The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Archive for September, 2013


Monday, September 30th, 2013

by Ryan Jones (Israel Today News)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with US President Barack Obama on Monday in what many Israelis saw as the “moment of truth” in the ongoing Iran nuclear saga.

The Obama Administration, like much of the West, has been largely taken in by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent charm offensive, and that has Israel worried.

While US officials have struck cautious tone, US Secretary of State John Kerry didn’t succeed in hiding his excitement over the prospect of a “quick deal” to resolve the nuclear crisis.

“If it is a peaceful program, and we can all see that – the whole world sees that – the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast,” Kerry said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

Kerry was previously excited over the prospect of a “quick deal” leading to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His approach to that issue has, after six months, yielded no positive results.

What has Israel concerned is Iran’s ability to fool the West into believing its nuclear program is peaceful. Or, rather, that the West has so little stomach for a fight that it wants to believe Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, even if it isn’t so. As Netanyahu has been pointing out, that is precisely how North Korea managed to defy all international sanctions and threats and test its nuclear weapon.

Many Israelis feel Netanyahu is wasting his time sucking up to Obama and trying to convince him of a threat that Washington has proved it either can’t or won’t deal with.

According to Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, Israel itself should be providing a viable threat of military force should Iran fail to back down. That Netanyahu is not taking this path “is more grave than the collapse of the preconception that led to the Yom Kippur War. The idea of turning this problem into an international problem contradicts the entire Zionist concept,” Feiglin told Israel’s nana10 News.

Nor is Israel the only one worried by the situation.

While Arab leaders have kept tight-lipped in recent weeks, Arab media has been abuzz regarding the possibility of US-Iranian rapprochement, which many Arab news outlets labeled as “worrying” and a cause for “panic.”


Friday, September 27th, 2013

Israel Today Staff

From Eilat in the south to Kiryat Shemona in the north, Israelis on Thursday marked Simchat Torah, the annual rejoicing in the giving of God’s Word to their ancestors.

The festival brings to a conclusion the biblical High Holy Days that began with Rosh Hashanah and ran through the recently concluded Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.

It is fitting that the High Holy Days end in a day of rejoicing over the Torah, the cornerstone of God’s Word. In the five Books of Moses, God revealed His will and determination for the nation of Israel.

This special day is celebrated with parades in which Torah scrolls are lifted up and read aloud for all to hear. The highlight of the Simchat Torah service is the reading of the final annual Torah portion, and a return to the very first chapter of Genesis to start the whole Bible-reading cycle over again.

Simchat Torah is also celebrated by Messianic and Christian congregations across Israel, though with a slightly different tone, for we also rejoice in the fact that Yeshua the Messiah has fulfilled the Torah: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)


Thursday, September 26th, 2013


Senior Israeli Official: “The Iranians are smiling, but they’re still cheating, and that has to be exposed.”
Iranian media on Wednesday lauded US President Barack Obama for a speech in which he attested to “past mistakes” made by Washington, and said a favorable shift has commenced in the global community’s attitude toward Tehran, AFP reported.

Newspapers in Iran hailed Washington’s seemingly altered tone toward its long-time foe as alluded to in Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday during which he spoke of engaging in a “diplomatic path” with the Islamic Republic.

Netanyahu: Rouhani’s UN speech hypocritical PR ploy

Obama’s startling linkage of Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace

AFP cited what it called the moderate Donya-e-Eqtesad daily as welcoming the US leader’s “different tone”. The report also noted the so-called conservative Jomhouri Eslami newspaper as praising Obama’s pledge that the US was “not seeking regime change” in Iran.

The report quoted Shargh newspaper as welcoming Obama’s speech while arguing that the hawkish Israeli stance on Iran would lose pertinence.

AFP cited the publication as claiming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would become “isolated” and viewed as a “warmonger,” while stating in its editorial that, “Even those most pessimistic to an opening in relations have accepted that the time for change has arrived”.

An Israeli wall of suspicion hardened by Tehran’s nuclear pursuits has not fettered amid a charm offensive toward the West by Iran’s new President and his nuanced approach to his predecessor’s Holocaust denial.

Netanyahu said Israel will not be fooled by Hassan Rouhani’s international outreach and the world must not be either.

