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Israel’s Ministry of Interior Faces Losses If It Denies Visas to Christian Ministries

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Although there has been some friction in the past over issuing visas to Christian organizations and clergy, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and Israel’s Ministry of Interior have quietly settled those issues behind the scenes. However, the Interior Ministry’s recent surprising move to deny essential visas to ICEJ—a prominent international Christian organization home based in Israel—is now out in the open. 

ICEJ’s Vice President and senior spokesman, David Parsons, explained that the Interior Ministry refused to issue visas during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he’s concerned because the rejections have now expanded into three years. Parsons comments, “We finally had to go public, and they are saying now we are not a religious organization.”

Since its founding in 1980, ICEJ has been registered as a religious organization. The hopes are that an upcoming hearing will expose a bureaucratic mistake, followed by a possible reversal. Israeli law clearly confirms that the decisions of the Ministry of Interior require that granting or denying visas must be based on correct, reasonable facts without bias.

Parsons described the results if the decision is not reversed: “We are slowly being squeezed out of existence by the Interior Ministry. We cannot continue our vital work to build global Christian support for Israel under these strict new rules.” No explanation is forthcoming yet to ICEJ. Moshe Arbel, interior minister in the Knesset, would do well to seriously reconsider several deeply troubling consequences of its damaging decision. Arbel must pay attention to the relational damage toward dedicated Christian staff and 600 million evangelicals worldwide who financially support a range of respected Christian ministries and media in the Holy Land. 

Using the concept of return on investment (ROI), the Shas religious party’s ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Arbel might consider an evaluation of the economic and humanitarian benefits to Israel from ICEJ and numerous other respected Christian organizations in Israel. One fact to note is explained in an article written by American Rabbi Dr. Daniel Friedman. He explores the concept, “Is It Permissible to Accept Charity from Christians?” He estimates that American Christians donate “hundreds of millions of dollars to both Christian and Jewish charities in Israel.”  

Here is what Interior Minister Arbel would discover about ICEJ if he were to examine its past actions:  

In 1980, ICEJ drove a stake in the ground through prayer and established a Christian embassy. The Knesset had officially declared Israel’s sovereignty over all of Jerusalem on July 30, 1980, enacting Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel. Abandoning biblical history and Israel’s sovereign decision-making rights, nations (including the U.S.) reacted by relocating their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. The minimally funded founders of ICEJ, who met in a small, cramped Jerusalem office, made the decision to stand with Israel in Jerusalem—Israel’s eternal capital. 

Now in its 43rd year, ICEJ has offices in 93 countries, and an immeasurable humanitarian imprint on the ground in Israel. Israel’s citizens—Jews, Arabs, Druze, Ethiopians, and more—benefit from ICEJ staff and volunteers in numerous outreaches throughout Israel. Aiding women in crisis, distributing food, and improving children’s homes, ICEJ’s merciful work with Holocaust survivors is also essential in the waning days of their lives.  

Sadly, a quarter of Israel’s 165,000 Holocaust survivors live in poverty. Ninety percent of survivors are above 80 years old. Illness and loneliness are rampant. ICEJ provides food and friendship with in-person visits—especially to those living alone. CBN Israel also carries out an active ministry to Holocaust survivors in need. In 2009 ICEJ—partnering with a local Jewish charity—founded the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, which provides assisted living and a loving staff. ICEJ has also established an emergency call line for Holocaust survivors in crisis. 

Another lifesaving achievement implemented by ICEJ, with the financial commitment of churches and individuals worldwide, is the placement of more than 150 portable bomb shelters manufactured in Israel that protect Israeli civilians under fire from Gaza terrorists. ICEJ’s efforts have also resulted in more than 160,000 Jews immigrating (making Aliyah) to their ancestral homeland from all over the world. ICEJ works closely with the Jewish Agency for Israel and many other organizations in this massive effort. Isaiah 49:22 NIV captures the spirit of Aliyah—“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.” 

