PREVIEW ISSUE • SPRING 2019
with a small taste of what’s to come
DUELING TRADE MISSIONS — GOVERNORS OF LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI VISIT ISRAEL REMEMBERING RABBI YECHIEL ECKSTEIN BRINGING PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS TIES AFRICAN-AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYERS BECOME ISRAEL AMBASSADORS
Jericho model at Palestine Gardens in Lucedale, Miss. Story, page 28
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I n S ide
12 Mississippi Governor Returns to Israel
Louisiana Trade Mission to Israel
Shelter in place: Operation Lifeshield protects Israelis
African-American basketball players in Israel
Visiting Jerusalem in Mississippi
4 About Israel InSight 8 Israel In Depth: Anti-BDS Laws 16 Ten Terms to Avoid 19 Defending Israel on Campus 26 Reading Israel 29 Israel Marketplace Israel InSight â&#x20AC;˘ 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 the South and beyond 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 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.
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PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook 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 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 FAX 866/392.7750 TOLL FREE 866/446.5894 email@example.com israelinsightmagazine.com ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889. Media kit, rates available upon request. SUBSCRIPTIONS $25/year, $40/two years Subscribe online, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2019. 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.
Remembering a Pioneer in Jewish-Christian Understanding Early on, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein saw potential of cooperation By Jackson Richman
(JNS) Israeli-American Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, whose life goal was to promote a dialogue between Jews and Christians, died on Feb. 6 at the age of 67 from sudden heart failure. Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in 1983; he previously served as the Anti-Defamation League’s national co-director of inter-religious affairs. Born in New York City, he held dual citizenship, having become an Israeli citizen in 2002. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told JNS, “We are saddened by Yechiel Eckstein’s sudden passing. He was a tireless worker for the Jewish people and for Israel, and he made significant contributions by fostering evangelical support for Israel. We send our deepest condolences to his family.” Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, told JNS: “Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein was a pioneer in evangelical-Jewish relations as it relates to the State of Israel and Christian support for the in-gathering of the exiles. His legendary fundraising supported Jews in need and for that we must be grateful.” Under Eckstein’s leadership, IFCJ raised more than $1.3 billion, or $140 million annually, mostly from evangelical Christians, to help the State of Israel and Jews. IFCJ has helped immigrants move to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Ukraine and other places, and has assisted them in Israel such as providing food care packages for Jewish holidays. “The Jewish people have lost… a leader who worked tirelessly on their behalf. I worked with Rabbi Eckstein on social welfare, the Diaspora and aliyah,” said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. “My deep condolences to his family and the entire International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.”
‘A titan of our generation’
Reactions from other parts of the Jewish world poured in following Eckstein’s death. “I am in shock that my dear friend Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has passed away. He spoke publicly at my son’s Bar Mitzvah just two nights ago. How can this be? He did incalculable good. I wish great comfort to his family,” tweeted Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “I am in shock. And so sad,” tweeted former Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman. “Rabbi
In Case You Missed It Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was put on trial and convicted of treason — by a Hamas faction in a mock trial in Gaza, as a warning toward any Palestinian leader who tries to cooperate with Israel on any level.
After an Israeli musician was told that Musica sui Bocche, an international jazz festival in Italy, had a policy of barring Israeli artists from the event, the mayor of Santa Teresa Gallura cancelled the festival, scheduled for this August. Annual investment in Israel’s cybertech industry topped $1 billion for the first time in 2018. Only the U.S. has a higher equity investment. Yechiel Eckstein, founder of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews passed away suddenly. A heart that gave and gave and gave stopped working. May his memory be a source of blessing for all who knew him and were touched by him.” Dan Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International told JNS: “He was a tireless campaigner and advocate for good relations between Christians and Jews, as evidenced by the extensive work of his organization. His voice in these relationships will be missed.” Robert Nicholson, Philos Project founder and executive director, told JNS: “Rabbi Eckstein was a pioneer who helped create the space for Jewish-Christian cooperation that so many of us take for granted today. Back when Jews and Christians were still unsure about each other, Rabbi Eckstein was charting a bold course based on a big vision. His legacy is the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of lives that he touched by putting shared values in the service of tangible good. He was a truly a titan of our generation and will be missed.” “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. His impact on the State of Israel and on bringing Jews and Christians together will be felt for generations,” Christians United for Israel founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee told JNS. “I pray God brings comfort to the rabbi’s family during this very difficult time, and I know that his memory will be a blessing to us all.” Eckstein is survived by his wife, Joelle; three daughters; and eight grandchildren.
Israel is closing schools within Jerusalem that are run by the United Nations agency in charge of the Palestinians, and they will be run instead by the city of Jerusalem, as are all other schools in Jerusalem. The idea is to teach a normal curriculum instead of have them run by an agency that seeks to perpetuate refugee status even among Palestinians who are residents of Jerusalem.
A former AP Jerusalem correspondent wrote in the New York Times that viewing the Middle East conflict as powerful Israel versus the weak Palestinians is a narrative Israelis can’t fathom, as they see themselves in the broader context of Iran, Hezbollah, ISIS and Hamas, with the Palestinians as a minor sideshow — but the media concentrate on the zoomed-in view instead of the big picture Israel sees.
An Israeli study shows over 80 percent of teens with autism-related symptoms had moderate to significant improvement when taking cannabis oil. After barring Israeli swimmers from the World Paralympic Swimming Championships, Malaysia was stripped of the competition, costing the country an estimated $1.2 million. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
In Case You Missed It Syrian refugees who were brought up on anti-Semitism are arriving in Greece to discover that Israel isn’t their enemy, as most of the refugee centers for Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees are operated by Israelis, who also run “peace schools” for them. For the Israeli groups, this is also a way to let Jewish students around the world have a different way to express their Jewishness or connect with Israel in an era of anti-Israel campus activism. An Israeli-developed generic to the EpiPen has finally been approved for sale in the U.S., and is expected to take one-fourth of the market. The current EpiPen manufacturer has been under fire for huge price increases. The Palestinian Quds News Network posted a photo about “life under occupation” showing an Israel soldier forcibly dragging a woman outside a building. Thing is, it was a photo of an Israeli soldier removing a Jewish settler from a contested building in Hebron.
A growing problem: After children from Gaza receive medical treatment in Israel, their parents are abandoning them at the border crossing back into Gaza, so they can remain in Israel illegally to look for work.
A Dutch man leads anti-Israel demonstrations three times a week in Dam Square in Amsterdam, promoting boycotts of Israel. One problem — he uses an Israeli-made mobility scooter from Kibbutz Afikim. A fellow demonstrator was recently pictured in his Palestine vest at a nearby falafel shop owned by an Israeli.
The CEO of Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair says it can grow as fast as Israeli authorities would allow, and could bring “millions more” to Israel. He also is pushing for permission to offer flights from Ben Gurion to Eilat, and would charge roughly $12.
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
Stirring emotions half a world away
Israeli tourists landing at Entebbe for first time since ‘76 raid a source of pride for Uganda native who advocates for Israel July 4, 1976 was a memorable day for Americans and Israelis. Not only was it the Bicentennial celebration of America’s independence, but also the day that Israeli commandos made a surprise raid that has become legendary, rescuing Palestinian-held hostages at Uganda’s Entebbe airport. Recently, there were stories Jahan Berns headlined “Israel brings tourists to Entebbe for first time since legendary hostage rescue.” One of those who was especially moved by that was Alabama attorney Jahan Berns. Berns grew up Muslim in Uganda, but later converted from Islam to Christianity, attended law school and moved to London. Now living in Birmingham, she is a forceful advocate for Israel and the Jewish people. “Tears stung my eyes as I read the opening paragraph in a Times of Israel article: ‘For the first time since 1976’s hostage crisis and subsequent Israeli commando raid, an Israeli plane carrying tourists landed at Uganda’s Entebbe airport’,” Berns said. “I was a young child when I first heard of Operation Entebbe/Operation Thunderbolt. Even at that young age, I remember cringing at the thought that such a horrendous event had happened in my country,” she continued. “I still remember the sadness and pride in my father’s voice when he spoke about the event: Sad about Uganda’s participation in holding of the hostages; but proud of the unbelievably daring and successful Israeli rescue mission.”
Israel’s raid “was very personal to my father; he was an Israeli trained commando.” Berns’ father was a high-ranking Ugandan military officer who opposed Idi Amin’s brutal regime, which was in power at the time and provided support to the Palestinian hijackers. Her father later ran for president but was assassinated when she was 7 years old. When she later converted to Christianity in her early teens, “one of the most remarkable things that struck me when I first read the Bible was how an incredibly wonderful God chose a people for Himself and named them Israel, and made a nation out of them,” she added. “They were to be His special people; loved, cherished and protected. He appointed them to be an example, and a light to all the nations around them — to be a role model of all that was good, just, fair and prosperous. His plan for Israel’s prosperity and welfare would never be thwarted by any human being.” Berns was not the only one excited about this new development. The Uganda Tourism Board CEO Stephen Asiimwe told Times of Israel that he hoped this inaugural flight would lead to expanded tourism from Israel. “We are positive that this visit will attract more visitors from Israel and the rest of the world. The two countries have a shared piece of history and we hope to strengthen our travel trade in order to increase the number of Israeli tourists coming to Uganda,” Asiimwe said.
Amnesty: Visiting Jerusalem holy sites is a problem Report dismisses Jewish, Christian religious ties to the holy city On Jan. 29, Amnesty International published a report that stated tourism to Jewish and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is a major problem that needs to be fixed. “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements” denies Jewish connections to the Old City of Jerusalem, and also criticizes Israel for trying to preserve Christian holy sites, as according to Amnesty, those sites are in “occupied” territory and visiting them promotes the “settlement tourism industry.” While erasing Jewish historical connec-
tions to the land, Amnesty says Israel is trying to minimize Palestinian “historic links to the region,” and Israel wants people to visit the sites “for political and financial reasons,” not for religious reasons. The Amnesty report says it is a problem the three most visited sites are in Jerusalem’s Old City — which turn out to be the Western Wall, Jewish Quarter and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and tourism to those sites financially strengthens the “occupation,” a problem that needs to be solved.
