International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

What the UNESCO vote means

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, left, and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO Elias Sanbar (Photo: Reuters)

At first glance, the UNESCO vote to grant “Palestine” full member status may not seem like a big deal. After all, UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, is the organization that nearly elected as its chairman an Egyptian official who wanted to burn Hebrew books. But, in and of itself, it is kind of a big deal. And, taken in context with what has now become the broader Palestinian strategy vis-à-vis Israel, it’s an extremely big deal.

First, UNESCO has a broad mandate and touches a number of areas in which Israel’s participation is very prominent. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programs; international science programs; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects; the promotion of cultural diversity; international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage sites (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide.

The fact that the U.N. would take sides against Israel (the very embodiment of all those values) in favor of the Palestinians (free press? literacy? science? diversity?) is a topic for another time. Suffice it to say, these are not areas in which Israel is interested in being isolated from the rest of the world. The issue of World Heritage Sites alone – the Temple Mount, the Old City, the Cave of the Patriarchs, etc. – is an example of where Palestinian membership in UNESCO is potentially problematic.

It is clear that the Palestinians have chosen to make international recognition of a Palestinian state a fait accompli by entering the international community through the back door. That they are doing so in this manner is an overt slap in the face of the Israelis (nothing new there) and the Obama Administration (that’s pretty new).

In order to become a member state of the United Nations, a country must be accepted by the U.N. Security Council. Five…

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Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 4:13 PM  | Stand For Israel

UPDATE: U.S. pulls UNESCO funding

Palestinian Authority president Abbas and President Obama

Within hours of the UNESCO decision to grant full member status to “Palestine,” the U.S. State Department has announced it will cut off U.S. funding to the agency in accordance with U.S. law. 

For those of you who called Members of Congress, thank you for taking quick action. Now it is imperative that we thank the Obama Administration for doing the right thing. No matter what our personal opinions of the President or his policies, it is important that we acknowledge when he does the right thing. Please call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and thank the President for standing by Israel.

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Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 2:59 PM  | Stand For Israel

The U.N.’s twisted logic

Delegates applaud after the vote at the UNESCO headquarters giving Palestinians full membership (PHOTO: Reuters)

Since Saturday, terrorists in Gaza have fired almost 40 rockets at communities inside Israel, striking as far north as Ashdod and Gan Yavne. One Israeli was killed and more than 30 injured. Rockets did damage to a number of buildings, including a school. As Israel has consistently done since pulling out of Gaza in 2005, the Israeli government lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations.

The U.N. took action almost immediately – by voting to grant full member status in the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to “Palestine.” The United States, Canada, and Germany voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa, and France voted in favor. Britain abstained (that sound you hear is the Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill rolling over in his grave). Someone shouted “long live Palestine” in French after the vote.

Palestinian leaders have been absolutely clear about why they wish for a recognized state now (in stark violation of the Oslo Accords), rather than negotiating for one with defined and agreed-upon borders and a government that is actually capable of functioning: They want to use their state to further their war on Israel in the international community. Here’s Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas writing in the New York Times this past May, “Palestine’s admission to the U.N. would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter. It would pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the U.N., human rights treaty bodies, and the International Court of Justice.”

“Palestine’s admission . . . would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict.” Finally! Palestinian leaders have finally dropped the mask. This was never about peace or self-determination or coexistence – those are fantasies created by Palestinian leaders for the…

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Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 10:53 AM  | Stand For Israel

Terror claims another victim

Moshe Ami, killed by injuries sustained in a terrorist rocket attack (Photo: Eliad Levy)

His name was Moshe Ami:

Ashkelon resident Moshe Ami, 56, died Saturday after sustaining serious shrapnel wounds by a rocket fired at Ashkelon as part of a relentless attack from Gaza. Another victim was lightly injured. Both were taken to the Barzilai Medical Center.

Meanwhile, a rocket hit gas containers outside a nearby house. No injuries were reported. Several people suffered anxiety attacks. Later, a rocket exploded in an open area in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council shortly after a Color Red alarm sounded in the region. An alarm also sounded in Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported.

The latest “ceasefire” lasted only 8 hours.

Terrorists mean not just to cause physical harm, but to sow fear in our hearts. They’re often successful. But reading of this latest escalation of attacks on Israel, a Bible passage came to mind.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty … Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day …” (Psalm 91: 1, 3-5)

Please pray for the loved ones of Moshe Ami, the victim of the latest attacks, and for the people of Israel today. Pray that all will find that shelter, remembering that the One Who “neither slumbers nor sleeps” always keeps a watchful eye and a protective hand over His children.

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Sunday, October 30th, 2011 at 9:11 AM  | Stand For Israel

IFCJ goes to Israel — update

There is a Yiddish proverb: “Man plans, God laughs.” The meaning is clear. Despite our best efforts at making our lives neat and orderly, ultimately we’re not the ones in charge.

The handful of IFCJ staff and one tour participant from Chicago who went to O’Hare airport today hoping to fly to New York and then Tel Aviv can vouch for the wisdom of this old saying. First, we were told that our flight to New York was delayed. Eventually, we were told that it had been canceled due to a snowstorm in New York. There wasn’t much to do other than to head back to the ticket counter and try to make alternate arrangements.

Well, the arrangements have been made, and we’ll be leaving Chicago tomorrow, arriving in Israel the following day via a different route, weather and God willing. Keep us — and all the Journey Home participants — in your prayers, folks. We’re going to make it to Israel — but clearly we’re not the ones calling that shots here.

Despite the frustration of not being on our way to Israel right now, maybe that’s a good thing to be reminded of.

