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A Hard Left Turn Against Israel in the U.S. Congress 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Decades of support for Israel among Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress have created a win-win of countless advantages for both nations over the years. For example, in multilevel ventures ranging from intelligence sharing and technology to bilateral trade agreements that soar into the billions, cooperation is imperative for both nations. 

Although voting records have ebbed and flowed in Congress, they remain a steady pro-Israel reality as seen with an increase in foreign aid for Israel’s security, also a bonus for the U.S. within a more dangerous world. National elections in the last few years, though, have presented more hurdles within Congress for Israel’s safety and security.

In 2018, four female Democrats won seats in the House of Representatives: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI). All four freshmen women quickly made themselves famous once they were sworn in by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the following January. They dubbed themselves the “Squad,” were reelected in 2020 for their second term in the House, and are campaigning for their third term.

The Squad is well known for their radical, progressive stance, their inflammatory opinions—often against their Democrat colleagues—and their social media stardom. Ocasio-Cortez once accused Israel of massacring Gazans, and Omar alleged that Israel “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.”

Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress and enters with the most political experience on the Squad, having served in the Michigan legislature. Now running for her third term in Michigan’s newly drawn Congressional District 12, she is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group once committed to Israel but now supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

The congresswoman’s latest demonstration of staunch anti-Israel bias is her resolution—proposed just last week—to recognize Nakba Day. Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) is how Arabs who call themselves Palestinians describe Israel’s Declaration of Independence as a sovereign nation on May 14, 1948. In their eyes, the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland was a catastrophic event. The likelihood that Tlaib’s resolution will pass is not high. However, it codifies the first inflammatory salvo into a legislative pursuit.

Lest you want to dismiss politics all together, it is wise to recognize the outright propaganda taking place among a small, confrontational, and growing Democrat segment of the U.S. House of Representatives. All members of the Squad signed on to the resolution. 

Tlaib leads the way in Congress with her boldly anti-Semitic opinions. The resolution, devoid of the facts, rests on a rewrite of Israeli and Arab history. It is just the latest in her consistent efforts to delegitimize Israel. She is completely in favor of the BDS movement, which is considered economic warfare against Israel. 

Two outsized fabrications fill her Resolution narrative. The first accuses Israel of forcing 290,000 Arabs to leave Palestine at the beginning of the 1948 War of Independence. The facts: Five Arab armies attacked Israel, sending out orders for the Arab population to get out of the way so the military could fight and win, and then the civilians could return. A Jordanian newspaper, Ad-Difaa, later published a refugee’s statement made on September 6, 1954, which claimed that the Arab government told them: “Get out so that we can get in. So, we got out, but they did not get in.”

An expulsion did indeed take place during Israel’s War of Independence, but not the one Rep. Tlaib claimed. Arab and Muslim countries forced out about 820,000 Jews, seized their homes and businesses, and confiscated their belongings. Israel—the new, modern Jewish homeland—welcomed 586,000 refugees. In opposite fashion, when Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben-Gurion read the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, it included an invitation to Arabs to stay in their homes and become equal citizens.

The entire Squad could have confirmed or changed their opinions in August 2019. In off-election years, every first-year representative of the U.S. Congress is invited on a geopolitical trip hosted by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). An invitation is extended to all freshmen regardless of outlook. It is an educational trip. 

Had the Squad joined the 32 other freshman Democrats in 2019, the four women’s schedules would have included briefings and meetings with both Palestinian and Israeli leaders—and thus considerable exposure to a highly diverse mixture of opinion and thought. The Squad decided not to take advantage of what would have been an excellent educational experience. Instead, they continued to maintain a brand of prejudice that keeps the anti-Israel narrative on high octane. 

The 2022 elections hold some hope. The Squad is creating waves with their anti-police/anti-ICE stance and by advocating the phasing out of federal prisons. Matt Bennett, executive vice president of the Third Way and cofounder of Shield PAC, helps moderate Democrats. He calls the Squad “deeply problematic for Democrats running in competitive districts and states.” 

Tlaib’s re-election campaign, for instance, is drawing some heavy hitters to halt her animosity against Israel, at least in the United States Congress. In December 2021, AIPAC finally inaugurated a political action committee that donates to Democrats, Republicans, and congressional candidates who are pro-Israel. The AIPAC PAC is supporting Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who hopes to unseat Rashida Tlaib. When the Detroit Free Press asked Winfrey about Israel, she responded, “I think we all know what terrorism looks like … and that war doesn’t benefit anyone. Of course, I support Israel.” 

