Palestinian Leadership Responds to the Abraham Accord 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Evangelical Christians have long venerated President Harry Truman for his boldness as the first world leader to recognize Israel’s statehood in the United Nations vote on May 14, 1948. Now, 72 years later, another momentous decision has taken place.

When President Trump and a trio of Middle East leaders signed the Abraham Accord last week, it signaled a shift in the region’s alignment. In fact, the two Arab Gulf nations—United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain—disproved a decades-old mantra regarding Arab Palestinians: that an Israeli-Palestinian peace had to occur before any agreements with other Arabs. Clearly, recent events proved that abandoning conventional wisdom forged new pathways in the Middle East. 

The increased willingness to normalize relations with Israel traces back to President Obama’s damaging Iran deal in 2015. In addition to Israel’s security concerns, the Arab Gulf nations also considered the Iran deal an affront since the Persian nation poses a security threat to them. They are further concerned that the Iranian Imams want to take control of the holiest sites in the Muslim world—Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Arab states grew to realize that Israel was a friend worth having, because Israel can (and has proven it will) stand up to Iran’s relentless quest for a nuclear weapon. They also gained trust in President Trump when he canceled the defective Iran deal and reimposed sanctions. In his speech at the virtual meeting this week at the annual United Nations General Assembly, President Trump once again emphasized, “As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened.” Israel and the Gulf states once again welcomed the good news.  

Yet with the Abraham Accord, here we are again—with Palestinian political and religious leaders still clinging to their victimhood narrative. Not surprisingly, Palestinian officials erupted in outrage, with accusations from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. As the Muslim religious leader on the Temple Mount, Hussein issued a fatwa—a religious ruling—thundering, “I forbid UAE Muslims to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque!” (Normalization had opened the door for the Gulf state Muslims to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque.) The Palestinian Authority said the landmark Accord was a “betrayal,” calling the UAE Crown Prince a “tumor” and a “traitor” who had committed “political prostitution.” 

This, despite billions of dollars in aid from Arabs, Europeans, and Americans over the years. In addition, a frustrating succession of failed diplomatic deals since the 1993 Oslo Accords has been met with Palestinians’ broken agreements, insincerity, and/or terrorism. Impatience is growing among Arab nations and even the Palestinian population with President Abbas’s exasperating policy of “a thousand no’s.” Last week Wassem Yousef—a UAE Islamic religious leader—tweeted about Palestinian leadership and other Arabs: “Israel did not destroy Syria; Israel did not burn Libya; Israel did not displace the people of Egypt; Israel did not destroy Libya, and Israel did not tear up Lebanon. Before you Arabs blame Israel, take a look at yourselves in the mirror. The problem is in you.”

Indeed. Abbas’s intransigence results in the loss of opportunities and improvements for his people. He has refused direct negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu since 2009. He continues to mainline the drug of hatred into their textbooks and media, names streets after dead terrorists, and rewards their families with money. Abbas has not held an election since 2005, although his term “ended” in 2009. Meanwhile, the 84-year-old lives in his presidential palace worth more than $13 million.

Despite these obstructions, is there hope anywhere for the Palestinian man, woman, and child on the street? Is peace between Arab Palestinians and Jews possible? 

Pockets of hope do exist. Whether President Abbas changes his destructive policies or not,  Israelis welcome thousands of Palestinians who are acting on their hopes for peaceful coexistence in higher education, business, and medicine.

One hopeful example is what I call “business for peace.” Last year I attended the Israeli Government Press Office’s (GPO) Christian Media Summit. I was delighted that the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria was on our agenda. While the evangelical Christian community embraces the biblical covenants that Judea and Samaria are Israel’s heartland, they want the Palestinians to have a better life, too. What an encouraging reality! Fourteen industrial zones dot Judea and Samaria and employ some 20,000 Palestinians and 40,000 Israelis. Barkan is the largest such zone with 164 factories. 

One of them, the Lipski Company, gave us a tour around their large factory where plastic and sanitization products are made. The factory pays a good Israeli salary—more than Palestinian Authority jobs. Managerial positions are held by both Palestinians and Jews. All employees receive benefits: pension, recreation, and vacations. CEO Yehuda Cohen described it as “one big family.” He went on to say, “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.”

Other hopes find expression in the medical field. For example, Palestinian and Jewish transplant surgeons work together to save lives at Israel’s Hadassah Hospital. Nurses from Gaza are training in Israel. A Jerusalem Post article included this quote, “It’s different than I thought,” said one nurse. “The people are very nice. You have Jews and Palestinians working together. It minimizes the gaps between us.”

