Iran Remains the Great Threat in the Middle East

(Photo: flickr/Casey Hugelfink)

(Photo: flickr/Casey Hugelfink)

As the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) and other brutal terrorist organizations make the headlines, Iran is still a powerful threat to Israel, the United States, and the free world. Professor Efraim Inbar writes that while the smaller groups are a threat, the danger they pose remains small compared to Iran:

The emergence of the Islamic State (IS) on the battlefields of the civil war in Syria, and its subsequent spectacular successes in conquering parts of Syria and Iraq, have grabbed international attention. The gruesome pictures of IS’s barbaric beheadings supplied to the international media has only added to IS’s notoriety …

This organization is a reflection of the rise of radical political Islam in the Middle East over the last decades. Islam has always been a central component in the identity of the peoples of the Middle East. While Egypt, Iran and Turkey succeeded in maintaining a strong ethno-statist parallel identity, most of the Arab states have failed to instill statist identities through their education system …

Therefore, the Islamic State of today, which displays religious extremism and transnational tendencies, is the result of historic dynamics in the fledgling Arab civilization. Any long term look at the performance of the Arab states could reach the gloomy conclusion that their societies are doomed to poverty and political instability for a long while yet.

While the military and political successes of the Islamic State seem remarkable, its achievements are taking place in a political limbo with no real power to oppose it. The Islamic State has not faced yet any real test in state building and in overcoming violent opposition. Therefore, it is probably much too early to conclude that the Islamic State is able to govern and impose law and order in the swaths of land it has conquered.

Will it be spared the typical processes of fragmentation taking place among radical groups? Can the Islamic State take on Turkey or Iran – the rising powers in the Muslim Middle East? Can this organization be…

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Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 8:19 AM  | Stand for Israel

British Parliament Votes to Recognize “Palestine” in Symbolic Vote

iitnThe British House of Commons voted in a landslide to formally recognize the state of Palestine in hopes that it will encourage a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel, however, has maintained that such a move “actually undermines the chances to reach a real peace.”

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• While the international community has pledged billions to rebuild Gaza, Israel remains wary of how the money will ultimately be used.
• The U.S. and other nations are refusing to acknowledge any independence referendum by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
• The U.S. and its coalition partners continue the airstrike campaign against ISIS, yet the terrorist group continues its advances in Syria and Turkey.
• While President Obama says that the airstrikes are working, others are calling for more action on the part of the U.S. against ISIS.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Ami Farkas with reflections on Simchat Torah, a celebration of the gift of God’s Word to His people.

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Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 5:00 PM  | Stand for Israel

Simchat Torah

(Photo: Kfar Citrin)

(Photo: Kfar Citrin)

The week-long celebration of Simchat Torah – when the Jewish people end and begin the cycle of reading the Torah - begins Thursday at sundown, so Stand for Israel is suspending activity Thursday and Friday, October 16 and 17. We’ll be back on Monday, October 20 — and rest assured, if any critically important developments related to Israel come up over the weekend, we’ll be here to let you know about them. We wish our Jewish friends a festive and joyous Simchat Torah and thank all of you for always standing for Israel!

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 4:34 PM  | Stand For Israel

Rejoicing in the Torah

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

In Hebrew, Simchat Torah – the holiday when Jewish people gather in their synagogues to celebrate the gift of God’s Word – means “rejoicing in the Torah.” In this week’s message, Rabbi Eckstein recalls a dedication ceremony of a Fellowship-funded spiritual center for Ethiopian immigrants where he witnessed such joy in the Word of God. We wish our Jewish friends a festive and joyful Simchat Torah.

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 2:20 PM  | Stand For Israel

A German Soccer Team’s Jewish History

(Photo: wikipedia)

(Photo: wikipedia)

We have sworn never to forget the Holocaust and the millions who perished during it, the worst chapter in world history. And even though the Holocaust’s survivors are aging and becoming fewer and fewer as time passes, new stories of goodness during this dark era continue to surprise us. The Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter tells the story of the Jewish history of Bayern Munich – one of Germany’s most successful soccer teams – and the brave stand its players took during World War II:

Bayern’s Jewish roots are deep. When the club was formed in a bohemian quarter of Munich more than a century ago, two of the 17 people who signed the founding charter were Jewish. (One of them, Benno Elkan, would escape Germany for London, become an artist and eventually design the menorah that stands outside Israel’s parliament building.)

And under Landauer, a businessman and banker who had played for the club as a teenager, the Jewish influence grew, peaking in 1932 when the Jewish president and his Jewish coach led the club to its first German championship.

The celebration was short, though. With Adolf Hitler consolidating power, anti-Semitism became official policy in Germany and Bayern was quickly denounced. Landauer was soon arrested and transported to Dachau — the death camp established the same day he was forced to resign as Bayern’s president.

Although his service as a decorated soldier in World War I won his release from the camp — three brothers and a sister were not so lucky, dying at the hands of the Nazis — Landauer could not return to Germany. So he emigrated to Switzerland, where Bayern’s most dramatic act of Nazi defiance took place.

When the team — now cleansed of Jews — traveled to Zurich to play a Swiss club, Hitler’s state police banned the delegation from meeting with Landauer. But it couldn’t ban him from attending the game, and when the players spotted him in the stands, they lined up and applauded their former president.

“At this very…

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 11:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

UNRWA’s Anti-Semitism and U.N.’s Anti-Israel Bias

(Photo: ASHERNET/GPO/Haim Zach)

(Photo: ASHERNET/GPO/Haim Zach)

In yesterday’s Daily Dispatch, we reported that the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Gaza, even witnessing Hamas’ terror tunnels. Yet Ban’s visit didn’t seem to make much of an impression, as The Algemeiner reports that he blames Israel for the war, and that the UNRWA has even published anti-Semitic text on its website:

Investigative pro-Israel blogger, Elder of Ziyon, on Monday uncovered a report, in Arabic, posted on the the United Nations Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) website, that accuses Jews of supporting “social corruption.”

Entitled, “The Historical Development of Human Rights Throughout History,” the document purports to be a summary of human rights policies held by a number of civilizations over the ages …

But soon enough, the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel stereotypes kick in.

“But if we look around us at communities supposedly protecting human rights and at well-known oases of democracy we do not see [human rights] but instead charges that the victim was a terrorist or supporter of terrorism, and also pornography justified freely as rights. We see monopoly and fraud justified by the right of ownership and earnings in any form (Mokbel: 2005: 5) All of this happened as a result of distortion and misinformation by the Jewish clergy. The Jews in the sixth and seventh centuries promoted social corruption (1981: 39), and the claim that they are God’s chosen people demonstrates that the Jews did not know anything about human rights,” the author claimed.

In a related development, both the Bnai-Brith and the Anti Defamation League on Tuesday criticized recent remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon holding Israel almost exclusively responsible for the summer’s clashes with Hamas in Gaza.

Ban, speaking at a Gaza reconstruction conference in Cairo on Sunday, and in Ramallah a day later, said Israel was at fault for “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.”‎

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 8:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

Recruiting and Building Rockets, Hamas Determined to Keep Grip on Gaza

(Photo: Alamy/Ahmed Deeb/ZUMA Press)

(Photo: Alamy/Ahmed Deeb/ZUMA Press)

Operation Protective Edge disrupted Hamas’ ability to rain terror on Israel – much of its rocket supply was depleted, many of its terror tunnels were found and destroyed. But even as the terrorist group has been weakened, and even as Gaza begins to rebuild, The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports that Hamas, too, is rebuilding in an attempt to keep its grip on the Gaza Strip:

Things are as they were: Poverty, desperation, extremism and tens of thousands of displaced people. The sea is the same sea, and Hamas is the same Hamas, with the same aspirations.

There is one major difference, though: Hamas is poorer. Without the income from the Gaza-Egypt tunnels, and having stopped collecting taxes, its funds are dwindling. While the PA will oversee the actual reconstruction of the Strip, Hamas’s top priority is the reestablishment of its internal infrastructure — including its financial infrastructure …

Hamas has lowered its profile, but financial problems or not, it has no intention of relinquishing practical control over the strip. Gaza’s government and social services will formally be run by the Abbas-led administration, but Hamas is not going anywhere. Its police and military hierarchies will continue to operate throughout Gaza, and Abbas’s PA security forces will not, except perhaps at the border crossings.

Furthermore, despite those budgetary constraints, Hamas is already busily is trying to revive its military industry. Since the end of Operation Protective Edge on August 26, it has managed to conduct a series of rocket tests into the Mediterranean, underlining that a new line of rockets is being produced …

Meanwhile, the Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has launched a recruitment drive. Last Thursday, the very day that the “national reconciliation government” held its much-hyped first meeting in Gaza, the brigades held a large military parade in Shejaiya. Some of the same officials who greeted PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the morning attended the brigades’ rally in the afternoon — a rally intended to convey a clear message to the residents of…

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 8:28 AM  | Stand For Israel

Helping a Wounded IDF Soldier and His Family in Their Time of Need

(Photo: flickr/idf)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Yoni lives in the small city of Beit She’an with his family, which is working desperately to overcome its many struggles. “While he was still speaking, another messenger came …” (Job 1:16) was written about the bad news that kept coming to Job, and Yoni feels that this verse is relevant to his family, as well.

His wife is very sick, the family hardly has any money, and his son is fighting to recover from severe injuries he sustained in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge this summer.

When Fellowship staff member Avi Stern heard about this impoverished family, he immediately began to look for a way to help them. Stern is director of The Fellowship’s Kupat Yedidut program, which is active in 179 cities and towns in Israel. The funds distributed through this program enable the local social services departments to provide immediate assistance to the needy for urgent medical treatments, necessary appliances, clothing, and food – without having to deal with any bureaucracy.

According to Stern, “We received notice about the needy family of an injured soldier. I immediately began looking for Yoni, the father. I telephoned him a number of times, but he didn’t answer. I have lots of experience with people like him. Because of his many debts, he doesn’t answer phone calls from numbers that he can’t identify. He’s always afraid that they’re his creditors – loan sharks, bank clerks, or the owner of the local grocery store to whom he owes money. But I finally got through to him.”

“During our conversation, Yoni told me his son had been injured during a fierce battle in Gaza. A large piece of shrapnel entered his back and endangered his life. He briefly told me about his sick wife and his difficult economic situation. I told him that The Fellowship would give him money to use for urgent purchases and equipment for his hospitalized son,” Stern said.

“By that evening, The Fellowship had made a bank transfer. Yoni was so…

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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 2:41 PM  | Stand For Israel

Which Palestine Do Euros Recognize?

(Photo: flickr/saphirai)

(Photo: flickr/saphirai)

In today’s Daily Dispatch, we report that the British Parliament voted yesterday to recognize Palestine as a state. This comes a week after Sweden declared its support for the same. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin wonders which “Palestine” – the Palestinian Authority or Hamas – Europe will recognize:

Today the British Parliament voted on a non-binding resolution that recognized Palestine as a state. The 274-12 vote in favor of the symbolic gesture doesn’t affect the actual foreign policy of the United Kingdom but, like the announcement by the new Swedish prime minister earlier this month of his intention to also recognize it as a state, it does constitute more momentum for a Palestinian effort to bypass peace negotiations. This says a lot more about the willingness of Europeans to pressure and even demonize Israel than it does about their supposed support for peace. But as long as they’re talking about recognition, it’s fair to ask which Palestine they are ready to welcome into the family of nations: The weak, corrupt, and undemocratic Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the terrorist Hamas state in Gaza? Or both …

Yet like the “Free Gaza” demonstrations that rocked European cities this past summer while Hamas rockets rained down on Israeli cities, one has to wonder what exactly those advocating the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state think they are doing?

At its most basic level, recognizing Palestinian statehood seems to be an expression of sympathy for those who bore the brunt of Hamas’s decision to launch another war against Israel: the people of Gaza. Pictures of Palestinian civilians who were killed, wounded, or made homeless by Israeli counter-attacks against Hamas missile launches and terror tunnels generated a wave of revulsion against the Jewish state as well as a desire to beat one’s chest on behalf of the cause of “Free Palestine.”

But which Palestine are we talking about?

Is it the Palestine of the Palestinian Authority that currently rules most of the West Bank, albeit under…

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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 8:34 AM  | Stand For Israel

What Happened to Iran’s Illicit Nuclear Facility?

(Photo: isisnucleariran.org)

(Photo: isisnucleariran.org)

Last week, a massive explosion occurred at Iran’s military base at Parchin – a facility also believed to be one of its illicit nuclear facilities. Much speculation has been made about why the explosion occurred. Writing at The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith says that Iran blames Israel – and its ally, the United States – and is using its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, to retaliate:

Experts continue to debate whether the explosion at an Iranian military base at Parchin earlier in the week was an act of sabotage.

The New York Times notes that the satellite images of the incident showed evidence “reminiscent of pictures of a missile-development site 30 miles west of Tehran that was virtually destroyed during a test in November 2011 that killed 17 people, including Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the leading force behind Iran’s advanced missile efforts.”

Nonetheless David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Times that it “could have been an accident.” However, Hussain Abdul-Hussain, writing in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai, reports that European diplomatic sources in Washington confirm that ”the massive blast … was no accident, but a premeditated attack by a foreign country.”

(more…)

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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 8:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
Together in Hope, Courage, and Faith

Recent terror attacks against nations founded on principles of peace, democracy, and the value of human life have been carried out by those who find these godly principles troubling and threatening. But despite the constant threat, these biblical ideals assure us Who will win this war.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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