A Family’s Promising Future in the Holy Land

(Photo: IFCJ/Eva Geller)

(Photo: IFCJ/Eva Geller)

A member of The Fellowship’s staff  visited several families in Ukraine ahead of our most recent Freedom Flight that brought 90 Ukrainian Jewish refugees to Israel earlier today. Here, she shares the story of one of the families aboard this life-changing flight:

Irina, 32, has experienced a lot of hardship in her life. When she was young, her parents divorced and she lost contact with her father. She now has a family of her own, but her husband recently passed away. She is seven months pregnant, and will have to care for her newborn baby all on her own, in addition to her 12-year-old son.

Irina has spent all of her life in Kiev, Ukraine, but she never truly felt like she belonged there. She felt like she always stuck out because she is Jewish, and she was uncomfortable openly practicing her religion.

Recently, Irina’s father reconnected with her, and she learned that he made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) six months ago. Irina knew this was her chance to give her children a better life. She learned about The Fellowship’s Freedom Flights that bring Jews to Israel from war-torn Ukraine, and she eagerly signed up. She had nothing to pack besides a few clothes – she truly will be starting fresh in the Holy Land.

Now, Irina is very optimistic about her future. She and her son will initially live with her father until they get on their feet. Her baby will be born an Israeli. She could not keep the smile off her face as she talked about the promising future ahead for her children in the Holy Land!

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 2:11 PM  | Stand for Israel

An Academic Case for Christian Zionism

(Photo: wikicommons/Godot13)

(Photo: wikicommons/Godot13)

Stand for Israel has long kept an eye on the troubling trend of academia to boycott and badmouth the Jewish state. However, writing at The Algemeiner, CAMERA’s Dr. Tricia Miller writes of academics who provide a case for Christians to support Israel:

In what was a precedent-setting event, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) sponsored a recent conference titled “People of the Land: A Twenty-First Century Case for Christian Zionism” in Washington, DC. It was reportedly the first-ever event specifically devoted to presenting academic arguments in support of Christian Zionism.

The content presented at the April 17 symposium—11 academic papers—comprised a long-overdue contribution to the dialogue about Zionism in the Christian world. The combined presentations made a theological and historical case for Christian Zionism that illustrates how it is a movement rooted in traditions as old as the Church itself.

Through a revealing survey of Scripture and Church leaders’ writings from the 2nd-20th centuries, Roanoke College’s Dr. Gerald McDermott demonstrated that an emphasis on the land of Israel and the relationship of that land to the promise made to Abraham and Sarah is consistent throughout the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), the New Testament, and historical Christian Zionism. McDermott noted, “Land is the fourth most frequent noun in all of Tanach. It is more dominant statistically than the idea of covenant. Of the 208 times that covenant is mentioned, in two-thirds of those instances that covenant is directly or indirectly connected to the land.”

Leaders throughout Church history have articulated the belief in a future for the land of Israel as manifested in the New Testament. According to McDermott, “Such an expectation was fairly common in the early Church.” But it was in 16th-century Britain that a “renewed vision for a future Israel gained momentum” through the publication of three books that “helped focus this cultural memory and sense of privilege in ways that would resemble Zionism,” he said. John Bale’s 1570 edition of “The Image of Both Churches,” the Geneva Bible (1560), and John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” (1563) all…

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 11:17 AM  | Stand for Israel

Hamas: Masters of Deception

(Photo: Alamy/Ahmed Deeb/ZUMA Press)

(Photo: Alamy/Ahmed Deeb/ZUMA Press)

In the wake of this week’s rocket attack on Israel from Gaza, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad has been blamed. But, writing at Israel Hayom, Dr. Shaul Bartal says that Hamas are behind this terrorist attack and others on the Jewish state and its people:

The Grad rocket that exploded near Ashdod on Tuesday and Israel’s retaliation shortly thereafter raised concerns of escalation once again. Various commentators argued that perhaps Hamas was not responsible for the rocket, which was fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Perhaps it was a rogue group like Islamic Jihad or the Salafist groups that operate there, so Israel mustn’t view the rocket fire as a violation of the cease-fire agreement reached with Hamas following the last war. In any case, extreme caution is required.

This is not the first time that Hamas violates a cease-fire agreement and chooses to lay the blame on some other organization…

Hamas continues to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel by way of small, little-known groups directly overseen by Hamas officials, thereby distancing Hamas from culpability.

The terrorist attacks in Jerusalem also bear the concealed fingerprint of Hamas…

But in the case of the Gaza Strip, there appears to be no doubt as to Hamas’ culpability for the rocket fire into Israel. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist…

“The threats made by the occupation will not deter us from continuing forward in the path of jihad and resistance until we liberate Jerusalem and Palestine,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared Wednesday in Gaza, while describing the rocket launched into Israel as “errant fire.”