On the education front, Palestinians attend Haifa University, Hebrew University, and other Israeli institutions of higher learning. A Palestinian businessman who attended the famous Hebrew University now lectures there.

Thankfully, there are other pockets of hope. It’s reported that five to seven more Gulf Arab states may join the Abraham Accord. With more “sons of Abraham” joining, we pray that Palestinian Arab political and religious leaders will embrace hope instead of victimhood. They would do well to follow the examples of some in their own population to grasp another key—the key of peace that Israelis have long offered.

  • Pray with thanks that peace with several Gulf Arab nations is evolving. “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 ESV). 
  • Pray with gratitude that God has a special love for His Chosen People. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3 NASB).
  • Pray that Palestinian leadership will change course on behalf of their population.
  • Pray with recognition that God has also kept His promise for the Arab nations: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 17:20 NIV). 

We are living in a momentous season of change in the Middle East. Maintain prayers with CBN Israel that “God’s will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.” 

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit twice. She hosts her devotionals on her website at

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Single Mother: Hagra’s Story

She was out of options and out of time. Hagra had worked hard as a single mother to support herself and her 10-year-old son after her husband abandoned them. But she was suddenly stricken with acute renal failure and needed an urgent kidney transplant. Her brother proved to be a perfect match, but her problems didn’t end with a successful surgery. She could no longer work in her physically demanding job as a housekeeper, and Hagra wound up deep in debt.

Thankfully, she eventually met Arik, the head of CBN Israel’s family department, who provided the guidance she needed. He not only helped her sort out her debt; he saw that she was given the appropriate designation as a disabled person—who qualified for a full living allowance. Today, her life is back on track and she’s now able to encourage others.

Because of the generosity of our partners, we were also able to fix up her son’s room in their tiny Tel Aviv apartment, so he’d have a place to sleep and do his homework. Nahum prays daily that his strict non-believing Jewish father—who abandoned them because of his wife’s newfound Christian faith—will soon return. Hagra says, “I am so grateful for Arik and all CBN Israel workers and supporters. My life started over!”

You can be a blessing to so many single moms, like Hagra, providing them with groceries, housing, medical care, financial aid, and job training. You can also give these moms hope and encouragement as they seek to give their children a bright future.

Your special gift today will also provide help and hope to Holocaust survivors, relief to victims of terrorism, food and counseling to new immigrants, and so much more. People in Israel are depending on you. You can make the difference!

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Weekly Devotional: When God Rains on Your Parade

“Elijah the Tishbite, from the inhabitants of Gilad, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word’” (1 Kings 17:1 NKJV).

Nobody likes a prophet. Biblical prophets always communicated inconvenient truths, especially to the corrupt political and religious leaders.

They saw the world differently. They saw the world the way God did. And their vision often contrasted with that of those around them. They made life uncomfortable because they did not allow abuses of power and people to be ignored or whitewashed. They reminded Israel that obeying God’s commands extended beyond mere cultic religious ritual.

Israel disobeyed God during the reign of King Ahab. Rather than serving God, the Israelites followed after Ba’al, the Phoenician storm god.

The book of Deuteronomy instructed the Israelites, “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the LORD your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, wine, and oil” (verses 11:13-14 HCSB). If, however, Israel decided not to obey, then the opposite would happen; namely, the rains would not come and the crops would not be there.

Archaeology of the kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab and his father Omri suggests that Israel experienced a golden age of sorts during this period. Large building projects, growing wealth, Israel exploiting its strategic location within the region—life in Israel during Ahab’s reign was good. Prosperous. Things were going well.

Then Elijah showed up. He made Ahab’s life difficult. It wasn’t going to rain in Israel for several years except at Elijah’s word.

Kings within the ancient Near East provided a connection between the people and the gods, responsible for the people’s well-being. When Ahab’s wife Jezebel—a Phoenician princess—learned it wasn’t going to rain, she encouraged Israel to worship her god, the storm god Ba’al.

As modern readers of the Bible, we look at Elijah from the position of our comfort. He is God’s man. A hero of the faith. But to Ahab and Israel, he was a pain. His proclamation interrupted their prosperous comfort. No one living in the kingdom of Israel looking around at the prosperity of the kingdom would think anything was wrong. Life’s good. We’re prospering. Surely something is right. But not in the eyes of God, so He sent the prophet, the proclaimer of inconvenient truths.

Within the Bible, God’s pleasure is tied only to our obedience—not the prosperity we find ourselves in within the moment. In the same way, when we find ourselves in want, that is not the sign of His displeasure.

