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“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
A beautiful view from a good land – the Holy Land. This is Kibbutz Erez, one of the kibbutzim (agricultural communities) near Gaza, which would have been a target of Hamas’ terror tunnels had the IDF not intervened. Shabbat shalom, friends.
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Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 1:38 PM | Stand For Israel
The plight of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East is dire. Now The Algemeiner brings this report on Hamas firing rockets from a church in Gaza:
A Catholic Archbishop ministering to Gaza’s minute Christian minority says Hamas terrorists forced him to allow them to use his church to fire rockets at Israel during the four week-long Operation Protective Edge.
“Islam is the rule of this place and whatever Hamas says we must obey or face consequences,” Archbishop Alexios told The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Alexios showed the reporter where Hamas terrorists used the roof of the center to fire rockets at Israel …
Functioning as a tolerated Christian minority in an Islamic supremacist entity, some residents charge that Hamas has “imposed strict Taliban-style Islamic laws” on the populace, Muslim and Christian alike.
However, Alexios allowed 2,000 Gazans to take refuge within the church compound during the fighting, according to the report.
We pray for the safety of the many persecuted Christians in Gaza, in Iraq, and elsewhere across the troubled region.Comments (0) »
Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Stand For Israel
Although we here at Stand for Israel try to bring you the latest balanced news from the Holy Land and the rest of the Middle East, it often seems as if the international media has a different agenda – persecuting Israel for defending itself against enemies attacking from all sides, while at the same time not reporting on the widespread persecution of Christians and other minorities across the rest of the region. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim addresses this unfairness as he looks at the plight of Christians facing oppression – and worse – in Iraq and elsewhere:
One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”
Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children …
The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.
Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”
In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.”…Read More » Comments (13) »
Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Stand For Israel
Yesterday, The Times of Israel reported on how The Fellowship is helping Ukrainian Jews displaced by the fighting in Ukraine. Today, it is reported that The Fellowship has arranged for flights that will allow many of these Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel):
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At least 150 Jews who fled fighting in eastern Ukraine are expected to land in Israel next month in one of the largest group of arrivals of its kind this year.
Many of the would-be immigrants, who will arrive aboard three flights chartered by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, are staying at a Jewish summer camp in Zhytomyr that has been converted into a temporary shelter for them, according to the fellowship’s founder, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein …
In recent weeks, interest in immigrating to Israel, or making aliyah, has risen among the Jews who left war-torn cities like Lugansk and Donetsk, according to Eckstein. He expects the number of people heading to Israel next month with his organization’s help to significantly surpass 150.
“Many people are waiting this thing out,” Eckstein said of the fighting that is going on between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
“But increasingly there is a growing realization that the fighting will continue for a long time. This is producing an increase in people’s interest to make aliyah and I believe there will be hundreds.”
Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Stand For Israel
With the 72-hour ceasefire set to end this morning, Hamas officials refused to extend the truce. Instead, The Times of Israel reports that the terror organization launched dozens of rockets into Israel, forcing the IDF to respond with airstrikes:
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Hamas officials refused to extend the three-day cease-fire, but said they were willing to continue negotiations in Cairo. Israel said it would not negotiate under fire and would protect its citizens by all means …
Within minutes after the temporary truce expired at 8 a.m., Gaza militants began firing rockets. By midday, some 35 rockets had been fired. Twenty-six landed in Israel, three were intercepted and four fell short in Gaza, the army said. Four Israelis were hurt, none seriously. One rocket landed meters from a gasoline station.
Israel eventually responded with what the military said were strikes “across Gaza …”
The resumption of violence cast doubt over the Cairo negotiations.
Both Israel and Hamas are under international pressure to reach a deal. As part of such an arrangement, Israel wants to see Hamas disarmed or prevented from re-arming, while Hamas demands Gaza’s borders be opened.
Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 8:23 AM | Stand For Israel
Israel has pulled out its troops from Gaza after another tense truce was put into place earlier this week. This comes on the heels of another ceasefire last week that had collapsed only hours after it had begun. IDF officials reported that all terrorist tunnels leading into Israel have been destroyed.
Also this week in Israel in the News:
• Skies over Israel and Gaza were quiet for the first time in nearly a month, allowing citizens in Gaza to return home.
• At peace talks in Cairo, Israel has said that the only way to a lasting peace is demilitarization of Gaza — terms that Hamas is unlikely to accept.