I daresay Rabbi Moshe Arbel, interior minister, would not want to slow down the arrival of Jews to their homeland based on God’s promises in Isaiah 49:22. But with visas presently denied, the number of staff and volunteers is reduced—and Israelis go wanting without the love and help that Christians provide. How will the Ministry of Interior overcome such a shortfall? 

Additionally, the Christian media presence inside and outside Israel is an important factor that Interior Minister Arbel hopefully will consider. As a Christian journalist, I have attended several Christian Media Summits hosted by Israel’s Government Press Office. At both summits, in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s keynotes, he praised Evangelicals and Christian media in glowing terms. He described Christian media as “Ambassadors of truth—you’re not merely the greatest ambassadors that Israel has around the world—you’re champions of truth.”

ICEJ is among respected Christian media worldwide that report news, educational resources, and truths about Israel. It also hosts tours, and annually implements the biggest tourist event in Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Upwards of 5,000 evangelicals worldwide travel to Israel each year for weeklong celebrations. Their presence is not only an economic boon; it is an outflow of encouragement to Jewish families lining Jerusalem’s streets during Israel’s Parade of Nations. This year’s celebration, held September 29 through October 6, has the theme King of All the Earth.

ICEJ—and many other fine Christian ministries in Israel, worldwide Christian media, and Evangelicals—are what I call “information armies of facts.” We stand as a bulwark—with God’s help, strength, and wisdom—to oppose the poisonous propaganda of Israel’s enemies. 

May Rabbi Moshe Arbel and Israel’s Interior Ministry view us all as friends who will continue to exert prayers and actions on behalf of Israel’s diverse population. 

CBN Israel staff welcome you to join us in prayer this week: 

  • Pray for ICEJ and all Christian ministries in Israel for visa approvals. 
  • Pray that Rabbi Moshe Arbel will accept the sincere friendship of Christians and restored cooperation.
  • Pray that we as Christians will react to these challenges in a way that honors our Lord. 
  • Pray for Christian ministry personnel, their strength, shalom, and blessings. 

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

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Weekly Q&A: Why is it essential to know the historical context of the Bible?

The Bible is God’s revelation in time, space, and culture. History is humanity’s reflection upon its past. The Bible is not one book; it is a collection of books composed by different authors, in different literary genres, written at different times. And, while the Bible contains history, it is not a history book per se. It also frames its literature within various historical periods.

The biblical writers include historical empires, kings, and figures without providing much detail about these historical characters. They often assume our familiarity with historical details, figures, and empires on the macro and micro levels. They set their narratives against the backdrop of these historical contexts.

For example, the book of Kings frames many of its narratives against the backdrop of Assyrian expansion, the turbulence this caused among the regional kingdoms of the Levant, and the varied responses of those kingdoms to the Assyrian threat. So too, the Gospels assume the historical incursion and annexation of the land of Israel by Rome, the collapse of the Hasmonean State, and the rise of the Herodian family, which began in the first century B.C.

Because the Bible spans periods of time, we must keep this in mind. Between Abraham and David stands one thousand years. Between David and Jesus stand a thousand years. We would never seek to understand a person living today by studying those who lived a thousand years ago; neither should we treat David and Jesus as belonging to the same worldview or world.

The period between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament spans roughly four hundred years. Within this period, Judaism underwent events which profoundly impacted and transformed it. Historical events, empires, wars, and rebellions shaped the world of ancient Judaism making it a different world from that of the Old Testament.

In other words, Jesus stepped into a different world from that of any of the Old Testament figures. When we study the New Testament, we should be aware of this history and the history of the land of Israel within the first century, because it forms the backdrop to the New Testament accounts (see Luke 3:1-3).

The biblical writers most often had a firsthand or at least a secondhand connection to the historical events within their world. Their writings often assume our knowledge of these historical events as they serve as background to their narratives, prophecies, visions, and letters.

If we want to understand what the writers of the Bible meant, to better understand what the Bible means for us today, then we must study the historical contexts of the world of the Bible.