God, however, will not tolerate our disobedience forever. He will eventually rain on our parade. Or, in the case of Ahab’s Israel, not rain, which is actually worse.

Do we listen to those inconvenient voices in our lives that challenge us to see things from God’s viewpoint? Do we respond with repentance and obedience? That can make all the difference.


Father, thank You for sending inconvenient voices into our lives, voices that challenge us to see our actions the way You do. Lead us Lord to walk in Your ways, and in all things, to obey You. Amen.

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Rosh Hashanah: Feast of Trumpets

By Julie Stahl

“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn, you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:23-25 NLT).

Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year”—the new year. But biblically it’s much more than that. In the book of Leviticus in Hebrew it’s called Yom Hateruah—the day of the blowing of trumpets or ram’s horn (shofar)—the judgment day.

The piercing blast of the shofar is meant to remind the hearer to repent for his sins and make things right with his brothers and sisters. The rabbis say that reconciliation with God and man will confound the enemy.

“It’s something that people connect to their soul to hear the sound of the shofar,” says Eli Ribak, a third-generation shofar maker.

The ram’s horn is used as the traditional shofar because when Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God provided a ram in the thicket to be used in his place. But the only animal horn that is actually forbidden for use as a shofar is the cow’s horn. That’s because the Jewish people don’t want to remind God of the time Israel worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness.

In some traditions, the shofar is blown in synagogues and at the Western Wall each morning for a month before the holiday to give plenty of time for repentance.

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of creation, specifically the day God created Adam and Eve. As such, God the Creator is hailed and crowned as “our King” on that day.

Christians often blow the shofar throughout the year, but in Judaism it’s only blown during the month of Elul prior to Rosh Hashanah and at the holiday. It was also blown at the coronation of the kings of Israel, to announce the new king or the coming of the king.

Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion, says that’s a foreshadow for those who believe in Jesus.

“And they tell us something, they’re speaking to us, they’re reminding us of something and one of the things they’re reminding us of is the creation of the world, the coming of the King, King Messiah one day at this time, the coronation of his kingdom here on earth,” says Michael. “This is what the shofar is to remind us of and it speaks to us every day when we hear that sound.”

For Christians, there are a number of references in the New Testament referring to the sounding of trumpets: “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31 NKJV). 

Paul also writes, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT). 

The seven trumpets in Revelation also make clear they play a part in the end-time calling.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days and begins the autumn biblical holiday cycle.

A festive meal at the start of the holiday includes eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year; dates—that our enemies would be consumed; pomegranate seeds—that we would bear much fruit; eating round hallah, symbolizing the circle of life and the crown of God’s Kingship; and eating a fish or ram’s head, symbolic of being the head and not the tail in the year to come.

Another custom is called Tashlich, which literally means “to cast away” or “throw away.” This concept comes from Micah 7:19: “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” 

This is a time of reflection to think about and repent for sins of the previous year and to determine how one could do better in the coming year. During this ceremony, Jewish people stand by a body of water and symbolically cast their sins into the water.

HOLIDAY GREETING: L’Shanah Tovah U’metuka (“May you have a good and sweet new year!”) and Chag Sameach (“Happy holiday!”). 

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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Torah Reading Commentary: The Truth of Multiple Truths

By Mark Gerson

Every generation produces, in unplanned, organic, and ultimately mysterious ways, its own ways of describing the world. Sometimes the outcomes are of only mild curiosity. For instance, perhaps no one knows or cares why the term “groovy” came or went. Other times, it is knowable how expressions started—but not why they persist. We say, “Close, but no cigar,” but imagine a cigar being the prize at a carnival game in 2020! We still refer to projects as having “run out of steam” and tell people to “hold your horses” many generations after we have deployed better transportation solutions. Moreover, we still say that people are “worth their weight in salt” millennia after salt ceased being an important measure of value. 

Consequently, it would be as futile to predict which current expression will last as it would be to decide which new ones will “crop up” (irony noted, for this city dweller). But there is a curious expression that has become ubiquitous in the past couple of years—particularly, but not universally, among young people. It is “your truth”—sometimes offered with the encouragement to “speak your truth.”  

Understood one way, this expression is ridiculous. There is nothing personal about a truth. The truth is always something that exists outside of perception, which is why the experience of human yearning is one of “seeking” the truth. This yearning applies existentially (What is my life about?) and practically (Did the accused commit the crime? Who deserves the commission for the sale?).   