Hamas has not been working diligently on manufacturing Grad rockets and testing them just for fun. Hamas is planning the next round, and in the meantime, from time to time, they remind us that they exist and what they can do.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 8:37 AM  | Stand for Israel

ISIS: A Totalitarian Death Cult

(Photo: flickr/varunshiv)

(Photo: flickr/varunshiv)

Last week we reported on the Islamic State’s (ISIS) capture of the ancient biblical city of Palmyra, just the latest important historical and sacred site they have overtaken. Michael J. Totten writes of the terrorist group’s swath of destruction across the Middle East:

ISIS has conquered Syria’s spectacular Roman Empire city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site long known affectionately as the “bride of the desert,” and in all likelihood is gearing up to demolish it. We know this because they’ve done it before. ISIS used hammers, bulldozers, and explosives to destroy the ancient Iraqi cities of Hatra and Nimrud near Mosul, and they did it on video.

“These ruins that are behind me,” said an ISIS vandal on YouTube, “they are idols and statues that people in the past used to worship instead of Allah. The Prophet Muhammad took down idols with his bare hands when he went into Mecca. We were ordered by our prophet to take down idols and destroy them, and the companions of the prophet did this after this time, when they conquered countries.”

Muslims have ruled this part of the world for more than 1,000 years. All this time, they’ve been unbothered by the fact that Palmyra, Hatra, and Nimrud include pagan monuments, temples, statues, and inscriptions that predate Islam. Only now are these places doomed to annihilation. ISIS is more belligerently Philistine than any group that has inhabited the region for a millennium…

That’s how bad things are in Syria now. The mass-murderers, war criminals, sectarian gangsters, and state sponsors of international terrorism in Bashar al-Assad’s Arab Socialist Baath Party regime can plausibly tout themselves as the defenders of civilization. In this particular case and in this particular place, they’re right.

Palmyra is more than 2,000 years old. It began as a humble caravan stop in the second century B.C., but Rome eventually annexed it and turned it into a dazzling and prosperous metropolis. Lying in an oasis in modern-day Homs Governate, during Rome’s time it served…

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 8:23 AM  | Stand for Israel

How Israel Will Evacuate Border Towns During Next War

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Yesterday’s rocket attack launched from Gaza not only broke the silence between the last such strikes, but also brought the Israelis who live near the Gaza border back into focus, as they are the people whose lives are most directly threatened by such terrorist activities. The Jerusalem Post’s Noam Amir and Maariv Hashavua look at Israel’s plan to evacuate those towns in harm’s way once the next war with Hamas begins:

Towns located up to seven kilometers from the border of the Gaza Strip will be evacuated according to predetermined, mapped locations which will make room for the proper defense management without harming citizens.

Ten months after Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces, the National Emergency Authority and the local authorities in the South are in the final stages of formulating a plan to evacuate the residents of the South in the event of another Gaza conflict.

The program, entitled “safe distance,” will provide an evacuation plan for all communities within a seven-kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip.

Each community will be informed of its evacuation plan and in that way residents will know where to go and who will be hosting them before there is a need to evacuate. The distribution of evacuation maps is already under way. The military will be the one with the authority to determine when it is time to evacuate…

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 10:42 AM  | Stand for Israel

Netanyahu: Hamas Responsible for All Fire from Gaza

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO/ASHERNET)

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO/ASHERNET)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to yesterday’s rocket attack, determined to be carried out by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. The Jerusalem Post reports that Netanyahu said the IDF responded to the attack, and that Hamas will be held responsible for any attack launched from Gaza:

Israel views Hamas as responsible for every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Netanyahu, in his first public comments on the rocket fire from Gaza Tuesday evening, said that the IDF responded immediately to the fire, in line with the government’s policy.

“We will do everything needed to preserve the quiet attained through Operation Protective Edge,” he said, referring to last summer’s operation in Gaza…

The prime minister’s comments echoed the senitments of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who said earlier Wednesday that Israel has no intention of ignoring rocket fire on its citizens. Ya’alon added that “elements in Islamic Jihad” carried out Tuesday’s attack on Gan Yavne.

“If there won’t be quiet in Israel, Gaza will pay a very heavy price, which will cause all who plan to challenge us to regret their actions,” Ya’alon said. “Hamas is advised to restrain any attempt to fire rockets at Israel or provoke it, otherwise we will be forced to
act with greater power. I would not advise anyone to test us,” he warned.

“We see Hamas as being responsible for what happens in the territory of Gaza, and we will not tolerate any threat to residents of the South,” he said.

Several hours after the rocket was fired, the Israel Air Force responded by attacking four targets in the Gaza Strip . The IDF identified the targets, in the southern part of the coastal enclave, as terror infrastructure.

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 8:43 AM  | Stand for Israel

When Gazans Fight, Israel Suffers

(Photo: ASHERNET)

As we reported yesterday, several rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza, with one landing in Israeli territory. The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports that this latest attack stemmed from an Islamic Jihad dispute, and provoked a measured response from Israel:

The rocket barrage that Islamic Jihad launched — due to internal tensions within the group — drew a limited, measured Israeli response that included bombardments of two of its targets in Rafah and Khan Yunis, the headquarters of the Popular Resistance Committees, and a Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip. All the positions were empty and no one was injured, evidently due to an Israeli effort to prevent loss of life that likely would have drawn an additional Palestinian attack…

Gaza’s rulers also find it convenient, to a certain extent, to enable sporadic rocket fire in order to avoid being dragged into an internal war in Gaza, to not be seen as collaborating with Israel, and to signal to Jerusalem that total calm will remain elusive as long as the Gaza problem is not solved entirely and comprehensively.

