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The Prodigal Son Returns | Gaza-Egypt Border Crisis | Single Mom Reaches Out
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printed in Israel
In the same way that Israeli military commanders depend on the total obedience of their soldiers, so God demands total obedience from His people. The Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 showed Israel what the consequences are of a lack of obedience. The final report of the Winograd inquiry commission places the main responsibility for the failure of the war on the Israeli army because soldiers did not have confidence in their superiors and therefore followed orders hesitantly.
Without total obedience victory is impossible. God reminds us of this in the weekly Torah portion, Mishpatim, which was read two days after the publication of the Winograd report. “If you will indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy unto your enemies and an adversary unto your adversaries. For my angel shall go before you” (Exodus 23:22, 23). When Moses read the book of the covenant to the people, they responded: “All that the Lord has said will we do and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). This is where Israel’s total obedience to God is tested. It is like following orders on the battlefield. In both instances—following God’s
commandments or commanders’ orders—obedience brings life and victory. God has always proved faithful to His people, but Israel has not remained faithful to Him. The Lebanon War showed that even with the world’s best weapons and technology, Israel cannot win. But if Israel returns to God and obeys his voice, He will fight for this nation and its enemies will be vanquished.
LIFE IN ISRAEL
Water Crisis ...................................................................3 The Prodigal Son Returns...............................................4 Hizbollah Who Dunnit....................................................6 3,500 Rockets in 30 Months...........................................6 Lebanon War Inquiry Slams Army..................................7 Coming to Israel: Electric Avenue...................................8 Blair Seeks to Boost Palestinian Economy......................8
Jewish Adoptee Fights for Citizenship..........................12 Sharapova in Israel......................................................12
Single Mother Reaches Out to Her Own.......................21
What Didn’t I Do? ........................................................14
New Equation on Gaza-Egypt Border ..........................10
FOCUS ON JERUSALEM
The Torah ....................................................................15
Open the Gates............................................................11
PERSPECTIVE WORD FROM JERUSALEM
PROPHECY Israel: Between Mysticism and Reality........................18
DEBATE When Decadence Takes Over........................................19
CULTURE ARCHAEOLOGY Mansion from 2nd Temple Period........23
PROFILE The Psalms Through the Eyes of an Artist ...................27
ECONOMY Pistachios from Iran....................................................28
Feeding the Multitudes..............................................20
Dancing Queen in the PM’s Office................................30
MONTAGE: Larisa Kaplan
Publisher: nai – Israel Today Founder of nai: Ludwig Schneider Editor-in-Chief: Aviel Schneider Co-Editor and Art Director: Michael Schneider Senior Editor/Correspondent: Shlomo Mordechai Editor/Reporter: Nicole Jansezian Editorial Assistant: Sara Fischer Commentary on the Bible and the Talmud, Word from Jerusalem, Debate, Prophecy: Ludwig Schneider Politics, Focus on Jerusalem, Interviews, Arab Press: Aviel Schneider Messianic Jews, Profile, In Brief: Michael Schneider Military, Tourism, Nature, Archaeology, Jewish Affairs: Netanel Doron Christians in Israel, Diaspora, Culture, Economy: Judith Jeries Islam: Avi Lipkin (Victor Mordecai) Text Advisor: Dov Chaikin Administrator: Howard Rubinow Financial Director: Anat Schneider Translator: Beverly Bayliss Graphic Designer: Pavel Permyakov
2 | March 2008
A Quiet Corner in Jerusalem.........................................22
‘It‘s Not Too Late to Bomb Auschwitz‘..........................13 Just a Little Blood on their Hands................................29
Israel in Snow..............................................................16
COVER: A Kassam rocket in Sderot hit an 8-year-old Jewish boy
Aviel Schneider and the Israel Today editorial staff.
The Israel Today magazine – News About Israel – is published monthly, directly from Jerusalem. ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION: $43 (US, Canada, Israel) £25 (UK) €38 (Europe) $49 (All other countries) See our latest subscription offer on the back page. Israel Today 1 Shmuel HaNagid St. P.O. Box 10010 Jerusalem 93503 Israel Tel: +972.2.622.6881 Fax: +972.2.622.6882 Toll Free: 1.866.854.1684 (US/Canada) 00.800.60.70.70.60 (UK/Norway)
Water Crisis A
Where is the Rain?
rid Israel depends on the winter rains to replenish its limited water supply, but this year they have been few and far between. The level of the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s biggest reservoir, rose by only 4 inches (10 cm.) from the beginning of the rainy season in mid-November to the end of January, less than one-tenth of the amount during a good year. The level of the lake is still some 11 feet (3.5 meters) below the maximum, and the rains usually end by Passover in midApril. If the level recedes to around 13 feet (4 meters) below capacity—the so-called “red line”—Israel’s water authorities would have to immediately stop all pumping from the lake. While the Sea of Galilee is the gauge, all three of Israel’s main reservoirs, including the coastal and mountain aquifers, are facing a critical shortage in 2008, due to five years of average or below average rainfall. “Israel’s land will dry out unless there is significant rainfall,” Amir Givati of the Israeli water authority told Israel Today. Through January, most of Israel only received about half of the average annual rainfall for that period. Fourteen manmade reservoirs on the Golan Heights and the natural Ram reservoir were dangerously depleted in the middle of the winter.
‘A DRY AND THIRSTY LAND’ (Ezek. 19:13): Reservoirs are almost empty
Combined, they can hold 45 million cubic meters of rainwater. The new reservoir near Ein Yahav in the Arava desert, with a capacity of 180,000 cubic meters, was also extremely low. “Israel’s reservoirs are nearly empty and we have to consider whether to start pumping from the aquifers,” said Tsuki Deutsch, director of the Golan water authority. But that would be extremely risky. If the aquifers are pumped there is a danger that they will be polluted by saltwater. The Israeli water company Mekorot has urged the government to start water conservation campaigns on TV and radio.
Aggravating the water situation, the Palestinians have pumped illegally from hundreds of wells in Judea and Samaria and some villagers have drilled into Israeli pipelines, effectively getting their water for free. The distribution of water is one of the most complicated subjects in peace negotiations because water means life. The Palestinians want control of all the water resources in Judea and Samaria, but Israel fears they would be rapidly depleted and polluted because of the mismanagement that has characterized Palestinian rule until now.
In 2007, Israel produced 130 million cubic meters of water through desalination, and it plans to increase this amount in the coming years. Israel has two desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast and a third is under construction. It also imports water from Turkey. With a growing population and uncertain annual rainfall, desalination is seen as the key to Israel’s water needs in the future. But just as important, we urge all friends and supporters of Israel, and lovers of this Land, to pray for rain!
Israel’s annual water consumption is some 2 billion cubic meters, with 700 million going for domestic use and the rest allotted to agriculture and industry. Under peace agreements, 80 million cubic meters a year go to the Palestinian Authority and 50 million to Jordan. Average consumption of water in Israel is 280 liters (70 gallons) per person per day, more than four times that of the Palestinians and Jordanians. The higher consumption in Israel is due to the higher standard of living which includes the use of washing machines and dishwashers.
By Aviel Schneider
March 2008 | 3
The Prodigal Son Returns
he children of Israel are beginning to turn back to God: “Even though the Messiah is still on the way, He is stretching out his long arms towards His people,” said an article in Israel’s biggest newspaper Yediot Ahronot. Sixty years after the establishment of the State of Israel by secular Zionists, something is happening among secular Israelis—profound questions about God and a return to their Jewish roots. There is a shaking within the Israeli cultural scene, on stage, in books, on TV and radio, where spiritual and biblical themes are more common than ever before. “The face of Israel is changing, religiously and socially,” wrote Orthodox commentator Uri Orbach on the website Ynet. “While not becoming officially religious, some secular musicians have become freelancers who serve God in their own way. They sing songs of praise without turning their fans off by incessantly preaching from the Torah.” Among them are Ehud and Meir Banai, members of Israel’s famous Banai family of musicians and performers, who have written spiritual songs and spoken about their relationship with God in the Israeli media. Other stars using biblical texts include Barry Sacharov, Sharon Rotter, Yehuda Sado, Shay Gabso and Amir Benayun.
The change is not so much seen outwardly, by wearing a kippa (skull cap) or tzitzit (tassels) under their shirts. It is more an inward, spiritual transformation, put in motion by Israel’s difficult political situation in the Middle East. The failure of the Oslo Accords of the 1990s and the Gaza pullout of 2005 to bring the promised peace has brought soul searching among the secular population of Israel. “Israelis, especially non-religious Jews, are beginning to understand that without God nothing works,” said Rabbi Binyamin Mizrachi. “At first, the people think they know the best way to do things, just like in biblical times. They return to God only when they have no other choice. From the political point of view, Israel has failed in its 60 years of existence.”
‘The Time is Ripe for God’ Both groups, secular and religious, have matured and are finding common ground, centered on God. This has become more evident in the last couple of years. The sudden interest in God among the non religious is, in part, the result of the decay of secular culture in Israel. Many Israelis found themselves in a spiritual no-man’s land, connected neither to shallow materialism nor to their Jewish roots
nor to the political system that has grown increasingly corrupt. Even world-renowned, liberal author Amos Oz is in a state of transformation. When comparing his book, My Michael, from the 1970s with his latest book, A Story of Love and Darkness, one can see that Oz is looking for his Jewish roots, something he did not do in the past. A glance at the bestseller list of Israeli literature shows a definite change towards more interest in spiritual matters. Authors like Naomi Ragen (The Saturday Wife), Rabbi Haim Sabato (Come, O Spirit), and Hanoch Daum (God Doesn’t Permit) put God in the center of their writings in contrast to bestsellers of the past. “The time is ripe for God,” says actress Noa Yaron, who has written a book about her personal return to Orthodox Judaism, entitled Mekimi (My Uplifter). “The people are in a tremendous process of return. People are searching.” This “revival” can also be observed on Israeli TV. Series like Seizing the Heavens, Jerusalem Mix and Touching Distance, which deal with the spiritual side of life, are among the most popular programs on primetime TV. Furthermore, God and the meaning of life are themes in numerous Israeli movies, including Secrets, Ushpizin and Tribal Fire. By Aviel S chneider
Razel: ‘Return to God, not Religion’ Musicians Jonathan Razel and Aviatar Banai presented a concert featuring Jewish prayers and praise songs at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israeli secularism. At the end Razel asked the audience, which was more than 70 percent secular, whether the concert was too religious. In unison, the audience promptly shouted, “No!” “Israel’s society is going through a change and is becoming open to
4 | March 2008
God,” Razel said. “People are not becoming more religious, but the ‘antiGod’ aspect is disappearing.” Tal Fastmann, a Messianic Jewess and mother of five, attended the concert with her husband Boaz. “His music and texts are beautiful, biblical praise songs just like in our congregations, even perhaps a bit more melodic,” she told Israel Today. “The spiritual search in the Israeli music
scene is deeply moving. I hope that God will bring this spiritual transformation to perfection.”
