Photo Friday: The Celebration of Sigd

(Photo: Michael Fattal)

(Photo: Michael Fattal)

Yesterday was Sigd, the Ethiopian Jews’ celebration of receiving God’s Word, as well as the return of the Babylonian exiles under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. In this photo, Ethiopian Jews who The Fellowship helped make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), celebrate with traditional, colorful umbrellas. These umbrellas symbolize the trek they once took to the celebration – a sweltering journey that took many days. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 1:19 PM  | Stand For Israel

Presbyterians Against BDS Take Out New York Times Ad

(Photo: flickr/ Neal Ungerleider)

(Photo: flickr/ Neal Ungerleider)

Stand for Israel has kept a close look on the Presbyterian Church (USA), its recent anti-Israel bias, and its move this summer to divest from corporations that do business with Israel. Now we’ve come across the reassuring news that a group of pro-Israel Presbyterians have taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times in opposition to divestment:

A Presbyterian group took out a full-page ad in The New York Times calling on fellow church members to oppose divestment from Israel.

“Presbyterians: We can do better than divestment,” read the headline on the ad signed by scores of Presbyterian clergy and laypeople under the rubric of the group Presbyterians for a Just and Peaceful Future in the Middle East.

Last June, after a contentious debate at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), members voted 310-303 to approve divestment from the stock of three U.S. companies that do business with Israeli security services in the West Bank: Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.

The authors of the ad wrote, “We are among the many Presbyterians all over the country who have worked against this action, believing that divestment would strengthen the extreme positions on both sides of this conflict without alleviating the suffering of Palestinians — and further divide and discourage the vast center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) that longs for justice with love for both peoples.”

The ad called on fellow Presbyterians to reclaim the church’s role as a “repairer of the breach” among Christians, Muslims and Jews; reaffirm the church’s commitment to a two-state solution; and seek opportunities to strengthen joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures.

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 11:35 AM  | Stand For Israel

Terror in a Synagogue

(Photo: Flash 90)

(Photo: Flash 90)

After the horrifying terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue this week, my seven-year-old daughter asked me if terrorists are going to attack us in our synagogue. Apparently, our attempts to shield our children from news about the attack hadn’t worked. Kids in her school caught wind of the story, and that caused her imagination to run wild with scenarios no child should have to imagine.

I wish I could’ve told my daughter that this could never happen in our synagogue, or in our neighborhood, or that most of our Palestinian neighbors don’t wish us harm.

But following the attack, Palestinians danced in the streets of Gaza when they heard the news.  Palestinian Authority (P.A.) President Abbas, coerced by John Kerry to issue a condemnation of the attack, didn’t miss a chance to throw more fuel on the fire.

“We condemn the incident that took place at a synagogue in Jerusalem and which resulted in the killing of a number of Israelis,” said Abbas. “And while we condemn this act, we also condemn the assault on the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount] and all holy sites and the torching of mosques and churches.”

According to Abbas, it’s too bad that Jews were butchered during morning prayers, but it was their own fault. Even as he “condemned” the attack, Abbas fabricated an “assault on the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount] … and the torching of mosques and churches.”

In his pathetic statement, Abbas managed to lie about Jews assaulting the Temple Mount – the holiest place in Judaism, but also a place where Jewish prayer is forbidden by Israeli law due to Islamic insecurities – while also claiming that Israelis are torching churches in the Holy Land.

Abbas not only sees himself as the defender of the Palestinian people, but also as a champion of Christian rights in Israel – in truth the only place in the Middle East where Christians actually have rights.

Instead, Abbas’ incitement has caused weeks of bloody attacks against Jews. The Palestinians have been raised on vitriolic hatred…

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 11:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

We Are a Light

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

This week, a normal morning in Israel was shattered with news of a horrific terrorist attack. Yael Eckstein writes that while our enemies are evil and have no regard for human life, our response must be one of prayer, love, kindness, and joy:

It was a typical morning. My alarm sounded at 6:30 and my family’s daily morning rush hour began.

Clothes were thrown around as my kids tried to find exactly what they wanted to wear, while I washed my face to try and wake up. The cereal spilled, the children laughed, and I quickly made lunches and placed them in their backpacks. My two older kids ran to the car dancing and singing, as my baby held her beloved bottle tight between her lips, sipping the last drop of milk.