The idea that truth can be personal—that there can be “my truth” and “your truth”—just proclaims the omnipotence of opinion while making the idea of people searching together for truth completely futile. Given that the purpose of such interpersonal engagement is either to discover or to create truth, there is no point to doing so unless objective truth exists independently of individual perspectives and personal opinions. 

Understood another way—and this is not the way that the term “your truth” is customarily used—there can be a deeply profound purpose to conceiving of “my truth.” As Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, the founding CEO of Mechon Hadar, writes, “Understanding something as having multiple meanings is one of the deepest expressions of freedom.”

I participated in an example of Elie’s insight last week during a recording of my podcast, “The Rabbi’s Husband,” where I am in conversation with a guest about a biblical passage of his or her choosing. The guest was Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a brilliant, deeply thoughtful and learned attorney who is now a candidate for Manhattan District Attorney. We were discussing her chosen passage, Bava Metzia 30b, from the Babylonian Talmud. The question being discussed in that passage is why Jerusalem was destroyed. Rabbi Yohanan said that it was destroyed because the people “did not serve inside/beyond the line [letter] of the law.” 

The questions raised by this passage (and all others) are: What does it mean? and How can this passage help me live a better, happier, and more meaningful life today? 

In the course of the discussion, Tali and I realized that we had two very different perspectives. I immediately thought of the wisdom of Nachmanides, the 13th-century Spanish rabbi. Nachmanides talked about a “scoundrel with Torah license.” This is someone who abides by the law entirely and is still a scoundrel. An example: Chocolate cake is kosher and television viewing is permitted. Could, then, someone eat chocolate cake in front of the television all day in accordance with Jewish law? Yes. But the Torah also instructs us to be a “holy people” and to “walk in God’s ways.” Is eating chocolate cake in front of the television all day appropriate for someone who aspires to be holy and to walk in God’s ways? No. 

This is not, of course, to say that it is unbecoming of someone who aspires to be holy to ever eat chocolate cake while watching television. For instance, a United Hatzalah volunteer who spent the day doing seven lifesaving calls can certainly unwind in front of the television with cake! 

How much of the television/cake activity can one do and still act in accordance with the divine call to be holy and to walk in God’s ways? God gave us remarkable rational facilities, the Torah, plenty of wise counselors to help guide us—and a complicated world with no easy answers. Each of us must figure out what it means to serve “inside/beyond the law.” 

Tali had a different interpretation of why Jerusalem was destroyed as a result of people obeying the law, but not going “inside/beyond the line.” She said that it refers to lawgivers who bring cases or deliver sentences that are legally permissible but do not incorporate any notion of mercy, common sense, or comprehensible philosophy of punishment. The United States Supreme Court confirmed, in a 1985 decision, what everyone involved in the criminal justice system knows: that “the Government retains ‘broad discretion’ as to whom to prosecute.” The responsible exercise of this discretion, and its counterpart in sentencing, requires wisdom on the part of the prosecutor and the judge. It is the moral necessity of this wisdom, Tali taught, that the Talmud means when it says that the health of a society depends upon its legal professionals going “inside/beyond the law.” 

Which interpretation of this passage is right? Tali and I concluded that although the interpretations are different, both are true. Both interpretations help us to understand how to be better individually and socially, and in no way do they conflict with each other. Indeed, perhaps the greatness of a truth is measured by the number of other truths that can be learned from it.  

This is certainly the case with God—the ultimate truth, from which every other truth derives. And it is also the case with the Torah. The prevailing way to understand the Torah is reflected in the Jewish teaching: Shivim Panim la’Torah: “There are seventy faces to the Torah.” This means that every Torah passage, and sometimes every word, yields seventy different truths. Consequently, one can study the Torah over a long life and continually learn new lessons and derive new truths.  

One may find one truth to be more resonant, more meaningful, and more evocative at a moment in one’s life—and, in that sense, that can be “my truth.” In so doing, it allows and actually invites the arrival of other truths without sacrificing—and indeed demonstrating—how objective truth exists independently of any individual perspective.    

Mark Gerson, a devoted Jew, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who (along with his wife, Rabbi Erica Gerson) is perhaps the world’s largest individual supporter of Christian medical missions. He is the co-founder of African Mission Healthcare (AMH) and the author of a forthcoming book on the Haggadah: The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.  

Twitter: @markgerson
Podcast: The Rabbi’s Husband

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Israel Launches Another Exodus of Ethiopian Jews

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Last week, the Israeli Knesset approved another round of immigration for 2,000 more Ethiopian Jews in 2021—an endeavor bearing a $51 million price tag. The decision represents decades of welcoming this branch of the African diaspora home—an effort that began in the 1980s and regained traction in the last several years. Israel holds the singular distinction among the nations for bringing black communities to freedom, not slavery. 