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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United Nations Human Rights Council Is Inhumane Toward Israel

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

The United Nations General Assembly is prepping for its annual meeting, which opens on September 5. Israel remains high on its agenda—expressly in meetings conducted by the Human Rights Council and their star pupil, the Commission of Inquiry. Although the UN purports to be fair, the Human Rights Council has exhibited a clear pattern of singling out and targeting the world’s only Jewish state.

Israel receives “special” treatment from the Human Rights Council, since it is the only nation where a human rights inquiry lasts forever! Now with 193 members, the United Nations has undergone an unwelcome transformation—distorting truth with artificial “facts”—ever since it voted favorably for the Partition Plan on November 29, 1947. Six months later, this resolution resulted in votes for Israel’s modern statehood on May 14, 1948—which took place 75 years ago. History tells us that Israel’s leaders accepted the partition plan while Arab leaders rejected it. It is indeed unfortunate that Arabs rejected statehood for their population and instead chose hatred and war as a substitute. 

On the two dates mentioned above—November 29, 1947, and May 14, 1948—the United Nations played a critical role in helping to fulfill prophecy, voting to return their ancestral homeland to the Jews, its indigenous people. The UN had no idea that God in His sovereignty enlisted the Jewish people as vessels to enact Isaiah 66:8 NIV—“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” 

Let’s take a look at how the Commission of Inquiry (COI) was formed. On May 27, 2021, a Palestinian and Pakistani delegation requested a special session about “the Grave Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The delegation represented a coalition of Islamic states—the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—with a membership of 57 countries on four continents. 

Heading up the COI is South African Judge Navi Pillay, who lugs her anti-Israel biases into Commission meetings. She has frequently slandered Israel, calling it an “apartheid state,” and lobbied governments to “sanction apartheid Israel.” One of Pillay’s most glaring actions occurred when she convened the 2009 Durban II conference in Geneva, Switzerland. She welcomed former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to spew his anti-Israel poison. Thankfully most democracies boycotted the Durban II. Ms. Pillay saw apartheid firsthand in her home country, which was itself cruelly apartheid. 

I do not know if Ms. Pillay has visited Israel. If so, has she met with any of the thousands of Ethiopian Jews airlifted to freedom by Israel? Has she met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly to question his policy of establishing hate filled anti-Israel media? Has she visited factories in Israel’s Barkan Industrial Park to see thousands of Palestinians working alongside Jews, all who receive equal pay—and some holding management positions?

The COI’s latest report in a June 2023 session of the UN Human Rights Council reveals that not one Palestinian terrorist or terrorist organization was mentioned. Not one. Months later, after a contentious COI meeting in November, during an interview with Israel’s i24 News Ms. Pillay claimed, “I’m 81 years old and this is the first time I’ve been accused of anti-Semitism.” Her comment was aimed in part at Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who vigorously questioned her impartiality and accused Pillay and the COI of “Jew hatred,” blatant anti-Semitism, and being part of a “terror-supporting Commission.” 

In meetings, Pillay seemed shocked that Erdan and 18 member states spoke out in a debate describing the Commission of Inquiry as biased against Israel after a COI Report. It was the first time in decades that such bias was leveled—a much-needed change! The United States weighed in, stating that it remained “deeply concerned about the creation of the Commission of Inquiry … [and its] unwieldy scope. We also reaffirm our condemnation of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias.” 

Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to hold the United Nations accountable to its founding principles. Appearing before the U.S. Congress last June, Neuer highlighted proofs of anti-Semitism. During that appearance, he eloquently pointed out: “While dictators are honored, a democracy is scapegoated. The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the Council is not China, which denies basic human rights to 1.5 billion people, nor is it Iran which beats, blinds, and poisons women and girls for protesting. It is Israel.”

UN Watch is a valuable news source for those who want to learn more about the UN’s outright bias against the world’s only Jewish state. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established in 2006 and its anti-Israel record is statistically revealing. As examples, they have passed 14 resolutions on Iran, 16 on North Korea, 42 on Syria, and fewer resolutions on other countries. Yet they denounced Israel in 103 resolutions—more than Iran, North Korea, and Syria combined.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) defines the COI as “wanting to launch a global dragnet for the guardians, builders, and defenders of the Jewish state.” Now more than ever, Israel needs its evangelical guardians and defenders at the United Nations. 