Conexx gala celebrates Israel-Southeast business ties Atlanta event celebrates regional endeavors
The Atlanta-based Conexx: America Israel Business Connector will celebrate its 18th annual gala with the debut of the Israeli Tech Village. The Village will be in the atrium of the Atlanta History Center during the May 21 event. It will feature Israeli companies displaying their newest technologies in a range of areas, including financial tech, cybersecurity, smart cities and mobility, and healthcare. Guests are invited to come ahead of the program to interact with the displays while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Most Gala honorees had not been announced as of mid-March, but it was confirmed that the Tom Glaser Leadership Award will be presented to Oded Shorer, director of economy and commerce at the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast U.S.; and Jorge Fernandez, recently-retired vice president pf global commerce for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. In addition, Conexx will present awards for Israeli Company of the Year, U.S. Company of the Year, Deal of the Year and Community Partner. Founded in 1992, Conexx works to strengthen business partnerships between Israel companies and companies in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi. The Tom Glaser Leadership Award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has provided inspirational and strong leadership in furthering the cause of U.S.-Israel business and economic relationships. This award is given to someone who is “an exemplary community ambassador, demonstrates a passion for Israel, is unparalleled in relationship building, has pioneered deals and reflects the mission of Conexx.” Fernandez has travelled to Israel multiple times on Conexx expeditions and to overseas conferences with the goal of furthering metro Atlanta’s reputation in Israel and to bring Israeli companies to metro Atlanta. He has met with over 100 Israeli companies and was instrumental in attracting companies to metro Atlanta such as Landa Printing, Itamar Medical and Ironscales. He also played a significant role in the establishment of the GCMI and Rambam Biomedical Digital Health Innovation Center. Shorer has pioneered match making in financial technology, cybersecurity, healthcare and logistics throughout the Southeast U.S. and was instrumental in the memorandum of understanding between Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and the Israel Airports Authority. Registration and networking begin at 6 p.m., and the awards program and progressional buffet dinner start at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $155, or $1800 for a reserved table of 10.
Jay Leno helps Israel rescue group
(JNS) Thanks to the generous donations of contributors and the support of celebrity comedian Jay Leno, the first annual Los Angeles Gala of Friends of United Hatzalah on Feb. 28 raised $5 million, enough money to buy 100 specially designed, fast-response medically outfitted ambucycles and 100 defibrillator machines. United Hatzalah of Israel is a nonprofit organization whose 5,000 volunteers are available to respond to emergencies at all times, often arriving on medical motorcycles that enable them to reach emergency situations faster than traditional ambulances, and allows them greater access to locations not easily accessible by ambulances.
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Big Issues The real story behind the headline or the 30 misleading seconds on the evening news…
Free Speech? “Loyalty Oaths”?
The real story behind anti-BDS laws Faced with a growing number of states pushing back against groups doesn’t affect her ability to provide speech pathology services. that would boycott Israel, a new tactic for boycott supporters is playRep. Phil King, who wrote the law, said it was narrowly crafted to reing out in Texas —portraying anti-boycott measures as a violation of fer to “discriminatory commercial activity,” not individual criticism or individual free speech, and even claiming that government workers boycotts of Israel. In other words, Amawi can boycott Israeli products are having to pledge loyalty to Israel. as an individual, but in her professional capacity may not discriminate According to many media outlets, that is what happened with Bahia against any Israeli student who might need her services at the school, Amawi, a speech pathologist who has worked with autistic elementary if that unlikely situation were to ever occur. school children in the Austin area for nine years. On Dec. 16, a lawIn a statement, King said he will file “a simple bill” to eliminate any suit was filed in federal court stating that she lost her job because she confusion and misapplication of the law, clarifying that it does not aprefused to sign what is being characterized as a “loyalty oath” to Israel. ply to individuals or sole proprietors, so “it doesn’t apply to a small inSupporters of laws against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and dividual who is doing a single contract such as this lady in Pflugerville.” Sanctions movement, however, say the suit was a result of a mis-appliThe law was also mis-applied by one town in having that wording on cation of the law, and efforts are being made to clarify it. applications for relief aid following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. While groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are challengTexas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also named in the suit. A ing anti-BDS laws as a matter of free speech, spokesman said private citizens and companies defenders state they are really commercial an“have every right to express their views on any ti-discrimination clauses, concerned with comissue they wish by boycotting companies and These laws are about mercial conduct and not what individuals do in citizens. They do not, however, have a right to discriminatory corporate their private capacities. use money they obtain from government conAmawi’s suit starts off with a statement about tracts to make that statement. The taxpayers of conduct, not individual the First Amendment, then states that while “the Texas do not want their money used to marginfree speech conflict between Israel and Palestine is a longalize and attack a key ally and trading partner of standing issue of considerable public concern,” Texas, and they have said so at the ballot box.” Texas in 2017 “chose to categorically take Israel’s side” by barring govJonathan Tobin, editor of Jewish News Syndicate, said that framing ernment contracts with companies that boycott Israel. the debate as over the First Amendment makes such anti-BDS laws In August, the Pflugerville Independent School District, where she appear unconstitutional. But, he said, that is a misrepresentation, behas been a contract worker, sent her a contract for Arabic assessment cause the laws are prohibiting discriminatory commercial conduct. services. On Sept. 10, they sent her an addendum stating that she “It is well understood that those who wish to be connected to the “does not currently boycott Israel and will not boycott Israel during state government in this manner cannot expect to do business in such the term of the contract.” She told the district that she could not sign a way as to discriminate against African-Americans, Hispanics or othit “citing moral issues” and was forced to terminate her relationship er minority groups without running afoul of the law,” Tobin pointed with the district. out. “What anti-BDS laws do is to extend those protections to Israel The contract addendum includes 10 sections, of which the Israel and Israelis because they are subject to an international campaign of part is the ninth. Other sections deal with criminal history, non-dis- discrimination that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.” crimination, the Clean Air and Water Act, and so forth. Tobin points out that far from being “peaceful,” the BDS movement’s The suit, filed with the assistance of the Council on American Is- often-stated goal is the elimination and replacement of Israel, denying lamic Relations, states that Amawi “boycotts products created in Israel self-determination to the Jewish people. in support of the peaceful Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and SancCurrently, there are 26 states which have anti-BDS laws, including tions movement.” Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. If she signed that section, she said in an interview, “I would not only Kentucky recently became the 26th such state, and at press time, Misbe betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe sissippi is about to become the 27th. is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be There is precedent for anti-boycott legislation. betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constituWhen Israel became independent in 1948, the Arab League institional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.” tuted a boycott on all businesses from Israel or that had business reBorn in Austria, Amawi has been in the U.S. for 30 years and is a lationships with Israel — which is why, for example, for decades one citizen. She has relatives in the territories. could find Coca-Cola in Israel and Pepsi in Arab countries, but not Joel Schwitzer, who is regional director of the American Jewish vice versa. Committee in Dallas, said the suit is over a mis-application of the anIn the 1970s, Congress passed legislation punishing companies that ti-BDS law. As an individual, she can boycott Israeli products, but that adhered to the boycott.
