PREVIEW ISSUE • APRIL 2022
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Preview Issue • Israel InSight
I n S ide
Northeast Alabama Cherokee Chief Larry Smith and Seth Penn. Photo courtesy John Buhler/AITF
18 Indigenous Partners
4 About Israel InSight 38 Buying Israel
Amnesty’s Apartheid Libel
Remembering Rabbi Eckstein
Freezing Out Ben & Jerry’s
Mike Evans on Supporting Israel
28 Take Action for Israel 40 Reading Israel
32 Israel on Campus 43 Israel Marketplace
On the cover: The light show at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Over the last decade
, the Jewish world has become much more aware of the large number of Christians who have a love for Israel and the Jewish people, a love which is unconditional and based both on the Bible and the geopolitical importance of Israel to the United States in a turbulent region. Here in the South, we have been ahead of the curve as such expressions of support have been well-known for much longer. For example, in 1943 the Alabama Legislature became the first governmental body in the U.S. to call for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. In the late 1940s the father of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour set up a pro-Israel group in the Yazoo City area.
There are many reasons Christians support Israel. And now, through this new magazine, Israel InSight, we want to celebrate this powerful and unprecedented support for Israel and, as Jews, embrace it, honor it, empower it further and express our gratitude. Israel InSight will educate about what is going on in Israel and explain controversial issues. We will highlight the amazing and selfless things that Christians throughout America are doing to promote Israel, ensure its well-being, and sustain the miraculous ingathering of the exiles as we witness Jews from all over the world returning to their Biblical homeland. Through our award-winning experienced news staff, we’ll also provide news and commentary that goes well beyond the often-superficial, and sometimes erroneous, coverage of Israel found in the mainstream media. We also will highlight the deep connections between Israel and the United States, through business, culture, cooperation and joint ventures. We will also highlight American organizations that are doing great work in Israel, amazing things that Israel does around the world, and how one can get involved in a wide range of ways.
We will also have stories about interesting people and places in Israel, ways to support Israel and how the Jewish and Christian communities can work together.
Israel InSight will recognize and celebrate the support Israel gets from the Christian community, and hopefully will be a bridge between the Jewish and Christian communities, who need and desire to understand each other better. Our website, IsraelInSightMagazine.com, has links to this preview issue and a way to subscribe to the magazine. We also have a Facebook page which will provide regular updates and links to interesting pieces. What you see in these pages is just a taste of what we have in mind! So, if you love Israel, come along on this journey, as a reader, subscriber and supporter. Israel InSight is in sight — and we can’t wait for you to take a look.
We thank our many, many friends in the Christian community throughout the region who have been so helpful with their feedback, suggestions and insights as we launch this important publication, and have been patient as we negotiated a Covid-induced delay. All in God’s time.
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook ASSOCIATE EDITOR Richard Friedman ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green V.P. SALES/MARKETING, New Orleans Jeff Pizzo CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook SOCIAL/WEB Eugene Walter Katz CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Nathan Klein, Tally Werthan, Bebe Hudson, Belle Freitag, Claire Yates MAIN OFFICE P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 205/870.7889 TOLL FREE 866/446.5894 firstname.lastname@example.org israelinsightmagazine.com ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889. Media kit, rates available upon request. SUBSCRIPTIONS $30/year, $46/two years Subscribe online, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in Israel InSight are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. We retain the right to refuse any advertisement.
Israel opens to unvaccinated tourists By Abigail Klein Leichman
(Israel21c) — After nearly two years of tight restrictions on travel to Israel, the government announced that as of March 1 foreign residents are allowed into Israel regardless of whether they are vaccinated against Covid-19. This means young children can once again visit Israel. Every incoming foreign traveler will be required to get a PCR test before takeoff and after landing. Only those with a negative result Photo by Flash90 before takeoff will be permitted to proceed to Travelers arriving at Ben-Gurion Israel. Israeli citizens will no longer have to under- International Airport. go an antigen test before leaving the country. morbidity data; therefore, this is the time to They will be required only to take a PCR test gradually open what we were the first in the at Ben-Gurion International Airport upon ar- world to close,” Bennett said, referring to Isriving back home. rael’s world-leading decision to shut down all This very welcome news for tourists and the border crossings to foreign travel on March tourism industry in Israel was announced by 18, 2020, to stem the spread of the novel coroPrime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health navirus. Minister Nitzan Horowitz after consultation “At the moment, the situation in Israel is with Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov and good,” Bennett added. “At the same time, we members of the coronavirus advisory com- will continue to closely monitor the situation mittee on Feb. 20. and in the event of a new variant, we will again “We are seeing a steady decline in the act quickly.”
Billoo back on the job
Had told American Muslims that Israel supporters are “enemies” Two months after taking a “sabbatical” following comments that targeted supporters of Israel in the United States, a top official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations is back on the job. Zahra Billoo, executive director of the CAIR San Francisco chapter, spoke in November to the anti-Israel American Muslims for Palestine, warning them to “pay attention to the polite Zionists” who talk about friendship. “They are your enemies. There are organizations and infrastructures out there who are working to harm you.” She spoke of the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations, Zionist synagogues and Hillel chapters “on our campuses” as being part of an Islamophobic conspiracy. Those organizations represent the vast majority of American Jews, and there is no doubt she also had pro-Israel Christians in mind. Her remarks were condemned by a wide range of organizations, pointing out that the remarks are provocative at a time when Jews face increasing antisemitism. Just a few weeks later, a Muslim activist invaded a Texas synagogue and held four hostages in a bid to free a terrorist that CAIR has been defending. Though Billoo took a sabbatical, it wasn’t
Zahra Billoo, the Pakistani-American director of CAIR California-San Francisco Bay Area, in a Nov. 27 speech.
forced on her by CAIR. Instead, the organization defended her as the victim of a smear campaign. CAIR positions itself as a mainstream defender of civil rights and a bridge builder between communities, with the help of major media outlets. Billoo was named to the national Women’s March board in 2019 after an antisemitism scandal forced out several original board members, only to be ousted herself after three days due to her history of antisemitic public statements.
In Case You Missed It Routine ultrasound scans during the second trimester can spot early indications of autism spectrum disorder, enabling early intervention, according to a new study by researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center. Researchers from the Azrieli National Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research spotted anomalies in the heart, kidneys, and head in 30 percent of cases where the child later developed ASD, the university said in a statement on Feb. 9. That’s a figure three times higher than typically found in fetuses in the general population
A new Israeli study shows that Ivermectin not only is ineffective in preventing severe Covid, but patients who were given the drug had a “notably higher” incidence of adverse effects.
Muhammad Shtayyeh, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, compared Jesus to contemporary suicide bombers. In a speech at a Christmas dinner, he referred to Jesus as “the first Palestinian self-sacrificing fighter from whom we learned Martyrdomdeath, and who paid for his mission with his life.” The quote was reported in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and translated by Palestinian Media Watch. “Selfsacrificing fighter” is a phrase used by the PA to refer to terrorists who murder Israeli civilians. It is also common for the PA to state that Jesus was a Palestinian, though the Romans wouldn’t rename the area as Palestine until a century after Jesus, and denies the Jewishness of Jesus and his early followers. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Jazmin Pichardo claims that Israel is engaged in “ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” and that the media work to cover it up. Who is she? None other than the University of Maryland’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion assistant director in charge of the committee to fight anti-Jewish bias on campus. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
In Case You Missed It Not only does the children’s book “Uncle Meena,” which is used in classrooms around the country, portray a biased account of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it also talks about conditional acceptance of American Jews. It seeks to compare what is happening to Palestinians to the genocide of Native Americans by foreign invaders. At one point, the main character tells her uncle that in the United States, “I have friends from many faiths: Muslims, Christians, Hindus, pagans, and also some Jews who care about Palestinians and want the occupation to end.” In other words, only Jews have to submit to an ideological litmus test to be worthy of friendship. Norges Bank’s Government Pension Fund Global, the largest pension fund in Norway, announced last summer that it was placing several Israeli companies on its list of “excluded companies” because they were linked to the construction of roads “linked to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.” At that time, according to the Washington Free Beacon, Norges had over $150 million invested in seven companies operating in or suspected of using forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province, and $1.8 billion in at least six Russian energy companies under U.S. financial restrictions or sanctions. As Israel eases work restrictions and opens up more work permits for Gazans to come into Israel, Hebrew classes are becoming immensely popular in Gaza.
Antisemitism watchdogs found that in the couple of months leading up to the hostage-taking at the synagogue in Colleyville, Tex., there was a coordinated social media campaign to free Aafia Siddiqui, as the hostage-taker demanded. The campaign was coordinated by Pakistani extremist influencers, a pro-Taliban group and the Texas branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
U.S. cancels support for Israeli pipeline Gesture to Turkey threatens project benefiting Europe Leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there was a lot of concern about how dependent Europe is on Russia for its energy needs, subjecting Europe to possible energy blackmail. That is part of why the Obama and Trump administrations opposed the Nord 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. While the Biden administration reversed that decision and gave its blessing to Nord 2 — a blessing that was revoked by both the U.S. and Germany shortly after the invasion — the Biden administration cancelled a major pipeline project that would have diversified Europe’s imports. The EastMed Pipeline was to go from Israel’s natural gas fields in the Mediterranean through Cyprus and Greece, but the Biden administration abruptly pulled its support, despite the backing of numerous Arab coun-
tries and the European Union. Reportedly, the administration said the new pipeline would go against its “climate goals” of eliminating fossil fuels in the next few years, but widespread reports indicate it was also a concession to Turkey and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Recently, Turkey has unilaterally claimed much of the Mediterranean as its territory, and has insisted that any pipeline to Europe has to go through its territory, threatening military action to back up that claim. Turkey, though a member of NATO, has been volatile in recent years, swinging back and forth between supporting the West and supporting Russia, and being hostile to Israel on the world stage. The $7 billion underwater pipeline would have transported 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year.
Israel guilty of 21st-century slavery?
More anti-Israel controversy from Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Presbyterian Church tisemitism on social media, shot (USA), which has a history of at a Jewish candidate for mayor anti-Israel activism and routine in the same city where Nelson discussions about boycotting preaches. Israel, has a new controversy as Nelson’s remarks were just days the Stated Clerk of the General after the synagogue hostage situAssembly, Rev. Herbert Nelson ation in Texas. It was pointed out II, gave a Martin Luther King Day that PCUSA never issued a statePhoto from Westminster speech stating that Israel is guilty ment of concern or solidarity to Presbyterian Church of 21st-century slavery. the Jewish community about the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II He also said American Jews attack. are complicit unless they use their power to Rev. Brian Merritt resigned from the PCUinfluence U.S. policy to end “the immoral en- SA General Assembly Committee on Ecuslavement.” When criticized, Nelson defended menical and Interreligious Relations, saying his remarks. he could no longer serve in good conscience Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, chairman of the Ken- while such rhetoric was being expressed untucky Jewish Council, called Nelson’s remarks checked. antisemitic, and “when words of hate are not In 2014, the PCUSA Israel/Palestine Miscountered, acts of violence are sure to follow.” sion Network published “Zionism Unsettled,” Three weeks later, Black Lives Matter activ- which portrayed Zionism as evil, leading to ist Quintez Brown, who has a history of an- ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
On Jan. 24, Israeli Consul General Livia Link-Raviv of the Houston consulate met with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, thanking him for the state’s longstanding support for Israel and combatting antisemitism.
In Case You Missed It After years of prodding and being presented evidence of antisemitism being taught in Palestinian Authority schools, the European Union put its foot down and demanded that hate and the glorification of terror be removed from the textbooks, or the donor nations would yank their funding. A study shows that despite the promises, not only were the textbooks reissued unchanged, new supplemental study material was released that had even worse content, describing Israel as Satanic and glorifying martyrdom achieved while killing infidels — including Christians and Jews.
Massachusetts endorses antisemitism definition
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued a proclamation endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism. The administration also released on Feb. 18 its 2020 Massachusetts Hate Crimes Report, compiled from data submitted by law-enforcement agencies across the state. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security received from 95 agencies a total of 385 reports of hate crimes statewide — an increase from the 376 reported in 2019. Baker re-established the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes in 2017. In a statement, he emphasized that “there is no place for hate or discrimination in Massachusetts, and our administration is proud to work with community and faith leaders, law enforcement and others to combat hate crimes
and ensure the commonwealth remains a welcoming community to everyone. Building on our ongoing work through the Task Force on Hate Crimes, we are proud today to endorse this updated definition of anti-Semitism to make clear that as the forms of hate and intolerance evolve, so will our efforts to respond.” The proclamation supporting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was also signed by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin. Polito said “combating hate crimes requires constant vigilance, and we have worked with the Task Force on Hate Crimes to better equip our law-enforcement officers, schools and houses of worship to confront these threats. We will continue to work with all these partners to keep our communities safe and welcoming for everyone.”
In Michigan, Huwaida Arraf is running for Congress. While not given much of a chance in a crowded field, she is raising alarms for her positions of rejecting coexistence efforts in the Middle East and advocating for Palestinian “resistance,” a term generally used to refer to terrorist acts. She refers to Israeli actions as “genocide,” and with her Jewish husband co-founded the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement. Hamas issued statements celebrating the death of an Israeli from wounds sustained in last May’s rocket attacks. The victim? A 91-year-old woman who survived the Holocaust.
U.S. Rep. Marie Newman from Illinois is under investigation not only for giving a position to Palestinian-American academic Iymen Chehade in exchange for him not running against her in the 2020 election, but also agreeing to put forward his radical antiIsrael views in how she votes. As an example, last fall she was one of only eight Democratic legislators to vote against a bill authorizing $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system. The New Yorker’s crossword puzzle included a clue about the Negev desert, located in Southern Israel. But the clue didn’t mention Israel, it said it was the desert “that covers more than half of Palestine.”
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
On Feb. 21, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed HB383, reaffirming Georgia’s stance against boycotts of Israel. It replaces a 2016 law that was struck down over free speech concerns. The bill states that companies the state contracts with can not be involved in boycotts of Israel. The threshold was raised to companies with five or more employees and contracts of over $100,000.
“This reaffirms our support for a friend and a crucial ally in Israel,” Kemp said at the signing ceremony. “As your governor, I will never allow the state of Georgia to invest in a company that supports boycotts, divesting or sanctions against Israel.”
Florida hosting Israel agriculture summit The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator will hold the 2022 Florida International Agriculture Innovation Summit, virtually on March 30 and 31. A joint venture of Florida, Israel, Canada and The Netherlands, this two-day celebration of innovative technologies, techniques and advances in how the world is fed will
feature speakers, panels discussions and more from around the globe. The inaugural summit in Nov. 2020 was initiated by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and focused on new drones and agrobotics technologies, and hemp and cannabis research and developments in Florida and Israel. Topics for the upcoming summit will be water conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Iran’s central role in destroying Middle East Christian communities ignored By David Isaac
(JNS) — The West is missing a critical component of the story when it comes to the persecution of Middle East Christians, said Farhad Rezaei, a visiting lecturer at Toronto-based York University, during a Zoom presentation on Feb. 22. And that missing element is Iran. In the presentation — sponsored by The Philos Project, a Christian group advocating for pluralism in the Near Photo courtesy Aid to the Church in Need East — Rezaei explained that Iran Iraqi Christians hold a procession in the Christian plays a central role in the destruction village of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq. of Christian communities, specifically stood that they were from Hezbollah and Iraniin Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The mainstream Western media narrative is ans by their accent,” he told JNS. Rezaei noted that in Yemen, where the Irathat “only jihadists,” such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, are behind the persecution of Christians in the nian-supported Shi’ite Houthis have taken region, said Rezaei, who is also a senior fellow at over large swaths of the country, the Christian population has dropped from 40,000 to 3,000. the Philos Project. “The reality is much more complex than the In Lebanon, where the Iranian-supported Hezsimple image that jihadists came around and bollah dominate, the Christian population has been reduced from 54 percent to 34 percent of killed Christians,” he said. According to Rezaei, what distinguishes Iran the total population. Rezaei cites two main reasons why the Irawhen it comes to persecution of Christians is that it is pursuing a “strategy of eliminationism” nians are implementing their eliminationist — an organized, unrelenting, Nazi-like cam- plan. One is strategic. Iran wants to build a land paign to reduce the Christian presence in the bridge to the Mediterranean, and Christian Middle East. “Eliminationism” means shrink- communities sit squarely along that route. The second is ideological — Khomeinism or ing the Christian communities by making life for them unbearable, including through confis- “new Shi’ism” views Christians and Jews as “polcation of private property, arbitrary detention, lution,” Rezaei said. While he said it is true that torture, public incitement, abduction and kill- Shi’ism contains anti-Christian and anti-Jewish ing, explained Rezaei, who spent seven months elements, it was “quietist” and minorities were researching this subject and will be releasing a largely left alone if they paid a jizyah tax, a yearly per capita levy on non-Muslims. This changed report with his findings in the coming weeks. Rezaei provided an overview of the dramatic with Khomeini’s rise. Khomeini and another imdecline in the Christian population in the afore- portant cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, were strongly influenced by Egypt’s mentioned countries. In Iraq, before 2003, the Christian popula- Sayyid Qutb, the leading member of the Muslim tion stood at 1.5 million. It is currently between brotherhood and “father of Salafi Jihadism, or 141,000 and 171,000, or 0.3 percent of the pop- global terrorism,” Rezaei said. Mesbah-Yazdi rejected the concept of univerulation. He noted that most of the Christians were pushed out by Shi’ite militias. He described sal human rights, considering it a product of the the Christians in Iraq as “the undisputed losers Judeo-Christian tradition. “He developed his own version of Islamic human rights and obliof the sectarian conflict.” In Syria, before 2011, the Christian popula- gations. And according to this version of human tion was 2.3 million. It’s now 677,000. Before rights, Muslims basically have the right to kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was forced their religious enemies,” Rezaei said. He said the Iranians learned from the Nazis. “Alto rely on Iranian help during the Syrian Civil War, he left his Christian minorities alone. Re- though they deny the Holocaust, they have learned zaei said it was the Iranians acting as military a lot from the Holocaust. However, they underadvisors to the Syrian army who introduced stood that they cannot destroy Christians and Jews the eliminationist strategy into Syria. “In some by the same methods that the Nazis implemented cases, the Iranians and the Lebanese Hezbollah in Germany, like using gas chambers and genowore the uniform of the Assad regime army [to cide, so they came up with a different scheme. And hide their identity], but the local people under- that was the strategy of eliminationism.”
In Case You Missed It Colonoscopies might be a thing of the past, thanks to a new diagnostic technique for inflammatory bowel diseases, developed in Israel, that is more reliable than biopsies.
