As Professor James Crawford has said in his authoritative book The Creation of States in International Law: “An entity is not a state because it is recognized; it is recognized because it is a State.” In other words, recognition only makes sense if it is clear that an entity constitutes a state under general principles of international law. A peace agreement It is certainly true that the Palestinians aspire to statehood. It may even be that they have, in some sense, a “right to statehood”. But a right to statehood is not unconditional. Outside the context of decolonization, no entity or people group has an absolute right to statehood. Peoples seeking independence can only achieve statehood by means of negotiation and cooperation, so as to ensure that the separation does not conflict with the sovereignty of existing States—including the rights of those states to territorial integrity. In the 1990’s Israel and the Palestinians committed themselves in the Oslo Accords to a process for such negotiations. Granted, negotiations have stalled, but these agreements are nevertheless still binding. Amongst other things, the Oslo agreements divided the territories into Areas A, B and C, and established the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA is not a state. Whether or not it will result in Palestinian statehood depends on many factors, including the outcome of the “final status” negotiations on the very sensitive issues that still remain to be negotiated. These include: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, and borders. Recognizing “Palestine” as a state before these negotiations have been completed effectively amounts to a breach of these agreements. UN resolutions indicating that “Palestine” is a state do not change this reality, because UN resolutions are non-binding, political statements, not legal instruments. Territory And then there is the criteria of a “defined territory”. What would the territory of a “State of Palestine” encompass? Palestinian statehood may not be allowed to infringe Israel’s right under the UN Charter to “territorial integrity”. Israel claims sovereignty over East Jerusalem. It argues that as a result of the Mandate for Palestine, sovereignty in the rest of the West Bank is “in abeyance” and can only be resolved by agreement. These are perfectly respectable claims. The Palestinians, on the other hand, claim sovereignty over all of the territories which Israel took control of in 1967. There are thus conflicting claims, which can only be resolved by means of an agreement reached through negotiations. Israel’s claims cannot simply be swept aside. Should Australia Recognize Palestine as a State? Andrew Tucker Director, The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) Israel’s claims cannot simply be swept aside. Neither the international community nor any international tribunal can resolve this dispute...
30. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 14 Walk through the Land Kameel Majdali n Director | Teach All Nations Inc. The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. Genesis 13:14-15 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. Deuteronomy 11:11-12 So you are going on a holy land Bible tour, but time is short. If you could only visit one region and learn more about the Bible, where would it be? Well, the topic of this ‘Walk through the Land’ is the place to go. The land of the Bible can arguably be called the navel of the world. It sits at the intersection of the great Afro- Eurasian landmass and serves as its ‘land bridge.’ Its location ensures great international attention, past and present. Yet there’s more. This land is central because the eyes of the Lord are upon it from the beginning to the end of the year (see verses above). If this centrally located land has a ‘heart,’ especially from a geographic and Biblical perspective, it has to be the region known as ‘the Central Hill Country’ (CHC). Also known as ‘Judaea and Samaria,’ though most of the world calls it the ‘West Bank,’ a term coined since the 1948 War. For in this region lies the stage of many key Bible events, particularly in the Old Testament. This will be the final part of our series, ‘Walk through the Land.’ We have already covered the coastal region, including the Plains of Philistia, Sharon, Acre/Asher. Also, we examined the Sea of Galilee, the region of Galilee, Mount Carmel, and the Valley of Armageddon. We have not covered: The strategic Shephelah (lowlands) between Philistia and the Judean mountains, the great southern desert called the Negev, the Rift Valley and its sub sections, and Transjordan, including Golan, Gilead, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. We may visit these sometime in the future. On the surface, CHC looks like one and the same region, especially since the hills are nearly all made of limestone, but there are distinct variations that have affected Biblical history. Let’s see how the Central Hill Country (CHC) is the heart of the matter. Samaria and the Northern Kingdom The CHC resembles the letter ‘B’ upside down and backwards. Samaria is the larger region to the north and Judaea to the south. Samaria covers an area 80 by 40km and can be subdivided into three parts, north to south: Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin. One of the key differences between Judaea and Samaria is that the latter is more open and accessible than its southern counterpart. This meant it was more vulnerable to foreign invasion. Also, as the centre of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria’s openness made it more unstable. It had two heathen shrines at Bethel and Dan, three different capitals: Shechem, Tirzah, and the city of Samaria, and at least 6-8 dynasties. Having the capital in the city of Samaria made the Northern Kingdom fully open to the cultural, political and religious influences of the West (1 Kings 16:29-34), rendering it more cosmopolitan yet insecure. The famous Biblical city of Shechem is located here. Mentioned 63 times exclusively in the Old Testament - Shechem really is the ‘navel’ of the Samaria. Sandwiched between Mount Ebal (940m), the ‘mountain of cursing’ on the northside, and Mount Gerizim, the ‘mountain of blessing’ (881m) on the southside, Shechem is important in Genesis, Joshua, Judges, and 1 Kings . Nearby eastward is Sychar, the location of Jacob’s Well, where Jesus first revealed Himself as Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 . Down the road from Shechem westward was the city of Samaria, capital of Israel, where the kings Ahab to Hoshea reigned. South of Shechem in the region of Ephraim is Shiloh, Israel’s first capital and home of the tabernacle and ark of the covenant for 369 years. South of Shiloh, in Benjamin’s subsection, is located Bethel, ‘House of God,’ where Jacob saw the ladder from heaven and Jeroboam placed the golden calf. Other Biblical sites are Gibeah, Geba, Gibeon, and Mizpah. This area, along with Jerusalem, was probably the busiest region for Biblical events. Judaea: Israel’s Capital Territory Judaea was the stage for God’s revelation and redemption. It is Israel’s capital territory and hosted the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Judaea, 40 by 32km, can be divided in half: west is the hill country, forested, green, with cool, moist Mediterranean air and rain. The east side is the wilderness; the contrast between the two couldn’t be greater. The mountains are high enough to receive occasional snow and adequate rain (500 to 700mm). Wonderful agriculture was found here, including wheat, barley, olives, grapes, pomegranates, sheep, donkeys, camels, and livestock. Key cities are Hebron, Bethlehem, and the crown jewel, Jerusalem. The Judean wilderness and Rift Valley are to the east; the contrast in height is striking: 760 to 915m above sea level to the Dead Sea, 400m below sea level. In just 16km, as the crow flies, the descent is 1310m. The rainfall is 100mm. Judaea’s wilderness influenced the lives of David, Amos, Jeremiah, and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth. Hopefully, this short introduction to redemption’s stage will stir your interest in visiting the heart of the Bible. You’ll never read God’s Word or the newspaper the same again! The Heart of the Bible Herod the Great Palace in Sebastia, Samaria. | Photo: Shutterstock Panoramic view from the archaeological park of Shiloh in Samaria, Israel. | Photo: Shutterstock One of the key differences between Judaea and Samaria is that the latter is more accessible than its southern counterpart. This meant is was more vulnerable to foreign invasion.
1. Understanding Israel and world events from a Biblical perspective www.c4israel.com.au | email@example.com & Christians Today ISRAEL April 2021 Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Misunderstandings about Israel - 67 2 One Nation 13 30 Years: Operation Solomon 15 Hineni Experiences God’s Provision The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. | Photo: Shutterstock Rev Henk Poot n Christians for Israel It is a beautiful image: the opening of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Even the stone is gone. Colourful flowers surround the entrance - or should we say, the exit? - of the tomb. The longer I look at it, the blacker the gaping hole becomes. A grave belongs to the realm of death, but in this grave, there is only emptiness. Even in death, the Lord Jesus believed that it would be like this: the Father would not leave Him alone. If He would glorify God by loving His own to the end, He would see the light of a new tomorrow and be clothed with glory. For a life of such love, death is not the end. In Romans 8, Paul calls Jesus - the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Jesus Himself testifies that He lives - and that He has the keys to death. Jesus has overcome, and we get to share in that victory. The dark door no longer locks. Paul also writes about more things in this chapter. He speaks about the sighing of creation. He mentions Psalm 44 and talks about sheep being slaughtered. But what prevails is victory. Death does pretend to have the last word: we remember the bitter night of the Shoah, the Holocaust. Meanwhile, we live in a confusing time when foreign powers dictate world affairs. But the tomb is empty; the tomb of Christ is empty. That is so decisive. What follows is not death but the fulfilment of all God's promises, the coming of the Kingdom and the resurrection. We are more than victors. Hold on to that. Sharing in the Victory AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA
5. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 5 News Short News Sharp ‘Moving’ Photos Anyone who takes a photo from time to time knows how tricky, if not impossible, it is to sharply capture moving images in a photograph. Your photo contains ‘blurs’. Researchers of the University of Tel Aviv created the solution by a computer technique in the photography process. Explained simply: this technique recognises as it were the movement in the photograph and erases the blurs. | Photo: Shutterstock Egyptair to Replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv - Cairo Route With other Arab airlines inaugurating flights to Israel, Egyptair is ‘coming out of the closet’ and replacing its subsidiary and tripling daily flights. Egyptair has requested to operate 21 weekly flights on the Tel Aviv - Cairo route. In the wake of the Abraham Accords, the anticipated presence of other Arab airlines at Ben Gurion airport, such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Gulf Air and Royal Air Maroc, has persuaded Egyptair to submit the request. Egyptair is a government-owned airline with a fleet of 70 aircraft and belongs to the Star Alliance, the world’s largest global airline alliance. Sheba Hospital Ranks Among World’s Top 10 For the 3rd consecutive year, Newsweek magazine has ranked Sheba Medical Center among the ‘Top 10 Best Hospitals in the World’, placing it at #10 in 2021. The magazine’s annual ‘World’s Best Hospitals’ survey once again cited Sheba’s superior healthcare, as well as its medical innovation and cutting-edge research. It should be noted that Sheba faced stiffer global competition, as the annual Newsweek ranking expanded from 1,000 hospitals in 2019 to 2,000 in 2021. Despite doubling the number of participating hospitals, Sheba was still placed amongst the Top 10 in 2021. Sheba is located on a 200-acre campus near Tel Aviv and is home to 11 of Israel’s national health centres, four hospitals, two institutes (Heart and Cancer), expansive research laboratories, 159 medical departments and clinics, as well as diverse educational facilities. | Photo: 5TJT Andrew Tucker n Director | thinc. On 3 March 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms Fatou Bensouda, announced she has started an official investigation into alleged ‘war crimes’ in ‘the territory of Palestine’. This could lead to the prosecution and imprisonment of Israeli, Hamas and maybe other Palestinian leaders for ‘war crimes’ under the Rome Statute. The Prosecutor’s decision follows the ruling a month earlier (on 5 February 2021) by the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) that the ICC has ‘jurisdiction’ over crimes committed on the territory of ‘Palestine’. The Background The Court cannot prosecute all crimes. Unless the Security Council refers a “situation to the ICC (which it has done on only two occasions – Libya and Darfur), the Rome Statute says the Court can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed by a national of a State that is party to the Rome Statute, or that have been committed on the territory of such a State. But Israel is not a party to the ICC’s Rome Statute, and ‘Palestine’ is not a ‘state’ under general principles of international law. The Court based its reasoning on Resolution 67/19 adopted in 2012 by 138 of the 193 UN member states recognising Palestine as a ‘UN non-member Observer state’. It was on the basis of that resolution that ‘Palestine’ applied to apply to become a member state of the ICC in 2015. The UN Secretary-General (who is responsible for administering accession to the Court’s Statute) accepted their papers - and ipso facto ‘Palestine’ became an ‘ICC State Party’! The first thing the Palestinians did was ask the Prosecutor to investigate Israeli leaders for war crimes committed on the territory of ‘Palestine’ since 13 June 2014. (The Palestinians chose this date deliberately – it was the day after three Israeli teenagers were killed in Gaza). The Prosecutor then spent five years investigating this ‘Situation in Palestine’. Her conclusion: there are ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that two kinds of ‘ war crimes’ have been committed ‘in Palestine’: Ÿ Unlawful use of force by Hamas, other Palestinian groups and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the two conflicts in Gaza since 2014, as well as the 2018 ‘March of Return’; and Ÿ Israeli ‘settlements’ policies, which she regards as infringements of the prohibition on transporting or deporting civilians into occupied territory. ‘The Territory of Palestine’ Aware of how controversial the question of Palestinian statehood is, in early 2020, the Prosecutor asked the Court to confirm whether, in fact, she has the authority to investigate the alleged crimes. The Court invited states and experts to provide it with advice; over fifty submitted lengthy and detailed reasons for and against jurisdiction. Then there was a deafening silence. Finally, on 5 February, two of the PTC’s three judges issued a short ruling. Arguing that the Court is not allowed to address the complex question whether Palestine is really a ‘State’ under international law, they said the bare fact that the UN recognises Palestine as a ‘UN non- member Observer state’ is enough for Palestine to qualify as a ‘State on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred’ for the purposes of article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute. Moreover, they said the ‘territory’ of the ‘State of Palestine’ is the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Acrobatics The dissenting Judge (Hungarian judge Peter Kovács) issued a blistering 160-page dissent. Clearly outraged, he accused his colleagues of ‘acrobatics with provisions of the Statute’, which, he said, ‘cannot mask legal reality.’ He said the majority’s reasoning has ‘no legal basis in the Rome Statute, and even less so, in public international law.’ ‘Atrocities’ The ICC is a court of last resort that was established to end impunity for ‘unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity’ – ‘grave crimes’ that ‘threaten the peace, security and well- being of the world’. It is absurd to suggest that the crimes identified by the Prosecutor qualify as the sor t of grave crimes that the Court was intended to deal with. The IDF is responsible for protecting the State of Israel. Its actions relating to Gaza have all been in response to Hamas- instigated aggression. It is quite conceivable that mistakes may have been made. But accusing Israeli leaders of purposefully committing ‘atrocities’ shows a lack of understanding of the difficult environment in which Israel finds itself. It is all the more bizarre to consider it an ‘atrocity’ for Israel to allow Jews to live in East Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria. These communities are not directed against the Palestinians, and they do not result in deaths or physical harm. These ‘settlements’ cannot be compared with the mass forced population transfers performed by Germany and Russia during and after WWII. Criticism The ICC State Parties that made submissions to the Court are furious that the Court rejected their non-recognition of Palestine, instead unapologetically adopting the historical, political and legal paradigm advocated by the Palestinians and the Arab League. Australia, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and other nations have all issued statements criticising the decision. Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne: “Australia has deep concerns with the ruling ... Australia does not recognise a ‘State of Palestine’, noting that matters relating to territory and borders can only be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians... The International Criminal Court should not exercise jurisdiction in this matter.” What Happens Next? The ICC has limited resources and is under pressure to achieve successful prosecutions. Despite an annual budget of about 150 million euro (approximately US $178 million), eighteen judges and a staff of over 400 personnel, in its 19-years existence, the Court has managed only four convictions. The Court is plagued by inefficiencies, poor internal communication and a culture of fear and intimidation. In 2020, a review by Independent Experts proposed a whole range of reforms to the way the ICC operates, makes decisions and sets priorities. The current Prosecutor, Ms Bensouda, will be replaced in June when her 9-year term expires by British lawyer Karim Khan. He will have the job of deciding whether, how and when to carry out this investigation into war crimes ‘in Palestine’. The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. | Photo: Shutterstock ICC Investigates ‘War Crimes’ It is all the more bizarre to consider it an ‘atrocity’ for Israel to allow Jews to live in East Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria.
