Should Israel withdraw from Jordan Valley? Video explains why 70% of Israelis say no.

(source: JCPA video)

(source: JCPA video)

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing Israel to agree to create a sovereign Palestinian state and eventually withdraw all IDF forces from the strategic Jordan River valley.

The overwhelming consensus of international diplomats and political leaders agree with Kerry, and are likewise pressuring Israel with make a deal and withdraw its forces forever.

To reassure Israel that her security won’t be jeopardized, it is being suggested that ibe stationed in the Jordan Valley to provide security and provide a buffer zone to ease Israeli concerns.

However, some 70 percent of Israelis say they would not be safer under such an arrangement, and that international  forces would not be a reliable protection from a major attack from the East.

Now a new video produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) asks, “Who is right?”

Given the immense importance of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — and the importance of this particular issue — I’d recommend that you take five minutes to watch the video, and/or read the accompanying background information. You may or may not agree, but at least you’ll have a better understanding of the Israeli perspective on this vital debate.

>> To watch the short video, or read the background information, please click here.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

New study finds one-in-five Israelis cannot afford enough food. How should Christians respond?

joshuafund-logoMany people are surprised to discover that there are very real humanitarian relief needs in the epicenter. But a recently released reveals a troubling trend, that a large number of Israelis cannot afford enough food, reports Ynet News

According to a study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, some “20% of Israelis forgo food because of financial distress, while 13% give up using electric appliances or the phone,” reported Ynet, “while 13% give up using electric appliances or the phone.”

“Behind the numbers are names and faces; there is the reality of living in the lower classes,” noted the article. “There are even those working in the heart of the middle class whose conditions are deteriorating. Angelica Moscovitch is among them – a single mother living with her four children in Beersheba, who says she exemplifies the poor middle class.”

“The money, and the air, is gone,” Angelica told Ynet. “Her monthly income from a full-time job caring for the elderly together with the food subsidies she receives add up to NIS 10,000 ($ 2,809) before taxes. ‘The salary is significantly lower than the cost of living which has rapidly risen the last few years,’ said Angelica. According to her, she is forced to deal with difficult debts. ‘In the past they have turned off the gas and water and there were seizures. Right now we are giving up on a lot of things. We don’t turn on the heater and simply wear coats inside the house. I cook meat only on the weekend. I’m not even mentioning group activities and new clothes for the little children,’ told Angelica.”

“Miri and Dov raise three children in Jerusalem and their combined earnings also total NIS 10,000 ($ 2,809) before taxes,” noted the report. ”‘My salary is minimum wage even though I work a full-time position,’ explained Miri. ‘We are fighting for our survival day by day, but the government doesn’t even see us.’”

“Poverty in Israel is a strategic threat on our existence as a moral society who stands in solidarity and is able to deal with challenges from within and without,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

How should Christians respond? I believe the Bible teaches us to care for those in need, to find the hungry, to give water to the thirsty. To show unconditional love to the most vulnerable in society.

This is why The Joshua Fund exists. Since our founding in 2006, The Joshua Fund has invested millions of dollars in blessing Holocaust survivors, the elderly, single mothers, the homeless, widows, orphans, and other poor and needy Jewish and Arab families in the epicenter. Would you pray with us as we seek to serve the Lord in meeting the needs of the people to be “warm and well fed,” and share this prayer request with a friend? Would you also financially invest in this work, that we can help more needy people — Jews and Arabs — in the epicenter? Thanks so much. May the Lord bless you as you care for the needs of those less fortunate.

“You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

>> If you would like to make a generous, tax-deductible, year-end financial gift to The Joshua Fund, we would be very grateful. You give securely on-line by clicking here.

Or, you can send a check in the mail. Please make your check payable to “The Joshua Fund” and send to:

  • The Joshua Fund
  • PO Box 2589
  • Monument, CO  80132-2589

Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Are the Saudis and Israelis making secret plans to hit Iran? Here’s what we know so far.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (photo credit: AP/Hassan Ammar/File/Times of Israel).

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (photo credit: AP/Hassan Ammar/File/Times of Israel).

(Jerusalem, Israel) — For the last week, several colleagues I have been teaching at two Joshua Fund retreats in the epicenter. One was in Netanyahu for Israeli pastors, ministry leaders, and their wives. The other was in the West Bank for Palestinian Christian leaders and their spouses.

At both events, we scrupulously avoided discussing politics, war, and rumors of war. We simply taught through the Book of James, prayed and worshipped each other, and encouraged the dear brothers and sisters here. Sometimes you just need to stop focusing so much on all the troubles and trials of the world, and just spend time in the Word of God and in fellowship with people who love the Lord. This is where we find such refreshment in troubled times.

That said, the retreats are now over and as I came to Jerusalem, it became clear that war clouds are building again.

These are fascinating developments, and ones that are impossible to independently verify at the moment. But I have to say they have the feel of truth to it, and many here are taking them very seriously.

Please join me in praying for peace. None of us want a war. Let us pray the Lord stops Iran from building nuclear weapons in some other way, and that war won’t be necessary. At the same, let us be praying for regional leaders to have the wisdom they need to know how best to proceed in a very dangerous time. James chapter one urges us to pray for wisdom when we need it, and to pray in faith, and the Lord will give us wisdom generously. So pray, too, that the leaders of the region come to know the Lord and see how He alone can give them insight into how to protect their people from the cruel and terrible evil of an apocalyptic, genocidal regime in Tehran actually building nuclear weapons and preparing to use them.