Campaign monies and politics are distasteful to many of us. However, when it comes to issues like standing with Israel via bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress, it places us in a position to promote Israel’s national security and, in turn, ours. 

An AIPAC quote offers perspective: “Our goal is to make America’s friendship with Israel so robust, so certain, so broadly based, and so dependable that even the deep divisions of American politics can never imperil that relationship and the ability of the Jewish state to defend itself.”

In closing, political advocacy has spiritual precedence. Several of our biblical patriarchs and matriarchs were lobbyists. Moses appealed to Egypt’s Pharoah; Queen Esther to King Ahasuerus. Their advocacy saved their people. Daniel maintained his faith while holding a prominent position of trust in a foreign government. A day will come when Isaiah 9:6 is a reality: “And the government will be on His shoulders.”

Until that day, as believers, let us find expanded ways to interact with our government to stand with God’s chosen people and the Land He calls His own. 

Join CBN Israel this week as we pray for continued bipartisan support for Israel:

  • Pray for the upcoming elections in November and that we will collectively vote for leaders who believe in supporting Israel. 
  • Pray for Christians to become even more engaged, educated, and active in their political advocacy for Israel and the Jewish people.
  • Pray that U.S. leaders will be wise and educated enough make decisions that are in the best interest of both Israel and the Palestinian people. 
  • Pray for young people in the U.S.—especially in the Christian and Jewish communities—that they will be careful not to mindlessly accept biased views and policies against Israel.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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Business Development: Claudia’s Story

“My parents had no money, and so I found a way to make money myself,” Claudia said, remembering back to her impoverished childhood. At the age of eleven, she taught herself to sew and began making dolls to sell. 

But her life continued to be an uphill battle after her mother tragically passed away, followed soon by her grandmother. Claudia struggled to find a career that could support herself. 

Life improved for Claudia when she met her husband and start a family. She desired to stay at home with her three young daughters—but she knew she still needed an income, and starting a business felt daunting. 

Thankfully, friends like you were there. Through CBN Israel’s business development program, Claudia was able to get all of her questions answered through one-on-one mentoring while being guided through the process of starting her own business.

Today Claudia is successfully selling her handcrafted dolls throughout Tel Aviv. “Thank you … for all of your help,” she says, “I greatly appreciate your expert guidance and for helping me better understand how to successfully run my business. May God bless you!”

The needs are great in the Holy Land. You can give help and hope to aging Holocaust survivors, terror victims, lonely refugees, and others who are struggling. 

Your support can provide a lifeline for those in need across Israel—offering groceries, housing, financial aid, medical care, and more. 

Please join us in reaching out to others

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Devotional: As the Mountains Surround Jerusalem

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 125:1-2 NKJV).

Psalm 125 is the sixth psalm of the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120–134). Pilgrims sang these psalms as they approached the Temple at times of pilgrimage, especially the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles).

The psalmists often used realities that people knew to illustrate and articulate what God or people were like. The Bible and the biblical mind functioned in concrete ideas and images instead of abstract ones, as we tend to do. The psalmist in Psalm 125 described those who trust in God as unmovable as Mount Zion. What provided such surety?

When David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital, the city resided on a hill known as the eastern hill; the Bible refers to the northern part of this hill as Mount Zion. The eastern hill is surrounded by hills higher than it. People settled on the eastern hill instead of one of the higher hills due to a water source, the Gihon Spring, a karstic spring that continues to produce water, at the base of the eastern hill. The city remained on the eastern hill until the eighth century B.C. 

The population grew and began to settle on the western hill—what today is referred to as Mount Zion—which was included in the walls of the city toward the end of the eighth century B.C. At that time, the western hill rose above several of the surrounding hills. Thus, Psalm 125 was written when the city only existed on the eastern hill, for only then did the mountains surround Jerusalem. 

It sounds beautiful. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people.” That is, until you stand on the eastern hill and realize that strategically all the other hills look down on you. The position is vulnerable. Attacking armies could position themselves on the higher hills looking down into the city. In such a vulnerable position, what made Mount Zion unmovable; what would protect it? God served as its protection, and therefore, Mount Zion cannot be moved. He defends Jerusalem—and those who trust in Him. 