22. 14 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Ukrainian family’s miraculous exodus just in time for Passover This is a story about a young woman from Transcarpathia who made aliyah in March 2021. Shortly before Passover, we welcomed four planes with olim families from Russia, Ukraine, the USA, Argentina and South Africa. It felt like a blessing and a real miracle after a long break. It seemed as if the seas parted and opened the way home for thousands of people. All those families had different reasons for making aliyah: anti-Semitism, injustice, their political situation, a tribute to ancestors. For single mother Natalia Kleiner from a small town of Mukatchevo (Ukraine) it was the only chance to secure a better future for her 8-year-old daughter Emilia. She was looking forward to that moment. She quit her job, but still had to pay rent and feed her daughter. “The pandemic has made its own adjustments to our plans. Thanks to the assistance of ‘Christians for Israel’ we are keeping afloat! I felt that it was important for them to support us and they were very happy to welcome me and my daughter in Kiev and escort us to the Holy Land after a month of waiting”, said Natalia. Now she and Emilia are in Israel, quarantining in a hotel. Meanwhile, a cozy dwelling awaits them in Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev desert. To understand why it was a vital step for Natalia, one should know the history of her Motherland. Transcarpathia Jewishness started settling in Mukatchevo from the 1600s. By 1938 Jews made up 44% of its population. At that time there were 30 synagogues, an elementary school and a gymnasium for Jewish children in Mukatchevo. Everything changed when Mukatchevo came under Hungarian rule once more. During World War II, Jews served in labor battalions and were sent to the most dangerous camps and at factories. In 1944, two ghettos were created in Mukatchevo, and all their prisoners ended up in Auschwitz. However, with the end of the war, Transcarpathia Jews were still oppressed, this time by the Soviet Union authorities. In 1959 only 2000 of them were living in the region and its last synagogues had been closed for worship. By 2005 just 300 Jews remained. Despite all difficulties, it was very important for Mukatchevo Jews to preserve their traditions and cultural values and to pass them on to their descendants, which they did, successfully. Thus, Natalia knew everything about herself, her history and her roots. In 1990 the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community. Now Natalia’s grandfather is its member. As for Natalya, she went to the Sunday Jewish school and participated in the youth club, celebrated all Jewish holidays and felt like a part of a great people—Jewish people! Now Natalia and her daughter begin their journey through the land that was given to their ancestors by G-d! According to Natalia, she believes in miracles: “One of them has happened to me. On the eve of Passover, I am here, in the Holy Land, free—physically and mentally! I thank everyone who has been through this with me and I anticipate getting to know my home.” So, let us wish that Natalia and her daughter find inner peace and happiness in their new home! ________________________________________________________ Natalia and her daughter are one of the last Jews leaving Mukatchevo, a small town in Transcarpathia. Given the circumstances of the pandemic their Aliyah was postponed for over a month—imagine a family who have already packed their whole lives in a few suitcases and was prepared to travel, suddenly receiving a call from the Jewish Agency in Kiev notifying them that the flights are suspended and that they will have to wait for an undetermined period of time! This would have presented a great challenge, were it not for the generous assistance of Natalia and Koen (C4I Ukraine), who did everything in their power to ensure that this family made it through this tough waiting period. Christians for Israel helped this family to start their journey and First Home in the Homeland is helping them continue it. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t also for the generous supporters who give to causes like Aliyah and First Home in the Homeland . If you’d like to participate in what God is doing around the world—bringing comfort to His people and returning them safely to the Holy Land—please prayerfully consider giving today! See the back page or donate online at myaccount.c4israel.com.au Elena Kovarsky First Home in the Homeland, Director And the waters were divided... But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Exodus (14:29) Natalia Kleiner with her daughter and grandfather in Mukatchevo In her childhood Natalia celebrated Purim with other Jewish children Natalia, her daughter Emilia before their flight to Israel Natalia, her daughter Emilia with Natalia from Christians for Israel in Kiev
13. 5 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Political Analysis on Israel’s 4th Election Dr Ron Weiser AM Hon Life Pres of the Zionist Council of NSW Whilst this is being written before final election results are in, there are a few things we can say. There are some obvious improvements that can be made in the Israeli electoral process, but it is important to note that the main responsibility for the Knesset gridlock over the past 2 years lies at the feet of the Israeli electorate and not ‘the system’. The Israeli population continues to be unwilling to give a clear endorsement to Netanyahu as Prime Minister. But it is even less certain about who might replace him—or when. Although many commentators divide the election results into pro and anti Netanyahu camps, we need to delve a little deeper. Both possible camps have deep internal ideological divides. There are two parties which are now the potential kingmakers— but only if they both join the one camp. And one at least says that it refuses to sit with the other. Ten observations in no particular order. 1. Netanyahu’s Likud has a strong lead on his nearest rival, Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Ultimately this may be irrelevant. 2. It was a political masterstroke of Netanyahu’s to encourage the merger of Smotrich and the Religious Zionists so that they passed the threshold. On the one hand, not wasting their votes and simultaneously taking votes from Bennett’s Yamina, Netanyahu’s most prominent current contender for leadership of the ‘right’. Political irony—Smotrich now stands as the biggest opponent to Netanyahu’s inclusion of Israeli Arab party Ra’am into his coalition and therefore is a big obstacle to Netanyahu’s pathway to government. 3—Bennett’s Yamina has once again found that whilst opinion polls in the months leading up to the election gave them greater promise, at least as long as Netanyahu leads the Likud, the actual election results for Yamina always seem to fall short of expectations. Up until almost the last days of the election Bennett’s role as a true kingmaker kept open the possibility of either Netanyahu or Lapid becoming Prime Minister. However, on Sunday, Bennett produced and signed a document saying that: “I won’t allow Yair Lapid to be prime minister, including in a rotation (agreement) and I will not establish a government based on the support of Mansour Abbas (Ra’am) from the Islamic Movement.” With Bennett now not able to alone carry Netanyahu over the line, based on current figures, his influence is somewhat diminished. If Netanyahu’s block remains on only say 59 seats (with 61 needed) there is a slim outside chance that Bennett ‘reinterprets’ his pledge and offers Lapid a rotation agreement, but with Bennett himself going first as PM of course. 4. The largely Arab Israeli Joint List broke into two for this election, with the smaller Israeli Arab party Ra’am in a bold gamble to go it alone. They have passed the 3.25% threshold and will be in the Knesset. Ra’am is the first Israeli Arab party that openly campaigned on a platform to try and join either Netanyahu or Lapid in government—and which both Netanyahu and Lapid were in active discussions with— breaking through a previous psychological barrier and taboo of Israeli Arabs and Jews alike. Netanyahu has issued a gag order to stop members of the Likud publicly expressing views on the question of bringing Ra’am into the coalition. Both Netanyahu’s camp and the anti Netanyahu camp have potential coalition partners who oppose Ra’am’s inclusion in government. 5. Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope position of declaring in advance that he is the “true Likud” and would not join a Netanyahu led coalition, has seen his party on a consistent downward trend that leaves him out in the cold. 6—Lapid did well enough to currently remain leader of the opposition. He was hampered by the number of small parties who took votes from him, but which kept them over the threshold—therefore enabling them as his coalition partners and without their votes having been wasted. Lapid’s chances of forming a government will depend on whether his potential coalition partners’ distaste for Netanyahu can overcome their feelings about each other. 7. The anti Netanyahu block includes Sa’ar’s New Hope and Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. Both leaders and parties are to the political right, natural allies of the Likud, but who cannot stomach Netanyahu. And who would also find it very difficult to join any coalition that has Mertez and the tacit or overt support of any Israeli Arab party— adding to Lapid’s degree of difficulty. 8. Meirav Michaeli has saved the Labour Party from oblivion and has also ensured that Rabbi Gilad Kariv will be the first Reform Rabbi to sit in the Knesset. 9. Benny Gantz defied all expectations of political extinction and on the current counting has done much better than merely scraping in. Perhaps he is getting credit for his integrity and brave but naïve move in joining Netanyahu previously and believing in that infamous rotation agreement. As the only general left in the political arena, at least one can say that he is now a more seasoned politician. And he is still theoretically due to become Prime Minister in November, if there is no new government by then. 10. There are still thousands of absentee votes to be counted. They could potentially determine a large number of Knesset seats. If there is no change, it remains to be seen if Netanyahu, the master politician, will pull another rabbit out of the hat. The chance of a manoeuvre (such as Gantz successfully did in being elected Speaker after the last election) by the anti Netanyahu forces which together might number 61MK’s, now passing legislation to force a prime minister under indictment to step aside, are increasing. Maybe. But a lot will/can happen till then. Seeing only shaky coalitions in sight, whether by Netanyahu or Lapid, suggests that the 5th election in this series may not be too far down the track. Chag Pesach Sameach, ________________________________________________________ Dr Ron Weiser AM is a Life Member of the ZFA Executive, Past President of the ZFA and Hon Life Pres of the Zionist Council of NSW. Are Only Shaky Government Coalitions In Sight for Israel? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: Roman Yanushevsky / Shutterstock.com ...it remains to be seen if Netanyahu, the master politician, will pull another rabbit out of the hat.
8. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 8 Biblical Reflection Lance Lambert n Bible Teacher | 1930 - 2015 How do we know we are in the last days? The Lord Jesus gave a great deal of signs. So how are we to understand these signs that the Lord Jesus gave us? He summed up this major discourse of His in one sentence: “From the fig tree, learn its parable.” In other words, there is something specific, something particular about the fig tree. The other signs are general signs, but the fig tree is the specific sign. The other signs are invalid when the fig tree is not present. But once the sign of the fig tree is present and the other signs are present, then we know we have passed into the last phase of world history. The fig tree -Israel- was to disappear from its natural habitat, and it would seem as if there had never been a fig tree there, but Jesus said that before He returns, the fig tree will be back in its original habitat –not as an antique, not as a fossil, not merely as an illustration, but as a living tree. There is one thing about little Israel: she is not dead. Everybody has heard about Israel. The whole world discusses little Israel, with only six million people, in a tiny postage stamp of territory. It is no bigger than the state of New Jersey, Tasmania, or the north island of New Zealand. It is a little smaller than the Kruger National Game Park in South Africa, the size of Wales in the United Kingdom, Portugal or Hungary in Europe. It is so small, but the whole world knows that Israel is alive. She suddenly occupied the centre of the world’s stage, exactly as Zechariah the prophet said she would. Three times, he said: “All the nations of the earth will be gathered together against Jerusalem.” What in the world would the nations come against Jerusalem for? A hundred years ago, Jerusalem was nothing but a little village town with thirty-eight thousand inhabitants – unhygienic, flea-bitten, fly-blown, half- ruined, the capital of nothing, buried in the Judean hill country in the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire. Why would nations come against Jerusalem? There is no oil, gas, coal, natural resources, and very little water. Why would they come against this little postage stamp of territory? But today, everybody understands. There have been six wars in the past decades, and they have all been over Jerusalem. Suddenly, something has happened that has changed the whole scene. Seemingly, from the ashes, like the phoenix, she has risen from the dead and occupied the centre of the world’s stage. Now we understand the prophet Zechariah when he said that one day the Messiah’s feet will again stand upon the Mount of OIives, and from this, we understand the fig tree is very much alive and back in its original territory. The sign is there, and at the same time, there have been two world wars that have shaken the whole world and wars and rumours of wars ever since. Now we understand that the Lord is shaking everything according to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and the writer of the Hebrew letter. God said He would shake the nations, and the desire of all nations shall come. The writer of the Hebrews said that everything that can be shaken, God is going to shake. Receiving a Kingdom Unshakeable If the lives of the children of God consist very largely of the shakable, they will be shaken. If we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, if our lives are centred in the unshakable One, we will neither be shaken nor moved. But how much of the kingdom is in our lives? What place does the unshakable King of glory have in our lives, in our families, in our business life and church life? If He has the place that God has given Him, we shall be unshakable, as invincible as the King, as immovable as the King. Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But if our heart is in the wrong place, then we are going to see a lot of shaking in our lives. We are going to lose a lot. We are going to be harmed. This is why this matter is so important. Redeem the Time The apostle Paul said, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16). In other words, our family life, personal life, business life, and our fellowship life can be a redeeming of the time; but if we are unwise, like the unwise virgins, we shall lose a lot. This word is not to unsaved people; it is to the child of God; it is to the church of God. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” In every generation of the church, in every generation of the people of God, going back to Abraham, there have been foolish believers, and there have been understanding believers. The understanding knows what the will of God is for their generation. They are the wise, and therefore, they put first things first. They give the Lord His place. They understand the priorities of God in their generation. Indeed God has His heart set on these four priorities –the gospel, the bride (the church), you and Israel. He will shake everything to pieces in order to fulfil His heart’s desire –but He will fulfil it. With His desire in view, what is our responsibility in these last days? This is an excerpt from ‘The Last Days and God’s priorities’ by Lance Lambert. Lance Lambert (1930-2015) was a UK born, renowned Bible teacher whose clarity and humour gave many people great help and joy in the Lord. Lance, as a Jew, has an interesting history as he didn’t know this was his heritage for quite a bit of his youth. Sometime after he had been saved and had known of his Jewish heritage, the Lord called him to move to Jerusalem and to seek to show God’s heart for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. He travelled around the world to teach and wrote numerous books. More on: www.lancelambert.org The Fig Tree and the Last Days Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17 Fig tree. | Photo: Pxhere Subscribe for Free Prayer Points & Weekly Update Would you like to receive the Israel & Christians Today Weekly Update and/or the bi-monthly Prayer Points directly into your inbox? 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23. 15 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 UN Watch exposes anti Israel lies The following is from the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 46th Session, March 2021. Palestinian FM Riad Al-Maliki: Israel refuses to accept its responsibilities as an occupying power, not only in terms of providing vaccines to the Palestinian people but also in preventing them from arriving to Palestinian territories. Qatar: Opting out of this responsibility can only be understood as an Apartheid. Indonesia: Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine program is another example that highlights the inequality and discrimination that defines Israel’s foreign policy towards Palestinians. Iran: The Israeli regime persists in its brutal policy of subjecting Palestinian children to all sorts of atrocities, including denial of providing equitable vaccination facilities for the Palestinians. UNHRC Chair: I now give the floor to United Nations Watch. UN Watch: Thank you, Madam President. My name is Youssef Haddad, and I am an Israeli Arab from Nazareth, and also vaccinated. Accusations have been made that Israel’s coronavirus vaccine program is “racist.” This is false. Like me, my family, friends and hundreds of thousands of other Israeli Arabs have been vaccinated. The State of Israel is running campaigns in Arabic to encourage us Arab Israelis to get vaccinated, and Israel’s National EMS Magen David Adom, composed of Jews and Arabs, is working directly in Arab communities to vaccinate. And about our Palestinian neighbours. Despite that we are not obligated under the Oslo Accords, we help. Israel, not the Palestinian Authority, has vaccinated thousands of Palestinians, while the PA uses vaccines on their own officials, and their friends. It was Israel that set up vaccination centres for Palestinians at Qalandiya. Any attempt to claim that Israel’s vaccine policy is racist is a blatant attempt to smear Israel and distract from the corruption of nations on this very council. Instead of holding the PA accountable, you target Israel. Instead of discussing how Palestinians in Lebanon face discrimination, you attack Israel. Instead of holding nations accountable for human rights abuses, including China which sits on this council while committing genocide against Muslims, you smear my country. I am proud to be an Arab, and I am proud to be an Israeli, because Israel takes care of all its citizens and even others. If the rest of the world emulated Israel’s example, instead of distracting from their own failures by attacking Israel, we would already be living in a different reality in the battle against coronavirus. ____________________________________________________________________________ See the video for your self https://unwatch.org/israeli- arab-destroys-u-n-lies-about-racist-vaccine-program/ Israeli Arab Destroys U.N. Lies About ‘Racist Vaccine‘ Program
7. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 7 Why Israel? and carried many Jews away as captives. Later they were allowed to return. Then came the second Temple, which was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The city and Temple were razed to the ground, and the Jews were carried into exile a second time. The Roman Captivity. Yet throughout the past 2,000 years, there have always been Jews living in Israel. It was their land. So the Jewish people today are simply the descendants of the Jewish people that we read about in the Bible. But isn’t the modern state of Israel a secular state, in contrast to the Biblical state of Israel that lived closer to God, as some say? I challenge you to read the Bible more carefully, especially the books of Kings and Chronicles. You will see just how ‘closely’ the people of Israel lived to God. It was a stiff-necked people, as the Bible itself says. They were constantly going after other gods and leaving God by the wayside. They sought security in political alliances with the regional powers of their day. Over and over, they heard the lashing words of the prophets and the disobedient son was disciplined by the Most High. Israel has never been a faithful people. But yes, they were deeply connected with the Most High. They knew very well who their Father was. Just as you may have stubbornly done your own thing as a child. Of course, you knew who your father was, but you always thought you knew better. Recognising that they are still the same people in the same land is not the same as approving of everything the state of Israel does. That is not the point. When God started to gather the Jews from the four corners of the earth, from north, south, east and west (Isaiah 43:5-8), back to the Promised Land, and they grew in that land as a nation, at a certain point they had to make a decision. They lived there as a people, as a nation in a country: What form of government should they choose? Would it be a dictatorship, an oligarchy, a democracy or a theocracy? They chose democracy following the western model. Is that the very best form of government according to the Bible? No, that would be theocracy, in which you are led by God and obey Him. So it is clear that Israel has a long road ahead to grow into what it is meant to be in the end, namely a light for the nations under the leadership of the Messiah. What the Bible teaches us and what Israel needs to learn as well is that you need to listen to God’s perspective and rules and try to act according to that. Fundamentally this is the meaning of the Torah: To realise, not just individually but also as a nation, how to achieve a just, peaceful and secure society under His leadership and with administrators who are deeply conscious that they have to answer to Him. Misunderstanding 5: Jews have a head start with God No more than anyone else. Jews are just as much descendants of Adam as we all are. Sin is in our blood. Jews are exactly the same. They are not better than others. But God created them and uses them to bless others. We are all equally sinful, whether we are born Jewish, Chinese or Dutch. This is also a good thing. Luke reports in Acts 17:22-34 that the apostle Paul said to the people of Athens that God created the entire human race from one single person. That means that this fundamentally contradicts and goes against every form of discrimination. We can never say, “I am better than you.” My race is better than yours. My village is better than yours. My country is better than yours. We all have the same lineage as human beings. We are all sinners. He did not choose the Jews because they are better people. He chose them because He wanted to use them as an instrument in His hand. He set them apart. Chosen in this sense means: set apart, as does the word ‘holy’. Israel is not a holy people in the sense of ‘holier than others’ or ‘perfect’ like some Roman Catholic saints are considered to be. To be holy means to be set apart. The same goes for Christians. Christians are not better than other people either, but God has taken hold of them, has chosen them, to be an instrument in His hand to serve Him in this world – by loving Him with all of their heart and one’s neighbour as oneself. That is how it is with Israel, too—chosen to become a blessing for the world. That puts you in a difficult position. If you are the chosen one, you suffer in this world. No one can stand a teacher’s pet, who is often bullied and hated by the rest of the class because of this. Clearly, being chosen brings suffering. No other people have suffered in this world like the chosen Jewish people. Among the Jewish people, the Chosen One, Jesus, has suffered like no other person in this world. Christians, chosen out of the gentile world, suffer too. Millions are being persecuted around the world at this very moment. The entire history of the church is one long tale of suffering. Being chosen does not mean “I am better”. It is absolutely to your disadvantage. But in the end, what you receive from Him through this, discovering something of who He is, brings deep joy. Nothing in the world can compare, and when we see Him, this joy will be perfected. Then that love will become so intense, so great and mighty, that you will be completely filled. To follow Him means suffering, persecutions, plus everlasting life, according to Jesus in Mark 10:28-30. Misunderstanding 6: Jesus was a Christian This often reminds me of the story of an American Sunday school teacher. She told the children, “Children, you should all follow Jesus’ example. He was a perfect Christian. He went to church every Sunday.” There are several things wrong with this statement. a) He was not a Christian, but He was a Jew. b) He did not go to church but to a synagogue. c) He did not go on Sunday but on Saturday, the Shabbat. So Jesus was a faithful Jew. When Jesus was asked what the most important law of Israel was, He said, “Love God with everything you have and everything you are: your reason, your will and your emotions – with all your strength. And after that: love your neighbour as yourself. On these hang all the law and the prophets.” Right up until the present day, every faithful Jew will give the same answer. The name ‘Christians’ first showed up in Antioch, Greece, much later when the gospel started to spread among non-Jews. At that point, they started to be called followers of Christ, ‘Christians’. The word ‘Christ’ means ‘Anointed One’. It is exactly the same as the Greek word ‘Chrestos’, or in Hebrew, ‘Messiah’. This means Anointed One as well, just in a different language. The new believers were followers of this Christ; that is why they were called Christians. The negative connotation of the name Christians to the Jews was caused by these theological developments in church history that claimed that the Jews were rejected by and hated by God. According to this new replacement- theology or supersessionism, Christians, the church, were considered to be God’s new [chosen] people, having replaced Israel. Wrong! Chosen? Yes! Replacing the Jewish people? No! Misunderstanding 7: The New Testament replaces the Old Testament I am reminded of a former professor in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Dr van Ruler. He called the New Testament a glossary at the end of the Old Testament. This is a very different approach. But what he meant was this. The whole Bible is simply one continuous revelation from God. Old Testament and New Testament. Inseparably connected. Yet you always sense the tension: Them (the Jews) versus us (the Christians); The New Testament that is said to have replaced the Old Testament. It started early in church history, and the more anti-Jewish thinking developed, the more the ancient church fathers started asking themselves, what use is the Old Testament to us? This way of thinking has continued throughout history. Nowadays, you still see Christian mission organisations and churches handing out New Testaments ‘because that’s what it’s all about.’ Under the Nazi regime, the Old Testament was seen as a Jewish book one Christians shouldn’t have anything to do with. So this is another strange line of reasoning that shows how deeply rooted replacement theology is and how deep our internal resentment against the Jewish people and God’s relationship with them goes. Willem JJ Glashouwer is the President of Christians for Israel International. He holds an honorary knighthood bestowed upon him by Beatrix, former Queen of the Netherlands and is Honorary President of the European Coalition for Israel. He is also an ordained minister of the Dutch Reformed Church and a former director of the Evangelical Broadcasting Company in the Netherlands. Rev. Glashouwer has played a key role in the establishment of the Dutch Institute for Evangelical Higher Education and in addition to several books, articles and Bible studies on Israel and the Christian faith. He also published a Daily Devotional on the Book of Revelation. He is married to Marianne, and they have four children and eight grandchildren. More from Rev Willem JJ Glashouwer is available with his Why Israel? series: Why Israel? Why Jerusalem? and Why End Times? books, DVDs and Study Guides. Book, DVD and Study Guide Book, DVD and Study Guide Book, DVD and Study Guide Order using the coupon on the back page or online : c4israel. com.au/store
