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

Archive for May, 2015


Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Arutz Sheva Staff

Hezbollah chief issues televised address, vows to take ‘responsibility and consequences’ of continued involvement in Syria.

The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah vowed this week his terrorist group would oust Sunni rebels from a region on the border with Syria, but declined to say when the assault might happen.

In a televised address, the Shia Islamist group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said rebel forces in the mountainous border area posed an unacceptable threat to Lebanon’s security.

“This issue needs radical treatment. We are talking about a real aggression that exists and is present,” Nasrallah said of the rebels in the Qalamoun area.

“The (Lebanese) state is not able to address this issue… so we will proceed with the necessary treatment and assume the responsibility and consequences.”

The Qalamoun region straddles the Syria-Lebanon border and was a stronghold of rebel forces until a major operation by Syrian regime troops backed by Hezbollah fighters last year.

While most of the region was recaptured, opposition fighters – including Sunni jihadists – remain entrenched in the mountainous area that runs directly along the border, which is porous and ill-defined.

From there, jihadists have launched attacks inside Lebanon, including in August 2014, when fighters from Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State group briefly overran the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal.

A truce ended the attack, but the groups took several dozen Lebanese security forces with them as hostages when they withdrew from the town into the surrounding mountains.

They have since executed four of them, and Al Nusra on this past week released a video showing some of the remaining 25 hostages warning they would pay the price of any operation in Qalamoun.

Speculation has been rife about a spring attack in Qalamoun by Hezbollah, which has bolstered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels in battles throughout the country.

On Monday, Islamist rebels led by Al Nusra launched a preemptive attack against Hezbollah positions in the region, and a source close to the Al Qaeda affiliate said “the battle in the region has begun”.

But Nasrallah declined to say when Hezbollah would launch any major operation in the area.

“There are preparations, and people are seeing that and speculating about it,” he said.

“But we haven’t announced anything official… and even when we start, we will not issue a statement,” he added.

“When we begin, the operation will speak for itself.”

Hezbollah has been a key force multiplier for Assad as he has battled an uprising that began with anti-government protests in March 2011 and spiraled into a bloody civil war after a regime crackdown.

Last Thursday, Nasrallah reaffirmed his group’s full commitment to defending the Assad regime, telling a senior Lebanese politician that “President Assad and his government cannot fall as it would also mean the fall of Hezbollah and the axis of resistance”

But the group’s involvement has worsened existing sectarian tensions in fragile Lebanon, which fought a civil war between 1975 and 1990.

The country’s Shia population largely backs Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, while Lebanon’s Sunnis have broadly supported the Sunni-led uprising against Assad.

Earlier Tuesday, former prime minister Saad Hariri, who heads Lebanon’s anti-Hezbollah bloc, warned against any operation in Qalamoun, suggesting it could threaten the country’s security and the lives of the security forces being held hostage.

Syria’s conflict has regularly spilled into Lebanon in the form of battles along the border and bombings against Hezbollah strongholds, and the country is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees.


Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

by Elad Benari (Arutz Sheva News)

Israeli authorities on Thursday opened the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, allowing 700 truckloads of goods to enter the region, the Ma’an news agency reported.

The head of the Commission for the Coordination of Goods into Gaza, Raed Fattouh, told the news agency that among the goods entering Gaza were construction materials for internationally-funded projects, fuel, and materials to improve the strip’s infrastructure, particularly roads.

Thursday’s entrance of diesel, building materials, aid, and supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing came after a series of closures due to Israeli national holidays, noted the report.

The crossing is scheduled to be closed again Friday and Saturday for the weekend.

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers continuously claim that Israel is imposing a “siege” on Gaza, despite the fact that Israel continues to transfer humanitarian aid, goods and construction materials into the region. Israel has continued to do so as terrorists from the region fire rockets at southern Israel.

The transfer of goods into Gaza came just hours after the UN’s new envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, blamed Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza for the slow pace of the region’s reconstruction following Operation Protective Edge last summer.

“I strongly believe that it will hurt the cause of the Palestinian people if division, if the lack of unity, is not addressed as soon as possible,” Mladenov told reporters in Gaza City.

“I hope that the United Nations will be able to support the efforts to strengthen this unity,” he added.

Hamas has already threatened another war if Gaza is not “rehabilitated” from the war against Israel, which it itself both started and used civilian areas as a base for conflict.


Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

UN Report: Iran Helping Houthis Since 2009
By Ben Ariel (Arutz Sheva News)

Iran has been shipping weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels since at least 2009, according to a confidential UN report seen by AFP, which reported about it on Friday.

The report indicates that Tehran’s support for the rebels dates back to the early years of the Shiite militia’s insurgency.

The report, by a panel of experts, was presented to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee last week as the United Nations seeks to broker an end to the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen and a return to peace talks.

The panel of experts reported on the findings of an investigation into the 2013 seizure by Yemeni authorities of an Iranian ship, the Jihan, that was carrying weapons.

The information collected by the experts “suggests that the Jihan case follows a pattern of arms shipments to Yemen by sea that can be traced back to at least 2009,” said the report seen by AFP.

One instance saw an Iranian fishing vessel attempt to secretly ship hundreds of anti-tank and anti-helicopter rockets to the rebels.

“The analysis further suggests that the Islamic Republic of Iran was the origin of these shipments and that the intended recipients were the Houthis in Yemen or possibly in some cases further recipients in neighboring countries,” the report says, according to the news agency.

“Current military Iranian support to Houthis in Yemen is consistent with patterns of arms transfers going back to more than five years to date,” it adds.

It is believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthi rebels to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran, however, denies accusations that it is meddling in Yemen and instead accuses Saudi Arabia of carrying out a military “aggression” against the troubled country after it launched an air campaign on March 26.

The Saudi-led coalition is seeking to restore the authority of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee Yemen in late March when the Houthis began marching on Aden, before capturing central parts of the city.

The experts’ report details six other incidents involving Iranian ships, five of which are said to have been carrying weapons bound for Yemen, according to AFP.

In one of the cases, the panel said it had received conflicting information about whether there were weapons on board the vessel.

In an incident dating back to April 2009, the crew of an unnamed Iranian vessel loaded crates of weapons onto Yemeni boats in international waters which were then delivered in batches and taken to a farm in Yemen for use by the Houthis.

And an Iranian fishing vessel was seized by Yemeni authorities in February 2011 carrying 900 Iranian-made anti-tank and anti-helicopter rockets intended for the rebels, the report said.

Iran is prohibited from selling weapons under a UN resolution adopted in 2007 that also instructs all countries to take action to prevent any arms flow from Iran.


Friday, May 1st, 2015

By Gedalyah Reback (Arutz Sheva News)

In a three-part interview with Dr. Shalom Salomon Wald, Arutz Sheva will explore his research of Jewish civilization. His recently published book, ‘Rise and Decline of Civilizations: Lessons for the Jewish People’ covers dozens of major topics in Jewish history and current affairs. Our interview attempts to focus on only a fraction of them.

In the first installment of the interview, we focus on the subject of how the Jewish people survived the plight of major existential threats. The following installments will focus on Israel’s modern ‘Golden Age’, and finally the issue of Jewish demography.

Shalom Salomon Wald was born in Italy but moved to Switzerland ahead of World War II. He can recall the aerial battles that took place just across the border from Basel. He worked with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) for 38 years, primarily in science and technology policy where he eventually became the Head of the OECD/DSTI Biotechnology Unit.

“I was always interested in history. I did study history in Basel but didn’t graduate in it. It’s a part of my life and I was affected by the Shoah,” Wald tells Arutz Sheva. “I remember the B-17s flying over Basel at the border to bomb Germany.”

Recently, Wald completed a five-years-long work in the study of the rise and fall of nations with a special focus on the future of Israel. The book, Rise and Decline of Civilizations: Lessons for the Jewish People, was supported by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI).

“It took me really just four or five years but a lot of the material in this book I learned before. I read Thucydides in Greek in grammar school. This was a book in the making for 60 years. I was working and writing on the drafts for five years. I don’t think any think tank in history has paid someone for five years a salary just for one book. It is a bit unusual because some people write a book once every year.”

Wald is extremely appreciative of the opportunity to actually write the book, which he felt was a subject begging for attention. One of the conclusions he drew from his research is that more often than otherwise, society makes itself vulnerable to collapse. Does Jewish history also reflect that idea?

“I drew this conclusion from world history. Looking at Jewish history I found it is largely true, but not entirely. We cannot forget that if Hitler had conquered the whole world then we would not be speaking here together today. We’d be all dead. If the Spanish Empire had conquered everything, there would be no Jews left – maybe some but not many.

