NEAR EAST REPORT:
The Legacy – For nearly forty years, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has stuck to an all-or-nothing position to deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. At the September 1978 Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat offered self-government in the territories to him. Arafat refused. Over the years that followed, increasing amounts of territory were offered: 91 percent of the West Bank (July 2000), 95 percent (December 2000) – all offers were rejected. With his passing, he has left a legacy of rejection, terror, incitement and deceit.
THE JERUSALEM POST:
Mengele Unrepentant – Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, who lived for years in Brazil, never regretted his crimes and died convinced of the superiority of the Aryan race, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by an Israel newspaper. The 85 documents, some in Mengele’s own handwriting, were in the possession of Brazil’s federal police, which investigated Mengele’s death. In a November 1972 letter, Mengele, called “the Death Angel” of Auschwitz, praised the apartheid regime that governed South Africa until 1994.
At-Sea Inspections on the Rise – All ships calling in to Israeli ports are open to surprise boardings while still at sea, and all ships “...understand there are security procedures and that we are sensitive to the security situation and they have to bide by the regulations,” Lt Cmdr Herzl says. Last summer, Israel adopted the International Ship and Port Facility security Code that the USA had set up. These contain very stringent standards that few countries have been able to meet – Israel has met them.
In the new war on terror, Israel is very vulnerable because 98% of its imports by weight come from the sea. Two million shipping containers arrive in Israel every year. Last March, two Palestinian (suicide) terrorists hid themselves in a steel container (secret compartment) delivered to Ashdod port. Their bomb belts exploded, killing 10 and wounding 18, but the damage could have been much worse. All vessels are required to provide 48-hours notice in advance of arrival into an Israeli port.
Masa Project – The Israeli cabinet decided to spend $150 million over the next five years to encourage Diaspora youth to visit Israel on semester and year-long programs to strengthen their ties to the country. The new umbrella organization, called Masa (means “journey” in Hebrew), aims to bring 20,000 18-25 year-old Jews to Israel annually by 2008 with study abroad programs, volunteer organizations and yeshiva learning.
Christian Friends – US evangelicals, many of whom refer to themselves as Christian Zionists, are clearly on the upswing. According to the Pew Research Center, evangelical Protestants accounted for 23% of the recent American electorate. Because of their attachment to the Bible, more and more evangelical Christians are stepping forward to embrace Israel with support that is sincere and deep-rooted and is founded on God’s promise to Abraham. These friends help win Israel support in mid-west states such as Kansas where the Jewish community is small. Tens of thousands of churches, worldwide, from Korea to California recently participated in an annual “Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.” Israel’s MK Yuri Stern recently created a Christian Allies Caucus in the Knesset, which works to promote better relations between Israel and Christian groups, and to encourage and promote visits to the Holy Land.
Fighting Divestment – In a 431-62 vote last July at the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly, Presbyterian Church USA has decided to divest from companies that do business with Israel. Although church officials do not know how much of their $7 billion in assets are invested in Israel, no action to divest has been taken. A group, Presbyterians Concerned for Christian-Jewish Relations indicated it would work to reverse this decision. Last August, William Harter, co-convener of Presbyterians Concerned for Christian-Jewish Relations said, “...we declared ourselves as opposed to the divestment decision, as isolating and targeting Israel for criticism as the impediment to Middle East peace and not recognizing that there are other countries which are in that part of the world whose cooperation is necessary for the peace process.”
Jewish officials were upset by the decision that shook the foundations of Presbyterian-Jewish alliances on social issues in the US, but Presbyterian leaders have stood by their vote. A committee will be exploring options for divestment and is scheduled to present their findings to the general assembly council in March 2005, but a vote on actual divestment can only happen at the assembly’s next meeting in 2006.
Aid for Sudan – Israel, in a first, sent $20,000 in aid to Sudan to help relieve the crisis there by adding their contribution to US Jewish groups which sent a total of $100,000 to support aid to children who are orphaned by the war in Sudan’s Darfur region. Sudanese refugees and human rights groups say the government has sponsored Arab militias known as the Janjaweed who are killing tens of thousand of black Muslims in ethnic-cleansing. Locals are grateful for the help and astonished by its source. They say, “we have always been taught from primary school through university that you (the Jews) are our enemy.” Muhammad Yahya who grew up in Darfur is the founder of a group called Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile. He now says, “we realize that what we have been taught all our lives is a kind of a rumor.... I tell my people in Sudan and in Darfur: Please forget about the rumors that the Israeli people are our enemy. They are not enemies anymore.” According to the American Jewish World Service, Jewish groups collectively have sent over $1 million to support humanitarian causes in Sudan since 2003.