Trusting God sounds easy. Our world often makes it difficult. The question gets asked to us many times a day, “Has God really said?” “Can God truly protect and deliver?” “Can I really trust God?” 

The inhabitants and pilgrims to Jerusalem when it sat on the eastern hill were confronted by similar questions. It seemed too vulnerable. Yet, God protected. He takes care of those who do good and choose to obey Him. Trusting in God is not a mere mental exercise. It means that we do what He commands, confident that He will prove true to His word. 

PRAYER

Father, we trust in You. You are our defender and protection. You repay those who obey You and choose to do good. Amen.

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Yom Yerushalayim: Israel’s Jerusalem Day

By Julie Stahl

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7 NKJV).

For centuries, the Jewish people had been in exile. For a generation, they had been without access to their ancestral city. Yet for six unforgettable days in early June 1967, surrounded by enemies, Israel stood alone and changed history forever.

By 1967, Israel had already fought two major wars, and in May of that year, Arab nations joined together with a stated goal to wipe Israel off the map. Less than 20 years after the birth of the modern Jewish nation, Israel was on the verge of extinction.

Israel, along with Jewish people around the world, thought they were facing another Holocaust. In Tel Aviv and Haifa, they had turned parks into potential graveyards and dug mass graves. But God had other plans.

After only six days (June 5-10, 1967), Israel had tripled in size—beating the combined armies of Syria, Egypt, and Jordan to win the Golan Heights, the Sinai Desert, and biblical Judea and Samaria. Perhaps the pinnacle of their success was reuniting the city of Jerusalem under Israeli-Jewish sovereignty for the first time in nearly 2,000 years.

It was on the third day of the war that Moshe Kempenski, an Orthodox Jewish author and Jerusalem shop owner, said he realized that he wasn’t just reading and studying the Bible, but he had actually experienced the fulfillment of prophecy. A Canadian teenager at the time, Kempenski said he knew on that day he would one day become a Jerusalemite.

“When I fully began to realize the significance of being here and my child playing in a Jerusalem park 30 years later, I recall wondering if my son, Yoni, was one of the children that Zechariah saw in his vision,” says Kempenski.

Kempenski is referencing the passage in Zechariah where God promises, “Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play” (Zechariah 8:4-5 NLT).

During all those years of exile, the Jewish people always ended their holiday prayers with “Next Year in Jerusalem!” The Holy City, though far away and unattainable to most for all those years, was still in their hearts and minds.

So, when Commander Motta Gur uttered those famous words, “the Temple Mount is in our hands” (Har HaBayit B’Yadeinu), Jewish people around the world knew something miraculous had happened.

But despite Israel’s clear win in a war it hadn’t asked for, the international community never recognized Israeli sovereignty over united Jerusalem. After the war, Israel returned religious authority over the beloved Temple Mount to Jordan, who still manages it.

To this day, only Muslims are permitted to pray on the site where two Jewish Temples once stood in biblical times.

In 1980, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the Jerusalem Law, which stated that all of Jerusalem (including the eastern part) was Israel’s united capital. Thirteen countries removed their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem after the UN passed a resolution declaring Israel’s law null and void. (Costa Rica and El Salvador moved their embassies back to Jerusalem in 1984 and then returned to Tel Aviv in 2006.)

In December 2017, in a historic move, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and on May 14, 2018—70 years after U.S. President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel—Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Guatemala moved its Embassy to Jerusalem shortly thereafter.

Jerusalem Day is celebrated in the city with a giant parade of Israeli flags that winds through downtown Jerusalem and ends at the Western Wall.

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.

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The Long-Term Effects of Palestinian Disinformation

 By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Comparing the Palestinian Authority (PA) disinformation and United States’ First Amendment is a lesson in dictatorship versus democracy. The contrast also includes Israel’s freedoms, which are set out in its Declaration of Independence to be “based on the precepts of liberty, justice, and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets.”

Unfortunately for the Palestinian people at large and for Israelis, the policies of 87-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are a lesson in what happens when a small group of people with an anti-freedom or a jaundiced agenda are in charge. Despite Palestinian “elections,” Mr. Abbas has governed Palestinians since 2005. An election was due to be held in 2009 for another four-year term, but the Palestinian Central Council decided instead to extend his term indefinitely. Thus, he has now been serving for 17 years. 