ZION From Zion comes love, From Zion comes understanding, From Zion comes God’s word, From Zion we go out into the world, From Zion goes forth the Torah, And the word of God from Jerusalem. Hallelujah!
POLITICS Ovadia: ‘Our Need for Truth Is Growing’ After 20 years of songwriting and five CDs, Ovadia Hamama has changed his tune. The traditional prayer, Ana B’Koach (We Beseech Thee with Strength), is the title of one of his songs which has become a hit. “The more our society gets into an abyss morally and culturally, the more our need for truth is growing, though this is not necessarily a return to Judaism,” said Hamama, who
does not wear a kippa as religious Jews do. “I hope this phenomenon is not just a passing fad, but a deepreaching process. I myself am not religious but I do believe in God. I am a spiritual person and rejoice in seeing this change. I was a frustrated artist for 20 years and it all has changed overnight. It’s as if everything was planned.”
To order these CDs visit www.jerusalemdepot.com
Ronen: ‘Thirsty for the Truth’ After two (for women) or three years (for men) of mandatory army service, many Israelis travel to India searching for the meaning of life. But today, many see that as a “detour” and are returning to the faith of their fathers. This happened 10 years ago to Ronen Shalom, a Messianic Jew and musician, who is currently working on his second CD. “It is unbelievable what is changing in this land spiritually,” said Shalom. “God touches human beings and the people of Israel are thirsty for the truth.” He attributes this to the shattered dreams of peace. “What didn’t we do to try to reach peace?” he says. “We even sold our brothers and sisters in the Gaza Strip in return for Palestinian rockets. Neither
the secular left nor the Orthodox have provided us with a political solution during the last 60 years. The people of Israel have swallowed enough nonsense. I compare the situation with the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’ in the New Testament. The people of Israel are returning home to their God after a long search of many years and many disappointments.” Shalom says the return to faith is g r a du a l l y catching on among the secular public. “If a secular Jew is turning to faith in God nowadays, he is not mocked as a religious fanatic anymore as was the case in the past,” he said. Shalom is accompanied by three other musicians who are not be-
lievers in Yeshua (Jesus). Nevertheless, they make music together in harmony. “The return to God is opening the hearts of many people and I pray that among them will be those who want to know more about Yeshua,” he said. Shalom and other Israeli artists may have different opinions about whether Yeshua is the Messiah. But they agree that there is a growing hunger and thirst in Israel for the truth of God.
March 2008 | 5
Hizbollah Who Dunnit
srael instructed its embassies and Jewish institutions around the world to go on high alert after Hizbollah vowed to avenge the assassination of one of its top leaders, Imad Mughniyeh, in a targeted car bombing in Damascus. Hizbollah blamed Israel. “If you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let it be an open war,” said Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at the mass funeral for Mughniyeh in Beirut. Israel said it was not involved, but officials praised the assassination. “In the fight against terror…I think that the free and democratic world today achieved a very, very important goal,” said parliamentarian Danny Yatom, a former head of Israel’s famed Mossad spy agency. According to London’s Sunday Times, Mossad agents killed Mughniyeh by replacing the headrest of the driver’s seat in his car with another containing a small high-explosive charge. Quoting unnamed Israeli intelligence sources, the paper said Mughniyeh was working with Syria on planning terrorist attacks against Israeli targets to “avenge the Israeli strike on what
ARCH TERRORIST: Mughniyeh was the mastermind of mega-terror attacks against Americans and Jews
was believed to be a secret nuclear site in Syria last year.” But Israel was not the only one who sought the 45-year-old Mughniyeh. He
was on the most-wanted list of many countries, first and foremost the United States. Mughniyeh was the suspected mastermind of the bombings of the American Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed more than 350 people, including 241 American servicemen. In 1985, he planned the hijacking of a TWA jetliner in which an American Navy diver was killed. After Israel assassinated another Hizbollah terror chief, Abbas Mussawi, in a helicopter strike in 1992, the group retaliated with two major bombings in Buenos Aires, Argentina, masterminded by Mughniyeh: the Israeli Embassy in 1992 that left 29 dead, and a Jewish center in 1994 in which 85 people were killed. In the end it was Mughniyeh’s turn to die. To assassinate him in the heart of Damascus, one of the most heavily-guarded cities in the world, was a masterful cloakand-dagger stroke. “These are the type of operations we’ve seen in the past,” said Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz. “Israeli legends are built on operations like this.”
By Shl omo Mordechai
3,500 ROCKETS IN 30 MONTHS
Since Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, some 3,500 rockets have been launched at towns and farming communities in southern Israel, an average of 116 a month that have accounted for 12 dead and more than 600 wounded. The residents of the hard-hit town of Sderot feel particularly helpless and unprotected and accuse the government and army of failing to protect
them. Sirens warning of incoming rockets—many timed with children heading to school—wail several times a day. Outrage reached a peak when a rocket injured two brothers, including an eight year old who lost his leg. The ongoing Palestinian attacks receive little coverage in the foreign media because few people are killed. But the rockets have caused immense psychological, economic and physical
RUNNING FOR COVER: Sderot has been targeted day and night
6 | March 2008
damage. Residents say living in the town is like Russian roulette. Israel is reluctant to launch a major air and ground offensive in denselypopulated Gaza because of the likelihood of high casualties among Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. But as the rockets keep falling, Israeli officials say it’s not a question of if there will be an offensive but when. By Nic ole Jansezian
DIRECT HIT: Attacks like this one on a house go unreported in the world media
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE The government and army took too long to decide on a ground offensive
Lebanon War Inquiry Slams Army
...but tempered criticism keeps Olmert in power
fter weeks of media hype and fanfare, the Winograd Commission investigating the Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 published its longawaited report. There was high drama because a harsh report on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s performance could have forced his resignation. Olmert was almost forced out when the interim report, which was published last April, described his handling of the war as a failure. But he weathered the storm and was dubbed a political “survivor.” The final 629-page report was much softer on Olmert, saying the decisions he made were “legitimate” and that he thought he was acting in the best “interest of the State of Israel.” That took the wind out of the sails of the parliamentary opposition and bereaved families which had demanded his resignation. Olmert’s government remains intact for the foreseeable future, enabling him to pursue the goal of a peace agreement with the Palestinians by the end of the year. Nevertheless, the commission blamed the government, and especially the army, for failing to defeat the Islamic terrorist group Hizbollah during the 34-day air and ground assault on Lebanon. Hizbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel during the war and inflicted heavy casualties: 119 Israeli soldiers and 40 civilians were killed. “The overall image of the war was a result of a mixture of flawed conduct
of the political and military leadership... of flawed performance by the military, especially the ground forces, and of deficient Israeli preparedness,” the commission said. “We found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning…For weeks a paramilitary organization like Hizbollah, which consists only of a few thousand men, defied the strongest army in the Middle East, despite its total air supremacy, superior numbers and technological advantages.” The commission said it took much too long for the government and army to decide on a ground invasion of Lebanon: “Israel’s ground offensive at the end of the war did not gain any military advantages and therefore could not be finished. This has considerably weakened Israel’s power of deterrence with regard to its enemies.” The commission said that the military brass, including former Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz who has since resigned, were obsessed by fear of Israeli casualties, and this created an atmosphere of indecision that brought confusion on the battlefield. “With all the sensitivity that needs to be given when speaking about soldiers’ lives, it is difficult to accept the unusual level of influence that this factor played in top commanders’ decisions,” the report said. Poor training of reserve infantry units was also a major factor in the war’s failure. Many training exercises were cancelled from 2000 to 2006 as a result of budget
cuts, so when reservists found themselves on the battlefield they were unprepared to take on the better-trained, disciplined and hidden Hizbollah guerrillas. Analysts say the cuts in training were the result of a mistaken military doctrine, that in the 21st century air power was seen as far more important than ground forces. Halutz, the first Israeli army chief who had been commander of the air force, implemented this doctrine with a massive pounding of Lebanon based on the success of US air campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. However, the air strikes not only failed to defeat Hizbollah or stop the rockets, but also seriously harmed Israel’s image abroad because of collateral damage. Today, the new army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gaby Ashkenazi is rebuilding the military and especially the ground forces, in anticipation of future conflicts in Lebanon, Gaza and Syria. The Winograd Commission concluded that correcting the mistakes of the Lebanon War is a matter of survival: “Israel cannot survive in this region, and cannot live in it in peace…unless people in Israel itself and in its surroundings believe that Israel has the political and military leadership, military capabilities, and social robustness that will allow it to deter those of its neighbors who wish to harm it, and to prevent them—if necessary through the use of military force—from achieving their goal.” By Aviel S chneider and Shl omo Mordechai
March 2008 | 7
Coming to Israel: Electric Avenue
t’s not that Israel is more environmentally friendly, but in a move aimed instead at economic survival, Israel is leading the way in developing an alternative energy source: electric cars that don’t depend on the fuel from oil-rich Arab states. Israel will become the testing ground for Renault-Nissan, which is manufacturing the novel vehicles. President Shimon Peres, who brokered the deal, pushed for the experiment to take place in Israel. The plan was unveiled at a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s office. Shai Agassi, the Israel-American software entrepreneur behind the project, is convinced that the cost of running electric cars will be cheaper than those using gasoline (more than $6 a gallon here). “With $100 a barrel oil, we’ve crossed a historic threshold where electricity and batteries provide a cheaper alternative for consumers,” Agassi said. The cars have a range of about 60 miles (100 km.) in city driving, and up to 100 miles (160 km.) on the highway
ALTERNATIVE TO OIL: (from left to right) Entrepreneur Shai Agassi, PM Olmert, and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn
and have speeds similar to many gasoline-powered cars. Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said that Israel is a good testing ground for the project: According to Renault’s research, 90 percent of Israelis drive less than 40 miles (70 km.) a day and all major urban centers are within 90 miles (150 km.). The electric cars, to be made in Europe, will run on a battery and will be available in 2011. The government would offer financial incentives for Israelis to replace their gas-powered cars
iddle East envoy Tony Blair has asked for Israel’s cooperation in developing the Palestinian economy despite the continual stream of rockets launched at the nation from the Gaza Strip. Blair, who has raised $7 billion for three sprawling industrial zones in Judea and Samaria, believes economic development will deter Palestinian extremism and help bring peace. “Economic progress can supplement the political process,” Blair said. To bring this about, Blair has been pushing Israel to remove hundreds of checkpoints in the territories, but Palestinians say it’s not enough. “He is talking about industrial parks, but none of these are going to work from our own past experiences because that industrial park is going to be inside the Palestinian territory and goods need to move in and out,” said Abdul Malik al-Jaber, CEO of the Paltel telecommunications group. Israel has refused to remove the checkpoints, saying they are necessary to keep suicide bombers out of the country. |
By Nic ole Jansezian
BLAIR SEEKS TO BOOST PALESTINIAN ECONOMY
with electric ones. Instead of gas stations, hundreds of facilities will be set up around the country where depleted batteries will quickly be replaced with charged ones. “Oil is becoming the greatest problem of our time,” said Peres. Not only does it pollute, but “it also supports terror and violence from Venezuela to Iran.” Peres, who also supports investment in solar power, said: “The Saudis don’t control the sun.”