So when Netanyahu arrives in the United States next week, he will be on what aides describe as a mission to unmask Iran’s new administration, in which the West sees a potentially promising partner for negotiations to stop what it fears is a drive to develop atomic weapons.

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday that he believes Obama was sincere in his efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Erdan told Israel Radio that the problem lies in the moment when good intentions run into reality, as shown in the case of Syria.

The minister said he was worried that the world’s changing approach to Iran was a dangerous turn of events as Iran approaches the ability to enrich uranium at an accelerated speed.

“We’ve anticipated ever since Rouhani’s election that there would be American dialogue with Iran,” a senior Israeli official taking part in the annual UN forum told Reuters.

“Our goal is to ensure that these talks, if they happen, are matched with action, and soon. The Iranians are smiling, but they’re still cheating, and that has to be exposed.”

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, demands a total rollback of Iran’s nuclear projects, including uranium enrichment and plutonium production that could arm a bomb.

At White House talks with President Barack Obama on Monday, and in a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York a day later, Netanyahu will point to what he sees as Iranian duplicity aimed at eluding foreign sanctions while entering the final stretch toward nuclear weapons.

In the words of Channel 2 television, the right-wing Israeli leader will assume the unenviable role of “party pooper” in trying to dampen any Western expectations of a breakthrough in the nuclear crisis.

At his UN debut on Tuesday – boycotted by the Israeli delegation to the General Assembly – Rouhani pledged Iran’s willingness to engage immediately in “time-bound” talks on the nuclear issue. He offered, however, no new concessions.

Staying away from the speech, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said, only played into Iranian hands.

“We have to let the Iranians be the ones refusing peace and not appear as if we are not open to changes,” Lapid said in a statement, signalling a measure of domestic dissent that presented another challenge to Netanyahu.

And with Rouhani’s hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – a lightning rod for Israeli and Western criticism – no longer on the world stage, Israel is now forced to dig deeper between the lines of Iranian rhetoric to try to show Iranian intransigence.

In a CNN interview on Tuesday, Rouhani avoided the Holocaust-denial language used by Ahmadinejad – while also steering clear of acknowledging the deaths of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

The Holocaust, Rouhani said, was a “reprehensible crime” although its scale was a matter for historians.

“The comments ostensibly are welcome and a welcome change from those of his predecessor, but for a head of state of a country that still openly calls for Israel’s destruction this statement, frankly, does not carry much weight and it is effectively meaningless,” said Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.


Thursday, September 26th, 2013

By Yasset Okbi

Assad says Syria no longer needs chemical weapons to deter Israel.
Syrian President Bashar Assad gives an interview to Venezuelan state TV . .

“We now possess deterrent weapons that are more important and more sophisticated than chemical weapons,” Syrian President Bashar Assad told visitors to his palace, emphasizing that he has no need for chemical weapons.

According to the report which was carried by Hizbullah paper Al-Akhbar, Assad said that “a smile never leaves his face.” He attributed this fact to his assertion that the situation in Syria today “has never been better,” because “we created chemical weapons in the 80’s as a deterrent against Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Today, it is no longer a weapon of deterrence.”

UN inspectors return to Damascus as Putin ally calls for US shift to reach Syria peace deal.

Assad does not rule out US attack on Syria, despite chemical weapons deal

“In Syria there are thousands of tons of chemical weapons that have become a burden to us since their destruction costs a great deal of money and could take years to destroy. They also create environmental challenges and others that would need solving. So they (UN inspectors) should just come and take them,” Assad said.

“The chemical weapons are not the goal of the United States and their allies, and they never have been,” he said. “They wanted to change the balance of power and to protect Israel.”

“We turned the tables and sent the ball into their court. This move embarrassed them in front of the American public, in Europe and even in front of the US government.”

Assad praised the “unprecedented collaboration with Russia,” and added “we have an agreement with Russia that they will intervene, in a big way, if Syria is attacked,” Assad said.

Earlier, during an interview which was broadcast on Venezuelan television Assad said that he would not rule out the possibility of an American attack despite the fact that he agreed to the supervision of his chemical weapons.

Assad added that he transferred evidence to Russia regarding the opposition’s use of chemical weapons. He repeated the accusation that the opposition forces used chemical weapons in the August 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus that killled 1400 people.

Terrorists will also try to attack the UN supervisors that are expected in Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal.


