Is Peace Even in the Vocabulary of Palestinian Leaders? 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

The United Nations, the United States, and the European Union are persistent in their pressure on Israel to make peace with Palestinian Arabs. However, the Palestinian leadership’s glaring cultural and policy differences make it impossible to talk peace.

Examples of this truth are easy to find. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas praises Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of six imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, calling her the Palestinians’ “pride and glory.” The PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, called Hmeid a “Palestinian national emblem” who “nursed her sons on the milk of heroism, honor and pure nationalism until they became unparalleled knights on the path of resistance.” Golda Meir, a former Israeli prime minister, once famously observed, “We will only have peace with [the Arabs] when they love their children more than they hate us.” Latifa Abu Hmeid clearly would not agree.

Some consider it too harsh a response when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroy the family homes of terrorists who have murdered Israelis. But in truth, the Israelis’ real goal is that this act will serve as a deterrent—to keep parents from raising their children to hate (and then murder) Jews. In Latifa Abu Hmeid’s case, her home was demolished and rebuilt repeatedly—due to the killing sprees of her six sons. 

Another policy that impels such Israeli measures is the deadly “pay to slay” strategy of Abbas, his Palestinian Authority, and Fatah leaders who attempt to pass off the policy’s monetary rewards as “social security.” The family of Khairy Alkam, the east Jerusalem Palestinian who murdered seven civilians on January 27, 2023, outside Jerusalem’s Ateret Avraham Synagogue, has already received part of their monthly stipend of $1,700 (in American dollars). The U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2017 to stop making such violent acts profitable for terrorists and their families. Known as the Taylor Force Act, this legislation is designed to restrict assistance to the PA until it verifies that it has stopped Pay to Slay. The law carries the name of Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was murdered as a civilian in 2016 while vacationing in Israel. 

Former President Donald Trump signed the bill in 2018 and halted sending money to the Palestinian Authority. Since President Biden restarted that aid in 2021, he has sent half-a-billion dollars to the PA. The U.S. State Department has said that it is unable to offer firm proof that the PA is not using this financial aid for terrorist acts. In 2016, prior to the passage of the Taylor Force Act, The Jerusalem Post reported that Abbas and his Palestinian Authority awarded 35,000 families an astonishing $303 million—money that would have been much better used to provide decent jobs, food, and improved medical facilities for their population. 

Abbas has doubled down on his intent to keep “pay to slay” alive. The Jerusalem Post quotes him as saying, “We will not cut or prevent stipends to the families of the prisoners and martyrs, as some are trying to do.” He promised: “If we are left with one penny, we will spend it on the families of the prisoners and martyrs.”

In another revealing Palestinian custom, when a terrorist murders Israelis—whether men, women, or children—the streets in Palestinian territories within Judea and Samaria and in Gaza turn into celebrations. They give out candy treats to celebrate another dead Jew. So it was on January 27 of this year that Palestinians gleefully celebrated the murders of seven Israelis shot dead outside the Jerusalem synagogue. Not in a military conflict on the battleground, this was a distorted type of warfare carried out on a city street. 

Knives, pistols, and now cars are weapons. Such was the horror of February 10, 2023, where Alter Shlomo Lederman, a 20-year-old newlywed, was run over and died. Two young brothers, Asher Menahem Paley, 6, and Yaakov Yisrael Paley, 8, also died from this bus stop car ramming in Ramot, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. 

Some Palestinian Authority policies extend into Palestinian schools, where students are brainwashed into hating Jews. An excellent memo published by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) includes a 2022 report that grammar lessons for children promote a grisly idea: to “sacrifice their blood to liberate Jerusalem” and take up the “hobby” of dying as a martyr. More IDF members are required now to quell escalating hatred and murders. Younger Palestinian killers are taking on martyrdom, like the 13-year-old who murdered Staff Sgt. Asil Suaed, 22, a border police officer, during a routine bus inspection. The AIPAC memo calls for renewed demands toward Mahmoud Abbas to stop his growing incitement, which also abuses his own population with hate.

A very different cultural viewpoint operates within Israeli society. Indeed, Israeli businesses offer a stark contrast to Palestinian leaders who glorify hatred. A case in point is Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria, which exemplifies coexistence as a shining example of respecting not only its Jewish citizens but its Palestinian neighbors, as well. In one of my visits to Israel in 2019 with international Christian media, I was delighted that Samaria was on our agenda. The Lipski Plastics company hosted us. It is one of 146 companies that employ many thousands of Palestinians. CEO Yehuda Cohen gave us a tour around the huge factory where plastic and sanitization products are made. Since 2007, the Lipski company has made a significant mark for peace in the biblical heartland. Cohen employs both Palestinians and Israelis in managerial or regular positions. He explains, “The atmosphere is of one big family.”

The factory pays a good Israeli salary, more than the Palestinian Authority jobs, and offers benefits—pension, recreation, vacations, etc.—to all employees. Walking around the factory, we experienced an atmosphere of cooperation and hard work. Cohen commented, “The people want to live in peace. It seems that working together also brings the hearts closer, regardless of ethnic or political identity. I believe that peace will be obtained not through boycotts, but through living together.” I learned that the working relationships sometimes blossom into shared vacations. 

