Watching Over Zion - 9th February 2017

Please note: Until further notice, these reports will only be every other week.

 

The Word:  If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you… Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. (Proverbs 25:21,22 & 28)

He who hardens his neck and refuses instruction after being often reproved (corrected, criticized), will suddenly be broken beyond repair… Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God]. (Proverbs 29:1,18 Amp.)

*      Pointers for prayer:  As we look into the events bringing chaos and instability not only within the Middle East but also in the US and the UK, please pray for discernment and spiritual guidance as to how we should be interceding over these issues. 

*      Do continue to pray for protection around the borders of Israel, and pray for the current leaders in Israel, including the Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I firmly believe God is calling Christians to come alongside Israel and cry out to God on Israel's behalf, to take the deep heart cry of the nation into our own hearts; to intercede against her enemies, and to believe in the promises of God for Israel.  Please continue to pray that the Lord God would indeed shelter Israel in the shadow of His wings.  (“Show Your loving-kindness to Your people Israel… Hide them under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress them, from their deadly enemies who surround them.” Psalm 17:7–9)

*      Pray too for the Arab people throughout the Middle East and those within the nation of Israel.  Cause them Lord to be blessed, and to be a blessing to their ancient cousin.  May they desire to dwell peacefully with the Jewish nation and in reconciliation.  Please guard against human anger replacing any righteous anger.  Remember, we need to allow grace for all. 

Changes to the Watching over Zion report     I’d like to start this report off with an apology to my regular readers and recipients worldwide.  I have been writing this weekly news report now since 2001, and I have been astounded at its growth not just in the UK, but worldwide.  Even this week, new subscriptions have come in, and to all the recent recipients that have joined the mailing list, I’d like to welcome you on board.

I have also been immensely touched by all the readers who regularly email me with your encouragement and support, and by the fact that many people look forward to these reports.  However, due to my many other roles within the ministry of CFI, I’m having to change a few areas so as not to suffer any ‘burn-out’.  One of these changes is that this report will now be sent out fortnightly as from this week.   I am aware many of you will be saddened by this decision, but I’m sure you will all understand.  This decision isn’t something I’ve done lightly, and there has been much thought and prayer gone into it.  Equally, depending on how the other areas of ministry develop, it could be that in the future, I may change this back again to a weekly report.  However, for now, we will monitor how this goes, and trust the Lord for His guidance. 

I’m always happy to receive your comments via email – good or bad – and I do read each one.   As I mention above in the pointers to prayer, I still very much believe God is calling Christians to come alongside Israel and cry out to God on Israel's behalf, to take the deep heart cry of the nation into our own hearts; to intercede against her enemies, and to believe in the promises of God for Israel. This inarticulate heart cry of the nation of Israel is something that was birthed within me 33 years ago, and it still burns strong.  So please know we rely upon you all to keep standing with Israel and in your intercession. 

Protests, world condemnation and hypocrisy   At the start of this year, I remember writing that 2016 had been a year of great uncertainty, to say the least: the Syrian conflict saw the historic city of Aleppo slip further into peril, the Brexit vote initiated the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States, leading many to wonder what comes next for international alliances, diplomacy and peace.  All the while, the United Nations through UNESCO attempted to erase Jewish history in Jerusalem.  To say the world’s leading forces are closer to a global war than ever in the past decade wouldn’t be a far reach. 

As you know, throughout 2016, there was and still is, genocide going on, which has been going on for years and years in the Islamic Middle East in general and Syria in particular. It involved ISIS targeting Yazidis and Christians for extermination, and, in Syria, Shia Muslims joining Alawites to exterminate Sunnis (basically, Muslims murdering Muslims). This is the classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation.  This genocide reached fever pitch towards the end of December 2016, just as the Obama administration, which didn’t lifted a finger to protect 500,000 Arabs from being slaughtered, was winding down.