Tuesday night’s rocket fire, as The Times of Israel reported, came out of an internal conflict between sector commanders in Islamic Jihad. In a personal conflict between the incoming and outgoing commanders of the northern Gaza Strip — a conflict that included the kidnapping of activists close to the dismissed commander — close associates of the latter fired rockets at Israel. And that is the status quo between Israel and the Gaza Strip: Two Gazans fight one another, and the chips fly at Israel.

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 8:29 AM  | Stand for Israel

Rockets Fired into Israel from Gaza

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

After a period of relative silence since last year’s war in Gaza, terrorist rockets have again been launched at Israel. Yediot Achronot reports that at least one rocket landed in Israel, out of several that had been launched:

Code red sirens sounded in Ashdod and Lachish near Kiryat Gat in southern Israel Tuesday evening just after 9 p.m. An IDF Spokesperson confirmed that one rocket landed near Gan Yavne.

One resident in Lachish said, “There was a siren and we heard a big explosion.”

Israel’s Channel 2 initially reported that there had been, “an attempt to fire four rockets into southern Israel.” Meanwhile Channel 10 reported that three or rockets had landed in open territory inside Israel’s borders, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Stand for Israel will stay on top of this and keep you updated with any further developments.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 at 1:50 PM  | Stand for Israel

The PTSD Problem

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become a major problem facing the brave men and women who return from serving in the U.S. military, even as it is more closely studied and better understood by doctors and researchers. In this gripping study of the problem of PTSD, Sebastian Junger takes a look at how and why IDF soldiers have been less likely to suffer its effects:

Israel is arguably the only modern country that retains a sufficient sense of community to mitigate the effects of combat on a mass scale. Despite decades of intermittent war, the Israel Defense Forces have a PTSD rate as low as 1 percent. Two of the foremost reasons have to do with national military service and the proximity of the combat—the war is virtually on their doorstep. “Being in the military is something that most people have done,” I was told by Dr. Arieh Shalev, who has devoted the last 20 years to studying PTSD. “Those who come back from combat are re-integrated into a society where those experiences are very well understood. We did a study of 17-year-olds who had lost their father in the military, compared to those who had lost their fathers to accidents. The ones whose fathers died in combat did much better than those whose fathers hadn’t.”

According to Shalev, the closer the public is to the actual combat, the better the war will be understood and the less difficulty soldiers will have when they come home. The Israelis are benefiting from what could be called the shared public meaning of a war. Such public meaning—which would often occur in more communal, tribal societies—seems to help soldiers even in a fully modern society such as Israel. It is probably not generated by empty, reflexive phrases—such as “Thank you for your service”—that many Americans feel compelled to offer soldiers and vets. If anything, those comments only serve to underline the enormous chasm between military and civilian society in this country.

Another Israeli researcher, Reuven Gal, found that the…

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 at 11:54 AM  | Stand for Israel

How Anti-Israel Incitement Backfires

(Photo: wikicommons/Godot13)

(Photo: wikicommons/Godot13)

The Temple Mount – the site of the Holy Temples, and the holiest site in Judaism – has seen much anti-Jewish incitement, as Jews who visit it are subject to abuse and violence. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh says that this anti-Israel behavior has now backfired on the very leaders who have incited it:

The PA and Jordan have accused the Jewish visitors of “desecrating” the Haram al-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary], the name used by Muslims to refer to the Temple Mount.

The visits, which are held in coordination with the Jerusalem Police, are described by the PA and Jordan as attempts to “storm” the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The charges made by the PA leadership and Jordan have triggered a campaign by Muslims to foil the visits by Jews to the holy site. Almost every day, Muslim hecklers intercept the Jewish visitors by hurling abuse at them and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is Greater”) in their faces.

In some cases, Palestinians have thrown shoes at the Jewish visitors, including children.

Various Palestinian groups have also recruited women and children to harass the Jewish visitors and any police officers accompanying them. The women, who are hailed as Murabitat (“the Steadfast”), have one main mission: to harass the Jewish visitors. They claim that their chief goal is to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque against Jewish “aggression.” Some of the women receive monthly salaries of up to 1500 shekels (about $400) to try and block the Jewish visitors.

But now those who have been inciting against Jewish visitors have fallen victim to their own campaign.

Palestinian and Jordanian officials who recently visited the Temple Mount received a firsthand lesson in what incitement can lead to. The officials themselves have fallen victim to hecklers who shouted profanities at them and forced them to flee the holy site…

Anti-Israel incitement has once again proven to be counter-productive. But will the Palestinian Authority and Jordan draw conclusions from their mistakes and start educating their people about tolerance and peace with Israel? Sadly, that is unlikely…

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 at 8:39 AM  | Stand for Israel