A civilization cannot remain stagnant, implies Wald. It has to be able to deal with what comes at it and wherever it might venture.

“It is mostly true that if a civilization is widespread geographically, adaptable and flexible it survives. If it dies, it dies by suicide. This was certainly true of the Roman Empire. This idea permeates historians’ work in things such as ‘The Rise and the Fall of the Roman Empire’ which is still probably the most important book of history ever written, and Thucydides about the Peloponnesian War which is often quoted in reference to the conflict between the US and China.”

In the latter scenario he references is the so-called Thucydides Trap, where an established power is alarmed by the rise of another power, creating an inevitable confrontation. Analysts go back and forth arguing the merits of applying the theory to the two countries in the modern era.

Might Jewish civilization have faced more external threats in its history simply because it has been around so long that such threats might have been inevitable? Wald thinks this is a tough gauge to judge by.

“There are short civilizations that faced dangers and were distinguished. There is still discussion why the Easter Island civilization (in the Pacific) was wiped out. It only existed for 300 or 400 years.”

What seems to be more critical in his mind is Jewish civilization’s geographic spread. Despite the trauma that causes the Diasporas in the first place, those who survived the persecution of Assyria, Babylon and Rome did not recentralize in one specific location. Jews spread throughout the Persian Empire when it conquered the Babylonians. Jews were already spread out in the Mediterranean prior to the series of wars with Rome. Did being spread out really help?

“Definitely, but this is a delicate issue,” says Wald. “It is an obvious truth that if an enemy destroyed one branch of your people, he couldn’t destroy everyone.”

This is not to say he is critical of the concept of Zionism by any means. The State of Israel has asserted itself as the steady center of Jewish life and a major identity marker for those perhaps somewhat less attached to other Jewish aspects of their lives.

“It’s the theory of not putting all your eggs in one basket. You need to qualify this conclusion today because of the importance of the chief basket, Israel. Losing it could have dramatic effects on the rest of the Jewish people. For instance, I know many American Jews would not want to see it this way but I don’t believe American Judaism would survive easily. I see a lot of fragilities in American Judaism.”

A similar scenario unfortunately occurred after the Jewish-Roman wars starting with the Great Revolt that eventually led to the destruction of the Second Temple. Next came the not-so-often-mentioned Kitos War. Finally, the Bar Kokhba revolt challenged Rome a third time, only to result in devastation. But Hadrian’s march of blood and tears went northeast, toward modern Iraq. At the time, the region was ruled by the Parthian Empire centered in Iran.

“If Hadrian had vanquished the Parthian Empire – which he tried and failed – it would have been very difficult for Judaism to survive. The elaboration of the Talmud Bavli [Babylonian Talmud] was an absolute precondition for Jewish survival. There were some clashes with the Parthians but Hadrian understood he couldn’t win.”

Thanks to a centuries-long relationship between Jews and Persians, the Persian Empire – in whatever form it had – was far more often than not a friend to the remnant of the Jewish people. Defeating Hadrian was certainly as critical if not more so than Cyrus the Great’s overthrow of the Babylonians as mentioned in the Bible.

“They defended us by the way. The Persians from the time of Cyrus until the end of the Babylonian Empire defended and protected the Jews for over 800 years. There’s an entry in the Talmud Bavli where the question is raised, ‘Where can Jews sell iron to non-Jews?” Jews must do nothing to promote murder, says Wald, who clarifies they were discussing the worrisome notion this material would be used as weapons, especially against fellow Jews. “Rav Ashi says ‘we sell iron to the Persians who defend us.’”

This is also emblematic of another major phenomenon on Jewish history, which has been an unintended result of being a historically smaller people – alignment with superpowers. Today, the major partner for Israel is the United States. Over time in the intervening centuries between King Solomon’s death and the destruction of the First Temple, alliances shifted for the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.

“Certainly it is. All small countries and small peoples tried to have a big protector,” says Wald. “All savvy Jewish leaders tried to get the help of some large power.”

Superpowers’ relations are not the only things that define Jewish civilization by any means. In Part II, Wald will cover the topic of what he perceives as Israel’s modern-day, under-appreciated Golden Age, including comparing it to its massive output of linguistic achievements and culture.

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