Thursday, September 26th, 2013


Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Israel still has some work to do in order to restore ties between the two countries, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

According to Davutoglu, Israel fulfilled the first of three conditions to restore ties by apologizing to Turkey for the loss of life in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

‘Turkey will likely never join the EU due to members’ prejudice’

There are two other conditions however, that have yet to be met.

One of these two conditions is the summation of negotiations over the amount of money to be paid as compensation for the death of nine Turkish activists, who died on the Gaza-bound flotilla. Davutoglu did say that negotiations were moving forward.

The Turkish FM also offered the help of Turkey to ensure that Iran is prevented from obtaining nuclear weapons, while allowing them to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Recent overtures from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the nuclear issue with countries from the West has created a cautious optimism that a diplomatic solution may be reached to the conflict.


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

by David Dolan (Jerusalem)

As has been the case for most of the past two and a half years, news related to the often violent turbulence that has engulfed many Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa since early 2011 produced the main news headlines in Israel during September. As was true last month, the appalling situation in neighboring war-torn Syria dominated public and government attention, especially the continuing consequences of the August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus and particularly the possibility of an American military strike on targets under the control of the Syrian Assad regime. That prospect sent many Israelis scrambling to acquire gas masks for protection against a possible deadly chemical weapons counterattack after the Syrian regime threatened to strike Israel if the United States and its allies launched any military action against it.

Israeli government officials had decidedly mixed feelings about another US-led military campaign near their borders, even if many consider Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad to be equally evil to the deposed Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. On the one hand, such action would definitely send a sharp warning message to Syria’s main regional, Iran, that the Obama Administration, and at least some of its traditional allies, are willing to unleash further military operations in the raucous Middle East if deemed necessary. This might serve to slow down, if not put a brake to, Iran’s nefarious nuclear development program, which Israeli leaders are convinced is designed to end with the construction of incendiary nuclear weapons. On the other hand, US-led military action could easily spark off another major Middle East war, which is certainly something that most Israelis dread, along with their Western counterparts.

The subsequent deferral of military action as a result of Russian diplomatic intervention in the crisis also produced very mixed responses in Israel. Analysts said it would probably ultimately strengthen the Assad regime as it brutally battles to cling to power, while also enhancing Russia’s standing in the region. Neither outcome would be construed as positive in Jerusalem. On the other hand, it could stave off the eruption of a wider armed conflict in the tense area, at least for the time being. Analysts said the best scenario is that the Russian plan could actually end up with the promised destruction of Assad’s large chemical weapons arsenal, although few actually expect this will ultimately be the case. Another major concern is America’s declining status in the region, pushed down by the widely perceived serious mishandling of the latest Middle East crisis by President Barrack Obama, leaving Israel’s chief international ally weakened on the world state.
Israeli officials were also said to be quietly concerned that if the embattled Syrian regime actually hands over its large chemical weapons stockpile for internationally supervised destruction, pressure will mount on Jerusalem to both approve the 1993 chemical weapons ban treaty and also to destroy Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose existence was confirmed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he was in power. Although Israeli leaders signed the chemical weapons ban treaty along with almost 190 other countries, the action has never been approved by the Israeli Knesset, as it must be by law for the treaty to go into effect.

In the midst of the Syrian crisis, President Obama echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in saying that the Iranian nuclear program is a much greater overall threat to regional and world peace than is Syria’s finally-admitted possession of chemical weapons. This came as the new Iranian President stated that nuclear weapons would never be produced by Tehran during his time in office. The statement was met with serious skepticism in Israel but welcomed at the White House. Several days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin chided the Obama government for its handling of the Syrian crisis. Soon afterwards, Putin stated that Syria’s chemical arsenal has served as a necessary counterweight to Israel’s possession of nuclear warheads, as if the small Jewish State was regularly threatening to blast Syria or any other neighboring country into the stone-age, as Syria’s ally Iran has been doing for several years.

Despite the fact that he was rather preoccupied with the intense Syrian crisis, United States Secretary of State John Kerry managed to squeeze in another short visit to the Holy Land during the month. He came to check on the progress of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that are quietly taking place well away from media eyes, at Kerry’s insistence. However instead of being encouraged by his stopover, the chief American diplomat encountered a wall of complaints from Palestinian Authority officials that the negotiations are going nowhere fast due to supposed “Israeli intransigence” over several central issues at the heart of the two people’s long and bitter dispute. For their part, Israeli leaders were said to be upset by perceived inflexibility on the PA’s part. Tensions between the two sides escalated when an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and murdered by a Palestinian co-worker.

While naturally focusing on the north during the month, Israeli government and military officials also closely followed jarring political and military developments in neighboring Egypt. Chief among them was an escalating Egyptian army offensive against spiraling terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula. This came as relations between the new military-affiliated Egyptian government and the radical Palestinian Hamas movement deteriorated still further in the wake of the dramatic ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-linked President Muhammad Morsi in early July.

Amidst the plethora of negative regional developments that kept many Israelis on edge during September, most people managed to enjoy the annual Autumn Jewish holidays. Tens of thousands of overseas Jewish and Christian visitors flocked to the Holy Land to celebrate Rosh Ha Shana, the Jewish New Year, and the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths, plus to mark the solemn fast day of Yom Kippur. This came as several public ceremonies were held to mark the fortieth anniversary of the surprise Yom Kippur War, which nearly ended with a major Israeli defeat forty years ago next month. Few marked the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accord on the White House lawn in Washington DC on September 13, 1993, given that the treaty has patently failed to end the conflict.

The Israeli people were as disgusted as anyone by the appalling deployment of deadly chemical weapons in Syria the third week of August, leaving well over 1,400 Syrians dead, reportedly around 400 of them children. In fact, Israeli citizens, both Jewish and Arab, probably paid much more attention to the details of the appalling attack than did most people around the globe, given that nearby Syrian missiles are known to have the capability to strike all portions of tiny Israel carrying chemical warheads. The fact that the Assad regime is also a close ally of Iran, the Shiite Muslim country that has repeatedly vowed to one day annihilate the Jewish State, only added to Israeli concerns over the vile mass killings.

Therefore, opinion surveys revealed there was far more Israeli public support for President Obama’s announced decision to punish the Assad regime militarily for its apparent use of chemical weapons upon its own war weary citizens than there was in the United States or Great Britain. Still, everyone knew that the chances were hardly zero that either Assad himself, or more likely his Lebanese militia ally Hizbullah, would lash out at Israel in response to such action. However when it became clear that the American leader was only speaking of a short bombing campaign that would mainly serve as a warning “shot across the bow” as he put it, support for the proposed military strike shrank in Israel. Many echoed various American politicians and pundits in stating that the “show of force” would not be enough to actually end Assad’s ability to deploy his chemical weapons arsenal against his own people and/or Israel, but would instead only stir up the already boiling pot in the region, if not ignite a devastating regional war.

Israeli military forces were quietly put on a heightened state of alert in the wake of President Obama’s early September declaration that he was preparing to order an imminent military operation against the Syrian regime. However the British Parliament’s narrow decision to nix the Camaron’s government’s decision to actively support the United States in such an operation dealt an immediate blow to the plan, leading many in Israel to speculate that it would not take place after all. Still, with France and several other countries on board, Obama seemed determined to go ahead with the action. This was buttressed by John Kerry’s repeated arguments that “the international community” had to do something concrete to punish the Assad regime for “breaking the longstanding taboo” against the deployment of deadly chemical agents, even in time of war.

At a press conference in London on September 9, John Kerry was asked by a reporter if there was “anything” that the Syrian regime could do to avert American-led military action against it. The question came just after Bashar Assad told the American CBS network that the United States would suffer undefined “repercussions” if it struck Syria in any manner. The Secretary of State’s answer surprised many listeners: “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week—turn it over, all of it without delay, and allow a full and total accounting. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done.” When news reports began to circulate suggesting that the senior American diplomat was actually alluding to a possible way out of President Obama’s increasingly unpopular vow to launch a military campaign against the Syrian regime, the State Department in Washington issued a statement claiming Kerry had only been making a “rhetorical argument” about the “impossibility” of the Assad regime doing anything realistic to deflect military action, not presenting a new proposal that Assad might actually implement.

Soon after Kerry spoke, it became clear he was actually basing his answer on a proposal that Russian leaders had previously shared with him. Government officials in Moscow, Assad’s main big power ally, had apparently already been discussing a chemical weapons transfer to the “international community,” meaning to the United States and its Western allies. The Kremlin quickly picked up on the Secretary of State’s supposedly random statement, announcing that Assad and his comrades would “accept” the rhetorical statement as a serious proposal that they would promise to implement, although obviously not in one week.

One day later, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Al-Halki told reporters that the embattled regime would “support” a Russian request that it hand over its chemical stockpile in order to avoid a looming American-led military strike. Without actually confirming in so many words that the regime indeed possesses such weapons, Halki added that the Russian proposal would be accepted “to spare Syrian blood.” Later Syria’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moualem echoed this, declaring the Assad regime only accepted the proposal because this would “remove the grounds for American aggression” against it.

To the surprise of many American and Israeli legislators, the Russian plan was subsequently endorsed by the White House. Later the Kremlin revealed that President Obama had discussed the idea of transferring Syria’s large chemical weapons arsenal to international control with Vladimir Putin when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in mid- September. The revelation led to some speculation that the American Commander in Chief had been bluffing all along when he threatened imminent military action against the despotic Assad regime. If so, the subterfuge worked—that is if the President’s actual goal all along was to attempt to peacefully extract Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles for transfer to a safer location.

Despite the Assad government’s reluctant agreement to surrender its large chemical weapons arsenal to international control, the Syrian dictator, who is fluent in English, continued to insist that rebel Sunni Muslim forces had been behind the August Sarin attack, not his own regime. In an interview with Fox News on September 18, Bashar Assad admitted for the first time that his regime possesses such weapons, but denied that they have been used against any of its own citizens. “We have evidence that terrorist groups used Sarin gas,” he maintained, adding that “The whole story doesn’t even hold together.” Later he claimed more bluntly that his regime “didn’t use any chemical weapons.” The following day, Russian President Putin echoed this highly dubious contention, averring that rebel Sunni Muslim militia commanders had somehow come into possession of such weapons in a sufficient quantity to deliver the deadly punch that took the lives of up to 1,500 people in a southern suburb of the Syrian capital city, Damascus. If so, they also managed to acquire the heavy rockets that were used to launch the assault—something Middle East security experts pointed out was very unlikely.
John Kerry reacted with open anger to the Syrian and Russian contentions, pointing out that a United Nation’s probe had determined that highly toxic Sarin nerve gas was in fact deployed in the mass attack, something the regime is known to possess in copious amounts. Speaking during an unscheduled appearance at the State Department’s regular daily press briefing about the assertion that rebel forces had carried out the vile assault, Kerry uttered only one word, “Please!” He went on to note that UN inspectors found that, “Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime, which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets (to deliver the deadly poisons to their targets) and the weapons. Or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into the territory they don’t control to fire rockets they don’t have, containing Sarin that they don’t possess, to kill their own people.” Then Kerry addressed the international community, saying Assad regime complicity was basically a given. “This isn’t complicated,” he bluntly stated. Finally he urged the United Nations to take the issue seriously, hinting that military action would remain a constant possibility until Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is verifiably dealt with.
When mentioning the certainty that toxic Sarin nerve agents were unleashed in the August 21 attack, the senior American diplomat was referring to a United Nations investigation report that was released on September 16. In it, the UN team reported they found ample evidence of the presence of Sarin gas in blood and urine samples of dozens of victims of the atrocious assault. The powerful poison was also discovered in sections of exploded rockets at the scene, the report said. While staying away from naming who might have been behind the attack, the UN inspectors did note that the Assad regime is known to possess both Sarin gas and the type of rockets that had landed in the rebel-held suburb, whereas there is no evidence that the insurgents have any Sarin nerve gas or the type of rockets that were deployed in the attack.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called the use of banned Sarin gas a “war crime and grave violation of the 1925 Protocol on chemical weapons.” He added that it was “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja, Iraq in 1988, and the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.” Seeming to hint that he might look the other way if the United States and its allies launch a military response against the Assad regime, he declared “The international community has a responsibility to ensure that chemical weapons will never be used again as an instrument of warfare…those responsible should be brought to justice as soon as possible.”

While publicly supporting the US decision to give diplomacy a chance to safely rid the Assad regime of its deadly chemical weapons stockpiles, Israeli government officials were said to be highly dubious that the Russian proposal would actually be transformed into a chemical weapons-free Syria. Although Prime Minister Netanyahu had earlier asked his cabinet ministers to remain silent on the Syrian crisis in public, Israeli media outlets said some had gone off the record to reveal their deep skepticism over the Russian initiative. Government skepticism was more publically expressed in other world capitals, with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman stating “The onus is very much now on the Russian government and the Assad regime to follow up in a way to show that the initiative is a serious and genuine offer.”