With facts provided by UN Watch, Christians have an opportunity to advocate for Israel. Using this link, Sign up | CiviCRM (unwatch.org), you will know what is happening and can act by signing important petitions disseminated by UN Watch from time to time. We cannot underestimate the small steps when thousands of us are united to oppose the Jew hatred rampant in the United Nations! 

Ultimately, we are often assured in the Bible that Israel rests in the sovereign Hands of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus. Nevertheless, we honor Him by acting on behalf of Israel—a land and a people that He chose to transmit the Old and New Testaments and come to earth through Jewish lineage. Let us stand with Israel, our spiritual homeland, in prayer, facts, and actions.  

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us this week to pray for Israel with hope by reading God’s promises in Ezekiel 37:21-22 (NIV): “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.” 

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray for the current 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council, which includes China, Cuba, and Pakistan.  
  • Pray for COI’s chairperson, Navi Pillay, to have a change of heart toward Israel. 
  • Pray for Christians to actively pursue education on how to advocate for Israel, including UN Watch.  

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

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Helping Orphans Cope with Trauma and Loss

Nearly 35,000 children in Israel have experienced the death of a parent—heightened in recent years by COVID-19 and terror attacks. Tragically, the toll of such a loss puts them at tremendous risk in the future, and many end up in poverty. Without effective care and support, orphans are much more likely to drop out of school, suffer from eating disorders, turn to drug and alcohol addiction, become trapped in prostitution, or be convicted of a crime. 

“I lost my mother at the age of eight,” said a 15-year-old girl named Sarah.* “I did not have someone to tell me that I was beautiful and perfect the way I am, even if I was not thin. I starved myself, I vomited, I felt like I was fat, I felt ugly, all because I’m an orphan.” 

Depending on how their parent died, these kids may wrestle with trauma, loss of identity, and bullying. And surviving parents can often feel helpless and alone.

Where can they turn in these difficult times? 

You are offering them a lifeline through CBN Israel as we partner with the organization Hamaniot (“sunflowers”). You are providing children and single parents with professional bereavement counseling and group therapy—along with mentoring, interacting with peers who know their pain, and guidance in qualifying for financial resources. 

“If Hamaniot were not here, I do not know how my story would have ended,” said Sarah, after receiving help for three years. “Thanks to Hamaniot, today I know who I am.” And her story is echoed by so many others you have helped. 

In fact, your gifts to CBN Israel are giving more children and teens intensive help to heal and succeed, while equipping their parents with vital support to carry on. This is only one of the ways you provide aid to the vulnerable who call Israel their home. Thank you for caring!

Will you reach out in kindness and compassion to those in need?

*Name changed for privacy.

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Q&A: Why should I study the physical settings of the Bible?

The Bible is God’s revelation in time, space, and culture. The space of Scripture is as much a character as Abraham and David or Peter and Paul. The biblical writers used the physical settings of the biblical world to communicate their message, to explain God, His will for His people, and as the setting for narratives, psalms, prophecies, and parables. 

The biblical writers often assume the knowledge of their readers concerning the physical settings of the biblical world; therefore, they do not explain those aspects but rely upon their original audience’s intimate knowledge of these details. For example, we as modern readers of the Old Testament cannot reconstruct a map or model of the city based upon the biblical descriptions of the city. The biblical writers assume our knowledge of the city, its buildings, walls, and gates. Not until the twentieth century with the archaeological excavations in Jerusalem can we reconstruct what Jerusalem looked like in the period of the Old Testament. 

The physical settings of the Bible refer to the geography, topography, roadways, hills, valleys, bodies of water, flora, fauna, geology, and climate. Because we, as modern readers, do not understand these details, certainly not as intimately as the original audience, we must study the physical settings of the Bible as part of the contextual world to understand the Bible. For this reason, we should study the Bible paying attention to details of the physical settings of the Bible. 

We should study the Bible with a map alongside the Bible. Finding a location—a village, city, body of water, hill, or valley—on the map is not enough. The significance of locations stem from their relationship to roadways and the regional dynamics of commerce, travel, communication, and security. The biblical writers assume our knowledge of these features, so they do not explain them. Yet, they play significant roles in our ability to understand the biblical text. 

We can see from Ezekiel 27:15-26 that the Bible understood the regional-economic dynamics of its world, as well as the geo-political realities on both the macro and micro levels within the various historical periods. Biblical narratives often occur where they do, and the events happen in the way they do due to regional-economic and geo-political realities. These lay in the background of the narrative, essential to the story, but assumed by the author of his original audience. 

The flora, fauna, climate, geology, and hydrology were all part of the physical settings of the Bible. They often provide context for the narratives, as well as images and metaphors used by the writers of the Bible to convey their messages. If we want to understand what the writers of the Bible meant, to better understand what the Bible means for us today, then we must study the physical settings of the Bible.

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Yad Vashem: Remembering the Holocaust and Opposing Escalating Jew Hatred

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is one of Israel’s most important visitor destinations. Walking through the museum is a near-indescribable revelation, one that is displayed in heart-wrenching detail. Some might say “heart wrenching” because it is a walk-through hell—a hell that might be hard for non-Jews to fathom. Yet a visit to this place is fundamental to helping us understand the emotional DNA of the Jewish people. Millennia of Jew hatred manifested itself unspeakably in the Holocaust (Shoah)—and intensified Jews’ determination to live life to the fullest while guarding their ancestral homeland.

I visited Yad Vashem on nine separate occasions during the years I served as Southeast Regional Christian Outreach Director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC strengthens the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship with Congress on a bipartisan basis. Yad Vashem always appeared on AIPAC’s American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) Educational Seminar itinerary. At the end of each guided tour, I gathered our Christian leaders to walk a few steps over to the railing that looks out over the beautiful Jerusalem Forest. The serenity of this lovely view and the fresh air helped them deal with the shock of what they had seen, their voices silent, some with tears falling, as they attempted to process what they had just heard and seen. 

Gently drawing them into a circle, I quietly mentioned the familiar watch phrase “Never Again,” which they could now deeply understand. I encouraged them to adopt this profound declaration into their prayers and actions. One of the pastors offered a prayer that I had privately requested earlier. Each person felt free to speak their hearts or pray. In the nine different Christian leadership groups I staffed, I also invited our Jewish tour guide to join the circle. Afterward, the guides expressed to me their heartfelt reactions to the Christians’ comments.

I prepared my groups as best I could for their next steps, which led to the nearby Children’s Memorial. They entered the space in silence, feeling for the railing as they walked along in a deep darkness lit only by simulated candlelight. With each step, a recorded voice read out names of 1,500 Jewish children whom the Nazis murdered. Their names echo in our memories, never to be forgotten.

Part of a Yad Vashem visit includes strolling along the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations (Hassidei Umot Haolam) honoring the courage, selflessness, and extraordinary risks of Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Located on 45 acres of forest and groves in the Jerusalem hills, Yad Vashem was dedicated on Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, 1962. Foreign Minister Golda Meir (who later served as Israel’s Prime Minister) spoke on that occasion. She poignantly described the non-Jews as “drops of love in an ocean of poison.” Among the now more than 28,000 Righteous Gentiles are three Christians I especially want to mention: Corrie ten Boom of the Netherlands, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and the only American soldier recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in World War II, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds. 

Walking through Yad Vashem, I concluded early on that shock is a necessary wake-up call for Christians. At the least, an acquaintance with Holocaust history in a two- or three-hour tour of Yad Vashem is ample motivation to commit to proactive support for Jewish citizens both in Israel and worldwide—especially amid Jew hatred that is intensifying once again.

 Visiting Yad Vashem or learning about it online has enormous value; it is an essential resource for evangelicals to advocate for Israel. The Yad Vashem Law was officially passed by the Knesset in 1953, which voted “to collect, examine, and publish testimony of the disaster and the heroism it called forth.” For the heart of Yad Vashem’s name, ‘a name and a memorial,’ is drawn from Isaiah 56:5: “And to them will I give in My house and within My walls a memorial and a name … that shall not be cut off.”

