International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Live Updates:
Terror in Israel

(Photo: IDF)

(Photo: IDF)

 

February 13, 2016 – 1:40 p.m.
Three Israeli police officers injured in West Bank car-ramming attack.
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February 13, 2016 – 1:30 p.m.
Female terrorist stabs IDF soldier, Palestinian man who tries to stop her.
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Saturday, February 13th, 2016 at 1:42 PM  | Stand For Israel

Photo Friday: The Cooing of Doves

(Photo: pikiwiki/carmela schwartz)

(Photo: pikiwiki/carmela schwartz)

Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land. (Song of Songs 2:12)

Doves coo in the Holy Land, perched under Israel’s flag in Jerusalem’s Old City. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 4:00 PM  | Stand For Israel

Venice’s 500th Anniversary of World’s First Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish community in Venice hopes to attract tourists and celebrate their rich history by planning events throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary of the world’s first Jewish ghetto:

Venice's Jewish ghetto. Photo: flickr/darkb4dawn

Venice’s Jewish ghetto.
Photo: flickr/darkb4dawn

Venice is marking the 500th anniversary of the world’s first Jewish ghetto with a program that organizers hope will transform a place once used to marginalize Jews into a vehicle for revitalizing the city’s dwindling Jewish community.

On March 29, 1516 the then-independent Republic of Venice segregated its Jewish population on a tiny polluted island that used to host a foundry (getto, in the local dialect – hence the name of the area). The Venice ghetto, like others that sprang up across Europe, was overcrowded and poverty-ridden but it also became a cultural hub that was home to Roman, German and Spanish Jewish exiles.

Bassi, an organizer of the anniversary, said this milestone does not just constitute a “moment of retrospection,” but “a point of departure to revive the great tradition of the ghetto as a cosmopolitan common ground for Jews of different backgrounds and non-Jews.”

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Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 3:55 PM  | Stand for Israel

Rabbi Eckstein on Our Flourishing Democracy

Rabbi Eckstein weighed in on the diversity of the democratic candidates – and what that says about the state of our democracy – in a recent ABC News article about Bernie Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary election.

Andrea Gonzales reports:

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization that supports Israel and promotes cooperation between Jews and Christians, said the Democratic contest “is a sign our democracy is flourishing when a Jew and women from both parties can be considered serious candidates for president of the United States and we’ve had an African-American president.”

Eckstein added, “The Jewish community is, of course, not monolithic and there are Jewish supporters of every candidate in the race, who will base that support on those candidates’ positions on important issues, rather than on their religions or backgrounds.”

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Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 3:50 PM  | Stand for Israel

Calm Along Israel’s Northern Border

Photo: ASHERNET

Photo: ASHERNET

Right now the soldiers protecting Israel’s northern border haven’t seen many threats, and the area seems to be calming down. While soldiers still prepare to defend the border in case the situation changes, currently they maintain that the area is under control:

As Nahal Brigade troops prepare to leave after 18 months’ patrolling Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, commander Barak Rubin explains why the border is so complicated: “Not every armed man you see in front of you is an enemy. But we’re in control.”

Quiet is a relative term. That is what we’ve learned all these years when it comes to Israel’s borders. This week, as I toured the Lebanese and Syrian borders in the north with Nahal Brigade combat soldiers, the general sense was one of calm. But the unit’s commanders, who will soon complete 18 months of operational duty in the region, inform me that the quiet atmosphere is misleading. One miscalculated move or one act of aggression by Hezbollah, and this picturesque calm will ignite into war.

According to intelligence assessments, the likelihood that Hezbollah will launch a war against Israel in 2016 is very low, because the organization is currently mired in the Syrian conflict. But, Military Intelligence knows full well that one wrong move could easily devolve into a full on clash, even worse than the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

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Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 10:40 AM  | Stand for Israel

Hezbollah Devours Lebanon

Photo: IFCJ

Photo: IFCJ

We continue to see the effects of the nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran. World Affairs writer Michael J. Totten tells us more about the political conditions in Lebanon, reporting that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah claims victory over this region:

Lebanon has been politically deadlocked and without a president for almost two years now, but the anti-Hezbollah coalition can’t hold the line anymore. They’ve completely surrendered. In late January, two of March 14’s most prominent leaders finally threw in the towel and nominated pro-Assad and pro-Hezbollah figures to fill the vacancy

Iran can do business with Hezbollah without using banks, of course, first and foremost by continuing to transfer an unlimited amount of sophisticated weapons as it has been doing all along anyway. Even if Iran were to use the international banking system, you can bet your bottom dollar that the US will pretend it’s not happening, at least for a while, to prevent the painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal from unraveling.