• In Ukraine, The Fellowship is working to airlift hundreds of Ukrainian Jews from the area to Israel as pro-Russian rebels and Kiev military are poised for battle.
This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features Yael Eckstein, The Fellowship’s senior vice president, as she shares how The Fellowship is meeting the needs of those most impacted by the war.
Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 5:00 PM | Stand for Israel
As Operation Protective Edge progressed, we have heard from many media outlets about Gaza being densely populated. In this piece for the Gatestone Institute, Alan Dershowitz indicts Hamas for the war crime of using civilians as human shields while also asking about Gaza’s empty spaces:
The fact that these sparsely populated areas exist in the Gaza Strip raises several important moral questions: First, why don’t the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities? There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that’s precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn’t show these areas is that Hamas won’t let them. That too would be a story worth reporting.
Second, why doesn’t Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels? Were it to do so, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically.
That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig …
The third moral question is why does the United Nations try to shelter Palestinian civilians right in the middle of the areas from which Hamas is firing? Hamas has decided not to use the less densely populated areas for rocket firing and tunnel digging. For that reason, the United Nations should use these sparsely populated areas as places of refuge …
But instead the UN is playing right into the hands of Hamas, by sheltering civilians right next to Hamas fighters, Hamas weapons and Hamas tunnels. Then the United Nations and the international community accuses Israel of doing precisely what Hamas intended Israel to do: namely fire at its terrorists and kill United Nations protected civilians in the process. It’s a cynical game…Read More » Comments (15) »
Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Stand For Israel
Earlier this week we updated you on the spread of the terror organization the Islamic State (IS) across Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, all the while persecuting and killing Christians and all others who do not accept their beliefs. Today, The New York Times brings this terrifying report that IS has now seized control of Iraq’s largest dam:
Residents near the dam and officials in the region confirmed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, held the dam, a potentially catastrophic development for Iraq’s civilian population.
The dam, which sits on the Tigris River and is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Mosul, provides electricity to Mosul and controls the water supply for a large amount of territory. A report published in 2007 by the United States government, which had been involved with work on the dam, warned that should it fail, a 65-foot wave of water could be unleashed across areas of northern Iraq …
The latest ISIS push followed its pattern of exploratory attacks on the outskirts of an area it wants to take. On Wednesday, it repelled Kurdish efforts east of Mosul and shelled Qaraqosh, which is one of several largely Christian settlements in the area between Mosul and Erbil, 60 miles to the east. As plumes of smoke drifted across the plains of Nineveh between Mosul and Erbil, panicked residents fled from the settlements there in cars and pickup trucks piled with belongings, creating lines more than half a mile long at checkpoints guarded by the pesh merga.
On Thursday, many villagers who had not already left departed hurriedly, throwing just a few items in suitcases, said Father Amar, a Syrian Catholic priest from Bartella, one of the largely Christian settlements, who had left with them. Shortly afterward, he said, he spoke to some who had decided to remain, and they reported that ISIS had taken the town …
Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Stand For Israel
As the war in Gaza has ceased for now, the fighting in Ukraine still rages. The Times of Israel reports on how The Fellowship is providing safety and shelter for Ukrainian Jews forced to flee their homes and lives because of the violence and chaos in their country:
Funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, some 250 Jews have found a personal haven — while their homes, businesses, assets and jobs remain in peril …
In a telephone conversation from Ukraine, Fellowship head Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein paints a dire picture of eastern Ukraine Jewry’s prospects …
“These are people who are refugees. They are middle class Jews who had to leave surreptitiously, in the middle of the night, in a dangerous way to get out,” said Eckstein …
“The camp here has been fully sponsored by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews,” states [Rabbi Sholom] Gopin in a Chabad.org article. “But I really don’t know what will be on the first day that camp ends. Many people came to camp expecting to go back to Luhansk, but they can’t anymore. We are working to make sure that everyone has a place to go, but we are very seriously lacking the funds right now.”
Eckstein says he has traveled to Ukraine every few weeks for the past six months since Ukraine-rebel-Russia conflict intensified. The Fellowship consistently donates $25 million a year, but this year has increased its grants in Ukraine by $4.5 million, earmarked for food/basic supplies, security and aliya initiatives.
We thank our faithful friends for allowing us to support these many people who have been left with so little. We will update you soon on Rabbi Eckstein’s visit to this camp.
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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Stand For Israel