The Ethiopian journeys to Israel are fascinating. They read like a spy novel. Almost 40 years ago, mass immigration (Aliyah) of Ethiopian Jews literally took off when Israel sent large transport aircraft to rescue Ethiopians from their drought-ravaged lands. In 1984, 1985, and again in 1991, Israel launched Operations Moses, Joshua, and Solomon. 

These airlifts linked intrigue and ingenuity—relying on stealth, detailed plans, and courage. The 1984–85 rescues took place under cover of night when 7,500 Ethiopian Jews were flown out in clandestine operations. Ethiopians had walked for three to four weeks to refugee camps in Sudan that were operated by Israel’s Mossad and the Red Cross—a perilous journey over hundreds of miles that resulted in deaths from disease and starvation. They walked by night to hide from marauding soldiers. With 28 covert airlifts during this period, Israelis used Boeing 707s routed through Belgium to avoid any suspicions before landing in Israel. 

Due to Ethiopian famine, internal civil wars, and tough negotiations with Marxist/Leninist Ethiopian leaders, six years passed before the next airlift could take place. Finally, in 1991, the rescues resumed, once more like a spy movie and with the Israeli and the U.S. governments again working hand in hand.  

Named after the ancient King who was theoretically their ancestor, the 1991 Operation Solomon rescued more than 14,000 Jews from the Sudanese refugee camps and flew them to their homeland, Israel. The timing was critical—and miraculous. Thirty-four El Al jets and American C-130 military transport aircraft flew in and out during this grueling 36-hour mission. All passenger seats were removed from the C-130s to make room for the frightened, yet hopeful, Ethiopians. You can imagine their fearful reactions, especially from older people who had never seen an airplane—and those who thought these transports a wonder. As then-8-year-old Michal Samuel recalls: “One night we were told it was our time to go. I remember the darkness of the desert, walking through Sudan to the trucks that drove us to what I thought was the wings of an angel to take us to Jerusalem.” Today, 30 years later, Michal leads a large charity that helps her community.  

How did these Ethiopian Jews end up on big Israeli airplanes? Mentioned in the Bible by their other name, Cush, the Ethiopian Jews thought of themselves as Jewish even before Christianity became an official religion in the fourth century. The world knew little about them for centuries. They were extremely poor and isolated, yet practiced Judaism based on the Torah, the written law. They were persecuted by their neighbors, who called them falasha (“strangers”) due to their culture and customs. 

In the 1700s, Christian missionaries began going to Ethiopia, met the community, and called them the “exotic Jews of Ethiopia.” For several hundred years, more information emerged about “black Jews.” Interest deepened when Israel was established as a modern Jewish state in 1948. Israel’s Law of Return was created and enacted to welcome all Jews, no matter where they were scattered, whether in Iraq, Iran, China, India, Ethiopia, or beyond.  

Finally, Israeli rabbis began visiting the African nation to verify the Ethiopians’ Jewish ancestry. In 1975, Israel’s Inter-Ministerial Commission officially recognized them as Jews. The complicated rescue plans soon began.  

More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in their homeland today. Ninety percent graduate from high school, serve with distinction in the Israel Defense Forces and the Knesset, and attend college. They have made remarkable adjustments with the help of Israeli absorption centers for new immigrants, especially in the early days of Aliyah in the 1980s. Since these people had lived in huts in Africa—without electricity or running water—the absorption centers’ staff members had to start from scratch, teaching the immigrants how to use appliances, turn on water taps, and use can openers. Subsequent generations, born in Israel, have found the adjustment much easier. 

Since Operation Solomon in 1991, evangelical Christians worldwide have played a big part in sponsoring flights and helping settle Ethiopians in the Promised Land. Many have done so through International Christian Embassy Jerusalem ( In the last five years alone, ICEJ has sponsored Aliyah flights for around 2,000 Ethiopian olim (immigrants). 

ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler observes, “Aliyah is clearly a biblical and historical mandate for our global organization, and many times it also is an urgent humanitarian mission, which is so obvious in the case of the Ethiopian Jewish remnant still living in transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar after all these years. We will maximize our efforts to now assist Israel with this accelerated plan for the Ethiopian return.” 