Israeli officials were heartened to hear that Western military action against the Syrian regime was not being taken entirely off the table, even though they have mixed feelings about its potential for success. The revelation that Western forces might still act was made by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who told reporters in Brussels, “I think it is essential for keeping momentum in the diplomatic and political process that the military option remain on the table.” However, he also made clear that it would be up to each NATO member country to individually decide how to respond to the Sarin nerve gas attack, adding he did not see any formal NATO role other than to continue to protect Turkey, a NATO member located due north of Syria. Russia insists that the threat of an American-led military strike be entirely removed before the diplomatic process can proceed.
Also in Belgium, a spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on September 21 that the international group had begun to receive partial information from Syrian officials concerning their chemical weapons arsenal. However a spokesman for the watchdog group made clear that “we expect more” from the Syrian regime. The group is expected to begin processing the information and assessing the quantity and quality of the chemical stockpiles within nine months, as spelled out in the Kremlin deal with John Kerry. Meanwhile the agreement could be scuttled by the United Nations Security Council if the Obama administration attempts to insert a credible threat against the Assad regime in any resolution about the issue, which Russia would be expected to veto.

General Israeli ambivalence about the final outcome of the blood-soaked Syrian civil war was reinforced when the respected HIS Jane’s defense consultancy firm based in London reported that around half of the estimated 100,000 rebel Islamic fighters struggling to overthrow the Assad regime are connected to extremist Sunni Muslim groups like Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The prospect that such groups might eventually seize power in Damascus, along with the regime’s significant weapons depots which includes advanced jet fighters and anti-aircraft and other threatening missile systems, is hardly welcomed in Jerusalem. The Jane’s report went on to reveal there are over 1,000 independent rebel factions fighting in the fray, with some at times battling each other for ultimate dominance on the warfront.

Israeli officials poured scorn on statements made in mid-September by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that his country had no intention of developing nuclear weapons either at this time or in the future. The Netanyahu government pointed out that the “moderate” Iranian politician has long publicly advocated that the Shiite Muslim clerical regime wear a more “moderate” mask when it addresses the world in public, while simultaneously moving full speed ahead with its uranium enrichment program, a central component in the development of nuclear warheads. The White House spokesman welcomed Rouhani’s statements, while noting that “actions are more important than words.”

John Kerry’s quick stopover in Jerusalem and Ramallah to assess the current status of clandestine peace talks going on between Israeli government and Palestinian Authority negotiators was generally ignored by both publics during the month. Analysts said most people are far more concerned over the growing prospects of a new regional war emanating from Syria than they are with the current state of a protracted peace process that has consistently failed to end the conflict between the two related peoples. New tensions between the two peoples surfaced when a 20 year old Israeli soldier was lured to his death on September 20 during the annual week-long Feast of Tabernacles. A young Palestinian man that he had worked with at a restaurant invited him for a drive before killing him and throwing his body down a 22 foot well. The murderer was later arrested, revealing that he had hoped to negotiate the release of his brother from an Israeli prison in return for the slain soldier’s body. Authorities said the prisoner is serving time for planting explosives and planning a suicide terrorist attack against Jewish civilians.
While the awful killing and talk of war marred the festive Feast of Tabernacles celebrations in Israel this year, thousands of Jews and Christians nevertheless took to the streets of Jerusalem as usual for an annual festival parade. Marchers rejoiced in God’s abundant goodness and His faithful protection over his Chosen People despite the continuing violence in the region. Many recalled that the Prophet Zechariah prophesied a time, apparently now on the horizon, when all the nations that will go up to war against Jerusalem in the biblical last days will instead send surviving remnants from their countries to the Lord’s special land. Their role this time will be “to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths” (Zech 14:18).