Palestinians who choose not to come under the spell of Abbas’s terror policies wish to earn a good wage and provide their families with an excellent quality of life. They want to work side by side in Jewish-run businesses in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Barkan Industrial Park and numerous Jewish companies in other locations are committed to the business of peace. 

Nevertheless, since 2009 Palestinian Authority President Abbas has declared “a thousand times no” to the idea of direct negotiations with Israel. Instead, he remains dedicated to glorifying and paying terrorists and their families. The 87-year-old Abbas is a father and grandfather, yet the state media and the education policies of this bloodthirsty leader are brainwashing children into becoming future terrorists. Any negotiators with Abbas, whether the UN, U.S. or Europe, would do well to recall this quote by Andrei Sakharov, Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist: “A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

Join CBN Israel in prayer this week for Israel and the Palestinian community:

  • Pray for the world’s only Jewish state for safety amid increasing tensions inside their homeland. 
  • Pray for the Palestinian community suffering hardships from a dictatorship that retains dangerous policies for both Arabs and Jews. 
  • Pray for new leadership in the Palestinian Authority to emerge after Abbas to remove the rampant corruption.
  • Pray that world leaders will shift pressures onto Mahmoud Abbas for change. 
  • Pray for the Biden administration to make decisions that do not promote terror.

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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Emergency Bomb Shelters

The Israeli communities neighboring Hamas-ruled Gaza have endured years of rocket and terror attacks from across the border. From there, terrorists have fired rockets and missiles for years, and their range, arsenal and accuracy are only intensifying. 

Israel’s government does everything it can to offer security and protection for all of its citizens. Yet in a number of places along the Israel-Gaza border, it has been difficult to keep up with the demand for outdoor bomb shelters. 

Imagine picking up your children or grandchildren from elementary school and suddenly hearing a red alert siren—giving you less than 10-15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming rocket. That’s the nightmarish reality for thousands of people who live in close proximity to Israel’s dangerous border with Gaza. 

But through CBN Israel, compassionate friends like you have helped make it possible install dozens of brand-new outdoor emergency bomb shelters for communities in strategic locations that will help save lives. 

“I feel so blessed and honored to witness such wonderful human kindness in times like these,” says Daniel, the head of security for one kibbutz near the border. “This community is so important to me, and the bomb shelter you donated is giving our people more peace of mind than you know. I am so thankful for your generous heart!” 

And your generous gift today can help many other terror victims, lonely refugees, and families in need—providing encouragement and generous aid. Thank you for caring! 

At this crucial time in the Holy Land, your support can be a lifeline to those who are in crisis. You can bring groceries, financial help, safe housing, job training, and more—while sharing vital news and stories from Jerusalem. 

Please help us reach out and make a difference! 


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Weekly Q&A: What does kosher mean?

Kosher can refer to food, places where food is prepared, scrolls, tefillin, and mezzuzot. It refers to an object’s acceptability accorded to Jewish law. When most people use the term “kosher,” they refer to food. Kosher food refers to specific types of animals which meet the criteria of Jewish dietary laws.

God forbade certain animals to the Israelites in the Torah. Those who chew their cud and have cloven hooves are permitted. Pigs, camels, fish without scales, hares, and shellfish are forbidden (see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:1-21). The development of Jewish Oral Torah increased the manner and nature of the rules applying to dietary regulations. One needs to understand there are levels of kosher dietary laws.

Certain animals are strictly forbidden, like pigs. But kosher has come to apply to the way permitted animals are slaughtered. God told Noah and his descendants not to eat meat with blood in it. Therefore, kosher slaughtering of meat requires the blood to be drained. For meat to be considered truly kosher, it must be slaughtered according to Jewish law. Kosher wine must be prepared in a certain way, and under the supervision of a rabbi.

During the Roman period, most non-Jews worshipped idols, which included offering some of the food to the idol. The Sages typically forbade Jews from eating food prepared by non-Jews to avoid the possibility of consuming food offered to an idol. For this reason, religious Jews will not drink wine from a bottle not opened in front of them at a non-Jew’s residence.

Within the rabbinic period, the biblical prohibition of boiling a kid (a young goat) in its mother’s milk became the basis for the dietary separation of meat and dairy in kosher consumption. Thus, one does not mix meat and dairy with a meal. Kosher restaurants will either serve meat or dairy or have part of the restaurant designated as dairy and the other as meat. Orthodox Jewish homes will often have separate plates and sinks designated for meat and dairy. Some food, like fish, have the status as “pareve” meaning “neutral.” They can go either with meat or dairy.

Different Jewish people adhere to different levels of kosher dietary restrictions. Some avoid the foods forbidden in the Torah and do not mix meat and dairy. Others adhere to a stricter form of kosher requiring their meat to have been butchered according to Jewish law, with no blemishes or tearing. They require the food prepared in a kosher kitchen and the wine to be made under the supervision of a rabbi.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Good and Evil on Display Amid Rescue Efforts in Syria and Turkey 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake—impacting more than 13 million people over hundreds of miles—is already a catastrophe. However, the combination of violence and longstanding Middle East conflicts (on top of freezing temperatures) produce dangers of another kind: human fault lines in the battle between good and evil. 