9. Dear Faithful readers and friends (Chavorim), I’m writing after palm Sunday, having just been told to go into another Covid-19 lockdown across Brisbane and South east Queensland until Good Friday eve. Hopefully the disruption and public Holidays won’t have delayed your receiving this April-May edition of the Newspaper. If so I do apologise but as you can appreciate it’s beyond our control. As we celebrate this year’s Passover which commenced on the evening of Saturday the 4th of March I couldn’t help but notice this year how out-of-sync Passover and Easter are. With Palm Sunday being held the day after Passover it reminded me of the nearly 2000 year rift that happened between the Apostles and the early, predominantly Jewish, believers and followers of Jesus as the long awaited Jewish Messiah and the early predominantly Gentile Church of the second and third century, who adopted a very anti Jewish attitude and changed the dates of Jesus passion so it would never coincide with the Biblical dates of Nisan 14. So I decided to revisit an article from my Bible teaching friend and mentor—the late Dr Chuck Missler, who wrote: There is a misconception about the Easter story that is shared by most of the Christian world. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled a multitude of Old Testament prophecies and should be celebrated in conjunction with three Jewish celebrations: the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. In the fourth century AD, after Constantine became emperor of Rome, there were still Christians who wanted to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord in connection to Passover. Jesus had died on Passover and was raised again on the Feast of First fruits. These men were called “Quartodecimans” because they wanted to celebrate the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, according to the Jewish calendar. The Latin word Quartodeciman means “14th” or “14th people.” In the first, second, and third centuries, the Christians celebrated the death of Jesus on the Passover and His resurrection three days later. They clung to the Torah specifications of Passover, which was given as an everlasting feast, a perpetual ordinance. We discover that contentions started brewing in the Roman church in AD 115 to 125, because the Roman church celebrated Passover on Sunday, not on Nisan 14. Eusebius records that in AD 154, Polycarp visited Rome to discuss the difference in Passover calculation with Bishop Anisettes and they reached an amicable compromise. Polycrates of Ephesus and Irenaeus wrote in support of the Quartodecimans. 1 However, by the time of the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the Quartodecimans were considered an oddity. It was officially decided that Christians should not celebrate the Lord’s death and resurrection in conjunction with Passover, and the council arranged it so that Easter would never be celebrated on Passover. It unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. What’s more, if the full moon should occur on a Sunday and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the following Sunday. They sought to deliberately worship on a day other than what was ordained in the Bible. The Quartodecimans were not given a choice in the matter. They were excommunicated if they persisted in what was seen as a Jewish error. Antisemitism had crept into the church with such fervor that the church under Rome attempted to eradicate any vestiges of Judaism from the teachings of Christianity. As result of the Council of Nicaea, the formal church desperately attempted to design a formula for Easter, as they called it, which would avoid the possibility of falling on the Jewish Passover, even accidentally. Those that wanted Christianity to remain based in the Old Testament became outcasts. In his Life of Constantine , the Christian historian Eusebius quoted Constantine as saying: “It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. ... Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.” In the epistle of Emperor Constantine to the bishops after the Council of Nicaea, Constantine wrote heatedly against celebrating Easter in conjunction with the Jewish celebration of Passover, saying: “Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. For we have received from our Saviour another way. A better and more lawful line of conduct is inculcated by our holy religion. Let us with one accord walk therein, my much-honoured brethren, studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way. They boast that without their instructions we should be unable to commemorate the festival properly. This is the highest pitch of absurdity. For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them...Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord... that it is most pious that all should unanimously agree in that course which accurate reasoning seems to demand, and which has no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.” 2 That is shocking language. We need to realize that the early church became so anti-Semitic that they altered their practices away from the Biblical text and ushered in all kinds of confusion. That confusion still reigns today, which is why we need to sift through some of our Easter traditions. To top it all, the Roman church was under the Julian calendar, which had an astronomical problem; there was a discrepancy between the solar and lunar year. The Julian calendar was finally reformed in 1582 under Pope Gregory XIII. This eliminated some of the difficulties in fixing the date of Easter and arranging the ecclesiastical year, but it was not accepted for two centuries by Great Britain and Ireland. Easter was finally celebrated on the same day in the Western part of the Christian world after 1752. The Eastern churches, however, never did adopt the Gregorian calendar, and they commemorate Easter on the Sunday either preceding or following the date observed in the West. Occasionally the dates coincide by coincidence, such as in 1865 and 1963. In 1928, the British Parliament enacted a measure allowing the Church of England to commemorate Easter on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Thus, Easter is still considered a “moveable” feast day. All this trouble, and the formulas, were unnecessary in the first place. They were designed simply to avoid celebrating the feast at the time of the Jewish Passover. This is the height of senselessness, because Jesus was put to death on Passover. In fact, He was executed on Passover by God’s very specific design, in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Jesus knew that He was the fulfillment of prophecies that filled the Old Testament. In Revelation 13:8, John calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The God who is outside of time itself knew long before Adam and Even sinned that He would send His Son, God incarnate, into the world to hang on a cross in our place and pay for our sins. From the beginning of Genesis, God foretold this would happen. He set up feasts to help explain it to the Jewish people. He offered types and examples all through the Old Testament, “here a little, there a little,” as prophesied in Isaiah 28:9-13. We see that Jesus Christ is written constantly on every page of the Hebrew Scriptures. God told the Jewish people in advance what He would do to save the world, but they didn’t understand. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t get it. Even when He told them plainly, using straight forward Aramaic, they didn’t comprehend that He was going to die: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” – Matthew 26:1-2 The whole sacrificial system had been set up so the Jews, and the rest of the world through them, could understand that a sacrifice had to be made to pay for sin. Blood had to be spilled. Jesus had come to fulfil, not just a few verses, but the whole sacrificial system of the Law. John the Baptist got it, and when he introduced Jesus to the world, he did not cry out, “Here is the Messiah!” No, what did he say in John 1:29? He said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” From the beginning of His ministry, the disciples should have recognized the role of Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb, because John had declared that role for Him right then— right there at the start. 1 Eusebius, History of the Church, 5.24.17. 2 Emperor Constantine, The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present in The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret, I.IX. ************************************ So as we continue to celebrate Passover and Easter I do pray you find the articles and news updates in this newspaper informative and inspiring you to support the various projects as we demonstrate the Lords love in our lives as we comfort His brethren Israel . Marranatha (messiah come quickly) _____________________________________ Ian Worby National Leader & Regional Director for Christians for Israel Australia & Oceania. April 2021 Report From Our National Leader Comforts Informs Inspires Ian Worby C4I Australia National Leader and Regional Director for Oceania Ian Worby breaking the unleavened bread which is pierced and striped like what happened to Jesus and prophesied in Isaiah 53.
20. 12 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 We thank you for Magellan’s miracle of having noticed in the Chief ’s house a sick person, the chief ’s grandson, and that he had been suffering for two years from a violent fever and exhorted him to be of good courage, that if he would devote himself to Christ he would immediately recover his former strength and the Indian consented, and adored the cross, and received baptism, and the next day declared that he was well again, rose from his bed and walked about, consequently the Chief and over 2200 natives were baptized and professed the name and faith of Christ. Lord, we thank you too for the sailor Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, another Portuguese Catholic, in 1606 was also seeking to convert the Inhabitants of the south seas to Christianity and believed he finally had discovered what he named “Austrialia Del Espiritu Santo” in honour of the Spanish King Philip the third of the House of Austria—a land Quiros dedicated to the Holy Spirit and described as being the region of the south as far as the pole. We thank you for others such as Tasman and Dampier and finally Cook who realized there was a large ocean between Vanuatu and the Eastern Coast of Australia giving good reports back to the British government. Thank you Father for the Evangelical awakening in England which influenced Australia and the South Pacific and for people such as William Carey who was awakened to the need for evangelism of heathen lands through reading “Captain Cooks Voyages”. And we know Lord that other nations could have settled Australia but it was their beliefs that prevented them from doing so, and that the Hindus prevented sea voyages and contact with foreigners, the Chinese in 1433 the voyages were ended by an internal revolution, besides there was a kingdom of terrifying women down here and the Muslim sailors before the 1400’s believed this Southland was Dedjdal or the kingdom of Antichrist. We thank you Lord that the European expansion that begun in the East Indies and Pacific and for the many, governors, settlers and pioneers like John Flynn, explorers such as Charles Sturt: Pioneering women such as Elizabeth Macarthur and Caroline Chisholm: Clergymen such as Richard Johnson and of Samuel Marsden who said: “I can say this that I do not eat the bread of idleness. It is my opinion that God will ere long visit New South Wales with his heavenly grace. Out of these stones he will raise up children unto Abraham. There has not been any shaking yet among the dry bones, but the Son of Man is commanded to prophecy and I hope by and by the Lord will command the wind to blow. Stir up thy strength 0 God & come amongst us.” And also he prophetically stated in 1796: “By the Admiral Gambier I have sent to England 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of wool. This will be the beginning of the commerce of this new world. Many think nothing of these things now. They cannot see any advantage to be derived to them, their children, or this settlement by improving the fleeces of our Sheep. But I anticipate immense National wealth to spring from this source of Commerce in time and then he continued saying ‘Certainly the hand of God is evident in the commencement of a Christian nation in the Pacific within reach of the great Asian nations.” So as we begin our His Story Tour and reflect on our past and honour the many, clergy, missionaries and Christian pioneers, we ask for a new generation of Christian pioneers, adventurers and disciples who are consecrated to you. Finally we pray that your Kingdom will come and that your will be done in our nation for Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father. Amen. See over on page 12 for a more complete telling of the interesting places discovered on the ‘His Story Tour’ and how you can book for future Aussie faith-based tours. ________________________________________________________ Dr Graham Mclennan is the Chairman of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL). For a wide range of articles, links and resources that inform and promote thought about the relationship between Christianity and the world today, visit their website: www.chr.org.au Statue of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros in Sydney. we pray that your Kingdom will come and that your will be done in our nation for Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever... Faith-Based Tours Article continued + C4I Admin Update Whitelisting Emails from Christians for Israel Australia The management of SPAM is a continual moving target and at times, Christians for Israel Australia (C4IAU) email gets caught in SPAM filters, especially for those with Google and Microsoft email accounts. 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6. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 6 Why Israel? Rev Willem JJ n Glashouwer President | Christians for Israel International Israel is an awkward topic for many Christians. Does it even matter for a Christian? Why are some Christians so passionate about Israel, and why is it all so complicated? Does Israel mean anything today, or is its significance all in the past? In this article, Rev Willem Glashouwer refutes seven misunderstandings that often come up in conversations about Israel and shows how you can respond. Misunderstanding 1: The church is God’s new Covenant people This is absolutely false. All of the Covenants in the Bible were made with Israel. Israel is God’s Covenant people. Some eight Covenants are described in the Bible. The amazing thing is that in His mercy, God opened one of these Covenants, namely the New Covenant (which was made with Israel like the rest, by the way), and welcomed us into it. So, as Paul says, we are grafted into that Covenantal relationship of the New Covenant that God made with Israel. We do not become Jews through this, and we do not need to move to Israel either. God has called a people for His Name out from the gentile nations. Believing gentile Christians are a chosen people of God, but they never ever replaced the Jewish people. We have received a share, a place on the nourishing root of the New Covenant (according to Paul in Romans 11, gentile Christians have become ‘engrafted’). What about people who say that the Old Covenant - the Old Testament - has now been discarded and that only the New Covenant - the New Testament - counts today? If you follow this line of reasoning, you make God a liar. It is true, as Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews, that the Old Covenant is ‘obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear’. He is speaking specifically about the Mosaic Covenant - the only conditional covenant made with Israel - which was, indeed, replaced by the New (renewed) Covenant. But that does not mean that the other covenants have been terminated or replaced. All of the Covenants that He made with Israel – with one exception – are unconditional. They do not depend on Israel’s behaviour. They come from the Most High, the verlasting God. Therefore each of those Covenants is everlasting, eternal, valid for all time, and He has reinforced each of them with an oath, He has sworn by His own name. Some say, “Wait a minute, that only counted up until Jesus Christ. When the Jews said no to Jesus, God responded, ‘Fine, suit yourselves, I’m done with you.’” No! ternal is for all time. He has sworn an oath by His own name, and He cannot lie. So if you develop this theory, you make God a liar. If you say: God is finished with the Jews, you disregard His eternal plans and purposes with the people of Israel and with the Promised Land of Israel. But Psalm 105: 8-11 says: “He remembers His Covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting Covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”If you declare this to be not true, you make God into a liar. A God who cannot be trusted. A God Who sometimes says this and another time that. A God who apparently changes His mind. A God who’s Word one cannot really trust or rely on.. We know who in the Bible is called a liar from the beginning – the devil, who is also a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44. This whole theory (which is called replacement theology in the church) has caused rivers of Jewish blood to ¼ow throughout church history in the past 2000 years. Lies lead to murders. So it is not just false theology; it is a sin before God, which needs to be confessed as sin. The church needs to repent radically of this theology. It is a horrible line of reasoning that goes far beyond a misunderstanding. It is demonic. Misunderstanding 2: The Jews did not accept Jesus, so the Covenant with Israel was broken This is impossible. God made everlasting Covenants with Israel. Take a look at Jeremiah 31. There you can see that the creator Himself guarantees Israel’s continued existence. Verse 35 says, “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before Me forever.’” As long as heaven and earth exist, as long as there is the universe, as long as the rhythm of day and night continue – Israel will continue to exist. “But”, those people say, “they did so many wrong things, and they don’t believe in Jesus.” The text in Jeremiah 31 continues, “Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.” So the Lord will not even cast them out for what they have done! This was His choice. The origin of Israel was an act of creation by God. Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children, yet the biological miracle happened: Abraham was 00 and Sarah 0 when Isaac was born. God says [of Israel], “My firstborn son, whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed and made.” God joined Himself willingly to them with everlasting Covenants. He loves Israel as a father loves his son. Clearly, the Jewish people are not just a chosen people; God created them. He did this with the intention to bless the whole world – all nations – through this small nation of Israel. And He remains faithful to His plans and purposes by executing His everlasting promises and Covenants. Misunderstanding 3: The Heavenly Jerusalem has nothing to do with the earthly city of Jerusalem This is a gross misunderstanding. The roots of the earthly Jerusalem are in the heavenly Jerusalem. Why is Jerusalem such a special city? Because God Himself decided to make His name to live there. It was there that the Temple was built. It was there that the Glory of the Lord filled the Temple. It was there, in that same city, that Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, was raised and ascended into heaven. It was there that the Holy Spirit was poured out. God says of the land of Israel, “It is My land, and I give it to you”. And of Jerusalem, He says, “It is My city.” When Solomon prays in 2 Chronicles 6 that wonderful prayer at the dedication of the Temple, he says, “The heavens cannot contain You, let alone this house in this city, with all of its gold and silver, all its beauty and grandeur. But it was Your desire. So, Lord, I have built it as You wanted it. Will You now come and live in Your house?” very believing Jew completely understands that the earthly Jerusalem will only properly function and become the true Jerusalem when it is bound with its spiritual roots, with the God of Jerusalem. The creator of heaven and earth. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Israel. The God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? It is only then that Jerusalem will find its true place in the world. And later, as you can read at the end of the book of Revelation, even that Heavenly Jerusalem will come down to earth. Then the dimensional boundaries will be broken, eternity will fill time, and God will live with humankind. As it was in the beginning. Then the nations will go to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem, peace will cover the whole earth. Misunderstanding 4: Modern-day Israel (the State) has nothing to do with Israel in the Bible This is another gross misunderstanding. What is modern Israel? It is a direct continuation of the Jewish people that started with Abraham 2,000 years before Christ. A nation that was created by God and received His revelation. God has spoken to them during various times, in various places and to various people: the prophets of Israel. He nurtured them and made them grow into very special people and nation, Genesis 12:1-3 , to bless the world. He gave them the Promised Land of Israel, Psalm 105:7-11. He made them possess the city of Jerusalem. He made them build the Temple as the dwelling place for His holy name. That Temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were driven out of the land of Israel twice. The first time was between 00 and 00 before Christ. We call it the Babylonian Captivity or xile. At that time, the Babylonians razed the city and the Temple to the ground 7 Misunderstandings about Israel and the Bible Sunset over Jerusalem in spring as seen from the Mount of Olives. S Photo: Shutterstock The church needs to repent radically of this theology. It is a horrible line of reasoning that goes far beyond a misunderstanding. It’s demonic.