Barnabas Szollos finished sixth in the men’s alpine combined at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Israel’s highest finish in a Winter Olympics skiing competition and tied for the highest overall on the Israeli team. In 2002, ice dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski placed sixth in Salt Lake City. Hamas said a group of its frogmen commandos was chased off the Gaza coast by a specially-trained “killer Zionist dolphin.” They also claim a frogman was killed by an IDF dolphin last May. A Palestinian rock attack on a vehicle with Israeli license plates injured the woman who was driving — who turned out to be an Arab woman. In 2021, there were over 6600 such incidents in the territories. Though Ireland is perhaps the most hostile country in Europe to Israel, and most receptive to boycott movements, last year Irish imports from Israel went up over 500 percent.
Photo by Shalev Ariel
On February 12, an Israeli strawberry was certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s heaviest. Toot BaSadeh (Strawberry in the Field) farm, in centrally located Kadima-Zoran, grew the berry that weighed 289 grams (about 10 ounces), or 290 with its stem. To put that in perspective, farmer Tzahi Ariel first weighed an iPhone, which clocked in at 194 grams. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
The real story behind the headline or the 30 misleading seconds on the evening news…
Why the Apartheid Label is a Libel By Larry Brook
er, ride the same buses, go to the same beaches, eat at the same restauNot content to have groups like B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch rants… in other words, they are equals. And where there are differenccorner the market on anti-Israel activism, Amnesty International es, such as houses of worship, they operate under the same freedoms, threw a 280-page hat into the ring with its report calling Israel an and in Israel, Muslim institutions are under Muslim oversight. As with every country that has a minority, things could always work apartheid state. better, and there are inequities that continue to be addressed. But in Unlike the others, the Amnesty report indicated that Israel has been Israel, groups like Amnesty highlight them as if they were something that way since its founding in 1948. highly unusual, and done out of discriminatory zeal. The report has been castigated across the political spectrum, by It is when activists complain about Palestinians in the territories most Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, and by many world governthat the apartheid argument becomes farcical. It becomes a no-win ments. Numerous groups have debunked wide swaths of the report situation for Israel, because condemnation would rain down no matter and found factual errors — but the main target of the report seems what path is pursued. to be organizations like the United Nations, which can point to the The Palestinian leadership and their echo chambers in the West report as being issued by a presumedly respected organization, as it reject anything resembling normalization with Israel, or anything begins an open-ended inquiry into Israel’s alleged violations of interthat would imply recognizing that Israel is here to stay. In areas such national law through a new commission (see page 28). as Jerusalem, where many Palestinians had been living before Israel It is also part of a decades-old push to establish a narrative that Isracaptured the Old City in the 1967 war, they are able to vote in Israeli el’s existence is illegitimate. elections but are often instructed not to by Palestinian leaders — not Amnesty brushed aside criticism of the report, with the United by Israel. States chapter saying “The U.S. government is Had Israel annexed the territories and all the uniquely placed to meaningfully pressure Israeli Palestinians in the area, there would have been The goal of Amnesty authorities to repeal discriminatory laws and a major outcry. How, then, does Israel extend policies, issue reparations where appropriate, International’s report is the rights of citizens to those who do not want and uphold its obligations under international to promote the idea that to be citizens? human rights and humanitarian law.” Besides, for almost 30 years, well over 90 Israel’s very existence is a Though singling out and demonizing the one percent of Palestinians in Judea/Samaria, and Jewish state in the world, Amnesty said their crime against the world everyone in Gaza, have been under Palestinian research is critical of Israel’s government, “they rule. All of a sudden, Israel is supposed to be are not, and never will be, a condemnation of responsible for their rights? Judaism or the Jewish people. Furthermore, we condemn anyone who Jailing of political opponents or those who criticize the regime? would cynically cite our research as justification for committing anThat’s the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. Not having a national electi-Semitic acts of hatred and violence.” tion in 15 years? Again, the PA. The apartheid system in South Africa benefited the minority white That confusion played out in early 2021 when activists slammed Iscommunity by completely separating the black community, by the rael for not vaccinating the Palestinians for Covid. Israel had a massive force of law. campaign to vaccinate Israelis, Jew and Arab alike. But under Oslo, the Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid, who is suing Ben & Palestinian leadership was responsible for health care in their areas. It Jerry’s over its boycott of the territories (see page 16), said Amnesty and was only when the falsehood of Israeli responsibility took hold that the the international community are “yet again lying about Israel. While it Palestinian leaders decided to pile on with that narrative. is not a perfect country, Israel is definitely not an apartheid state.” And then, when vaccines were offered to the Palestinian Authority The patchwork of rights and obligations in the region takes some effrom another country, the PA refused them, because they had gone fort to untangle. Within Israel proper — the pre-1967 areas — roughly through Israel! 20 percent of the population is Arab, and they enjoy full rights as equal With Israel withdrawing from Gaza in 2007, and with any Israeli citizens. since then who enters Gaza in danger of being abducted and held The evidence is endless, as Arabs in Israel have rights exceeding hostage, was Hamas really going to welcome Israelis into the Strip to those of any Arab state. immunize everyone? The slim ruling coalition in Israel contains an Arab party, Ra’am. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners in Israel were immunized before As has been the case before, Israel’s Supreme Court has an Arab most people under Palestinian rule. justice. An Arab judge sent a former president of Israel to prison for To further demonstrate how detached the apartheid label is from rape and sexual harassment. reality, there was recently a survey of Arab residents of Jerusalem, by a The list goes on. Arabs and Jews shop together, go to school togeth-
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
Where is the real “apartheid”? While Arabs in Israel travel freely, and Arabs from the territories that enter Israel have nothing to fear as they travel around, these signs throughout the territories warn Israelis that they are endangering their lives if they enter Area A, the parts of the territories that are under Palestinian Authority rule, and where many Israelis who make a wrong turn have been attacked. That, of course, is not referred to as apartheid.
Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Palestinian media outlet. None of them are Israeli citizens, and while they are eligible to request citizenship, there are huge societal pressures not to. Instead, they have Israeli identity cards, allowing them freedom of movement within Israel. Of the 1,200 surveyed, 93 percent said they would rather stay under Israeli rule. Some apartheid, huh? Of the 84 who said they would prefer to live under Palestinian Authority rule, all but five of them nevertheless insisted on keeping their Israeli identity card. Some argue that Arabs are second class citizens because Israel insists that it is a Jewish state. Yet there are dozens of nations around the world that refer to themselves as Christian nations or Muslim nations,
and nobody thinks twice about them. Since apartheid is being discussed, what is the status of Jews under Palestinian rule? There is no status. Gaza, as previously mentioned, is Jew-free. Forty years ago, residents from Israeli towns near the Gaza strip routinely went shopping in Gaza City or went to Gaza beaches. Today, that is impossible. As for the Palestinian Authority, chairman Mahmoud Abbas has long stated that no Jew would be permitted to live in the future Palestinian state. That also destroys the argument of those who would establish a bi-national state over the entire land, from the river to the sea. Currently, a Palestinian selling land to a Jew faces the death penalty. But that’s not apartheid.
What might apartheid look like?
Well, let’s say the Palestinians were denied identity cards that would entitle them to government services, including education. Of course, permanent resident status or citizenship is completely off the table. Let’s say a wide range of professions were restricted to non-Palestinians, so they would not be competing with the majority. For example, law, engineering, medicine — 39 professions in all. What if they could not legally acquire real estate and had to live in certain squalid areas? And were barred from adding on to their homes without approval from the military, a ban enforced so stringently that possession of a bag of cement subjects one to arrest and a huge fine. Or that they contribute to the national social security fund but aren’t allowed to receive benefits from it? That sounds a lot more like apartheid. Of course, that sort of thing isn’t happening in Israel, or any area administered by Israel. But all of the above restrictions are the long-time policy of Lebanon. But that’s not apartheid. In fact, Amnesty had to make up its own definition of apartheid so it could shoehorn that term onto Israel. And the report’s authors say they may eventually get around to examining other countries to see if the label fits there, but they had to go ahead and focus on Israel because, despite Israel being one of the most open societies in the world, and many of the world’s bad actors being closed, authoritarian regimes, Amnesty found that it’s Israel that makes things so difficult and impenetrable for investigators. They can’t be accused of singling out Israel, though — they did come out and use the apartheid term on Myanmar, for its suppression of the Rohingya. But that was for a specific act in a specific time frame, as opposed to calling Myanmar’s existence illegitimate. South African Friends of Israel “rejects in the strongest terms” the Amnesty report, saying “Millions of South Africans who suffered and fought under actual apartheid should be angered and insulted by Amnesty International’s attempt to dilute their own history and experience of apartheid, and to hijack the term and falsely use it against Israel.” The statement adds that “It is well-known to Jews and Arabs in Israel, and anyone who visits the country, that Israel’s democracy is the absolute antithesis to apartheid. The rule of law in Israel is sacred and universal, it is justly and fairly applied, and does not rest upon racial lines.” Aside from the United Nations, the Amnesty report will have a lot of traction on college campuses and among far-left groups. Of course, all anti-Israel groups are embracing the report as another confirmation of their stances. That was evident in how Congressional condemnation was not universal, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan tweeting that “U.S. foreign aid shouldn’t go to apartheid governments, period.” For supporters of Israel, that should be reworded to “charitable gifts shouldn’t go to Amnesty International, period.”
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
Three Years Later
Remembering Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a pioneer in Christian-Jewish Relations By Larry Brook
In 1983, when Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein established the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the idea of large numbers of Christians supporting Israel, or an Orthodox rabbi doing that sort of outreach, wasn’t considered visionary, it was considered delusional or heretical. But Eckstein persevered while the Jewish and Christian communities eventually caught up, and built a powerhouse organization that had raised over $1.3 billion for Israel, mainly from evangelical Christians, in the 36 years that he led the organization. The organization has 1.75 million donors, and benefits about 1.5 million people each year. His legacy was celebrated in an online forum on Feb. 6, the secular calendar’s third anniversary of his death. The event was organized by Jonathan Feldstein of Genesis 123, who said “anyone who works in the field, formally or informally, of building bridges and Jewish-Christian relations, works to some degree in Rabbi Eckstein’s shadow.” He had been discussing something with Eckstein’s widow, Joelle, two weeks earlier, when she mentioned the forthcoming anniversary. Feldstein impulsively said that there should be some commemoration, and it was pulled together quickly. Eckstein had been the Anti-Defamation League’s national co-director of inter-religious affairs, when he decided to start the fellowship. There was still a lot of suspicion in the Jewish community toward Christians, especially when it comes to conversionary tactics, but the fellowship has a strict no missionizing policy. His television ads depicting impoverished Holocaust survivors and appealing to Christians to join in helping them rankled many in the Jewish world, but he persevered. Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said it is hard to believe that it has been three years, and Eckstein’s work is still felt. She said “The bridges that Rabbi Eckstein built with the Christian community are more important now than ever, and that infrastructure that he built is something we cannot take for granted in this very divisive world we’re living in.” She said it was appropriate that the memorial was the week of the Torah reading for Terumah, which means donation — but she said it also means uplifting. She said Eckstein understood that “donations and donating and being part of contributing to the state of Is-
rael isn’t just about the money, it is about the engagement and it’s about creating something together. When you create something you are more invested in it and it is more valuable.” Hassan-Nahoum said Eckstein was so engaged with his work, that one day she contacted him because a woman had informed her of two dozen girls who were sleeping on the streets of Jerusalem because of bad family situations. Within minutes, “he was offering his house to put 10 of the girls and find another house for another 10.” Church of God In Christ Bishop Glenn Plummer, the first bishop in Israel of any evangelical denomination, spoke about co-founding the Fellowship of Israel and Black America with Eckstein in 2006, because Eckstein “had a burden to see Black America connected and united with Israel as well.” The next year they hosted an event for thousands of people, with a Jewish choir and a Black church choir. After that, they went to Ethiopia together and visited the Ethiopian Jews in Gondar, then traveled with them as they immigrated to Israel. Eckstein also encouraged the top leadership of COGIC to visit Israel, and Plummer said that was the seed that caused the denomination to decide to formally embrace Israel and have a bishop there — the month that Eckstein died. Keynote speaker Avi Dichter, former Minister of Internal Security and head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service, used to speak to American groups that Eckstein brought to Israel. He also emphasized how Eckstein was a bridge builder, by relating that during rocket strikes from Gaza, he wanted to visit Kiryat Malachi. As the two of them arrived, the sirens went off. “I was looking for a safe place, and he was looking for people to talk with.” Noting that Eckstein spoke numerous languages, Dichter said “the way he communicated with people is hard to find,” and he focused on what needed to get done. After a discussion with Dichter, Eckstein started providing scholarships for 100 Druze students every year, and “he used to come every year to the ceremony.” Dichter said Eckstein would tell him “it gives me a good feeling that we are doing for Jews, for Arabs, for Druze and Christians, for everyone.” Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College, said he and Eckstein were best friends for 45 years. They were in graduate school together, and while Eckstein attended Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school, Ellen-
son was pursuing the Reform rabbinate. “He reached out in unique ways not only to Christians and to Muslims, but he reached out to other Jews of different denominations as well.” He recalled that at ADL, Eckstein “first started carving out relationships with Christian sisters and brothers,” something unusual at the time for someone with an Orthodox background. “Forty and 50 years ago in the Orthodox community, to reach out to Christians in the way Yechiel did,” he doesn’t think there was a herem, a shunning ban, issued against Eckstein, but “there were experiences he had that were unpleasant.” But “he was a person of courage and great integrity.” Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project met Eckstein around 2013 in Netanya, and asked him a lot of questions as he was looking to work on the next generation of Christian relations with Israel. “I could tell that what I was saying resonated with him,” and that even with all Eckstein had done, he knew there was still so much more to do. “He wasn’t just interested in interreligious conversation,” he “brought the Christians alongside him and said let’s walk together and do something.” He also saw himself as part of a larger movement in the reconciliation between Christians and Jews. Eckstein recognized “there needs to be a lot of people doing this work,” Nicholson said. Pat Robertson, founder of CBN, called Eckstein “a wonderful man of God” and “a dear friend.” Early on, “he saw the thing that was so important, that the evangelical Christians love the Jewish people, and there is an innate love for the people of God,” and built bridges that “are being caried on by his wonderful daughter.” Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Knesset Christian Allies Caucus aims to bridge Israel’s political divide
By Josh Hasten
Photo by Josh Hasten
(JNS) — In working to strengthen the Israeli legislature’s Christian community leaders from Israel and around the world attending a ties with Israel’s Christian friends, the Knesset Christian session on the Israeli Knesset as part of the Israel Christian Allies Caucus. Allies Caucus will simultaneously strive to transcend the polarization in Israeli politics, according to the caucus’ new co-chair, want to delegitimize the existence of the State of Israel.” former Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein of the Likud party. Haskel told JNS that “building face-to-face bridges” between Jews Edelstein told JNS on Feb. 28, when the caucus held a relaunch and Christians was challenging during the pandemic as a result of conference at the Knesset after numerous postponements due to the travel restrictions. “There is nothing better than being in Jerusalem Covid-19 pandemic, that “my role is to further strengthen relation- and picking up the stones and experiencing that personal connection ships between the representatives of the eight different political par- to the land and its people… to come with the Bible and walk around ties who are part of this caucus.” the country and feel it,” she said. The caucus, Edelstein believes, can be an effective forum “to demonShe also stressed the importance of Israeli MKs visiting Christian strate that we have common denominators when it comes to security communities abroad “and feeling that embrace,” as she has experiand other issues.” enced. The event was held in the presence of Members of Knesset repre“Our community should feel that love and support after experiencsenting political parties both in the government coalition and opposi- ing disappointment for so many years,” said Haskel, adding, “We have tion. Twenty MKs are members of the caucus. to work together to target anti-Israel propaganda, and anti-Semitism Also in attendance were Christian community leaders from Israel around the world.” and around the world, as the goal of the caucus is to open direct lines Reinstein said that faith-based diplomacy — entailing Jews and of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, Christians joining together to defend Judeo-Christian values, standing organizations and political representatives. up for Israel, and combating BDS and anti-Semitism — is the most The event began with the recitation of the “Shechiyanu” blessing by effective tool in achieving progress in support for Israel. Josh Reinstein, director of the caucus and president of the Israel Allies He attributed faith-based diplomacy as the driving force behind Foundation, who expressed his gratitude to G-d for being able to host America’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the gathering. well as for Israel obtaining observer status at the African Union. Edelstein and fellow caucus co-chair MK Sharren Haskel (New Reinstein told JNS that the caucus has many issues on its agenda Hope) addressed the room; Haskel had chaired the caucus on her own in the coming months, including “the implementation of IHRA (the in the previous Knesset. International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of Israel’s “hearts and prayers are with Jews and non-Jews alike in the anti-Semitism). A lot of countries have adopted it but haven’t implemidst of the bloody conflict going on in Europe,” Edelstein said, refer- mented it.” ring to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, where the former Knesset speaker He added that “we will be working in Europe to stop the labeling was born. regulations on goods from Jerusalem, the Golan, and Judea and SaEdelstein drew a connection between the Russian invasion and maria,” requirements that labels on products from those areas do not threats by Iran against Israel, saying “that when push comes to shove, say Israel. we [Israel] will have to rely on ourselves — our IDF, Mossad, and other Reinstein said that the caucus is also working to have other counsecurity forces” to neutralize the threat. tries move their embassies to Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, including Haskel also commented on the situation in Ukraine, saying that var- the African nation of Malawi. ious Israeli governmental bodies are active in supplying humanitarian Bishop Dr. Glenn Plummer, head of Church of God in Christ and aid to the Jewish community under fire in that country. his wife Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer, first lady of Israel for the church, “As Christian friends of Israel and as Jews from all over the world, participated in the event on behalf of their church’s 6.5 million memyou understand the trauma of seeing Jews fleeing their homes,” she said. bers, which Bishop Plummer explained is the largest black church in “At this time, we stand together for all people and our shared values of the world. freedom.” The couple recently moved to Israel. Bishop Plummer told JNS that Similar to Edelstein, Haskel invoked the Iranian threat, saying that “around three years ago, our church made a historic decision to emthe new deal currently being negotiated by Western powers in Vienna brace Israel in a formal way, so we moved here to establish a world “will not prevent Iran from having nuclear capabilities in the coming class media institute.” years.” The purpose of the media center, he said, is to enable young adults She added that Israel “has maintained the right to defend itself,” to “come to Israel on a study-abroad program in order to experience stressing that Iran “is also a threat to its neighbors and the entire Israel while learning new technologies and media techniques, and creworld.” ate content, to tell the story of Israel to their generation.” Turning to the Christian friends of Israel in the room, Haskel said, Regarding the Feb. 28 conference, first lady Plummer added, “It’s “Your voice and support of Israel is greatly appreciated. There is a clear so good to see so many Christian supporters of Israel gathered here moral voice coming from our Christian friends around the world in today. We’re here to support our friend Joshua Reinstein, to see how the face of accusations by groups like Amnesty International. They things are progressing, and how we can play a part in it.”