Goodness in the shape of humanitarian relief is already on the ground in Turkey and Syria, as a reported 100 nations have sent aid, with rescuers estimated at 7,000 skilled personnel. As of this writing, the death toll from thousands of buildings collapsing into tons of rubble has topped 41,000 victims. The United Nations estimates the death toll could climb to 50,000.

The goodness evident in Turkey is hindered within Syria by the connections of Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has been stationed in Syria for years to attack Israel. For years, Iran’s leaders have already been sending numerous flights to Damascus with weapons. Now, aid from Tehran is in the hands of the IRGC and Assad where a disturbing report from Behold Israel suggests that IRGC plans were already in place in Aleppo—in one of the earthquake provinces—where the IRGC is stealing aid provided by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and others. At the cost of more Syrian lives, they want their military to further entrench itself to increase their control in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. This report shows, once again, the dangers of the Islamic regime and its cohorts of evil. In Syria, control is taking the place of compassion! 

Syria desperately needs miracles of many kinds, although in Turkey the miracles are not massive in scale. Yet, every time a survivor is pulled out of mountainous rubble, cheers from teams and bystanders bring moments of hope amid the horror. In one example in Turkey, a 10-year-old girl was rescued after being trapped under rubble for 147 hours. Across the border—in a western province in Syria—the Syria Civil Defense, known as White Helmets, rescued four children and their parents. The White Helmets are a team of 3,000 volunteer first responders, easily identifiable at disaster sites by their trademark white headgear. 

Israel sent an outsized delegation from their small country. The Israel Defense Forces skillfully and quickly responded, naming their mission Operation Olive Branches. Turkey is a NATO country, but no peace treaty exists between Israel and Turkey. This devastating earthquake marks the Israeli army’s 30th worldwide humanitarian mission in 41 years. The IDF rushed to Turkey, flying in an impressive 15 Israeli Air Force cargo planes bearing hundreds of tons of equipment, as well as 230 doctors, nurses, and rescue experts. They set up a field hospital in a Turkish region where thousands of already displaced Syrian refugees have lived in poverty since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. They fled from their homeland over the border into Turkey—and now their lives are smashed once again.

As of February 11, the Israeli teams had treated more than 180 people. The uncle of a Syrian boy brought him to the field hospital. The boy’s entire family died in the quake. IDF Lt. Col. Aziz Ibrahim explained, “We treated him and calmed him down. He came in a moderate-to-serious condition.” He took out halva, a popular sesame snack from their combat rations, saying the boy “loved it” and “of course I spoke to him in Arabic.” As a reminder, Israeli citizens of all stripes—Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, and Ethiopians—serve in the IDF. The boy’s uncle summed up the pronounced humanitarian character of the IDF: “You Israelis treat us better than our people.” 

One of the Israeli teams, Israel’s Red Cross (Magen David Adom), rescued 19 people from the ruins during its eight-day mission. Lt. Col. (res.) Felix Lotan, director of MDA paramedics, described their work as allowing scant hours for sleep and food, “not because there was none, but because there is no time to eat and no time to waste.” 

Nevertheless, despite compassion pouring in from organizations like the White Helmets and numerous nations, including the USA and Israel, evil has also been at work—in a series of complicated power struggles and hostilities breaking out near rescuer locations in both Turkey and Syria. The BBC reports that the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit and German teams, along with other international organizations, sometimes take shelter in a Turkish base camp. These aid workers have been forced to pause some of their operations due to infighting from violent groups that are carrying weapons and looting homes. 

Relief efforts near Idlib in northwestern Syria are being overshadowed by a former al-Qaeda group and ISIS still operating in the area. Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, remains a threat to his own people. For the last 12 years of civil war, he has overseen the murders of more than 300,000 civilians and the forcible displacement of 13 million additional citizens—both inside and outside Syria. Refugees from that civil war number more than 3.6 million in Turkey. It is difficult to comprehend—even with Assad’s cruel history—that he sought to allow only one crossing between Turkey and Syria, although other crossings are available. Finally, he has allowed two additional crossings so that hopefully some humanitarian aid can get to where it’s badly needed unless the IRGC steals that too. 

For Assad, it is all about his regime’s power and control against his people. His invitation to the IRGC to occupy Syria and operate against Israel from Syrian soil is an eye-opener regarding Israel—the Jewish state is shipping aid into Syria despite Assad’s implacable hatred toward it. 

These recent actions make it clear that hatred against Israel from Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and Syria’s al-Assad do not stop during a humanitarian crisis. When Prime Minister Netanyahu offered aid to Syria on the first day of the earthquake, the Islamic nation’s response was repugnant. Their Syrian Arab News, al Watan, called Netanyahu’s offer “propaganda.” 

Controversy erupted as to whether Assad had requested help from Israel. The Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel claimed, “Syria would not make such a request since the Zionist entity is the cause of the disastrous intentions in the region and the last one who can talk about humanitarian aid.”