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Advancing prosperity for all in the territories Forum brings Israeli, Palestinian business leaders together to discuss cooperation
While efforts from Washington to bring about a political peace be- and the RDFI. That’s what the Forum is for today, which was designed tween Palestinians and Israel continue to be fruitless, a different an- to show the future economic outlook and potential for the West Bank.” swer is coming out of Alabama. In the absence of a political peace plan, Johnston said, they looked at The Birmingham-based U.S. Israel Education Association and the what would be possible to accomplish in the territories. Judea Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry held an IsraeAs part of the conference, on Feb. 20, the chamber announced the li-Palestinian International Economic Forum at the King David Hotel Judea Samaria Regional Development Financing Initiative, to integrate in Jerusalem on Feb. 20 and 21, with Israeli and Palestinian business economic planning and advance joint entrepreneurship between Isleaders working together to advance economic opportunities in the raelis and Palestinians who live in the area. territories. The chamber was founded by Israeli Avi Zimmerman and PalestinOver 140 registered for the event, twice what was expected. About ian Ashraf Jabari. 70 Palestinian business leaders were among those at the event. Zimmerman, who is from Ariel, said the chamber and USIEA iniThe USIEA works to boost U.S. support for the joint economic tiated the forum “to promote business opportunities for all residents endeavors, both in the grassroots and the governmental realms. As in the region. The process we launch today begins with developing an most official trips by U.S. representatives do not include the territo- inventory of projects in the fields of tech, industry, tourism, environries, USIEA has arranged visits for numerous ment, energy and infrastructure.” Congressional representatives and senators A statement from the two groups noted that “If Palestinians and Jewish “Political realities on the ground, including into the territories beyond the Green Line, the 1949 cease-fire line from Israel’s War of Inde- people can’t work together, anti-normalization policies of the Palestinian pendence. Authority and mobility restrictions from Israel’s we will have pain for the The USIEA also arranged for Friedman’s first security policy in the West Bank, have histornext 50 years.” official visit into the territories, for a chamber ically acted as barriers to economic progress. gathering last fall. But through the RDFI, the Chamber and USIEA The economic forum is different from peace discussions because it are attempting to help businesses in the West Bank break through or involves “an unstoppable people’s movement,” said USIEA Executive go around such obstacles. This achievement has started a process that Director Heather Johnston, a Biblically-inspired Christian who has is mapping out prospective partnerships and opportunities in various dedicated her adult life to advancing Israel’s well-being. sectors in the West Bank.” “It was important for our U.S. leadership to see what can happen Jabari, a Palestinian business and community leader from Hebron, in the way of a new future for Israelis and Palestinians living in the said such dialogue and communication was the only way forward for West Bank,” she said. “The USIEA has connected with the JSChamber, Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. “We need to break the the Milken Innovation Center, the U.S. administration and the Israeli fence between Israelis and Palestinians and to know that there’s no government to magnify this grassroots movement between business other way but to work together. We can’t keep going like we have over
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25 years and waiting for a political settlement. We don’t have time to wait for politicians.” “The political process will continue,” said U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who addressed the Forum. “We’re hopeful we will make real progress on that in the near future, but it is never a substitute or means to delay the opportunity to provide a better future for the Jews and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, who are entitled to the very same things that we all want for our families.” Friedman said the event shows prospects for a true peace. “Not the peace that comes from a piece of paper, but the real U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman addressed the forum peace that is in the hearts and souls of everyone here.” The U.S. stands with Palestinians and Israelis in that effort, and “no one can or should tell you what is possible. No one should work together, we help them. For the first time ever, the United States has stepped in and said, ‘Where neighbors are helping neighbors and limit your dreams or scuttle your aspirations.” He added, “as the children of Abraham, there is far more that unites partnering together, we should consider that a good thing’.” He added, “Sometimes in the world of politics, things move excepus than divides us. We are not destined to fight. Every one of us believes in the essential dignity and holiness of every human being, and tionally slowly,” but when something big happens, “the first people it is our sacred task to bring that holiness and dignity to our everyday who come to help are our neighbors. Eventually, the government gets there, but it’s always neighbors who help neighbors first.” life.” Zimmerman also characterized the effort as free trade “amongst As part of the forum, a group of Israeli mayors and Palestinian mukhtars from the territories held a meeting about the RDFI. Ac- neighbors,” and said there are often more challenges within the terricording to Zimmerman, the forum and the closed meeting were very tories than with Israeli-Palestinian business ties across the Green Line. The chamber is working to “cultivate and promote an integrated productive first steps in a process of long-term economic growth in business community to ensure regional stability and substantiate the West Bank. Financial tools and models will focus on two models, Zimmerman long-term sustainability.” Jabari noted that 200,000 Palestinian workers enter Israel every day, said. A short-term investment fund will focus on enterprise, and a and there is about $800 million in trade each month across the Green long-term bond bank model will work on infrastructure investment. “This session was very important for moving forward,” said Zim- Line. Moshe Lev-Ran, International Export Manager of Twitoplast Ltd., merman. “Although this is not a peace summit, I’m pleasantly surprised when discussions on joint and mutual economic growth nat- spoke about the value of Israelis and Palestinians working together as urally evolve into a conversation of peace. We have not often had this neighbors. Twitoplast, which manufactures supplies for the air conopportunity to hold an Israeli-Palestinian sub-sovereign meeting, and ditioning industry, is located in the Barkan Industrial Park near Ariel, I would like to thank every Israeli mayor and Palestinian mukhtar who and as the park is in the territories, it is a target of the boycott-Israel movement and anti-normalization efforts by Palestinian activists. joined us.” Last October, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis at a different Among the former participants on USIEA trips is Sen. James Lankfactory in the park, an incident that was seen as an aberration in what ford of Oklahoma, who addressed the forum. Lankford has fought to include language in funding bills that would is otherwise praised as an oasis of cooperation. Lev-Ran noted that the atmosphere of his factory is like a big family. encourage business development, “that when Palestinians and Israelis The plant manager is Palestinian, Lev-Ran said, and when his oneyear-old daughter had cancer, the company arranged and paid for her care at the best hospital in Israel, and took care of 18 months of follow-up treatment. She is now cancer-free. On Sukkot, when the Jewish workers are off for the holiday, the Palestinian workers open and close the plant for an eight-hour shift. “We trust them fully,” Lev-Ran said. “This is the relationship between us.” Zimmerman said the forum and the chamber aren’t getting into the politics of the Middle East, though they have to work with politicians to help facilitate a better business climate. “There is no commitment or agenda here for a particular political outcome” or type of peace deal, he said, noting that the members of the all-volunteer organization “don’t even agree on where we are supposed to be going. It’s not even on the table,” just a focus on economic development and improving daily life. Jabari said Palestinians “need to work together with Israeli people — people need to know that these are our neighbors and we live beside them… We want to stop the bloodshed. Everything will come together if we come together with our hearts. If Palestinians and Jewish people can’t work together, we will have pain for the next 50 years.” Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Mississippi Governor Leads Fourth Trade Mission to Israel From Israel InSight and JNS reports
In November, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant made his fourth trip to Israel in five years, leading a 20-member trade delegation and speaking at the third Jerusalem Leaders Summit. Bryant was presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award for his efforts to strengthen the Israel-U.S. strategic partnership. A strong Israel advocate, Bryant’s emotions were on full display when he addressed the crowd. “We have so many friends around the world,” he said, “but none as close, and none that I love more than Israel. I am called to be here. Perhaps sometimes we cannot explain exactly why, but that call, that voice, is stronger than any other that we hear, to come to Israel, to Jerusalem, to do what I can to strengthen this relationship.” The summit featured leading voices who articulated principled solutions in addressing the 21st-century’s economic concerns, global threats and security challenges. The parent organization — the International Leaders Summit, co-founded by Joel Anand Samy and
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant addressed the Jerusalem Leaders Summit
Natasha Srdoc — brought together leaders from America, Britain, continental Europe, India and Israel to its inaugural Jerusalem Leaders Summit event in 2015, affirming the rule of law of civilization, based on shared principles and values. This year’s summit focused on strengthening the rule of law, advancing economic freedom and free trade, and featuring contributions from the fields of innovation and technology that benefit individuals around the world. Anand Samy told JNS “We are delighted that Governor Phil Bryant is here with a trade delegation… This is a practical approach that we are infusing into the Jerusalem Leaders summit. Bringing business leaders together who are looking into establishing economic partnerships, security partnerships through their endeavors working with government entities as well. So this is where we see the next level developing of us being involved as a team, as an organization, in facilitating these important gatherings.” Also speaking at the Summit was Sampat Shivangi, a prominent Mississippi physician who was recently named to the ILS executive advisory board. A member of Mississippi’s Hindu community, Shivangi was appointed a goodwill ambassador to Israel in 2005, working with the American Jewish Committee. Shivangi was appointed as an advisor to the U.S. Health and Human Services committee by President George W. Bush. Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour appointed While most people associate Elvis Presley with him to the Mississippi State Board of Memphis, he was born in Tupelo, Miss. Governor Health, then was appointed chair of Phil Bryant and Consul General Lior Haiat stopped the State Board of Mental Health, by by the Elvis shrine near Jerusalem
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Bryant. Also on the schedule was Rev. Chris Edmonds of Tennessee, an ILS board member whose father, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for saving the lives of American Jewish soldiers during the Holocaust when his unit was captured by the Nazis. Bryant told Israeli media that his first Israel visit in 2013 came when he saw that the U.S. administration “was weakening in our support of Israel,” so he wanted to come to Israel to reiterate that the heartland of America supports Israel. Among those on the trip were Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr. and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Col. Greg Michel, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and representatives of the Mississippi State Port Authority and the State Workforce Investment Board. Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat from the Miami Consulate accompanied the Nov. 17 to 21 trip, which included a visit to the Elvis Inn, a restaurant and gas station near Jerusalem that is a shrine to the Mississippi-born King of Rock and Roll. “It kind of caught me by surprise,” Bryant said. “I walked in, there’s a guy singing ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ Sounded just like Elvis Presley. And I’m in Jerusalem.” On Nov. 20, Bryant met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Bryant “a stalwart friend of Israel and a great champion of the Israeli-America alliance.” Bryant brought greetings from President Donald Trump, “my dear friend, who called me on Sunday night at 02:00 Israeli time to make sure that I expressed our strong support of Israel, not only in Mississippi, but across the United States and his administration again for peace in our world and in our time,
Mississippi passes anti-BDS bill and you are doing so much to help us reach that and we thank you for that.” Netanyahu responded, “We appreciate what President Trump is doing and his effort to contain Iranian aggression, which is the greatest danger to the peace of the world.” In their meeting, they discussed cyber, fighting BDS and strengthening the alliance against “common enemies” and for “common challenges.” In the JNS interview, Bryant also addressed anti-Israel boycott efforts. “That’s not going to happen,” he said adamantly. “I was at a board meeting with Caterpillar, and they said they need to stop selling Caterpillars to the Jewish nation, and we said, ‘No! We’re not going to do that’,” Bryant said. “We have had success. We were able to pass a bill that said we will not invest, in the State of Mississippi, any of our dollars, whether education or retirement dollars, in any company that is helping threaten Israel, attack Israel, [or] supporting those nations and rogue organizations that are a threat to Israel.” Bryant told JNS how he would suggest that people get to know the real Israel — not what they glean from the mainstream media. “You have more people that come and visit. You have more governors, more senators, more congressmen or more prime ministers. People from all over the world,” he said. “One of the things that we have in common is that people misunderstand Israel as much as they misunderstand Mississippi. That’s why we’re here. I tell people, ‘Once you’ve come here, you can go back as an advocate for Israel and say you need to go’.” “Everyone I talk to says, ‘Oh, I wish I could go to Israel.’ Well, go! They’re flying planes out of New York and Atlanta every day… The more people that come here, I think the more they understand the reality that is Israel. It is the most remarkable place in the world,” gushed Bryant. Why does Mississippi have an emphasis on Israel, with four missions in five years? Bryant said the state has a desire “to work with one of the most successful nations in the world.” He explained, “We in Mississippi have to learn how to do remarkable things. We have to overachieve… that is what has been taking place here in Israel since 1947.” The most remarkable thing about Israel, Bryant said, is that everyone he sees there “just wants peace.” With the threats and attacks from Israel’s neighbors, one would think Israelis would be angry and want to strike back, “and you could. But you just want peace.”