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Christian supporters are Israel’s “Iron Dome of Truth”
(JNS) — Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan and former Vice President Mike Pence addressed hundreds of Christian supporters of Israel at the Israel Allies Foundation Gala Awards in Texas on Oct. 6. “The BDS movement which seeks to demonize Israel is actively fanning the flames of antisemitism with the help of its supporters in Congress and European parliaments. In the face of the lies that some spread about Israel on Capitol Hill, I know that we can count on you to be our Iron Dome of truth,” Erdan told the gathering. Erdan, who was deputy chair of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus when he served in the Knesset, said Christian support for Israel and the Israel Allies Foundation around the world creates a “lasting impact of immense proportions.” “For that, the State of Israel could not be more grateful,” he added. Pence spoke about the Trump administration’s accomplishments regarding Israel and the Middle East, including moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and helping to broker the Abraham Accords. He also criticized the Biden administration and progressive Democrats in Congress for eroding bipartisan support for Israel. “The bipartisan consensus that once supported the U.S.-Israel relationship has begun to erode in one of the two major political parties in this country,” he said. “Leading Democrats in the House of Representatives recently tried to deny funding for the Iron Dome in Israel after a hailstorm of rockets had descended on the people of the State of Israel. And our current
Israel Allies Foundation
Israel Allies Foundation staff with Gilad Erdan and Mike Pence.
vice president told a student at George Mason University that ‘their truth should not be suppressed’ when they accused Israel of ethnic genocide,” he said. “It must be the position of the United States of America that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.” Josh Reinstein, president of the Israel Allies Foundation, said Pence and Erdan “spoke beautifully about the importance of faith-based diplomacy.” “All over the world, millions of Christians are standing with Israel, and they are bringing the countries with them,” he said. A delegation of leaders from Latin America also came to the proceedings, as did Guatemalan Ambassador to United Nations Luis Lam Padilla. Herzl Makov was the evening’s honoree, receiving the Israel Allies Award for his loyal dedication to Israel as demonstrated through his previous roles in the Israel Defense Forces, Prime Minister’s Office, the Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization and for his current role as CEO of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
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Months after Ben & Jerry’s launches Israel boycott, repercussions continue From JNS and IIS reports
Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar approved on Feb. 5 the sanctioning of ice-cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever Global, for its decision to sever its licensing agreement with Ben & Jerry’s Israel. In July, the Ben & Jerry’s board announced it would allow the agreement with its current licensee in Israel to lapse at the end of 2022, because selling its products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” is “inconsistent with our values.” The main supermarket chains in Israel have locations in the territories, and Israeli law forbids them from making distinctions between locations within the pre-1967 lines and the territories, making a Ben & Jerry’s boycott of “just” the territories impossible. Unilever, which acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2001, has allowed the brand known for its social activism to have its own board that set policy, saying they have “always recognized the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions in accordance with its social mission.” Unilever said they would set up a way for Ben & Jerry’s to continue to be sold in Israel through unspecified means, which prompted a rebuke from the Ben & Jerry’s board. The decision sparked backlash both from the Israeli government and Jewish organizations worldwide, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stating that Ben & Jerry’s had “decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice-cream.” Bennett took the matter up with Unilever CEO Alan Jope, telling him on July 20 that the Jewish state was taking the move very seriously and warning that there would be “severe consequences. … [Israel] will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens.” Sa’ar approved the enacting of Israel’s Boycott Law, which was passed by the Knesset in 2011 and enables sanctions against companies that harm the Jewish state. The decision still needs approval by the Knesset. Sa’ar made the move in collaboration with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and after Ben & Jerry’s Israel CEO Avi Zinger sent a letter calling on the government to retaliate against Unilever. Zinger claimed that the company was promoting the BDS movement yet supplying the state, including the Israel Defense Forces, with goods worth millions of shekels through its other subsidiaries. “While many countries in the United States are implementing their BDS laws against Unilever Global in the form of withdrawing investments and holdings worth about $1 billion, it is time for the State of
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Israel to do what it itself demands of the world, and stand firm against any demand for a boycott against Israel,” said Zinger. There are 35 U.S. states with anti-boycott laws on the books. Some states also have laws barring state investments in companies that participate in boycotts of Israel, and states including New York, Texas Arizona, Illinois and New Jersey are selling off their pension investment fund holdings of Unilever. New York had $100 million in Unilever shares. In October, Florida began the process of divesting from Unilever after not seeing “any meaningful response” from the company, according to State Board of Administration Executive Director Ash Williams. Florida had around $139 million invested in Unilever. Attorneys general representing 12 states wrote to Unilever on Nov. 22 to express concern over the boycott. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said “If Unilever is so interested in virtue-signaling, why not announce a boycott of countries like China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or especially Iran, who has promised the complete destruction of Israel?” Unilever has insisted that its own actions are far from a boycott of Israel. CEO Alan Jope told New York officials that they have a “longstanding commitment” to their business in Israel, which employs around 2,000 in four factories and a headquarters, and the company has invested $250 million in Israel in the past decade. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s, have said Israel was one of the first countries that was a market for their ice cream as they expanded beyond the U.S., and said they support Israel but disagree with certain policies. Before voting, board members heard from advocates of boycotting Israel, and after Unilever said they were looking into other ways to have Ben & Jerry’s available in Israel after the current agreement ends, board members stated that they did not agree with that plan. For spearheading the boycott, Ben & Jerry’s Board chair Anuradha Mittal was voted Antisemite of the Year by StopAntisemitism.org. In 2018, Airbnb announced that it would no longer list properties in Israeli settlements, which the company later reversed after several lawsuits filed in the United States and Israel. In January, it was reported that Unilever’s stock had fallen almost 21 percent since the Ben & Jerry’s decision, a loss of $26 billion in market value. While it is unlikely that the entire loss can be attributed to fallout from the boycott, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted that “it doesn’t pay to boycott Israel,” and quoted the book of Genesis: “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you.”
CUFI’S OVER 10 MILLION MEMBERS DEFEND ISRAEL AND FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM IN OUR COMMUNITIES, CHURCHES, COLLEGE CAMPUSES, THE MEDIA AND ON CAPITOL HILL.
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Indigenous Partners Alabama Cherokee tribe establishes ties with Israel in special ceremony By Larry Brook
On Sept. 25, the Northeast Alabama Cherokee held a ceremony in Guntersville to establish a relationship with Israel. The tribe presented a resolution, unanimously passed by the Tribal Council, recognizing the “sovereign Jewish Nation” of Israel, with Jerusalem as its Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon (left) talks with Chief Larry Smith (right) and “eternal undivided capital.” Seth Penn, as John Buhler of the Alabama-Israel Task Force looks on. In addition, “we vow our full support in the pursuit of the peace of Jerusalem and the Nation of Israel by which ever means tan-Dadon for not being able to attend. “She really wanted to be here may be necessary.” today, it was really important to her,” but the event being on the SabThe event, centered around a potluck lunch, included expressions of bath in the middle of Sukkot made it impossible. solidarity with the Jewish community and comparisons to the experiIn a letter to the tribe, Sultan-Dadon wrote “Your friendship and ences of native tribes in North America. support, beautifully expressed through this proclamation from the Chief Larry Smith began his remarks by noting that “if there is Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, are invaluable and greatly apa people that can understand how the Jews feel, it’s the Cherokee,” preciated.” which received an “Amen” from the audience. She added, “Like the Cherokee Tribe, the Jewish people have an un“We have chosen to identify with a people as a people,” he added. deniable and unbreakable bond to our native land. During centuries of Seth Penn, deputy representative of the Red Wind Tribal District, dispersion, the Jewish people never severed nor forgot its bond with said “the nation of Israel has a lot in common with the Cherokee peo- our historic homeland.” ple — they have been removed from their homeland, came back and Sultan-Dadon was able to visit with the tribe on Nov. 18 at an emohave to fight for their homeland.” tional dinner in Huntsville. As a diplomat, “there are truly very few “Some historians even argue we can find our DNA roots in Israel,” events that are as moving for me as this one,” she said. Penn said. “I‘m not saying that’s true.” She expressed Israel’s “sincere appreciation to you” for “a decision Smith echoed that, saying “are we the Ten and a gesture that means a lot for the state of Lost Tribes of Israel? Debatable.” But “there are Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Divine hand? As the so many of our ceremonies, so many of our celThe dinner, catered by Chabad of Huntsville, N.E. Alabama Cherokee ebrations that coincide with Jewish traditions was held at The Dwelling Place, a church which discussed honoring Israel, is known for its support of Israel. and the Jewish holidays.” The first white settler in what is now MontSmith said it is a tremendous honor to have Alabama’s Chief Justice gomery was Jewish, Abraham Mordecai. He recognition from Israel, “when we can’t even get was repenting to Alabama’s other Cherokees to recognize us.” He added that traded with the local tribes and was so conFirst Nations for what had only the State of Alabama, which declared nine vinced of their Jewish origin that he kept addressing them in Hebrew, hoping to receive a tribes in a 1984 legislative act, recognizes them. been done to them similar response. He added that most people don’t realize that Smith said Penn brought the idea of the resolution to him about four the tribes benefitted greatly from Martin Luther King and the civil months earlier. While he was receptive to the idea, the fact that Penn rights battles, because the Civil Rights Act included provisions for na“was getting a great response from the Israeli side” made him more tive tribes. determined to do it. Before then, “you weren’t allowed to go further than eighth grade,” Laura King, co-founder of the Alabama-Israel Task Force and for- and in Louisiana, for example, the first Native American to graduate mer national chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Net- high school did so in 1967. “It has been a struggle, and it is still a strugwork of small Jewish communities, made a presentation on behalf of gle.” the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta. In comments that the Jewish community can identify with, Smith King expressed “deep apologies” from Consul General Anat Sul- said he often gets requests from people who want to be identified as
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Cherokee, and asks them “do you really know what you are asking?” One may have an identity card in their pocket, but “your name is on a roll… it hasn’t always been popular to identify with a certain people, with your name on their roll.” He noted that at one point, the U.S. did not want the Cherokee to be around, and “the ones they couldn’t kill, they were going to assimilate us.” But “we’re still here. We’re growing and we’re stronger.” Smith said while the Jews had Hitler, “we had Andrew Jackson. Hitler admitted he read Andrew Jackson’s book on how to get rid” of the native tribes. He added, “I firmly believe (Jackson) planned to kill them all, and the political atmosphere didn’t let him.” Penn said the message of “declaring our sovereignty as a tribal nation in support of another sovereign nation” is “very significant, even more so than we may realize.” John Buhler, AITF co-founder, called it “a deeply meaningful gesture… we live in a time when so many voices remain silent, but the Cherokee tribe has risen to acknowledge the truth” about Jerusalem and Israel. He said Israel and the Cherokee are both “indigenous people who have a very deep sense of a God-given responsibility to steward sacred lands.” Two years ago, Buhler was part of a 50-person trip to Israel from Alabama, and the group visited the Jordan River at the spot where Joshua brought the nation into the land. He presented Smith with a small jar of dirt from that site. As “honored guests” representing the Jewish community, King and this reporter were presented native blankets and necklaces. Citing Genesis 12:3, which was quoted on the inside of the resolution’s presentation folder, Smith said the Jews “are still God’s people. If you are an evangelical Christian or a Hasidic Jew, you have to understand God entered a covenant with Abraham, and when God enters a covenant it can’t be broken.” There’s no denying God “has his hand on the country of Israel,” as
“any other country that size would have ceased to exist 60 years ago.” Pastor Patrick Penn of The Dwelling Place, and father of Seth Penn, noted that as a Zoom call was taking place among tribal leaders to discuss the resolution, Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker was in Oxford at a gathering of First Nations. As chief justice, Patrick Penn said, Parker “stood up and repented to the First Nation people for the decisions that were made” in the past. Patrick Penn added that “I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences, I think things are guided by Providence,” and Parker’s declaration was related to the discussion of support for Israel the Cherokee was having at the exact same time. Adding to the web of ties with Israel, Parker’s wedding was held in Israel. His wife, Dottie, sang “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, at the inauguration of her cousin, Alabama Governor Fob James in 1995. Seth Penn said he hopes this type of recognition spreads to other tribes, as he found almost nothing to compare with when researching online. Some Palestinian activist groups have tried to target native tribes for support, with a narrative about being displaced from their lands. In 2008, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana signed a friendship agreement with Israel. They participated in a trade mission to Israel in 2011, signing an agreement to become the exclusive U.S. distributor for Israeli startup Aya Natural’s products. Recently, they have become a sponsor of Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans events. The Coushatta, who were forced out of what became Georgia and Alabama, operate a casino resort in Kinder. Smith said the resolution is not the end of a process, but the beginning, and he hopes to deepen the relationship. “We are going to keep this going,” he said. “We laid the groundwork to a great friendship between these two countries.” He added, “I hope this will grow into something where we can work with members of the Jewish community who would like to be with us, celebrate with us and have a good time.” Sultan-Dadon said “we look forward to this being the first of future encounters.”
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Why I Support the Bennett-Lapid Government
Jewish people were experiencing because the media was only spotlighting the suffering that Muslims were experiencing, and blaming Israel. It was Jew-hatred, fundamentally fueled by the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-Zionism. When I was then informed that Ra’am, an anti-Zionist party, was joining the govBy Mike Evans ernment, I was outraged. To think that a I traveled to Israel on May 14 during the pro-Muslim Brotherhood, anti-Zionist party Gaza War to defend the State of Israel against would be part of a Jewish State was more than a vicious antisemitic Muslim Brotherhood at- I could stand. I’ve been mobilizing support for the State tack against Israel in the media. I mobilized of Israel since the days of Menachem Begin, the top evangelicals in America to film and and have stayed out of politics. As a matter express their support for the State of Israel and had scheduled a global Facebook live spe- of fact, Shimon Peres dearly loved me and I dearly loved him. He was my international cial that I had produced. The leaders included the Rev. Franklin Gra- chairman and commissioned the Friends of ham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Gra- Zion award that has been given to 22 world ham, along with Christian Broadcasting Net- leaders, including two U.S. presidents. My work President Gordon Robertson, former policy has always been not to focus on the president of the 22-million member Southern right-wing or the left-wing, but always focus Baptist Convention, and Pastor Jack Graham, on the bird, Israel. Yet on this particular occasion, I came out First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, former presidential candidate and Gov. Mike strong and hard, criticizing the government Huckabee, actors Jon Voight and Pat Boone that was being formed because it included a and numerous other major evangelical leaders pro-Muslim Brotherhood, anti-Zionist party. representing tens of millions of evangelicals. I apologized at a press conference for those I was informed on the plane to Israel that comments because I realized that it was my Facebook page the Jerusalem Prayer Team, wrong for me to criticize Naftali Bennett, who with 77 million followers, had been attacked has been a very strong Zionist. Regretfully, while I was in Israel in May, by an anti-Zionist Muslim Brotherhood group and we had become a victim of cyber terror- there were media organizations that made ism. The organized attack included more than false statements of what I had said. As a 2.1 million antisemitic hate messages posted journalist for more than 40 years, I know the game the media plays. It’s called, “If it bleeds, on the page in a 72-hour period. it leads.” Sometimes secMany of the posts ular media makes up fake included death threats. It was wrong for me to news simply for headOthers said Hitler should have killed all the Jews. criticize Naftali Bennett… lines. I’ve dedicated my life Facebook had the power I’ve dedicated my life to to supporting the State to stop those comments supporting the State of of Israel — and I will not from being posted, but Israel — and I will not stop now. I have built a they didn’t. My team $100 million campus, the stop now. made many appeals to Friends of Zion Heritage Facebook for help but Center in Jerusalem, to were ignored. To our shock, instead of Facebook blaming create a home for the 800 million evangelicals the perpetrator, they punished us, the victim, of the world and Israel. They are, I believe, and shut our page down. We are the largest Israel’s best friends. As I have always done religious Facebook page in the world and over the decades, I will continue to mobilize without a doubt the largest pro-Israel page support for the State of Israel with all of the worldwide. We had recruited more than 14 evangelical organizations that I have founded. Last year, the Friends of Zion Heritage million Muslim young people as followers in Center hosted the Government Press Office an attempt to win their hearts and their minds Christian Media Summit. We broke all reto combat antisemitism. I brought camera crews into the warzone to cords for the State of Israel with 7.5 million film so we could tell the truth about Sderot viewers. On Nov. 16, I hosted the Beauty Pagand Ashkelon and show the suffering that the eant for Holocaust survivors at my Friends of
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Zion Heritage Center Campus. More than 60 media organizations covered it and there have been thousands of articles around the world showing Israel’s greatness. On the Friends of Zion Heritage Center campus in Jerusalem, I’m building an Ambassador Institute to train Christian ambassadors to support Israel’s brand in their countries and combat antisemitism. I’m building the first evangelical Research Institute and think tank to provide strategic, real-time data to universities, Christian media outlets and churches throughout the world and the State of Israel, along with building a 21st-century social network platform that cannot be gamed by anti-Zionist Jew-haters. As an example, Ayelet Shaked, the Minister of Interior, sent me a short three-minute video on Jerusalem. In two weeks, we had more than 21 million people view it. I wish Prime Minister Bennett as well as Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs, God’s richest blessings and great success. My Jerusalem Prayer Team members will continue to lift them up in prayer. We will stand 100 percent behind the State of Israel. Mike Evans is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author with 108 published books. He is the founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem that has hosted Israel’s Christian Media Summit, viewed by more than 7.5 million people, and the recent Holocaust Survivor Beauty Pageant. The late President Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, was the organization’s first international chairman. The museum’s Friends of Zion award has been given to 22 world leaders, including two U.S. Presidents. His Jerusalem Prayer Team is the world’s largest religious, pro-Israel social media network with more than 77 million followers worldwide. Evans has also served on the Trump Evangelical Faith Initiative as an adviser regarding the State of Israel.
“From the River to the Sea” is a call for Genocide By Larry Brook
No, “River to the Sea” is about genocide, not coexistence. If one attends an anti-Israel — er., “pro-Palestinian” rally, it generally takes mere moments for the chant to start: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” Sounds good. After all, who opposes freedom and coexistence? But when one looks further, this kumbaya statement is fraught with peril. The river, of course, is the Jordan. The sea is the Mediterranean. The territory in between is not only what is referred to as the West Bank and Gaza, but also all of pre-1967 Israel. Liberate Palestine? What does that mean? Many activists will insist that there’s no genocidal intent — when they talk about liberation, they mean a bi-national state where Israelis and Palestinians — er, Jews and Muslims — live side by side as equal citizens in the same state (like they already do within Israel). As the saying goes, from your lips to God’s ears, or as they say in Arabic, inshallah. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to live in the real world, and that means asking a very serious question — what are those people smoking? Do they really think that an open, democratic Palestine will spring up, bringing harmony and unity? Not unless a completely different, uncharacteristic leadership suddenly takes over among the Palestinians, and there is a cultural shift of
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massive proportions. Let’s take Hamas first, as they rule Gaza with an iron fist and would also be ruling the territories if the Palestinian Authority wasn’t being propped up by duct tape and chewing gum. The Hamas charter insists on liberating the entire land and getting rid of all the Jews. That leaves plenty of room for negotiating. The Palestinian Authority ultimately has the same goal, they just aren’t as blatant about it. Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PA, has repeatedly insisted that no Jew would be permitted to reside in a Palestinian state. Generally, that has been in the context of the West Bank, but it bodes ill for any cooperation and coexistence beyond there. Recently on official Palestinian television, it was noted that “Jerusa-
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lem is Arab, Islamic and Christian,” and there was a call for confronting the occupation from the river to the sea, in “Palestine which is Arab and Islamic.” Can’t you feel the love, inclusion and unity? A recent post by Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi reminds that the entire land is waqf land — “an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law” and it is forbidden to cede any of that land to non-Muslims. Why else is it illegal, punishable by death, for a Palestinian to sell land to a Jew? And wouldn’t that be carried over to the “liberated” land? For over two decades, Palestinian youth in Gaza and the territories have been brought up to believe that their highest calling is to kill Jews, and Israelis have been well aware of that. While Israel tries to teach their students coexistence against the odds, the Palestinians teach that Jews have no historical connection to the land and are foreign invaders with no right to live there.
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But hey, they’ll forget all that when it comes to living side by side in a single bi-national state. In addition to the question of Jews being allowed to stay in this bi-national utopia, what do all of these human rights activists believe will happen regarding, say, human rights? The same people who accuse Israel of “pinkwashing” because of its openness to the LGBTQ community will quickly find out that under the new arrangement, they are not welcome — and there won’t be an Israel for them to flee toward. Surveys show over 90 percent of Palestinians believe LGBTQ should be societally unacceptable. Both Hamas and the PA routinely intimidate and imprison journalists who write the “wrong” stories. Same thing for anti-regime demonstrations. Are they suddenly going to discover the First Amendment in a bi-national state? And what of the decree in Gaza that a woman has to have a male relative with her when she travels? How will that translate to the new bi-national state? Will Western pro-Palestinian feminists care? Israel, of course, exists as a refuge for Jews who have nowhere else to go, so that the Jewish people, after 2,000 years, no longer are subject to the whims of others and have a viable Plan B should the world fall apart. If unicorns start flying and Jews are allowed to stay in the new bi-national state, would that state be as enthusiastic about rescuing imperiled Jews around the world? If 30,000 Jews in Ethiopia suddenly needed to be whisked away, as was necessary in 1991, would the bi-national state drop everything to do so? What about the Jewish community of France, which has been looking at Israel in greater numbers as antisemitism continues to spiral? Would the Palestinians really say “sure, go ahead, bring them in”? And isn’t it ironic that the same people who insist that in the 21st century, the Jews don’t need an Israel, life is perfectly fine in Europe, the U.S., what have you — are the same ones who are now taking to the streets and forcefully demonstrating to Jews why Israel’s existence is necessary? But there is one last protest against calling “River to the Sea” a call for genocide. It’s not a call to kill the Jews, just for the colonialist occupiers to go back to where they came from — which the activists will insist is Europe. There are two problems with that. First, that’s the same Europe that has welcomed millions of Muslim refugees in recent years, where they are refusing to assimilate into their new countries and have been making life very difficult for the Jewish communities of the countries where they land, France and Sweden being prime examples. Lots of European Jews have been fleeing to Israel, are they going to turn around and go right back? The other problem is that the majority of Israel’s Jews were forced out of Middle Eastern countries, not Europe, and their properties confiscated. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen — they’re going to welcome the Jews back with open arms and equal rights, let alone restore their seized properties? And notice that the chant refers to just 20 percent of British Mandate Palestine. Nobody ever chants about the other direction, the 80 percent that was lopped off to become Jordan — “from the river to Iraq, Palestine will come back.” The Middle East is a vastly complicated place, and simplistic slogans might feel good, but they are often incredibly unhelpful. And this slogan in particular is nothing but a sugarcoated call for genocide or ethnic cleansing — the very thing those same activists falsely accuse Israel of doing. The sad part is, some of them don’t even realize the implications of what they are saying.
Another Year of Paying Dividends This year, America’s investment in Israel will keep showing benefits in so many ways By Yoram Ettinger
(JNS) — As 2022 begins, Israel is the most critical partner of the United States in sustaining its edge over China, Russia, Europe and Japan in the development and manufacture of game-changing commercial and military technologies.
In 2022, with merely 0.11 percent of the global population, Israel will remain second only to — and closely collaborating with — the United States with regard to the development of ground-breaking high-tech innovations. Moreover, Israel’s brain power has attracted 20 percent of the global investment in cyber technologies, while Israel’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups account for some 20 percent of the global total. In 2022, Israel will be second only to the United States in the development and manufacturing of commercial, military and dual-use intelligence technologies and systems (e.g., remote-control jammers, counter-IED and booby-trap measures, remote-control explosives neutralization and electronic warfare). In fact, around 60 percent of Israeli-developed intelligence and counter-terrorism systems have reached the United States, through joint ventures with leading U.S. manufacturers, U.S.-owned research and development centers in Israel and U.S. acquisitions from Israeli manufacturers. For example, the hacking of the San Bernardino Islamic terrorist’s iPhone (he murdered 14 people at a Christmas celebration in December 2015) was facilitated by an Israeli mobile forensic technology used by the FBI. Also, the 2006 killing of the top al-Qaeda terrorist in Iraq, al-Zarqawi, was facilitated by the Israeli-developed and manufactured (“Rafael Armament Development Authority”) Litening infrared targeting and navigation pod, installed on a U.S. Air Force F-16.
Photo by Israel Hadari
Tel Aviv University Prof. Tal Dvir, CSO of Matricelf, which has developed a 3-D printed spinal cord tissue that has enabled paralyzed lab mice to walk again, and human trials are planned.
laboratory (and a mega-billion-dollar bonanza) for the U.S. defense industries and armed forces, and a second-to-none source of military intelligence for the United States, foiling anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism and enhancing the performance of the U.S. national security agencies.
In 2022, some 250 U.S. high-tech giants will continue to maintain — and expand — their research and development centers in Israel, leveraging Israel’s brain power. It has enhanced the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in the global market, saving billions of dollars in research and development, while increasing U.S. exports and expanding U.S. employment. The realization that Israel is a unique force-multiplier for the United
In 2022, the United States (mostly) and Israel will remain the States was expressed as early as Dec. 11, 1978, in a letter sent to Presi-
global co-leaders in the development and manufacturing of miniature, dent Carter by over 170 retired U.S. admirals and generals: small and medium-size satellites, as well as surveillance and strike“If not for the proven capability of the Israel Defense Force, we role unmanned aerial vehicles. would be forced to station a significant number of men and substanIn 2022, the United States and Israel will continue to expand air, tial material in the Middle East…. The ability of the US to protect its naval and ground forces joint maneuvers, training and visitations, le- security interests in the Middle East is closely linked, if not dependent veraging Israel’s unique battlefield experience in combatting terrorism on, the maintenance of a potent Israeli military capability…. In the and facing Russian and Iranian military systems (e.g., battle tactics event of a non-nuclear superpower conflict in the Middle East, Israel, formulation; acquaintance with Soviet/Russian battle tactics and mil- by itself, might deter Soviet combat forces intervention or prevent the itary systems such as radar, surface-to-air missiles, combat aircraft completion of such deployment.” and tanks). For instance, unprecedented air-defense cooperation has In 2022, the steady reduction of the U.S. military posture in the evolved between the U.S. and Israeli air forces in response to rising stormy Middle East will create a strategic void in a global epicenter of mutual threats, such as Iran, in general, and Iran’s attack drones and anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism, ballistic technology proliferation and drug ballistic missiles in particular. trafficking. The aforementioned information about Israel’s unique
In 2022, the United States will persist in leveraging Israel’s vast contributions to the United States makes the Jewish state the most experience in securing the safety of commercial airports and airline qualified strategic ally to fill in this void, safeguarding U.S. national passengers. security and economic interests. In 2022, Israel will remain the only stable, reliable, effective, techIn 2022, as in previous years, Israel will not be a beneficiary of U.S. nologically-advanced, democratic and unconditional ally of the Unit- foreign aid, but rather an annual U.S. investment, one that yields the ed States in the Middle East. Israel will continue serving as the most American taxpayer a return of several hundred percent. effective platform for the pre-positioning of U.S. military systems, Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of “Second Thought: medical supplies and ammunition in a critical region. A U.S.-Israel Initiative.” This article was first published by The Ettinger In 2022, Israel will persist being the most effective battle-tested Report. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
As Western liberals demonize Israel, Zionism starts flourishing — among Arabs By Melanie Phillips
(JNS) — While Western liberals and the U.N. Human Rights Council double down in their determination to demonize, delegitimize and destroy Israel, support for that beleaguered country is coming from a surprising direction. In 2020, people were startled by the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Hope was kindled that this unprecedented linkage might herald an end to the century-old Arab war against the Jewish state. Now there are signs of a new and related phenomenon: the emergence of Arab Zionists. In the Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Sacerdoti has reported that a number of Arab influencers, with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, have emerged to promote Israel and support the Jews. Photo by Josh Hasten A Syrian blogger began a video begging the IsraeA Bahraini man chats with an Israeli at Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda outli government to “occupy” the whole of Syria to save door market, October 2021. more lives. “The Golan Heights is the only area in Syria that hasn’t been destroyed and had its people killed,” he said. man Empire, which had hitherto held political Islam in check. In another video, an Arab academic was moved to tears by visitThe godfather of Islamism was the Egyptian Sayed Qutb, founder of ing Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, promising: “Today, the Muslim Brotherhood, who drew with fanatical literal-mindedness together, Muslims Jews and Christians, we promise you, it will never upon Islamic religious texts and their theological enmity towards the happen again.” Jews. In his 1950 diatribe Our Struggle With the Jews, Qutb declared In Dubai, 39-year-old Loay Al-Shareef, who declares he is a Zionist, that the Jews were the adversary of God, conspiring to penetrate govsaid: “It’s very righteous for the Jews to have their ancestral homeland ernments all over the world to “perpetuate their evil designs” includin the land of Israel.” ing a plan to take control of all the “wealth of mankind.” Making frequent references to Jewish scripture, he added: “Jews are According to the scholar of Islam Robert Wistrich, Qutb’s invecnot colonialists or conquerors in the land of Israel because if we would tive turned anti-Semitism into the marker of Islamist movements. believe that then we would believe that David, Solomon, Isaiah and Throughout mainstream Muslim society, it made the Jews into a metaYirmiyahu and the prophets were actually colonizers, and that would phor for Western domination, immorality and a threat to the integrity kill the Islamic faith.” of Islam. It appears that something hitherto suppressed Islamism was imported by the British into ManPromoting a Nazi-style in Arab society has now been unlocked. The acdate Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s in the percords have liberated Gulf Arabs to declare their hatred of the Jews in son of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin support for Israel and the Jews, thereby openly al-Husseini. His virulent anti-Semitism merged acknowledging certain truths and realities instead the Arab world was part Islamic theological enmity towards the Jews with of the lies that their society has told itself for so Nazi racial Jew-hatred. of the Soviet plan in long. Now, however, led by the de facto ruler of Saubattling the West So how deeply does this development go? di Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman To a large extent, it’s the result of a revolt (“MBS”), the Gulf states are turning away from against the religious extremism that the Arabs themselves exported to Islamism as a losers’ charter. the rest of the Islamic world. Islamists view modernity as the lethal enemy of Islam and believe This extremism developed after World War I. When world leaders that behind modernity are the Jews. To MBS, by contrast, the Arabs carved up the Middle East following that war and the related collapse must embrace modernity because the Islamist alternative will return of the Ottoman Empire, Arab Muslims originally supported the re- them to tribal desert primitivism. And Israel is the key to modernity, as turn of the Jews to their ancestral home in Palestine. well as to protection against their common Shia Islamist foe in Tehran. In 1918, Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Of course, it’s important to keep all this in perspective. These reArabia, referred to the Jewish people as Palestine’s “original sons” re- formist Arab voices are still few in number. MBS has many enemies turning to their “sacred and beloved homeland.” who seek his literal demise. This support, however, was transformed into murderous enmity by In Britain and Europe, Muslim communities are disproportionately the rise of Islamism — extremist political Islam. This arose in the early involved in attacks on Jews. And while many Muslims shun political years of the last century as another result of the collapse of the Otto- Islam, their theology remains imbued with hatred of the Jews and the
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To Be Fair call to jihad, holy war against them. Nevertheless, these open expressions of Arab friendship towards Israel indicate a significant movement of the geopolitical tectonic plates. For the “Palestinians” are now being abandoned by their erstwhile Arab allies. Palestinianism is imbued with Islamism. This doesn’t just apply to Hamas, whose charter channels Qutb and holds the Jews responsible for all the ills of the world. It also applies to the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority, whose leader Mahmoud Abbas openly venerates the Islamist al-Husseini, who was Hitler’s ally in the Middle East and committed to a “Final Solution” of the Jews throughout the region. Yet despite these baleful facts, the West persists in its implacable belief that Israel is the problem. It’s no coincidence that this mind-twisting inversion of truth and lies is redolent of Communist brain-washing. For the Soviet Union used the Palestinian cause to subvert the West’s grasp of reason and knock it off its moral compass. In an article for Gatestone, Richard Kemp recounts how Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service who became the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet sphere, provided details of KGB operations against Israel. Pacepa says the chairman of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, told him: “We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States.” Moscow had understood how it could weaponize the “Palestinians” against the West. Andropov told Pacepa: “Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels’ occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.” To achieve its objectives, the Kremlin devised Operation SIG, a disinformation campaign intended “to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S.” But it also needed to target the West itself. It did this by transforming the Arab war of extermination against the Jewish state into something the West would support: a campaign for self-determination by the oppressed. So in the 1960s, in cahoots with Yasser Arafat — the Egyptian-born leader of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization — it created a fictitious Palestinian Arab identity. As Arafat said: “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” The culturally demoralized West — surely, the Soviet Union’s most spectacular clutch of “useful idiots” — has been totally taken in by all this. As an increasing number of Arabs realize that Israel is not their enemy but their indispensable ally, the Palestinians’ last remaining hope is the West’s obsessive animus against Israel and the Jews. The war of extermination against Israel is the unfinished business of both Nazism and communism. Yet Western Israel-bashers can’t see how Islamism has fused both these murderous systems in an onslaught not just against Israel but against the West itself. While the Arab world increasingly turns its face towards survival and the Jewish people, the West remains intent upon marching in the opposite direction. Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.
Distorting Congressional Rejection of Iron Dome Funding By Larry Brook
(This is part of an ongoing series that goes behind partisan gotchas and hot-button takes on issues — because there are enough accurate outrageous stories about the Middle East, it does no good to distort the truth for emotional reactions and erode credibility). As the Jewish community celebrated the beginning of Sukkot last fall, in Congress the Democratic leadership pulled $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, prompting a flurry of “I told you so” from Republicans and others eager to paint the Democrats as not standing behind Israel. But what really happened is a bit more complicated, especially because the Republicans weren’t going to vote for it either. According to reports, the handful of anti-Israel Squad members in the progressive Democratic wing objected to the Iron Dome funding that was part of a broader Continuing Resolution that provides stopgap funding for governmental needs before a new budget is passed. Many other items, including disaster aid and refugee assistance, were also part of the CR in question. The Squad was refusing to vote for the CR as long as the Iron Dome funding was in place. No problem, surely the Republicans were all in favor and the Squad could go sit in its corner and pout, right? The CR should have passed easily, then. Well, no. The Republicans were not going to vote for the CR at all, because of their position on not raising the government’s debt ceiling, and letting the Democrats own that when the time comes. Gotta burnish those fiscally-responsible credentials before the next election. With the Squad poised to vote the same way as the Republicans against the CR, the Democratic leadership lacked the votes to pass the CR, and gave in to Squad demands to prevent a possible government shutdown — while insisting that the Iron Dome funding will be passed soon, in a different way. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reassured Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that the funding will come, it was just delayed in a technical squabble over budgetary issues. Many Democratic Representatives tweeted their displeasure at how this transpired, with Rep. Ritchie Torres calling opposition to Iron Dome funding “morally inverted.” Republicans have been crowing that they stand firm with Israel while the Democrats give in to their antisemitic wing, but to be fair, such Republican statements are disingenuous as they weren’t going to vote to approve the funding via this CR either. Had a handful of Republicans set aside their lockstep over the debt ceiling, this funding would have passed. Later, when Iron Dome was brought up on its own, it passed, 420-9. It has since been bottled up in the Senate thanks to obstruction by Rep. Rand Paul, a Republican who insists the funds for Iron Dome should come from a reduction in allocations to Afghanistan. The Squad and their fans cheered their “victory” as a major blow against Israel, but that will also be short-lived as there is a broad consensus in Congress for supporting Iron Dome. But they scored their brownie points with their supporters. It’s just more partisan trickery in an arena that many in Israel and in the Jewish community warn against — using Israel as a partisan political gotcha tool instead of maintaining the vital bipartisan wall of support. Israel InSight • March 2020
Mainstream Western media coverage of Israel is laced with expressions intentionally crafted to delegitimize the Jewish state. By using this language, we forfeit our history and weaken our cause. The good news is that these terms weren’t written in stone 3,300 years ago, but are post-Israel Independence creations.
Ten Phrases We Need to Stop Repeating
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“The West Bank”
No, it’s not. “Judea and Samaria” are not just “biblical names,” but the names the hill country of Israel was known by from ancient times, including in the United Nation’s 1947 partition resolution, until after Transjordan invaded in 1948 (and was ousted by Israel in 1967) and named it such to disassociate its inherent Jewish connection.
“East” or “traditionally Arab East” Jerusalem
Jerusalem has been the capital of three homeland states, all Jewish, in the past 3,000 years, and has had a renewed Jewish majority since 1800s Ottoman rule. Palestinian Arabs have never ruled any part of Jerusalem. There was no such place as “East” Jerusalem until invading Jordan seized the historical heart of the city in 1948 and expelled its Jews; until then, it had never been a divided city. The eastern section of the city is where the Old City, Jewish Quarter, Temple Mount, Mount of Olives cemetery, Christian Quarter and Church of the Holy Sepulchre are located. Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest city; it’s not holy to Muslims and is not mentioned once in the Koran. Only since Israel reunified the city has there been equal rights and access to religious sites of all faiths. Say rather: Jerusalem, period.
“The U.N. sought to create Jewish and Palestinian states”
It did not. Over and over in its 1947 partition resolution, the United Nations referenced “the Jewish State” and “the Arab” [not “Palestinian”] State. There are 21 independent Arab states.
“Palestinian refugees of the war that followed Israel’s creation,” the “Palestinian refugee issue”
This suggests that an indigenous population of Arab “Palestinians” was unilaterally displaced by the 1948 five-Arab-statearmy invasion for Israel’s destruction, which encouraged and ordered local Arabs to leave. Much forgotten is that more Jews were consequently expelled from vast Arab lands they had
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lived in for many centuries (850,000 to 900,000) than Arabs left tiny Israel (650,000 to 700,000).
Israel “seized” Arab lands in 1967
It did not. Israel captured these territories in a defensive war from Arabs who vowed to destroy it. Israel has greater historic legal claims and rights to these lands.
Israel’s “1967 borders”
The 1949 Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement expressly declared the “Green Line” it drew between the two sides’ ceasefire positions as a military ceasefire line only and not a political border. The post-1967 war U.N. Resolution 242 pointedly does not demand that Israel retreat from these lines.
“Israeli-Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem”
No. The 1920 League of Nations Palestine Mandate recognized the Jewish people’s right to reconstitute its Jewish National Home in Palestine (including Judea and Samaria, and what ultimately became Jordan), and called for close settlement of the Jews on this land, where Jews have continuously lived, claiming it as their homeland, for three thousand years. It is the cradle of Jewish civilization. At worst, the legal status is disputed, not “occupied” or “Palestinian” territories.
“Jewish settlers and settlements” vs. “Palestinian residents of neighborhoods and villages.”
Jews are not alien “settlers,” implying “occupiers,” in a Jerusalem that’s had a Jewish majority since mid-19th century or in the Judea-Samaria Jewish historical heartland. Israelis living there are residents who live in cities, towns and villages. Dozens of “Arab” towns have Hebrew origins.
No, they’re not. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority who is in the 17th year of his four-year term, is proclaimed
by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin
by the media to be a “moderate,” yet he demands Israel’s retreat to the 1949 ceasefire lines; removal of Jews from Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem, while demanding a “right of return” for millions of Arabs into a shrunken Israel. He rejects “two states for two peoples;” refuses to permit normalization between Jews and Arabs; will not permit a Jew to live on any “Palestinian land,” thus calling for a Judenrein state. He preaches a culture of hatred and death to Jews in mosques, schools, camps and media; names streets, squares, buildings for their so-called shahids (“martyrs”) who have killed Israelis in terrorist attacks; refuses to stop the “pay to slay” program of paying Palestinian Arabs to kill Israelis by rewarding the killers and their families with lifetime pensions, thus incentivizing the murder of Jews; shuns peace talks with Israel and has been uncooperative with U.S. mediators; repeatedly moves to delegitimize Israel within U.N. bodies; and allows death sentences to those who would sell land to Jews.
During the British Mandate, “Palestinian” typically referred to Palestine’s Jews. The U.N.’s 1947 partition resolution called Palestine’s Jews and its Arabs “the two Palestinian peoples.” Palestinian Arabs — who ancestrally, culturally, linguistically and religiously are akin to neighboring regional Arabs — began claiming exclusive “Palestinian peoplehood” only in the 1960s. Post-1967 War U.N. Resolution 242 does not mention “Palestinians.” Most Palestinian Arabs cannot trace their own lineage to the land back more than four generations. Lee Bender is the co-author of the book, “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z,” author of dozens of published articles, co-founder of the website www.factsonisrael.com and co-president of the Zionist Organization of America-Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Jerome R. Verlin, a former VP of ZOA-Greater Philadelphia Chapter, is the author of the book, “Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine,” co-author of “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z” and co-founder of www.factsonisrael.com.
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Fight Pillay’s Pogrom Ever wondered how you can stand up for Israel? Here’s an important opportunity on the world stage By Anne Bayefsky
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
The so-called U.N. “Human Rights” Council has initiated an anti-Is- Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses a press conference. rael venture to outdo the legions of all U.N. anti-Israel schemes ever devised. Deceitfully labeled a “Commission of Inquiry,” it is headed of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights will be created to by former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, South African target and pursue Jews who defend and inhabit the Jewish state — in Navi Pillay. In short, the U.N. has launched Pillay’s Pogrom. the name of equality and human rights. It is imperative not to underestimate the antisemitic path of deThere are three members of the “inquiry,” all of whom have been struction that Pillay and her partners intend to pave. Given her history carefully selected precisely because they fail to satisfy U.N. rules supand the diabolical format of the new “inquiry,” all those who truly care posedly requiring “independence,” “impartiality” and “objectivity.” about combating modern antisemitism need to respond. In practice, Pillay is the world’s leading champion of the 2001 UN Durban conthe “inquiry” itself has issued a “Call for Submissions” and answering ference’s antisemitic mantra that the Jewish state is a racist state. As this call provides such an opportunity. High Commissioner during the 2008-09 and 2014 Gaza wars, Pillay The U.N. initially marketed the “inquiry” as a means to address last played a pivotal role in promoting the Goldstone report and the outraspring’s conflict between Israel and Hamas. In May, the terrorist or- geous slander that Israel targeted and murdered children and the most ganization Hamas launched rocket attacks against vulnerable. Since leaving office, she’s made a habIsrael from residential areas in Gaza. During 11 days it of promoting BDS and accusing Israel of apartheid. The U.N. is trying of fighting, Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets and The two other members of her hit squad are Milto stack the deck mortars into Israel. In response, Israel initiated “Oplon Kothari and Chris Sidoti, both with public reeration Guardian of the Walls” to restore peace and cords of anti-Israel extremism and Palestinian paragainst Israel. It’s security, and to defend and protect the human rights tisanship. important to add of Israelis. Palestinian leaders deliberately placed The result of this witch hunt is a foregone concluPalestinian civilians in harm’s way, using them as husion. The urgent need arises, therefore, to shake its your cards to the mix foundations, and to challenge its veracity and legitiman shields. Palestinian terrorists, however, weren’t aiming for macy. Making a submission can do just that. an illusory military victory. Their sights were set on the U.N. Despite Moreover, submissions will matter not only to Israel and the Jewish the U.N.’s routine approach of ignoring or slow-walking responses to people, but to a great many others. They will matter for all those concolossal atrocities, the U.N. Human Rights Council met in a special cerned about the falsification of international law, the criminalization session on May 27, six days after a ceasefire was concluded. At the of self-defense, and the incendiary consequences of joining antisemsession, held at the behest of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ites in their quest to fabricate racial and religious oppression at the and the “State of Palestine,” they adopted a resolution creating the “in- hands of Jews. quiry,” aka Pillay’s Pogrom. Not a single Western democracy voted in Stand up to #PillaysPogrom. Write now. favor of the resolution. Anne Bayefsky is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights The resolution doesn’t mention Hamas, or rockets, or any civiland the Holocaust, and president of Human Rights Voices. ians but Palestinians. Instead, it sets up a mechanism to destroy the modern Jewish state by criminalizing its self-defense and ravishing its economy. Submissions: The “Inquiry” has officially issued a “Call for SubParticularly insidious and inflammatory is the “inquiry’s” primary missions.” Here are the basics for doing your part to delegitimize purpose: to delegitimize the Jewish state by characterizing it as guilty the delegitimizers and to play an important role in combating of “systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethmodern antisemitism. nic, racial or religious identity.” The mandate and structure of the “inDeadline: The inquiry’s first report is due to be published in quiry” have been designed to rewrite history from 1948, to find Israel June. Submissions should be made as soon as possible — don’t wait guilty of apartheid and to declare the “root causes” of “conflict” to be until May or June. Jewish infringement of Muslim rights. The plan is for (false) claims of How many submissions: The more, the better. If they overlap, racism to validate and unleash criminal prosecutions of Israelis and that is not a problem. demands upon “third states” and “business enterprises” to boycott, Who should submit: Individuals, organizations and even legdivest and sanction Israel. islators. Victims of modern antisemitism, victims of Palestinian The budget for this enterprise is a wild grab for an unprecedented terror, victims of Arab rejection of a Jewish state, students and amount of cash and human resources — shockingly, with no end date. teachers, campus groups, Jewish organizations, synagogue groups, Millions upon millions of dollars will be charged to the U.N.’s reguchurch groups, interfaith groups, Birthright alum, day-school stular budget, and therefore passed on to every taxpayer, of every U.N. dents, legal experts, political scientists, historians, people from all member state, every year, in perpetuity. A whopping 18 to 24 people walks of life. There are no pre-qualifications. are to be hired as permanent staff. An in-house legal team in the Office
How To Submit
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Five Topics of Inquiry
The “Inquiry” has a list of five acceptable topics for submissions. They are deliberately vast in scope and are listed below. Suggestions for submissions for each are listed underneath. They are just ideas and not intended to be limiting or determinative in any way: Underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict in and between the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel; as well as systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity Suggestions: True accounts of the myriad dimensions of the history of the conflict. The enduring historical and spiritual realities of the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Palestinian antisemitism. Systematic Palestinian/Arab discrimination and Palestinian/Arab repression or attempted repression based on non-Muslim religious or non-Arab ethnic or racial identity. Refutations of the apartheid lie. What makes modern antisemitism clearly different from legitimate criticism of Israel (as any other state). Protraction of conflict by surrogates and defenders of Palestinian terrorists, revisionists, rejectionists and violent antisemites operating in politics, schools, media and non-governmental organizations around the world. The recurrence or cycle explained (hatred of Jews—hatred of the Jewish state—violence directed at the Jewish state—Jewish self-defense—more Jew-hatred).
nals; members of Palestinian terrorist organizations; the promoters of antisemitic hate in traditional and social media; payors and recipients of Palestinian funds under “pay-to-slay” rules; inciters of terrorism and violence; child educators teaching hate; parents who send their children into harm’s way; members of NGOs engaged in systemic antisemitism, or incitement to violence or terror; organizers and members of groups using Israel as a cover for antisemitism; Palestinian officials or representatives (elected or chosen) engaged in sponsoring, funding, inciting and otherwise supporting antisemitism, religious and racial intolerance, violence and terror, and the rejection of a Jewish state. Recommendations on accountability measures, with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility Suggestions: Instances of the unaccountability of Palestinians and their governing entities. The wrongfulness of turning those responsible for self-defense into criminals. The rules of international humanitarian law and their proper application to this conflict. How Israel’s legal system promotes accountability. Why discriminatory U.N. apparatus does not and will not promote accountability in this conflict. Accountability measures for ending the spread of modern antisemitism and impunity for fueling antisemitic violence.
Recommendations on measures to be taken by third States to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem Suggestions: The antisemitic character of BDS and the illegality of endorsing it. Recommendations for measures by third states to terminate legitimization and financing of Palestinian terrorist organizations and their NGO enablers and accomplices, wherever they are based. Measures third states, as funders and supporters of the United NaIdentification of those responsible Suggestions: The identification and naming of: Palestinian crimi- tions, can take to rebuff disrespect for international humanitarian law by and through the United Nations at the bidding of Israel’s enemies. Facts and circumstances regarding alleged violations of international humanitarian law and alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law leading up to and since 13 April 2021 Suggestions: The experiences of the full range of victims of Palestinian terror and incitement. Legal accounts or demonstrations of the panoply of unlawful Palestinian acts.
Tips for Submissions:
Be sure to start your submission by referring to one or more of the five italicized topics listed in the U.N.’s formal “Call for Submissions,” so they have no excuse to rule your work “outside the mandate.” Make your case in reasoned terms, with sources as appropriate. Any length will do. Even a single page. The work need not be new. An existing or pre-published work can be submitted as long as it is introduced as clearly connected to one or more of the five italicized topics listed and why. Provide a brief statement as to who you are. Don’t rely on the U.N.’s assurances about privacy or assume confidentiality. Write what you would be fine with putting out into the world. And there’s a lot we want to put out into the world.
Where to Send:
Submissions should be sent both: by email to the UN Secretariat firstname.lastname@example.org by the “cloud” at https://owncloud.unog.ch/s/eYqkCWdqgMUqFTs Further, we recommend sending the submission itself, or a notification of having made a submission, to Human Rights Voices at http:// www.humanrightsvoices.org/site/contact/ The UN Inquiry has astonishingly stated that “acknowledgements of receipt of information will not be sent to the author(s).” To ensure there is a record of your submission, we are recommending that you keep a copy of your sent email, and send the submission, or the notification thereof, also to Human Rights Voices.
and affect the reception and impact of the report. Proactive steps are required to ensure that your voice is heard. These can include: holding a news conference or publishing a press release announcing your submission; turning it into an op-ed; publishing it online or elsewhere; using it as the basis of a webinar, seminar, meeting or conference; using the substance and process for an array of social media activities. Furthermore, U.N. actors and anti-Israel organizations will mount a sustained campaign hyping the “inquiry’s” report, particularly its first reports to the Human Rights Council in June 2022 and the General Assembly in the fall of 2022, and demanding implementation. You, too, can prepare for this onslaught with news conferences, press releases, interviews and social media campaigns.
Have you ever asked yourself what you can do to improve the welfare of the Jewish people and its state? To do something to protect the human rights of the men, women and children of Israel against seven decades of violent antisemitism? To fight back against the appropriation and degradation of educational facilities, commercial institutions and democratic bulwarks around the world by the promoters of tension, instability and the protraction of the Arab-Israeli conflict? To contribute to peaceful coexistence between Israel and its Arab neighbors? To challenge the use and abuse of the U.N. to promote impunity and unaccountability for systematic discrimination against Jews and repression based on Jewish identity? Making Your Voice Heard: And to do so without funding or travel or networks? You cannot assume that your submission will be read or noticed in Defy #PillaysPogrom. Write now. the “Inquiry’s” report. But you can reach the court of public opinion Israel InSight • Preview Issue
OUR Israel STORY
From Africa to America:
Love in their hearts, Israel in their souls By Richard Friedman
It is a story that spans three countries, two faiths, the Bible and contemporary history. Most of all it is a love story — between two young Black leaders, one American and one African — whose common love for Israel has deepened their relationship, lifted them higher and placed them in venues where they each are making a big impact. There is a Hebrew word, “beshert,” which means “meant to be.” If ever there was a marriage — and a partnership — that was beshert, it is the one that has connected the lives of South African Olga Meshoe and California native Joshua Washington. Not only are they among the growing number of Christians who have embraced their Jewish roots, animated by a love and reverence for the Jewish people and Israel, they are playing key roles in ucating American Jewish teens on Zionism and the nuances of the organizations dedicated to providing the truth about Israel, combat- Middle East conflict. ing anti-Semitism and cutting through the propaganda used today to Zionism is the belief that Jews have a right to a sovereign country defame the Jewish state. in their Biblical homeland. “My day-to-day work is Israel. It includes For the two of them, their sweet spot — the space where they focus educating Jewish teens about their Jewish identity and facts regarding the bulk of their activity and influence — is educating the Black com- the Middle East, and how to be proud of their identity,” explains Olga. munity, be it in the U.S., Africa or wherever they feel that Blacks are That she is an African Christian in this role is not lost on her. being manipulated and misled by Israel’s enemies. “The thing I am most excited about as an ‘outsider‘ to the Jewish comTo know Olga and Joshua is to be energized. In their 30s and early munity is connecting these young people with other pro-Israel people 40s, they not only expertly talk the talk when it comes to befriending such as myself.” and defending Israel, they also passionately and courageously walk the walk when it comes to aligning themselves with the Jewish state and Standing Steadfast the Jewish people. Though Olga and Joshua grew up in homes that were dedicated Olga is an attorney and businesswoman, Joshua has built a career in to supporting Israel, standing steadfast with the Jewish people, and the music business. But it is their dedication to Israel that has taken affirming Genesis 12:3, a directive from God to bless Israel and the them beyond their careers and transformed them into powerful allies Jewish people, their emergence as activists evolved over time. and ambassadors for the Jewish people and Israel. “For me it started in college,” remembers Joshua. “My father was Joshua is a driving force behind the growing influence of the Insti- very outspoken but not really until my freshman year of college in tute for Black Solidarity with Israel. This is an ed2009 did I know anything about the modern state ucation and media initiative to build support for We knew what apartheid of Israel. People at my college, University of the Israel and the Jewish people in the African-Amerwere doing this fundraiser for children in really was, and because Pacific, ican community and among Africans living in the Gaza who were suffering because of ‘Israel’s siege we had suffered under U.S. of Gaza’.” Olga is affiliated with DEISI International, an Recalls Joshua, “This didn’t feel right to me. it, (we) had a moral organization that does educational work and But I didn’t know anything other than God chose responsibility to stand promotes ties between the African countries and Israel for the Jews and they have returned there. up for the truth” Israel. DEISI stands for “Defend Embrace Invest I immediately felt this feeling inside of me but (In) Support Israel.” didn’t know what to say or do. So I started readIn a sense they each have gone into the “family business,” because ing, talking to my dad, becoming involved with Christians United for both are working for organizations started by their fathers. Dumisani Israel, and hearing Jewish and Christian speakers. It was so powerful Washington is a well-known advocate for Israel, and Rev. Kenneth and it resonated with me.” Meshoe, a South African parliament member, is one of Black Africa’s Israel and Egypt have controlled access to Gaza since 2007 to leading pro-Israel voices. thwart the terrorist group Hamas, which took over the area that year. Olga also is a the national director for programming and engageAlong with Joshua’s awakening came “making friends with Israelis, ment for Club Z, an organization that seeks to cultivate the next gen- debating people, and getting to see what a disinformation campaign eration of proud, articulate and active American Jewish leaders by ed- against Israel really looks like.” Joshua’s Facebook page is testimony to
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
the fierceness of his pro-Israel and pro-Jewish feelings today, his creativity and passion, and his almost round the clock efforts to educate and enlist his fellow Blacks in a cause that has become so important to him. An Israeli operation in Gaza, “Protective Edge” in 2014, also galvanized Olga’s activism. Her father was known throughout Africa for his Israel work, and in 2013 he came back to South Africa from a trip to the U.S. very upset. The trip had provided him with a deeper understanding of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, an anti-Israel initiative to weaken, isolate and ultimately destroy the Jewish state. Part of the BDS narrative accuses Israel of being an “apartheid state,” falsely comparing the country’s treatment of Palestinians to South Africa’s oppression in the past of its Black population. This really angered Olga’s father, who grew up under apartheid, as well as Olga, both of whom felt that Israel was being libeled by an ignorant and malicious comparison. For Olga, this was the turning point that ignited what would become her formidable activism. “We as Black people, because we knew what apartheid really was and because we had suffered under it, had a moral responsibility to stand up for the truth.” Her public debut and emergence as someone willing to defend Israel began in 2014 when she spoke at a large pro-Israel rally in Johannesburg during Operation Protective Edge. Her speech went viral, she became known in pro-Israel circles and developed friendships with members of the South African Jewish community. “The more I learned and the more I spoke up, the more my passion and visibility grew.” As for how their powerful pro-Israel messages resonate with other Blacks, Olga said “Joshua and I speak wherever we can. It is easier to talk to friends, though I am always up for arguments or debates. The response tends to be ‘Oh wow, we didn’t know that’ when it comes to such topics as relations between Jews and Blacks, and Israel’s role in Africa.“ Still, there is a lot of work to be done. “We have been called sellouts and slaves. We don’t care what people call us,” says Olga. “The pro-Palestinian side has courted Black people with manipulation and falsely linking Black struggles with the Palestinian cause. We show that this is a lie, and they are being manipulated. If the audience is open to learning, there are a lot of ‘aha moments’ that happen.”