I have been reporting on this genocide in Syria for the past five years and of course it has been on our TV screens most days, yet the United Nations have taken no action.  But worse… with the United Nations scheming against Israel, the UN not only ignored Syria, but focused on the condemnation of the world’s only Jewish state – Israel.   500,000 Arabs are murdered in Syria and yet the UN thinks the problem to peace within the Middle East is caused by Jews building houses in communities in Judea.   At the same time, the United Nations couldn’t even pass one UN Security Council Resolution condemning Russia, Syria, and Iran for the slaughter in Syria; however they have passed many motions condemning Jews who live in the ancient Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria.  I’ve pondered many time in the past few months, is the prophesy in Zechariah 12 coming to pass?  So no condemnation on Syria, but the world has exploded into condemnation of a certain president in America.

In one of my recent posts on my personal blog page, I asked the question, “Has Trump overstepped the mark? Will the Muslim world protest?”  This followed the decision that Islamic passengers would be barred from flights into the USA and visa holders refused entry after Donald Trump imposed strict new controls on travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations.  The US President, who had promised the measures – called “extreme vetting” – during last year’s election campaign, said he was making America safe from “radical Islamic terrorists” as he signed the executive order. The decree meant that no visas would be issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  Since then, the ban has been overturned, and President Donald Trump has declared that the judge who blocked his travel ban will be responsible if America is attacked.  Mr Trump said Judge James Robart had placed America in "peril", by allowing citizens of seven Muslim majority countries that had been barred from entering the US to come "pouring in" to the country.  Meanwhile the Trump administration says it will use “every legal means” to reinstate Mr Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration, but will comply with the judge’s order as the legal battle continues.  This though hasn’t stopped world condemnation, and I have been surprised at the volume of protests around the world, specifically in the US, but also in the UK. 

At the time I was writing this report, Mr Trump was Tweeting, “The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!”  In the UK, Downing Street rejected calls to axe the state visit planned for Donald Trump following widespread outrage over his travel ban on people from certain countries. Anger with the UK's decision to hold a state visit for America's new president Donald Trump has sparked protests across the country including Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and just outside Downing Street.  More than one million people have signed a petition stating Mr Trump should not be given a state visit.  The immigration curbs have sparked chaos across the US as travellers were detained at airports and thousands of protesters gathered to campaign against the policy.  Boris Johnson claimed President Trump's immigration policy as "divisive... discriminatory and wrong", but dismissed claims the US is "hostile" towards foreigners. 

So was Mr Trump’s decision divisive, discriminatory and wrong?  Well it has certainly been divisive.  But is it discriminatory and wrong?  I believe it was, and certainly feel the decision lacked wisdom.  After all, with all the issues of inhumane brutality and murders in the Muslim Middle East countries, surely we must allow true refugees to enter our nations and to care for them?  Surely the nations must have learnt from the history books?  After all, the US certainly got it wrong before.  On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On the voyage were 937 passengers - Jews fleeing from the Third Reich. Most were German citizens, some were from Eastern Europe, and a few were officially "stateless."  The majority of the Jewish passengers had applied for US visas, and had planned to stay in Cuba only until they could enter the United States. But by the time the St. Louis sailed, there were signs that political conditions in Cuba might keep the passengers from landing there. The US State Department in Washington turned away the ship and compelled the Jews to return to Europe.

After the decision of curtailing certain travel by President Trump, Col. Richard Kemp tweeted on January 30, “All Germans were not Nazis, but in WW2 Britain stopped all Germans from entering the UK.”  Well that is correct, but is America really in the same position that Britain was in during WW2?  As I’ve stated, surely we must allow true refugees to enter our nations and to care for them?  The big problem however is knowing who the genuine refugees are, and who are disguising their potential terrorist acts as refugees. However, what I would really like to know is, no matter whether you agree with President Trump, or strongly disagree, can all these protestors really make such an outcry against one decision, when they completely ignore another? 

The fact is Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and eleven more Muslim countries banned Israeli Jews long ago from ever entering their countries. Saudi Arabia also banned all Jews a long time ago. In fact, you are not even allowed to enter Saudi Arabia with any clothing made by a Jewish firm.  Has anyone asked the question why, especially as there never was, and never will be, any threat of terrorism (perceived or otherwise) coming from Israelis or Jewish people? 

So six nations listed on Trump’s controversial executive order also impose travel bans of their own.  According to information supplied by the International Air Transport Association, 16 countries - Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all forbid Israeli passport holders from entering their countries.  Furthermore, eight of those counties – Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya – do not accept passports that contain Israeli visas/stamps, therefore I personally cannot travel to these countries – not that I’d want to. 