Mississippi is joining its neighbors in barring state investments in companies that participate in anti-Israel boycotts. The Mississippi House passed House Bill 761, the “Israel Support Act of 2019,” 92-10, on Feb. 7. It was then amended to remove the term “sole proprietorship” from the definition of company, and passed by a 9317 vote on Feb. 13, then transmitted to the Senate on Feb. 15. On Feb. 27 it was referred to the Senate Finance committee. On March 6, the Senate passed the bill, 34-8. The bill prevents the state retirement system, treasury and state government entities from investing in companies that boycott Israel, and calls on the state to develop a list of such companies. Any existing investment in those companies would have to be sold within 120 days after the list is published, as of July 1, 2020. Exceptions can be made if the state deems it necessary. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Donnie Bell, Greg Snowden, Henry Zuber, Jeffrey Smith, William Arnold, Larry Byrd, Thomas Reynolds and Patricia Willis, six Republicans and two Democrats. Speaker Pro-Tem Snowden said “it was my honor and privilege” to handle the bill on the House floor. “Mississippians are true friends of Israel, and this bill gives tangible support to the historically pro-Israel sentiment of our citizens.” Last year, Mississippi passed legislation allowing state investment funds to purchase
Israel Bonds. After the anti-boycott bill passed the House, Bryant said he was “so proud” the bill passed, and “Mississippi will stand with Israel.” Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said “Today I was proud to stand with Israel” as the Senate sent the bill to Bryant. “God Bless Mississippi! God bless Israel!” Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat said he was “thankful for the support for Israel from all our friends in Mississippi!” In 2015, Tennessee was the first state to pass an anti-BDS bill, and Mississippi becomes the 27th state with an anti-BDS law. Alabama passed an anti-BDS law in 2016, and last May, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order barring BDS, making Louisiana the 25th state to have such legislation. Arkansas passed an anti-BDS act in 2017. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement seeks to isolate Israel economically, academically and socially, and the movement’s founders have repeatedly stated their objective is not simply to protest Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, but the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. In the 1970s, there was a Federal ban on participation in the Arab League’s boycott of Israel. The Council on American-Islamic Relations characterized the Mississippi bill as an “anti-free speech bill to punish criticism of Israel.”
Tennessee’s “historic occasion”
On March 7, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a proclamation of support for Israel, in a ceremony at the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Israeli Consul General Judith Varnai Shorer received the proclamation. Sen. Mark Pody guided the resolution through the Legislature, and they were joined onstage by Nashville’s rabbis. Jewish Federation directors from Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville also attended. Full story online at IsraelInSightMagazine.com. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Oil and water — with a side of cybersecurity Louisiana trade mission to Israel shows success, potential in several areas
Over two evenings, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards touted successes from the recent Louisiana trade mission to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, left, at signing of collaboration agreement between the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge Israel. On Jan. 28, Edwards spoke following a panel discussion at the and Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, at Ben Gurion University of New Orleans, and at a similar event on Jan. 29 University on Oct. 29. at the Estuary at the Water Campus in Baton Rouge. Each night, the ter issues, Ehrenwerth said, but discussed collaboration and how Israel panel was comprised of participants in the October mission. was able to solve their water challenges. Edwards said the trip will result in “a new level of cooperation and Now that Israel is finally in a good place regarding water supply, collaboration… that will make us stronger.” they are able to start working on other aspects of water policy, such as About two dozen went on the mission, which left Louisiana on Oct. stream sustainability. “That is an area we know a lot about in Louisiana.” 27. Participants emphasized how it was a working trip, with 22 meetBecause of how streams transcend borders, they discussed how resings over the course of four days. toration efforts can also be part of a peace dialogue. The mission had its origins in a May 22 ceremony at the GoverHe also mentioned “remarkable technology” that Israel has develnor’s Mansion, where Edwards signed an executive order forbidding oped for pipes and other liquid infrastructure, detecting leaks well the state from signing contracts with companies that participate in before what is currently possible. “We have some old infrastructure in boycotts of Israel. New Orleans,” he commented. Israeli Consul General Gilad Katz, from the Houston consulate, Ehrenwerth called it “a very important trip from a professional perattended the event and invited Edwards to visit Israel. Edwards told spective,” adding that there is limitless potential in the partnership. his economic development team to make it happen, and the trip took This was his seventh trip to Israel, but he said this was “completely place five months later. Edwards commented that for a trip of that different.” type, “that was lightning fast.” Edwards said the vision for the Water Institute of the Gulf is to have He added that he returned from Israel in time for the LSU-Alabama a world-wide impact, with Louisiana as a global leader in water manfootball game, but “I wish I’d stayed a couple more days” given the agement. game’s result. Katz, who accompanied Edwards in Israel, attended the New Or- Taking Start-Up Risks leans event, presenting Edwards with framed photos from the trip — Dardenne spoke about Israel as the start-up nation, saying the govand an invitation to return. ernment invests in startups and risky ventures knowing that many of While Edwards said they got to see a lot of Israel, they did not get to them would fail, but others would succeed tremendously. He said that see all of it, so “I have every intention of going back.” is a different culture than the United States, where state governments There were three panelists each night, with two of them — Commis- are not in that type of position and are much more risk averse. sioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and Water Institute of the Gulf The group repeatedly heard the expression that Israel “lives in a bad President Justin Ehrenwerth — speaking both times. neighborhood,” Dardenne said. Ehrenwerth said both Israel and Louisiana deal with water “as an exRobert Landry, chief commercial officer for the Port of New Orleistential crisis.” It was stated repeatedly that Louisiana has too much, ans, spoke at the New Orleans event. He noted that one of the largest and Israel has too little, leading many of the Israelis they met with to shipping container lines using the Port of New Orleans is Zim, which joke that Louisiana just needs to build a long pipeline to Israel. is an Israeli company. Landry and many of the participants met with “We didn’t spend a lot of time saying how different we were” in wa- the president of Zim during the trip. Grain and frozen chicken are exported to Israel through New Orleans, while imports from Israel include food products and a lot of furniture for Rooms To Go. A major concern for the shipping industry is cyber security, with hackers making frequent attempts at the infrastructure. “Cyber security is increasingly important, and we put a high priority on that.” In Baton Rouge, Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, co-chair of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission, noted that he had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, “some pretty tough areas,” so he didn’t know what the “threat environment would be visiting Israel.” He quickly realized this would be a different experience, as he “never felt threatened,” and he was “amazed to see the different religions, different nationalities” throughout Israel. With everyone in Israel focused on national survival, “they have to Justin Ehrenwerth, Jay Dardenne and Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis share be masters of the cyber world,” including the realms of government, oil their Israel experiences in Baton Rouge and gas, transportation and water.
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Cyber-security is a major emphasis for Edwards, who noted that 40 percent of private sector investment in cyber security worldwide takes place in Israel. He said there will be a national cyber-security conference with officials from all 50 states invited, this May in Bossier City, and he anticipates a lot of representation from Israel. “It’s my goal for Louisiana to be a national and international leader in cyber security, and there is so much we can learn from Israel on this front,” he said. He also mentioned that the only cyber security degree in the U.S. is granted at Louisiana Tech. He also touted a new partnership with Israeli cyber-security firm Check Point. Another area of emphasis is Israel’s development of gas fields in the Mediterranean, a field where Israel doesn’t have much experience, but Louisiana does. Edwards said a highlight of the trip was meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the type of visit that Edward said is usually perfunctory and done as a courtesy, but “it was obvious… that this was going to be more than that” as the 20 minutes allotted for the visit stretched into almost an hour and a half. While being a governor isn’t easy, Edwards said that “compared to his job, I’ve got it made over here.” Though the schedule was packed, there were many personal moments on the trip. The first full day of the mission was a Sunday, which Edwards noted is a work day in Israel. They got up at 4 a.m. to attend the 5:30 a.m. Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He said it was a “special time” for many on the trip. The morning included a visit to Yad Vashem, where like so many other dignitaries, he and his wife placed a wreath at the memorial. But since it was the day after the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, that “transformed it to more than a ceremonial thing you do because you’re a governor.” A Pittsburgh native, Ehrenwerth said he knew some of those who were killed at Tree of Life. In Israel, he was inspired by “the resilience they conveyed, the understanding of what going through a trauma like that meant.” After being asked in New Orleans about the relative lack of Holocaust education in the state, Edwards commented in Baton Rouge the next night that “we’re not doing a very good job of making sure people know,” and the fact that it is an uncomfortable subject “is probably more reason it needs to be taught, not less.” This was Dardenne’s first trip to Israel, and he admitted that he had never really expected that he might ever make that journey. For him, it was especially “poignant” to be at the Western Wall, because his brother died in June, and the night before the delegation headed to Israel, his brother’s youngest son died of cancer. The group visited an Iron Dome outpost at night and had a briefing from IDF soldiers, after which two of the soldiers asked for a ride to Tel Aviv. Being able to talk with the two soldiers “really reminded me how young they are, the position they are in and how much responsibility is on their shoulders,” Ehrenwerth said. After visiting the Golan Heights and seeing into Syria, they had an unexpected break due to Israel’s municipal elections, giving them the opportunity to tour sites in the Galilee. Edward said it was particularly meaningful to be on the Sea of Galilee, and to read the Beatitudes where Jesus gave that sermon. Donna Sternberg, who was credited with helping make the trip possible, speculated as to where Edwards’ affinity for Israel comes from. Perhaps, she said, it was when he studied Israeli military strategy at West Point, or “perhaps he recognizes a true friend when he sees one.” Henry Miller, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, said “we are excited about the future of the Israel-Louisiana alliance under the governor’s leadership.” Edwards said “I want to be a good, reliable partner for the Jewish community in Louisiana,” and “The best days of Israel, the best days of Louisiana and the United States are ahead of us.”