We had a morning with no breakdowns, no crises, and no fights. I sat in the driver’s seat, took a deep breath of relief, said a small prayer of thanksgiving to God. Then I turned on the car.

It was then that everything changed.

“Four dead, many wounded in another terror attack in Jerusalem,” the loudspeakers shouted, leaving me numb and shaking. I turned off the radio, shielding my precious children from the terror in their midst, terror that they are all too familiar with, yet can never get used to.

In an act all too familiar during times like these, I pushed my tears aside, painted on a smile, dropped my kids off at school, and headed to work.

Sitting at my desk, I went over the morning activities in my head and began to feel sick.

As I was stumbling out of bed and thanking God for another wondrous day with my kids, terrorists were entering a synagogue and brutally murdering worshippers. While I was pouring milk in bowls of cornflakes, two Israeli Arabs, whose children are afforded the same luxuries of free education, healthcare, and opportunity as my children, viciously took the lives of four of my countrymen, leaving 26 Jewish…

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 9:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israel’s Problem: How Do You Stop the Lone Wolf?

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

This week’s synagogue massacre in Jerusalem was only the latest in the rising number of terrorist attacks against Israelis. So many of these attacks have not been the result of coordinated actions by terror groups – though those organizations do work toward the destruction of the Jewish state, and do applaud violence against the Jewish people – but have been the result of “lone wolf” terrorists acting alone. Bloomberg News’ Alisa Odenheimer looks at how Israel is dealing with this latest threat against its people and its existence:

Palestinians’ new weapons of choice can be found in every kitchen and parked outside their doors, presenting Israeli security forces with what may be their toughest challenge yet.

Nine people, including five killed yesterday at a Jerusalem synagogue, have been attacked in the past month by Palestinians who deliberately plowed cars into pedestrians or wielded knives and cleavers. Israeli Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino says assailants have acted on their own. This combination of readily accessible weapons and rogue attackers makes it impossible to foretell who will act, or where.

“It’s the lone-wolf syndrome,” Jonathan Fine, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter– Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said last week. “It’s the worst kind of terrorism you can think of because it’s unpredictable …

“I pay attention when I cross the street: I look 20 times before I cross,” she said in an interview. “When I wait for the bus, I stand as far back from the street as I can.”

One of the victims of a previous attack was a three-month-old baby killed by a driver who rammed into a group of people waiting at a tram station.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, of inciting the violence. Last week, Abbas lauded Palestinian protesters for trying to keep Jews from “defiling” a contested Jerusalem shrine that’s holy to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque complex and…

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 9:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

To Mend the Past, First You Have to Secure the Future

It seems that the world – especially Europe – condemns Israel. But this young man, George Deek, is an Israeli Christian who is also the deputy to Israel’s ambassador to Norway. In this wonderful speech, George tells his family’s story as Christians in Israel, and challenges everyone – Christians and Jews – to work together for a better future:

… the Nakba in [the Palestinians'] eyes is the creation of Israel.

They are saddened less by the humanitarian catastrophe that befell on Palestinians, and more by the revival of the Jewish state.

In other words: they do not mourn the fact that my cousins are Jordanians, they mourn the fact that I am an Israeli.

By doing so, The Palestinians have become slaves to the past, held captive by the chains of resentment, prisoners in the world of frustration and hate.

But friends, the evident yet simple truth is – that in order not to be reduced to sorrow and bitterness, we must look forward.

To put it more clearly: To mend the past, first you have to secure the future.

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 8:56 AM  | Stand For Israel

5 Killed in Terror Attack in Jerusalem Synagogue

iitnFour morning worshipers and one police officer were killed in a brutal daytime attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem earlier this week. The attack was carried out by two Palestinian terrorists armed with an axe, knife, and pistols. Police said it was the bloodiest day in Jerusalem in years.

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• President Obama at a press conference reacted strongly to the attacks, calling them a tragedy for both countries. Three of the five killed were Americans.
• On the same day the attack took place, a study was released showing that globally, terrorist attacks are sharply on the rise.
• Despite recent media reports of friction between the U.S. and Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said his country’s relationship with America is “very, very strong.”