Lebanon may not be the most crucial country according to narrowly defined American interests, but like Tunisia, it’s one of the few Arab countries that has had a real shot at building something resembling a democratic system during the last couple of years. Lebanon is divided against itself, though, as it always has been, and Syria and Iran are aggressively and even violently backing the anti-Western and anti-democratic side. With no one supporting Lebanon’s pro-Western and pro-democratic side, there was ever only one possible outcome.

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Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 10:36 AM  | Stand for Israel

Netanyahu Proposes Plan to Build Security Fence Around Israel

iitnAs terror attacks continue throughout Israel, and with Hamas making serious threats of a new offensive from Gaza, Israeli officials have announced plans to build a security fence around the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the security fence is needed to protect civilians from predators.

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• The U.S. is blaming Russian bombings for forcing a new wave of Syrians to flee through Turkey and escalate the Syrian Civil War. Both the U.S. and Israel support removing Syrian President Bashar Al Assad from power, but Russia is backing the Assad regime.
• Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly condemned members of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — who have expressed condolences to families of Palestinian terrorists.
The Fellowship is installing more than 3,000 smoke detectors in the homes of Israel’s poorest because of the safety risk involved in using gas-powered heating in the winter.
• Israel is planning to add 30,000 work permits for Palestinians to help reduce their economic hardship.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s founder and President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on the strong bonds between African-Americans Christians and Jews.

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Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 5:00 PM  | Stand for Israel

Thirty Years After Crossing Glienicke Bridge

Natan Sharansky speaking at podium microphone

Thirty years ago today, Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky went from being a prisoner to being a free man. Today, his daughter Rachel Sharansky Danziger writes of her father’s freedom from Soviet Russia and his freedom as a Jew in Israel:

Thirty years ago today, my father, Natan Sharansky, crossed a bridge.

The bridge was Glienicke Bridge, of Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” fame. When my father walked onto it he was a prisoner in the Soviet block, though a free man in spirit. He found freedom on the day he stopped hiding his opinions. He earned freedom as he fought for his right to be a Jew in Israel, and for his fellow Russians’ human rights. He preserved it as the KGB imprisoned his body, trying and failing to force him to recant.

After nine years of imprisonment, my father stepped off Glienicke Bridge, and became a free man in body as well.

He finally left the USSR behind him, and had my mother, and Israel, ahead…

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Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 2:28 PM  | Stand For Israel

On the Frontlines of Faith

(Photo: wikipedia)

(Photo: wikipedia)

In celebration of Black History Month, and as part of The Fellowship’s expanding outreach to the African-American community, we have released a new booklet on the historical and spiritual bonds between African Americans and Jews.

“On the Frontlines of Faith” was written by Dr. Edward L. Branch, pastor of Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, and member of The Fellowship‘s African-American Advisory Council, and includes reflections by Rabbi Eckstein.

Enjoy this excerpt from “On the Frontlines of Faith.”

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of those who took to the frontlines of the struggle for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement. Who was this bearded man with rimmed glasses and a staunch appearance, who on occasion was arm-in-arm with Dr. King on the frontlines?

Rabbi Heschel (January 11, 1907—December 23, 1972) was one of the most influential religious figures of the 20th century. Born in Warsaw, Poland, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in 1933. He was a scholar, theologian, activist, poet, historian and author; he was a religious teacher “in the prophetic tradition.”

He may be best known for the iconic photograph of him marching with the Dr. King in Selma in 1965. He later said, “I felt my legs were praying.” Rabbi Heschel wrote 10 books, including “Man in Search of God,” “The Sabbath” and others. He was professor of Jewish Ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City after serving as an instructor at Cincinnati’s Hebrew College for five years.

According to one source, the Jewish communities of the South were rather small. The majority of Jews who migrated from Europe occupied the larger cities of the North, like New York or Chicago. Most southern Jews remained quiet and stayed out of the public square during this season of controversy over racial equality. Other southern Jews were frightened to put themselves on the line and preferred neutrality. And, of course, there were pockets of Jews, as there were of blacks, who disagreed with the movement entirely. However, with…

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Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 8:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

US Assesses Threat of Iran

(Photo: wikicommons/Mohammad Agah)

(Photo: wikicommons/Mohammad Agah)

Long before the questionable and dangerous international nuclear deal with Iran was made last fall, those who stand for freedom and peace were aware of the threat that the Islamic Republic poses. Now, Algemeiner’s Eliezer Sherman reports that American intelligence is saying the same thing:

Iran already has the largest ballistic-missile arsenal in the Middle East, Director of National Intelligence Jonathan Klapper told the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday.

Additionally, “Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles — along with its desire to deter the United States and its allies — provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, including ICBMs,” Klapper said, in a Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community.

He said the ballistic missiles would be Iran’s likely preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, should the country’s government decide ultimately to build them.

The report came as Iran’s Defense Ministry announced it would test the long-range Emad ballistic missile, which was shown stored away in an underground warehouse by the Revolutionary Guards in the Iranian press last month…

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Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 7:25 AM  | Stand For Israel