The Yad Vashem Law was preceded by a horrific dream in 1942. Mordechai Shenhavi, a Zionist, had made Aliyah to pre-state Israel from Odessa on January 2, 1919. Although news about the Nazi deportation of Jews to death camps was scant during World War II, what little he knew kept Mordechai awake at night. In August 1942 he had a nightmare that made him determined to remember the names of those murdered in the Holocaust. In frequent meetings with various groups, he explained his vision with detailed ideas.

Four years later, Shenhavi recounted his dream to Vaad ha-Leumi at the National Council. “Fearing that my feelings might be mistaken, I saw all those millions in a dream. I didn’t know then that it was six million. Those millions walked toward Zion with monuments on their shoulders. Can you imagine the length of that chain, the faces of those people, carrying the flame of life? … They chose one place for themselves, lay down the monuments, and placed them there in an orderly or disorderly manner. The monument to their lives, the monument of testimony, was established.”

Shenhavi’s goal, Remembrance of Our Suffering for Building Our Future,” finally led to the Yad Vashem Law in 1953. He lived to see his dream come true when the cornerstone of the Yad Vashem building was laid in western Jerusalem on July 29, 1954. Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek honored Shenhavi as a Distinguished Citizen of Jerusalem. Shenhavi died in 1983 at his kibbutz, Mishmar ha-Emeq, at the age of 82. The new expanded museum that I often visited was dedicated on March 15, 2005.

Today, may we emulate the shining, brave examples of Mordechai Shenhavi’s persistence to envision Yad Vashem and the heroic stories of the righteous non-Jewish rescuers. Around one million people visit Yad Vashem annually, and millions more visit its website, www.YadVashem.org, with content available in eight languages in addition to Hebrew and English. With prayer and action, let us educate ourselves to stand up for the rights of the Jews in their ancient homeland and recognize the Jewishness of our Savior who has redeemed us with His sacrificial love. 

Please join CBN Israel this week in prayer: 

  • Pray that Christian advocacy for Israel would grow and expand to new levels.  
  • Pray for every Christian tour group to add Yad Vashem to its itinerary. 
  • Pray for determined believers to spread facts about Israel through trusted news sources like CBN News and CBN Israel.
  • Pray for Christians to deepen their education through valuable experiences and resources offered through Yad Vashem. 

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

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Life-Changing Surgery: Afaf’s Story

Little Afaf came running to her home in Bethlehem, sobbing again. The other kids bullied the four-year-old, calling her cruel names, because an eye condition made her look different. Each time, her father lovingly comforted her, telling her she was beautiful—with a deep, sad sigh. 

It all began when she was just six months old, and Afaf had a squint in one eye that concerned her parents. Doctors said she would have to wait until she was older for an operation. Meanwhile, she had to wear special glasses for two years before the surgery. As an active child who liked swimming, the glasses got in her way. 

Without the surgery, her vision would rapidly deteriorate—and her parents worried she would be stigmatized. Yet with three children, how could they afford such a costly operation? 

But friends like you made a way. CBN Israel donors partnered with St. John’s Eye Hospital to sponsor Afaf’s desperately needed procedure. Her family encouraged her, and she believed it would make her even more beautiful. The surgery was a success—and she now plays happily!

Her father exclaimed, “Because of you, parents like us have somewhere to turn. This surgery will give my daughter a much better future and allow her to feel like a normal kid.”  

And your gifts to CBN Israel can open new doors of hope for people in need across the Holy Land—bringing food, shelter, financial aid, and medical help. 

Israel is a refuge for many—including Holocaust survivors, war immigrants, and victims of poverty. Your support can supply their basic needs. Please join us in reaching out to others!

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Q&A: Why should Christians visit the Holy Land?

The Bible is God’s revelation in time, space, and culture. The words of the Bible came from the world of the Bible. Traveling to the Holy Land enables one to encounter the historical, spatial, and cultural contexts of the biblical world, and by entering the world of the Bible to better understand the words of the Bible. 