Abbas has not languished financially in his years as president. Corruption is unbridled. Worth more than $100 million, Abbas has built a 13-million-dollar mansion in Ramallah, a thriving Palestinian city of around 40,000 residents. Luxury hotels, bars, businesses, foreign diplomatic missions, and a state-of-the-art cultural center mark the more liberal society and business atmosphere of what is considered the de facto capital of “Palestine.” It is good to know that Ramallah is doing well. Nevertheless, Palestinians are growing more discontent since Abbas is denying them the right to vote and to possibly elect younger, more progress-minded leaders who want the betterment of all Palestinians. However, embedded internal conflicts between Hamas and the PA are nearly impossible to overcome. 

On the Palestinian deception front, in a 2008 presidential decree, Abbas merged the General (state) Information Service and the Palestinian News Agency into one institution called the Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA). Thus, Abbas’s disinformation agency is WAFA, which is a direct conduit for him. Twisting words into disinformation or speeches with best-selling conspiracy theories, though, is not new among Palestinian leaders. 

Disinformation includes an extensive list of lies about Israel based on the 1964 Palestinian Authority Charter calling for the obliteration of Israel. The Charter still contains the destruction of Israel as its goal. This encompasses not only glorifying terrorism and shahids (martyrs) but also broadcasting media disinformation and inciting emotion—with deadly results. 

One solution against such disinformation is Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), founded in 1996. An Israeli nonprofit, the PMW focuses on translating Palestinian speeches, education, books, and policies into English. Staffed by eleven native Arabic speakers, the group achieves its mandate for truth, translating as much as possible as an asset against Palestinian lies for governments, legislators, and media worldwide to correct false narratives about Israel itself and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Biden administration favors re-starting discussions about the two-state solution, yet negotiations are a relic of a failed past for both U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers. For example, Mr. Abbas has refused direct negotiations with Israelis since 2009 despite over-the-top concessions being offered—which he then rejected. Without a reliable Palestinian leader willing to sit down with an Israeli prime minister, any restart of peace talks is pointless. Here’s why:

Abbas’s goal is not peace. It is incitement for power through deception—much like Joseph Goebbels, who served as Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda. At least, Goebbels’ title was an honest one to describe the mixture of lies against the Jewish people leading to the Holocaust. Let us examine a few of the thousands of pieces of disinformation and incitement uncovered through PMW’s skilled Arabic translators.

School children are taught to honor suicide bombers and see them as role models. A high school in Tulkarem planted a garden for them. Twenty-eight schools are named for terrorists and three for Nazi collaborators. Here’s an example of how that is done: In August 2000, a suicide bomber was led by a female accomplice, Ahlam Tamimi, to the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem. Fifteen Israelis were murdered in that bombing, including seven children. Yet in 2014, a Palestinian Authority TV host sent her “best wishes” to “our glorious” prisoner. The greeting was part of a visit called In a Fighter’s Home, where the TV host visited the family of Muhammad Wael Daghlas, who planned the earlier attack, recruited Tamimi, and is currently serving 15 life sentences. 

In 2020, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religious Affairs (which decides content for Muslim sermons) condemned the Abraham Accords, saying, “There is nothing that harms Palestine … more than making an alliance with the Jews” and that “obedience to the Jews … will lead the nation to weakness, lawlessness, humiliation and shame.”

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Palestinian media again took the opportunity to describe Israelis as Nazis and as being akin to Hitler in their treatment of Palestinians. Incredibly, they equate Zionists with Nazis.

Paying the families of terrorists (the “pay to slay” program) is still alive and well. An opinion piece in Newsweek reported that a 2019 Abbas speech given at the United Nations included these words: “Even if I had only one penny, I would’ve given it to the families of the martyrs, prisoners and heroes.” In just the first five months of 2019, the Palestinian Authority paid $66 million to terrorists and their families! I daresay the money would have benefitted the ailing Palestinian healthcare system.

Abbas’s masterful use of disinformation began early. He earned his Ph.D. in Moscow during the Cold War. The title of his dissertation was “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.” His mentor was Egyptian-born Yassar Arafat, who manipulated the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian Authority with such an effective use of propaganda that he shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with former Israeli Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East” after the 1993 Oslo Accords agreement. 

