Watching Over Zion - 13th July 2017

The Word: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday...  Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitat, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling… “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation (Y’shua).” (Taken from Psalm 91)

*   Pointers for prayer:  Let us ponder the above Scripture, and turn this into intercession and a proclamation of God's promises towards Israel. Pray that all in the nation of Israel – from the Prime Minister to the man on the street, will desire the God of Israel to be their ‘habitat’.  Thank God for His faithfulness to the Jewish people and His everlasting love for them. Praise Him that He will prevail over every principality, power, and false religion that seeks to usurp Him and destroy the truth of His Word!

*   Please do continue to pray for the truth to be revealed regarding how Israel, and in particular Hamas and Gaza are portrayed by the media. There is far too much distortion within the media, which is being blindly accepted by many people without checking the truth. Do pray into this.

*   Please continue to pray that God will grant Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government courage to not give in to international pressure to divide Jerusalem, and continue to proclaim God's sovereignty over the nation of Israel.  As you read through this report, please bring all these issues before the Lord - that this generation may know the relevance of the days in which we live.

Qui habitat   It is claimed that Martin Luther (1483-1546) came to understand God as the God of grace as opposed to a God of unrelenting judgment thanks to reading the Psalms in Hebrew, and apparently, Luther counted the Hebrew language above all as worthy of praise. He once wrote, “The Greeks express themselves with the best and most delightful words, but the Hebrew language shines with such simplicity and majesty that it cannot be imitated,” (from Luther's "Table Talk," 1532, as recorded by C. Cordatus).  In the same writing he stated, “The Hebrew language is held of little account because of a lack of dutifulness or perhaps out of despair at its difficulty... Without this language there can be no understanding of Scripture, for the self-same New Testament, though written in Greek, is full of Hebraisms. Therefore it has been correctly said that the Jews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream pool.”  I have to say, I wasn’t given the option of learning Latin in school, however I did have to sing it when I sang second base in Berlioz ‘Requiem’ at the local Town Hall where I lived many years ago.  I can still sing the ‘Lacrimosa’ section without looking at the music.  However, I much prefer Hebrew as a language rather than Latin.  Nevertheless, Psalm 91, is often referred to by its Latin title ‘Qui habitat’, and is known as the Psalm of Protection. 

Regarding this Psalm, Billy Graham once stated, “If you read and reread Psalm 91, you will discover that in Him we have a permanent abode and residence, and that all of the comfort, security, and affection which the human heart craves is found in Him.”  It’s funny how people think of the word ‘habitat’.  I had a bit of fun asking children some of these questions the last time I took a class in school.  Ask a child the meaning of habitat and they are likely to say it’s the natural environment in which an animal or plant usually lives.  Well, that’s correct, but what of people?  If one gave an example of Eskimos to a child, they may tell you they live in Igloos; an Indian might dwell in a tepee/Tipi; if a child sees a picture of a hut, they might think of Africa. Children will inform you that ‘Scots come from Scotland; Germans come from Germany and Egyptians from Egypt. So don’t Israelis come from Israel?  Yet the political world will tell you different.  Now we all know that Jews live in most countries throughout the world, but then so do Muslims.  Yet the issue of Israel seems to trigger off some explosive trip wire like no other subject. 

During the last few decades, the Arab Palestinian propaganda machine, aided by anti-Israel groups such as the BDS campaigners (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) and the international community such as the U.N. have created one of the most powerful and effective statements which are used as an emotional and psychological weapon to defeat Israel – namely - “End the occupation.”  We’ve seen it all over the world; on many pages of social media and in public marches in many cities including London – not to mention leading politicians being involved.  But where do they all get it from, and what does “end the occupation” mean?

The Jerusalem Post’s Moshe Dann wrote recently, “Ending the occupation could refer to what Israel conquered during the Six Day War in 1967, or what Israel acquired during the War of Independence (1948-49), or everything “from the river to the sea.” At first, Arab Palestinian propaganda focused on Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) as a “violation of international law,” specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention as interpreted by the International Committee of the Red Cross. An anti-Israel, Geneva-based NGO, the International Committee of the Red Cross was the first to accuse Israel of “occupying Palestinian territory,” thus arbitrarily allotting a disputed area to one side. Because the International Committee of the Red Cross is also – uniquely – an official UN agency, its decisions are considered authoritative.” 