IN THE ARAB BAZAAR: Blair samples some sweets in Palestinian-ruled Nablus
Iran to Align with Syria if Israel Attacks
ollowing reports on Israel’s test of the long-range Jericho III ballistic missile, which has a range of 2,800 miles (4,500 km.), Iranian Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai said his country would not be intimidated. In remarks that appeared on the Iranian website Tabnak, he warned that if Israel attacked its nuclear facilities, Iran would fire missiles at the Jewish state from Syrian territory.
“In the event of an attack on Iran, if the Iran-Syria Joint Strategic Defense Agreement is implemented, Iran need not launch long-range missiles from its territory,” Rezai said. Rather, Iran “will be able to face Israel with a wave of missile attacks from a maximum range of 500 kilometers [300 miles], and with a much bigger warhead. Therefore, it can be explicitly said that Israel’s recent missile test changes Iran’s missile defense posture.”
Arab Commentators Blast Hamas
Women’s Forums Promote Jihad
he Arab press has sharply criticized Hamas for bringing suffering on its own people since it seized power in the Gaza Strip last June. Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the London based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, pointed the finger at supreme Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. “Did you make sure that Allah would forgive you before you made the Palestinians the first people [in history] to carry out a coup under occupation, and before you sent your people to cast their brothers from [the roofs of ] 15story buildings?” Alhomayed wrote. “The situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, and the barbaric oppression from which they suffer, are saddening,” he continued. “But it is equally saddening that they live under a leadership that does not understand that the role of a leadership is to protect the people and guarantee their security and livelihood.” Al-Arabiya TV director ‘Abd AlRahman Al-Rashed said Hamas rule is a failure: “What is the point of these [rocket attacks]...that increase the suffering of 1.5 million Palestinians, but do not cause Israel any military harm or induce it to make political concessions? Hamas’ rockets amount to a suicide operation that sacrifices the security of all the residents of Gaza. Hamas stupidly [only] causes harm: It gives Israel the opportunity to retaliate against the launching of a few rockets that are nothing but pieces of scrap metal.”
number of Islamic websites are offering forums for women, encouraging them to join the jihad and become suicide bombers. “You know that martyrs do not die. They live and will never know death,” a woman calling herself Umm Hamza AlShahid wrote on the Al-Hesbah website. She recalled the words of a 22-yearold “martyr,” Rim Al-Riyashi, a mother of two who left this will and testament before she blew herself up: “How I have yearned to turn my body into slivers that would tear the sons of Zion to pieces and to knock with their skulls on the gates of Paradise. The Jews are the enemies of Allah so be filled with hatred for them and turn your blood into a path on which you will walk to Paradise.” On the same website, Sheikh Abd AlRahman Al-Sahim had this to say: “One’s heart beats faster at hearing about a young woman...who rises above the world of fashion and relinquishes the material world. One’s soul rejoices [at the sight of] a woman with great aspirations whose soul yearns for jihad for the sake of Allah…[This is] the banner of victory and glory.”
Hate on P.A. TV
s Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rushes headlong to hand parts of Jerusalem and nearly all of biblical Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cannot even keep one his simplest
arab PolitICAL Cartoons
BEARING THE CROSS? An Israeli tank with a crucified Palestinian on it. Caption: ‘Those who crucified our prophets [i.e., the Jews] are now crucifying our people.’ Ad-Dustour (Jordan)
BUBBLING BREW: A Nazi-like Israeli soldier cooks a peace dove in a cauldron floating with skulls, labeled, ‘Made in USA.’ Tishrin (Syria) ‘ISRAEL’S PEACE’ Al-Hayat al-Jadida (Palestinian)
JEWISH FASCISM: Olmert gives the Nazi salute Ad-Dustour (Jordan)
commitments—ending incitement. Official PA TV, run by Abbas’ Fatah movement, continues to preach hate against Israel. A video broadcast frequently over the past several months features a song with the refrain, “My enemy, oh enemy.” “This homeland is ours,” the song says, “You have no choice, oh enemy, but to leave my country.”
March 2008 | 9
New Equation on Gaza-Egypt Border
SECURITY BREACH: The broken down border between Gaza and Egypt
n Israel’s perplexing conflict with the Palestinians, the battlefield is no less important than the battle for public opinion. And in the age of global television, the Palestinians have proven adept at manipulating the media and, in turn, winning world sympathy. This became painfully clear in a series of dramatic events in Gaza which began when Israel reduced fuel supplies in response to the daily Palestinian rocket attacks that have terrorized border towns and kibbutzim in the south. Israel had already curbed the shipment of food and raw materials, creating shortages. “What other country in the world would supply food and fuel to a neighboring state that is firing rockets at its citizens?” said Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer. “This is absurd.” The sanctions created an opportunity for Hamas, which launched a media blitz with the help of the extensive coverage of the pan-Arab TV station Al-Jazeera. Hamas invited the cameras to witness the shutdown of the Gaza power station. Then, children marched with candlelight through the darkened streets of Gaza City. The Hamas government even staged a Cabinet meeting by candlelight in the middle of the day, simply drawing the curtains for effect. The pictures sparked a wave of sympathy for the “suffering” Palestinians, and the Arab world, the UN and the European
10 | March 2008
Union quickly accused Israel of “collective punishment.” The crisis took a stunning turn when Hamas militants blew up the border wall between Gaza and Egypt, breaking the siege and sending hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into Egypt to buy food and supplies. In a bitter irony, foreign media described it as the “Exodus from Gaza,” drawing a parallel to the biblical exodus of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Israel’s attempt to turn Palestinian public opinion against Hamas backfired. Instead, Hamas brought the plight of the Palestinians back into the world headlines and gave them a taste of freedom. “It was a brilliant propaganda ploy by Hamas against Israel,” hawkish Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel Today. Israel was branded the aggressor, the Palestinians were the victim, and Hamas was the hero. “Hamas has won the strategic battle,” said Abu Ali, a Gazan on a shopping spree on the Egyptian side of the border. “Ask anyone here how they reached this place, and they will tell you it was because of Hamas.” The breakdown of the border posed a major security threat for Israel. Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, dozens of tunnels have been dug under the border with Egypt to smuggle in tons of weapons,
rockets and explosives to Hamas. Now the border was wide open. “Gaza has turned into a paradise for terrorists,” Netanyahu said. Israel believes terrorist cells infiltrated the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula from Gaza during the 12 days that the border was broken down. From there, they can travel south in the Sinai and then easily cross the 150-mile (250-km.) unfenced border with Egypt and infiltrate into Israel. Egypt, which has turned a blind eye to the weapons smuggling in violation of an international agreement with Israel, also has a major problem. It fears that Hamas militants in Gaza will join the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood in terrorist activities that could destabilize the pro-western regime in Cairo. But Egypt could not stop the flow of humanity across the Gaza border because of pro-Palestinian opinion on the Egyptian and Arab street. The people in Gaza are “starving,” said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “Let them come in to eat and buy food.” Despite the security risks, some Israelis saw a silver lining in the new situation. They said it was the next step in the “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005, when Israel withdrew the army and dismantled 21 Jewish settlements. “This is a historic opportunity for Israel,” said Middle East expert Guy Bechor. “Now, Egypt should start to take responsibility for Gaza.” That’s the last thing that Egypt wants for economic, political and security reasons. “Israel, as the occupying power, has responsibility for Gaza,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. So Israel and Egypt are locked in a tug of war over who will be responsible for the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Many Israelis want Egypt to stew in its own juice. “If they [the Palestinians] want something, let them go to Egypt,” says Israeli analyst Dan Schueftan. “From the same source that they get their explosives and their rockets, they can also get their electricity and their water and their food and their medicine.” By Aviel S chneider and Shl omo Mordechai
Open the Gates!