Olga, Joshua and their young children are now based in the Southern U.S. Olga is far from Africa though Africa is never far from Olga. It is in her head — and heart — constantly, and is especially woven into her Israel work. Deepening understanding and appreciation of Israel’s past contributions to Africa, and the potential for an even stronger, mutually beneficial relationship in the future are cornerstones of Olga’s efforts. “Israel and Africa have been friends since antiquity. Then in the 1950s and 1960s, Israel was arguably the number one friend for Africa, providing support and training in areas such as agriculture, water, health, medicine and security,” explains Olga. “Because of pressure by the Arab world, these countries were forced to cut their ties with Israel, and that caused relations to hit a lull.” Today, she says happily, there has been a “reawakening” with countries throughout the African continent embracing Israel and welcoming the involvement of Israelis in multiple areas. In turn, these reawakened relationships with Africa have been a boost to Israel, especially in the diplomatic arena, she notes. “Israel is making an effort to re-engage in Africa, and more and more people are speaking up for Israel. The continent also has increasing needs and is looking to Israel for solutions.” Of course, for Biblically-inspired Christians such as Olga, this Africa-Israel reawakening has a spiritual dimension. “In establishing relations with Israel, we are going to attract the blessings of God,” Olga believes, referring to Genesis 12:3. Olga reminds others that conditions in democratic African states began to noticeably deteriorate in the 1970s after African countries cut their ties with Israel. “We attracted the curse of God,” she says. How did these two meet? Olga and Joshua met the new old-fashioned way — virtually. With their fathers involved in the same work, Joshua reached out to Olga through Facebook. Yes, they had common interests, but equally important, Joshua admits smiling, he thought Olga was cute. She wasn’t interested at first, but the persistent Californian hung in there and things eventually clicked. Fittingly, a turning point was their involvement in a Christians United for Israel initiative. In fact, there is only one word to describe their coming together: Beshert. It was meant to be.
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What is happening on our campuses? The student government at Duke University agreed to again recognize Students Supporting Israel during their recent meeting, the school’s paper The Chronicle reported. In November of last year, the Duke Student Government approved SSI’s application to be a registered campus club at Duke University. Five days later, on Nov. 17, DSG president and senior Christina Wang vetoed SSI’s recognition, saying SSI “singled out an individual student on their organization’s social media account in a way that was unacceptable for any student group.” The group had responded to a student’s tweet that disapproved of SSI’s acceptance, which said “My school promotes settler colonialism.” In response, SSI said “please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever… These types of false narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn.” That response was the rationale for withdrawing recognition, and the student government’s 50 senators voted 37 to 3 to uphold the veto, with 10 senators abstaining. However, SSI was able to reapply through the Student Organization Finance Committee. On Feb. 23, the senators approved SSI’s recognition unanimously, with some abstaining.
Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli Defense Forces general, is a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center this semester. Naturally, anti-Israel groups are not amused. During the first session of the study group about Israeli national security, members of Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine rallied outside the classroom. They pressed posters against the classroom windows, with such slogans as “This ‘Teacher’ Upheld Israeli Apartheid,” and handed flyers to students leaving the class, urging them to stop attending. The students criticized Harvard for “platforming” someone they consider a “war criminal.” Yadlin spent 33 years as a fighter pilot during his 40-year IDF career. The same Harvard group has also protested the availability of Sabra hummus, which is co-owned by Pepsi and Israel’s Strauss Group.
The University of Chicago’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter did an Instagram post urging fellow students not to take “sh**ty Zionist classes,” saying they are “vehicles to spread Zionist propaganda.” Classes to be avoided are about Israel, or taught by Israeli lecturers, and those in the classes are complicit “in the continuation of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” according to the group. The posts single out professors by name. In response, the university issued a statement that they are comJewish groups have apparently rebuffed efmitted to being welcoming of all groups, and oppose “antisemitism, forts to condemn the International Holocaust anti-Palestinian bias, and other forms of bias that are incompatible Remembrance Alliance’s working definition with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.” of antisemitism at the University of Texas. StandWithUs criticized the response as a bizarre moral equivalency, In March 2021, the University of Texas stuas the university had previously inserted criticism of anti-Palestinian dent government adopted the definition, which has been adopted by bias in another incident of SJP hostility toward Israel and Jewish studozens of countries and at least 30 universities. It is an advisory on dents. what could constitute antisemitism and has no legal force. In February, the UT Palestine Solidarity Committee and some stuThe Jewish Student Union at State Unident government representatives wrote a resolution condemning the versity of New York New Paltz wrote a letdefinition as restraining free speech and Palestinian activism. The sections of IHRA that deal with Israel state that typical criticism ter they wish they did not have to, after New of Israel can not be considered antisemitism if it is consistent with the Paltz Accountability, a group for survivors of sexual assault, kicked type of criticism leveled at other countries. Demonizing Israel, com- out two Jewish members who were found to be supportive of Israel’s paring it to Nazi Germany and rejecting its right to exist, however, existence, which New Paltz Accountability referred to as “colonialism.” The Jewish Student Union members wrote that “NPA has isolated cross the line, an many pro-Palestinian groups routinely do so. The Palestinian group’s resolution prompted a response by Jewish Jewish survivors of sexual assault and their allies, and has, ironically, groups on campus, resulting in a petition that garnered over 3,000 sig- made it so that Jewish survivors no longer have a place to turn to.” They also reject the response by the university president, who called natures. The university administration said that if that resolution had the situation “complex.” They replied, “This was visceral hatred directpassed, they would disassociate from the resolution. Maiya Edelson, executive director of Texas Hillel, said “Texas Hillel ed at a person solely because of their identity. We suspect that if this is proud of the students who organized and advocated on this issue, was regarding any other people group, then clearer terms would have articulating how antisemitism manifests in their lives on campus and been used. But as usual, when it comes to the Jews, all we ever get is addressing the challenge the resolution presented for Jewish students half-measures and empty rhetoric.” head-on.” Seattle philanthropist Becky Benaroya gave a $5 million donation to the University of Washington to bolster Israel education. Now, What is happening on your campus? she has demanded her money back and her name removed, as Liora Halperin, the profesControversy? Celebration? Confrontation? sor holding the chair, has signed on to statements accusing Israel of being settler-colonialLet us know! ist, and refers repeatedly to “Israel/Palestine” in Email: email@example.com the curriculum.
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
Pro-Israel students from 30 university campuses across the United States and Canada gathered at Columbia University in New York City for the Students Supporting Israel conference. Source: Facebook.
Pro-Israel student group marks decade of explosive growth
By Mike Wagenheim
to wake up when something bad happens. Statements aren’t good (JNS) — Looking back a decade later, it seems like a significant $25 enough. We need to bring own resolutions to student government, like the 25 we’ve had passed so far across the country. And thirdly, we investment. Unsettled by the inflammatory anti-Israel activity they were wit- need to be visible, like with counter-protests during rounds of violence nessing on the campus of the University of Minnesota, three Israeli with Gaza,” he said. The SSI resolutions that have been passed have called for the supcollege students decided on some counter-measures in March 2012. “We just went through Israel Apartheid Week, which is hosted by port of Israel through investment in the Jewish state, increased study Students for Justice in Palestine. They had a big ‘apartheid wall,’ stu- abroad programs in Israel, promotion of Israel, countering the BDS dents dropping to the ground, supposedly to represent dead Palestin- movement and calling for the adoption of the International Holoians. We found the best way to fight back,” Ilan Sinelnikov, co-founder caust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. Other SSI achievements include defeating three separate anti-Israel student govand president of Students Supporting Israel, told JNS. Sinelnikov, Valeria Chazin and Naor Bitton formed a student or- ernment proposals. Some experts say the Israeli government was too slow to recognize ganization with a $25 registration fee. SSI has grown from that single Minneapolis chapter into a behemoth of Israel advocacy. In 2014, and prepare for the battleground that college campuses would become SSI members received invitations to speak at the Israeli consulate in in the narrative war between Israel and the Palestinians. Sinelnikov Chicago, where they met other students, gave a presentation on how said that too many saw organizations like SJP as an unserious problem — essentially, just students yelling. This, Sinelnikov to pass student government resolutions and urged and others believe, was a crucial mistake which put them to start a club on their own campuses. DePaul About one-third of Israel at a disadvantage in shaping the minds of the University in Chicago became the second SSI chapfuture. SSI members aren’t ter, followed by more clubs across the Midwest, in“The American Jewish community is strong. cluding in Kansas and Iowa. Jewish, including many When you reach the top, you tend to not notice SSI is now active on nearly 200 American college problems on the grassroots level. Those [SJP] stuchapter presidents campuses from coast to coast, along with five clubs dents that were screaming now hold key positions in Canada and another in Buenos Aires. It has bein government, in corporations. American Jews didn’t empower it, but come the largest registered pro-Israel movement on college campuses, with nearly 1,000 members and close to 400 alumni, many of whom they didn’t stop it. We all came from Israel. We didn’t know the playare going on to work in the Israel advocacy arena and the Jewish world, ers. We just saw this big problem on campus,” said Sinelnikov. In fact, SSI has reached down into the high school ranks, starting including for Hasbara Fellowships, Hillel branches, Jewish Federaa few clubs at that level, and leading what the organization deems to tions, Jewish National Fund and elsewhere. “The main reason for our staying power is that we never started it be age-appropriate conversations on a difficult, sensitive subject. And, because we wanted to make it our profession. We were so fed up with leadership says, it has made growth on social media a priority. “We have seriously picked up our engagement on Facebook. We the situation on campus. Arriving from Israel and seeing the injustice now have over 1,000 followers on Instagram. People reach out to us, gave us the drive to push one extra step. If we need to protest at 6 a.m., and we’ve grown from an organization to a platform for students to whatever it is, we will always do the extra step,” said Sinelnikov. Every chapter, according to SSI’s mission, has as its overarching goal be able to file complaints about professors who are making pro-Israel to be a clear, confident pro-Israel voice. SSI leadership assists potential students uncomfortable on campus,” Romy Ronen, president of SSI’s new clubs through the application process at each school, along with Columbia University branch, told JNS. Ronen added, “I look at the first two weeks of this school year and the development of a constitution, and conducts calls with club leaders. “We do try to give clubs some freedom in what they do. They know never saw complaints at this level. We’ve improved and grown, but it’s what’s best for their campus, and we promote good ideas from clubs really frustrating when [university] administrations, the general campus communities and the public doesn’t listen. Most times, antisemion the national level,” said Sinelnikov. tism isn’t considered, because it is seen as political.” The SSI co-founder stresses three main missions for each club. SSI is planning to officially celebrate its 10th anniversary in Au“Firstly, we are not just a Jewish organization. We are open to anyone on campus. That’s very important to us. We don’t even hold meetings gust in Atlanta during the organization’s 6th annual conference. As in Chabad or Hillel houses on campus,” said Sinelnikov, emphasizing the milestone approaches, Sinelnikov said he’s perhaps most proud the need to draw from a wide range of students. SSI says that approxi- that SSI is the only pro-Israel group started by students that has gone mately 30 percent of its members are not Jewish, including some club mainstream. “We believe SSI will be an important branch of the Zionist world, to presidents, especially at universities where there isn’t a large Jewish make sure that Zionism doesn’t turn into taboo, into a bad word,” he community. “Secondly, be proactive. The pro-Israel community only tends said. “If students aren’t getting our message, they’ll hear it from SJP.” Israel InSight • Preview Issue
“A personal journey”
New Israeli ambassador’s first U.S. trip is pilgrimage to Southern civil rights sites By Larry Brook
For his first United States tour after being named Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Gilad Erdan said he wanted to make a “personal journey, listening and learning about the history and the incredible contribution of the African American community to this country.” That led him to tour Charleston, S.C., and Montgomery and Selma during a three-day visit in February 2021. “You can go visit museums and read books, but it won’t be the same as when you really hear the personal stories of people and their ancestors,” he said. His visit was coordinated by the Philos Project, which “aims to promote positive Christian engagement in the Near East.” In its announcement of the visit, the Philos Project said it is “honored to host the Ambassador and is eager to help usher in a positive relationship between Israel and the African American community,” and their goal was to bring Erdan “face to face with individuals who are on the ground making positive changes within the African American community.” In addition to Erdan, officials from the Philos Project and Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon from the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta were part of the delegation. The journey began in Charleston, as Erdan visited the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a white supremacist killed nine people who were in a Bible study class in 2015. “I was moved to hear about the community’s resilience following the terrible shooting” and how they offered support after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in 2018, Erdan said. The church and the local Jewish community still do joint programs. Among the stops in Charleston was the McLeod Plantation Historic Site, where Erdan toured slave cabins and was especially struck by the impressions of child-size fingerprints in bricks that were made by enslaved children. “No one should suffer such inhumanity, anywhere, anytime,” he reflected. At Magnolia Plantation, guide Joseph McGill responded to a question from Erdan by saying the slaves there “persevered so we could be here today and live the lives they couldn’t live, and tell the stories they couldn’t tell. We are their voices.” South Carolina Senator Tim Scott welcomed Erdan to Charleston, and Mayor John Tecklenburg presented the ambassador with the key to the city, in a gesture of friendship and as a pledge of hope and future collaboration.” There were gatherings where many African American leaders in Charleston spoke of their personal stories, and Erdan said a highlight was learning from Aunt Pearlie Sue, a Gullah-Geechee storyteller, who sang and spoke about the history of slavery and the struggle for freedom. “We have a lot in common,” Erdan said. “They too, like us, were persecuted and murdered, and their rights were denied for many years. I looked in their eyes when they told me how their family suffered and I saw their deep pain, and today I understand better their ongoing struggle for equality.” He then continued to Alabama, where In he walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the site of civil rights confrontations in 1965 that ultimately led to the Selma to Montgomery march. “The
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Ambassador Gilad Erdan talks with David Jackson of the Philos Project while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the 1965 Bloody Sunday civil rights demonstrations.
events that took place on this bridge have inspired countless people in Israel and everywhere around the world. They have inspired me,” he said. Selma Mayor James Perkins thanked Erdan for his visit, saying that while he thinks the visit is helping him, he was also helping Selma by bringing attention to Selma’s story. He urged, “Let’s continue this conversation. It is a very important one.” Robert Nicholson, president of the Philos Project, said one can’t understand America without understanding American history, and one can’t understand American history without Black history, and one can’t understand Black history without Selma. In Selma, Erdan said the Jewish and African American communities have a lot in common, “as a community that holds the words of the Bible so close to its heart, and have experienced extreme persecution and prejudice over many centuries, but remained resilient and most importantly, hopeful.” He also met with Ronnie Leet, coordinator of the Selma Jewish community that is now down to three members who are working to preserve their 121-year-old historic synagogue building. In Montgomery, stops included the Rosa Parks Museum, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Lynching Memorial. Erdan said the trip “moved me profoundly, and I hope it will allow me to better engage with the community and build stronger ties on behalf of the state of Israel.” His goal was “to listen, learn and connect with all parts of American society, and I believe that God guides us to these points in our lives.” He recalled his Bar Mitzvah Torah portion, which included the section where God created humanity in his image. “The understanding that all people are created equal has guided me through my life.” He added, “Uniting Jews and Black Americans and getting to know one another better will empower the holy struggle against racism and hatred.” During the visits, Erdan also met with Governors Henry McMaster of South Carolina and Kay Ivey of Alabama, discussing “ways to increase cooperation between Israel and their great states.” Ivey told him that since she visited Israel several years ago, “my Christmas and Easter celebrations have more meaning than ever.” Erdan became Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in January 2021, adding to his continuing role as ambassador to the United Nations, which he assumed the previous September. He has since stepped down from the U.S. role to focus on the U.N.