Peace was not part of what motivated Arafat. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA)—another excellent resource for exploring disinformation—reports that, with Abbas as his sidekick for 40 years, Arafat engineered the 1972 murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Often called the “Modern Father of Terrorism,” Arafat planned airline hijackings; bombings; the 1973 murder of the American ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel; and the 1985 takeover of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, where wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly Jew, was shot dead and thrown overboard. Later, he instigated the Second Intifada, where more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered. He died on November 11, 2004, in Paris. And who should succeed him in the PA? None other than his collaborator in terror, Mahmoud Abbas. 

Palestinian disinformation is disastrously effective. Anti-Semitism is marching across the world in jackboots of propaganda, in lockstep with the Nazi past. 

Do Christians have a role? Absolutely. When the world’s six hundred million evangelicals commit to educating themselves, taking a political stand, and speaking the truth about Israel and the Jewish people, we can one day stand before our Lord Jesus, a Jew, and declare that we did what we could. 

Please join with CBN Israel this week in praying that truth will prevail:

  • Pray that Christians in the U.S. will stand boldly for Israel and the Jewish people. 
  • Pray that we will have vigilance in spotting purveyors of lies and speak out against them. 
  • Pray that more media will be convicted to disseminate the unbiased truth. 
  • Pray that believers will find the courage to be political advocates for Israel. 
  • Pray for the safety of media and commentators who are truth-tellers. 

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Weekly Devotional: Go Into the Wilderness

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 

So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place (1 Kings 19:4-9 NKJV).

The dry and arid wilderness south of Beersheva where Elijah traveled is harsh and inhospitable. God takes people into the wilderness in the Bible. It serves as His classroom. Yet, often before they encounter Him in the wilderness, they find themselves overcome with the despair of their situation. 

The wilderness functioned as a place of self-confrontation. Elijah came face-to-face with himself in the wilderness. How? Because in the wilderness, one meets silence. It brings you into contact with yourself. Sometimes we have to confront ourselves before we can encounter God.

Have you noticed that our world fills our lives with noise and busyness? God often had to lead the prophet outside of civilization to quiet the noise; then the prophet could hear Him. 

We don’t need much in life. We think we do, but when we lose our health, source of support, and/or shelter, we realize what really matters. The desert reduces one to the bare essentials. It returns us to soft, malleable clay that God can shape. 

There are no self-made people in the desert. Elijah had just called fire down from heaven. He ran to Jezreel before the chariot of Ahab thinking that he would have a warm reception. Instead, Jezebel threatened to kill him, so he ran to the desert. 

He needed to be reminded that a self-made person does not exist in the desert. The angel of the Lord provided His nourishment. A person who has spent time in the desert realizes how small and powerless they truly are. 

The desert can also remove our sharp edges. Once we confront ourselves, we can finally hear God—and return to allowing Him to teach and shape us. We can learn the lessons He desires to impart to us. But we have to go into the wilderness.

PRAYER

Father, no one likes the hardship of the wilderness, but that’s where You teach and shape us. May we learn what You want to impart. May we hear Your voice and grow into the servants You want us to be. Amen.

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The Nakba, the Temple Mount, and a Magnanimous Tragedy

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Last Friday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with President Joe Biden at the White House. Their May 13 meeting focused in part on restoring order after hostilities intensified at the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site for 3,000 years, and the world’s most contentious piece of real estate.

The White House meeting took place just a week after Israel’s Independence Day (May 4) and right before May 15, the date when Arabs annually recall the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland as a “catastrophe” (nakba). Of course, Nakba did not have to be the Arab perception of that day. Had they chosen their own statehood 74 years ago, they could have marked May 15 with celebrations of success all these years. Instead, they continued to view the new Jewish homeland of Israel as a disaster, an intractable opinion that embedded itself into the Arabs’ negative generational narrative.

Indeed, Nakba rightly rests on the shoulders of the Arab League, which rejected an Arab state for their people that had been affirmed by the United Nations Partition Plan vote. Resolution 131 created two independent states—Arabic and Jewish—for two peoples. More than seven decades later, most recent U.S. presidents offer reassurances about their support for the two-state solution that could have been enacted by Arabs in 1947. 

In his meeting with Jordan’s king, Biden did the same. Although the Partition Plan was not perfect (it was more favorable for the Arabs), Jewish leaders nevertheless accepted the plan, deciding to make the best of it. The Arab refusal of the two-state solution, plus their victim mentality and hate, reflected tragically skewed thinking.  Rather than celebrating this newly bestowed independence, the Arab nations declared war on the nascent Jewish nation almost immediately—a choice that to this day has had dreadful consequences. 