Added to the complex mix of cross-purposes between evil and good are the political ramifications for the broader Mideast. The Jerusalem Post’s Seth J. Frantzman has an analysis in his article—“Turkey-Syria Earthquake: 6 ways it could affect the Middle East.”

Our CBN Israel team invites you to join us in prayer for all victims in Turkey and Syria: 

  • Pray that Syria’s dictator will have mercy on his people to open all options and somehow prevent the IRGC from stealing it.
  • Pray for supernatural peace that only the Lord can offer in such deep trauma. 
  • Pray for Israeli rescuers’ safety since they are, unfortunately, targets of hatred. 
  • Pray that worldwide media will report positively on Israel’s field hospital and other humanitarian outreaches.

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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New Immigrant: Natalia’s Story

It was shortly before the war began in Ukraine. Natalia, a Jewish single mother from Mariupol, immigrated to Israel with her teen daughter Neli, and settled in Hof Hagalil. 

Natalia immediately felt a sense of home and belonging. She liked the people and the climate, and felt safe. And she soon found a teacher’s assistant job. But the move was much harder on Neli. Like most teens, she missed her friends, and suffered from mild depression. 

Then, just months later, war broke out in Ukraine. Seeing the ruins of her old city in the news, Natalia reflected, “I did not realize that I’d never see some of these buildings again.” She has lost contact with all her family and friends in Mariupol, and sighed, “I just pray.” 

Plus, Natalia faced financial stress, starting over on a limited income. But friends like you were there, through CBN Israel. Caring donors provided vouchers for food and other essentials—and basic appliances, including a refrigerator and a heater for the cold winters. And we gave Neli a laptop computer to help with her homework. In addition, it’s also helping mom and daughter with their Hebrew lessons, which had been a struggle on their small cell phone screens. 

Today, Neli is adjusting to her new life—and enjoying school. Natalia says gratefully, “Your help gives me hope and encouragement!” And your gift to CBN Israel can bless even more immigrants—as well as Holocaust survivors, refugees, and terror victims. 

With so many emergencies across the Holy Land, your support can bring food, financial aid, shelter, and more to those in need. 

Will you join us now in offering a lifeline to others?


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Weekly Q&A: How do religious Jews observe the Sabbath?

God commanded the Israelites, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

God forbade the Israelites from working and kindling a fire on the Sabbath. While the Old Testament does not specify the parameters of “work,” Jewish tradition sought to define what constituted work, and therefore, what one must avoid on the Sabbath. Observance of the Sabbath distinguished Jews from other people within the ancient world. The Romans viewed the Jewish practice of Sabbath observance as a sign of Jewish laziness.

The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday night at sundown and continues until an hour after sundown on Saturday night. Although religious Jews go to the synagogue on the Sabbath, the home functions as the primary place for Sabbath observance. Families walk to the synagogue on Friday to pray the evening prayers within the congregation. Returning home, they eat a large meal which was prepared prior to the start of the Sabbath. No telephones, computers, or televisions interrupt Friday night Shabbat dinner.

The family sits around the table, young and old, talks, recites the benedictions and blessings, and enjoys one another’s company. Saturday morning some of the family, usually the men, walk back to the synagogue for morning prayers, and return home. During the day Saturday, they rest. Some will read, but nothing for work. Phones are shut off, as are televisions and computers. Food, which has been simmering since before the Sabbath began, is consumed, but no one is permitted to light a stove or turn on an oven.

Judaism views the Sabbath as one of God’s greatest gifts to Israel. The other commandments seek to remind Jews of their relationship to God, so they can sanctify Him by obeying Him in their daily lives. The Sabbath sanctifies God in time. It was not only a day of rest for the master of the house, animals and servants also were given a Sabbath’s rest by God. By forcing people to cease from their work, they bring their worship of God into time, not just space.

The home functions as the center of this. The celebration of Sabbath does not focus on the synagogue or the larger community; it focuses on the family. The family becomes the keeper and transmitter of the commandments and traditions God entrusted to Israel. Sabbath enabled Judaism to survive without a land and a Temple.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Israel Stopped Syrian and Iraqi Nuclear Ambitions: Is Iran Next?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Debates about nuclear weapons, Chinese spy balloons, Abrams tanks, and war permeate the news cycle with alarming facts and theories. Missing in action is the recognition both of Israel’s past role to ensure that Iraq and Syria did not join the nuclear club—and the danger posed by Iran’s current Islamic regime. Also missing in action is media fairness when reporting on Israel.

So let’s review the facts.

In June 1981, Israel attacked Iraq’s Osirak nuclear research reactor during a stealth operation the Jewish nation code-named “Operation Opera.” Like present-day Iran, Iraq had claimed that its goals in pursuing nuclear power were peaceful. Unfortunately, most world leaders and media were quick to join in a chorus of accusations and condemnation, accusing Israel of acting as an unprovoked aggressor as they chose to accept the claims of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. Israel claimed its pre-emptive attack had been in self-defense; the small nation didn’t believe Hussein’s assurances of peace. Israel’s June attacks partially destroyed the reactor and today, 42 years later, Iraq is still not a nuclear power. 