Amit Barak A Jew between Christians Lives in Judea, an expert about ChristianJewish relations. One of the initiators of the historical movement to integrate Arabic-speaking, Aramean Christians into the IDF and the Israeli Society. Amit is the only Israeli Jew who is involved in this historic change since the beginning. Worked for five years with Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek-Orthodox Priest from Nazareth.
Suggested lectures: • Making History — A Jew between Christians, the story of the Israeli Christians as you never knew before. • “Out of the box” — the influence of Christians in Israel on public diplomacy efforts. • The Aramean-Christian Identity — The unique recognition of the State of Israel in the historical roots of Christians in the Land of Israel. • The History of Christians in the Holy Land and the Aramean Identity: A Challenge for Palestinian Liberation Theology. • Pilgrims in a mask — Who is working to bring down the bridges? Addressing the exploration and exposition activities of foreign Christian organizations operating in Israel and promoting anti-Israel policies such as the EAPPI of the World Council of Churches, and CPT.
+972-55-6611685 Amitbarak1@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/amit.barak.37
Consultant and lecturer on Israeli Christian enlistment in the IDF, Christian integration in Israeli society, and building bridges between Israel and the Christian world.
Stay Informed Israel InSight Online! IsraelInSightMagazine.com Israel InSight • Preview Issue
ADVOCATING Israel (JNS) 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
3 4 16
“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 14th year of his four-year term, is proclaimed
The Americans have Disney World The Europeans have Euro-Disney
all based on the fairy tales of Walt Disney.
And what do we have???
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 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.
The Bible — the book of books! Join us for a deep journey into the real roots of Israel! Located in the heart of the Biblical narrative — Samaria Focusing on the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel
See Israel’s only full-size replica of the Tabernacle of the Wilderness
including the Altar, Laver, Menorah, Showbread Table and the Ark of the Covenant Moses viewing the Holy Land from Mt. Nebo Crossing the Jordan River The Israelite Camp at Gilgal Jacob’s Ladder The Altar on Mt. Ebal Joseph and his Brothers Parable of Jotham
A tour through the Garden of Biblical Stories is one of the most interesting and exciting experiences of its kind in Israel. Located Next To The Elegant Eshel HaShomron Hotel in Ariel on the Trans-Samaria Highway, 15 minutes from Petach Tikva www.ArielBibleGarden.com email@example.com
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Leading Israeli journalist declares
“Christian Zionism for us is a blessing”
One of Israel’s best-known journalists believes that Israelis should Much of his formal talk focused on why Israelis continue to overbe thankful for the growing Christian Zionist movement, which is whelmingly support Netanyahu and Trump. providing the Jewish state with crucial support. Keinon stressed that this support of Netanyahu and Trump among Herb Keinon, long-time diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusa- Israelis is not a 100 percent endorsement of everything they do or say, lem Post, said that Biblically-inspired Christians who or a defense of the controversies that surround both have dedicated themselves to advocating for the Jewish leaders. Rather, it is a reflection that when it comes to state have become vital to Israel’s well-being. major issues that drive Israeli thinking, these are two Keinon offered his observations about Christian leaders who enjoy widespread support among the IsZionism in an interview with Israel InSight magazine raeli public. prior to speaking Nov. 4 to a mostly Jewish audience at Netanyahu, who is on the verge of becoming Israel’s Birmingham‘s Levite Jewish Community Center. longest serving prime minister, is seen as a protector of “Israel is lucky to have this kind of support,” he said. the Israeli people and someone they trust to make the “It is not a given, for example, that the U.S. Congress country safer for them and their families. always will be as supportive of Israel as it is today, and “You have to understand what it feels like to feel inhaving support from so many Christian Zionists is crusecure,” the Israeli journalist said in his talk, reflecting cial to Israel’s long-term well-being.” on day-to-day life in the country. “This insecurity is real The Christian Zionist movement has grown tremenand shapes how we think about the world.” dously in the past 15 years. Christians United for Israel, He said 18 years ago, the outbreak of an unprecefor example, a major Christian Zionist education and dented war of terrorism against the Israeli people by advocacy group, which began with 400 members in 2006, has grown the Palestinians, after their leader Yasser Arafat rejected Israel’s unto 5 million members, according to the organization. precedented peace concessions, transformed the Israeli psyche and Keinon, an American Jew who grew up in the United States before created a trauma that goes on to this day. immigrating to Israel and becoming an Israeli citizen, acknowledges that “We were mugged by reality,” Keinon said. “Terror came into the some American Jews may be “wary” of Israel’s Christian supporters. cities and affected everybody — the terrorism left a scar on the people He believes they are worried that the ultimate motive of Israel’s that we have not yet gotten over.” This was a traumatic period for IsChristian supporters is to convert Jews to Christianity, a concern that raelis that instilled fear throughout society as Israel bravely faced what Keinon does not share. seemed to be a nonstop barrage of suicide bombings and other acts “In Israel the main issue for us is security — keeping our families of terror. safe — and we believe that the Christian Zionist movement, as a result Keinon also gave Netanyahu high marks for his handling of the Isof its advocacy and education on behalf of Israel, helps protect and raeli economy, another issue that is important to the Israeli people. strengthen our country,” he said. Turning to Trump, Keinon stressed that “IsChristian Zionists draw great meaning and raeli Jews are consumed by security.” Trump, in Israel was “mugged by inspiration from Genesis 12:3, which says God the eyes of many Israelis, has been a great and will bless those who bless Israel and curse those reality” of terrorism, and is steadfast friend of their country which, Keinon who curse Israel. “consumed by security” and says, is what drives their admiration for Trump. Keinon noted that Israel’s outreach to ChrisAppreciation for the American president is rewhat is best for the country flected in Israeli opinion polls. tian Zionist leaders began under Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in the late 1970s and “Israelis look at U.S. presidents in terms of early 1980s. In fact, Begin, like Christian Zionists, was Biblically-in- who is best for Israel,” Keinon explained, observing that Trump has spired himself and spoke passionately about Israel’s birthright and title earned high marks in three key areas. to the land being embedded in the Hebrew Bible. The first is “changing the conversation about Israel” and creating a As Keinon noted, Begin may have been the first prime minister much more positive tone in U.S.-Israel relations, and not “airing disto embrace the Christian Zionist movement, an overture that many agreements in public.” Additionally, as part of this change, the Israeli American Jews found perplexing at the time, but every Israeli prime journalist noted that Trump has surrounded himself with influential minister since then has carried the relationship forward to some de- advisors “who like, understand and support Israel.” gree. Today, current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu places great The second area involving Trump is his withdrawal from the Iranian emphasis on Israel‘s relationship with its Christian supporters, not just nuclear accord and the new economic and political pressures that he in the U.S. but worldwide. has put on the Iranian regime. “This has had tremendous implications Keinon also noted that the Christian Zionist movement was an in thwarting Iran and it is now a different ballgame,” said Keinon. important catalyst for President Trump‘s decision to move the U.S. “Trump has put the Iranians on the defensive.” Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The third area, which Keinon described as “major for Israel,” is the “Christian Zionism for us is a blessing,” said the Israeli journalist. moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem Keinon’s byline is well-known to those who read the Israeli news as Israel’s capital. “Symbols matter,” he said, “and also by moving the media. He has worked for the Jerusalem Post for 31 years and took embassy, Trump sent a message to the Palestinians that there is a price over the diplomatic beat in 2000. In that role, he covers Israel’s prime for continued rejection of Israel and unwillingness to negotiate.” minister and foreign minister. “As a whole,” he said, “Trump has been extremely good for Israel.”
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CAMPUS Israel By a 30-7 margin, the Undergraduate Student Government of the Ohio State University voted down a resolution to divest from companies which “benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” and to boycott Israeli products. The resolution, which would not have been binding on the university administration, named G4S, Caterpillar, Sabra and Hewlett-Packard as targets of divestment. The resolution also sought “an academic boycott of Israeli universities, including cancellations of currently invited speakers and visiting professors, and to ending existing programs or relationships with Israeli universities.” United Student Government President Shamina Merchant and Vice President Shawn Semmler said in a statement before the vote that “we believe the implications of this resolution would negatively impact students on our campus and their opportunities for scholarships, research and field experiences. It stands against the core principle of academic freedom and we are concerned about the exclusionary language used to address our educators on campus.” The faculty at Pitzer College in California voted to suspend study-abroad programs in Israel, but College President Melvin Oliver said he would ignore the non-binding March 14 resolution. The resolution called for suspending ties with Haifa University — where 35 percent of the student body is Arab — and passed by a 68-25 margin. The motion called on the program’s suspension until “the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech” and until Israel grants visas to Palestinian universities on the same basis as Israeli universities. In rejecting the resolution, Oliver said “I am refusing to permit Pitzer College to take a position that I believe will only harm the College,” and said despite the specifics in the resolution, it sets up an academic boycott of Israel, which “sets us on a path away from the free exchange of ideas, a direction which ultimately destroys the academy’s
ability to fulfill our educational mission. He added that the exclusive focus on Israel shows the recommendation “is prejudiced.” University of Haifa President Ron Robin, emphasizing the “diversity, coexistence, and tolerance” at Haifa, said the faculty gave “its seal of approval to contemporary anti-Semitism.” In a win for Students Supporting Israel, Columbia University Student Council failed to pass a BDS bill after four hours of debate on March 10. A 20-17 majority voted in favor, but two-thirds was required. After the University of North Carolina had Linda Sarsour headline a Minority Health Conference in February, where she advocated for boycotts of Israel, UNC and Duke University are hosting a “much worse” three-day joint conference, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities” from March 22 to 24, with a one-sided, harshly anti-Israel agenda. The conference is co-sponsored by numerous departments at both universities. After Students for Justice in Palestine delivered a letter to Martha Pollack, the president of Cornell University, demanding that she adopt a boycott of Israel, she sent back a letter completely shutting down that argument. She replied that BDS unfairly “places all of the responsibility for an extraordinarily complex geopolitical situation on just one country and frequently conflates the policies of the Israeli government with the very right of Israel to exist as a nation, which I find particularly troublesome.” She added that the BDS movement also goes against “Cornell’s core commitment to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas,” and she rejected using the school’s endowment for “political or social power.”