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, on these recent terrorist attacks.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 5:00 PM  | Stand for Israel

IDF: Palestinians Planned to Assassinate Liberman

(Photo: wikicommons/ Michael Thaidigsmann)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Michael Thaidigsmann)

In the wake of this summer’s conflict, Israel has seen a rise in terrorist attacks, including the horrific scene at a Jerusalem synagogue this week. Now The Jerusalem Post is reporting that three Palestinians have been charged with planning to use rocket-propelled grenades to assassinate Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman:

The IDF West Bank Prosecution has indicted three Palestinians for a plan to buy a rocket propelled grenade launcher to blow up Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Though the indictment was filed on Tuesday, no public announcement has been made to date from the often anonymous IDF Military Courts.

The three Palestinians: Ibrahim el-Zir, Ziad el-Zir and Anans Bech, all from the West Bank village of Harmala, allegedly decided to try to assassinate the foreign minister in mid-August to try to stop Operation Protective Edge.

An additional part of the rationale for the plan to go after Liberman was the proximity of Harmala to Liberman’s home in Nokdim and instances when the defendants observed his entourage of vehicles traveling in the area, said the indictment filed in the Judea Military Court …

In another concerning sign of the unpredictable spread of terror during the recent period, the three were not connected with Hamas or another larger organization and appear to have allegedly been operating their own cell.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 2:32 PM  | Stand For Israel

IDF: West Bank Van Attack Was Terror, Not Accident

Two weeks ago, after one deadly vehicle attack had already occurred, we reported on a second incident in which three IDF soldiers were hit by a van in the West Bank. Initially labeling the event an accident, the IDF has now declared it to be a deliberate terror attack:

hit-and-run incident in which three Israeli soldiers were struck by a van in the West Bank was indeed a terror attack and not a car accident, the IDF has determinedaccording to a Thursday report.

The army informed the families of the three soldiers who were injured in the November 5 van attack in the Etzion Bloc region of the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, that the incident was nationalistically motivated, after wrapping up a two-week investigation into the incident, Channel 2 reported.

A day after the attack, a senior security official said the attack may have been a car accident, according to Israeli media reports. The driver of the van, Hamam Mesalmeh, turned himself in to Israeli authorities on November 6, ending a manhunt following the incident.

Mesalmeh told officials that he lost control of the large commercial vehicle he was driving, and panicked when he realized he had hit Israeli soldiers and fled the scene.

But the parents of the three wounded soldiers maintained all along, based on the footage of the incident, that it was a deliberate attack. On November 9, Roni Aharoni said that his son, Moshe Aharoni, who was seriously injured in the hit-and-run, told him that the driver of the commercial van had accelerated as he barreled into the soldiers.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 1:57 PM  | Stand For Israel

Europe’s Campaign Against the Jewish State

(Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/ASHERNET)

(Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/ASHERNET)

New European Union (E.U.) Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini visited Israel for the first time since her appointment, and dished out some harsh statements against the Israeli government while here. Mogherini condemned the Israeli government’s approval of building plans in East Jerusalem, claiming such moves undercut the proposed two-state solution, and also raised questions about Israel’s overall commitment to peace.

Meanwhile, the left-leaning Israeli news organization Haaretz obtained an internal E.U. document detailing possible sanctions if Israel goes ahead with building plans in East Jerusalem or anywhere beyond the Green Line.

This latest jab at Israel comes on the heels of other abhorrent moves taken by European nations, moves that single out Israel as the sole proprietor of the deadlocked peace talks and help the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) push the Jewish state into a diplomatic corner.

Last month, Sweden officially recognized a Palestinian State in a move, it claimed, was meant to push both sides back to the negotiating table. Sweden would like us to believe that their recognition of a Palestinian state will foster peace. But in reality, their move undermines the most basic and fundamental premise of peace negotiations – that Palestinian statehood will result from an accord signed by both parties to the conflict.

Now we are seeing a domino effect as the U.K., France, and Spain are all following Sweden’s absurd lead by recognizing Palestinian statehood despite a total absence of peace. This will only intensify hostilities and Palestinians further rejection of the Jewish people’s right to a homeland.

The western world callously points fingers at Israeli settlement construction as the reason for these hostilities, consequentially providing a defense of and justification for Palestinian terrorism. Israelis, however, know all too well that no matter where Israel draws its borders, it will find itself in an existential war with its Arab neighbors.

And so Israel finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Faced with international pressure to concede land to Palestinians for the return of a peace that won’t be achieved by this…

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 1:40 PM  | Stand For Israel

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

Rabbi's Commentary
Clarity in a Confused World

In response to this week’s horrific terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a voice of moral clarity. We, as people of faith and conscience, must all cling to such clarity in a world so often ruled by moral confusion.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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