The White House readout on May 13 mentioned that Biden also reaffirmed Jordan’s role as the custodian of the Temple Mount and Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. 

If the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, one might ask why Israeli Prime Minister Bennett was not involved in the meeting between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and President Biden? After all, Solomon’s Temple was completed in 957 B.C. and the Second Temple in 516 B.C.—both clearly predating the Dome of the Rock shrine, which was completed in 692 A.D. and the al-Aqsa Mosque in 715 A.D.

The answer is found in the 1967 Six-Day War—in a consequence unwittingly brought on by Israel itself. After the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) miraculously reunited Jerusalem—their ancient capital—the soldiers were filled with awe when they touched the Western Wall. Triumphantly, they ran the Israeli flag up a pole, and the IDF chaplain sounded his shofar. Yet shortly afterward, the distinguished Israel Defense Minister Moshe Dayan made a magnanimous yet questionable decision. He ordered the Israeli flag to be taken down and gathered the Jewish leadership together. Heated discussions followed. Finally, Dayan finally won out: The Jordanian Muslim Waqf Foundation would continue its administration of the Temple Mount, with Israeli police added to monitor and provide security. 

By making sizable concessions to Muslim worshippers, Dayan believed such actions would ultimately prevent unrest and save lives. His statement at the Western Wall expressed high hopes: “We have returned to the holiest of our places, never to be parted from them again. … We did not come to conquer the sacred sites of others or to restrict their religious rights, but rather to ensure the integrity of the city and to live in it with others in fraternity.” 

Unfortunately, his laudable intentions quickly mutated into more than a half-century of controversy, violence, and defamatory Arab politics and Islamic religious fervor. The 32-acre Temple Mount remains a tinderbox of contention. Not only do Palestinian leaders claim that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, but many Arabs also stoke the fires of hate with the blatant lie that the “al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger from the Jews.” This is libel, not fact—libel spread by Muslims wanting to unleash bloodshed against Israelis.

Moshe Dayan’s attempt at allowing religious freedom in his 1967 proposal to the Jordanians unfortunately did not have the exact intended outcomes he and others hoped for. 

Israel had won its War of Independence, although Jewish defenders in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City could not withstand the Arab League’s superior-quality weapons and greater number of soldiers. On May 27, 1948, the Jews who survived escaped to the “New City,” where Israel held on to four-fifths of the capital. Then in 1950 the Jordanians annexed east Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, again a rampage of unending conflict.

Israel has faced its own Nakba, saturated with 74 years of terror and intransigence from past (now present-day) Palestinian Arab leadership that chose victimhood instead of victory.

More of Israel’s own catastrophe had come to light when the IDF liberated the Old City in 1967. In the 19 years between the War of Independence and the Six- Day War, the Waqf Foundation had allowed unfettered destruction in most of the Jewish quarter, including 35 synagogues, with only one left standing. Jordanians desecrated the sacred Mount of Olives cemetery and used the broken stones for roads and latrines. In echoes of Nazi tactics, Jordanians also burned countless books and Torah scrolls. To be sure, in an opposite spirit, now for 55 years the Temple Mount’s Muslim structures have not been vandalized by Jews. It has been and is protected by Israeli police.

Despite Moshe Dayan’s misplaced hope, despite Jordan’s Waqf Foundation, and despite the Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to match Israeli sacrifices and compromises for peace, Israel is indisputably a land of miracles. Seventy-four years ago, Ben-Gurion’s May 14 announcement in a small Tel Aviv art gallery enshrined God’s promises: 

“I am going to take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms” (Ezekiel 37:21-22). 

Join CBN Israel this week in recalling the reliability of our promise-keeping God:

  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the nation of Israel, and the surrounding region. Pray for Israel’s leaders to create strategies to maintain Israel’s sovereignty.
  • Pray for the Christian community to remain steadfast in prayer and action on behalf of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community.
  • Pray for repair of Israel and Jordan’s relationship as codified in their peace treaty.
  • Pray for Palestinian leaders to accept positive influences from Abraham Accords nations.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Victim of Terrorism: Alexander’s Story

Alexander’s family lives in the lovely seacoast city of Ashdod, located in southern Israel. But due to its close proximity to Gaza, it has become a target of rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists. 