With regards to a secret Saudi-Israeli alliance, here is what is being reported so far.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

  • The Mossad is working with Saudi officials on contingency plans for a potential attack on Iran in the event that Tehran’s nuclear program is not sufficiently curbed in the deal that may be concluded between Iran and world powers in Geneva this week, The Sunday Times reported.
  • Both Jerusalem and Riyadh have expressed displeasure at the deal being formulated between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers that they see as doing little to stop Tehran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.
  • According to the Times, Riyadh has already given its consent for Israel to use Saudi airspace for a potential attack on Iran.
  • The paper quoted a diplomatic source as saying the Saudis were willing to assist an Israeli attack by cooperating on the use of drones, rescue helicopters and tanker planes.
  • “Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” the Times quoted the source as saying. 
  • Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro on Saturday that there is a “meeting of the minds” between Israel and the “leading states in the Arab world” on the Iran issue – “one of the few cases in memory, if not the first case in modern times.
  • “We all think that Iran should not be allowed to have the capacities to make nuclear weapons,” he said. “We all think that a tougher stance should be taken by the international community. We all believe that if Iran were to have nuclear weapons, this could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, making the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox.”
  • Saying that an Iran with nuclear arms would be the most dangerous development for the world since the mid-20th century, and stressing that the “stakes are amazing,” Netanyahu urged the world’s leaders to pay attention “when Israel and the Arabs see eye-to-eye.”
  • “We live here,” he said. “We know something about this region. We know a great deal about Iran and its plans. It’s worthwhile to pay attention to what we say.”


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israelis mark Day of Atonement, reflect on 40 years since surprise attack nearly lost the country.

Thousands of Jewish people gather for prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City the night before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90/Times of Israel.)

Thousands of Jewish people gather for prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City the night before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. (photo credit: Dror Garti/Flash90/Times of Israel.)

(Dallas, Texas) — Today is Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement.” It is a Biblical holiday, the day when God called the children of Israel to repent of their national and individual sins and sacrifice animals to receive atonement, or forgiveness, of their sins. It is the highest holiday in Judaism.

Yom Kippur also marks the day when the modern state of Israel was nearly “wiped off the map” by her enemies. Forty years ago today, the Russian-trained and equipped air forces and armies of Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on the Jewish State, a move that nearly succeeded in destroying Israel.

Today, therefore, many Israelis are fasting and praying and reflecting on their lives and going to synagogue — some because of tradition, and some to follow Old Testament customs (albeit complicated by the lack of a Temple in Jerusalem).

Many Israelis are also taking time to reflect on how the reluctance of their Prime Minister in 1973 to launch a preemptive strike nearly led to a second Holocaust.

The Israeli society shuts down completely on Yom Kippur (see below). But the Friday edition of most Israeli newspapers (published before the temporary but complete shutdown) featured articles looking back at the ’73 war and the flawed leadership and failed intelligence that led to such a grave moment for the Jewish people after the stunning success of the ’67 war.

What follows are some excerpts concerning the religious aspect of this day, and links to some intriguing articles about the October war of 1973.

“Israelis prepared for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar on Friday when the entire country grinds almost to a halt for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s day of atonement,” notes an article in the Friday edition of the Times of Israel. “Jews traditionally spend the solemn day fasting and asking God for forgiveness at intense prayer services in synagogues. It caps a 10-day period of soul-searching that began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holiday.”

“In Israel, the country virtually shuts down for Yom Kippur,” notes the Times. “Businesses, restaurants and offices close, and TV and radio stations go silent. Airports close and buses and trains stop running. Highways and roads become eerily quiet, devoid of vehicles. Yom Kippur is unique in Israel because it touches almost the entire country. A high portion of the secular population observes the fast — and even those who don’t fast tend to refrain from eating in public, and quietly watch movies or rest at home. Many secular, mostly younger, Israelis ride bicycles and skateboards through the empty roads in some areas.”


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

As strike on Syria looms, Israelis scramble for gas masks. Netanyahu says Israel will hit hard if Syrian threat detected.

Cause for concern? The recent tension along the northern border has caused a spike in demand for gas masks. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Times of Israel).

Cause for concern? The recent tension along the northern border has caused a spike in demand for gas masks. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Times of Israel).

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — Israeli military forces and civil defense authorities are on full alert, looking for any sign that Syria is about to attack, especially with chemical weapons. Netanyahu warned Israel will hit hard if a Syrian threat is detected.

“The State of Israel is ready for any scenario. We are not part of the civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond and we will respond in strength,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday after a meeting with his security advisers, his second in as many days.

“Requests for gas masks among Israelis saw a major increase on Sunday and Monday, reflecting growing concern among the country’s citizens of a possible Syrian chemical attack following assessments that the US will soon launch a military assault on the war-torn country,” reports the Times of Israel.

“Israeli post offices, which serve as distribution points for gas masks, reported receiving 300 percent more phone calls on Sunday and Monday than on an average day from people who wished to acquire protection kits,” the Times noted. “More than twice as many people than average approached the distribution points themselves….According to numbers released by the government, only 60% of Israelis currently possess gas masks.”

Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog