Tag Archives: Israel

NEW TENSIONS BETWEEN JEWS AND EVANGELICALS

BLOG 473
May 25, 2020

God-TV-Logo

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

NEW TENSIONS BETWEEN JEWS AND EVANGELICALS

An evangelical broadcaster, who boasted of miraculously securing a TV license in Israel, now risks being taken off the air over suspicions of trying to convert Jews to Christianity. The controversy over “GOD TV” has put both Israel and its evangelical Christian supporters in an awkward position, exposing tensions the two sides have long papered over. Evangelical Christians, particularly in the United States, are among the strongest supporters of Israel, viewing it as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, with some seeing it as the harbinger of a second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of days.

Israel has long welcomed evangelicals’ political and financial support, especially as their influence over the White House has risen during the Trump era, and it has largely shrugged off concerns about any hidden religious agenda. But most Jews view any effort to convert them to Christianity as deeply offensive, a legacy of centuries of persecution and forced conversion at the hands of Christian rulers. In part because of those sensitivities, evangelical Christians, who generally believe salvation can only come through Jesus and preach the Gospel worldwide, rarely target Jews.

When GOD TV, an international Christian broadcaster, reached a seven-year contract earlier this year with HOT, Israel’s main cable provider, it presented itself as producing content for Christians. But in a video message that has since been taken down, GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson suggested its real aim was to convince Jews to accept Jesus as their messiah. The channel, known as “Shelanu,” broadcast in Hebrew even though most Christians in the Holy Land speak Arabic. “God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the Gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of his Jewish people,” Simpson said in the video. “They’ll watch secretly, they’ll watch quietly,” he added. “God is restoring his people, God is removing the blindness from their eyes.”

In a subsequent video, Simpson acknowledged that the channel was under investigation by Israeli authorities, saying that preaching about Jesus in Israel is a “very touchy subject.” He apologized for any offensive remarks and said GOD TV would comply with all regulations. Freedom of religion is enshrined in Israeli law, and proselytizing is allowed as long as missionary activities are not directed at minors and do not involve economic coercion.

“In recent decades, millions of Christians have felt the call to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people with no hidden agenda,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a Tennessee-based evangelical who hosts a program called “Focus on Israel” that previously aired on GOD TV. “Any attempts to convert Jews or downgrade their religion will only [sow] undue hatred at a time when we should unite in the face of darkness,” Cardoza-Moore said.

The issue remains one of the major “hot-button” issues of our time in Israel. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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THE LATEST ON ISRAELI POLITICS – Pt 4

BLOG 467
April 6, 2020

meflag

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE LATEST ON ISRAELI POLITICS
Part 4

When Americans heard that Benny Gantz had agreed to form a coalition government with Bibi Netanyahu, they were surprised as they knew almost nothing about Gantz. Netanyahu has made a special effort to cultivate American taste and influential political leaders, including the president. Consequentially, Americans are often surprised to learn how he is viewed in Israel. While considered a master politician, Netanyahu is seen as a manipulator, a flip-flopper, and is despised by many even though his rule has been positive for the country. As you probably know, he is currently under indictment and facing a trial in the immediate future.

But who is Benny Gantz? Besides being Israel’s top general, he is not well known politically. In order to bring him into perspective, I felt that reading the General’s words might be one of the best ways for you to make a judgement about him. The following is a statement he made this past week.

  • I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government
  • I will never compromise on democracy or on the underlying principles of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White
  • We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions — a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.
  • As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid fourth elections. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again — many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future — is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.
  • More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.
  • And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White. … I embrace the people who feel angry. I have love for the people who feel disappointed. I respect everyone. And I personally pledge to the public: I will use every means to ensure that our attitude and our way prevail.

Perhaps, Gantz’s own perspective will paint a picture of why so many in Israel voted for him three times in a row, bringing the Netanyahu administration to a halt and forcing a compromise from both sides.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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UPDATES ON ISRAEL

BLOG 455

January 13, 2020

peace

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

UPDATES ON ISRAEL

Egypt remains quiet as does Jordan. Lebanon still struggles under the grip of Hezbollah. The Ayatollah Supreme leader of Iran warned the leader of Hezbollah that American might strike him next after the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. The media has been full of the story of the exchange between the USA and Iran with Iran’s tragic shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner. Tehran’s streets were filled with protesters screaming for the Ayatollah to resign because of the strike on the commercial airliner.

You might be interested to learn that the Christian population has grown in Israel. Over 177,000 new citizens moved in to make Christians 2% of the Israeli population. Three quarters of this population are Arabs. In the past year 2.5 million tourists came to Israel. No wonder tourism remains at the top of the list of Israel’s industries. My, my, does the Middle East ever give us something to think about.

You probably know that the third election for Prime Minister of Israel will be held March 2. The political upheaval in Israeli politics keeps the public in turmoil. The latest blow to Netanyahu is the ruling by the Knesset legal adviser that it is okay for their parliament to proceed with the immunity debate. Israeli Channel 12 political analyst Ammon Abramovitch reported, “I think Netanyahu can wave farewell to immunity.”

With charges of bribery and corruption hanging over his head, Bibi Netanyahu has sought to maneuver the Knesset into making him an exception to the law. Three charges of corruption hang over his head. Of course, many, many Israelis resent this attempt to make the Prime Minister an exception to the law and maintain it amounts to an admission of guilt. Will they vote that conviction? March 2 will tell us.

Netanyahu has been attempting to prevent the Knesset committee from being formed until after the March 2 election. His strategy is to hopefully win a majority of seats that would then vote to halt the charges from going forward. The entire matter is filled with almost more twists and turns that now exist in American politics.

Isn’t there someone, somewhere, to stand up and ask for the truth regardless of the political consequences? Like American politics, the pushing and shoving only discredits the politicians further and they are already at the bottom of the list of people who Americans trust.

Keep your eyes open. Much more to follow.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
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MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW IN ISRAEL

BLOG 455
January 6, 2020

israel-election

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW IN ISRAEL

Could any country have more turmoil than is currently happening in the United States?

Yeah. Israel.

Two big stories grab the headlines. Of course, the bombing in Iran is blazing across the headlines because Iran has sworn the destruction of Israel. The other story is the continued struggle to elect a Prime Minister and get the government back on track.

Any progress on the Netanyahu-Gantz struggle? No.

On March 2, the next election will be held. Acrimony is already in the air. Making matters more complicated, Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration Wednesday night that he is seeking parliamentary immunity from prosecution was unprecedented and hugely dramatic. For the first time in Israel’s history, a prime minister now aims to persuade his Knesset colleagues to allow him to avoid being tried for corruption. And until they have made their decision, which could be months from now, he will not be required to stand in the dock at Jerusalem District Court and face the three charges of graft issued against him. But a second drama followed hard on the heels of the first, with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman immediately announcing that his party “will not be part of the immunity coalition.” Since Liberman has now declared that he and his party will not back Netanyahu’s bid for Knesset immunity, the prime minister’s gambit has instantly become significantly less likely to succeed. And if, as is more than probable, the prime minister anticipated that Liberman would not back his bid for immunity, his move stands as an act of desperation.

And then the pots are boiling in Iran with the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimaniby an American drone. Iran’s most public proclamations declare hate for Israel and the USA. What will they do to retaliate? If I knew, a military airplane would be waiting to swish me off to Washington, D.C..

On one side of Iran is Saudi Arabia with an equally strong hatred of the Iranians. On another side, Iraq is ruled only by uncertainty. The unexpected action of America has left the Iraqis in a real bind. Iran pulls the strings in that country, but American action could change everything overnight.

Recently General Kenneth F. McKenzie noted that more troops in the Mideast might not stop possible attacks by Iran. The world knows they are the number one exporter of terrorism across the Mid-East into Africa. Moreover Iran’s increased activity in their nuclear program remains a monster waiting n the closet.

No one seems to know what President Trump will do next. No one apparently knows what Hassan Rouhani will do in retaliation. The world is looking down a gun barrel.

Is that the way you planned to start the New Year? I don’t think so.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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WHAT ARE ISRAELIS THINKING TODAY?

BLOG 451
November 18, 2019

israel

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

WHAT ARE ISRAELIS THINKING TODAY?

Two issues dominate public opinion.

Israelis don’t want a third election. They hope Benny Gantz and the Blue and White alliance can form a government before the deadline shuts them down. In general, the public doesn’t want the ultra-Orthodox groups in office. Of course, these extremists have been significant in Netanyahu’s coalition that kept him in power.

One of the country’s important leaders, Avigdor Liberman declared that Gantz must accept President Rivlin’s plan that included a join Prime Ministry led government including a leave of absence for Netanyahu because of bribery charges and that he gives up the ultra-Orthodox bloc. So far, Netanyahu has refused to abandon the religious oriented bloc. Liberman’s refusal to participate in a right-wing government led to the dissolution of parliament and resulting new elections that followed.

What a mess.

The second problem is wide-spread concern because of the abrupt withdrawal of American troops from the Syrian border in an arbitrary decision by President Donald Trump. Israelis are highly aware that Christian and Muslim Kurds are running for their lives because they fear persecution by the Turkish-backed army. These people know well about the genocide Turkey visited on their people in 1915. In a similar vein, the Turks murdered 1.5 million Armenians. Today’s Kurdish survivors know well that they cannot trust the politicians. Both The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel report Israeli concern because they know a vacuum in the Middle East will be quickly filled by a country like Russia. Moreover, the arbitrary abandonment of the Kurds means that the current USA government could just as easily drop its relationship with other governments like Arabia and Egypt … and of course with Israel. However, Israelis have an even more immediate urgent worry. They fear that Trump’s action will be part of paving the way for Iran to come charging in for a deeper and mover permanent relationship with Syria’s Bashar Assad moving Iran ever closer to Israel’s borders. Because Iran has declared even intent of destroying Israel, the citizenry must be ever wary of such Iranian moves.

The local press reports that Israeli government officials privately view Trump’s actions as “a colossal and dangerous mistake.”

Where is it all going? Many indicators suggest a third election is probable whether the public approves or not. And the situation in Syria? Keep your guns loaded!

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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TWO BIG STORIES!

BLOG 449
October 28, 2019

trumpy

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

TWO BIG STORIES!

STORY ONE:

If you’re not following what’s happened to the Kurds since President Trump arbitrarily pulled American troops and influence out of Syria, you should be. The Turks have been killing the Kurds in the same manner that ISIS did earlier. The slaughter of a once American Ally while the USA stands on the sidelines and watches will go down in history as not only one of the greatest blunders of recent years, but a betrayer of people who once thought we were their friends. Who would want to be an Ally of America when such arbitrary actions mean that our relationships mean nothing?

(Refer to last week’s blog for a listing of the objectives of Russia.) From the point of view of the Middle East, Trump’s actions have handed Putin his first three major objectives on a silver platter. Putin is now the king maker and controls Syria. America is out.

Who are the Kurds? Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state. Currently, they are struggling to exist.

STORY TWO:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening announced he had failed to muster a coalition after almost four weeks of effort, and therefore returned the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu’s 28-day deadline for building a government was due to expire on Wednesday.

Rivlin is now expected, probably on Tuesday morning, to charge Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz with the task of mustering a coalition that can win a Knesset majority. Blue and White said it was determined to build the “liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for.”

Gantz now has 28 days to try and do what Netanyahu could not accomplish. If he fails, any MK will have 21 days to obtain the support of a Knesset majority to form a government. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.

Like a predictable politician, Netanyahu blamed Gantz for his failure. The truth is that the criminal charges hanging over Netanyahu’s head have sunk his attempts to unite with other political groups needed to form the government.

Keep your eyes open for Story Three — yet to come.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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ISSUES THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

BLOG 444
September 16, 2019

gaza

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ISSUES THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

In these weekly responses, I have attempted to be objective. Rather than being persuaded by political circumstances or opinion, I attempt to let the chips fall where they may. One reader complained that I didn’t fully support Prime Minister Netanyahu and she thought he was wonderful. I pointed out that thinking any political figure was wonderful was the quickest way to be deceived and never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Didn’t suit her, but I pointed out that I went where the facts led. End of story.

In order to understanding the never-ending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, one must consider both sides. Currently, Americans tend to consider only the Israeli position. The unequivocal total support by President Donald Trump has colored the picture considerably.

However, there are two sides.

The issues between Israel and the Arabs remains complex. Hatred exists in both camps.

Here’s some of the current problems on the Israeli side. The current government often talks of annexing the West Bank, but almost never of peace initiatives with the Palestinians.

While it is true Israel respects and often exceeds the standards of human rights and the Palestinians generally do not, Israel has the greatest military capability in the Middle East. Israel causes far more damage to the Palestinians, including citizens. Israel protects its citizens far better than the Palestinians can.

One of the biggest problems is that Israel builds settlements on Palestinians land but will not give Palestinians the right to do the same. The constant encroachment on Palestinian territory remains one of the most divisive issues that halts a peace treaty.

One of the thorniest issues between Israelis and Arabs is reflected in the fact that Israel has a substantial minority of Arabs while Arab countries do not allow Jews.  On the other hand, Israel often acts like a colonizer. The birth of the Israel nation also displaced ancestral land of some Palestinians. That issue has never been settled. Fifty-two years later Palestinians must still struggle for self-determination.

Israelis refuse to admit there is an occupation. However, Palestinians experience a painful and humiliating daily reality. I have seen this every time I’ve been in the Holy Land and was there last March. The prejudice against using a Palestinian Christian guide inside Israel makes it impossible for them to work inside Israel. In turn, Jewish guides are shut out of Bethlehem. The situation remains impossible and volatile.

My point? Don’t listen to only one side of this complicated situation. Recognize more is going on that is seldom fully and objectively reported. The complexity demands tolerance and careful consideration of all sides of the issues.

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CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
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MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES

BLOG 441
September 2, 2019

middle east

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES

If there’s one constant in the Middle East, it is conflict!

Like keeping up with the players at a Wimbledon Tennis Championship, one must watch all the time to know who’s shooting at who. People seem to be constantly agitated. Of course, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is filled with pathos and tragedy.

Terrorist organizations stay in business partly because their leaders have made a profession out of fighting and it keeps them wealthy while they pretend to be poverty stricken. Hamas remains as defiant as ever with no sign of releasing its hold on the Gaza Strip. Five years ago, the Israelis blasted Gaza after a never ending series of rocket attacks on Israeli settlements. The Israelis wrecked Hamas headquarters and Gaza City. Almost nothing has changed in the last five years, including rebuilding Gaza City. While Hamas promised to rebuild the homes of many families, nothing has followed and those Palestinians are holed up in apartments waiting for a better life. Hamas claims to have no money to help them.

The backdrop to this problem is the on-going feud between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the past two years, the PA cut salaries of thousands inside the Gaza Strip in what is seen as an attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to undermine Hamas. It’s the old Hatfields versus McCoys struggle.

Many political analysts believe Hamas fears a popular revolt in Gaza more than another war with Israel. At one point Hamas used ruthless force to suppress a widespread Gaza protest against economic hardships. The revolt of several youth movements came under the banner “We Want to Live!”

The situation in Iran is not much better. Suffering under the heavy American sanctions, the price of all goods has skyrocketed. Where a pair of shoes was once $10, it is now $100. Stores are empty and restaurants barren. Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half. The Iranian economy that contracted by 4% last year, is expect to fall 6% percent this year. Fruits are now considered luxury items. Families can’t afford meat. Factories are shutting down. The average Iranian believes they are already in a war.

You think they are wrong?

Iran is paying a price for the role it played by intervening in the Syrian Civil War. The Revolutionary Guard has now been labeled a terrorist organization. They propped up Bashar Assad, but he’s not around to help them. At one time, the Iranians seemed to thrive on conflict. Now conflict is chewing on them.

It’s not a good scene.

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RACISM IN ISRAEL

BLOG 437
July 22, 2019

gaza

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

RACISM IN ISRAEL

Tensions between Israelis and the Palestinians is easy to understand. The Palestinians say you took our land. Israelis say you left when the Arab world tried to annihilated us in 1948 immediately after we declared independence. You left; we stayed. And so the arguments goes on and on.

Because of the Holocaust, Israelis have been particularly sensitive about inclusion and racial conflict. They have always stood for tolerance. Jewish groups in the United States have been outspoken on this problem.

However, the Intifadas unleashed on Israeli citizens have only increased Jewish hatred for the Palestinians. Bombings in public buses have been curtailed with the building of the wall around Israel, but the most recent knife attacks on citizens only deepened distrust, fear, and hatred. When I was in Israel a few months ago, I witnessed an increase in prejudice and distrust of Palestinians. The tension is high.

Now add the complaint of the Ethiopians. On June 30, an unarmed Ethiopian young man was shot and killed by the police. Across the entire country protests rang out, forcing a national reckoning with how the blacks are treated in Israel, especially by the police. The country came to a standstill with protesters blocking roads and highways.

“The man is a murderer,” said Tekah’s father about the policeman who shot his son. “How did he kill my son in cold blood? He was a child.”

A tiny minority of 100,000 in a country of 9 million, the killing of 18-year old Solomon Tekah has emboldened the black community to speak out. You don’t have to talk to many blacks to hear stories of abuse by the police. One black said, “They know we don’t have money for lawyers. They know we can’t defend ourselves.” Israeli officials acknowledge a longstanding problem of aggressive tactics in response to minor violations. The police acknowledge the problem.

“We came (to Israel) because of Zionism, this is also our country, we are soldiers and police officers and we never killed anyone in cold blood,” Tekah said. “We demand that justice and the law are done.”

The Ethiopians are Jews that trace their roots back to the tribe of Dan and were flown into Israel by El Al when the government created Aliya by also gathering in Jews from Russia. They practice a form of Judaism that dates back to the first Temple destroyed 2,500 years ago.

In contrast. Israeli newspapers such as The Times of Israel condemned President Trump’s racist attacks on Democratic congresswomen. Yossi Beiln, a former justice minister, and Ayman Odeh, a politician, noted Trump’s family came from German only a generation back in 1885.

Yossi Beilin lamented Trump’s decision to “bring Israel into this matter,” arguing that it will cause considerable damage to the historically bipartisan support for the Jewish state.

Racism is troubling. Not only for Israel, but the entire world needs to take a second look at how people with differences are treated.

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SUPPORTERS OF ISRAEL

Last spring I was invited to preview a movie detailing attempts to criminalize the political actions of Israel and the Jewish people. The graphic film updated me on world-wide efforts to undermine the objectives of Israel and poison international perspectives on current decisions in the country. I found the documentary enlightening but disturbing. In a recent blog, I noted some of the facts I discovered.

In my most recent blog, I noted the error made by the American Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in siding with the Palestinians in a dispute the Presbyterians don’t yet grasp. This is not a new situation in America’s more liberal churches because the avant- garde popular trend has shifted to opposition to Israel. Churches don’t help their own cause with this sort of politicizing of their own agendas.

Now, let’s turn the page and look at the other side of the coin. What about the people who support a balanced view of Israel? Where are they?

One of the most prominent group of supporters are Christian Zionists. Thousands of these believers crowded into Israel during the October Sukkot celebrations, marching down the streets of Jerusalem in affirmation of the country. This ancient Jewish remembrance of harvest time has become an annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Over 3,000 years old, Sukkot may pre-date Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The holiday remains a Jewish Thanksgiving celebration when an outdoor tabernacle is built to remind the ancient times of harvest outdoors as well as the 40 year exodus journey from Egypt.

This year multitudes of Christians flew in from China, Brazil, and Thailand as well as from the United States and Europe. In fact, the majority of believers were from the Southern hemisphere. Accused by some of trying to convert Jews or believing the Jews are the key to “end-time” prophecies, neither is the case with these pilgrims.  A high percent have never met a Jew in person nor were they any part of the Holocaust happening in Christianized Europe. They have in common a belief in the Bible and a conviction that the ancient calling and blessing over ancient Israel continues to this day. They believe the present nation of Israel is an extension of that election and calling.

These Christian Zionists insist that they are not indifferent to the struggles of the Palestinians. However, they refuse to blame all Palestinian problems on Israel. When one listens to their views, many of these supporters are more balanced than might be expected.

Christian Zionists often believe that God is restoring Israel double for all of her loss and suffering. They continue to stand with the nation because they believe God will continue to heal the deep wounds in the Jewish psyche and will finally bring back their inheritance.

Because these people come from around the world and cross all denominational boundaries, they represent an extraordinary support for Israel. Their presence during this year’s Sukkot Festival certainly gave Israel a boost.

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