At age 37, Alexander is a married father with three children. Over a year ago, his family traded apartments in the same building with his mother-in-law, a move that seemed to work for all of them. They spent the next year updating and renovating the apartment, despite COVID-19 delays, and replacing everything. They were waiting until it was finished before moving in. 

One day, Alexander’s mother-in-law was coming home from work, when suddenly an emergency siren went off. She froze as a rocket hit her family’s building, destroying their home and belongings in an instant. While the family was grateful that no one was hurt, they were severely shaken by losing everything and having to start over. And Alexander’s mother-in-law was traumatized; and still experiences terrible anxiety attacks. Where could this family turn?

Thankfully, friends like you came to their rescue through CBN Israel. Compassionate donors provided emergency funds to cover food and basic essentials. They also offered the family trauma counseling, giving them comfort and encouragement to move forward. Alexander exclaimed, “Thank you for your love and kindness. You have no idea how much it means to us!”

And your gift to CBN Israel can bless other terror victims—while offering groceries, housing, financial assistance, and job training to those in need. Many in the Holy Land are barely surviving. Your gifts can bring hope and crucial aid to refugees, elderly Holocaust survivors, lone soldiers, and more. 

Please help us reach out to those in crisis situations!

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Devotional: Forgive to Be Forgiven

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 

Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:23-35 ESV). 

This parable should trouble us. Why? Because this teaching of Jesus does not fit well with many contemporary theological views about salvation. Yet, Jesus plainly states that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. The debt God forgives us means little if we do not show mercy toward others. That should bother us.

We often live as if what truly matters is God forgiving us—but that is not the message of Jesus. If we do not allow the mercy that God shows us to lead us to show mercy to others, then we should expect God’s wrath against us. This is what happened to the servant who chose not to forgive his fellow servant. According to Jesus, we cannot love God without loving our neighbor.

Think about the world we live in. How much differently would it look if we all showed mercy to others as God has shown mercy to us? The parables of Jesus convey His theology, how He viewed God, and how we should live. But far too often, we misunderstand or gloss over aspects of His teaching, because they do not align with our own theology. Jesus commanded His disciples to “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Can people look at our lives and see God’s mercy? Is it clear to them that we forgive others because God has forgiven us? If not, can we truly consider ourselves followers of Jesus? 

Forgiveness is not easy; it is a choice. But if we truly appreciate God’s mercy, and our need for that mercy, we must then show mercy toward others in the same way. If we do not, we run the risk of facing His judgement against us. Therefore, extend the mercy you have received.

PRAYER

Father, You have been so merciful to us; may we show that same mercy and forgiveness to others. Amen.

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We Cannot Ignore Iran’s Global Goals

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Winston Churchill’s paraphrase of Santayana’s famous saying could easily be applied to Iran’s malicious behavior in world affairs. 

Much of what we hear about Iran today concerns its obsessive ambition to join the world’s exclusive, nine-nation nuclear club—able to launch deadly attacks against enemies near and far. Whether or not they’re successful in that goal, their Supreme Leader—Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who rules the Islamic Republic of Iran—cleverly carries out additional evil strategies bolstered by the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

Iran’s constitution instructs the IRGC to pursue an ideological mission of jihad in God’s way … extending sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.” Since 1979, the IRGC’s power has expanded worldwide, enabling it to carry out the regime’s revolutionary, militant Shia Islamist religious ideology both inside Iran and out. 

Today, Iran is the world’s largest exporter of terror. We simply cannot ignore its “diplomatic” efforts to recruit more surrogates like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Houthis. And these surrogates are closer than we think. 

The 2015 Obama/Biden Iran deal has failed, and yet the Biden administration insists on trying to resurrect it. Whether the Iran deal lives or dies, our leaders and negotiators must revisit the history books for a refresher course on the past 43 years. They paint a dangerous picture of the Iranian leadership’s patterns of aggression, particularly against our military. The U.S. and other nations could benefit, too, from revisiting one of Islam’s concepts, taqiyah, which gives them permission to conceal their own beliefs for their own benefit.

Even if the Iran deal is abandoned, Iranian threats against our country remain. Let us take a look at Iran’s history with the United States. Beginning in 1979, with the hostage-taking of American embassy civilians in Tehran, the 444-day Iran hostage crisis set off a shocking U.S. (and international) predicament. Finally, the hostages were set free on January 20, 1981, the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. 