Israel InSight • Preview Issue
DOING FOR Israel
Dedicating two shelters at Regba, where “Lone Soldiers” from outside Israel are housed
Photos courtesy Operation Lifeshield
Saving lives while building bridges
Operation Lifeshield in Israel provides shelters from missile attacks, now also fighting kite fires For over a decade, Operation Lifeshield has provided above-ground year-old is in one part of the house and the six-year-old is on the other bomb shelters to Israeli communities under threat from missiles side, who do you grab on the way out? launched from Lebanon and Gaza. With the “kite fires” from Gaza The organization also places shelters in Muslim Bedouin communisince last summer, the small organization has added firefighting to its ties near Gaza. “Rockets don’t know the difference between Jewish and resume. Arab communities,” he said. Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, executive director of Operation Lifeshield, Bowman said most Gazans “would much rather be living peacefulspoke at several communities in the United States recently, including ly,” and there is tremendous potential for Gaza. It has “some of the ResLife Church in Michigan, which has donated and co-donated close nicest beaches you would ever find,” and natural gas off the coast, he to 100 shelters through Operation Lifeshield. said. But Hamas isn’t allowing development of He told the church “Israel was hit by over 180 Gaza to happen. “That’s the message the world Gaza has tremendous rockets from Gaza in less than 48 hours” the isn’t hearing.” week before his visit. “Your shelters were heav- potential, with “some of the When Gazans oppose Hamas, the terror orily used, and protected thousands of innocent nicest beaches you would ganization that rules the area, there are severe civilians.” ever find” and natural gas consequences. Bowman referred to video of a In March, about 100 members of the church father of a family being pulled out of his home, off the coast, but Hamas visited with Bowman in Israel to see their work. tied to the back of a truck and dragged through won’t allow it to happen. Operation Lifeshield began in 2006 during the streets to his death, and people being pulled the second Lebanon war, to provide accessible from hospital beds and being thrown off the “That’s the message the above-ground bomb shelters in northern Israel, roof. world isn’t hearing.” “so people could get into them and then out of In the recent border riots, demonstrators them in a reasonable amount of time.” burned 45,000 tires, then complained when IsIn recent years, the focus has turned to Gaza, which was taken over rael refused to allow the importation of more tires. Israel petitioned by Hamas in 2007. Every so often, Hamas launches a campaign of the World Health Organization, citing the long-term damage to Israefiring missiles at random into Israel. For those living in communities lis and Gazans alike, but the WHO refused to get involved. near Gaza, once an alert is sounded they have just seconds to reach a Leaders in the region by Gaza and Sinai tell the group to keep the bomb shelter. shelters coming. As an example, a music school near Gaza, which Missile attacks force “Auschwitz decisions,” Bowman said. If the serves underprivileged students, can’t expand until they have addisirens go off and you have 20 seconds to get to the shelter, your five- tional shelters.
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Operation Lifeshield works with local officials who have the final say on where to put the shelters. Being above ground, the shelters are easily accessible for anyone, from the disabled to the parent who is carrying children. One of the shelters is a 35,000-pound “bell” shelter that is “lightweight” enough to be put anywhere using a crane. In addition to the concrete shelters, they have steel shelters that are even lighter and have a capacity of about 25. They have an open entryway — if there is a door, what do you do when the door is closed and someone is outside asking to be let in — do you expose those already in the shelter to danger? The biggest concern isn’t a missile hit, Bowman said, it’s the shrapnel spray that causes the most damage, so from the shelter’s entrance there is a turn to shield those inside. The shelters are thoroughly tested. As Bowman put it, “we literally in heavy equipment or unusual materials. The company has developed fortified materials that resemble normal building materials. blow them up” and hit them with rockets. They converted a corridor on the second floor to serve as a bomb A new challenge is the kite fires, with Gazans attaching incendiary devices to kites, helium balloons, birds and helium-filled condoms, shelter, enabling the center to reopen. It was such a large project that four sponsors were needed, Bowman and launching them into Israel to start fires randomly wherever they noted. Two of them are from Alabama — the Birmingham Jewish Fedland. The fires “start immediately, and they are big,” Bowman said. “You eration’s World Jewry Bureau, and the Baxley Companies of Dothan. Noting that one donor was Jewish and one was Christian, Bowman can’t run fast enough.” Operation Lifeshield has started placing portable firefighting trail- said “we actually do bridge the communities of the Jewish and Chrisers in communities — a 700-liter tank that can be towed by a pickup tian world… in a project we all can really care about.” Baxley Companies have donated a dozen shelters in Israel, including truck. Because wildfires grow exponentially, “if you can put out a fire with- two at Moshav Regba, in northern Israel less than 10 miles from the Lebanon border. The shelters are by a building that houses Lone Solin 15 minutes, you drastically reduce the damage it can do.” Operation Lifeshield was the first organization to distribute the diers in Israel, soldiers from around the world who have no relatives in trailers, and now it is just them and the huge Jewish National Fund. Israel to rely on. Bowman said he did not realize this beforehand, but he had a cousin “It’s something I never expected to do,” Bowman said, adding that they from Canada who was housed at Regba and would benefit from the distributed 10 trailers in the first couple of months. A fire trailer costs about $15,500. Concrete shelters are $21,000 and shelters. She was given the honor of unveiling the dedication plaque. Jerome Baxley, who attended Bowman’s talk in Birmingham, said he steel shelters are $22,000. He quipped that the shelters are “a concrete went to Israel several times on Christian tours, thing” people can do to help Israel. but wanted to go over and do something tanA recent major project for Operation gible for the people of Israel. He volunteered Lifeshield helped Livnat Kutz, who founded with the Hesed program of the Friends of IsBeit Malacha in Sha’ar HaNegev, near Gaza, rael Ministry, working at an Israeli hospital. after working for Intel in Israel. Bowman exDuring one of his first volunteer trips, there plained that the stress of living under constant was a ceremony dedicating a shelter that threat of missile attacks has led to first and Friends of Israel donated, and Baxley met Bowsecond grade students in the region being unman. Upon returning to Alabama, Baxley deable to learn basic concepts. “These children cided to start supporting Operation Lifeshield. are growing up in trauma,” he said. Alabama’s Shoals community is also inBeit Malacha uses art and creativity to teach volved, under the leadership of Rev. Jim Bevis those basic concepts, reaching 150 students a of CRS Ministries. Bevis is coordinating the day. But not long ago, the Israeli military shut dedication of a shelter from the area, seekdown the program. Since it was on the second ing 170 individuals to commit $100 each. floor of a building in an area without a shelFlorence Mayor Steve Holt provided the first ter, in a zone where response time to a missile gift, and Jewish community member Adolph launch would be just a few seconds, not long Abroms was the second. enough to get students downstairs, they had Bowman said he would love to report that to close. Operation Lifeshield isn’t necessary any more, Operation Lifeshield brought in a company but “I’m afraid that’s not the case.” that specializes in shelters, fortifying Israeli He said despite the constant threats, Israeembassies around the world in an unobtrusive Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Jerome Baxley lis don’t live in fear. “We live in preparation,” manner. of Alabama and Livnat Kutz at the having “as normal a life as possible in an abIn many places around the world, the lo- shelter built for Beit Malacha’s learning normal situation.” cation of Israeli installations are not known program in Sha’ar HaNegev. Top, one of Operation Lifeshield is “a boring organizato the public, so to fortify such anonymous the firefighting trailers recently donated tion,” Bowman said. “We just save lives.” spaces, one can’t draw attention by bringing through Operation Lifeshield. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
At the fifth annual CUFI Tri-State Night to Honor Israel in Ringgold, Ga., on Nov. 1, candles were lit in memory of the slain worshipers at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
The Pentecostals Of Cooper City, Fla., had a Stand With Israel Night on March 17
Celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday at Anointed Remnant International Ministries in Prattville, Ala. Holocaust survivor Irving Roth was keynote speaker. Left, in response to terror kites from Gaza, those attending the 11th annual Memphis Friends of Israel Festival signed a kite of hope for communities near the Gaza border The Atlanta Israel Coalition made its debut with a Jan. 31 screening of “Black Forest” and a discussion with Kay Wilson, who survived the terror attack depicted in the film. She discussed how salaries are paid to the terrorists who killed her friend and tried to kill her. The new non-partisan coalition brings together Atlanta’s varied pro-Israel groups. Right, Bishop Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings speaks at the annual Alabama Celebrates Israel event at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville.