12. 4 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Making Pilgrimages in Uncertain Times? Shall We Go To Israel This Year? A question in the heart of many Christian Zionist at this stage is whether or not to make plans to go to Israel this year. The current uncertainties regarding Coronavirus regulations and requirements are on the minds of most, having a huge impact on our decision to travel or not to. It is a big decision between each individual and our heavenly Father. Our family have experienced a range of miracles during 2020 to be able to travel to Israel for the grape harvest on the mountains of Samaria while Australian and Israeli borders were firmly shut. We are motivated to pursue the seemingly impossible because of the Word of the LORD that speaks through the prophets of Israel of how the LORD will glorify and sanctify His Great NAME in the last days. He declares that He will bring back the Jewish people to their own land, that the mountains of Israel will shoot forth their branches, that the ancient ruins will be rebuilt and that vineyards will grow and flourish on the mountains of Samaria. It also says that foreigners or those who believe in the LORD from the nations will, among other things, come and be vinedressers on the mountains of Samaria. We believe this Word also holds true for times of uncertainty. Whether the LORD decides to send believers from Australia to Israel this year or not, we believe that our hearts should be set towards Jerusalem as our chief joy, for the LORD to make her a praise in all the earth. As King David says in Psalm 137: 5-6: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” And Isaiah 62: 6-7, says: “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” It is a time to earnestly seek the LORD and pursue His hearts desires. He has plans and purposes for all of us in the restoration of Israel and the bringing of His Kingdom to His land Israel, to His city Jerusalem, to the whole earth, as it is in heaven. Seek the LORD and make plans accordingly. We all have a role to fulfil. Let’s be intentional and united in our desire to make a way for the coming of the LORD. Also consider supporting those the LORD is sending to Israel this year as it is needed. May you have a blessed Passover! Next year in Jerusalem! ________________________________________________________ If you want to partner with Ha Yovel in this glorious work and be the Christian foreigner the prophets wrote about, please reach out to us at: email@example.com or www.serveisrael.com Deon van Baalen Australian Advocate for HaYovel The grape vines on the Mount of Blessing in Samaria. Have you downloaded the FREE C4I app yet? • Read the latest editions of Israel & Christians Today , plus past editions. • Easily access all current and past topical articles. • Listen and watch teaching resources about Israel and the Church from a Biblical perspective. • Access current and past prayer calenders , so you know what and how to pray for our ministry. • Make secure online donations towards Israeli Projects, C4I A ustralia and teaching resources. • You can also stay in touch by sending secure messages via a simple form. SEARCH: ‘C4I’ in your app store DOWNLOAD TODAY! Inspiring and informative content, wherever you are.
18. 10 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Aussie Tours with a Unique Difference Dr Paul Roe with statue of Governor Bourke outside the State Library Justin Moffat the Rector of St Philip’s shares about the history of the Church’s priceless treasures including Rev Richard Johnson’s Bible. Ancient Jericho Mosaic at St James, King Street Lunch & fellowship at The Garrison Church Prof Stuart Piggin sharing Rev Richard Johnson’s letters, an address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies established in NSW and Norfolk Island and a personal Diary. Here’s What You Missed... Although the Sydney weather was not overly kind to us, our 33 participants were incredibly intrepid, resilient and totally committed to following the footsteps of Rev Richard Johnson and the other early Christian pioneers of Sydney. Our chief scholar and tour guide, Dr Stuart Piggin shared so many insights and gave a most interesting analysis of those early years of the Colony, which enabled everyone to gain a much deeper understanding of the Judeo-Christian values that our nation is founded upon. Historian and story-teller, Dr Paul Roe also taught the participants the art and importance of story telling to ensure that our future generations know their Christian heritage and always “Remember the Past, Live the Present & Trust the Future”. Each day was filled with some incredible highlights. Here’s a small selection of them: Day 1: • Seeing Richard J ohnson’s First Fleet Bible and Prayer Book • Discovering the hidden secrets of The R ocks on a walking tour with Anne Crawley • Climbing up to the loft of S t Patrick’s Cathedral Day 2: • Learning the stories behind the monumen ts and plaques in St James, King Street • Receiving a Bib lical Blessing by the Rabbi during our tour of The Great Synagogue • A session at the State Librar y for private viewing of first fleet letters, articles and pictures • Behind the scenes tours of St Step hens and Pitt Street Uniting Church • A delicious Dinner at T ayim Restaurant Day 3: • Workshop by Dr Paul Roe & OJ Rushton on the art of story telling • Panoramic drive-by of historical sites in Hunters Hill • Interactive tour of Old Governmen t House in Parramatta • Insights into the histor y of St Johns Cathedral, Parramatta We’ve had several requests to run this tour again in August/September 2021. We are now seeking YOUR expression of interest... ________________________________________________________ Steven Green is the Director of Olive Tree Travel — the trusted travel agents of many fine organisations including Vision Christian Tours. Aside from their Israel tours, check out their growing portfolio of local Aussie/Kiwi Christian tours: www.olivetreetravel.com.au/australia-nz-travel/ or call 1300 550 830 for enquiries. HIS-STORY, Our Story: Learning from Sydney’s Early Christian Past to Shape our Christian Future Steven Green Director at Olive Tree Travel, specialising in tours & travel to Israel. Dr Paul Roe sharing In the Great Synagogue, Sydney, how Australia was instrumental in the foundation of modern Israel, the basis of his Master’s Thesis. Please let the team at Olive Tree Travel book your next local holiday and short break. It’s our livelihood! www.olivetreetravel.com.au Sadly, we hear all too often, “It was just a quick booking so I just jumped online” . Nothing is too small or simple for us. We’re here to book your travel. You are also missing out on a range of added benefits and value adds if you don’t book with a travel agent.
27. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 11 Biblical Reflection Rev Cornelis Kant n Executive Director | Christians for Israel International After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus remained with His disciples for another 40 days before being taken up in a cloud into heaven. How could Jesus have spent those days most effectively? We as humans would say: go all over the country and show yourself to as many people as possible, so that as many people as possible could witness the truth of His resurrection from the dead. A kind of publicity tour. And yet, Jesus did not do this. He did not invest in demonstrating His resurrection but in teaching His disciples. And what did He teach them? Everything concerning the Kingdom of God: ‘appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3). He apparently considered it of utmost importance that His disciples would have sufficient insight into what the kingdom of God is like, i.e. the kingdom that is to come, before they could go out into the world to proclaim the gospel. Imagine being allowed to spend 40 days on a course with Jesus. We all would have liked to experience that. The disciples listened to Jesus carefully during these days and understood Him perfectly. The evangelist Luke tells us that, not long before His ascension, Jesus told His disciples: ‘“All things which are written about Me in the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures’ (Luke 24:44-45). The disciples then asked Him this question: “Lord, is it at this time You ar e restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). This question has often been seen throughout the centuries as a silly one. The disciples completely misunderstood Jesus’ teaching. They failed to realise that the kingdom Jesus was talking about was not about Israel as a nation being restored as an independent kingdom with Jesus as King. And so their question seemed to be a stupid question. But reading their question in this way overlooks what Luke said about Jesus Himself having opened their minds so that they understood the Scriptures. The question about the restor ation of the kingdom for Israel was indeed a good question. And Jesus did not reject that question at all; He only made clear that God wants to keep that time for Himself. Their task now was to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and to go into the world. After Pentecost, Peter spoke to a crowd of people on the Temple Square about Jesus, “whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:21). Peter was referring to the prophets when he spoke of the restoration of all things. And the prophets a ll wrote clearly about a future restoration of the kingdom in Israel under the leadership of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace and King of Israel. We have celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and we are on the road to Pentecost. The feast of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to know God and to believe in Him. The Holy Spirit that Jesus promised: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth” (John 15: 26). The Holy Spirit comes from both the Father and the Son. The Jewish people just celebrated Passover. As a permanent reminder of their liberation from slavery in Egypt. In 50 days, they will celebrate the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, the Jewish Pentecost. Then they will celebrate that the people, 50 days after their liberation from Egypt, received the Torah in the Sinai desert at Mount Horeb. God gave Moses the law on stone tablets when he was on Mount Horeb. I find it very touching and meaningful that John, the evangelist, calls Jesus the ‘Word of God’, the Torah. Jews and Christians celebrate two different feasts at Pentecost. And yet, they have a lot in common. There is a deep connection between the two feasts. Jews and Christians are distinct, and at the same time, deeply connected. Resurrection to Ascension & Pentecost A father and his son take part in a Passover prayer service at the Western Wall. | Photo: Shutterstock Mandy Worby n Christians for Israel Australia This article is the last instalment of the four- part series. The first article was published in the October 2020 issue. Last time we looked at the human condition of our separation from our Father, and that means that our Fatherlessness is a quandary we can’t rectify. During Paul’s day, adoption was under the jurisdiction of Roman Law, and the entire Roman Empire was subject to those laws and learning about them brings a great deal of clarity. So to conclude our series on orphans, I want to share with you an excerpt from a sermon by Dr John Macarthur who taught about the laws of adoption in Ancient Rome. “There were two steps. The first one was called mansupoteo from which we get the word emancipation. And mansupoteo was carried out as a symbolic sort of sale. If the father would agree to let his son be adopted by another man, there was this symbolic sale they went to; they had some scales and some copper and they used this symbolism to carry out sort of a transaction like I’m selling this young man to you. They did it three times. Twice the father symbolically sold the son and twice he bought him back and then the third time he didn 't buy him back and the Potrea Protestus was broken. After the sale there was ceremony called Vindacateo and the adopting father went to the Roman magistrate and presented a legal case for the actual legal transference of the person to be adopted into his own Potrea Protestus. And when all this was complete the adoption was done. Now there were four main consequences in a Roman adoption. The adopted person lost all rights in his own (natural) family and gained all rights in his new family. He gained all the rights of a fully legitimate son in his new family. Secondly he became full heir to his new father’s estate even if there were other sons, even if there were no sons, if other sons were afterward born into the family who were real blood relations it did not affect his right of progenerate, his right to be the primary one. He was an inalienably identified heir. Thirdly, according to Roman law, the old life of the adopted person, this is interesting, was completely wiped out. If he had any debts they were cancelled, if he had any record of crime it was abolished. They wiped out all the records as if that person had never existed, as if they had never been born. And the adopted person was regarded as a new person entering a new life with no past. And fourthly in the eyes of the Roman law the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in 1 every sense.” Isn’t remarkable! This is a natural picture of the exact process that takes place in our relationship with God when we come to saving faith in Jesus, and this was the understanding that the early church had when Paul explained that we are adopted into God’s family when we put our faith and trust in Jesus. Ÿ We are adopted into God’s family. Ÿ We are bought with a price. Ÿ We are legally, in every sense of the word, a son and heir of our adoptive Father. Ÿ Our past is gone, completely wiped away and forgotten, as though our past life and existence never happened. Ÿ We are 100% sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, with full rights and privileges that come with being a member of this family. Ÿ We are no longer orphans. God completes the circle that began in Eden. We went from being 100% sons and daughters of God in perfect fellowship and full rights and heirs, to being expelled, estranged and separated through sin; we became orphans and strangers in the world, living under the slavery of sin serving a harsh task-master - Satan - until Jesus our Prophet, Priest and King came and died in our place. He purchased us with His own blood so that we could be saved. Our ransom was paid, our debts cancelled and we were adopted and are restored in our relationship with our Father once again. Thank God for Jesus! 1 ‘Marks of a Child Adopted by God’, Dr John Macarthur, Oct 26, 1997 (Romans 8:14-16) Orphans Part 4 Young boy with his adoptive parents. | Photo: Shutterstock
28. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 12 Archeology | Opinion Andrew Tucker n International Editor | Christians for Israel International The Palestinian Authority has been accused of using stones from an ancient Jewish site to help build a road near the city of Nablus, or Shechem. The site is located on Mount Ebal, which forms the northern side of the valley in which Shechem is located. This is in Area B of Judea and Samaria, which is under PA civil authority. Guy Derech, director of ‘Preserving the Eternal’, an NGO dedicated to safeguarding lands for the Jewish people, said, “The altar site is one of the most important sites in our country and special importance to the heritage of the Jewish people. Crushing thousands of years of cultural assets into gravel is an extremely unacceptable act.” Critics argue that the Palestinian Authority has a history of destroying Jewish archaeological sites in an effort to erase Jewish ties to the land. It is continuing a ‘tradition’ begun by Jordan, which destroyed Jewish sites when it controlled Judea and Samaria and part of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967. Discover In 1980, Haifa University archaeologist Adam Zertal was conducting an extensive archaeological survey in the city of Nablus, the biblical Shechem, in the West Bank, when a heap of stones caught his attention. He went on to uncover a rectangular structure approximately 9m x 7m long. Because of its character and location, Zertal proclaimed five years later that it was the altar built by Joshua after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Joshua’s Altar Mt. Ebal is mentioned in Deuteronomy 27. The book of Joshua records that Joshua built an altar here (Joshua 8:30-35): “At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded the Israelites – as is written in the Book of the Teaching of Moses – an altar of unhewn stone upon which no iron had been wielded. They offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and brought sacrifices of well-be ing”. The remains consist of a well- built structure abutted by two courtyards. A ramp located between the courtyards reaches the top of the structure. Zertal argued that the site bears a striking resemblance to the altar that stood in Jerusalem’s Second Temple a millennium later. However, identification of the site as Joshua’s altar is still controversial. While scholars agree this seems to be a cultic site from the Iron Age (1200 - 1000 BC), there is a dispute about when the events described in the Book of Joshua took place. Some say it was during the Iron Age I (1200-1000 BCE). German Bible scholar Alexander Schick disagrees: “If we take 1 Kings 6:1 seriously, then the conquest of Canaan was in 1400 BC (Masoretic Text) and after the Septuagint 1360 BC - and this is late Bronze Age. So how are we to connect the altar from the Iron Age with the late Bronze Age Joshua?” Dr Shay Bar from Haifa University, who took over the work of publishing the site’s findings after Zertal’s death in 2015, says that several factors support Zertal’s thesis. Still, much more work is needed before he can give a definitive answer. “The Bible speaks about an altar built there, and it is the only source available, so it seems possible that this was indeed Joshua’s altar, even though we cannot know for sure. We need to carry out more work to verify it.” Damage The municipality has apologised for the damage, which it said was accidental. Jewish and Christian volunteers have since restored the destroyed wall. This article is partly based on reports by World Israel News and Jerusalem Post. Joshua’s Altar Joshua’s Altar. | Photo: Commons Wikimedia Johannes Gerloff n Theologian, Journalist, Lecturer & Author Israel is being accused of compulsory vaccinations. The Jewish state is even compared with Nazi Germany, the Netanyahu government with Adolf Hitler’s regime, the green passport with the yellow star, current regulations concerning the pandemic with the Nuremberg race laws and Pfizer’s vaccine with the poison gas Zyklon B. Some Bible experts are certain that the Antichrist will come from Israel. “Is Israel the forerunner of evil?,” confused believers ask me. Some suspect that the ‘mark of the beast’ of Revelation 13 is behind the vaccination camp aign. Israel is a democracy. No subject in Israel is discussed unemotionally. This includes Covid-19 vaccination. According to public radio, about thirty per cent of Israelis do not want to get vaccinated. It is quite conceivable that these discussions will lead to fights at one point or another. After all, stones are thrown at you in certain areas of the country if you dare drive a motorised vehicle on the Sabbath. And in addition, there is an election campaign. In the heat of a political battle, it happened in the past that an opponent was referred to as ‘Amalek’ (compare Deuteronomy 25:19) – which does not necessarily have to prevent coalition talks right after the election results are published. Political correctness is neither one of the natural strengths of the character of Israelis nor one of their country’s innovations. Nobody is Being Forced to get Vaccinated A whole range of Israeli measures against the corona pandemic may be pointless and may have caused unnecessary suffering. That has to be talked about – and it is discussed within Israel’s society. To be clear, however: Nobody in Israel is being forced to get vaccinated, any more than anybody is being forced to get a driver’s licence. I know firsthand that some healthcare workers and senior officers in the army have not been vaccinated. The so-called ‘green passport’ is simply a vaccination certificate that shows who was vaccinated with which vaccine and until when this vaccination is valid. It should be clear that vaccination makes a difference in how you are treated. This applies to every vaccination. If this were not the case, a government would declare the required vaccination to be a farce by means of its own procedures. Of course, Israel discriminates between people with a driver’s licence and people without a driver’s licence, between people with a gun licence and people without a gun licence. Anyone who violates these discriminations will be prosecuted. I am grateful for that. The Comparison with the Nazis I understand that the Jews persecuted by Nazis as children, suffered terrible things, and those who had to spend the rest of their lives in the Soviet Union now have trauma and smell dictatorship everywhere. I am able to understand that Jewish people who have been persecuted over the past three millennia feel existentially threatened. However, this does not mean that their political views are correct. Anyone who compares the situation here in Israel with Germany at the time of the Nazis either has no idea who the Nazis were or has no idea of the reality in today’s Israel – or is maliciously anti- Israel. In my opinion, the same applies to those who suspect the ‘mark of the beast’ (Revelation 13:16-17) behind Netanyahu’s ambitions or claim that the Antichrist must come from the Jewish people. A Time of Testing for the Church We are living in a time that is a test for the Church of Jesus worldwide. The decisive questions are: How do we relate to the truth? Do we allow the Word of God to determine our orientation? I am convinced that Christians should distinguish themselves in dealing with social media by living according to biblical commandments, respecting the dignity of other human beings and expressing themselves responsibly – fully aware that each of us will have to give an account of every useless and unfruitful word that we have said or passed on (Matthew 12: 36-37). During this time, perhaps like never before, t he challenging question arises: Who is ‘God’ in my life? Do I exude the freedom, peace, confidence, and tranquillity that I was redeemed to? Do I really serve the Lord, who taught His disciples that it is not that which goes into him from without that defiles a person, but that which comes from one’s heart (Mark 7:14-23)? Am I on the road on behalf of the Lord, who knew quite well: “You are afraid in this world ...” (John 16:33) But, nevertheless, He sent His beloved disciples into exactly this world because He knew: “All power has been given to me in the invisible world and in the world that appears to us to be comprehensible...” (Matthew 28:18)? When the risen Jesus said ‘all power’, nothing can happen in this world without His permission. He sent his disciples even though He foresaw the possibility that they might have to swallow something poisonous in performing His commission (Mark 16:18). He knew that following Messiah means ‘cross’ and that ‘cross’ somehow always smells of ‘risk of death’ (Mark 8: 34-38). I do not have a message of hope for the economy. But I serve the Lord who has an army of ravens at his disposal to provide for those who are unwilling to bow their knees to the Baal of the Zeitgeist (compare Romans 11:3-5; 1 Kings 17-19) – and I would like to invite you to join us in doing this; that we encourage each other to straighten up instead of frightening or panicking one another. When I listen to Yeshua, the Messiah, I learn that “by this, all will know that you are my disciples when you have love for one another” (John 13:35). None of us is able to fulfil this desire that springs from the very heart of our Lord just by himself. We have to do this together. ‘Green Passport’ not the Beast