Israel’s government and the kindnesses of many individuals and charities have helped navigate the ongoing challenges that face any nation welcoming new citizens. One of the biggest, most effective charities is led by Sigal Kanotopsky. At the age of five, Sigal walked with her family for three months on a harrowing 1,500-mile journey before finally arriving in Israel. Now this outstanding leader walks into Israel’s many professional venues to elevate job opportunities for her community.

Clearly, Israel is singular in bringing its people home. What other country would go to such lengths to do so? These efforts were eloquently voiced on January 8, 1985, when then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres spoke to the Knesset and offered this inspiring explanation about Israel’s commitment and the Ethiopians’ age-old dream to live in Jerusalem:

“For 2,600 years, our brothers and sisters from ‘the land of the buzzing of wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia’ in Isaiah 18:1 have been waiting to attain this moment. … They have waited, and we have waited. They have arrived, and we are richer for it. This wonderful tribe gloriously and stubbornly upheld the banner of Jewish belief even from the days of Moses, and certainly after the oppressive Roman rule. 

“Neither mountain nor sword, nor decree nor foreign land could prevail over their Jewish devotion, their human nobility, and their Zionist hope. And we here have born within us the ongoing, never-ending hope of the unification of our people. …  [an] immigration effort enwrapped in ancient splendor and enveloped in secret heroism. We have seen them prostrating themselves and kissing the soil of our land. A light shone in their eyes, while tears welled up in ours.” 

Thankfully, there is no more need for secrecy. The new efforts underway will not take place under cover of darkness. And when the current relocation has been completed, it will add another chapter of welcome to the worldwide Jewish community.  

Pray along with us at CBN Israel that every Jewish community worldwide will come home:  

  • Pray that facts about Israel’s inclusivity will be made clear to all nations.
  • Pray with awe that God is fulfilling His word in Isaiah 49:22: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” 
  • Pray that the Ethiopian community will continue their achievements to grow and prosper using their talents and motivation with help from many sources. 
  • Pray that Ethiopian Jews still awaiting rescue from an unfriendly land will also experience Aliyah and reunification with their families.  

For Christians, it is a privilege to be part of praying and acting so that the worldwide Jewish community can return to their ancestral homeland. 

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit twice. She hosts her devotionals on her website at

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Single Mother: Oksana’s Story

Life seemed ideal when their family moved to Israel from Russia. Oksana’s husband found an excellent job, and she was able to stay at home with their four children. Then her world came crashing down: She discovered her husband had a severe case of alcoholism.

For years he hid his drinking—running up big debts and taking expensive overseas trips he lied about. Secretly, he took out bank loans in both of their names to cover his spending. When Oksana found out, the couple separated, and his drinking got worse. He soon abandoned their family, leaving Oksana to support their four children. His massive debts took everything, forcing her to close her successful sewing business. Where could she turn?

And then, she heard about CBN Israel’s program for single mothers. Caring friends like you gave her a professional new sewing machine to restart her business. Through our course, Chazak Ve Ematz, which means “brave and courageous,” she found career guidance. We also granted her a scholarship to learn bridal and evening gown design. She was so grateful!

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit Israel’s economy, Oksana’s business stalled. Praying, she felt God redirecting her to sew quality facial masks to meet the high demand. Selling them at one of the best rates, she now has plenty of work from multiple companies!

You can extend a lifeline to people like Oksana, as well as aging Holocaust survivors, refugees, and others struggling to survive in the Holy Land. During this COVID-19 crisis, when the needs are so great, your continued support is crucial as CBN Israel offers food, shelter, financial assistance, and more to hurting families. Please let us hear from you today!

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Weekly Devotional: A Fast that Pleases God

Have you ever noticed that we can approach God with seemingly the right intentions and desires, but in His eyes, our motivations and desires matter little in light of how we treat others?

The prophet Isaiah says the people “seek [God] daily, delight to know [His] ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God” (Isaiah 58:2 NKJV). They even delight in the “nearness of God.” Sounds like they’re doing everything right. Isn’t that what we tell people to do—seek God daily and delight in His nearness? Yet God calls upon Isaiah to announce to the house of Jacob their guilt and sin (58:1).

The people ask God why their fasts are ineffective. They fasted. They starved their bodies (58:3). That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Shouldn’t God answer us then?

God responds with a jolting message: On your fast day, you do what pleases you. You exploit your workers; you cause strife and contention (58:3-4). While they may have the proper desires towards God, and even carry out their fasts properly (see 58:5), their reprehensible behavior toward others causes their voices not to be heard on high.

God doesn’t care that they starve themselves, putting on sackcloth and lying in ashes. Such a fast does not move Him.