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Television host Erick Stakelbeck presented at a “Why Israel” CUFI event in Birmingham on March 17
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African-American hoops players at home in Israel
David A. Goldstein, a sports executive and journalist in Toronto, Canada, said he “grew up a basketball fanatic who visited Israel every year, and yet I’d never put the two together.” That changed over a decade ago when he was visiting his grandparents in Jerusalem. It was when Anthony Parker, who previously had played in Israel, was playing for Toronto in the National Basketball Association and his grandparents’ friends couldn’t stop talking about him — and they were incredibly well-informed. He knew basketball was big in Israel, but “I never understood the scope, the depth, the emotional parts of it,” and the connection that Israelis had with African-American players in the Israeli basketball leagues. He started to research that passion “with a blank slate,” curious as to what he would uncover. He figured the story would be a few former NBA players who went to Israel for a brief time, enjoyed their experiences and then headed back home. “When I dug further, that’s when I started to see the depths of the phenomenon.” He saw stories of players who stayed in Israel after their playing days, and “their depth of commitment to the country,” in many cases even serving in the Israeli military. Even for those who don’t stay, “Israel is a part of them, they are advocates and ambassadors, years after they came back to the U.S.” He chronicles their stories in “Alley-Oop to Aliyah: African American Hoopsters in the Holy Land.” He said the book is “their perspective, my best effort at describing how they view the country,” and it is “a completely different perspective” that comes from “people with no discernable history with Judaism or Israel.” Goldstein spoke to a “variety of players” from different levels of Israeli basketball, so he would not get “10 versions of similar experiences.” He spoke to NBA veterans who played for powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Division II players that “scratched, clawed their way.” A lot of them had some trepidation in going to Israel, and family members expressing concern about what they perceived as going to a war zone. “They weren’t expecting much, didn’t know much about the country.” Some players expected it would be like going back in time, he added. “And then, wow. The word ‘wow’ came up over and over again.” Unlike many European countries, almost everyone in Israel speaks English, and since Israel has a great relationship with the U.S. “being an American is something to be proud of,” unlike in much of Europe. With so many cultures represented in Israel, it wasn’t difficult for the players to feel at home. “You can go into a nightclub and hear American hip-hop” or find whatever kind of foods they are used to. Still, being in Israel does mean having to be constantly aware. Goldstein relates the story of Donald Royal from New Orleans, who arrived in Israel in 1990. While shopping with a friend, it didn’t faze him when an elderly Arab woman put her shopping bag on the floor in the mall’s food court. But as she shouted “Allahu akbar,” his friend grabbed his arm and told him to run. He heard the explosion behind him.
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When the Gulf War broke out in 1991, Royal was given permission to stay in Switzerland and meet the team for games on the road — because of the war, all of the Israel team’s international games had to take place outside Israel. But within two weeks, he was so concerned about what was happening in Israel that he ignored family pleas and headed back. Numerous other African American players could have left, but they decided to stay and show they were “in this together.” Many of the prominent players have Southern roots, which can be a problem in adjusting to life in Israel. While there is great hospitality and warmth one-on-one in Israel, “people are very upfront, can be very abrasive or rude,” and that comes as culture shock to those of a Southern mindset. Goldstein said Fred Campbell, who has ties to Florida and Georgia but remained in Israel, said he had to learn the “Israeli mentality,” and now he is able “to switch back and forth” between Southerner and Israeli. One of the more prominent basketball families is the Dawsons. Joe Dawson is from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and played at Southern Mississippi. He went to Israel in 1987 and played for 14 years. He now lives in Rehovot, and his two sons both play in Israeli leagues. Goldstein said son Shawn Dawson “is widely considered the most likely Israeli to next
make the jump to the NBA.” In 2016, Shawn Dawson signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, appearing in three preseason games before being waived. Joe Dawson, who has a laid-back Southern personality, said it took him a while before he understood that the abrasiveness of Israelis was because of the pressures they are under. Stanley Brundy, a DePaul graduate, was born in New Orleans. After one year in the NBA, he went overseas, arriving in Israel in 1999. He eventually became a citizen of Israel and still lives there with his wife and children. Cory Carr, from Fordyce, Ark., has played in Israel since 2000, married an Israeli and became a citizen in 2009. One of the earliest players to go to Israel was Aulcie Perry. A New Jersey native, he attended Bethune-Cookman in Florida. In 1976, a scout for Maccabi Tel Aviv saw him in Harlem, and signed him. Perry led them to an historic season, then Maccabi Tel Aviv headed to the EuroLeague competition, where they had never done well despite all their success in Israel. Usually mired at the bottom of the standings in pool play, Maccabi Tel Aviv found success at the 1977 tournament. They needed a victory over CSKA Moscow to make the champions round — a game the Soviet Union refused to host and would not play in Israel because diplomatic relations had been broken off in 1967. The game was played in Belgium, with all of Israel glued to their televisions. When you are in a country that is routinely vilified on the international stage, “success in sports on an international level is a rallying point, whether you are a sports fan or not,” Goldstein said. The Israeli team won by 12, setting off a huge celebration in Israel. That only intensified after Israel beat the Italian team for the championship. For a country still trying to get over the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the massacre of Olympic athletes at the 1972 Munich Games, the victory “was a defining moment in the history of the country.” Tal Brody, one of the team’s biggest stars, famously said that Israel was on the map, and would remain there, “not just in sports, but in everything.” After 1977, the New Orleans Jazz was among the NBA teams interested in Perry, but he wasn’t interested in leaving Israel, which he called his “adopted home” in a 1978 Ebony interview. He added that though he was the only black player on the team, he had never experienced racial discrimination in Israel. Eventually, he converted to Judaism. After Perry, many more African American players followed. The influx led to rule changes. Early on, only one non-Israeli could be on a team. In New York, “basketball rabbis” sprang up to do quick conversions, so players could move to Israel and immediately become citizens under the Law of Return, which grants citizenship to any Jew who declares an intent to stay. In the context of basketball, the player would then not count against the foreign quota. There were also “arranged marriages.” In all, about 40 players went those routes. Before long, the rules were changed to close that loophole. The practice also cast a shadow on several players who converted “legitimately” and remain Jewish long after their playing days. Even Perry, who keeps kosher, faces some doubters among Jews, as well as a lack of acceptance by some of his Southern Baptist relatives. In researching the book, Goldstein did not expect he would learn so much about conversion, the Law of Return and non-basketball religious aspects.
Cory Carr, a Fordyce, Ark., native and Texas Tech alumnus, played one season for the Chicago Bulls, then joined Maccabi Ra’anana in Israel in 2000. He became an Israeli citizen in 2009. After playing for many years, he now coaches the Bnot Herzliya women’s team.
There is also a running debate about having foreign players in the league — do they crowd out native Israelis who do not have a chance to develop their skills to a higher level? Goldstein found in many cases, having African American players has caused Israelis to step up their effort. The Americans often found a low level of off-season commitment to training and conditioning among Israeli players, who were mostly waiting to be told what to do. The book comes across as so overwhelmingly positive, some readers have been skeptical. “I’ve been asked if the Israeli government commissioned the book, or if I got paid by the Israeli government,” Goldstein said. “I had no objective, no plan,” he added. “I was curious. I dug, and this is the phenomenon. I didn’t create it. I didn’t spin it.” He didn’t shy away from negatives, and wrote about some players who did not have a perfect experience. But overall, the experience of African-American players in Israel is “a rare thing you can be unapologetically proud of.” Even the little things are noticed. Former Florida Gator Alex Tyus tweeted about losing his wallet in Israel in 2012. It was found, with all contents intact. He commented that if he had lost it in the U.S., it would have been “gone forever.” When Tyree Rice signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2013, he got a text from another veteran of Israeli basketball — “Congratulations, you’re going to heaven.” That season, Maccabi Tel Aviv won its sixth European title, and Rice was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP. Israel InSight • Preview Issue
“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
sovereignty 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.
Facilitating the Conversation at the Jewish-Christian Border 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.
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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 tra-
ditions, 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.
The Long History of Christian Zionism in America In America, what has come to be known as Christian Zionism dates back to the Puritan era of the 1600s, and while there’s nothing new about Biblically-inspired Christians being interested in Israel and the Jews, the Christian Zionist movement in our country has gone through — and is still going through — a profound evolution. These are the core ideas explored in a new book titled “God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America” (2018, University of Pennsylvania Press). The author is Samuel Goldman, a Harvard Ph.D. who teaches political science and who is executive director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at George Washington University. Christian Zionist is a term used today to describe Christians who, based on their Biblical beliefs, support Jews having a sovereign and secure country — i.e. the modern state of Israel — and see the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They believe that God himself has bequeathed the land to the Jewish people. Yet, while Israel was not reborn as a modern Jewish state until 1948, Goldman, in an extremely enlightening book, demonstrates that the idea of God’s Chosen People returning to their homeland one day was of intense interest and inspiration to some of the most famed Puritan-era leaders. In fact, throughout much of American history, as Goldman documents, there even has been a recurring belief among Biblically-inspired Christians that links the birth and success of America to the once-prophesied, now-realized return of the Jews to their holy land. A key turning point in the development of Christian Zionism came in the 1980s with the advent of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and the Israeli government’s embrace of this new, well-organized political force. From there a new, still-evolving partnership took hold among America’s Christian and Jewish Zionists and Israeli leaders, especially encouraged by then Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Along the way, many Christian Zionists began to shift away from publicly emphasizing their belief that the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel was a Biblically-required necessity for Jesus to return, at which time Jews would accept him as the true Messiah. The reason, according to Goldman, is that
Christian Zionist leaders wanted good relations with the Jewish community and articulating this conversion belief made Jews uncomfortable. As many Christian Zionist leaders have learned, Jews become uneasy when they sense the integrity and legitimacy of their own religion is being diminished. This, of course, frames the potential awkwardness in the relationship between Jews and Christian Zionists. Yet both are learning to circumvent this by building a partnership where Jews respect the right of Christians to espouse their faith and Christians in turn recognize that suggestions of conversion, and especially proselytizing, make Jews uncomfortable. Christian Zionist leaders today also emphasize that they see Jews as their spiritual ancestors and current cousins, especially given that Jesus was Jewish. Christian Zionists also lament and atone for Christian inaction during the Holocaust and know that centuries of Christian attacks on the Jewish faith was one of the factors that created a climate that empowered Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers to murder 6 million Jews. Finally, Goldman’s book suggests that based on a Pew research study that shows more and more Americans opting out of organized religion, that evangelical Christianity, where Christian Zionism is anchored, might have fewer adherents in the future, thus less influence. But this remains to be seen. For now, Christian Zionists continue as a powerful political and religious force in America. Christians United for Israel, arguably America’s most influential Christian Zionist organization, has grown from 400 members in 2006 to 5 million today, according to the group. Christian Zionists are proud and determined. Genesis 12:3 promises them, as Goldman notes, that if they support Israel they will be blessed. If not, they will be cursed. They are an important source of support for the Jewish state. They advocate for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. They favor Israel’s continued presence in Judea and Samaria (which more recently has become known as the West Bank). They rejoice in the extraordinary saga of the ingathering of the exiles, the return of the Jews to their homeland from every corner of the world, just as the Bible promised — and America’s Puritan leaders believed would happen one day.