15. 7 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Pastoral Insights continued... many years ago (but unfortunately cannot now locate online). This has really blessed me and so I gladly share it with you. “Purim is a holiday all about the hidden miracles in life—Hashem [a name used for God by Jewish people] was hidden in the story of Purim, and His name is not mentioned once throughout Megillat Esther. “As the name alludes to, megilla comes from the Hebrew word ‘L’galot,’ to reveal or uncover, and Esther comes from the word ‘Hester,’ hidden or covered. Thus, Purim is viewed as a holiday where Hashem’s guiding hand was hidden, but we look through to see that now and commemorate His presence in our lives, though seemingly hidden. “Pesach, on the other hand, was a time when Hashem’s miracles were ever-present, and so obvious to all. They were great in quantity and in quality, even more so than any other time in Jewish history. Pesach is thus a time for looking at the miracles which are obvious. “The time in between Purim and Pesach should then be a time where we go from not being able to see Hashem or His miracles to being able to see Him everywhere in everything. This time should be a growth period where we work on seeing His hand in everything; such as the fact that we breathe and walk, that the snow melts and that the sun shines, that a baby is born and that an old man dies... “As Pesach then approaches we have prepared ourselves to commemorate His hand in the Pesach story more so than we would have been able to otherwise, and that is really what this time should be used for. We can’t just jump straight into Pesach and the remembering of the redemption from Egypt. “Remembrance days are often used as just that; days for remembrance. However there’s no internalizing these things we remember or growth from what we have learned. This is where Pesach differs from any American or Canadian remembrance holidays. This Yom Tov is for remembering the story through the reading of the Haggadah and constant reminders throughout the year during our prayers and such, but we don’t just remember. We also learn lessons and open our eyes to the miracles Hashem has given us. “My bracha [blessing] to you all is that you be able to recognize the hand of Hashem in everything in your lives, in the good times and the ‘bad,’ and in the mundane and extraordinary. Hashem is always there to guide us, but it is up to us whether we open our eyes to His presence or not.” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * And so I am reminded that each one of us must grow in our recognition of God’s miraculous and protective hand upon our lives—whether in the tiny details or the major life-changing events. I am also reminded that our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—will surely watch over and protect His covenant people the Jews as they are continually threatened by those who would destroy them and seek to wipe Israel off the world map. Looking for some relevant reading from God’s word? Try the book of Esther, Exodus 1-15 and Psalm 121. ________________________________________________________ Keith Buxton is an ordained pastor. He currently serves on the C4I Australia management committee and is a liaison with C4I Oceania Island affiliates ...recognize the hand of Hashem in everything in your lives, in the good times and the ‘bad,’ and in the mundane and extraordinary. from $8990 * JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME TO THE PROMISED LAND 15 NIGHTS – DEPARTING 30 SEP 2021 FOR MORE DETAILS CALL 1300 550 830 ( Olive Tree Travel , our partner travel agency ) vision.org.au/tours “As a result of doing the tour I feel there is more of a richness to what I read in the Bible.” – Rosemary 2019 Tour Overlooking Magdala, Capernaum and the Galilee from Mt Arbel Are you ready to travel? *Twin share. Includes return economy airfares+airport taxes, 4 star plus hotels, buffet breakfast and dinner each day and some lunches, site entry fees, luxury coaches and much more. Please contact us for all terms and conditions including details on refund. ENQUIRE TODAY All fees are fully refundable if tour is cancelled due to COVID19 Optional Extension 7 NIGHTS IN EGYPT (Pre-tour) See where God displayed His wonders through the patriarchs Joseph, Moses and Aaron— redeeming His people from bondage. 30+ Aussies have already payed their deposits for this years tour. This means the tour will proceed, as long as COVID does not become an issue. There’s still time for you to join like-minded belivers in the Holy land— express your interest today! IMPORTANT NOTE: We have 40+ booked already but are still waiting to see if the Borders + Flights will be open. There may be a chance the tour will be post-poned until 2022. Check with Olive Tree Travel for updates.
26. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 10 Theology Jewish Festivals Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Day 8 April 2021 Yom HaShoah is Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust. In Israel, it is a national memorial day and public holiday. It was inaugurated on 1953, by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Yom HaZikaron Israeli Memorial Day 14 April 2021 Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s official memorial day, enacted into law in 1963. While Yom HaZikaron has been traditionally dedicated to fallen soldiers, commemora tion has also been extended to civilian victims of terrorism. Yom HaAtzma’ut Israeli Independence Day 15 April 2021 Yom HaAtzma’ut commemorates the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948. Pesach Sheni Second Passover 26 April 2021 Pesach Sheni is the second Passover, one month after Passover. Lag BaOmer Counting of the Omer 30 April 2021 Lag BaOmer is celebrated on the 33rd day of Counting of the Omer. It is a holiday as it is the day of passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Modern Jewish tradition links the holiday to the Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Roman Empire (132-135 CE). In Israel, it is celebrated as a symbol for the fighting Jewish spirit. Yom Yerushalayim Jerusalem Day 10 May 2021 Yom Yerushalayim is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for victory in the Six-Day War and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’. Shavuot Festival of Weeks 17-18 May 2021 Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai, although the association between the giving of the Torah and Shavuot is not explicit in the Biblical text. The holiday is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. It ma rks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer. ,ees de 7reuHd n 5heoloHian | Christians for Israel International &ditor | Israel the ChurDh “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) When Jesus is brought before Pilate, he asks Him the question: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus’ answer is rather remarkable. “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” After all, the Jews who have brought Jesus to Pilate, in fact, have brought no accusation against Him at all. It seems that Pilate wants to deal with the Jews and their issues as little as possible. Then Jesus speaks the well-known words: “My kingdom is not of this world.” What does He mean? Is Jesus saying that a kingdom on earth is not His intention but that it is about a heavenly kingdom? You could hear it that way, and so it is sometimes explained. But is that correct? Let us have a closer look at what Jesus is saying. The primary meaning of both the Greek and the Hebrew word for kingdom is kingship. The word can also mean the territory where the kingship is valid. Literally, the text does not say ‘of this world’ but ‘out of’. It is about the origin – where does this kingship originate? The world (Greek: cosmos) – can refer to the order of the world. This world (order) is dominated by the Roman Empire, of which Pilate is the highest representat ive. The emperor of that empire could grant somebody a kingship. Herod, for example, once travelled to Rome to receive there his kingship, his royal title. Jesus’ kingship is not of this world order. He does not receive His kingship from the Roman emperor but out of heaven. His servants, therefore, also will not fight for Him with earthly means. But He will establish His kingship on earth. The whole world has to come under the rule of this heavenly kingship. The whole world has to become His kingdom. But the weapon with which the world shall be conquered is the gospel of the kingdom. Pilate , in fact, was faced with a tremendous decision. He could have recognised Jesus’ kingship. For his authority was given him from above (John 19:11), i.e. by God. Then Jesus’ kingdom would have been ushered in. But Pilate preferred the earthly authority of Rome. | Photo: Lightstock Not of the World Book Review By Kees de Vreugd Judaism’s Life Changing Ideas A weekly reading of the Jewish Bible by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks November 2020, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a former chief rabbi of the UK’s Jewish community, died. His religious and moral authority reached beyond his community to a great audience in the UK and abroad. He was the author of many philosophical and religious books. Judaism’s Life-Changing Ideas is his latest publication. It is a collection of essays on the weekly readings of the Torah (the five books of Moses) according to the lectionary of the synagogue, in which he explores the ‘life-changing ideas’ of the Torah Judaism contributed to the world, such as the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person. Each essay is concluded by a life- changing idea extracted from the parasha (the Torah portion). In his introduction, he writes: “Sometimes ideas change the world because they change us. It’s these ideas I want to explore through the weekly parasha. ” “If we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel, which changes the way we act, which changes the person we become. Ideas change lives, and great ideas help us to courage, to happiness, and lives filled with blessing.” “The choice humankind faces in every age is between the idea of power and the power of ideas. Judaism has always believed in the power of ideas, and it remains the only non-violent way to change the world.” “The real religious mystery, according to Judaism, is not our faith in God. It is God’s faith in us. That is the real subject of the Torah. The Torah is God’s book of man.” It is the mystery of faith, of our Christian faith, too, that God does not want to be without us, even though we want to be without God. Maggid Books (Koren Publishers) Jerusalem, 2020. ISBN 9781592645527 Jesus’ kingship is not of this world order. He does not receive His kingship from the Roman emperor but out of heaven. His servants, therefore, also will not fight for Him with earthly means. But He will establish His kingship on earth.
25. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 9 Analysis Jason Silverman n Author | Israel Today Israel has managed to find itself once again entangled in the quagmire of religion and state issues. On 1 March, the Supreme Court made a dramatic decision ordering the state to recognise individuals who have undergone Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel as eligible for citizenship through the Law of Return. The decision was made following twelve petitions to the court by converts who had been denied citizenship by Israel’s Ministry of Interior. Interestingly, the state already recognises Reform and Conservative conversions abroad for the purpose of Aliyah (immigration). This decision merely extends state recognition to those who complete this kind of conversion process inside Israel. President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut clarified that the decision concerns ‘a public-civil question and not a religious one.’ Hayut added that the non-Orthodox communities in Israel are ‘well established’ and that they are ‘central denominations in world Jewry.’ Those to the left of the political spectrum immediately praised the Supreme Court decision. Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) hailed the court’s decision on Twitter, stating that “Israel needs to treat the rights of all of Judaism’s denominations equally.” He added that “a sane government will put an end to the reality in which Israel of all places is the only democracy in the world that doesn’t have religious freedom for Jews.” Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi who is number four in the Labor party’s candidate list for the Knesset, posted on his Facebook page stating that “since Israel’s inception, the Knesset rejected every attempt to place a monopoly on conversion in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate.” Impact on the Election Not everyone could be seen dancing and rejoicing after learning of the Supreme Court’s controversial decision. Knesset members of the ultra-Orthodox parties were furious and lashed out against the court. Aryeh Deri (Shas), Ya’akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) sent a stern warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that unless he commits to passing the ‘override clause’ into legislation (which would enable cancelling the court’s decision), they’ll refuse to join his next coalition. This clause gives lawmakers increased power and implies that the Knesset may preclude any matter from subjection to judicial review. The clause is promoted in order to curtail an ‘activist Supreme Court.’ A Persistent Mess Matters of religion and state constitute a mess that, for almost 73 years, the Jewish State has been unable to clean up. It’s like riding on a never-ending roller coaster. Pressing questions such as who can get married in Israel, who counts as Jewish for Aliyah, who and how can one pray at the Kotel (Western Wall) and what conversions are legitimate have been raised repeatedly for decades with no definitive answers. These issues generate social struggles between competing sectors and sow deep division within Israel’s Jewish population. Unfortunately, wars on the social-Jewish battlefield are not new for Israel. It has proven seemingly impossible to strictly define the Jewishness of the Jewish State. The difficulty of settling these issues has serious implications in a number of domains. Israel’s relationship with Jewish communities abroad is severely affected by matters of religion and state. For example, in the United States—the most prominent Jewish community outside of Israel—the vast majority of Jews active in Jewish life are involved in Reform congregations. When Israel frowns upon their conversions and sometimes belittles their unique style of Jewish practice, which is egalitarian and pluralistic, this community feels rejected by the state that claims to represent them. Israel’s democratic character is also highly affected. Many native Israelis are unable to perform the basic right of marriage in Israel because of their questionable Jewish status, according to Halacha (Jewish law). Those who are recognised as Jewish can only have an Orthodox wedding through the Chief Rabbinate if they want their marriage to be recognised by the state. Expressions of Judaism other than Orthodox, which are accepted by the majority of the Jewish world, are outlawed in the only Jewish state. Issues of religion and state serve as a major point of contention in Israeli politics. Concerning matters of conversions, marriage and Kosher food in public places, the ultra-Orthodox parties remain steadfast in their intransigence. This leads to a tying of hands of parties that would otherwise support religious reforms. Ultra- Orthodox support is typically the deciding factor for reaching a majority of 61 seats to form a coalition. Therefore, politicians have traditionally been willing to compromise on issues of religion and state for the sake of gaining and preserving power. So, What’s the Solution? Whether we like it or not, the problems of religion and state are here to stay. Neither the Orthodox nor liberal forces in Israeli society will succeed in shaping the Jewish State entirely in their own image. Like most issues, we must find a balance between both worldviews. The Haredim and other Orthodox circles will never be able to create a state that is subservient completely to Jewish Law. This may preserve the Jewishness of Israel but trumps every inch of democracy. Likewise, the secular sector will continue to fail at trying to completely separate the Jewish from the Jewish State. This may preserve the country’s democratic character but will destroy its Jewish calling, the purpose for which Israel was established. We must find middle ground to stand upon. This means respecting sacred Jewish tradition while allowing for other streams of Judaism to be expressed in our shared public space. Traditional and progressive Judaism can be lived in public without canceling or delegitimising one another, so long as we proactively make that choice. The issue of Judaism and state must be solved in order f or Israel to truly live out its calling as a state for all of the Jewish people. Originally published by Israel Today. www.israeltoday.co.il Reproduced with permission. .he +ua>D@re #srael an’t #>nore An orthodox Jewish man argues with a reform Jewish woman wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall. Reform judaism is the most liberal form of modern Judaism, being the only ones who allow women to wear the prayer shawl. | Photo: Flash90 Signs of Faith By Kees de Vreugd Tallit In this series, ‘Signs of Faith’, objects that express Jewish faith are explained and discussed. Everybody will know the tallit, the rectangular white cloth with black or blue stripes. Jews wear it as a shawl around their shoulders or on their head while praying. Therefore, it is often called a prayer shawl. What is its background? In the Bible (Numbers 15:37-40), we find the commandment to make tzitzit, tassels, on the four corners of your garments. Those tassels remind those who wear them of God’s commandments. The tassels have to contain a cord of blue (verse 38) . According to sources, the blue dye used was obtained from a sort of purple sea snail (murex), a species that is extinct according to sources. Therefore, the tzitzit nowadays is white. The passage from Numbers is recited in the morning prayers after the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4). While reciting these words, the tassels are taken together and kissed three times. The tzitzit is attached to the four corners of the upper garment with which you cover yourself (Deuteronomy 22:12). In antiquity, people would wear a long rectangular garment as a sort of cloak over their basic clothes. It would be a simple woollen garment for the common person or a cloak of more refined tissue for the rich and the notable. Over time, fashion changes, of course, and Jews took over their host countries’ clothing habits in the exile. The upper garment disappeared as daily fashion. But it remained in religious use as a prayer shawl. The garment is made of wool, cotton or silk, although prominent Jewish scholars rejected silk. The black or blue stripes are a reminder of the original purple of the tzitzit. As a matter of fact, the blue stripes on the Israeli flag are a reference to the tallit. The tallit is normally worn during the morning prayer by men and boys who are bar-mitzva . However, on Tisha be-Av (9th of Av, the fast-day commemorating the destruction of the temple), it is worn during the afternoon prayer, and on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) during the whole day. When wrapping yourself in the tallit, a corresponding beracha (blessing) is said. God is given thanks for commanding Israel to cover itself in the tzitzit. Moreover, Orthodox men and boys carry a tallit katan (small tallit) under their clothes, a sort of undershirt with four corners, on which the tzitziot (plural form) is attached. Usually, they have the tzitziot over their clothes so that they are clearly visible. In that way, they always carry the reminder of God’s good commandments with them.
31. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 14 Walk through the Land Kameel Majdali n Director | Teach All Nations Inc. The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. Genesis 13:14-15 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. Deuteronomy 11:11-12 So you are going on a holy land Bible tour, but time is short. If you could only visit one region and learn more about the Bible, where would it be? Well, the topic of this ‘Walk through the Land’ is the place to go. The land of the Bible can arguably be called the navel of the world. It sits at the intersection of the great Afro- Eurasian landmass and serves as its ‘land bridge.’ Its location ensures great international attention, past and present. Yet there’s more. This land is central because the eyes of the Lord are upon it from the beginning to the end of the year (see verses above). If this centrally located land has a ‘heart,’ especially from a geographic and Biblical perspective, it has to be the region known as ‘the Central Hill Country’ (CHC). Also known as ‘Judaea and Samaria,’ though most of the world calls it the ‘West Bank,’ a term coined since the 1948 War. For in this region lies the stage of many key Bible events, particularly in the Old Testament. This will be the final part of our series, ‘Walk through the Land.’ We have already covered the coastal region, including the Plains of Philistia, Sharon, Acre/Asher. Also, we examined the Sea of Galilee, the region of Galilee, Mount Carmel, and the Valley of Armageddon. We have not covered: The strategic Shephelah (lowlands) between Philistia and the Judean mountains, the great southern desert called the Negev, the Rift Valley and its sub sections, and Transjordan, including Golan, Gilead, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. We may visit these sometime in the future. On the surface, CHC looks like one and the same region, especially since the hills are nearly all made of limestone, but there are distinct variations that have affected Biblical history. Let’s see how the Central Hill Country (CHC) is the heart of the matter. Samaria and the Northern Kingdom The CHC resembles the letter ‘B’ upside down and backwards. Samaria is the larger region to the north and Judaea to the south. Samaria covers an area 80 by 40km and can be subdivided into three parts, north to south: Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin. One of the key differences between Judaea and Samaria is that the latter is more open and accessible than its southern counterpart. This meant it was more vulnerable to foreign invasion. Also, as the centre of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria’s openness made it more unstable. It had two heathen shrines at Bethel and Dan, three different capitals: Shechem, Tirzah, and the city of Samaria, and at least 6-8 dynasties. Having the capital in the city of Samaria made the Northern Kingdom fully open to the cultural, political and religious influences of the West (1 Kings 16:29-34), rendering it more cosmopolitan yet insecure. The famous Biblical city of Shechem is located here. Mentioned 63 times exclusively in the Old Testament - Shechem really is the ‘navel’ of the Samaria. Sandwiched between Mount Ebal (940m), the ‘mountain of cursing’ on the northside, and Mount Gerizim, the ‘mountain of blessing’ (881m) on the southside, Shechem is important in Genesis, Joshua, Judges, and 1 Kings . Nearby eastward is Sychar, the location of Jacob’s Well, where Jesus first revealed Himself as Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 . Down the road from Shechem westward was the city of Samaria, capital of Israel, where the kings Ahab to Hoshea reigned. South of Shechem in the region of Ephraim is Shiloh, Israel’s first capital and home of the tabernacle and ark of the covenant for 369 years. South of Shiloh, in Benjamin’s subsection, is located Bethel, ‘House of God,’ where Jacob saw the ladder from heaven and Jeroboam placed the golden calf. Other Biblical sites are Gibeah, Geba, Gibeon, and Mizpah. This area, along with Jerusalem, was probably the busiest region for Biblical events. Judaea: Israel’s Capital Territory Judaea was the stage for God’s revelation and redemption. It is Israel’s capital territory and hosted the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Judaea, 40 by 32km, can be divided in half: west is the hill country, forested, green, with cool, moist Mediterranean air and rain. The east side is the wilderness; the contrast between the two couldn’t be greater. The mountains are high enough to receive occasional snow and adequate rain (500 to 700mm). Wonderful agriculture was found here, including wheat, barley, olives, grapes, pomegranates, sheep, donkeys, camels, and livestock. Key cities are Hebron, Bethlehem, and the crown jewel, Jerusalem. The Judean wilderness and Rift Valley are to the east; the contrast in height is striking: 760 to 915m above sea level to the Dead Sea, 400m below sea level. In just 16km, as the crow flies, the descent is 1310m. The rainfall is 100mm. Judaea’s wilderness influenced the lives of David, Amos, Jeremiah, and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth. Hopefully, this short introduction to redemption’s stage will stir your interest in visiting the heart of the Bible. You’ll never read God’s Word or the newspaper the same again! The Heart of the Bible Herod the Great Palace in Sebastia, Samaria. | Photo: Shutterstock Panoramic view from the archaeological park of Shiloh in Samaria, Israel. | Photo: Shutterstock One of the key differences between Judaea and Samaria is that the latter is more accessible than its southern counterpart. This meant is was more vulnerable to foreign invasion. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 15 From Our Projects Part of our mission is to comfort Israel and the Jewish people through prayer and action. If you would like to support one of our projects you can complete the coupon on page 16 or make an online donation. Thank you very much for your support! Aliyah Aliyah is the Hebrew word for the return of the Jewish people to Israel. We support Aliyah mainly from Ukraine (and the former Soviet Union), but also from India and France. Furthermore, we help new immigrants (in Hebrew: olim ) to integrate into Israeli society. Hineni Soup Kitchen We help the poor of Israel, by providing them with food. We do this in partnership with the Hineni Center in Jerusalem, headed by Benjamin Philip. Your gift for the soup kitchen goes directly to the purchase of food. Holocaust Survivors We support impoverished Holocaust survivors in Israel and Ukraine through various projects which provide assistance to survivors of the Holocaust. Those survivors are elderly and will not be among us for long, and there is a growing demand for practical assistance. Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC) You can support the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the heart of Biblical Israel. The main purpose is to encourage the people in the Biblical Heartland and to show them that there are Christians throughout the world who support them and share the belief that the areas of Judea and Samaria are part of Israel’s inheritance. Food Parcel Campaign Ukraine We distribute food parcels amongst Jewish people in Ukraine. These parcels are handed out to Holocaust survivors, needy families, and the sick. Those food parcels are a sign of friendship that demonstrates your support for our Jewish brothers and sisters and that they are not alone. Arab Christians Life for Christians in Bethlehem is often not easy. Christians for Israel supports the First Baptist Church of Rev Naim Khoury in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The members of this church spread the gospel among Arabs and share their love and heart for Israel and the Jewish people. For country-specific or further information on our projects, go to our website, www.c4israel.com.au Overview of our projects The current work of Hineni humanitarian restaurant in Jerusalem can be described briefly: ‘creative problem solving’ and ‘miracles’. The management, staff, and volunteers need to adapt constantly. When regions are closed because of corona and the cooks cannot come to Jerusalem, the secretary does the cooking, and her own work is left undone. Covid-19 Crisis The coronavirus crisis poses significant challenges to Hineni’s continued operation and has abruptly halted the steady stream of foreign volunteers. With creativity and hard work, the three volunteers who were left managed to prepare 200-300 meals per day. A plea from city hall for help for the elderly did not fall on deaf ears. Of course, Hine ni could help! Benjamin Philip, the director, had no idea where they would find the money, but his life motto is always, “The Eternal One will provide!” And...the Lord did provide, through Christians for Israel. 2100 Meals The constantly changing restrictions also had consequences for the restaurant. One week only ten people could eat there at a time; two weeks later, the restaurant had to close, and meals could only be provided for pick-up. The needs of the community kept growing. A nursing home asked for help again: 125 meals, three times a week! Miraculously, the task of packing a ll these meals is completed every week! This is thanks to the faithful assistance of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) staff members and local volunteers who spontaneously offered their help when Hineni was left short-handed. Meals on Wheels by Hineni The Meals on Wheels Programme helps primarily the elderly and Holocaust survivors who are living below the poverty line. These people live independently in a ‘protected’ government building where there is no shared dining room or kitchen. Due to the coronavirus crisis, government support has fallen away, but these people do not have the money for hot meals. Because they are afraid to go to the store, they are eating unhealthier food. The emotional damage caused by the isolation is even worse, as many are reliving war traumas. Added to this is the fear of catching Covid-19, ending up alone in a hospital, and dying without being able to say goodbye to family. Receiving a hot meal is often the high point of the day for these isolated seniors. | Photos: Hineni Hineni Experiences God’s Provision “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” Mark 14:7a Hineni & Coronavirus Hineni’s budget has been reduced during the Covid-19 crisis, but: Ÿ The number of meal requests have increased; Ÿ Employees are being paid to work longer hours due to the shortage of volunteers; Ÿ The kitchen is forced to use more expensive frozen vegetables instead of cheaper fresh vegetables. With your support, Hineni can provide even more meals to Jerusalem’s poorest. The cost of a hot meal is AU $10. You can fulfil the Lord Jesus’ biblical commission by contributing to the important work of Hineni. Please complete the coupon on the back page.
11. 3 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Article continued + Who is thinc. ? The Hague Initiative for International Co-operation ( thinc. ) Neither the international community nor any international tribunal can resolve this dispute; not even the International Court of Justice, in its 2004 Wall Advisory Opinion , dared to opine on the sovereign status of these territories. The argument that Israel cannot have a legitimate claim to any of these territories has never been substantiated. Two arguments are usually made. The first is that these territories are occupied, and thus cannot belong to Israel. This is a fallacy. To be sure, neither the use of force nor occupation can confer sovereignty, but the law of occupation has nothing to say about the pre-existing sovereign status of territory that is occupied in the course of a conflict. As Judge Kovács noted in his Opinion in the International Criminal Court’s “Situation in Palestine” a few weeks ago, there is no reason, as a matter of international law, why Israel could not have a legitimate claim to sovereignty of territory that was part of a Mandate (1922-1948), was taken from it by force (by Jordan in 1948) and which it took back in a defensive war (in 1967). The second argument is that these territories belong to the Palestinians. The problem with this claim is that sovereignty cannot vest in a people; rather, territorial sovereignty is an attribute of statehood. States are sovereign because they have “the exclusive right to display the activities of a State” within a certain territory, as Professor Eyal Benvenisti noted in his advice to the International Criminal Court in 2020. This requires not only that the relevant entity has actual control, it also requires “concrete and consistent” unilateral assertion of sovereignty over specific territory. There is another point that needs to be emphasized. The PLO continues to assert conflicting and ambiguous territorial claims. This is a deliberate strategy. Before the International Criminal Court, the PLO claims sovereignty over the “occupied territories” (Gaza, East Jerusalem and West Bank). In proceedings currently pending before the International Court of Justice, they claim sovereignty over the whole city of Jerusalem. And then there is the Palestinian National Charter, which is the PLO’s constitution; as Professor Benvenisti pointed out, the PLO’s Charter has never been amended to remove those provisions that are aimed at elimination of the Jewish State. In other words, the Palestinians continue to claim sovereignty over the whole territory of “Palestine”, including what is currently the State of Israel. This is important, because it is often argued that Israeli settlements and intransigence are the cause of the failure of the peace process, and that recognition by third states will put pressure on Israel. This is plainly incorrect. Ever since the 1947 Partition Plan, the Palestinians have rejected many concrete and far-reaching offers of statehood. In 2000, Yasser Arafat walked away from the Camp David negotiations, rejecting an Israeli offer that would have given the Palestinians over 90% of the territories they claim, including East Jerusalem. Current PLO Chairman Abbas walked away from a similar offer in 2008. Why? The real problem The fact is that the PLO (which, despite the veneer of statehood, still holds the reigns) continues to seek the destruction of the Jewish State. As Dr. Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz demonstrate in their book The War of Return , the core reason why the Arab Palestinian leadership has consistently rejected statehood offers is the fact they deny the legitimacy of the Jewish State. This is evidenced by their continued adherence to a so-called “right of return”, by which, in essence, they demand that all 5 million Palestinians are entitled to live in what is now the State of Israel. There are many reasons why this is a specious claim, one of them being the fact that it was the Arab Palestinians themselves who (with their Arab neighbors) caused the 1947-1949 War of Independence that resulted in the displacement of between 500,000 and 750,000 Arab Palestinians from the western parts of Palestine. Conclusions To conclude: • “Pal estine” is manifestly not yet a state. • A Palestinian state can and should onl y come into existence after a peace agreement has been reached with Israel. • A peace agreement between Israel and the P alestinians is only possible if both sides genuinely embrace the legitimate existence of the other and are willing to make compromises. • If other UN member states want to make a positive con tribution, their efforts should be directed to stimulating trust and respect between the parties—not imposing a pre-determined outcome. • The responsibility of states to recognize other states p lays an important function, and should be exercised cautiously. Only states should be recognized. • Pretending that “P alestine” is already a state, when it clearly is not, undermines the important role of all UN member states in advancing the rule of law and the international legal order. ________________________________________________________ Andrew Tucker is Director of The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation ( thinc. )—a global initiative to advance the fair and just application of international law. For more information: www. thinc.info If you’re keen to support the initiative of fighting misinformation and “lawfare”, defending the rights of Israel and the Jewish people, and promoting a new legal framework for peace in the Middle East, please consider donating to assist Andrew and the team at thinc. Your gift of $30, $50 or your best gift will help them be a powerful and credible voice to the nations including the International Criminal Court in the Hague where Israel is often unfairly attacked and marginalized. See the back page or visit www.thinc.info thinc. is an independent foundation established in 2017 in The Hague. Christians for Israel Australia has adopted thinc. as a strategic partner. Network of experts thinc. comprises a global network of international law academics and practitioners, as well as experts in related fields such as political science, religion and history, coordinated by a small management team. Work areas We have three work areas: (i) Research; (ii) education and training; (iii) consultancy and advice. Why this work is necessary We are deeply concerned about the distorted representation of history, the imbalanced criticism and the unequal treatment of Israel in the international arena, especially in the UN and the EU. We believe that the main cause of the negative image of Israel in the world is ignorance about how the Jewish people are connected to the land, why the State of Israel was established, what is happening around Israel today and the nature of international law and diplomacy. We see that international law in the UN and related institutions is interpreted and applied in a discriminatory way to the State of Israel ( lawfare ), thereby undermining Israel’s sovereignty and security. Mission Our mission is to promote the international rule of law in relation to Israel, the Israel/ Palestine conflict and the region. We accomplish our mission by: 1. being a resource of trustworthy information of the highest professional standard; 2. providing a f orum in which international lawyers, policy-makers, historians and other experts can meet to exchange views within the framework of our vision; 3. developing proposals f or a constructive role of international law in resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict and promoting cooperation between Israel and other international actors. Values We promote the spiritual, ethical, social and political values that are held commonly by Judaism and Christianity. These values are our guiding principles and include respect for the legitimate rights of Jews and Palestinians living in the land of Israel, and equal treatment of the State of Israel under international law. Projects 2021 In 2021 we will be working on four strategic projects: 1. Cases, Mater ials and Commentaries —a research project leading to a balanced academic publication about international law, Israeli-Arab relations and the Israel/ Palestine conflict. This publication will enable courses to be offered at universities and other institutions around the world, in which the position of Israel, the Jewish people and the Israel/Palestine conflict are placed in their appropriate legal, historical, political and religious context. 2. The EU, the Middle East P eace process and international law—a critical review. This research project will result in a report on the evolution of the relationship between European countries and Israel under international law since 1967. It will provide evidence that international law has been unfairly applied to Israel, and make recommendations on the role of international law in the development of a sustainable EU foreign policy towards the conflict. 3. International Diplomacy , Law and Security in Arab-Israel Relations — educational project (started in 2020). Building on Cases, Materials and Commentaries we are developing a modular, multi-disciplinary on-line course for diplomats, policy advisers, law students and legal practitioners. The curriculum will be supplemented with a one-week onsite program module in Israel. The project will be executed in partnership with the Inter-Disciplinary Centre (IDC) Herzliya, the largest private university in Israel. 4. International Criminal Court (ICC): the “situation in Palestine”. We will continue to play an active role in seeking to prevent that the ICC will investigate or prosecute Israeli leaders for so-called war crimes in Palestine. Please support our work We invite you to support the work of thinc. by making a donation to C hristians for Israel Australia . See back page or visit www.c4israel.com.au ________________________________________________________ Andrew Tucker and Pieter Hoogendoorn Directors For the fair and just application of international law to Israel and the Israel/ Palestine conflict