Many Christians often say that travel to the Holy Land takes one’s Bible reading from black-and-white to full color, because a person can now envision the biblical stories within their physical settings. Travel to the Holy Land does enable one to enter the three-dimensional world of the Bible, but it should be more than that. Very few locations in the Holy Land truly enable a visitor to “walk where Jesus walked.” But walking where He walked should not be the goal; rather, by walking where He walked, we should understand His words better within their context, and therefore, we should walk better having traveled in His footsteps. 

Travel to the Holy Land can strip many of our misconceptions and wrong interpretations from our Bible study. It can allow us to place the Bible within its physical, historical, and cultural contexts enabling us to understand better what it meant, so we can understand what it means for us today. Instead of importing our assumptions and conceptualizations into our Bible reading, it helps us to reframe how we understand the physical world of the Bible and how the biblical writers used it to relate their narratives and convey their messages. It allows us to understand the span of history contained in the Bible and see the stage where God entered time and space. 

The Bible is not a book of philosophy or abstract theology. It belongs to its time and space, and it conveys God’s interactions with people in time and space. It also reflects peoples’ reactions to those encounters with God. All of this can come alive when one visits the Holy Land. Walking through ancient ruins and museums, one can interact with the material culture of the biblical world uncovered by archaeologists.

Travel to the Holy Land has the ability to transform our Bible study, to stimulate our ability to enter the world of the Bible to understand its words, to encounter God in the physical setting where He revealed His Word, and to challenge us through these experiences to grow in our discipleship and follow the Lord more obediently.

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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The Tiny Nation of Israel Helps Feed a Big World

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

A heat wave is hovering over many parts of the globe, and the words food insecurity are popping up like unwelcome weeds. Although we cannot control the weather, we can take sensible steps to protect the earth and help poor nations to survive. Israel pioneered survivor solutions even before God established its modern state in 1948. Jews began returning to their ancestral homeland in the 19th century—and when they stepped on the shores of their native land, they got underway with backbreaking work in the desolate, mostly arid region. The early Jewish pioneers faced daily battles with the adversaries of malaria, mosquitos, and minimal resources. 

Hanson Ely, a decorated World War I general, made a statement about military battles that also applies to Israel’s agricultural pioneering—and to all of life’s challenges: “Men must be trained that when they have been in battle for days and nights, when perhaps they have been badly handled by the enemy and have had heavy casualties, yet when the signal comes to go they will go again to the limit of their endurance. … It is the last five percent of the possible exertion that often wins the battle … not the first attack nor the second or the third, but it was that last straggling fourth attack. … Battles are won by remnants, remnants of units, remnants of material, remnants of morale, remnants of intellectual effort.” 

The Bible’s Old Testament frequently mentions the word and concepts of a remnant. Isaiah 37:31-32 predicted that, “Once more, a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” 

Against all odds, the early Jewish remnants of the Diaspora—the five percent, so to speak—resulted in Israel (despite its small size) creating outsized food and water innovations for its own population and providing food and water solutions worldwide. Today, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv rank an enviable fourth in the world for agriculture technology (AgTech) startups. 

The following examples show that Israel simultaneously makes its own land bloom and benefits other countries and businesses. Dganit Vered, CEO of Smart Agro Fund, explains that 350 Israeli ag-tech startups lead the world in precision irrigation, wastewater reuse, and seed breeding. The CEO’s name is fitting; dganit is a flower that grows near grain fields, and vered is a rose. 

CEO Vered cites PepsiCo, which uses N-Drip—an Israeli gravity-powered micro irrigation system in 60 countries to grow 25 different crops. Among other benefits, N-Drip improves the efficiency of water in PepsiCo’s seven million acres of farmland and gives jobs to more than 250,000 people in its agricultural supply chain. This applies both to farmers with one-acre plots and those with huge farms. 