Independence and Hope
From Dr. King’s Montgomery church to the Israeli Embassy By Richard Friedman
A Montgomery powerhouse took center stage last April as the Israeli embassy in Washington hosted a virtual celebration for Israel’s 73rd Independence Day. Wanda Howard Battle, well-known African-American Christian vocalist and church tour Wanda Howard Battle of Montgomery recorded the “Star Spangled Banner” and leader, was invited to sing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s na- “Hatikvah” on the pulpit at Temple Beth Or. She was accompanied by violinist Clare tional anthem, after meeting Israel’s ambassador Weil, a Temple Beth Or member who serves as president of the Montgomery County to the United States, Gilad Erdan, during his trip Board of Education and was in the Montgomery Symphony for 27 years. to Montgomery. She also sang America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “I was blessed to guide Ambassador Erdan and his delegation of The Right Place Recording the Israeli national anthem in a synagogue was emotional about 12 people at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church,” explained Battle, who is famous for her spiritually and musically in- for this Montgomery dynamo. Though she had been to the synagogue, vigorating tours of the historic church where Dr. Martin Luther King she had never sung there. “It was very special. When asked where I would want to videotape this presentation, I knew the synagogue was Jr. preached. “We had an amazing time with the ambassador reciting an excerpt the right place.” Her connection to the ambassador and invitation to sing as part of from Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and singing ‘This Little Light the Embassy’s celebration have heighted her appreciation for the simof Mine’ and ‘Oh Freedom’.” The singer-tour leader’s warmth, charisma and talent made an im- ilarities between the struggles that Jews and African-Americans have pression on the ambassador because about a week later she was invit- endured. “We share a story of oppression and suppression. We each have struggled for acceptance and being appreciated for who we are.” ed to sing at the Embassy’s celebration. For this Montgomery vocalist, Israel’s national anthem also commu“I told the event coordinator that the invitation to sing ‘Hatikvah’ was like asking a White person to sing the Black national anthem. She nicates a universal message: “For 73 years, Israel has been recognized replied, ’Ms. Wanda, in us considering the work that you do and your as an independent nation. The message is that there always is hope.” The words to Hatikvah were written in 1886 by poet Naphtali Herz message for people around the world to embrace one another’s diverImber — 62 years before Israel’s rebirth as a modern Jewish state. sity, we thought it was very appropriate to ask you!’” Battle, in a recent Zoom chat, noted with emotion that “Hatikvah,“ Wrote Imber, “Our hope is not yet lost, It is two thousand years old, To be a free people in our land, The land of Zion and Jerusalem.” which is Hebrew, means “The Hope.” She leaped at the opportunity. Battle was a young girl during the Civil Rights era. Her parents were “My heart knew it was appropriate and the right time. I said ‘Yes, I am honored’.” The anthems were pre-recorded at Montgomery’s Tem- involved in the Movement, serving as role models for her. As she came ple Beth Or on the bimah in front of the ark engraved with Hebrew of age, her odyssey took her elsewhere. She eventually returned to letters, an experience Battle found powerful. It was important to her Montgomery, where she made her mark. In a 2019 profile on her journey, singing and church tours, Montto be in a Jewish setting when she made the recording. Tzlil McDonald, then the executive director of the Jewish Federation gomery Advertiser reporter Safiya Charles captured Battle’s uniqueof Central Alabama, called Battle “a gem of Montgomery.” Animated ness: “Battle stands as tall as a giant before the visitors seated in the by her magnetic personality and sustained by an endless fountain of sanctuary of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Battle has love, Battle devotes her life to connecting with people of all faiths and just explained that the ceiling above the pulpit where Dr. Martin Lubackgrounds, believing that we all are beautiful threads in the tapestry ther King Jr. preached fiery sermons that would ignite Montgomery’s black gentry and fuel the Civil Rights Movement is made of tin emof humanity. McDonald feels that because of Montgomery’s rich Civil Rights bossed tiles. The detail seems slight, until Battle bursts into operatic history and landmarks, that strong ties between the Black and Jew- song, her voice doing somersaults through the aisles.” As Israel’s Independence Day approached, Battle said she never ish communities and an understanding of their respective struggles is important for both groups. She introduced Battle to Temple Beth Or’s could have imagined being asked to sing as part of the celebration. “There are many vocalists more accomplished and better-known Rabbi Scott Looper. Being Israeli, McDonald also helped Battle with her Hebrew. “The than me,” she said as tears of joy began flowing from her eyes. “That first time she sang I was very impressed. It was very powerful to hear I have been asked leads me to believe that God has called me for this her sing ‘Hatikvah.’ She studied the words so she could feel the music. moment. I intend to use it to honor Israel and the Jewish people and It was very important to her to send the message of hope, especially spread the message of love for all humanity — and especially the message of hope!” after meeting the ambassador.” Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Using bacteria to attack single-use plastics By Yael Mor
(Israel21c) — Every year, more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide, and around half of the produced materials are designed for single-use purposes. In fact, more plastic has been produced over the last decade than throughout the whole last century. Its inexpensive cost, its rigid and flexible properties, and its wide versatility have facilitated and normalized a culture conditioned to waste, thereby degrading and polluting the environment. Thus far, mechanical and chemical recycling have been the default responses to deal with plastic in its end-of-life stages. However, while popular methods like heat compression (thermo-mechanical recycling) can recycle all forms of plastic, they are energy intensive and can impair the integrity of the polymer molecules before being shipped to third-party manufacturing companies for alternative uses. Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev are looking into biodegradation by bacteria — a simpler and more environmentally friendly way to break down and recycle PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the most common type of plastic in food and beverage packaging and textile products. In November 2020, a research collaboration agreement was signed between BGN Technologies, the technology company of Ben-Gurion University and Portuguese company Ecoibéria as part of a one-year project to study and demonstrate the effectiveness of bacterial biodegradation of PET. The results of the joint study may streamline the presently cumbersome plastic recycling process used today, which involves plastic bottles being collected from recycling bins before being separated by type and color and then ground into small chips and melted into sheets of raw material and fibers.
20 Years of Research
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
bon bonds in the plastic polymers, it had to be grown in a carbon-free environment, so that the bacteria had no other choice but to consume the only available carbon in the plastic to survive,” says Kushmaro. “Of course, for the purpose of the process it is not enough to just supply the bacteria with carbon chains. We had to give them all kinds of additives, like sources of nitrogen and phosphorus to make it easier for them to perform decomposition.” Kushmaro, Sivan and their research team wound up discovering several types of bacteria capable of successfully biodegrading polyethylene microplastics in soil samples. “We showed that within 30 days, 10 to 20 percent of the soil’s weight was lost just through the decomposition activity performed by the bacteria, which emitted carbon dioxide in the process of respiration,” Kushmaro reveals. Ecoibéria, which specializes in recycling PET bottles, recognized the potential of Kushmaro’s and Sivan’s research and approached BGN Technologies. The collaboration will involve laboratory tests in Israel regarding how the bacteria are able to break down PET and if the intermediate byproducts can be separated and used as raw materials for the plastic industry. If so, there will be another round of investment in the pilot. If the pilot is ultimately successful, then it will take at least two to three years of additional research before this technology can be applied in an industry setting.
More Efficient, Better Quality
“Today, if you want to recycle efficiently, you have to separate water bottles from milk bottles and shampoo containers and more. The need to separate all types of plastic from each other is what makes the process so complex,” says Dr. Noam van der Hal, who researches microplastics at the University of Haifa. “In fact, it is very difficult to recycle plastic products to the same quality level and properties they had originally. Today, instead of recycling a bottle back into a bottle, we recycle it into a playground floor, a bench, or building material. Therefore, it is not recycling in the full sense of the word.” According to Kushmaro, the product obtained in the biological decomposition is the original raw material. “What we are trying to produce together with Ecoibéria is a process where the same PET chips will break down into the source materials so that the product can be sold in its original raw material form. The idea is that microorganisms or enzymes will break down the molecular polymer chains in order to extract the clean raw materials from the mixture and reproduce the PET as conventional industry practices would.” Will the new process be economically viable? According to Kushmaro, biodegradation is much cheaper than thermal or chemical processes of recycling, giving it a competitive edge in the raw materials market. “They are looking at holistic solutions that can improve recycling. This is also related to environmental trends in the European market, where there is encouragement to invest in ‘green’ projects that will reduce environmental pollution. Our research is part of this welcome trend.”
“Our research dealt with the decomposition of various polymers of plastics,” says Prof. Ariel Kushmaro of BGU’s department of biotechnology engineering. The lead researcher in this project was Prof. Alex Sivan, who started working in this field 20 years ago, when the world’s research on the biological decomposition of plastics was in its infancy. “We started from the understanding that biodegradation is derived from the microorganism’s requirement for an energy and carbon source,” says Kushmaro. “For that, they break down organic matter — carbon chains, like sugars and even proteins. We thought because plastic, polyethylene, and PET were also made up of carbon chains, we would prepare a kind of ‘enrichment culture’ — soil that was contaminated over the years with plastic or PET with its original bacterial population.” The obvious obstacle is that polyethylene is considered a non-biodegradable substance due to its highly stable carbon-carbon bonds. Thus, its bacterial decomposition must be manually facilitated in a laboratory. “Along with the bacteria, we added the material that we wanted them to break down and let them work for a few weeks. After several attempts, we saw a microorganism that grows and utilizes polyethylene as a carbon and energy source. These are the bacteria that can Yael Mor writes for ZAVIT – the news agency of the Israeli Associahandle the polymers,” Kushmaro explains. “We understood that in order for the bacteria to biodegrade the car- tion of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
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Israeli discovery could stop spread of pancreatic cancer cells in liver By Maayan Hoffman
(JNS) — A team of researchers from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has discovered how pancreatic cancer cells spread in the liver, which could be key to developing treatments to slow it down and prolong patients’ lives. The study, led by Dr. Tami Rubinek, head of the hospital’s oncology research lab, together with Ph.D. student Shani Journo and under the auspices of Professor Ido Wolf, found that a mutation that causes the disappearance of the “p15” and “p16” proteins — named for their molecular weight — appears more in liver metastasis and less in pancreatic cancer tumors in the pancreas or other areas of the body, such as the lungs or abdomen. The liver is often the “killing organ,” Wolf told JNS, meaning patients often die when pancreatic cancer spreads to their liver. In general, pancreatic cancer is one of the top 10 deadliest cancers, among a list prepared by Live Science that includes such cancers as gallbladder, esophageal, liver and lung cancers. Wolf said that once pancreatic cancer starts to spread, patients generally only live between six months and a year. Between 800 and 900 cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed annually in Israel, according to the Israeli Ministry of Health website. In the United States, some 60,000 new cases are diagnosed. According to Wolf, the numbers are steadily rising. He said that the next step would be to find treatments based on the findings of the study. Wolf cautioned that it is unlikely that the information will lead to a cure for this particular cancer. However, he said it would likely lead to treatments that could prolong patients’ lives. Until this study — the largest of its kind, which included 17,000 pancreatic cancer patients from around the world whose information was entered into a database of FoundationOne, one of the world’s largest cancer genomics companies — it was assumed that all pancreatic cancers were similar, with no subgroups. “The study… reveals the Achilles heel of the cancer cell,” said Wolf. Dr. Ayelet Erez of the Weizmann Institute of Science, an expert in the dynamics of cellular metabolism, who is unconnected to the Tel Aviv research, confirmed the novelty of the study and its potential implications. “The novelty of the paper is in promoting the concept that the metabolic landscape of the distant organ affects metastasis tropism of primary cancers,” she told JNS. “The results of this work have translational implications as they expose metabolic vulnerabilities of the metastasizing cells that can be targeted for therapy.”
Alex Jilitsky via Wikimedia Commons
Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Ichilov Hospital.
Photo courtesy of Aviv Labs
Miniature greenhouse shuttling chickpea seeds to space.
Hummus In Space By Naama Barak
(Israel21c) — Should humanity ever relocate to Mars, it will likely miss a few earthly comforts. High among them will of course be hummus, the universally loved and super-nutritious chickpea spread. To avoid such a tragic fate, Israeli chickpeas are now being sent to the International Space Station for a series of experiments exploring extraterrestrial growing techniques. The chickpea seeds, an Israeli variety called “Zehavit,” are traveling to outer space from within the comfort of a miniature greenhouse developed by hummus maker Strauss Aviv Labs. It flew aboard the cargo spacecraft Cygnus as part of a commercial resupply services mission to the ISS on Feb. 19. There, they are set to become part of the aptly named “Space Hummus” project that will test hydroponic techniques for plant growth in zero gravity with the goal of maximizing productivity and allowing efficient management of resources on future space colonies on the Moon and Mars. Scientists will conduct experiments to determine how well plant growth can be controlled, remotely observing and controlling root growth through video and still images. The experiments will be carried out in part by Eytan Stibbe, the second Israeli to go into space. “We can’t let the plants ‘grow wild’ in future colonies because they will quickly run out of resources,” explains SpaceIL cofounder and experiment visionary Yonatan Winetraub. “Our hope is to use our technology to control the rate of chickpea growth in space with zero gravity and limited resources.” Nobody knows if chickpeas can grow in space. This has never been tried, Winetraub adds. “The challenge is not just how to grow as many chickpeas as possible, but how to control the way they are grown — so that we maximize our limited resources. The more we learn to grow food with fewer resources, the more prepared we will be for the challenges that await us on Earth, as well.” Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Have your own olive tree in Israel
Few plants conjure images of Israel more than the olive tree. For decades, Blue Boxes for coins have been ubiquitous in Jewish homes around the world, with the proceeds buying trees to establish forests in Israel. Now, those two traditions are combined for all those who love Israel, with the opportunity to adopt an olive tree in Israel and benefit from it. My Tree in Israel is a program through which an olive tree is adopted, and then after the year’s harvest, olive oil is processed from that grove and six bottles of personal-label olive oil is shipped to the sponsor. Kobi Assaf, who founded My Tree in Israel, envisioned it as a way that people from around the world could connect with Israel in a personal way, and to promote and support Israeli farmers. Yishai Gelb, vice president of marketing, said over the decades, Israel has been the recipient of donations. While donations to all sorts of causes in Israel are still important, “Israel today is a prosperous nation, a successful nation,” and “we want people to enjoy what Israel has to offer.” Individuals or groups can adopt an olive tree. Cur-
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rent partners include schools, churches and synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and families. Some even create a partnership fundraiser. Trees can be adopted as a memorial or as a gift, and have been adopted by people throughout North America, Europe and Africa. The olive grove is near the Jezreel Valley. When someone adopts a tree, a farmer takes care of it and cultivates it year-round. The harvest happens in November, and high-quality kosher extra virgin boutique olive oil is produced from that grove. Six bottles are sent per tree, and the labels can be personalized in whatever manner the sponsor chooses. The sponsor then has the opportunity to continue sponsoring the same tree for the next year. It is a “unique and personalized product,” Gelb said. As a way to further personalize it, a dedication plaque can be obtained for the tree, and when visiting Israel, one can go to the grove and see his or her tree. Gelb said a highlight for him is seeing the reactions that come from those involved in the program, and how much having roots in Israel means to them — not to mention the special olive oil they receive. More information is available at mytree.org.il.
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“Jerusalem Rising” shows the extent of the city’s restoration over the last 180 years Zechariah spoke of the restoration of Jerusalem, and today one can see the bustling city with its plethora of historical sites that have been restored to their former glory — but how can one really see the transformation of the city? Last September, Doug Hershey released “Jerusalem Rising,” a showcase of historical photos from Jerusalem taken from the 1840s to the mid1900s, juxtaposed with current-day images done at the same locations and with the same angles. Hershey is founder of Ezra Adventures, a boutique travel and education company, specializing in exclusive customized small group travel throughout Israel and the Middle East. His first photography book, “Israel Rising,” was an Amazon bestseller on Christian and Jewish charts. Through taking groups on tours, Hershey saw the changes taking place in Israel. He “always had a love for the old black and white photos,” and going around the country, he would recognize where the photos had been taken. Initially, he figured “Israel Rising” would serve as publicity for his travel company, but its popularity led to him starting a series of Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens, of which “Jerusalem Rising” is the second volume.” “I wanted to be able to bring the fact that the things happening in Israel right now aren’t happenstance or coincidence, but are things the prophets wrote about,” he said. “Things our parents or grandparents could never have dreamed of.” He wanted to document the changes to Israel, “not just the growth of a land, but what happens when God fulfils His word.” The success of “Israel Rising” showed him there is “a growing interest in the documentation of ongoing biblical prophecy. More and more people are not just curious about proposed future timelines and scenarios, but also about what is tangibly happening right now. The Ancient Prophecy / Modern Lens series is providing that concrete visual evidence.” “I will save my The oldest photos in “Jerusalem people from the Rising” date back to 1844, when the countries of the city had a population of 15,000. Hershey said it was unique and special east and the west. “being able to make that connection to I will bring them the very earliest visual documentation back to live in that the world has” for Jerusalem. He and world-renowned advenJerusalem; they will ture-travel and extreme-sports phobe my people, and I tographer and filmmaker Edden Ram will be faithful and were able to get exclusive access to many of the locations in the historical righteous to them photos, to re-shoot the exact angles as their God” and show the current day changes. “Doing that photo shoot, spending — Zechariah 8:8 time around Jerusalem was truly stunning,” he said. In the book, “there are several groundbreaking aspects that have never been published before,” Hershey added. “We’ve documented the restoration of Jerusalem in a compelling way that has not been visually cap-
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tured previously. I couldn’t be more excited to share this unique view of Jerusalem being restored just as Zechariah foretold!” The books have quotes from Jews, Christians and Muslims over the past 2,000 years, detailing how Jerusalem captured hearts around the world, even when it was in silent desolation for centuries. In “Israel Rising,” he had a quote from an Arabic writer in the 10th century, “complaining that there are no worshipers in the mosque and there’s a Jewish majority.” In his first volume, he focused on the Galilee, a favorite area for him. A close second is Mizpe Ramon, “where it is isolated and no one’s there… I can get a motorcycle and a small tent and live in Mizpe Ramon for a long time.” A third volume is in the works, and volumes four and five are also being considered. Growing up in a Christian home, “I always had a heart for the Old Covenant,” Hershey said. His first Israel trip was about 24 years ago, and “like most people, you step off the plane for the first time and it feels different.” While he is a believer, he kept more of a historical documentation tone in the books, while relating the Scriptural significance. Zechariah 8:3 relates “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” As “Jerusalem Rising” was being sent to the printer, a new cache of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered, and some of the fragments were from Zechariah 8. “It’s a stunning confirmation to me that God is once again bringing Jerusalem to the forefront of the world’s attention and that ‘Jerusalem Rising’ is right on time,” Hershey said.
“Israel Matters” Opens Christian Hearts, Minds “Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land” is the title of a relatively new and thought-provoking book by Anglican theologian Gerald McDermott, who is currently affiliated with Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. In his book, McDermott challenges his own previous belief that in God’s view Jews became a peripheral people when they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and, as a result, their relationship to their land and the land itself lost its significance. McDermott also revises his own view that Jesus and the ascendancy of Christianity and the Church replaced Israel and the Jewish people as God’s covenantal partners. He also examines his previous inclination to accept the false claims that modern Israel was established on land “stolen” from Arabs; that Israel oppresses Palestinians; and that Zionism — which maintains that the Jewish people have a right to sov-
ereignty in some portion of their biblical homeland — is a racist ideology. With grace and humility, and an easy-to-read style despite tackling complex subjects, McDermott writes that as a result of his continued Biblical studies, willingness to consider things in new ways, and multiple visits to Israel, that he was wrong on each of the above accounts. In addition, as part of his journey — a journey marked by some heavy-duty rethinking and rereading of both the Old and New Testaments — he evolved from being dubious about Christian Zionists to becoming one himself. The book is a fascinating exploration of how a growing number of Christian Zionists think about Jews, both Biblically and today; how they’ve come to reconcile Jewish non-acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah with their Christian belief that he is and that acceptance of him is the one true path to salvation; and how Christians have come to be among Israel’s most ardent supporters.