These reviews were written by Birmingham Jewish Federation Executive Director Richard Friedman
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If you can’t make it to Israel…
“This is second-best” While in the future, this feature will highlight unusual or little-known places in Israel that are interesting to visit, this month we highlight a taste of Israel in the Deep South
Palestine Garden 201 Palestine Gardens Road Lucedale, Miss. palestinegardens.org 601/947.8422
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Even though he hasn’t been there himself — yet — Don Bradley urges people to travel to the Land of Israel. But if one is unable to do so, he says visiting his backyard is “second best.” His is no ordinary backyard — Palestine Gardens is a scale model of the Land of Israel, filled with representations of how the Biblical towns looked 2,000 years ago, during the time of Jesus. From March to November, he offers tours to anyone who wanders in, and people from all over the world find their way to his part of the Mississippi woods. When Walter Harvell Jackson was a seminary student, a teacher challenged the students to study the Bible as a “place book.” He was ordained in 1933 and served churches in Kentucky, North Carolina and Alabama before going to First Presbyterian Church in Lucedale. Remembering the charge from his teacher, Rev. Jackson used his life savings to buy 40 acres in the woods, and in 1953, he and his wife Pellerree started building a scale model of the Land of Israel, to make the Bible “come alive.” On Easter Sunday in 1960, Jackson opened the gardens to the public, with Biblical cities created out of concrete, cinder blocks and landscaping stones in a folk art style. The site is scaled at one yard to one mile. To them, though, the message was more important than the models — showing what the landscape was like during the time of Jesus as a means of relating the story of Jesus. In 1971, the Jacksons’ daughter and her husband, Jim Kirkpatrick, moved to the area and helped expand the site. After Rev. Jackson and his wife died in
1992 and 1993, respectively, the Kirkpatricks struggled to keep the attraction open. In the early 1990s, Don Bradley was a senior maintenance analyst at Martin Marietta. He felt a calling to return to the garden, which he had visited as a third grader, and propose that he purchase it. In 1994, he became the owner and started restoring the cities and adding structures. Until then, the site was known as Palestinian Gardens. Bradley wanted to honor what Jackson had created and not alter the name too much, but he changed it to Palestine Gardens, lest anyone assume it was an Islamic establishment. While the emphasis is on the story of Jesus, Bradley says he gets visitors of all faiths. In an effort not to offend anyone, he makes sure they know the Christian orientation of the garden and acknowledges any difference in beliefs while explaining sites from a Christian perspective on the tour. One enters the garden by crossing the River Jordan, then the first city that is encountered is Jericho, not far from the Dead Sea. Tucked near a sign is a pillar of salt, representing the story of Lot’s wife during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As with the real-life Israel, the Dead Sea is at the lowest point in the garden, and one climbs up the hill up to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel, is the highest point at the distant end of the garden. The garden is about 5 miles off US 98 near Lucedale, about an hour from Mobile, Pascagoula or Hattiesburg. There is no admission charge, but donations are welcomed, and large groups are urged to contact him in advance.
Never been to the mysterious Israelite footprint structures or Joshua’s Altar? Visit www.lipkintours.com Be part of the restoration of the biblical forests in the Heartland of Israel www.heartlandtrees.net
Israel’s ubiquitous Bamba — coming soon to a store near you?
(JNS) Israeli food manufacturer Osem Group announced on Feb. 19 that it has inaugurated a new manufacturing plant for its popular peanut-butter-flavored snack Bamba. This will enable the company to double the manufacturing capacity of the snack. “Our dream is to see Bamba in every supermarket in the U.S. and in Europe,” said Osem CEO Avi Ben Assayag at the opening of the new facility in the southern town Kiryat Gat. The $55.43 million factory is expected to employ 150 people. Osem has been negotiating with Swiss-based Nestlé, the largest food and beverage company in the world. Bamba, an Israeli childhood and nutritious staple, is credited for reducing Israel’s peanut-allergy rates since it first sold in the 1960s. The treat also comes in a strawberry flavor. A 2015 study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health “involving hundreds of babies under a year old at high risk for developing peanut allergy, established that kids could be protected by regularly eating a popular peanut butter-flavored Israeli snack called Bamba. A follow-up study later showed those kids remained allergy-free even after avoiding peanuts for a year.” Of course, many people cannot eat Bamba if they already suffer from existing peanut-based allergies.
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israelinsightmagazine.com Israel InSight • Preview Issue
Criticism of Israel isn’t automatically anti-Semitic... but it can certainly get there
It is interesting that those who claim any criticism of Israel automatically gets slapped with the label of anti-Semitism generally are those who are making extreme, outlandish charges against the world’s only Jewish state
Preview Issue • Israel InSight
To repeat: Criticizing Israel does not automatically make you an anti-Semite. It seems the only people who claim it does are the very ones who cross the line with an anti-Israel obsession, and who want to use that straw dog to pre-emptively discredit any pushback they get, no matter how extreme their words and actions become. As this issue wraps, there is continued controversy in the halls of Congress over numerous statements by Reps. Ilhan Oman and Rashida Tlaib, not long after the kerfuffle over anti-Semitism in the Women’s March leadership. Front and center in the media is a discussion of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiment, and charges that those who dare to be “brave” and speak out against the Israeli behemoth are immediately crushed by Worldwide Jewish Power and their trusty sidekick, Evangelical Christian Zionists. At a press conference before speaking in Birmingham recently, anti-Israel activist Angela Davis responded to a question about criticism of Israel by claiming that Israel holds itself alone among the nations as being immune to criticism. Cue the eye-roll. Israelis themselves constantly criticize their country in full public view — and so do Jews abroad, often to Israel’s detriment. To suggest that Israel believes it should be immune from criticism reflects a further lack of understanding by Davis of Israel’s vibrancy, free speech and long-tradition of self-scrutinizing criticism. Recently, many on the left, who are constantly looking for ways to defame Israel, immediately jumped on the American Jewish establishment for being critical of the likes of Omar and Tlaib while ignoring Netanyahu’s reprehensible ploy of jumping into political bed with radical anti-Arab extremists. But in reality it took very little time for almost every national American Jewish group to condemn the alliance. It would be quite a stretch to call the American Jewish community a bunch of anti-Semites. No, Professor Davis, Israel does not claim to be the only nation immune to criticism. But it is the only nation whose very existence and legitimacy is questioned every day by you and your fellow travelers. To those who don’t like everything Israel does, go ahead and criticize the country — but only after making a good faith attempt to learn the truth or at least both sides of the story. But also be proportionate — and honest. And don’t kid yourself or try to fool others. Though many misguided “human rights activists” may think otherwise, the anti-Israel BDS movement, for example, isn’t just a peaceful protest against Isra-
el’s “occupation” of the West Bank (where 97 percent of Palestinians are actually ruled by the Palestinian Authority). It’s about Israel’s existence within any borders. Davis said as much in her remarks — that the Palestinians had been fighting for their freedom for almost a century. Yet, Israel gained control over the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria) only after being attacked by Jordan in the June 1967 Six Day War. And repeated attempts since then to withdraw in exchange for peaceful relations have been rebuffed by the Palestinian leadership. So what sort of freedom was the Palestinians fighting for before 1967? It certainly wasn’t to free the West Bank from Jordanian occupation, or Gaza from Egypt. What about the more recent demonstrations on the Gaza border, a region Israel completely withdrew from 14 years ago. When attempts to violently break through a border to “rip the hearts out” of Israelis are painted as “peaceful border demonstrations,” and when an alleged Israeli “genocidal massacre” numbers about 60, of which over 80 percent turned out to be terrorist operatives, it is hard to consider such things as “simple criticism” of Israeli policy. In fact, other countries’ militaries complain that Israel is setting the bar too high in minimizing civilian casualties in combat, making their countries look bad by comparison. When China rounds up 1 million Uighur Muslims and puts them into “reeducation camps” that are more like concentration camps; when the African slave trade is alive and well in Libya well into the 21st century; when far more Palestinians are killed by the Syrian regime than in Israel’s conflicts with Gaza (and most of those killed in Syria are civilians, most in Gaza are Hamas operatives); when Lebanon has anti-Palestinian laws far beyond anything ever dreamed up by “apartheid” Israel, one must ask a simple question: Are you concerned with human rights, or are you just out to bash the only Jewish-majority country in the world? If it is the former, and your concern is genuine, you would be spending far less time on Israel and would be focusing on these and other despotic regimes. If it is the latter, well, there’s a term for that.
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, by Dana Friedlander. Boat sailing on the Sea of Galilee, by Itamar Grinberg