THE GATES OF GOVERNMENT combine symbolism and security
New Entryway Unveiled at the Knesset The main entrance of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, has received a facelift with both aesthetic and security concerns in mind. It features bulletproof glass panels and a sculpture with religious symbols from biblical times. The modern glass entrance gate, which includes a copper sculpture called David’s Menorah, provides plenty of photogenic appeal to the throngs of tourists visiting the seat of Israeli government. This sculpture was donated by a Jewish couple from New York in honor of the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule—a symbol of its character as the eternal capital of the State of Israel. This serves as a constant reminder to politicians entering the building each day of their responsibility to Jerusalem and a warning against dividing the city.
Photos: Michael Schneider
THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS of Israel
By Michael S chneider BULLETPROOF glass
New Bill to Ban Gay Parades
bill to ban future gay pride parades in Jerusalem passed its first reading in a turbulent session in the Knesset. Orthodox parliamentarians engaged in a hot debate with representatives of gay and lesbian organizations about the annual parades in the capital. The bill was submitted by Eliyahu Gabai
of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. “Jerusalem is a holy city, the city of the Temple” Gabai told Israel Today. “As the Catholics protect the Vatican from abominations and the Moslems protect Mecca, so we insist that homosexuals and lesbians will not advertise their sins in Jerusalem.” On the other hand, law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer said Israel must be careful to maintain its democratic values: “Ban-
ning the gay parades would be right if all of Jerusalem’s residents were religious like, for example, in Teheran. But Jerusalem is a city where the majority of residents are secular.” Ironically, this divisive issue has brought rare unity among Jewish, Christian and Moslem religious leaders, who are working together to stop the parades and maintain the character of Jerusalem as the Holy City.
March 2008 | 11
LIFE IN ISRAEL
Jewish Adoptee Fights For Citizenship
ammered, hassled, rejected and run ragged by the Ministry of Interior’s indecision as to whether an adopted Jew is part of the Jewish people and has the right to live in the Jewish state, Tim Steger is vying for Israeli citizenship. According to the Law of Return, anyone who has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse is eligible to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel). But Steger, despite being Jewish by birth, was adopted by a Christian family, a rare situation not referenced in the Law of Return. Adopted at three months old, Tim was raised by a devoutly Catholic family. The Ministry of Interior initially ruled against Steger, but after the story appeared in the Israeli media, it granted him temporary residence while he appeals the decision. Steger was raised in Los Angeles, surrounded by anti-Semitism. Though his parents were unaffiliated with any particular organization, they had white-supremacist literature at home. Steger became active against racism, rallying against neo-Nazi groups and working closely with the Anti-Defamation League. He was targeted by neo-Nazis and forced to flee the punk scene in the early 1990s. It was then that a Jewish woman introduced him to a Jewish way of life, and during this time he visited Israel. “In 2000, I made my first trip to Israel and IDENTITY from that time, the first time I stepped foot CRISIS in the Land, it just felt like home,” Steger Tim told Israel Today. Steger He began researching his biological family and found documents proving that his father was Jewish. He submitted paperwork to the Jewish Agency, but after months of waiting the Interior Ministry denied him citizenship because he was adopted. Steger argues that his
Sharapova in Israel
ot off her win in the Australian Open, the women’s tennis world no. 5 Maria Sharapova arrived in Israel for a Fed Cup World Group match representing her native Russia. She destroyed Israeli prodigy Shahar AVE MARIA! Sharapova was superb Pe’er 6-1, 6-1. Pe’er, who ranks 17th in the world and has scintillated the Israeli tennis scene, was no match for the flawless Sharapova. At one point, the crowd began imitating Sharapova’s grunts each time she hit the ball, but she took it in stride. “I don’t mind it,” she said. “It brings out the best in me. I love the atmosphere, the crowd and their craziness. It is what we live for.” In fact, she liked it so much here she bought a luxury penthouse in Netanya for $2 million. situation resembles that of Jewish children who were saved from the Nazis. Though they were adopted by Christian families, they remained Jews. “All that I’ve gone through is worth it when I think of the people that founded Israel, Holocaust survivors, when I think of the immigrants who lost their lives in the battle of Latrun. To me it’s worth going through what I have to go through no matter what anyone says,” he said. “It’s my blood, the Jewish blood running in my veins that’s calling me home to the Land of Israel and what I’ve gone through thus far and what I’ll continue to go through, it’s worth the wait.” For more information email email@example.com
By Sara R . Fischer
Shfaram Celebrates with Israel
Shfaram is the first Israeli Arab town to decide to participate in official celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. In so doing, the Galilean town defied a boycott by some Israeli Arab leaders and organizations. “We will also celebrate this milestone anniversary,” Shfaram Mayor Urssam Yassin told Israel Today. “I consider it an impossibility to live in Israel MODERATION vs. MILITANCY: The Israeli Arab town of Shfaram and at the same time to teach our children hatred towards Israel. We the Israelis are proud of their land, so we are a part of the State of Israel and we Arabs are proud of our land and join in want to continue to improve our lives in the celebrations. We don’t have to agree this country. I am not ashamed of it. As with the extremists.”
12 | March 2008
Shfaram has 40,000 residents, a majority of whom are Moslem and the rest Christian and Druze. The city will not hoist a black flag on the anniversary as was proposed by Ittijah, the Union of [Israeli] Arab Community-Based Associations. The boycott points to a growing militancy among Israeli Arabs, who identify more with the Palestinians than with Israel. As a result, Israeli Arabs who are loyal to the state are facing intimidation. It remains to be seen how other Arab towns will react and if pressure will be put on Shfaram to reverse its decision. By Aviel S chneider
By Tsvi Sadan
ָענִ י T
AUSCHWITZ Learning from history or repeating its mistakes?
‘IT‘S NOT TOO LATE TO BOMB AUSCHWITZ‘
B y Ts v i S a d a n
he name Nidra Poller was unknown to me until I read an article of hers in a weekly Israeli magazine. Poller is an American novelist and journalist who has lived in France since 1972. Her writing immediately appealed to me because of its crisp and unabashed nature, and because I believe she understands the true nature of hatred toward Israel. The occasion for her article entitled, “It’s not too late to bomb Auschwitz,” was President Bush’s visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial when he asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice why the Americans did not bomb the death camp during World War II. While it’s not too late to do it, Poller says, “The problem is how to bomb Auschwitz without inflicting massive collateral damage.” The meaning is chilling: Auschwitz is still here, dormant, waiting to be activated and this is perhaps why only a few are able to see it. “The landscape has changed,” Poller writes. “The old landmarks are gone. The railroad tracks have been replaced by a road map. Yesterday’s ‘brownshirts’ [Nazi stormtroopers] are today’s ‘moderates,’ sitting around a table on which the Jewish state is spread in a slaughtered chicken-like posture, tortured, and invited to make [more] painful concessions…Today’s Auschwitz is hidden behind measured phrases, catchy slogans, international conferences.” One may argue that Poller is just another right-wing bigot who uses the Holocaust to excuse Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. But she continues: “A Palestinian state is not the solution, it’s the final solution. ‘Palestinian state’ is the code word for ‘kill the Jews.’ No one is anti-Semitic; they just hold internationally-accepted opinions.” This is why they tell us Jews that “we shouldn’t fight back, we mustn’t fence them out…it’s not good for the peace process. Why? Because ‘peace process’ is another code word for ‘kill the Jews.’” Is this farfetched? If so, she asks, why, despite “simple truths that can be backed up with heaps of evidence, concrete details and stone hard facts,” does today’s world refuse to do anything about Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, just as it refused to do anything about Auschwitz? Then and now, says Poller, people had the same answer: “We weren’t wimps or closet anti-Semites, it’s just that at the time, under the circumstances, all things considered, it didn’t seem reasonable.” Oh, how I wish Poller was wrong, but from my innermost being I know she is not.
he name Poor (Ani in Hebrew) for the Messiah is taken from the well known verse: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). In the translation, the word “poor” was replaced by “humble”—perhaps because there is no dignity in being poor. But a poor Messiah is the point. One of the great paradoxes of the Messiah is that He is king and common, triumphant and defeated. Jewish tradition dealt with this paradox by developing the concept of two Messiahs: the triumphant Son of David and the defeated Son of Joseph. Yet even “Son of Joseph” is Messiah while “Poor Messiah” offends because such an image suggests the opposite of being blessed. Poor as a name for the Messiah, therefore, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Commenting on the idea of a Poor Messiah who is riding on an undignified beast, one commentary says: “And why was he called poor? He was in prison, and the sinners of Israel mocked him since he rides on a donkey.”* Based on etymology, poor here is seen as an innocent victim who suffers for the wrong reasons. The idea of a despised and suffering Messiah comes from Isaiah 53, where He is described as having no majesty or beauty. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (verses 2-3). Isaiah also gives the reason for His suffering: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Though today many reject the idea of a person who suffers on our behalf, Jews always believed that the suffering of the poor atones for the sins of Israel, and the whole of humanity. “The Messiah is the only one that on the account of his repentance, the world is forgiven.”** Accordingly, Poor as the name of the Messiah misleads the unrighteous who mistake him for just another common sinner. But for the righteous, the Poor Messiah is a sign of hope. *Pesikta Rabbati (Ish Shalom), 34 **Pri Zadik, Parashat Pinhas, 15* Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2008 | 13
WORD FROM JERUSALEM
What Didn’t I Do?