From taking American hostages in Iran until now, the Iran Revolution has relentlessly pursued its goal to reestablish a caliphate to dominate the world. Iran’s combative hatred for Israel extends to the entire Middle East, which views Iran as a threat. They are right to do so. Israel is a prime target, but the Sunni Muslim nations are despised by the Shia Muslim Iranian leaders who want their brand of Islam to dominate the region and the world! 

Indeed, Iran has kept the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, in its crosshairs for the last 43 years. The horrific 1983 suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, revealed Iran’s unmistakable fingerprints in causing the deaths of 220 Marines, 16 Navy personnel, and three Army soldiers. 

Some may recall two U.S. embassy bombings in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania. Iran, again, flexed its deadly terror muscles, resulting in 224 people murdered and thousands more wounded. In 2011, a U.S. federal court determined that “the government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden, and al-Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States.”

Between 2003 and 2011 in the war on terror, Iran targeted our U.S. military members stationed in Iraq by making and using improvised explosive devices (IEDs)—roadside bombs. Iran used its IRGC to carry out their attacks. The losses are irreversible tragedies for American families that led to the alleged injury and death of more than 1,000 U.S. service members. 

In a 2016 article by the nonprofit research group Accuracy in Academia, experts sounded the alarm on Iran’s stealth strategies in establishing Iranian embassies and some 80 Islamic cultural centers, which function as outposts for proselytizing Latinos with Islamic doctrine. Since the 1980s, Latin America has been fertile ground for surrogate recruits taken in by Iranian “diplomacy.” Several of Iran’s key operating bases include Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the island nation of Cuba—which is just 90 miles away from the Florida Keys. Right in our back yard.

On January 12, 2021, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he announced, “The Iran-al-Qaeda axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself, and we are taking action.” Three top al-Qaeda leaders live in a welcoming Iran. They are a perfect match. That same month, the Associated Press reported terror threats against Fort McNair in the U.S. capital and against the Army’s vice chief of staff.

Amid recent ongoing negotiations for a new Iran deal, a 2022 Annual Threat Assessment

from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that Iran is actively developing networks inside the U.S. That said, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken agree that they are setting aside those threats for now and will deal with them at another time. 

“These other malign activities of Iran’s, their plots against the U.S. personnel or Americans around the world we can deal with and have to deal with separately, and we should deal with them aggressively,” Schiff told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We need to go after all of this, not necessarily in one agreement.”

In April 2022, a group of 502 Iranian-American scientists, academics, and professionals sent a letter to Biden imploring him not to accept a request from Iran to remove the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation. These Iranian-Americans are experts on the modern dangers of their former homeland. 

More outcry against the Biden administration from various sectors includes the United States Senate, which voted in a bipartisan manner (62-33) to reject any Iran deal that does not require Iran to stop its terrorist activities and missile production and discontinue its China connections. 

This is good news, but it does not change Iran’s threats to the U.S. with its expansive presence throughout Latin America. “The Iranian regime, for three-and-a-half decades and counting, has been … exporting its revolutionary ideals to your own backyard in Latin America,” Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi explained during a panel discussion about Israel at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority Conference.”

Israel, however, best understands Iran’s terror and takeover motives. Defending the front lines of their freedom, for many nations—including Abraham Accords friends and the United States—they are a bulwark against Iran’s goals to rule the world. Israel is a “freedom friend” yet is vilified at every opportunity by those who attempt to placate the imams. 

Proverbs 14:15 instructs us “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” The Iranian flag waving in the breeze gives us a visual description of the kind of nation its leaders are promoting at the expense of their own beleaguered citizens and the world. Its tricolor flag of green, white, and red shows Iran’s national emblem in the middle. It is an artistic effect representing the word “Allah” in the shape of a tulip. The tulip, in red, is considered a symbol of martyrdom.

May we in the Christian community keep Psalm 23:4 close in our thoughts as we face the disturbing realities in our nation and around the world. I love this verse best in the King James Version: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

We invite you to join CBN Israel this week in prayer: 

  • Pray for U.S. military families who have sacrificed so much in the loss of their loved ones to Iranian terror. 
  • Pray that the Biden administration will act wisely on its Iran policies.
  • Pray for Christians to understand the times yet renounce fear.
  • Pray for U.S. intelligence to remain successful in stopping terror plots. 
  • Pray with thankfulness for Israel and its security value to us.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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