Moving ahead more than a quarter of a century: In 2007, Israel undertook another action to deter nuclear capability in another nation, Syria—then, as now, governed by the dictator Bashar al-Assad. Looking at the benign photos of Assad and his wife, Asma, both dressed stylishly in western garb, it is hard to imagine their complicity in Syria’s civil war, which broke out in 2011. However, supported by Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, President Assad oversaw the murders of hundreds of thousands of his citizens and pushed many thousands more into fleeing as refugees. 

On September 5, 2007, Israeli planes flew into neighboring Syria—before the outbreak of that nation’s civil war. In “Operation Out of the Box,” the Israeli Air Force dropped tons of explosives on the nuclear reactor that North Korea helped build. It was camouflaged as an agricultural farm. Syria is an enemy of Israel and policed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). No peace treaty exists between Israel and Syria. As happened in 1981, condemnation of Israel was harsh, although in both instances Israel acted only after conducting extensive research and verifying the threats of the nuclear sites. 

Israel’s decisions to remove credible nuclear threats from Iraq and Syria in order to defend its own freedoms and citizenry deserve accolades, not condemnation. Their actions weren’t only for their own benefit; the attacks reduced threats from these two unstable countries against the rest of the Middle East and beyond. Amid the horrors of war in Iraq and Syria, Israel’s actions removed one lethal aspect of war that the world does not face today from these two nations. 

Nevertheless, other nations—especially in the region—remain anxious about another threat: how Iran’s leaders are rushing toward an apocalyptic nuclear strength. That possibility threatens not only Israel and its Arab neighbors: The regime holds the dreadful distinction of being the world’s largest sponsor of terror, which has its deadly sights set on Europe, the United States, South America, and others. 

Drone production is emerging as a new wave of warfare built on the ground and launched into the skies. (For example, the Russian army is using this airborne weapon to spread fear and reduce resistance in Ukraine.) Amid the challenges in today’s conflicts, it is important to understand how Iran and Russia are currently allied in drone warfare. The Times of Israel reported on February 5 that Iranian officials visited Russia to finalize building a drone plant there. Last year, Russian officials had visited Tehran, Iran’s capital. Reportedly, once the Russian factory is built it will be able to produce 6,000 drones in the next few years. That cooperation is of concern to Israel, the United States, and many other Western nations. Iran has already shipped suicide drones to Russia and has developed prolific drone manufacturing inside Iran. The Wall Street Journal describes it as “reshaping security in the Middle East.” That concern explains Israel’s recently launched drone attack in Isfahan, Iran, at an ammunition manufacturing location, as reported in The Jerusalem Post. 

The media often characterize Israel as the instigator of terror—that it is trigger-happy at every turn. The truth is that Israel’s enemies shamelessly proclaim their goal of battering Israel into oblivion. Those goals necessitate Israel’s defending itself against its declared enemies—whether inside Israel (from Palestinian leaders and terrorists), from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian military in Syria, or Hamas in Gaza. Regarding the Islamic Republic and evidenced by attacks in Iraq and Syria in 1981 and 2007, Israel takes measured steps against Iran. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu—now in his sixth term—stated on January 28, “I have come back to office … for one main reason, to do everything I can to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu’s leadership, supporting ingenious ways to prevent Iran from accomplishing its goals, became evident in a dramatic operation. In 2018, a covert operation was carried out by members of Israel’s Mossad inside Tehran; they entered a warehouse stored with documents verifying Iran’s nuclear information. In one night, the Mossad famously heisted a half-ton of crucial security information. They escaped with 10,000 documents, videos, and photographs.

At the United Nations General Assembly later that year, Prime Minister Netanyahu showed that “Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions and deceived powers involved in the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.” Netanyahu’s biting observation is still a major concern. Despite the current internal chaos in Israel due to the proposed judicial reforms, Iran is the predominant threat to Israel’s safety. If Israel is forced to launch attacks of a more robust nature against the Islamic regime, keep in mind what you have read here and understand that Israel is on the front line of danger. Remember, Iran’s Ayatollahs subscribe to world domination through a tyrannical version of Islamic law.

Thankfully, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin announced at a press conference that a renewed nuclear deal with Iran is “no longer a priority.” The United States has wisely turned its focus toward the Islamic regime’s close relationship with Russia and Iran’s treatment of its citizens—arresting and imprisoning thousands and murdering hundreds since the protests began in September. 

One of Judaism’s cultural foundations is to “repair the world” (Hebrew: Tikkun Olam). The biblical concept of compassion embraces actions intended to improve the world. Israelis long for peace, not war, to shape their homeland with shalom—a shalom that encompasses the meanings of peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. Their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accords, and consistent efforts to negotiate with Palestinian leaders are evidence of Israel’s goals. Tikkun Olam offers proof that the world’s only Jewish state extends humanitarian aid where possible even to nations and peoples who hate them or where conflict exists.