The prophet then offers the fast that God desires, “a day pleasing to the LORD,” the kind that moves Him to act on the people’s behalf “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free” and “break every yoke” (58:6). He calls upon the people “to share your bread with the hungry,” to bring to your house the poor who are cast out, to cover the naked, and “not hide yourself from your own flesh” (58:7).

Instead of starving themselves, donning sackcloth, and lying in ashes, they should treat others with care and compassion, which will then motivate God to act on their behalf. “Then shall your light burst forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily and … the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ (58:8-9).

Isaiah’s message: God is far more concerned with how you treat those around you, especially the poor and needy, than He is with your religious piety or even your desire to seek Him.

The mark of true spirituality is not only our pursuit of God, but also our actions towards others. Our intentions and desires may seem spiritual, but if we do not treat others with care and compassion, then our desires for God matter little to Him.

What motivates God to answer our cries? How we treat those around us, especially those in need.


Father, forgive us for not seeing those around us as the true path to showing our desire and delight for You. May our actions be pleasing before You, O Lord. Amen.

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Archaeology Proves Israel is the Jewish Homeland   

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

No one questions the historic legitimacy of Egypt’s Sphinx, Italy’s Pantheon, or Greece’s Acropolis—nor the indisputable claims to their ancient heritage. Yet many individuals and organizations attempt to submerge Israel’s history and liquidate its claims to their ancient Jewish homeland.

Yet, ancient discoveries once again serve as proof for the biblical account with a new discovery in Jerusalem, which thrilled archaeologists last week. They described it as a “once in a lifetime” find. While digging near the City of David, they were astonished to discover—in their words—“three immaculately preserved 2,700-year-old decorated column heads, or capitals, from the First Temple period indicate a connection to the Davidic Dynasty.” Their photographs show beautifully designed stone capitals that likely were once situated atop columns of a palace or estate. Five-shekel coins from the 3,000-year-old era display the same design motif!

Who would deny Israel its historic significance? A complicit United Nations, filled with those possessing a fierce anti-Israel bias, is quick to distort history. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is one of the chief purveyors of such bias. UNESCO’s stated purpose is to assess cultural landmarks and designate World Heritage sites to “promote cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures.” Shamefully, UNESCO has targeted Israel’s holiest sites, thereby undermining that nation’s dignity and removing the equality given to other nations. 

In a controversial 2016 Resolution, for example, UNESCO decided to use only Arabic terminology for the Temple Mount, naming it Haram al-Sharif—not the Hebrew Har HaBayit, or Temple Mount as we call it. UNESCO calls Judaism’s holiest site—the Western Wall—by its Arabic name, al-Buraq, rather than its Hebrew name, Ha-Kotel Ha-Maʿaravi (Kotel for short). 

By doing so, UNESCO deliberately ignores 3,000 years of Jewish geographical and cultural lineage. It attempts to rewrite Israel’s history one word at a time. Just consider: The Jewish First and Second Temples were built in 957 B.C. and 515 B.C., whereas the Muslim Dome of the Rock Shrine wasn’t built until between A.D. 685 and A.D. 691. That’s roughly 1,000 years after the Second Temple where Jesus and His disciples walked and taught. Not surprisingly, then, when UNESCO made its erroneous resolution, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted, “To say that Israel has no link to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no link to the Great Wall or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids.” Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley correctly branded it “an affront to history.” 

For the last 20 years, numerous archaeological discoveries all over Israel have been literally written in stone. The discoveries are physical proof, not a UNESCO document. It is rock-solid evidence that God gave Israel to the Jews, a divine deed to their ancestral homeland. Archaeology proves that the Bible is true. 

In Genesis 15:18-21, God visited Abraham and made His plan clear. “I will assign this land to your offspring.” When Isaac was miraculously born, God’s plan was in motion with His covenant, a contract. It is eternal and unconditional. Despite millennia of catastrophic wars, dispersions, exiles, diaspora, Ottoman and British occupation, and the Holocaust, God re-established the Jewish homeland when Israel was reborn as a modern state in 1948. 

Many of you reading my column have visited Israel. You have marveled at some of the antiquities uncovered in the tedious yet rewarding work of meticulous archaeologists. The finds have ranged from small ancient coins inscribed in Hebrew to a tiny bell worn on a Temple priest’s hem. The last 20 years of archaeology have proven exceptional. Sixteen years ago, expansive finds like the Pilgrim Road in Jerusalem opened a new world of facts. The Pilgrim Road was discovered by what I call “divine coincidence.” An alert workman saw light coming up through an opening in a street in Silwan, an Arab town. When he walked over to look into the hole, he viewed part of a subterranean road. Excitement escalated when the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) was summoned. The IAA evaluates and oversees all discoveries. 

