ISIS Releases 19 Christian Hostages, Dozens Remain Captive

(Photo: flickr/ News Feed)

(Photo: flickr/ News Feed)

Last week Stand for Israel reported the horrific abduction of hundreds of Christians by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. Now, Newsweek reports that 19 of those who were kidnapped have been released, though dozens remain in captivity:

The Islamic State (ISIS) has released 19 of its Assyrian hostages, according to the human rights group A Demand for Action. The 17 men and two women are from Tal Goran, Syria; it is unclear why they were released on Sunday.

Last week, ISIS took hundreds of Assyrian villagers hostage in the Tell Tamer region of Syria. Although the exact number of captives is unknown, A Demand For Action estimates between 150 and 274 hostages remain.

The terrorist organization also burned local churches belonging to the Christian community. A Demand for Action said in a statement that the Islamic State is attempting to “ethnically cleanse” the region.

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 2:19 PM  | Stand For Israel

Netanyahu to Congress: Israel Does Not Stand Alone

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress. In his speech, which you can watch in its entirety above, Netanyahu warned of the dangers – to Israel and to the entire world – of allowing Iran to become a nuclear power, and discussed what should be done to keep such a travesty from happening. He also thanked the U.S. for its support of the Jewish state, saying, “Israel does not stand alone.”

You can read the full transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech here.

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 12:04 PM  | Stand For Israel

Legitimizing Iran As a Threshold Nuclear Power

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Farzaaaad2000)

In today’s speech before Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak out against the legitimization of Iran as a world nuclear power. Such a thought is frightening to those who support Israel. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Yaakov Lappin says that the current deal being discussed is a bad one, as it endangers Israel:

The emerging Iran nuclear deal spells trouble.

For the past several months, Israeli security officials have privately been expressing concern over the emerging deal between the Obama Administration and the Iranian regime over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Defense officials familiar with the complex threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions have sought to stay clear of political statements, instead offering straightforward explanations as to why the deal, as it appears to be forming, will pose an extremely serious problem for the security of Israel and other Middle Eastern states in the path of Iran’s seemingly hegemonic aspirations.

Leaving aside the many technical details that are part of the wider picture of Iran’s nuclear activities, the essential problem with the would-be deal is that it will leave Iran with an enhanced ability to enrich uranium — an ability that can lead Iran to nuclear weapons production in a relatively short time.

The purpose of an agreement is to push Iran away from the ability to make nuclear weapons. Israel does not oppose the idea of an agreement, but it opposes the particular formula apparently being advanced in diplomatic talks.

The strength or weakness of any agreement rests on how long it would give the U.S. or Israel to respond in case Iran violates the agreement. An agreement that would be acceptable to Israel is one in which Jerusalem would have sufficient time to respond in case Iran violates it.

Under the terms of what seems to be the current proposal, however, the amount of time needed might not be adequate — meaning that Israel may not be able to consider itself bound by the agreement.

According to reports surfacing from the talks, the proposed arrangement will likely…

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 8:37 AM  | Stand For Israel

African-American Pastors: Don’t Skip Netanyahu Speech

(Photo: youtube)

(Photo: youtube)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress tomorrow has caused dissension among U.S. legislators, with some planning to skip the event. The Washington Times reports that a group of African-American pastors has urged the members of Congress not to miss Netanyahu’s remarks:

The message from a dozen prominent black pastors this week … was loud and clear: Don’t skip out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyuhu’s speech.

 “That is a slap in the face to the people of Israel, and not only that, it’s a slap in the face to God. And not only that, it’s also a slap in the face of all Bible-believing African-American people in this country…” said Pastor Dexter D. Sanders of the Rock Center for Transformation in Orlando, Florida …

Pastor Cecil Blye of More Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky, dismissed suggestions that the House violated protocol by extending the invitation to weigh in on U.S. negotiations with Iran.

“Charges from some members of the United States Congress about the breaking of protocol are no more than a very red herring,” Mr. Blye said. “The American people need to hear Israel’s voice on this urgent matter now. If one side of the aisle can facilitate this, so be it.”

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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 1:07 PM  | Stand For Israel

Netanyahu: Today We Have a Voice

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the U.S. Congress, and you can be sure that Stand for Israel will cover his message. But yesterday, Netanyahu spoke to the 2015 AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. You can watch the full speech above, a speech where he says that today Israel and her supporters have a voice and must not remain silent.

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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 12:42 PM  | Stand For Israel

Danger Ahead for Obama on Iran

(Photo: wikicommons/ Fastfission)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Fastfission)

Many times we find ourselves disagreeing with Jeffrey Goldberg’s opinions. But the recent piece the often pro-Obama columnist wrote for The Atlantic says that while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is getting the attention, the real issue is that the U.S. does not make a deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear power:

I’m fairly sure Netanyahu will deliver a powerful speech, in part because he is eloquent in English and forceful in presentation. But there is another reason this speech may be strong: Netanyahu has a credible case to make. Any nuclear agreement that allows Iran to maintain a native uranium-enrichment capability is a dicey proposition; in fact, any agreement at all with an empire-building, Assad-sponsoring, Yemen-conquering, Israel-loathing, theocratic terror regime is a dicey proposition.