Israelis intensely understand trauma and crisis, meeting their own challenges by developing logistics and aid. They send their expertise worldwide. Amid this week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey, where Reuters reports the death toll has already soared above 12,000 deaths, IsraAID teams quickly landed in Turkey offering expert search and rescue efforts. This international non-governmental humanitarian aid organization is based in Israel and since 2001 has rushed to more than 50 nations in humanitarian crisis. In Syria more than 2,000 have died and Israel has mounted assistance with medications, tents, and other supplies. Although Syria and Israel have no peace treaty, and anti-Israel Iranian military are stationed in Syria, Israel has also offered medical treatment for Syrians in Israeli hospitals.

For thousands of years, God’s faithfulness to His chosen people and land has been evident. Israel survives against all odds and remains a light to the world enacting Tikkun Olam.

Join us at CBN Israel this week to pray for Israel, its neighbors, and its enemies. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Please join CBN Israel in prayer for Turkey and Syria as well as the entire region:

  • Pray for Turkish citizens amid the earthquake’s traumatic results.
  • Pray for members of IsraAID going to Turkey and aid sent to Syria.
  • Pray for Israel’s strategies regarding drone warfare and security breaches.
  • Pray for the safety of Israel Defense Forces in all military on land, sea, cyberspace, Mossad, Shin Bet, and police.
  • Pray for Christians to actively promote facts about Israel wherever possible.

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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New Immigrant: Vladimir’s Story

As a 33-year-old Jewish Ukrainian, Vladimir arrived in Israel on February 20, 2022. He was on a free 10-day tour to explore the possibility of someday moving his family there. Four days later, Russia attacked Ukraine. And suddenly, “someday” became an emergency decision. 

Vladimir recalled, “In one moment everything changed.” He worried about his pregnant wife and little boy back in Ukraine and called her frantically. They both decided it was safer for them to join him in Israel, and days later, she and their son were evacuated to meet him there. 

The family received temporary housing near Tel Aviv. Fleeing in haste, they had brought very little, and had no money or packed possessions. So, they were given the basics they would need, including free intensive Hebrew language classes, and a small stipend to get them started. They soon settled in Haifa, yet still lacked many essentials in a new land. But who could help?

Thankfully, friends like you were there through CBN Israel. Caring donors gave them vouchers to buy food and other basics. They also provided them with a new refrigerator and necessary furniture. In addition, they offered counseling and assistance, including connecting them with local partners who offer Hebrew classes, job training, and other services crucial to this transition. 

As Vladimir learns Hebrew to find work, and his wife is weeks from giving birth, he is grateful for your help, saying, “We feel at home here.” And your gift to CBN Israel can bless more refugees—as well as Holocaust survivors, terror victims, and others. 

So many in Israel are in crisis situations. Your support can bring housing, groceries, financial aid, and more to those in need. 

Please help us extend a hand to those who are struggling!



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The United States and Israel: Still Standing Together

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

As we look for light amid the darkness of world events, the U.S. Congress might seem a surprising place to find it. Yet the enduring cooperation between the people and governments of the United States and Israel—surely a beacon of promise and hope—survives despite turnovers in Congress and the presidency. 

The U.S. Congress votes in favor of Israel’s annual security aid, a necessity more urgent now than ever before. The Christian community’s mark among members of Congress to promote legislation that will strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship is significant and helps increase the safety of both allies. Although Congress may not base its decisions on Genesis 12:3, that “God will bless those who bless Israel,” politically active Christians are motivated by scripture and congress matches its decision-making about our staunch ally important for our own nation.  

The Islamic regime continues marching toward possessing and using nuclear weapons. Its surrogates surround Israel’s borders in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria—geographic proximity that brings terror up close. However, when it comes to Israel, terror shatters the peace within Israel’s borders. It is up close and personal when a 21-year-old terrorist living in east Jerusalem arrives at Ateret Avraham synagogue on Shabbat and starts shooting. During that four-minute shooting spree last week, the terrorist shot and killed seven Israelis and wounded three others, all on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. When a second terror attack took place the following morning in the City of David, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) added three additional battalions and ramped up the security alert to its highest level. The murders are considered the worst terror outbreak in years. 

Meanwhile, government officials from two nations that are responsible for murdering their own populations recently met in Damascus to arrange a meeting between Iran’s president, Ebrahim Riasi, and Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. At this meeting, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Syria’s foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, recapped their “challenges” with Western nations. Mekdad observed that they must “secure their national interests.” He named the United States and the “Zionist Regime” (Israel) and their “mercenaries” as threats. 

On another front, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog—the International Atomic Energy Agency—plans to travel back to Iran in his attempt to revive the 2015 Iran deal. Director Rafael Grossi reports that although Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon yet, it has “amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one.” I believe this latest attempt at a deal with the Islamic regime will fail, since the ayatollahs are fixated on one goal: using nuclear bombs to establish a worldwide caliphate governed under tyrannical Islamic law. The Gulf Arab states, Israel, and the United States are their prime targets. 

Iran’s leaders view United Nations diplomacy as simply another forum for propaganda. The Iran regime’s dangers to its own population and the active terror from its surrogates in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria are intensifying. 