I read a letter from a UK MP this week (who will remain nameless) who stated, “I am concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Palestinian people are experiencing. It is clear that the blockade of Gaza undermines basic human rights and economic prospects, as well as the availability of essential services and I believe that these restrictions should be eased.”  She also went on to state, “I will be visiting Palestine [please note: not Israel!] in September with a number of Labour MPs which will be an invaluable experience in seeing for myself the situation on the ground,” and she then rattled on about Israelis ‘occupying’ the land.  I don’t expect she’ll be visiting to poor suffering Jewish community in Sderot though!  Let’s pray that she does get a truthful and balanced ‘situation on the ground’ as she clearly doesn't understand the true situation.  It’s right that she should be concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the terrible suffering that many Arab Palestinian people are experiencing.  Indeed many of us are.  But if she is really concerned then as a Member of Parliament should she not be demanding an end to the Hamas tyranny, as it is Hamas who are forcing this persecution upon their own Arab Palestinians.  Regarding the ‘the blockade of Gaza,’ does she not know that Israel daily sends in many convoys of aid.  However, if Hamas stopped its acts of terrorism against Israel, there would be open borders.

And then of course there is that same old argument of “occupied territory” - yet there is no occupied territory – only disputed territory.  In the light of the fact that 2017 is the 100th year of the Balfour Declaration; the fact that we also have the San Remo agreement; along with the Court of Appeal of Versailles who ruled that ‘West Bank settlements’ and occupation of Judea and Samaria by Israel is unequivocally legal under international law (Click here to read), how is it that these educated politicians are not aware of these legal documents?   Let’s face the facts, if these politicians really want to facilitate positive, pragmatic and pro-active engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then surely they should start with the facts and the historical documents in countering bias and misinformation about the Arab-Israel conflict.  I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: It is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel conflict without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution. Both the San Remo Resolution and the Balfour Declaration charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews in the territory which then included Transjordan, which had already been adopted by the other Allied Powers. Furthermore, as the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated (repealed, revoked) it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it. It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and the Jewish state of Israel all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo. So if the British Members of Parliament, along with the United Nations are reneging on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

As mentioned, Moshe Dann writes a very good explanation regarding this issue in the Jerusalem Post, and he ends with this: “As long as terrorism exists there will be “occupation,” checkpoints, police interventions, and long lines at airports. “Ending the occupation” begins with ending incitement and hatred, ending terrorism. “Ending the occupation” does not apply only to Israel. It includes ending the dictatorship in Iran that threatens the entire world. Ending the occupation applies to Hamas rule in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad and ISIS in Syria, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. “End the occupation” is not a call to protect Palestinian rights, but to end Israel’s existence. It’s not a plea for humanity, but a paean to mayhem and genocide. “End the occupation” should be understood for what it is: a death threat.”  You can read the full article here:  http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Understanding-End-the-occupation-497554

As for the people and Nation of Israel, how do we pray for them?  Well I believe we need to pray for their wellbeing and protection.  But getting back to Psalm 91 and ‘habitats’, I also believe we need to pray that just as a child will yearn to take the hand of his/her mum or dad, so that such a child will sense the love, safety, and security of the strength of his/her guardian, so each Israeli needs to come to that place in which they long to sense the sanctity of being within the place of security wherein a loving God is found.  Only then, will they find their true calling and reasons for being the nation God called into existence.   

House of Commons Middle East peace talks    Thankfully, not all politicians have the same mind-set. Last week in the House of Commons a ‘General Debate on Israeli and Palestinian Talks’ took place where 14 MPs called for a return to direct peace talks, condemned Hamas’s violence and criticised the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral actions and glorification of terror.  Numerous Conservative MPs also reiterated calls for the Government to proscribe the terror organisation Hezbollah in its entirety, following last month’s Al-Quds Day rally in London where the terrorist organisations flags were openly displayed.