The Pilgrim Road was not open to the public yet, but a good friend set up a VIP tour for two of us who were attending the GPO Christian Media Summit in 2019. Our CBN Israel news team dubbed the Pilgrim Road “The Beating Heart of Jerusalem.” I experienced my own heart beating in awe with each step along the 2,000-year-old road. It’s part of the larger area, the historically significant City of David. It took almost no imagination for me to envision Jesus and His disciples walking this road for the three major Jewish festivals: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). Tens of thousands of Jews walked on the road constructed with big paving stones leading up to the Temple Mount. While they walked, they sang Psalms 120 through 134, the Pilgrim or “Aliyah” (Hebrew for “ascent”) Psalms. In ancient times, Aliyah on the Pilgrim Road meant “the act of going up” to Jerusalem. Today, it often refers to immigration to Israel. My emotions ran deep knowing I walked in the footsteps of Jesus, His disciples, Mary, and Joseph as they sang psalms making Aliyah to the Temple.   

Each archaeological discovery adds another layer of truth to the fact that Jerusalem and all of Israel is the Jewish homeland. A few years ago, workmen were digging near Jerusalem’s western entrance and noticed a broken stone pillar around three to four feet tall. They immediately called the Israeli Antiquities Authority. When the experts arrived, they were astonished to read this inscription: “Hananiah son of Dodalos of Yerushalayim.” The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 used the same Hebrew spelling of Jerusalem, but the pillar was the first example of Jerusalem’s name written in stone, the way “Jerusalem” (Yerushalayim) is written today!

The 100 B.C. pillar is now on display at the Israel Museum. I made a point to visit the exhibit during one of my trips to Israel and asked someone to take a picture of me standing next to the glass-encased pillar. I found myself wishing that the UNESCO members would see the proof in stone. I wondered if they would finally accept the fact about the ancient/modern spelling of Yerushalayim. No matter. UNESCO does not carry the weight of authentic history; the Bible and the Yerushalayim pillar fill that role. UNESCO has utterly failed the Israeli history course, but the Bible remains accurate, proven by the very stones that silently broadcast the eternal message from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

One of the Aliyah psalms, 125:2, reminded ancient Jews of Gods faithful protection (as it reminds us today): “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.”

Joining CBN in prayer, let us recall this wonderful pilgrim song sung on the Pilgrim Road. 

  • Pray for these expert archaeologists and their teams to discover more treasures that add to the facts of the Bible’s historical veracity. 
  • Pray—in this era of warm relationships developing between Israel and several Arab nations—that the Arabs will accept the facts uncovered about the Jewish homeland.
  • Pray that thievery at important archeological digs will stops. 
  • Pray for discovery of any additional Dead Sea Scrolls that will again verify the enduring truths of the Bible.

Let us pray that Israel’s rich history will continue to unfold as archaeological finds reveal this land’s extraordinary past—and point to a remarkable future.

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 now an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel 25 times. By invitation, she has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit twice. She hosts her devotionals on her website at

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Single Mother: Nadia’s Story

The teenage girl’s future looked bright. Immigrating to Israel from Russia for an academic program, Nadia finished her economics degree with honors. She found a good job in her field, and her parents and sister planned to move to Israel and join her. Then, tragedy struck.

Suddenly, Nadia’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Her family needed her help, so she moved back, transferring to her company’s Russia office. Soon, she fell in love and got married, and gave birth to a baby boy. But within six months, her world fell apart. The cancer took her father’s life. And then, without warning, her husband deserted her and their baby.

Devastated, Nadia moved back to Israel to start over. She had lost her good-paying job and worked several jobs to make ends meet. Juggling the demands of motherhood alone was overwhelming. One day, a friend at work shared her faith with Nadia, and invited her to church.

There, she discovered CBN Israel’s outreach to single mothers. We provided her with two months’ rent—and a plan to pay off her debts and get financial relief from the banks. We also helped her find a better job. Today, she is remarried to a man from her church, serving there together in ministry. And CBN Israel is training her to offer financial guidance to others!

CBN Israel is helping many like Nadia, who are in crisis situations. Friends like you are there with food, financial aid, job training, and vital encouragement.

And your support is crucial, especially during this global pandemic. You can bring Holocaust survivors and refugees essential relief aid—while sharing Israel’s story with the world through CBN News and insightful documentaries. Your help is so important—thank you for caring!

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