But here’s one kind of message that is bound to get their attention. On January 26, the U.S. Central Command and Israel Defense Forces completed a massive military exercise called Juniper Oak 2023, the biggest joint drill on record. Its size and scope must have sent an unmistakable message to the ayatollahs. As U.S. General Michael “Erik” Kurilla observed on NBC, “It would not surprise me if Iran sees the scale and the nature of these activities and understands what the two of us are capable of doing.” 

The combined participation included 1,100 Israeli soldiers and 6,400 U.S. soldiers in the drill. The Times of Israel reported that 142 aircraft were involved: F-35, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 fighter jets; AC-130 Hercules transports; B-52 heavy bombers; and AH-64 Apache helicopters. A U.S. Navy carrier strike group coordinated operations with six Israeli ships and a submarine that carried out maneuvers with the American aircraft carrier.

Israel provides unmatched efforts that help our own U.S. security, as Israel shares intelligence with the U.S. government and military. The advantages of this cooperation spill over into our civilian airline safety methods that were gleaned from Israeli resources. Another benefit is that Israel never asks for American boots on the ground. Their policy is to defend themselves by themselves. 

When it comes to Return on Investment (ROI), our relationship with Israel is quite favorable. Such benefits manifest themselves in our economy. Our U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the capital, reported in 2021 that bilateral trade resulted in nearly $50 billion in goods and services annually. Another example worth noting: Israelis themselves invested around $24 billion in the United States. Compare huge Israeli investments to our Congress’s Ten-Year Memorandum of Understanding with Israel. Renewed again in 2018, the memorandum commits $3.8 billion annually in U.S. funds for Israel’s security for the following decade. Seventy-five percent remains in the U.S.—in factories that manufacture some of Israel’s advanced weaponry and employ American citizens. We are surely on the winning end.

When it comes to the U.S. Congress, although Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and several other members of the House of Representatives are anti-Semitic (as evidenced by their comments and votes), both Democrats and Republicans are staunch pro-Israel votes on important legislation and resolutions to continue strengthening the US-Israel relationship. 

Last week, on January 25, 2023, a recent bipartisan resolution—House Resolution 7—roundly won approval, passing in a 420-1 vote. Republican House member Thomas Massie (R-KY) cast the only NO vote. The resolution condemned the “violent suppression” of women-led protesters in Iran for the last five months. Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-NY) described the protests as the “most significant popular protest” in Iran since the 1979 takeover by the Islamic regime. 

The 24/7 news cycle thrives on bad news. However, focusing on good news, some that I have mentioned above, provides motivation to do what we can, where we can. Prayer is our foundation, and putting feet on our prayers is faith in action. Three hundred and sixty-five times in Scripture, God says, “Fear not.” He assures us in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 

Please join CBN Israel this week in praying for Israel and the Middle East:

  • Pray for citizens in the Islamic Republic who are demonstrating, imprisoned, and killed by the regime.
  • Pray for Israelis who are once again on high alert for terror, including Hamas rockets launched into Israeli civilian areas.
  • Pray that world leaders will pressure Israel’s enemies, not Israel—which defends its citizens from terrorists. 
  • Pray for hundreds of thousands of Syrian families who have fled Syria as well as those left amid the Iranian presence in their nation. 

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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Help Redeem the Past on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

“May this archive, which serves as restitution for the victims and their families, be a warning to all future generations to never again allow such a horror to afflict humanity.” 

Since 1952, this phrase has been embedded into a wall in the main building at the Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution in Bad Arolsen, Germany. And it is fitting to remember it this week, the 78th anniversary of the Allies’ liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This day in history will bypass the attention of most communities worldwide. Yet Friday, January 27, is deeply engraved in the minds and hearts of Holocaust survivors, their descendants, and the nation of Israel. It marks the day when the Nazis’ genocidal machinery was finally exposed for the world to see. It is a date in Jewish history that lives in infamy.

Seventy-eight years ago, on January 27, 1945, soldiers from Russia—then one of the allied powers determined to stop Hitler—liberated more than 7,000 Jewish survivors from Auschwitz-Birkenau. The United Nations General Assembly later designated this date as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate all victims of the Holocaust. The theme this year is “Home and Belonging.”

Today, I’m compelled to convey a solemn history about the Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution in Bad Arolsen, Germany. It was established to track millions of displaced, deported, and murdered Jews and other communities. As you read, you will discover a simple yet powerful way to help redeem the past and highlight the “Home and Belonging” theme—as part of an international team of more than 60,000 volunteers with more needed. By joining in on the “Every Name Counts” project, volunteers add names to the largest digital database in the world. We become part of remembering and honoring six million Jewish men, women, and children who perished. This link explains how it works:

Each year, more Holocaust survivors fade into history. Their passing is an irreplaceable loss to families and friends. In April 2022, Israel reported that some 161,000 survivors were living within its borders. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 Holocaust victims survive. Estimates in 2020 indicated that only 400,000 remain worldwide. Moreover, Holocaust survivors are living proof that genocides remain as an evil presence in our world. Among them are the governments of Nigeria, China, Syria, and Iraq, governments that perpetuate cruelty toward Christians and other minorities. 