person is often judged according to what he has accomplished. Special achievements are honored with an award or commendation. We measure our neighbors by the same standard in whatever they do, be it good or evil. With our human measuring standards, only deeds are marked. But God evaluates us in our entirety, which also includes that which we did not do. Yeshua (Jesus) speaks of people who stand in front of the judgment seat of God and proudly list all their deeds: “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, cast out demons and perform many miracles?” (Matthew 7). Yes they did but it is not enough. There were also things that they did not do: They did not keep the commandments of God. Maybe they thought that this was not necessary for them as Christians possessing charismatic gifts. But the Lord condemns and judges them, in spite of their spiritual gifts, as doers of iniquity. It is not so important what our fellow men say about us, but what God says about us. God speaks a crushing verdict over the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3). Why? Because the members of that church were neither hot nor cold. “I wish that you were cold or hot,” the Lord reasons in his verdict. God respects an unbeliever more than a lukewarm believer who has no backbone, is apathetic and is only concerned with comfort, wealth and success. In these verses, God spoke his judgment according to what was not done. To follow the Messiah is not theological hair-splitting, but a challenge which can be met only with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and might. Anything less than full commitment is not
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enough and could be one of the reasons God would condemn us. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48)—that means more will be required of a theologian than of a layman and of a believer than an unbeliever. Unfortunately, believers quarrel. But even when we are convinced that the other person is wrong, God demands that we take the first step toward reconciliation. In the Beatitudes, it says that before we bring our prayers to God we should reconcile with the one who has something against us (Matthew 5). Often, the one in the wrong is so bogged down by his guilt or hurt that he is not able to make the first step. We do not mature by humiliating an opponent, but rather by humbling ourselves and setting an example. In so doing we turn away God’s judgment from ourselves and others. If we don’t warn a sinner and he goes astray because of his sin, God will demand the blood of the lost from our hands (Ezekiel 3). God does value our good deeds. But He also compares them to what we should have done, but did not do. The Lord commends the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2): “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men.” Nevertheless, His criticism follows: “But this I have against you, that you have left your first love.” Why does God utter these bitter words to those He has previously commended? Because He judges us in our entirety. He wants to correct us and does not want us to be lost By Ludwig S chneider
The Torah- ! $ he Hebrew Bible consists of three parts: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Ketuvim), which together form the Tanakh or Old Testament. The Torah is the Five Books of Moses, known in Latin as the Pentateuch. The Torah, regarded as the holiest book in Judaism, does not literally mean “law,” but rather “instruction” or “teaching.” It is a navigating tool that guides us towards God. It is not only a narrative of creation, but also the story of the origins of the Jewish people. Though there is debate whether Moses authored the Torah in its entirety, it is not important. In fact, there must have been other authors since Deuteronomy 34 describes Moses’ death and burial. Nevertheless, Moses was the God-appointed writer of the Torah who not only recorded the 613 commandments, but also the chronological account of man’s first days on the earth, from the Garden of Eden to the flood to the Exodus from Egypt. The 613 commandments, which include the Ten Commandments, are the foundation of Judaism. The Torah is written on vellum parchment scrolls brought out during synagogue services for the reading of God’s word. Everything concerning the Torah must be ritually pure. Its parchment is made from the skin of any ritually clean animal, soaked in lime water for nine days to remove hairs, and then stretched over a wooden frame to dry. It is sanded and pressed until it is soft enough to be written on. The pages of the parchment are then sewn together to form a scroll. The quill of the pen used to inscribe the words of the Torah is made from a ritually cleansed bird. The ink must be black and durable. It is made of a mixture of powdered gall nuts, copper sulfate crystals, gum arabic and water. The scribe (sofer) is required to live piously, be of good character and be knowledgeable about the laws of copying the Torah. There are thousands of laws pertaining to the transcription of scripture onto the scrolls and therefore, it takes the scribe about one year to complete. Should he make a mistake, he scrapes the ink off with a knife or pumice stone. But if he makes a mistake inscribing one of God’s seven holy names he is forbidden to correct it because, according to tradition, God’s name cannot be erased. The sofer trims off the segment of parchment with the error and stores it in a geniza (depository) until it can be properly buried. This is one way of showing reverence for the written word. Jews do not touch the parchment when reading during a synagogue service. Instead, they use a yad (ritual pointer, literally “hand”), which points to each word. This ensures that not one word will be overlooked and prevents God’s word from being polluted by oils or dirt on the hands. The oldest parchments that exist today are the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956. Nearly 900 scrolls
were unearthed, containing portions of the Hebrew Bible dating back to 150 BC. For daily use, synagogues are filled with printed Torahs and Old Testaments in book form. Jews show utmost respect for these holy books by not placing them on the floor and by handling them with care. If a Bible happens to fall to the floor, one lifts it up and kisses it as an act of reverence. Every Sabbath, the faithful read a designated portion from the Torah and discuss it throughout the week. When Yeshua (Jesus) preached the Sermon on the Mount and Paul wrote that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” (2 Timothy 3:16), they were referring to the Old Testament because the New Testament had not yet been written. The Hebrew names of the Five Books of Moses correspond to their theme: Genesis: Bereshit – In the Beginning Exodus: Shemot – Names Leviticus: Vayikra – He Called Numbers: BaMidbar – In the Desert Deuteronomy: Devarim – Sayings By Ludwig S chneider
Torah Portions March 2008 (From 24th Adar I to the 24th of Adar II 5768)
The Sabbath Readings March 1st – Shabbat Vayakhel – And He Gathered Exodus 35:1–38:20; I Kings 7:40–50 March 8th – Shabbat Pekudei – Counting Exodus 38:21–40:38; I Kings 7:51–8:21 March 15th – Shabbat Vayikra – And He Called Leviticus 1:1–5:26; Isaiah 43:21–44:23 March 22nd – Shabbat Tzav– Command Leviticus 6:1–8:36; Jeremiah 7:21–8:3; 9:22–23 March 29th – Shabbat Shemeini– On the Eighth Day Leviticus 9:1–11:47; 2 Samuel 6:1–7:17
March 2008 | 15
ISRAEL IN SNOW F
rom Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights in the North to the Mitzpe Ramon crater in the Negev desert in the South, the whole country was blanketed in a rare coat of white. Accompanied by strong gusts of wind that created occasional blizzard conditions, the snow paralyzed parts of the country. Since cars and buses are not equipped for this kind of weather, traffic came to a standstill, businesses shut down and students enjoyed two unexpected days off from school. In Sacher Park, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski presided over a snowman competition. Newspapers reported that the glorious snow, which came down on the day of the publication of the official inquiry on the Lebanon War (see page 7), even covered up the mistakes of the nationâ€™s leaders. ď ™ By Michael S chneider SNOWY Mt. Hermon
SNOWMAN at the Dome of Rock SNOW PATROL in Gush Etzion
SNOWCAPPED PEAKS in the desert
Photos: Flash90, Reuters and NAI
SKIING on Mt. Hermon
Photos: Flash90, Reuters and NAI
REINDEER on the Golan Heights
OUR STREET: The location of the Israel Today bureau in Jerusalem
‘THOUGH YOUR SINS ARE AS SCARLET, they will be as white as snow’ (Isaiah 1:18) THE TOMB OF THE PATRIARCHS in Hebron
IBEX at Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev
Israel: Between Mysticism and Reality
ome things cannot be understood through reason. Goethe, the thinker and author, writes that the mystical realm is beyond the secrets of nature and reason. Philosopher Albert Schweitzer said: “All deep thinking ends in the mystical.” This year, Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary as a state. It is a modern-day miracle. A people who lived almost 2,000 years in the dispersion returned to their original homeland. On May 14th, 1948, (5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5708), Israel’s first Prime Minister David BenGurion declared independence. This year the day falls on May 8th according to the Jewish calendar. Because it falls on the Sabbath, it will be celebrated two days earlier. The fact that he was a pragmatist did not keep Ben-Gurion from believing in miracles. “He who does not believe in miracles is not a realist!” he quipped. For him, belief in miracles and a sense of reality were not a contradiction. Israel’s biblical and postbiblical history confirms Ben-Gurion’s saying because it is a nation blessed with miracles. Some 800 years ago in Germany, Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel was a top Talmudic scholar with an inclination for the mystical. Before he died in the year 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would conquer Jerusalem and rule the Holy City for “eight jubilee years.” A biblical jubilee year consists of 50 years. Fifty multiplied by eight equals 400 years. Afterwards, according to Ben Samuel, the Ottomans would be driven out of Jerusalem, which would remain no-man’s land for one jubilee year. In the tenth jubilee year, Jerusalem would return to the Jewish people and then the Messianic end times would begin. This came to pass 300 years after Ben Samuel’s death. He could not have based this prophecy on events that could be foreseen, but only on the results of his study of the Bible. According to Leviticus 25, the nation is reunited with its land in the year of Jubilee. Therefore, the Jubilee year plays an important role in Israel’s history. In this case, the Jubilee began with the defeat and conquest of the Mamluks in Jerusalem by
Ben-Gurion: ‘He who does not believe in miracles is not a realist!‘
18 | March 2008
the Ottoman Kingdom in 1517. The Turks reigned over Jerusalem until the British General Edmund Allenby defeated them exactly eight jubilee years later, in 1917. Ben Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled precisely because 1517 to 1917 is exactly 400 years. Afterward, Jerusalem was no-man’s-land for 50 years during the time of the British Mandate (1917-1947) and the time of Jordanian rule (1947–1967), another jubilee year. During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel captured Jerusalem from Jordan and the city returned to the Jewish people after nearly two millennia of exile. After that, the countdown for the Messianic age began. It wasn’t only mystics who predicted these events, but also secular Jews like the journalist and visionary of the Jewish state Theodor Herzl. He predicted at the First Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897 that within 50 years the Jewish state would exist. This came to pass: 50 years after Herzl’s prediction, the jubilee year of the British Mandate was over and in 1947 the United Nations voted for the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. According to this timeThe numbers 50 line, it is possible that 2017 or 2018 will be a decisive year and 70 represent for Israel because it will be 70 the beginning years after 1947, the UN decision for the establishment of and the end. Israel, and 50 years after the unification of Jerusalem. We And in between are now exactly between these is the number two numbers with the 60th anniversary of the creation of 60, which means the Jewish state. All three of these numbers ‘support.‘ have Biblical significance: 50 is the number of unification (for example between Passover and Pentecost) and 70, according to Daniel 9, is the number of fulfillment. So 50 and 70 represent the beginning and the end. And in between is the number 60, which means support. God is reminding us this year that He is the pillar that supports the beginning and the end so that all goes according to His plan. We don’t know the day and the hour of His coming, but we are not talking about the return of Jesus. We are talking about God’s timetable for Israel.