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

by Andrew Robinson (Paul’s pastor in England)

Dear praying friends:

It is with grateful thanks to God that I bring you this report. Pal is settled in his new home – his late grandfather’s bungalow, which is directly opposite his parent’s home. On September 19 the steel cast and clips were removed from his forearm. He met with the surgeon who said there is a floating mass in the elbow which needs to be removed. Paul will have a follow-up consultation next month. Paul has little movement in his forearm although he can move his fingers – praise the Lord! He has two rods in his hip and leg, one of which runs the full length of his femur. But, he should soon be off his crutch and on to a walking stick. Paul is still in quite a lot of pain but has a very positive attitude. He witnesses to the district nurses and physical therapists who attend him regularly at home and has been able to attend the last two Sunday morning services which has been a great joy. Last week, Paul took the children’s talk, which was a real blessing!

Your brother in Christ Jesus – Andrew Robinson


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

by Elad Benari (Arutz Sheva News)

Iran’s new President admitted on Tuesday that the Holocaust took place, in a sharp contrast to his predecessor.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Nazis committed a “reprehensible” crime against the Jewish people.

The remark came in response to Amanpour’s question if he accepted that the Holocaust occurred.

“I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect,” he said.

“But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable,” he added.

The comments are a complete turnaround from the rhetoric used by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who made it a habit to deny the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad said in one interview the Holocaust “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie” that Israel exploits to suppress Palestinian Authority Arabs.

He asserted in that interview that Jews “never were rulers of this land. They made a story named Holocaust, and the Palestinians have to pay the price for it.”

In another incident Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust was exaggerated in order to create a pretext for starting a war. He remarked that the Holocaust is a matter that must researched further.

Before he ended his presidency, Ahmadinejad boasted that his proudest moment was the Holocaust denial.

Rouhani’s comments in the CNN interview come several days after he avoided the subject of the Holocaust when asked about it by NBC’s Ann Curry.

Curry asked the Iranian President whether he believed the Holocaust was a historical fact, to which replied by saying he was a politician, not a historian.

His refusal to address the subject in that interview was one of the reasons cited by members of the Iranian Jewish community in the United States when they refused an invitation to meet Rouhani in New York.


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

by Gil Ronen (Arutz Sheva News)

MK Moshe Feiglin, a maverick Likud MK who has positioned himself for years as an alternative to Binyamin Netanyahu in Likud’s top seat, predicted Tuesday that a “catastrophe” is near and said that time is running out for him to take the nation’s leadership.”

“The goal is for me to be Prime Minister… Look right and left – is there another candidate? No. So I am the man. I need to be Prime Minister,”, he told the supporters who gathered at his Manhigut Yehudit faction’s annual sukkot meeting, held at Rabbi Uri Sherky’s Jerusalem home.

“The goal is to lead the Nation of Israel and quickly – we do not have time,” said Feiglin. “And we have nobody to blame. Understand this…I have no complaint toward Netanyahu. I hold the man in esteem. I respect the man. I know that from his consciousness and his conceptual world, he cannot reach any other solution and he will not reach any other solution. And the catastrophe will come. It is on its way.”

“And I have no right to complain against him. Only against myself. Because I have not brought myself to the point in which I can replace him.”

Summing up his speech to his supporters, he said: “I want to wish us two things. First of all, just as we have made headway on the Temple Mount until now, let us wish ourselves that on Pesach, six months from now, we will say – ‘Wow! A Pesach sacrifice is being sacrificed on the Temple Mount.”

“And the second thing that I want to wish upon all of us is that with the help of G-d, next year, we will not sit in… and I am saying this completely seriously… we will sit in the sukkah of the Prime Minister.”

Rookie MK Feiglin is widely recognized as a brilliant intellectual with highly original thoughts on numerous issues, including a libertarian philosophy that appeals to many non-religious people. His loyal Jewish Leadership faction within Likud has done much to shape the party’s list of MKs over the years. On the other hand, he is portrayed by opponents as a dangerous religious fanatic who needlessly stirs up trouble by insisting on his right to tour the Temple Mount – a right that was taken away from him by government orders.

While Feiglin’s high profile visits to the Mount, including an attempt to enter the Dome of the Rock itself, raised ire even among die-hard supporters of Jewish rights on the Mount, many admitted that the moves succeeded in making the Mount a focus of national attention and spurred many more Jews to begin to insist on their right to ascend it.

The Temple Mount is the site of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and is Judaism’s holiest place.

Yet despite that fact, Jews are banned from carrying out any forms of religious worship on the Mount, for fear of offending Muslim worshippers at the Al Aqsa Islamic complex which today sits upon the ruins of the Temples.