The heartache of Holocaust survivors only continued in the immediate post-World War II years. The traumas linger even amid making a new life. History reveals that there could have been more possibilities for Jewish families to connect and reunite. When Jewish survivors desperately searched for relatives and friends in the Holocaust’s grim aftermath, trying to categorize and answer requests about family members was an impossibility. Factors on the ground in Europe coalesced into an intractable deadlock of numbers, confusion, and devastation. In 1943, the British Red Cross set up the Central Tracing Bureau, and later the International Red Cross took over these daunting tasks. 

Six million is the general figure used to document Jewish murders in concentration camps, but it does not take into account “shooting operations” and other atrocities in Poland, Italy, Romania, and Russia. Nor does it include the number of gypsies, disabled people, gays, and prisoners—which could total three times more. In addition, not a single World War II master list exists. Approximately 250,000 Jewish people displaced between 1945 and 1952 are an example of just one numerical challenge the International Red Cross faced. 

Later, in 1948, a coalition of nine nations was tasked to oversee the Bad Arolsen archives. More than 15 miles of document shelving was stashed in a former Nazi SS barracks and a castle in the small, wooded German town located in the American Occupation Zone. The archives contain 50 million index cards for about 17.5 million people. Originally, nine countries served on an International Commission of the International Tracing Service (ITS): Belgium, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States, with Greece and Poland joining later. 

Until late 2007, the ITS in Bad Arolsen was the largest unopened Holocaust archive in the world. For decades, survivors, families, and historians pleaded for answers to their inquiries. After the war, Holocaust-related documents dumped into the buildings in Bad Arolsen grew into battlegrounds in diplomacy and differing opinions between the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and European allies. 

A system failure to connect survivors intensified as the 11-country commission sank into a bureaucratic tangle. Infighting over policies, tasks, and a myriad of other issues delayed their purpose of reunification, placement, and searches for missing persons. Disagreements over privacy questions about victims’ personal data clogged the process, as did the  advancing Cold War era, which slowed down the archival work. 

Lack of adequate funding and staff problems intensified within the International Tracing Service and with it, the compounded victimization of the European Jewish community. Charles-Claude Biedermann, the International Red Cross official in charge of the archive for two decades, seemed to embody the spirit of this frustrating impasse. He enforced a policy of restricted access even to certain buildings, keeping to a very narrow definition of who could be helped. Tracing work languished with 400,000 requests. 

After an internal investigation in 2006, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) approved and released a document on April 27 asserting, “This failure is aggravated by the fact that the ICRC did not do everything in its power to put an end to the persecutions and help the victims. The organization remained a prisoner of its traditional procedures and of the overly narrow legal framework in which it operated.” Biedermann defied a 2006 U.S. push to open the archives. Finally, he was fired. 

In 2008, the ITS at long last opened its archives. In 2012, the ICRC withdrew from management and the German Federal Archives took over. The facility name changed to the Arolsen Archives–International Center on Nazi Persecution. 

Given the mountains of paper—some written on scraps of cigarette cartons—technology has added a welcome improvement on World War II era record-keeping. In 2019, the Associated Press released an important announcement from Bad Arolsen. The archive released over 13 million digitized records on 2.2 million victims. These records, which had been meticulously documented by Nazis, included death and prisoner notices. The Arolsen Archives records are now online, with search improvements increasing. Search for documents in the Arolsen Archives ( Arolsen Archives belongs to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Memory of the World. 

The archive should—and will—remain in its preeminent place as a source of knowledge and help. Nevertheless, 78 years of missing persons sorrowfully prevents the possibility of reunions even with technology. In the aftermath of World War II, a 12-year-old looking for a parent, a mother searching for her toddler hidden in a convent, or a grandfather desperate to know if he has a grandchild—none has any answers.

While technology has improved the Arolsen Archives’ institutional health, it is the organization’s collaboration with Yad Vashem, Israel’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center, that has created a powerful united force. Together, these organizations facilitate and accelerate locating every single Holocaust survivor so that they may be interviewed, honored, and remembered. Indeed, Yad Vashem’s technology is a tremendous asset, and Arolsen Archives now process around 20,000 requests a year. 

The 11 member states on the International Commission of the ITS and more than 200 archive employees operate in a more effective way. Arolsen Archives are funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. While I have attempted to synthesize some of the history of the Arolsen Archives, I highly recommend an excellent, detailed article written in 2013 by Jean-Marc Dreyfus: “Opening the Nazi archives at Bad Arolsen.”

Please join us in prayer this week as the world remembers the Holocaust on January 27th:

  • Pray that Christians will bless Holocaust victims through CBN Israel’s ministry to survivors in Israel.
  • Pray that volunteers will increase to complete the “Every Name Counts” project.
  • Pray that all believers will choose one way to support a Holocaust survivor in Israel, U.S, or another nation.  
  • Pray that rising anti-Semitism will be met with advocacy from Christians on behalf of Jewish communities everywhere.

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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