The deal that seems to be taking shape right now does not fill me—or many others who support a diplomatic solution to this crisis—with confidence. Reports suggest that the prospective agreement will legitimate Iran’s right to enrich uranium (a “right” that doesn’t actually exist in international law); it will allow Iran to maintain many thousands of operating centrifuges; and it will lapse after 10 or 15 years, at which point Iran would theoretically be free to go nuclear. (The matter of the sunset clause worries me, but I’m more worried that the Iranians will find a way to cheat their way out of the agreement even before the sun is scheduled to set)…

This is a very dangerous moment for Obama and for the world. He has made many promises, and if he fails to keep them—if he inadvertently (or, God forbid, advertently) sets Iran on the path to the nuclear threshold, he will be forever remembered as the president who sparked a nuclear-arms race in the world’s most volatile region, and for breaking a decades-old promise to Israel that the United States would defend its existence and viability as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

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Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 8:30 AM  | Stand For Israel

Spat over Speech Can’t Spoil US-Israel Relations



Much of the news concerning Israel and the United States this past week has been about the feud between the two nations’ leaders. But what about the relationship between the nations, themselves? The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby writes that despite the public clash between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American President Barack Obama, the U.S.-Israeli relationship remains as strong as ever:

But however fraught the relationship between Bibi and Barack, the rapport between their nations — the US-Israel bond — remains as deep-rooted and durable as ever.

The day before Rice’s appearance on “Charlie Rose,” Gallup released its newest survey of American attitudes toward Israel. Despite weeks of clamor over Netanyahu’s visit and the litany of White House complaints about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, 70 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Jewish state — virtually indistinguishable from the 72 percent favorability Gallup measured last year. When asked to choose sides in the regional conflict, public backing for Israel was unchanged at 62 percent, close to its all-time high.

Most Americans feel a visceral attachment to Israel and what it represents, irrespective of their views about any particular Israeli politician. It works the other way, too: Israelis are intensely pro-American, whether the US president is one they adore (e.g., Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) or tend to mistrust (e.g., Obama)…

Only at a superficial level is this about partisan or political loyalties. Immensely more important is the lethal threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Even without the bomb, Iran is the world’s most dangerous regime — apocalyptic incubator of terrorism and jihad, ruthless suppressor of human rights, unflagging zealot for wiping Israel “off the map,” and fanatic about bringing “Death to America.” Like any democratic politician, Netanyahu can be maddening or fickle. But there is no issue on which he has been so consistent, for so long, as preventing Tehran from acquiring the nuclear capability that would empower it to fulfill…

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Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 3:06 PM  | Stand for Israel

Photo Friday: I Am in Israel

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Then you will know that I am in Israel,
    that I am the LORD your God,
    and that there is no other (Joel 2:27)

An IDF soldier from the Nahal Infantry Brigade completes a 50km march through the Negev Desert, arriving at Masada, sure that the Lord our God is with him and with Israel. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 1:03 PM  | Stand For Israel

ISIS Captures Hundreds of Christians, Destroys Ancient Art

(Photo: youtube)

(Photo: youtube)

This week, Stand for Israel has been closely following the plight of Assyrian Christians taken captive by the Islamic State (ISIS). The New York Times reports that the terrorist group has now taken nearly 300 Christians, all the while destroying priceless, antiquated art and archaeology:

The reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquests: entire villages emptied, with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves; the destruction of irreplaceable works of art; a tax on religious minorities, payable in gold.

A rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, perhaps, but in reality, according to reports by residents, activist groups and the assailants themselves, a description of the modus operandi of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate this week. The militants have prosecuted a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.

The latest to face the militants’ onslaught are the Assyrian Christians of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some speaking a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Assyrian leaders have counted 287 people taken captive, including 30 children and several dozen women, along with civilian men and fighters from Christian militias, said Dawoud Dawoud, an Assyrian political activist who had just toured the area, in the vicinity of the Syrian city of Qamishli. Thirty villages had been emptied, he said.

The Syriac Military Council, a local Assyrian militia, put the number of those taken at 350 …

The assault on the Assyrian communities comes amid battles for a key crossroads in the area. But to residents, it also seems to be part of the latest effort by the Islamic State militants to eradicate or subordinate anyone and anything that does not comport with their vision of Islamic rule — whether…

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Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 11:39 AM  | Stand for Israel

Rabbi Eckstein Condemns Attack on Jerusalem Church

(Photo: Yossi Zwecker)

(Photo: Yossi Zwecker)

This week, a church in Jerusalem was torched and covered with anti-Christian graffiti. In response, Rabbi Eckstein denounced these hateful actions and called for Christians and Jews to unite:

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, also denounced the attack on Thursday, calling on Christians and Jews to unite to fight religious persecution.

“As an Orthodox rabbi who has dedicated his life to building bridges between the Christian world and Israel, I condemn these hostilities against Christian places of worship and study in Israel,” he said.

“At a time when Christians around the world are being persecuted by radical extremists, it is essential that we do all we can to fight such prejudice and racism, especially when it erupts in our own society.”

Echoing Rivlin’s sentiments, Eckstein continued: “Christians and Jews must come together to condemn such incidents and work together to fight the persecution of Christians and Jews alike.”

Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat issued a statement saying he is working closely with police to expedite the criminal investigation.

“There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem.

We must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice,” he said. “We must quickly restore the peace and coexistence in Jerusalem.”

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Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 9:18 AM  | Stand for Israel

"informing, equipping and mobilizing individuals and churches to support the
State of Israel"

Rabbi’s Commentary
Fighting Anti-Christian Hatred
in the Middle East

Recent reports of violence directed at Christians in the Middle East have horrified us all – Jews and Christians alike. Now more than ever we need unity between our communities of faith…

Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »


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