Muslim extremists regularly incite against Jewish visitors to the Mount, and Jewish visitors sometimes face harassment and physical attacks at the hands of Muslim worshippers.

There is, however, an added layer of controversy to such visits: a number of Orthodox rabbis oppose Jewish ascents to the Mount, citing concerns over the laws of ritual purity which are especially stringent on the Temple Mount and which, they say, could be violated by uneducated Jewish visitors. Treading on certain areas according to Jewish law can incur the punishment of kareit, loosely translated as “spiritual excommunication.”


Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

by Moshe Kempenski

Everyone loves the sukkah. Why?

Moshe Kempinski, author of “The Teacher and the Preacher”, is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.

What is it about the sukkah that is so captivating? What explains the sense of complete serenity one experiences when sitting within it? Why is it so hard to leave the sukkah at the end of the holiday?

We have experienced the glorious crowning of Hashem on Rosh Hashanah. As a result it is only after that declaration of G-d’s sovereignty that we feel empowered to begin that delicately intense trek into Hashem’s very throne room on Yom Kippur. When that time spent in the midst of the “awe and majesty” is over, we take leave with a great cry. We call out the “Shma Yisrael” declaration and ” then we “yell out” three times the phrase “Blessed is His Name forever and ever. Finally we cry out with all the strength we have left “Hashem is G-d, Hashem is G-d”, seven times.

The silence that follows that seventh cry is the silence of infinity. It could and should last forever because in that silence there is nothing but G-d. It is only the long shofar blow that brings us back down to earth.

We return home and eat something to replenish our bodies. Yet our souls yearn for more.

It is then that it begins. All throughout the neighborhoods you begin to hear the sound of hammers and of boards being raised. Everyone is out on their balconies and yards building their sukkah. Some are out buying the four species gathered together for this holiday.

“And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees (Etrog ), branches of palm trees( Lulav) and boughs of leafy trees ( Hadas) and willows of the brook ( aravot) , and you shall rejoice before Hashem your G-d for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40 )

Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Darshan, of the Musar Movement, painted the following picture in one of his lectures known as the Mussar Drashas,

“Imagine,” he preached, “that the Messiah would come to the cemetery and announce to all those interned in that place that they had been granted one more hour of life. ..What would those souls, granted with additional life, rush to do? With the knowledge acquired in the World of Truth, they would endeavor to do all the things that their Creator would desire. They would be doing mitzvot.”

“They would be completely focused on achieving Divine purpose and initiate Divine pleasure. After the intense and glorious days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur there is nothing that is more important.”

The sukkah goes a step deeper;

“And ye shall keep it a feast unto HaShem seven days in the year; … Ye shall dwell in Sukkot seven days; all that are home-born in Israel shall dwell in Sukkot; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in Sukkot, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am HaShem your G-d.”

Our sages disagree as to the meaning of the verse, “that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in Sukkot.” What is it that they are supposed to remember and know? Rabbi Akiva teaches that it refers to the actual booths that they lived in during their time in the wilderness. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the word Sukkot refers to the Clouds of Glory with which G-d protected the Jews.

Sukkot is the culmination and fulfillment of the spiritually redemptive process which began in the month of Elul . The Vilna Gaon writes that the heavenly Clouds of Glory that protected the people were restored on the 15th of Tishrei after having been removed following the sin of the golden calf in the month of Nisan. Such forgiveness by our Beloved can only engender in us a feeling of gratefulness and love. We then become engaged and preoccupied with our greatest source of joy, giving our Beloved what He truly desires.

This then becomes the great joy of being in a sukkah. This is why one experiences that great sense of calm and spiritual peace when just sitting in the sukkah.

There are three commandments of Hashem in which one is immersed in the mitzva itself in order to fulfill it. The three are the Mikveh (ritual bath), living in the land of Israel and sitting in the sukkah. With the Mikveh we return into the spiritual womb and in the land of Israel we become immersed in our destiny.

The Sukkah, however, becomes the “celestial embrace”, the Divine Hug, that empowers ,comforts and fills us with inner peace and joy. It is no wonder then , that we are told;

“and you shall rejoice before Hashem your G-d for seven days(Leviticus 23:40 )

Hag Sameach.

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