Among the Conservative MPs to speak in support of Israel, the Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP spoke strongly against the Palestinian Authority.  Other MPs also spoke up for Israel – so let us praise God that we have some MPs who are willing to speak out against the ‘norm’.  Former Northern Ireland Secretary, Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers, condemned the Arab Palestinian incitement, stating that “as many as 25 Palestinian schools are named after terrorists” and an “estimated £84 million is paid annually to convicted terrorists, with higher salaries given to those who have killed more people”. She deplored recent reports that “President Abbas has vowed never to stop these hateful payments”.  The speech is well worth listening to and can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n16zk6LpUgc&feature=share

However, no matter what the British government and Theresa Villiers might demand, Abbas has pledged he will not stop paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of the so-called "Martyrs." According to his own Fatah Movement, Abbas has made the following statement, vowing to continue honouring terrorists and murderers with monetary rewards no matter what.  Abbas stated: “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner, as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the Martyrs, the injured, the expelled, and the uprooted.” [Source: Official Fatah Facebook page, July 2, 2017].  According to the 2016 PA budget, the PA currently pays 26,800 families of "Martyrs" a total of 660 million shekels ($183 million) per year, and 6,500 terrorist prisoners receive PA salaries amounting to 486 million shekels ($135 million) per year.  A member of Fatah's Central Committee, Jamal Muhaisen, also quoted Abbas' promise, and emphasized that the payment of salaries to terrorist prisoners and "Martyrs" is not an issue of money, but rather is about the “Palestinian historical narrative.”

UNESCO at it again!  It was nice to see UNESCO have made the “Lake District in Cumbria" a World Heritage Site... however if Abbas thinks he can now claim Keswick, Windermere and Helvellyn as part of Palestine, he may end up being left dangling halfway over Blencathras Sharp Edge!  Unbelievably, yet another vote was held last week at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare Israel an “occupying power” in Jerusalem and harshly criticised Biblical archaeological excavations there. Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated, “Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the world’s only Jewish state the ‘occupier’ of the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Old City."  Moments after the vote was taken, a bizarre series of events ensued in which a moment of silence to honour victims of the Nazi Holocaust was followed by a demand by the Cuban delegation for another moment of silence to be held for the Arab Palestinian people. Israel’s delegation objected to the comparison, but most of the assembled delegates stood for both moments of silence.

The 41st session of UNESCO met in Krakow, Poland (2nd to 12th July 2017).  Apart from the condemnation of Israeli archaeological excavations, Israeli officials and Jewish leaders outside of Israel reacted with fury following Friday’s vote to declare the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a key Jewish holy site in Hebron, an “endangered Palestinian world heritage site.”  The resolution, which claimed the tomb was “faced with serious threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics while under Israeli control”, passed UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee by 12 votes to 3 with 6 countries abstaining.  The nations voting in favour included “the Arab bloc, Cuba, Zimbabwe and other dictatorships,” a report from Geneva-based monitoring organization UN Watch said.  The storm of condemnation in the wake of the vote was led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who denounced it as “another delusional UNESCO decision,” and reaffirmed that Israel would “continue to guard the Cave of the Patriarchs, to ensure religious freedom for everybody and guard the truth.”

The Cave of the Patriarchs (also called the Cave of Machpelah) is a series of chambers located in the heart of the old city of Hebron in the Hebron Hills. According to the Torah in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot. (Genesis 23:17-19, Genesis 50:13).  Dating back over 2,000 years, the monumental Herodian compound built upon the caves is believed to be the oldest continuously used intact prayer structure in the world, and is the oldest major building in the world that still fulfils its original function. The Hebrew name of the complex reflects the very old tradition of the double tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, who are buried there. The only Jewish matriarch missing is Rachel, who is believed to be buried at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem.  Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely slammed UNESCO for passing another in a series of anti-Israel resolutions following in the same week UNESCO describing the Jewish state as an “occupying power” in its capital, Jerusalem. 

To add insult to injury, or in this case ‘injustice’, Hamas on Wednesday issued a statement essentially thanking UNESCO for siding with the terrorist group in its struggle against Israel.  A Hamas spokesman, Abdel Latif al-Qanua, said that the international community had taken another important step toward defeating what he called the "false Israeli narrative" regarding Jerusalem and Hebron.  He urged the UN to follow up with firm action on the ground to “save Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque from Judaization, excavations and Zionist projects.” 

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & https://www.algemeiner.com/

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