17. 9 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Stan’s Article continued... United Nations, not the European Union, not the Quartet, not the ICC, not the USA; not the wars, not the terrorism, not the diplomats, not even the ‘progressive’ liberal Israelis themselves. Israel’s restoration continues on and through all obstacles. It is resolutely on course. God has planted the Jews in their own Land (Ezekiel 36:24) with all of His heart and with all of His soul (Jeremiah 32:41). Here they will stay. He is rejoicing over them to do them good and He will not cease from doing so (Jeremiah 32:40). See how they have thrived! He has promised them that once He has brought them home, He will keep them safely here (Jeremiah 30:10; 31:10). War after war has failed to destroy or dislodge them. His plan for them is still unfolding. Once He has firmly established them, He will sprinkle clean water on them and will cleanse them from all their iniquities. He will take out their heart of stone and will give them a heart of flesh. He will put His Spirit within them and cause them to walk in His statutes. They will dwell in the land that He gave to their fathers. They shall be His people, and He shall be their God. (Ezekiel 36). This is Israel’s glorious, certain future. The road has been rocky, rough, sometimes unclear, often uncertain. But the Jews are headed towards their nation-wide reunion with their God. Exactly how He will bring them all the way there we cannot be sure. But that He will, we can be. I am. And like Ruth, whatever happens, I have taken hold of them and will never let them go. ________________________________________________________ Stan Goodenough is an Evangelical (Gentile) Israel-accredited tour guide who for 30 years called Jerusalem home. After Covid-19 brought about the instantaneous collapse of Israel tourism, he moved with his family to the Czech Republic from where he will closely follow events tied to the unparalleled wonder of Israel’s ongoing restoration. When the borders re- open, he plans to return to guiding God’s Land. www.jerusalemwatchman.org and (coming soon www.israelvirtualtours.org EDITORS NOTE: If you feel led to sow into Stan and his family at this time, you can forward your love offering to: Lions Gate Ministries, BSB: 034664 Account No: 373163 by the end of March. This account is administered by Pastors Peter and Melissa Haigh from Cairns and they will then electronically transfer the amount to Stan. There is no tax deduction available for this, but receipts can be issued. Please remember to stipulate that your gift is for Stan and if a receipt is required email you address to: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0439352465 Sign up a friend to ‘Israel & Christians Today’ Newspaper and receive the ‘ Israel 70 Years Magazine ’ or the new ‘ The Signs of the Times DVD ’ FREE * ! Your Full Name: ____________________________ Address: _________________________________ _________________________________________ State: ________________ P ostcode: __________ Friends Full Name: _________________________ Address: _________________________________ _________________________________________ State: ________________ P ostcode: __________ Number of Newspapers Bi-monthly: c 1 c 2 c 5 c Other: ______________________ *1 Magazine or DVD per person. limited offer. while stocks last. SEND DETAILS TO: Christians for Israel, Australia , PO Box 1508, Springwood, QLD, 4127 Israel 70 Years Commemorative Magazine OR Please choose ONE of the below gifts to receive upon successfully signing up a new friend to ‘ Israel & Christians Today’ Newspaper. The Signs of the Times DVD ( 7+ Hours Teaching) The friend/church you nominate to receive the Israel & Christians Today Bi-monthly Newspaper will also receive a complimentary copy of ‘The Signs of the Times’ DVD as well. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love You! Psalm 122:6 ESV
24. 16 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Resources to Equip You in Your Faith $15 (includes p+h) PAPERBACK | by Edda Fogarollo Edda retraces the principal events, emotions, efforts, adversities and the protagonists who enabled the Jewish people to become a nation after a diaspora lasting for two hundred years Page after page, one experiences the narration of the accomplishment of something that is much more than a collective dream: a miracle announced by the prophets and fulfilled before our very eyes. $15 (includes p+h) DVD Series | by Enoch Lavender Israel and the Church have both experienced momentous changes in the past 100 years. Join Ps Enoch Lavender in the TBN Pacific TV Studio as he examines how the stage is being set for the Lord’s return. Learn about the dual restoration of Israel and the Church as well as recent developments surrounding the Temple Mount. The worldwide regathering of the Jews from the four corners of the earth is one of the most remarkable events of the past century. 90 minutes. $20 (includes p+h) PAPERBACK | by Rev. William Glashouwer For many people today there is no certainty anymore God exists, or if He does, has anything to do with me or this world. Rev. Glashouwer demonstrates how the Christian claims of deliverance, redemption and spiritual freedom are real and that it’s possible to live a life of victory. The Holy Spirit empowers our new life to bring forth the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. That’s not a fanciful dream—its’ a Biblical promise! $20 (includes p+h) $20 (includes p+h) 2 DVD Set | by Enoch Lavender PAPERBACK | by Enoch Lavender This series looks at: The Passover in Jesus day. How the feasts set the exact timing and sequence of events in Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. How the remaining three feasts provide a unique prophetic preview of End Time events. Practical lessons from the feasts about preparing for the Lord’s soon return, how to pray for Israel and how to intercede even for those who persecute us. 4 x 30 min sessions. Are you waiting for the fulfilment of a promise from God? Join Enoch and Sarah as they share with you their story of waiting to see God’s promise of marriage come to pass in their lives. Hope Fulfilled covers the challenges they faced, the powerful lessons they learned along the way, as well as their story of finally receiving what God had promised. This book also features key insights into ancient Jewish wedding practices and End Times. Approx. 80 pages $36 (includes p+h) PAPERBACK | by Rev. William Glashouwer Is the last book of the Bible—The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John—only understandable to theologically trained people? Rev. Glashouwer presents ‘Revelation’ in a new light. Study God’s roadmap for the future, step-by-step. You only need a couple of minutes each day to study one or two verses to better grasp its meaning. You will discover God is the beginning and the end—Who is and Who was and Who is to come. $30 (includes p+h) PAPERBACK | by Kelvin Crombie During 1933-1945 Jews throughout Europe were persecuted by the Nazi regime and some six million were murdered. What’s not so well known is the tens of thousands of Jewish Christians who also suffered. The Jocz family was typical of such treatment by the Nazis and their allies—some of whom survived. This book provides insight into the collective story of these over-looked Jewish victims of the Holocaust. $20 (includes p+h) PAPERBACK | by Kelvin Crombie Preparing for the Lord’s Return. This book chronicles the dramatic rise of the prophetic movement to build Israel’s Third Temple. It looks at the painstaking preparations taking place to recreate the Temple vessels, as well as the use of DNA technology to identify priests for the restored Temple service. The ultimate goal of this book is to highlight how the stage is increasingly being set for the Lord’s Return. Approx. 88 pages TO ORDER USE THE FORM ON THE BACK PAGE OR SECURELY ONLINE: C4ISRAEL.COM.AU/STORE NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! $30 2 DVD SET | $35 DVD + STUDY GUIDE BUNDLE | $15 PAPERBACK $5 STUDY GUIDE | $5 FACILITATORS GUIDE NOTE: all prices include p+h $25 ON-DEMAND (Digital) go to: whyisrael.c4israel.com.au SPECIAL —Use Coupon Code: ‘FIVEOFF’ to save $5. Only applicable for Digital Copy. Deal good till June 30, 2021. TEACHING RESOURCE FORMATS Why Israel? The series explores the Biblical significance of Israel and the Jewish people for Christians today. It gives an inside look from a Biblical, historical and prophetic perspective at God’s work with Israel. We see miracles happen in our days: the Jews are returning to the Promised Land just as the Bible prophesied. It brings to light that God has not forgotten the Jewish people and that Jesus is coming soon! This new series of Why Israel? challenges the church to embrace and bless the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. It also shows howIsrael is a sign of hope to the world. Chapters Included: 01. God loves Israel 02. The Covenants 03. Old Covenant, New Covenant 04. Israel and the Church 05. Anti-Semitism 06. Israel and the nations 07. Jerusalem 08. The Kingdom of God 09. Jesus 10. His blood be on us by Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer
2. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Editorial 2 Colophon Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Mission Our mission is to bring Biblical understanding in the Church and among the nations concerning God’s purposes for Israel and to promote comfort of Israel through prayer and action. Editorial Team Andrew Tucker International Editor-in-Chief email@example.com Cathy Coldicutt Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Marloes van Westing International Communications Manager email@example.com Ian Worby, Bryce Turner, Rita Quartel, Marie-Louise Weissenböck and Marijke Terlouw Scripture references: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. C4I Offices Christians for Israel International Leon Meijer, Chairman Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer, President Rev Cornelis Kant, Executive Director P.O. Box 1100 | 3860 BC Nijkerk, The Netherlands | Tel: +31 33 422 0405 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.c4israel.org The English Edition of Israel & Christians Today is published by the following English speaking branches: Christians for Israel - Australia Ian Worby, National Leader PO Box 1508, Springwood Queensland, Australia 4127 Tel: +61 (7) 3088 6900, email@example.com www.c4israel.com.au Christians for Israel - New Zealand Bryce Turner, National Executive Director PO Box 12 006, Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand 1642 Tel: +64 9 525 7564, firstname.lastname@example.org www.c4israel.org.nz Christians for Israel - Korea Rev Paul Wonil Jung, Director Suite 3, 37 Railway Parade, Eastwood NSW, Australia 2122 Tel: +61 410 430 677 email: email@example.com www.c4israelkorea.org Christians for Israel - USA Fred J van Westing, CEO PO Box 2589, Manteca, CA 95336, USA Tel: +1 925 984 6671 firstname.lastname@example.org www.c4israel.us DISCLAIMER - Articles printed in Israel & Christians Today expr ess the views of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Editors or that of the Board of Christians for Israel. The printing of articles or advertising in Israel & Christians Today does not necessarily imply either endorsement or agreement. ©Christians for Israel International Reproduction, or storage in a retrie val system or in any other form, is prohibited without permission. Please contact the Managing Editor should you wish to syndicate or republish any articles or materials appearing in Israel & Christians Today. www.facebook.com/c4israelAUS Andrew Tucker n International Editor | Christians for Israel The Old Testament contains many promises by God to bring home the twelve tribes of Jacob to the land promised to Abraham. More than that, He promised to make them into ‘one nation’ in the land: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:21-22) The fact that so many Jews have returned to Israel from so many countries over the last century or so is nothing less than a miracle, the fulfilment of prophecy. But it is one thing to return to the land; it is another to become ‘one nation’ in the land. The practicalities of achieving unity is not without difficulties. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was created. The Declaration of Independence states that Israel is a ‘Jewish State’ which ‘will be open for Jewish immigration and the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; ...’ The idea of a ‘Jewish State’ raises many controversial issues requiring clarification in practice. When is a person Jewish? How does a person become Jewish? Who decides these issues? These are not easy questions, considering the diversity of cultural, political and religious traditions in Jewish society. Significantly, Israel has never had a Constitution. In fact, Prime Minister Ben Gurion was opposed to the idea, based on both theoretical and practical considerations. As Neil Rogachesky has noted, it appears Ben Gurion was “worried that the task of creating a document that could cross Israel’s enormous ideological divisions would have occupied the attention o f the entire country, possibly forcing decisions that would undermine the delicate balance necessary to sustain a diverse nation”. He also wanted to make sure that no single minority group be able to take power. “Better that they pass a bad law than that a minority takes over. For the people will not accept this! Even the rule of the majority is not so quickly accepted among us. The rule of a minority? This won’t be accepted. There also isn’t any moral or logical justification for it.” The closest Israel has to a Constitution is a series of ‘Basic Laws’ – laws that require a two-thirds majority in Knesset to be amended or abolished. One important issue concerns the question of determining who are Jews for the purpose of achieving Israeli citizenship. The Law of Return (1950) stated that “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh ”. In 1970 this was extended to anyone who has a parent or grandparent who was a Jew. Those who settle in Israel under the Law of Return have a right to citizenship. The 1970 law also extended the Law of Return and Israeli citizenship to ‘converts’ but did not define exactly what conversion means and who can perform it. On 1 March 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a controversial judgment in which it ordered the state to recognise individuals who have undergone Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel as eligible for citizenship through the Law of Return. The decision was made following petitions to the court by converts who had been denied citizenship by Israel’s Ministry of Interior, which is controlled by the Ultra-Orthodox. The ruling reflects the tensions in Israel between the Judiciary, Parliament (Knesset) and Executive (government). It sparked strong reactions across the political spectrum in Israel and the Jewish world. The fact that the recent elections failed to produce a clear winner (see page 3) also shows there is much division in Israeli society. And so many challenges still face the Jewish people before the people in the land will be ‘one nation’. But we should also be thankful for how much has already been achieved in such a short time. In fact, true unity may only be possible under Messiah, whose rule will combine both spiritual and secular authority. May we pray ever more fervently that the Lord will send the Deliverer from Zion, who will reign on the throne of His father David, in the midst of Jacob (Luke 1:32- 33). Arrival of Ethiopian olim (immigrants) at Ben Gurion Airport on 11 March 2021. | Photo: Flash90 One Nation Prayer Points By Pieter Bénard Israel l By now, millions of people in Israel have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, infection rates are not yet dropping. Pray that the country will come out on top of the coronavirus and place its trust first in God. l “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). After the government coalition collapsed at the end of December, new elections took place on 23 March. Pray for wisdom and pray that a stable government will be formed. l “The mountains leapt like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back?” (B’tzeit Yisrael). Great miracles accompanied Israel’s exodus. God is still a God of miracles today. Pray that Israel may experience this in protection from its enemies. Israel & the Nations l Pray for the more than 21,000 people who have made Aliyah in 2020 but find it difficult to integrate due to the coronavirus. Pray that these people will receive the strength to work on their future in Israel. Give thanks to all the Jews who are returning to Israel. l “Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood” (Psalm 59:2). It appears that President Biden is planning to return to the nuclear deal made with Iran in 2015, which Trump had just gotten out of. This is leading to concerns in Israel because people fear more instability in the Middle East if this happens. Pray for Israel’s protection against danger from Iran and pray that the US government mak es the right decision. Christians for Israel l Pray for a blessing on the work of those who are involved in the ministry of Christians for Israel worldwide. Pray that both our speakers and writers for our publications will receive inspiration again and again. l Please give thanks for the work of Hineni, a soup kitchen in Jerusalem, and the help they give to the poor and needy. Give thanks that they were able to continue operating despite the lockdowns. For daily Prayer Points, go to our website www.c4israel.com.au
3. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 News 3 Short News British Newspaper Deceived In January 2021, the British newspaper Observer reported on coronavirus vaccinations. In the headline of the article, the newspaper stated, “The Palestinians are excluded from the Israeli coronavirus vaccinations because the jabs go to settlers”. In the article, Israel is accused of a shortage of vaccines in the areas under administration by the Palestinian Authority. Critics rightly point out that the responsibility and authority for obtaining and distributing the vaccines in these areas rests with the Palestinian Auth ority and not with the State of Israel. | Photo: Flash90 Textbooks Full of Hate The textbooks used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) still appear to contain anti- Israel ideas and anti-Semitism. Peace with the State of Israel is rejected, and terror encouraged. This is what research shows by the organisation Impact-se that examines school curricula. Their recent report also states that the curricula contravene the UN’s demands, namely that we respect ‘others’ and commit ourselves to achieve peace. “Jews Guilty of Coronavirus” Every year the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) produces a top ten with the worst anti-Semitic incidents worldwide. Last year’s list (2020) is headed by conspiracy theories that blame the Jews for the coronavirus pandemic. “From the very beginning in February 2020, right- wing extremists on social media platforms lay the blame for the coronavirus on Jews and Asian Americans”, the SWC states in its repor t. Arabs in the Army The Israeli army is rejoicing in the unexpected interest of Israeli Arabs to serve in the army. One thousand Arab inhabitants of Israel enlisted in the past year, double the number in previous years. But what really stood out was that some seven hundred people from Arab countries like Lebanon and Syria expressed interest in becoming IDF volunteers. The Israeli army thinks that this is due to changes in the region. Their applications had to be declined however due to security considerations. | Photo: Flash90 Andrew Tucker n International Editor | Christians for Israel International The Israeli elections on 23 March - the fourth elections in two years - have yet again failed to produce a clear winner. It appears the Israeli electorate remains divided. There were 26 parties in the elections - grouped roughly into those who are willing to serve with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the others, many of whom vehemently want to get rid of him. With around 88% of votes counted on Wednesday evening 24 March, Netanyahu and his natural ‘right-wing’ allies and the centre-left bloc opposing him, each lack a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Netanyahu’s Likud won 30 seats - making it yet again by far the largest party. Netanyahu immediately claimed a ‘giant victory’ and invited others to join him in forming a stable government. The truth is, it will be very difficult for him to form a solid coalition. But Netanyahu has proven that he is a master in political survival. Israelis vote for party lists rather than individual candidates, and seats are apportioned ou t based on the percentage of votes received. No single party has ever won a 61-seat majority, so larger parties must assemble governing coalitions — often with fringe parties. In order to form a coalition, either the right-wing allies of Netanyahu or the ‘pro- change’ group will probably have to work with one of the Arab parties. The most likely of these is Ra’ab, led by Mansour Abbas. Joseph Krauss reported in Times of Israel: “Unlike other Arab leaders, Abbas has not ruled out working with the Likud or other right-wing parties if he can secure gains for the Arab community, which faces widespread discrimination, mounting poverty amid the coronavirus pandemic and a wave of violent crime.” He continued: “Arab parties have never asked to serve in an Israeli government or been invited to do so. Abbas could break with that tradition, potentially requesting a cabinet post in return for his support. More likely, he would not hold an official post, but instead support the coalition from outside the government in return for greater public investment in housing, infrastructure and law enforcement in Arab communities.” Another key player is Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party that has probably achieved seven seats (much less than expected). Bennett could end up becoming the ‘kingmaker’ deciding whether or not Netanyahu returns as Prime Minister. He has not ruled out working with Netanyahu. Former hi-tech whizzkid Bennett is widely regarded as a possible successor in the future to Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Benny Gantz (Kavol Lavan), who has been locked in battle with N etanyahu since the last elections, did surprisingly well with seven seats. He vowed to work hard to unite the pro-change block. Gideon Sa’ar, the former Likud star who left the party to form a new anti- Netanyahu party New Hope, performed less well than expected, with only six seats. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid is, predictably, the largest of the parties opposing Netanyahu, with 17 seats. It is reported that those parties who oppose Netanyahu are already working on legislation that will make it impossible for a Knesset member facing trial to become Prime Minister. Israeli Elections Andrew Tucker n International Editor | Christians for Israel International The status of Jerusalem remains contentious. The city was part of the territory covered by the Mandate for Palestine (1922-1948), whose main purpose was the establishment of the Jewish homeland. In 1947 the UN adopted the Partition Plan in which Jerusalem would become an international city, but this plan was never adopted. Jordan occupied most of the city, following its aggression against the new State of Israel, from 1948 to 1967. Israel took control of the whole city during the Six-Day War in June 1967 and immediately united the city, creating one single Municipality of Jerusalem. In 1980, the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s reunification of the city and its designation as Israel’s capital. Since then, foreign embassies to Israel have been located in the Tel Aviv area. In fact, to this day, most countries do not even formally acknowledge that west Jerusalem, which is within the pre-1967 lines, is part of sovereign Israel. That is changing ever since the US moved its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in 2017. Guatemala followed suit soon after. A number of states have announced intentions to move their embassies to Jerusalem but have not put that into effect. However, recently, two European countries moved ahead. The Czech Republic opened a full-fledged diplomatic mission in west Jerusalem on 11th March. Although th e embassy officially remains in Tel Aviv, the Czech Ambassador Andrej Babiš announced that the Jerusalem office “will deal with a lot, ranging from politics and economic cooperation to the consular agenda and other topics. It will have its permanent staff and work under the leadership of our embassy in Tel Aviv.” He continued: “It represents another milestone in our cooperation, and gives evidence that we see the importance of this great city,” adding that it would strengthen the ties between the two countries. A few days later, on 14 March 2021, Kosovo opened an embassy to Israel for the first time – located in Jerusalem. “A truly proud and historic moment for Kosovo-Israel relations,” Kosovar Ambassador Ines Demiri tweeted. Kosovo and Israel officially established diplomatic relations in February in a ceremony held over video conference. Kosovar Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla submitted a formal request to open an embassy in Jerusalem during the ceremony. The mo ve came after the US negotiated an economic agreement between Serbia and Kosovo last year. Israel agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo, and both Balkan countries committed to opening embassies in Jerusalem, though Serbia already has one in Tel Aviv. Belgrade strongly opposes Israel’s full recognition of Kosovo, and as such, Serbia’s embassy move remains in question. Kosovo is the first Muslim-majority country with an embassy in Jerusalem. Embassies in Jerusalem Kosovo opens embassy in Jerusalem, following the US and Guatemala PM Netanyahu addresses his supporters on the night of the Israeli elections. | Photo: Flash90 April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Editorial 2 Colophon Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Mission Our mission is to bring Biblical understanding in the Church and among the nations concerning God’s purposes for Israel and to promote comfort of Israel through prayer and action. Editorial Team Andrew Tucker International Editor-in-Chief email@example.com Cathy Coldicutt Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Marloes van Westing International Communications Manager email@example.com Ian Worby, Bryce Turner, Rita Quartel, Marie-Louise Weissenböck and Marijke Terlouw Scripture references: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. C4I Offices Christians for Israel International Leon Meijer, Chairman Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer, President Rev Cornelis Kant, Executive Director P.O. Box 1100 | 3860 BC Nijkerk, The Netherlands | Tel: +31 33 422 0405 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.c4israel.org The English Edition of Israel & Christians Today is published by the following English speaking branches: Christians for Israel - Australia Ian Worby, National Leader PO Box 1508, Springwood Queensland, Australia 4127 Tel: +61 (7) 3088 6900, email@example.com www.c4israel.com.au Christians for Israel - New Zealand Bryce Turner, National Executive Director PO Box 12 006, Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand 1642 Tel: +64 9 525 7564, firstname.lastname@example.org www.c4israel.org.nz Christians for Israel - Korea Rev Paul Wonil Jung, Director Suite 3, 37 Railway Parade, Eastwood NSW, Australia 2122 Tel: +61 410 430 677 email: email@example.com www.c4israelkorea.org Christians for Israel - USA Fred J van Westing, CEO PO Box 2589, Manteca, CA 95336, USA Tel: +1 925 984 6671 firstname.lastname@example.org www.c4israel.us DISCLAIMER - Articles printed in Israel & Christians Today expr ess the views of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Editors or that of the Board of Christians for Israel. The printing of articles or advertising in Israel & Christians Today does not necessarily imply either endorsement or agreement. ©Christians for Israel International Reproduction, or storage in a retrie val system or in any other form, is prohibited without permission. Please contact the Managing Editor should you wish to syndicate or republish any articles or materials appearing in Israel & Christians Today. www.facebook.com/c4israelAUS Andrew Tucker n International Editor | Christians for Israel The Old Testament contains many promises by God to bring home the twelve tribes of Jacob to the land promised to Abraham. More than that, He promised to make them into ‘one nation’ in the land: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:21-22) The fact that so many Jews have returned to Israel from so many countries over the last century or so is nothing less than a miracle, the fulfilment of prophecy. But it is one thing to return to the land; it is another to become ‘one nation’ in the land. The practicalities of achieving unity is not without difficulties. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was created. The Declaration of Independence states that Israel is a ‘Jewish State’ which ‘will be open for Jewish immigration and the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; ...’ The idea of a ‘Jewish State’ raises many controversial issues requiring clarification in practice. When is a person Jewish? How does a person become Jewish? Who decides these issues? These are not easy questions, considering the diversity of cultural, political and religious traditions in Jewish society. Significantly, Israel has never had a Constitution. In fact, Prime Minister Ben Gurion was opposed to the idea, based on both theoretical and practical considerations. As Neil Rogachesky has noted, it appears Ben Gurion was “worried that the task of creating a document that could cross Israel’s enormous ideological divisions would have occupied the attention o f the entire country, possibly forcing decisions that would undermine the delicate balance necessary to sustain a diverse nation”. He also wanted to make sure that no single minority group be able to take power. “Better that they pass a bad law than that a minority takes over. For the people will not accept this! Even the rule of the majority is not so quickly accepted among us. The rule of a minority? This won’t be accepted. There also isn’t any moral or logical justification for it.” The closest Israel has to a Constitution is a series of ‘Basic Laws’ – laws that require a two-thirds majority in Knesset to be amended or abolished. One important issue concerns the question of determining who are Jews for the purpose of achieving Israeli citizenship. The Law of Return (1950) stated that “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh ”. In 1970 this was extended to anyone who has a parent or grandparent who was a Jew. Those who settle in Israel under the Law of Return have a right to citizenship. The 1970 law also extended the Law of Return and Israeli citizenship to ‘converts’ but did not define exactly what conversion means and who can perform it. On 1 March 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a controversial judgment in which it ordered the state to recognise individuals who have undergone Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel as eligible for citizenship through the Law of Return. The decision was made following petitions to the court by converts who had been denied citizenship by Israel’s Ministry of Interior, which is controlled by the Ultra-Orthodox. The ruling reflects the tensions in Israel between the Judiciary, Parliament (Knesset) and Executive (government). It sparked strong reactions across the political spectrum in Israel and the Jewish world. The fact that the recent elections failed to produce a clear winner (see page 3) also shows there is much division in Israeli society. And so many challenges still face the Jewish people before the people in the land will be ‘one nation’. But we should also be thankful for how much has already been achieved in such a short time. In fact, true unity may only be possible under Messiah, whose rule will combine both spiritual and secular authority. May we pray ever more fervently that the Lord will send the Deliverer from Zion, who will reign on the throne of His father David, in the midst of Jacob (Luke 1:32- 33). Arrival of Ethiopian olim (immigrants) at Ben Gurion Airport on 11 March 2021. | Photo: Flash90 One Nation Prayer Points By Pieter Bénard Israel l By now, millions of people in Israel have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, infection rates are not yet dropping. Pray that the country will come out on top of the coronavirus and place its trust first in God. l “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). After the government coalition collapsed at the end of December, new elections took place on 23 March. Pray for wisdom and pray that a stable government will be formed. l “The mountains leapt like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back?” (B’tzeit Yisrael). Great miracles accompanied Israel’s exodus. God is still a God of miracles today. Pray that Israel may experience this in protection from its enemies. Israel & the Nations l Pray for the more than 21,000 people who have made Aliyah in 2020 but find it difficult to integrate due to the coronavirus. Pray that these people will receive the strength to work on their future in Israel. Give thanks to all the Jews who are returning to Israel. l “Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood” (Psalm 59:2). It appears that President Biden is planning to return to the nuclear deal made with Iran in 2015, which Trump had just gotten out of. This is leading to concerns in Israel because people fear more instability in the Middle East if this happens. Pray for Israel’s protection against danger from Iran and pray that the US government mak es the right decision. Christians for Israel l Pray for a blessing on the work of those who are involved in the ministry of Christians for Israel worldwide. Pray that both our speakers and writers for our publications will receive inspiration again and again. l Please give thanks for the work of Hineni, a soup kitchen in Jerusalem, and the help they give to the poor and needy. Give thanks that they were able to continue operating despite the lockdowns. For daily Prayer Points, go to our website www.c4israel.com.au
32. April 2021 | Israel & Christians Today Nisan - Iyyar 5781 16 Aliyah Koen Carlier n Aliyah Fieldworker | Christians for Israel Ukraine At midnight on 25 January, Ben Gurion Airport closed indefinitely. Both for ‘tourists’ as well as for olim (immigrants). This was a new situation for us. Even in wartime, Jews could always emigrate to Israel. Just think of January 1991, when Iraq was firing scud missiles at Israel, the Iron Curtain had just fallen, and thousands of Soviet Jews were arriving in Israel. The first thing they were given at the airport was a gas mask.... The Green Light All olim who were to leave after 25 January were almost literally sitting on their suitcases patiently waiting to see when they could leave. Fortunately, the trips to the Israeli consulates in Ukraine could go ahead in the meantime. The pressure on the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Integration became too great. As an exception, the green light was given to land six flights with Jewish immigrants from South America, Ethiopia, France, Russia and Ukraine. In total, this involved about 900 olim! The Lord continues to bring His people Home... these six flights remind me of Isaiah 60:8: “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests?” The two flights from Ukraine were scheduled for 25 February. For both flights, we brought families from all over Ukraine with all our minibuses to the airport. Emigrating from Ukraine and other countries is a special and stressful event in itself, but since March last year, due to all kinds of travel restrictions and the mandatory PCR test, there is even more stress. In our minibus, we had families from Kamenets-Podolsky and Khmelnitsky whose flight was originally scheduled for 28 January. The flight was postponed to 7 February, then to 15 February and finally to 25 February. Having to postpone your trip to Israel three times is not a pleasant thing. The main reason Alexei and his wife Natasha left was because their 16-year-old son is autistic and since there are almost no shelters and facilities for him in Ukraine. In Israel, there are many more opportunities for him to be part of society. We picked up the families between 3pm and 7pm, followed by a seven-hour drive to the airport! The main roads may be free of snow, but the hundreds of new potholes in the road (a recurring problem every year) can be quite nerve-wracking. After we took the first group to the airport in Kiev, we drove to our shelter for an overnight stay, where another group of olim from Krivov Rog had just arrived. Another minibus picked up a group near Chernobyl during the night. Their departure to Israel was scheduled for 4pm the next day. At breakfast, my colleague Nataliya explained about our work. She mentioned that, over the years, almost 7,000 Jews had spent the night in our shelter before leaving for Israel. There is room in our shelter for up to 30 people. Problems Everyone was grateful for a ‘flawless’ trip, and at the airport, we wished all the olim a good flight and a good homecoming in Israel. What no one knew at the time was that there were problems with certain procedures and permissions to allow the flight to depart from Kiev.... After 14 hours of long and anxious waiting, the flight finally left at 5:20am on Friday morning. Another 140 Jews will start a new life in their homeland. Something their ancestors could only dream of. The Return Continues Despite all the challenges we have faced in recent months, caused by the coronavirus, the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel continues. The Lord is faithful to His promises, and the exiles from the four corners of the world will continue to go home for good. ‘Like Doves to their Nests’ We continue our practical help in Ukraine to assist them with their Aliyah. Will you help? It costs AU $300 to assist one Ukrainian Jew to make Aliyah. Please complete the coupon below. Any amount is welcome! Yes, I would like to make a donation towards... C4I MINISTRY 1 TEACHING RESOURCES & PREMIUM GIFTS DONATION DONATION SEE OUR FULL RANGE AT: C4ISRAEL.COM.AU/STORE QUANTITY SUB TOTAL $ ____________ SUB TOTAL $___________ MY TOTAL DONATION $ _____________ $ ___________ $ ___________ My donation for general admin costs (inc print & post) Thinc. (New strategic ministry partner) $_______ ____________ Israel and Christians Today Paper (free or by donation) $15 each ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ $________ $36 each ____________ The End Times Through Jewish Eyes (DVD) by Ps Enoch Lavender The Final Countdown (DVD) by Ps Enoch Lavender Rebuilding The Temple (BOOK) by Ps Enoch Lavender Why Israel? $15 (BOOK) $30 (DVD) $35 (DVD + Study Guide) $5 (Study Guide) $5 (Facilitators Guide) by Willem Glashouwer NEW! Hope FulFilled (BOOK) by Ps Enoch Lavender NEW! Living A Life In Victory (BOOK) by Willem Glashouwer NEW! Behold He Comes (BOOK: 800 pages) by Willem Glashouwer NEW! Towards The Establishment of the State of Israel (BOOK) NEW! Bazyli & Anna Jocz (BOOK) by Kelvin Crombie $20 each ____________ $20 each ____________ $30 each $20 each $15 each $20 each ____________ Understanding Israel and world events from a Biblical perspective www.c4israel.com.au | email@example.com & Christians Today ISRAEL April 2021 Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Misunderstandings about Israel - 67 2 One Nation 13 30 Years: Operation Solomon 15 Hineni Experiences God’s Provision The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. | Photo: Shutterstock Rev Henk Poot n Christians for Israel It is a beautiful image: the opening of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Even the stone is gone. Colourful flowers surround the entrance - or should we say, the exit? - of the tomb. The longer I look at it, the blacker the gaping hole becomes. A grave belongs to the realm of death, but in this grave, there is only emptiness. Even in death, the Lord Jesus believed that it would be like this: the Father would not leave Him alone. If He would glorify God by loving His own to the end, He would see the light of a new tomorrow and be clothed with glory. For a life of such love, death is not the end. In Romans 8, Paul calls Jesus - the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Jesus Himself testifies that He lives - and that He has the keys to death. Jesus has overcome, and we get to share in that victory. The dark door no longer locks. Paul also writes about more things in this chapter. He speaks about the sighing of creation. He mentions Psalm 44 and talks about sheep being slaughtered. But what prevails is victory. Death does pretend to have the last word: we remember the bitter night of the Shoah, the Holocaust. Meanwhile, we live in a confusing time when foreign powers dictate world affairs. But the tomb is empty; the tomb of Christ is empty. That is so decisive. What follows is not death but the fulfilment of all God's promises, the coming of the Kingdom and the resurrection. We are more than victors. Hold on to that. Sharing in the Victory AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA Understanding Israel and world events from a Biblical perspective www.c4israel.com.au | firstname.lastname@example.org & Christians Today ISRAEL April 2021 Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Misunderstandings about Israel - 67 2 One Nation 13 30 Years: Operation Solomon 15 Hineni Experiences God’s Provision The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. | Photo: Shutterstock Rev Henk Poot n Christians for Israel It is a beautiful image: the opening of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Even the stone is gone. Colourful flowers surround the entrance - or should we say, the exit? - of the tomb. The longer I look at it, the blacker the gaping hole becomes. A grave belongs to the realm of death, but in this grave, there is only emptiness. Even in death, the Lord Jesus believed that it would be like this: the Father would not leave Him alone. If He would glorify God by loving His own to the end, He would see the light of a new tomorrow and be clothed with glory. For a life of such love, death is not the end. In Romans 8, Paul calls Jesus - the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Jesus Himself testifies that He lives - and that He has the keys to death. Jesus has overcome, and we get to share in that victory. The dark door no longer locks. Paul also writes about more things in this chapter. He speaks about the sighing of creation. He mentions Psalm 44 and talks about sheep being slaughtered. But what prevails is victory. Death does pretend to have the last word: we remember the bitter night of the Shoah, the Holocaust. Meanwhile, we live in a confusing time when foreign powers dictate world affairs. But the tomb is empty; the tomb of Christ is empty. That is so decisive. What follows is not death but the fulfilment of all God's promises, the coming of the Kingdom and the resurrection. We are more than victors. Hold on to that. Sharing in the Victory AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA Understanding Israel and world events from a Biblical perspective www.c4israel.com.au | email@example.com & Christians Today ISRAEL April 2021 Nisan - Iyyar 5781 Israel & Christians Today is the premier publication of Christians for Israel Misunderstandings about Israel - 67 2 One Nation 13 30 Years: Operation Solomon 15 Hineni Experiences God’s Provision The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. | Photo: Shutterstock Rev Henk Poot n Christians for Israel It is a beautiful image: the opening of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Even the stone is gone. Colourful flowers surround the entrance - or should we say, the exit? - of the tomb. The longer I look at it, the blacker the gaping hole becomes. A grave belongs to the realm of death, but in this grave, there is only emptiness. Even in death, the Lord Jesus believed that it would be like this: the Father would not leave Him alone. If He would glorify God by loving His own to the end, He would see the light of a new tomorrow and be clothed with glory. For a life of such love, death is not the end. In Romans 8, Paul calls Jesus - the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Jesus Himself testifies that He lives - and that He has the keys to death. Jesus has overcome, and we get to share in that victory. The dark door no longer locks. Paul also writes about more things in this chapter. He speaks about the sighing of creation. He mentions Psalm 44 and talks about sheep being slaughtered. But what prevails is victory. Death does pretend to have the last word: we remember the bitter night of the Shoah, the Holocaust. Meanwhile, we live in a confusing time when foreign powers dictate world affairs. But the tomb is empty; the tomb of Christ is empty. That is so decisive. What follows is not death but the fulfilment of all God's promises, the coming of the Kingdom and the resurrection. We are more than victors. Hold on to that. Sharing in the Victory AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA Please post cheque or money order to: Christians for Israel Australia Inc (don’t use staples) NEW INTERNET BANKING DETAILS: BSB: ANZ BANK – 014-279 Account No: 405318551 Ref: Your name & donation purpose. Please confirm by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org MY DETAILS Name: _________________________________________ If you don ’t know or have your Member ID please include: Address: ________________________________________ Phone: _________________________________________ Email: __________________________________________ Christians for Israel Australia ABN: 79 941 819 693 ICT0421 4 PLEASE COMPLETE FORM & RETURN TO: Christians for Israel Australia, PO Box 1508, Springwood, QLD 4127 or you can donate securely online c4israel.com.au/donate 3 SOCIAL WELFARE PROJECTS $ ___________ Hineni soup kitchen ($10 per meal) $ ___________ First Baptist Church Bethlehem ($10 or your best gift) $ ___________ Meals on Wheels Ukraine ($15 per meal) $ ___________ First Home in the Homeland ($350 pp) $ ___________ Food Parcels ($15 per parcel) $ ___________ CFOIC (Judea and Samaria) Heartland ($30 or your best gift) 2 ALIYAH - BRING THE JEWS HOME $350 One Person* $6250 One Busload (25 persons)* $1460 Bnei Menashe - Asian Jews (1 person) $1250 One Family (5 persons)* *NOTE: Certificates for individuals and families from the Ukraine only. Office Phone Number: 07 3088 6900 Member ID (If Known) : C4IA
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