David Kuner is Editorial Director for The Fellowship

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Saturday, October 29th, 2011 at 7:38 PM  | Stand For Israel

Photo Friday visits Jerusalem

Since our Journey Home Tour participants are making their way to Israel tomorrow, we wanted to give us all a peek at the Holy City, lit up in all her sacred splendor. Please pray for the safety of our tour group this year – and make sure to visit our site for journals and photos throughout their trip.

Check out more great shots of Jerusalem.

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Friday, October 28th, 2011 at 3:55 PM  | Stand For Israel

IFCJ goes to Israel!

Sunset in Tel Aviv

As you might know, each year The Fellowship leads a tour to Israel. It’s a great opportunity for some of our friends to walk in the Holy Land – a land many have never before visited.

I took my first trip to Israel with the tour in 2008. For many, their first trip to Israel is transformative, and I have to say the experience for me was eye-opening, sometimes in ways I hadn’t expected. Besides the thrill of seeing for the first time the biblical and historic sites, I was struck by how beautiful it was – and also by the strength of character and unity of the people.

I’m happy to report that this Saturday I’ll be going to Israel for the second time! While I’ll be traveling over with the Journey Home Tour, once we arrive I’ll be breaking away from the group to spend some time visiting Fellowship projects and working in our Jerusalem office. One of my goals is to take you along with me – to share on this blog and our Facebook page my impressions of what it’s like to spend time in this amazing part of the world.

So watch this page regularly in the coming week for updates from me, and follow the Journey Home participants on their trip through the Holy Land on our website. Pray for safe travels for all who are on our Journey Home Tour, and please accept all our thanks for being part of our thriving community of Israel’s friends. Next stop … Tel Aviv!

David Kuner is Editorial Director for The Fellowship

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Friday, October 28th, 2011 at 1:29 PM  | Stand For Israel

Turkey Now Accepting Aid in Aftermath of Deadly Earthquake

Israel in the News reports that as the death toll from the massive earthquake that hit eastern Turkey Sunday continues to rise, government officials there have reconsidered their initial rejection of aid and assistance from Israel and other countries. Although showered with offers of help, Turkish officials had only accepted aid from its immediate neighboring Iran, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. However, a foreign ministry official said on Tuesday that it had now requested prefabricated housing and tents from more than 30 countries, including Israel.

Israel in the News also looks at the release of Ilan Grapel, the dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who was arrested in Egypt last June on trumped-up charges. Find out about this issue and more in our latest Israel in the News.

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Friday, October 28th, 2011 at 10:00 AM  | Stand For Israel

A “virtual” U.S. embassy for Iran?


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has unveiled a “virtual embassy” for Iran that will allow Iranians to get information about visas and student exchange programs in spite of the fact that the United States maintains no formal ties with Tehran.

Bad idea.

First of all, any interaction with Iran – at any level – is counterproductive to American interests.  This is a country that is actively involved in killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan – not just in planning and funding, but in actual violence by Iranian personnel against American personnel.  Iran is the world’s largest state-sponsor of international terrorism and has been for many years.  They are illegally enriching uranium in violation of four U.N. Security Council resolutions and only fringe figures still doubt that they will use this nuclear material to build weapons of mass destruction.  And they were just recently caught planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil.  They are an international bad actor of the first degree.

Congress has passed a number of sanctions bills aimed at forcing the Iranian regime to stand down its nuclear program.  Those sanctions have yet to be fully implemented – though, if we give credit where it is due, President Obama has done more to implement sanctions than his predecessors – and they are designed to increase external and internal pressure on the mullahs.  Easing that pressure at all – even by helping students come to study in America – is counter-productive to the ultimate end goal.  And, in light of the outrageous assassination plot, the timing of this announcement makes us look weak.

There is tremendous western sympathy among the people of Iran.  It is one of the most literate countries in the Muslim world and has the highest use of computers and the largest number of blogs in the Muslim world.  The democracy movement following “elections” (calling what takes place in Iran an “election” is an insult to actual elections) in summer of 2009 showed the world that there is a large population…

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Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 3:13 PM  | Stand For Israel

Rockets signal business as usual

Smoke trails after rocket attacks from Gaza (Photo: Reuters)

Gaza-based terrorists fired three grad missiles into Israeli territory Wednesday night shortly before midnight. The missiles hit the densely populated coastal city of Ashdod as well as the neighboring town of Bnei Aish. No injuries were reported, but several people are being treated for shock.

Sirens were heard in Yavne, Gadera, Rehovot, Nes Ziona and Ashdod. This was first time that air raid sirens were activated in Rehovot and Nes Ziona due to a rocket attack.

A woman who was visiting Rehovot at the time of the attack told The Jerusalem Post, “I was preparing to go to sleep when I hear the rising and falling siren. I heard neighbors coming out of their homes in the building, and asked them what to do. I was told to go to leave the apartment and go down one floor, as I was on the top floor. People were calm.”

Earlier Wednesday night, an IDF vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb while patrolling outside the major Jewish settlement of Efrat. The Israeli Air Force responded to Wednesday night’s attacks by hitting three known terrorist centers in Gaza as well as a weapons storage facility.

Wednesday night’s assault against Ashdod and Bnei Aish were the first attacks to emanate from Gaza since the release of Gilad Shalit last week. Clearly the notion that Hamas would show some goodwill, for even a brief period of time, as a result of the prisoner exchange deal in which Israel released over 1,000 Hamas prisoners is far-fetched.

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Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 10:12 AM  | Stand For Israel