Now of course, Britain, like America is a democracy.  If people feel it right to protest against Trump stopping Islamists entering America, then they have liberty to protest.  But shouldn’t this be consistent? How is it that these same people have double-standards when it comes to Israel?  After all, just look what Abbas promises!  If he ever got a ‘State of Palestine’ he would not allow one single Jew to live in or enter his country!  But there’s even more controversy when we dig deeper.  Did you know Libya also enforces a separate ban on Iranian, Syrian and Arab Palestinian visitors?  And so, the executive order signed by President Trump, which temporarily halted nationals of seven Muslim countries from entering the United States, has generated an uproar by many people in many nations. Yet, why are these same people silent about travel bans imposed by these and other Muslim countries against Jews who hold Israeli passports?  Where is the outrage over travel bans for Jews to Islamic countries?  On top of this, there is the hideous boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement which seeks to ban Israeli products and people from institutions in the West.   So the Muslim world and the liberal western world have exploded with protests against Trump – and I certainly understand the reasons why, but hang on… who has ever protested regarding all these Islamic countries for banning Jewish people into their countries? The silence is deafening!

Benjamin Netanyahu at Number 10    Well Theresa May’s first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t get off to the best of starts as the Israeli Prime Minister arrived two minutes early and was left standing outside the famous black door of Number 10 – oh dear!  Theresa May didn’t greet her Israeli counterpart and he was left to enter alone.  However they emerged two minutes later and shook hands in front of the assembled media.  Downing Street sources said a mix-up inside Number 10 meant the photo opportunity did not go according to plan.   Theresa May said the UK was a “close friend of Israel” as she met Netanyahu for the first time.  The British Prime Minster highlighted their joint co-operation in science, trade and technology and said there was “much more we can do” to deepen ties.  In her opening remarks, she said it was important to look at how “we can build that relationship”, but added “We remain committed to a two-state solution as the best way of brokering stability and peace.

However, Netanyahu has called on the leaders of both the United Kingdom and Belgium this week to stop funding left-wing NGOs that “slander” the Jewish state. Netanyahu vowed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he would “continue to fight the lies and do everything to protect our soldiers”.  Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli leader met in Jerusalem with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel – this only one day after meeting Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London.  In a Facebook video he filmed while in the UK, Netanyahu said, “I asked the British prime minister today: How would you feel if I was funding with Israeli government money organizations that call British soldiers ‘war criminals’? Or called for independence for Wales or independence for Scotland with Israeli government funding?”  “Well, unfortunately,” he continued, “this is what many governments do when they fund groups like Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Adalah, etc. So I asked that the British government cease funding these groups. I think the time has come.”  To view a short clip of Netanyahu meeting May click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ4-ytZnlKQ.  You can see the full text of Netanyahu’s remarks HERE.

The bubbles that connect Arabs and Jews    The Israel-based SodaStream Company has decided to feature an Israeli flag on all its products, which are sold in 45 countries.  In a statement from the company, SodaStream said, “The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world.”  The Israeli flag is accompanied by the English message reading, ‘This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.’ SodaStream, which manufactures sparkling water makers for home use has been a target of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement over its former headquarters in the industrial park of Mishor Adumim.  Mishor Adumim is located in the industrial zone of the Israeli community of Ma'ale Adumim, about 10 minutes' drive from Jerusalem.  Sadly, due to the BDS campaigners – who allegedly are supposed to help the Palestinians - that facility’s closure had forced SodaStream to lay off most of its 500 Arab Palestinian employees. SodaStream then relocated to the Negev desert region.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said that “as a proud Israeli company, we have always taken care to keep our Israeli profile high, even if that means fighting for our place in the face of the European Union and economic terrorism from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement….In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves under attack, apologizing and boycotted all over the world. We may not be perfect, but we have a lot to be proud of, and we decided to show that to ourselves and to the world.”   In the world of the Middle East where Israeli Jews are banned from entering Islamic countries, the very fact that this product states that it is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony, once again proves Israel is the only true democracy within the Middle East.  To view a short film of SodaStream click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYEio8CAk2k

David Soakell  

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

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio

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