Warming Relations may let Israelis and Palestinian Arabs breathe easier. Two engineers from the Palestinian Meteorological Service came to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to learn how to operate advanced air-pollution measurement equipment. They came for training and advanced study in a unique project of cooperation between the university and Palestinian research organizations, the first time in many months that such cooperation has been possible. The two engineers said they hoped for additional cooperation between the PA and Israel.
Another Positive item told of an Arab setting up a Holocaust teaching center in Nazareth. The founder said Arabs need to understand that the Holocaust is at the heart of the establishment of Israel that Jews in Israel and elsewhere still felt persecuted as a result of their history and this dictated the policy of the Israeli governments in all fields. :”If we as Arabs can dissipate these concerns and show understanding over what happened, it will help create the climate for real dialogue in which Israeli Jews and especially decision-makers will be able to have a greater understand of the suffering of Arab citizens and the Palestinians,” he said.
Anti-Semitism in Great Britain has surged last year.. There were more anti-Semitic incidents in Britain than France and Islamic elements were responsible for most of the attacks.
Two sisters who had lost track of each other in WW II, have been reunited in Israel. When the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia (1939) each sister was sent for shelter to a separate uncle in Hungary. Each sister was certain the other had not survived. A grand-daughter of one was searching the Yad Vashem database for family connections, and discovered her grandmother’s sister was alive. Now both sisters, Hannah Katz and Klara Blire, have found each other.
Let there be light: The earth is just the right distance from the sun, without whose warmth life would be impossible as we know it. The Israel Museum is currently presenting an exhibition featuring paintings, photographs, designs, etc. by Israeli and international artists on the theme of light. A winning entry by Zelig Segal, consists of 18 aluminum columns. (18 is the number of “hai”, life in Hebrew). The tops of these columns form, in Braille, the words, “Let there be light” – a reminder that many can feel the sun, but cannot enjoy the sight.
An Islamic jihad fugitive involved in the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in Feb. was killed in the house where he was hiding, southwest of Jenin. [Chris was in Israel at the time of this bombing. She had met the parents who now were distraught at losing a daughter. Remember to pray for and help the victims of terror in Israel.]
Evidence from excavations at Khirbat en-Nahas (“ruins of copper” in Arabic), Jordan further authenticates the Bible’s descriptions of the existence of the ancient nation of Edom during the eras of King David and his son, King Solomon. Until the new discovery, many scholars said the Bible’s numerous references to ancient Israel’s interactions with Edom could not be valid. The archeologists dug up evidence of construction of massive fortifications and industrial-scale metal production as well as over a 100 building complex.
BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY REVIEW (known as BAR Magazine): Jerusalem was a major city in David and Solomon’s time. An article on Jerusalem in the Israel Exploration Society’s New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land lists 126 major excavations between 1933 and 1992. Since then several other excavations have added a wealth of new material.
One thing on which scholars agree: in the time of David, Jerusalem was confined to what is still called the City of David, a spur stretching south of the Temple Mount and bounded on the east by the Kidron Valley, and on the west and south by the valley known (in Roman times) as Tyropoeon (or Cheesemakers’) Valley. On the eastern slope of the City of David, near the floor of the Kidron Valley, is Jerusalem’s only perennial source of water, the Gihon Springs. The most imposing surviving monument in the City of David is a complicated edifice known as Stepped-Stone Structure, which is so massive it could only be supported by the fortification wall located near the middle of the City of David’s eastern slope.
On the southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, archeologists have made an important discovery. In the flooded remains of an ancient fishing camp, they found evidence that people collected wild grains, pounded them into flour, and perhaps baked bread – at least 10,000 years before the development of agriculture. The settlement dates to roughly 20,000 B.C. Researchers found a grinding stone with traces of barley and other grains. They also found what appears to be a makeshift oven and grape residue. Grapes have a lot of yeast on their skin, enough to start the fermentation process necessary for bread-making. First frozen in time by a fire, the remains were preserved by the rising waters of the Sea of Galilee, which covered them except during rare periods of sustained drought. It was at a time of drought that the settlement emerged. Archeologists have been able to uncover flints, fish and animal bones, and the remains of hundreds of species of fruits, plants and animals. The find is so unusual that researchers are unable to compare it with anything else from the same time period.
INTERNET NEWS SOURCES Did you know: As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the US Supreme Court (Washington D.C.) you can see near the top of the building a row of the world’s law-givers and each one is turned toward the one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view? It is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments. And as you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door? Did you know: As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see on the wall right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments? And did you know there are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C.?
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Psalm 122:6