The prophecy of the rabbi was fulfilled: In the ninth year of jubilee the city of Jerusalem was again in Jewish hands (1967). From there begins the countdown of the Messianic era.
By Ludwig Schneider
When Decadence Takes Over
n Rome, “god emperors” sipped pearls dissolved in vinegar. Caligula designated his horse as senator and had him eat out of golden vessels. They declared their perverted lifestyle as the moral standard. In Versailles, the sun kings had 20course meals served to them, only tasting a bit of each one while the rest was thrown to the dogs or sold to the commoners at a high price. A carousing clergy also aroused the anger of the people, who often did not even have enough bread to eat. Such excesses often ended with the punishing judgment of God: the black plague, wars or revolutions paying bitter tribute. Whoever stood up against these practices, like the Italian preacher Savonarola who demanded repentance, were burned at the stake. There will never be full equality in the standard of living among the human race. Flamboyant declarations of equality and brotherhood often turned out to be a cynical hoax that led to more oppression. This was the case with Robespierre, a leader in the French Revolution, as well as with Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. There will always be rich and poor in society, but when the gap becomes too wide we should take heed. We are allowed to rejoice when we prosper, but this should not cloud our view of the poor. If we have compassion,
DÉJÀ VU: Neo-Nazis, and many others, blame the Jews for the world’s ills
we observe those less fortunate than we are through a pane of glass. But if gold and silver become an idol, the transparent pane turns into a mirror and one can only see himself. Today, there is again a super-rich elite that can afford anything. It boasts of paying $5,000 for three scoops of ice cream in a New York parlor because it was sprinkled with gold dust. They show off a diamond-laced necklace for their dog worth $170,000. This is reminiscent of the Roman Empire where the decadent lifestyle and
Surely, the Jews are not angels. But neither are they devils who are responsible for everything that goes wrong. For example, what do the Jews have to do with global warming and its catastrophic effects on the climate like hurricanes, floods and droughts? What do the Jews have to do with the unbridled output of pollution in the US and China? What do the Jews have to do with doping scandals during the Tour de France or steroids in baseball? Neither the professional cyclists, nor the players nor the trainers were Jews.
A GROWING GAP between rich and poor
the gap between rich and poor led to its destruction. Today we have a similar gap between the salaries of CEOs and janitors, between stockbrokers and the homeless. What does all this have to do with Israel? A lot, if we consider the world’s tendency to blame the Jews for all the ills of the world. As Adolf Hitler put it: “The Jews are our misery.” Does the world not see that its own behavior brings misfortune, and that prosperity also brings responsibility? The German news magazine Der Spiegel titled an editorial, “God is the guilty one!” It blamed God because He chose the Jewish people (Deuteronomy 7:7) though, the magazine claimed, they are the cause of all the catastrophes in the world.
What do the Jews have to do with corruption in companies which do not even employ Jews, with the genocide in Rwanda and Sudan and with oil spills that pollute the sea? Islamists, Arabs, neo-Nazis and intellectuals blame the Jews for all the bad in the world even though they make up only .2 percent of the world population. Today, we hear the same cry: “The Jews are our misery!” Yet the world is not on the brink of disaster because of the Jews, but because of its own greed, perversity and moral decline. Whenever nations reach such a state of decadence, God brings judgment. But whoever blessed Israel and did not blame it for his own faults, was blessed.
By Ludwig S chneider
March 2008 | 19
Feeding the Multitudes
Christian group from Ireland feeds thousands of Israelis
eminiscent of the wedding banquet in one of Jesus’ parables, it was the poor and downcast who were invited to a sumptuous meal at a Jerusalem kibbutz. Ronnie McCracken of Northern Ireland has fed hundreds of thousands of people behind the Iron Curtain in the past few decades. He drives transport trucks full of humanitarian aid across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to wherever there is a need. On one of his weeklong trips across Europe, exhausted and sick, he was ready to retire. However, the Lord told him he couldn’t retire until he fed the people of Israel. That finally came to pass but McCracken still has no plans to retire. “There’s no retirement in His service,” he smiled. Waiters in blue and white checkered aprons and hats cheerfully served needy Israelis, victims of terror and the elderly in the beautiful Ramat Rachel kibbutz banquet hall daily for about a week. Hundreds came each day including busloads of Sderot residents, taking a day of refuge from the southern city which has been pounded by rockets fired from Gaza. McCracken’s Eschol Trust brought the volunteers, paid for the food and served the people. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem provided the transportation to Ramat Rachel for nearly 6,500 guests. Over the weekend, McCracken’s team of 44 volunteers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland did the same for Arabs in the Old City. The meal time included dancing, music and encouragement from Irish and Is-
SERVING THE LORD by serving His people
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Serving the Traditional & Evangelical Christian World
‘A CHEERFUL GIVER’: Ronnie McCracken (left)
raeli performers. As they left the banquet, the Israeli guests emotionally thanked the Christian volunteers. “This was the best day of my life. There are people who are with us, who care about us and did this for us—they care about us,” Rachel Barazani, a Jerusalem resident, told Israel Today. “They rejoiced with us, they picked us up from our homes, they danced with us. It was a dream, what they did for us.” She said the care of these foreign Christians was more apparent than from the government itself. “We were so overwhelmed by this, we cried the whole time,” said Shalom Kemesh, also from Jerusalem. McCracken has long stood with and taught about Israel. He has led at least 70 tour groups to the Holy Land, but lost count after that. The humble minister said that being from Northern Ireland he is no stranger to terrorism. He had friends killed in bombings and considered joining a terrorist group himself, but he got saved and followed a different path for his life. “We hear about suicide bombs, acts of terror and it touches us very deeply because we lived through that,” McCracken said. “This is a practical expression of our Christian faith. We are showing solidarity with Israel.” By Nic ole Janzesian
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Let us go to the house of the Lord. Our feet are standing in the gates, O Jerusalem (Psalm 122:4) Israel Today
Single Mother Reaches Out to Her Own
he growing number of single mothers, widows and orphans is gripping the nation and so, in turn, within the body of believers. Yet, emerging from her own experiences, Orna Greenman is reaching out to others torn by similar circumstances. For years Greenman struggled with jealousy and bitterness towards her son’s father. But until she laid her issues at the altar, using the model of the Tabernacle, she wasn’t able to experience freedom and see God’s glory. Today, through her Ot u’ Mofet (A Sign and a Wonder) ministry, the Israeli-born Greenman is helping broken and hurting women living in shame. She spoke to Israel Today reporter Sara Fischer. What exactly does your ministry entail?
We work with people who are so brokenhearted that once they open their hearts to God, they experience signs and wonders. It is based on Isaiah 8:18. Our target is the widows, orphans and single parents because God made us to be a father to the fatherless. We do so by equipping leaders and congregations and have four-month workshops in different parts of the country [now in Haifa] working with the parents and their leaders. We teach them both the spiritual and the practical. What is the spiritual aspect?
The main tool we use is the Tabernacle. That’s why I have the Menorah here—it’s the place God gave us to worship Him, it’s the place
where He filled us with His glory. They come to us so ashamed, so full of guilt, so full of brokenness and abuse. What we desire for them is glory. So, this is the deliverance God gave them: to lead them to the gate onward, all the way to the Holy of Holies. Behind each [broken woman] or each devastated area of their lives, there are lies they believe. So the main work that needs to be done is to identify those lies and replace them with the truth. It’s an inner-healing ministry for a very narrow group of people and it’s awesome because God’s hand is moving. What type of practical support do you give to women?
We deal with every area, but they come to us with problems with the kids or they need money. Describe the needs of the people you are helping.
Just name it and they have it: housing; job; training for a job; language—most are Russian; children—how to set boundaries, what are boundaries; their self-esteem; who they are in God’s eyes, how does He see them— most see it as a punishment; drinking—most have addictions and the victim mentality, which is a big issue that they have to deal with. Tell us about the overall situation in the country concerning widows, orphans and single mothers.
IN HIS PRESENCE: The Tabernacle is the model for deliverance
Approximately 11 to 12 percent of the population are singleparent families. The percentage in the body [of believers] is bigger: there are more single-parent families. About 95 percent are mothers, most of them divorced. Very few are widows, there are a few who conceived outside of wedlock and the majority are Russians.
‘BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED’ (Isaiah 61:1): Orna Greenman
What is the general approach of the Body of Messiah in Israel towards widows and orphans?
They’re mostly caring but are making a lot of mistakes. They’re dealing with the surface issues and paying their debts, which perpetuates the problem. They’re perpetuating the problem because they feel sorry for them. But the congregations and the mothers need to look at a problem as an opportunity to grow. The general feeling is they want to help, but just don’t know how, so she remains a victim. But very, very few are indifferent. What are the needs of your ministry?
A trained teacher (staff member) working with the kids, more hands-on people, a worship leader, more trained people. Money comes when it’s needed. Our biggest need is prayer. We could use more prayer—it is our backbone. When we start working with a group we assign a prayer partner to each participant where we call them and keep them updated. What prompted you to start this ministry?
I’m a single mom myself, my son is 18 and in the army. It started five years ago when I tried to help a friend who was going through an ugly divorce and another friend with a very bitter, very bitter heart. So I started praying and suddenly the Lord led me to study what the Word says about widows. I did a whole study and then realized that He’s calling me to work with them.
March 2008 | 21
A Quiet Corner in Jerusalem
ust a two minute walk from bustling Some of the paintings in ‘A Room of Her Own’ Jaffa Road, leaving the crowded city center behind, is an oasis of silence. Lined with colorful floral displays and lofty pine trees, Anna Ticho House is an escape from the rush, intensity and traffic of downtown Jerusalem. This café has deep historical roots. Ticho House was one of the first buildings constructed outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in the second half of the 19th century. The house is named after a famous eye doctor from Zurich, Avraham Albert Ticho, who inherited the property in 1924. The rooms in which he set up his eye clinic are now a restaurant and art gallery. His wife Anna worked as his as‘PORTRAITS OF JEWS’ by Andy Warhol sistant until she began to devote more of her time to painting. Anna Ticho Nava Bibi, who runs the café, aims became a renowned artist, particularly to provide a cozy rendezvous and ref‘SUMMER SUNLIGHT’: Exhibitions include works like in the years following the death of her uge from the stress of city life. this one by Childe Hassam husband in 1960. “I have always loved this location,” As a token of her love for Jerusalem, she said. “For me this is typical Jerusashe bequeathed the entire house, including the art collection lem. That is why we have also called the place ‘Little Jeruand library, to the city. This was how Ticho House came into the salem.’” possession of the Israel Museum, which set up an artists’ center Whether inside the building or out on the sprawling garon the first floor. Among the frequently changing exhibitions, den terrace where many couples have wed, exquisite dishes Anna’s paintings and a collection of Hanukkah menorahs that and sophisticated cultural events give satisfaction to both By R ivka Abir belonged to her husband are permanently on display there. body and soul. The current exhibition at Ticho House, entitled “A Room of Her Own,” presents perspectives on women, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani.
LET’S HAVE COFFEE TOGETHER IN JERUSALEM! YO U SEE
TICHO HOUSE: An escape in the heart of the city
22 | March 2008
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ARCHAEOLOGY AND NATURE
Mansion from 2nd Temple Period
xcavations outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate have unearthed what appears to be the 2,000-year-old mansion of Queen Helene of Adiabene, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The dig site is in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, known as Siloam in the New Testament (John 9). The building includes storerooms, living quarters and ritual baths and is the largest and most elaborate structure discovered by archaeologists in the area known as the City of David, not far from the Temple Mount. The renowned 1st century Roman-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions just one wealthy family living there, that of Queen Helene. The queen came from a royal clan that ruled Adiabene, a region now in northern Iraq, and converted along with her family to Judaism. They came to Jerusalem in 30 AD. Helene was praised for her generosity to Jerusalem’s poor, for making contributions to the Temple and for living as a Nazirite. She is believed to be buried in an elaborate tomb near the mansion and two downtown Jerusalem streets are named after her. The excavation uncovered the home’s massive foundations, including 15-foot (5-meter) walls, stones weighing hundreds of pounds, two-story high halls, a cellar with an arched ceiling and colorful frescoes. “This amazing structure was destroyed with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD,” said IAA archaeologist Doron Ben-Ami. In the ruins, excavators found pottery shards and coins dating to the time of the Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 AD). By Netanel D oron
Controversial Excavation to Continue
he government has ordered the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to resume the excavation near the Mugrabi Gate outside the Temple Mount. Plans to build a new walkway to the Temple Mount were suspended in response to pressure from the Arabs, who charged that Israel was deliberately weakening the foundations of the Mosque of Al Aksa. The IAA is conducting salvage ex-
cavations, a standard procedure during construction in archaeological sites to ensure that artifacts are protected. The new walkway will replace the old one that was damaged by an earthquake and inclement weather. Nevertheless, any work by Israel in the area stirs up Arab sentiment over the hotly disputed site, which is the holiest place in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.
Rare Bird in Jerusalem
rare bird was sighted at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory when an Eyebrowed Thrush took a wrong turn during its migration. “This is a mega-rarity,” said Amir Balaban, co-director of the observatory. This was only the second time an Eyebrowed Thrush has been seen in Israel. The first was in the Red Sea resort of Eilat in 1996. This bird is common in India, East Asia, Siberia and the far north, but is rare in the Middle East.
LAYERS OF JEWISH HISTORY: The dig at the City of David
he University of Haifa has embarked on a unique research project for alternative energy production using a gas lying beneath the ocean floor. Research will be conducted in the new School for Marine Studies at the University of Haifa thanks to an $8 million donation from American businessman Leon Charney. “One of the primary goals of the school is to evaluate the possibility of turning gas lying at the sea floor into a valuable economic resource,” Charney said. “This could eliminate dependence on oil and change the geo-political reality in the world.”
Bat out of Beit Shemesh
T MISGUIDED MIGRANT: An Eyebrowed Thrush
he Teomim Caves near Beit Shemesh closed their “doors” for several months to ensure that tens of thousands of bats, who are hibernating, will not be disturbed. The heart activity of the bats decreases during this time from 400 beats per minute to only 10. If awoken prematurely, the bats would immediately start a frantic search for food and could die.
March 2008 | 23
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BEHIND THE SCENES
Just Like Us Cell phones were sounding vibrantly with all their jive and chime eclectic rings—nothing out of the ordinary in the middle of a meeting in Israel. But this wasn’t your typical mix-and-mingle social event. It was a night where Jew and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian sat in peace and harmony, not to reconcile, make amends or ask forgiveness, but simply to hang out. It was a meeting of 25 20-somethings from two different, yet similar worlds. Our Messianic congregation’s young ‘THE WALLS OF PARTITION are broken down’ (Eph. 2:14) adult group invited the young adults from Independent Baptist Church of Beit Jala, a Palestinian-ruled town near Bethlehem, for a special evening to get acquainted and socialize. Palestinian young people harbored no feelings of bitterness. Though they said it is frustrating to be subject to lengthy and The vision began when two guys from our group and two intense security checks at the “block” [i.e., the security barrier], from theirs trekked through the wilderness of Wadi Rum in their attitudes remained positive, bright and they wouldn’t let it Jordan with a reconciliation organization seeking to create ruin their night with us out on the town. peace through humanistic means. Abandoning this method, Until late into the night we yakked and laughed and stuffed these young men instead built a relationship and based their ourselves with steaks, hamburgers, chicken, cheesecake and “peacemaking” on terms laid out in the Bible. coffee just like any other large group occupying half a Jerusalem For about half a year we tried to get together, but our scheduled restaurant. gatherings met with relentless failure since our new friends were Though we live only a few miles from each other, we remain denied entry permits into Israel and we Israelis are forbidden by separated by a barrier. Yet for that one evening there was no law to enter the Palestinian territories for security reasons. border, no barrier of hatred, bitterness, blame or worry. For that Some of the Israelis among us have stood guard at checkpoints one night we were united, we were one and that because of the and raided Palestinian homes while serving in the army. only reason we are able, because we are brothers in the Messiah. Despite this, and despite the fact they had to add an hour to And because of Him, we know that they are just like us. their journey because of the wait at the border crossing, the By Sara R . Fischer
and the Desert Snow It’s been many years since it snowed here in the desert.
But I don’t care, I love the snow!
But every time, crowds come from the cities to see this spectacle and wind up getting stuck.
What!? 500 shekels for a tow?!
March 2008 | 25
Experience Israel This Year with All Your Senses!
L E A R S I l Fee SEE
The Psalms through the Eyes of an Artist
real goldmine is waiting to be discovered in the center of Jerusalem: The Psalm Museum. A modest sign and a dilapidated display case conceal a treasure that lies beyond the entrance to the historic house of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. The Psalm Museum is unique. It brings the words of King David to life in the paintings of artist Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger. Berger was born in 1924 in Transylvania and is a Holocaust survivor. He immigrated to Israel in 1992, and three years later he launched the museum project with the help of influential rabbis such as Meir Yehuda Getz and the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. As he paints, Berger also studies the Zohar (Jewish mysticism) and this combination makes his work so exceptional. The building is akin to an artist’s studio. The entranceway and the adjoining showrooms are decorated with unfinished paintings, countless artist’s tools and historic, faded newspaper articles. Berger often provides visitors with a guided tour himself. When he’s not there, he appears on video, providing an insight into his creative process. “Angels are ascending and descending—and the same thing happens with
PAINTING THE PSALMS: Artist Moshe Tzvi Berger
the Psalms, which are nothing less than prayers,” Berger says. “The prayer ascends and the angels come down.” Nothing happens by chance in Berger’s work. For instance, the colors are selected after much deliberation and in accordance with Jewish interpretations on color. Each of the fundamental colors has a deeper meaning: turquoise represents mercy, white is grace, violet-wisdom, green-beauty and orangemajesty. The
‘COME INTO HIS PRESENCE’: Berger’s interpretation of Psalm 95:1-2
colors unite with the Hebrew letters hidden in the motifs. Walking through the collection of paintings you are gripped by the atmosphere, which is intensified by the gentle light from the sunroof. Each picture has a sign beside it, first quoting the passage from the Psalms and then describing the main idea of the painting. A visit to the museum enables the beholder to contemplate the Psalms in a completely new way. By R ivka Abir
GODLY GALLERY in Jerusalem
March 2008 | 27
Ryanair to Fly to Israel
udget carrier Ryanair hopes to add Israel to its list of travel destinations, the Ministry of Tourism announced. Europe’s premier discount airline sent Benny Berger, who is responsible for new travel destinations, to Israel to meet with aviation, transportation and tourism officials. Ryanair will begin flights as soon as the European aviation agreement is ratified by Israel.
ARE WE NUTS? Ironically, Israel is violating international sanctions on Iran
PISTACHIOS FROM IRAN
sraelis almost choked on their snacks as they read the headlines that Israel is the largest importer of pistachios from its archenemy—Iran. The nuts are brought here via a third country, Turkey. Ironically, the imports are a violation of international sanctions on Iran, which Israel has been pushing so hard to impose. The American Minister of Agriculture, Mark Keenum, demanded that Israel immediately stop the pistachio imports. He told his Israeli counterpart Shalom Simchon that it is absurd for Israel to trade with an enemy nation
whose president has called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map.” US pistachio producers protested that one of America’s closest allies prefers Iranian nuts over American ones. Simchon promised to halt the imports. “Israel has no interest in helping the Iranian economy,” he said. But that may be easier said than done. “We all know what Israelis like to do on Friday night in front of their television sets,” said Zvi Alon, an official in the Agriculture Ministry. “Israelis just love their pistachios!”
Economic Growth Excludes the Poor
ven though Israel’s economy is growing apace, the situation for much of the population is dire, according to a report by the Avda Institute. The study shows that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer. Statistics on economic growth are misleading because they are largely based on the income of the rich who make up a fraction of the population. In 2006, nearly 19 percent of the work force was considered poor, compared to 17 percent in 2004. Also in 2006, nearly 33 percent of the work force received
28 | March 2008
minimum wage or less, compared to 29 percent in 2001. Hi-tech, banking and the business sector enjoyed the highest growth rate in the economy, but this did not filter down to the average employee. Lowerwage sectors of the working class even showed a decrease. Shlomo Savirsky, the author of the report, said the fruits of economic growth are being enjoyed by only a few and the gaps will only be closed by investing in health, education, social security and enforcement of labor laws.
ourists visiting Jerusalem’s Old City can obtain a “Holy Pass” to see five of the most interesting sites at a reduced rate. The pass, which is issued by the Jerusalem municipality, costs 99 shekels ($27) for adults and 50 shekels ($14) for children. A map of the Old City and a brochure with tips on planning a sightseeing tour are included. Explanations of the historic sites are available in English, and helpful Internet links are listed. The pass also includes discounts at some restaurants and shops in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. www.holypass.co.il
February 18, 2008
3.602 NIS 7.025 NIS 5.273 NIS 3.578 NIS
JUST A LITTLE BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS
B y Ts v i S a d a n
any see 1985 as the watershed in Israel’s willingness to fight terror without compromise. It was then that the Israeli government, with Shimon Peres as prime minister, agreed to exchange 1,150 terrorists for three Israeli soldiers. Among those who gained their undue freedom was Kozo Okamoto, a Japanese terrorist sent by Ahmed Jibril’s terror organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In 1972, Okamoto and two accomplices killed 24 people and wounded 78 at Ben-Gurion airport. Another one of those released was Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. And there were others who became the instigators and leaders of the first intifada (Palestinian uprising) that broke out only two years after their release. Today the Israeli government is considering changing the definition of what we call “terrorists with blood on their hands” so that Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured in June 2006 by Hamas, can be exchanged for hundreds of terrorists who killed hundreds of Israelis. Israel bases its willingness to pay such a heavy price for its prisoners of war on the Middle Age Jewish practice of redeeming Jews who were imprisoned because of their faith. In those times, biblical verses such as “You shall not act against the life of your neighbor” (Lev. 19:16) and “Rescue those who are being taken away to death” (Proverbs 24:11) were considered by sages such as Maimonides to be among the most important commandments. Today, many see this kind of justification as an abuse of a noble practice since, from experience, we know that freed “terrorists with blood on their hands” return to kill and maim more Israelis. Nevertheless, the Israeli government will most likely relax “blood on their hands” criteria and give freedom to those who shed much Jewish blood. Israeli politicians know the dangers involved in such a practice yet they continue pursuing it in response to public pressure. In so doing they reflect the trend in Israeli society of a growing unwillingness to pay the price required to guard and maintain our right to live as Jews in this region. In yielding to such public pressure our ministers alter justice for narrow political gains even when they, like everybody else, know that TERRORIST BLACKMAIL: Israel is prepared in the end the sin does to release hundreds of terrorists for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit not go unpunished.
PROPHETIC WORD of the month I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7
ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim* — We ask You for the latter rains (Deut. 11:14). In the time left before the rainy season ends at Passover in mid-April, water the land abundantly. Fill the Sea of Galilee, the mountain and coastal aquifers, and all other reservoirs to the brim. Remove bureaucracy and provide the funds so that desalination plants can be constructed quickly. (Pages 3, 16-17) ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim — We ask You to turn the people of Israel back to their God. We thank You for those musicians and performers who are turning to God and the Bible and pray that their music and message would touch the people. Turn this into a revival and use it to reveal the Messiah. (Pages 4-5)
ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim — Grant
peace and security within Israel’s borders. Deliver your people from the snares of terrorism, may they dwell safely in your refuge, depending on your guidance for defending the nation. Lord we want to see your righteousness flourish and your name lifted up in the middle of political upheavals. Destroy the terrorist infrastructure and thwart all attacks against Israel. (Pages 6, 7, 10)
ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim — Grant that Israel will learn the lessons of the Lebanon War. Inspire the military brass to rebuild the army and prepare it for the next war. May they look to you as King David did for his strategies, consulting you every step of the way. Let them know that their strength is in the God of Israel. (Page 7)
ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim — Bring
healing to the single mothers, widows and orphans suffering from brokenness, guilt and shame. Provide prayer partners for these women laying their pasts down at the altar and allow them to experience your glory! Help the Body of Messiah see their role in caring for single mothers and widows and grow together with them. Bless these women as they experience your signs and wonders. (Page 21)
ohhnaca ubhct Avinu She’BaShamayim — Continue to work out your wonderful plan of uniting Jew and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian to worship together as one in the Messiah. Establish further opportunities for fellowship while at the same time strengthening the bonds created from the vision of two desiring to see your mighty hand at work. Bless those striving to tear down the sinful barriers of bitterness and seek unity in the body. (Page 25) * Our Father in Heaven
March 2008 | 29
Tidbits STRIKE PAY: The
teacher’s strike last year was the longest of its kind, 55 days. And now, teachers and students are paying the price. Passover vacation will be cut by a week; summer vacation will be shortened from ten to seven weeks; and at some schools, classes are starting an hour early every day.
The longest airplane runway in the Middle East, running 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), will be built in southern Israel and used for military purposes. Work will be finished in August 2008.
During the funeral for two terrorists in the Gaza Strip, guns were fired into the air, as is customary.
However, a bullet hit a high voltage wire which fell down and killed one of the mourners. Only in Gaza!
TION! According to a survey, 90 percent of all 13-year-old Israeli boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvah in the traditional way, with their first public reading of the Torah in an Orthodox synagogue.
PROBLEMS: When Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was diagnosed with prostate cancer, politicians from all over the world called and wished him a speedy recovery, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who himself had undergone the same kind of operation.
GIVE HER a hand
Dancer Queen in the PM’s Office
y day Tal Gal-Or coordinates Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appointments. By night she is a dancer. Olmert found this out by chance when he spotted his scheduler on television. Gal-Or, 24, was dancing in a competition with Adam Greenfield, 52, who is bound to a wheelchair. Gal-Or and Greenfield compete internationally. In Japan, they earned first place in the dancing world championships for the handicapped.
American Combat Expert Joins IDF
wo years ago, Yaniv was a bodyguard for VIP’s in North America. Today, the 32-year-old hand-to-hand combat trainer and counterterror expert is serving in an elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Yaniv was born in Israel, but when he was five his family moved to France and then to New York. From the age of 20, he was interested in anything that had to do with combat sports and self-defense. He completed numerous training courses and was sent to foreign countries on secret missions.
30 | March 2008
But despite living in a luxury home, driving an SUV and earning $10,000 a month, Yaniv decided to return to Israel and join the army. “I always wanted to return to the country,” he said. “Now the time has come.” Yaniv is now an army trainer in hand-to-hand combat and is registered as a “lone soldier,” meaning he has no family in Israel. His adopted father Tsvika Levi said: “I got a very talented soldier with high motivation. I normally deal with 20-year-olds.”
A TOUCH of grace
Hizbollah Asks for Israeli Film
uring a film festival in Italy, a journalist from the Hizbollah TV station Al Manar asked Israeli producer Avihai Henig for a copy of his award-winning movie Beaufort, which deals with the Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 2000. The film, which has an anti-war message, will be aired on Lebanese TV. Beaufort is the first Israeli movie to be nominated for an Oscar in 24 years, competing in the Best Foreign Film category. It already won the Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. The Lebanese journalist told Henig he wanted to give the film to Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. “I said that in my opinion, he [Nasrallah] would be pleased to see how vulnerable the Israeli soldiers were,” Henig said. “But it is important for him to know that his people are in the same situation.”
Many Israelis Involved in Charity
study showed that 44 percent of Israelis take part in voluntary charity work, contributing an average of 15 to 21 hours a month. “The main motivation for them is to help the weak and needy,” said Hagai Katz, who conducted the study. A large percentage of volunteers are religious Jews who see their work as fulfilling the commandments of the Torah. In 2006, Israelis volunteered for a total of 400 million hours, half of them at welfare organizations.
First ‘Righteous Gentile’ from Corsica
man from a remote village on the island of Corsica was honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial with the title of “Righteous Gentile” for saving Jews during the Holocaust. Louis Mileli was a captain in the 99th Infantry Division of the French army when, in 1943, he helped his Jewish neighbors in Lyon, the Levi family, escape from the Nazis. Mileli told authorities that Walter Levi, the father, was a “pure” Frenchman, enabling the family to acquire false identification papers. This false testimony carried great risk for Mileli. Had it been discovered, he would have been executed. Thanks to the document, the Levi family escaped to the countryside where they found a hiding place. Jacques Levi, who was three years old at that time, heard the story for the first time from his mother after they safely immigrated to Israel. He tried for years to find the Mileli family, but only succeeded in contacting the grandson of the courageous captain two years ago. Levi turned to Yad Vashem and after the regular examination process, Mileli was granted the honorary title “Righteous of the Nations.”
srael’s first Museum of Comics and Cartoons has opened in Holon. There has never been an institution in Israel specifically dedicated to comedy and satire. Even in this industry there are some “sacred cows” that cartoonists do not dare to touch. For example, during her term as prime minister, Golda Meir was never the subject of a political cartoon. But no sooner did she hand in her resignation than she also became a legitimate target for the cartoonists. C ompiled by Michael S chneider
Wine for the Blind
he Golan Heights Winery has started printing Braille on its labels so blind customers can also read about the product they are buying. The Mount Hermon vintage is the first to carry the new label. Golan wines are considered to be among the best in Israel.
BOTTLE of Braille
60 YEARS YOUNG!
A stamp commemorating the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel This official postage stamp features a ruddy boy (like King David) and combines the Israeli symbols of peace (the olive branch), the military (camouflage shorts), the hi-tech industry (the ‘@’ icon) and ‘Israel’ written in Hebrew shadowed by the young boy. And of course, the biblical sandals!
March 2008 | 31
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March 2008 Edition of Israel Today Magazine