Founded in 1965 and pioneered at Kibbutz Hatzerim, Netafim irrigation took hold across the world, with 5,000 employees in 110 countries. Its drip irrigation has been used in over 10 million hectares (nearly 25 million acres) of land. Before it was sold in 2017, Netafim had produced over 150 billion drippers. More than two million farmers benefitted across the globe, whether with potatoes in Italy, sugar cane in Mexico, tomatoes in Azerbaijan, melons in Vietnam, or corn in the United States. General estimates indicate that Israeli drip irrigation technology uses 70 percent less water and increases harvests by 150 percent over traditional irrigation methods.

Another innovation addresses the endangered bee population. Israeli beekeepers developed BeeHero, matching beekeeping with technology. Using year-round SmartHive sensors, it vastly improves pollination and thus naturally aids in the growth of trees and flowers. Estimates show that the SmartHives have pollinated more than six million trees and 90 billion flowers over 45,000 acres. As pollinators, bees are essential for the world’s food supply. 

Nuri Awel, an Ethiopian farmer, shares a superb story about Israel’s Fair Planet, a project that provides seeds, cutting-edge technology, and training to small farmers. The Ethiopian farmer at first hesitated to take advantage of the offered training, but after the seeds produced high-quality plants, the Israeli non-profit won a big fan! Nuri’s tomato crop doubled on his 1,000-square-meter plot (about a quarter of an acre). The increase and training enabled him to fix his home and send his son to college. He now buys his own seeds and has tripled the output of his crop. 

When pioneers first immigrated (made Aliyah) to pre-state Israel to farm the land, they populated it with agricultural communes (kibbutzim). Kibbutzim remain important today. Israel’s desert farmers have cultivated their land with peppers, flowers, olive trees, and more. Uri Yogev, at Kibbutz Revivim in the southern Negev, decided to use brackish water to grow olive trees, which usually grow in plentiful rain and rich soil. After five years, his olive grove is the biggest in Israel and the only one in the world that’s cultivated with salt water. It now yields 200 tons of olives annually. 

Israeli ingenuity is thriving in agricultural innovations both large and small. Their resourcefulness is proof of what Albert Einstein once said: “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Israelis have used their “share” of 24/7 crisis and now lead the world in opportunities and innovation. It is my hope that Israel’s accusers and detractors will join the many communities and countries across the world that are grateful for Israeli agricultural and water innovations. 

Join our CBN Israel team this week by reflecting on Zephaniah 2:7 NIV, which affirms this fact: “That land will belong to the remnant of the people of Judah; there they will find pasture. In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The LORD their God will care for them; he will restore their fortunes.” 

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray with thanks for the Israeli example of using a crisis to create something good.
  • Pray for leaders to use wise, productive ways to manage God’s beautiful earth.
  • Pray especially for the world’s poor, who suffer the most from lack of food.   
  • Pray that helpful agricultural techniques might be managed with integrity. 

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

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Widowed Mother: Luba’s Story

Luba and her husband moved from Russia five years ago to their ancestral homeland of Israel. They were building a life and family in their new country. And then, tragedy struck.  

Suddenly, Luba lost her husband to heart failure—leaving her to raise two toddlers by herself. She recalls, “When my husband died, it was a complete shock to us. Without his income, it was very difficult financially. I could barely afford groceries, or things needed for the house.” 

Thankfully, friends like you were there for this lonely widow. Someone told her about CBN Israel, and Luba reached out to us. Donors brought her a dryer, along with nutritious food. 

Then, her home flooded. Luba admitted, “After the flood, my son struggled with asthma attacks because of the mold on the sofa. But we didn’t have any money to buy another one.” Once again, friends were there through CBN Israel—and delivered a new sofa to her! And as she studies to become a dental assistant to support her family, they are providing her with groceries. 

Luba says, “I can’t believe there were people out there who were willing to help us the way CBN Israel helped us… Your generosity means so much!” 

And your gifts to CBN Israel can offer many others in the Holy Land a lifeline of essential help—including food, housing, and financial assistance. 

We live in a time when large numbers of people in Israel are in crisis situations—from immigrants escaping war, to vulnerable seniors, to victims of terrorism. Your support can extend aid and hope to them. 

Please consider helping with a gift today!

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