The Long History of Christian Zionism in America Over the past 35 years, especially in the American South, Christian Zionism has emerged as the most significant new trend in Jewish-Christian relations, even though it continues to perplex and discomfort people on both sides of what Dr. Faydra Shapiro calls the “border” between the two faiths. This unprecedented and growing movement, characterized by a massive outpouring of Christian support for the well-being of the Jewish state, and its implications for Christian-Jewish relations, prompted Shapiro to write a superb book titled “Christian Zionism: Navigating the Jewish-Christian Border.” An Orthodox Jew with a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Shapiro has had a lifelong curiosity about Christianity. In addition to her writing, Shapiro, a Canadian who immigrated to Israel, is the founding director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations. In her book, Shapiro provides excellent insight into the theological, political, historical and cultural factors that motivate Christian Zionists, who base their support and activism on the Bible. Key to their views are that God has bequeathed the land of Israel to the Jewish people in perpetuity; that those who bless Israel will be blessed; that the return of Jews from throughout the world to their sacred homeland is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, and that the restoration of the Jews will lead to the second coming of Jesus. Shapiro and others who have studied the Christian Zionist movement believe that we may be at a transformative moment in Jewish-Christian relations. Writing in the Jerusalem Post in 2017, two years after her book first appeared, Shapiro observed: “Christian Zionism is undoubtedly a controversial topic. But one thing is for certain: Christian Zionism has brought millions of Evangelical Christians into an unprecedented positive relationship with Jews and Judaism.”
“Through their core issue of support for Israel,” she continued “American Evangelical Christians are now far more interested in and sensitive to the Jewish roots of Christianity, the practices and beliefs of Judaism, and the centrality of Israel to our people.” Today, the author contends, the border between Jews and Christians is being demilitarized. This is happening largely as a result of Christian Zionist activism on behalf of Israel; Christian Zionist groups focusing on the principles and shared Biblical roots which unite rather than divide the two faiths, and their commitment to combat anti-Semitism, in part as atonement for the centuries of atrocities committed against the Jewish people in the name of Christianity. More and more Jews, in turn, are taking a deep breath and walking toward the border to welcome these overtures. Still it can be confusing — especially to those Christians who continue to see Jews as “incomplete” because they have not yet embraced Jesus as their personal savior, and to Jews who are still uncomfortable with the prevalent belief among Christians that their way is the only way to spiritual fulfillment and salvation. Shapiro’s book is at its best when she moves from being a commentator and analyst to being a reporter on the front lines, “embedded” among Christian Zionists visiting or living in Israel. She has a terrific ear and sharp eye which serve her well as she takes her readers into the heads and hearts of these dedicated Israel supporters. She concludes her book with a music analogy. Shapiro basically says that because of shared traditions, histories and roots, Christians and Jews definitely can be members of the same orchestra. But will the sounds their instruments make always be in harmony? Probably not, she concedes. However, she emphasizes, that doesn’t mean that Jews who care about Israel and Christian Zionists should stop trying. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
First Arab team captain in top Israel Basketball league excels Nazareth’s Abboud played college ball in Louisiana By Richard Friedman
“There is no difference between us when we are on the court,” says 26-year-old Shahd Abboud, the only Arab on Israel’s national women’s basketball team, and a former player at Northwestern State in Louisiana. Abboud was one of three professional female Israeli basketball players who highlighted an online program on the impact of sports on race and religion. The Maccabi USA program was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Jewish Federation of Milwaukee, and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. New Orleans Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow, a former president and CEO of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, was one of the moderators. Abboud’s basketball prowess has taken her all over Israel while growing up, to play with Jewish teams; to junior college in Texas, to Louisiana where she became a widely-admired star at Northwestern State, and back to Israel where she’s made a name for herself as one of the country’s top female basketball players. Most young Arab women, be they Muslim or Christian, like Abboud, don’t have the chance to pursue sports careers. That’s because the emphasis in their culture is mostly on academics and developing professional skills. Women’s sports are not promoted. Abboud, however, was cast in a different mold. Both of her parents are educators and basketball coaches, and progressives compared to their general culture. So they supported their daughter’s basketball pursuits. Her parents would drive her all over Israel from their home in Nazareth so she could play on Jewish teams, which offered a higher level of competition.
Shahd Abboud at the 2021 FIBA Women’s EuroBasket Qualifiers
In high school, Abboud already was a part of the Israeli national team. After a game in Europe, she was approached by an American who asked if she’d be interested in playing college ball in the U.S. That led to her playing two years of junior college basketball at Jacksonville College in east Texas. Her success there led to a scholarship offer from Louisiana’s Northwestern State University, located in Natchitoches. Abboud has been back in Israel for four years where, as the first Christian Arab Israeli to play in the First Division League, she plays for Maccabi Haifa. In the 2019-2020 season, she was named the league’s MVP. In 2018, she made history with Hapoel Petach Tikvah as she was the first Israeli Arab to be named a team captain. Versatile on the court, Abboud at 5 feet, 11 inches, can play guard or forward. She can hit three-pointers, handles the ball well and plays with aggressiveness. On the recent online program, Abboud was impressive and poised. She acknowledged that living in a region where religious and ethnic tensions are ongoing is a challenge. Israel is 75 percent Jewish. Of the remaining 25 percent, most are Arabs, though Muslims vastly outTrust and Dreams number Christians. Allowing her to come to the U.S., first to play basketball at a junior As an Israeli sports pioneer, Abboud receives media attention. She’s college in Texas, then at Northwestern State, was another big show of often asked about politics, a subject she doesn’t discuss publicly. On support for her. “I was just 18 and didn’t speak much English. Yet they social media, about half the comments directed toward her are positrusted me and let me follow my dreams.” tive and half are negative. However, she says, that does not faze her.
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Respected and Admired
Northwestern State’s athletic director Greg Burke and Brooke Stoehr, who coached Abboud for a year, rave about her. They say she was a serious and determined student-athlete, a fierce competitor who practiced good sportsmanship, and someone who was respected and admired by all who knew her. Not only was she a winner, they agree, but she won over countless fans because of the way she carried herself on and off the court. “She was an incredible teammate — one of the most selfless people you will meet,“ said Stoehr. “She wanted to be part of something bigger than herself.” In addition to making her mark on the court, Abboud was involved in the community. “She got to know people, in the program and beyond. They loved her personality. They appreciated how grateful she was, how respectful she was,” said Stoehr.
The Marketplace “Shahd sacrificed to go to college in the U.S. and have an experience outside of her normal upbringing. When you have players who do that it shows a lot of courage and commitment. There was a desire to represent her family and country well.” Abboud’s uniqueness gave her the chance to make an impact beyond the basketball court, a role she welcomed. “It was unusual to have a player from Israel, especially an Arab,” Stoehr recalls. “As we got to know Shahd, we got to know things we didn’t know — about her family, culture and country.” This was a great experience for the team, says Stoehr. “It doesn’t happen very often. It was great for us to listen.”
Now that Abboud is back home in Israel, advocating for women athletes, particularly in the Arab community, is important to her. “I’m trying to do whatever I can in my community to have more female athletes have the same opportunity,” she said during the online program. “We need to use our voices. I go to different schools and communities and tell younger Arab women that they can get to where I am now and they can do it,” she said. “I think society will appreciate and respect women in sports when we stand up for what we believe in and voice what we deserve. I think the change is coming.” As a result of the country’s preoccupation with security, being an Arab in Israel is not always easy. When the national team travels abroad, Abboud often is the only member airport security pulls aside for extended questioning. “It is not a good feeling. But my teammates never treat me differently, and at the end of the day that’s all that counts. I remain true to my identity and proud of who I am.” She also doesn’t hesitate to dialogue privately with her Jewish teammates about issues that at times cause tension between their two communities. “We get along great. We love and respect each other in every way possible.” Abboud doesn’t know how much longer she’ll play professionally. But she already knows that post-basketball she wants to work with athletes. She and professional trainer Tremaine Dalton are planning a series of basketball camps for Arab and Jewish youth. Meanwhile, her Louisiana legacy continues. The Northwestern State community loved her, said Stoehr, a love that continues to this day. “When a young man or woman puts on a jersey, our fans fall in love with these athletes — and they loved Shahd.” And she, in turn, loved them. Playing professional basketball is great, she says from her home in Nazareth, but playing at the college level, especially for the Northwestern State Demons, was something special. She loved her teammates, she loved her school and she loved Louisiana, especially the people, their warmth, and the food. “I miss it very much. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity I was given.”
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Aaron David Fruh, president of Israel Team Advocates International, speaks at “A Night to Honor and Stand with the Jewish People” at Frazer Church in Montgomery, Ala., on Oct. 21. Next to him are Larry and Rickie Voit of Mobile, and keynote speaker Bruce Pearl, Auburn’s head basketball coach, is in the background.
On June 23, author Joel Rosenberg was the keynote speaker at the annual Breakfast Honoring Israel, held at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, in Grapevine, Tex.
On Oct. 17, Christians United for Israel Founder Pastor John Hagee and Israeli Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon spoke at a Night to Honor Israel, at Chapelhill Church in Douglasville, Ga. Where it all began: Consul General Livia Link-Raviv from Israel’s Houston consulate speaks at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio on Oct. 24 at the 41st annual Night to Honor Israel, an event that eventually birthed Christians United for Israel. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke to the 6,000 in attendance, and during the evening’s event, Hagee Ministries donated $2.9 million to Israeli and Jewish charities.
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On Feb. 12, the Israeli Consulate in Chicago honored the history and alliance between Black America, Israel and the Jews at the DuSable Museum of African American History, together with political and spiritual leadership of the black community of Chicago, and Jewish leadership from around Chicago. Congressman Danny Davis spoke about the strong connections between Blacks, Jews and Israel.
The Biblical Calendar
5782 Run For Zion plans in-person return for 2023 Virtual option available this year
It’s hard to hold a run for an international audience when the borders are closed due to Covid. That was the challenge facing Run For Zion the past two years. In the past, the run attracted thousands of Christians from around the world, coordinated by the Genesis 123 Foundation. The Christians would run in established races in Israel, alongside tens of thousands of Israelis, as a way to raise funds for several causes the foundation supports. Run For Zion will be in person again in 2023, but for 2022 there is a virtual option. Runners can set up a page explaining why Run For Zion and blessing Israel is significant for them, and then there is an app that tracks walking or running, updating the page. Friends and family can make donations to the page, and gifts and subsidies are available based on fundraising levels. There is even an opportunity for a free trip to Israel. Virtual runners can choose from 5K to a marathon, and receive some of the items that runners in Israel receive. There is no initial entry fee. Churches or groups can partner with Run For Zion to hold their own event elsewhere in the world, for those unable to travel to Israel. The Genesis 123 Foundation is a U.S.-based non-profit that builds bridges between Jews and Christians in Israel. They do so as a partnership, where the programs build relationships and bridges that are beneficial for both sides, rather than just being a fundraising entity from Christians who want to support Israel. The organization supports the return of Jews from around the world to the land, provides for Holocaust survivors, emergency medical care, supports victims of terrorism, cares for soldiers, and supports Christian communities in Israel. Information about the run is at runforzion.com.
Los Angeles to celebrate Israel
Eagles’ Wings will hold a Los Angeles Celebrates Israel event on April 3 at 5 p.m., at Greater Zion Church Family in Compton. The night will be a program of solidarity with the Jewish people and a celebration of Israel. Bishop Robert Stearns, founder and executive director of Eagles’ Wings, will speak at the event. Israel Consul General Hillel Newman of the Los Angeles consulate will also speak. In his 20 years of diplomatic service, he has served in several influential and critical positions including policy advisor to three Foreign Ministers of Israel and Ambassador of Israel to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Greater Zion’s Michael Fisher started preaching at age 18, and at age 25 was under-shepard of Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church. A few years later, it wasn’t “Little,” becoming Greater Zion. The evening is free and open to the community.
“And you shall tell your child on that day as follows: ‘Because of this, the Lord did for me, when he took me out of Egypt’.”
The Hebrew month of Nisan begins on April 2 this year, 2022 on the common calendar and 5782 on the Jewish calendar. The major holy day this month is Passover. Fast of the First Born: The day leading into the Passover Seder is known as Ta’anit Bechorot, the Fast of the First-Born. During the Tenth Plague, the first-born males of Egypt were slain, but the Israelite households had been instructed to put the blood of a sacrificed animal on the doorposts, so that God would pass over those houses. In commemoration of being spared, first-born Jews observe a “minor fast,” from sunrise to sunset, on 14 Nisan, which this year is April 15. However, a special celebration can end the fast, so it is common practice for communities to hold a “siyum” at the end of the daily morning service, a celebration that marks a study group’s completion of a book. Those attending such a celebration are not obligated to fast. Passover: The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at sunset on 15 Nisan (April 15), and is observed for seven days in Israel and by Reform Jews worldwide, eight days by Conservative and Orthodox Jews outside of Israel. A Seder, a festive meal and telling of the story of Passover, is held the first night, mainly in homes instead of in the synagogue. Those observing eight days have Seders the first two nights. Many churches hold Seders, as some figure that the Last Supper was a Seder, though much of what is currently observed in the traditional Seder came after that time. The first and last days of Passover are work-restricted days (first two and last two days for those who observe eight days), with Sabbath prohibitions against work. Passover commemorates the exodus from Egypt, being freed from slavery, so the story has resonated with oppressed groups throughout the world. During Passover, one does not eat “chametz,” anything that has leavened, because of how the Israelites left Egypt in haste and the bread they prepared for the journey did not have time to rise, and became matzah. Basically, anything with grain in it must be carefully processed so that the product is finished before fermentation can take place — 18 minutes from water touching the grain. One may not have any chametz in their possession during Passover, so there is extensive house cleaning beforehand, and observant families have completely different cookware, dishes and flatware for the holiday. Yom HaShoah: Held on the 27th of Nisan, April 28, this solemn day commemorates the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust during World War II. Ceremonies are held world-wide, and in Israel a siren sounds at 10 a.m., causing everyone to stop for two minutes. In 1951, Israel debated when would be a proper day to memorialize the Holocaust, and it was decided that it would occur a week after the end of Passover and eight days before Israel Independence Day. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Despite a large rise in antisemitic incidents,
those attacks are often minimized, excused away or ignored by
the media, making the Jewish community feel even more isolated
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Your Jewish Friends Aren’t Feeling Okay Did you walk into church last Sunday? As in, open the door and walk right in? If your Jewish friends went to services last Saturday, that isn’t something they could do. A couple years ago, I was delivering materials to a large church near Birmingham, and when I arrived, I looked for the button by the door to signal the office that I was there and should be buzzed in, and prepared to answer the questions of who I am and why I was there, as I do whenever I go to a synagogue. No button. I decided to do something crazy — I went to the door and pulled on the handle. It opened. And just in front of me in the lobby, a Kindergarten class was crossing, to get to their next activity. I was aghast. For decades, we’ve had security at our congregation. During business hours, it’s generally the buzz-in system at the door. When there is a service or event, it’s armed security at the entrances. It’s different than being a Christian in America. It’s been 60 years since the Klan was bombing synagogues, but today we have a different threat. Thankfully, most of the threats are “only” vandalism or graffiti, but in recent years things have escalated. If you’re Jewish, you know “Tree of Life,” “Poway” and now “Colleyville.” You probably also know about the attack by a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, the rash of attacks against visibly Jewish individuals on the streets of New York and Los Angeles, not to mention the harassment of pro-Israel students on college campuses. And it isn’t just the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Antisemitism is an equal opportunity infection; many attacks lately have been carried out by people of color. In Europe, it is mainly extremists among the Muslim immigrant community. A substantial proportion of American Jews feel it necessary to try and hide their Jewishness as much as possible. For decades, most American Jewish groups have aligned themselves with groups that promote justice and equality, because of the Jewish directive to repair the world. Now, with the shift toward intersectionalism and the emergence of the anti-Israel Palestinian advocacy groups, those spaces have become unwelcoming. Even though most religious-based hate crimes occur against Jews, antisemitism is discounted because of presumed Jewish “privilege.” Or when antisemitism is condemned, it is done in the context of also condemning racism and Islamophobia — an “all hate matters” treatment of antisemitism that would not be done against any other group. Much of the current wave of antisemitism comes from anti-Israel activism. Of course, those who oppose Israel insist that they are not antisemitic, they are just critical of Israeli policy, and that pro-Israel groups use the label of antisemitism to try and denigrate them.
Of course, definitions of antisemitism exclude legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. But it’s one thing to question settlement policy and another to say that Israel is a racist, colonial state with no right to exist. Those anti-Israel activists who shout the loudest about how anti-Israel does not equal antisemitic are usually the ones who turn right around and make the most virulent antisemitic statements. But over the last decades, more Christians have allied themselves with Israel and the Jewish community. For the Jewish community, it has taken some getting used to, because it is from the part of the Christian world that was often at odds with us on social or political issues, not to mention churchstate issues. It has taken a while for many in the Jewish community to realize we have these new-found friends who walk the walk and who are joining us on the front lines in supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism — without a hidden agenda. We still have different religious views, but that is to be expected. We still can work together. What can our Christian neighbors do to help? Speak out. Let your Jewish neighbors know they are not alone. If there is an antisemitic incident, express your solidarity and support with your Jewish neighbors. In 2017, when there was a rash of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and schools nationwide, a group of evangelical churches in Birmingham did a quick fundraiser, and on the eve of Passover presented the Jewish community with a check for $111,000 to help with security needs. The community earmarked it for the JCC, because it is an institution that serves the entire city. In 2020, when the Conservative synagogue and Chabad House in Huntsville, Ala., were vandalized on successive days, area churches known for being pro-Israel not only issued statements, they came out immediately and cleaned up the graffiti. Because it was the first days of Passover, which are work-restricted, Chabad was not going to be able to do it themselves for another day. But it was also a holy day for the churches — they were cleaning off antisemitic graffiti on Good Friday. A day that, in past centuries, had been one of the most dangerous times to be a Jew in a Christian society, instead became a day of unity. But times have changed, and to a miraculous extent. We pray that this new magazine will be part of that transformation, bringing Christians and Jews together in understanding and friendship, and helping each of us to get to know the other just a bit better as we bring about the redemption that this world needs. Subscribe today, and join us on this journey!
Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor
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Top photos courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism: Synagogue mosaic in Susya, by Dafna Tal. Tomato Stall at Carmel Market, Preview Issue • sailing Israel InSight by Dana Friedlander. Boat on the Sea of Galilee, by Itamar Grinberg
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